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[281] Louis the Fifteenth and his system; and, awaiting a
chap. XII.} 1757.
better summons for its perfect sympathy, saw in Frederic the present hero of light and reason. Thus the subtle and pervading influence of the inquisitive mind of France was arrayed with England, Prussia, and America, that is, with Protestantism, philosophic freedom, and the nascent democracy, in their struggle with the conspiracy of European prejudice and legitimacy, of priestcraft and despotism.

The centre of that conspiracy was the empress of Austria with the apostate Elector of Saxony, who was king of Poland. Aware of the forming combination, Frederic resolved to attack his enemies before they were prepared; and in August, 1756, he invaded Saxony, took Dresden, blockaded the Elector's army at Pirna, gained a victory over the imperial forces that were advancing for its relief, and closed the campaign in the middle of October, by compelling it to capitulate. In the following winter, the alliances against him were completed; and not Saxony only, and Austria, with Hungary, but the German empire, half the German States,—Russia, not from motives of public policy, but from a woman's caprice,—Sweden, subservient to the Catholic powers through the degrading ascendency of its nobility,—France, as the ally of Austria,—more than half the continent, took up arms against Frederic, who had no allies in the South, or East, or North, and in the West none but Hanover, with Hesse and Brunswick. And as for Spain, not even the offer from Pitt of the conditional restitution of Gibraltar,1 and the evacuation of all English establishments on the Mosquito Shore and in

1 Pitt to Keene, 23 Aug., 1757. Chat. Corr., i. 249.

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