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King of Prussia, who received him with all the consideration due to a persecuted sovereign from an august prince. The mind of Stanislaus still retained its wonted firmness. "Our misfortunes," said he, in a letter to the queen his daughter, "are only great in the eyes of ambition, who know none greater than the loss of a crown. Ought I to stretch out my hands to regain it? No; it is better to be resigned to the will of Providence, whose dispensations convince us of the futility and nothingness of the things of this world."
The peace of 1736, decided the fate of Stanislaus. It was agreed, that he should abdicate the throne, but that he should retain the title of King of Poland, and Grand Duke of Lithuania; that his private patrimony should be restored; and that he should receive, by way of indemnity, the Dutchies of Lorraine and of Bar; which, after his death, should be united to France.
The quiet life of a philosopher suited the character of Stanislaus; this he enjoyed on his new acquisitions. Happy in contributing to the comfort of his people, he passed his time either in study or with his friends. His benevolence was extended to every class of society, and the wants of the indigent especially engrossed his thoughts. This prince sent to the magistrates of the city of Bar eighteen thousand crowns, to be laid out in the purchase of wheat, when at a low price; who afterwards sold it to the poor at a moderate rate when it became dear. This measure, which reflects as much honour on the goodness of his heart, as his prudence, and the paternal care which he incessantly manifested for his subjects, induced them to give him the surname of Beneficent; the appellation Stanislaus in truth merited.
He proved himself ever the friend of humanity, and instituted several useful establishments. Nancy, Luneville were embellished; the little city of Saint Diez, destroyed by fire, was rebuilt; he founded hospitals for children; seminaries for youth; and houses of retirement for old age. Lorraine under Stanislaus might form some conception of the happiness of Rome under Titus. Happy and flourishing, she only demanded the prolongation of the life of so good a prince, when a tragical accident hastened his death. His Robe de Chambre one morning caught fire, and a fever occasioned by the flames terminated his existence, on the 23d of February, 1766.
In the person of Stanislaus may be seen two different men on the same throne; the one worthy of giving happiness to a quiet state, disturbed by no faction, and whose prosperity consists in the paternal attentions of its king. The other incapable, by the indecision of his character, to strengthen a tottering empire, and to demand obedience from a volatile and restless people, inconstant in their affections, and ever ready to arm against their prince. But if Stanislaus had not all the qualities which compose a great king, he had those of a virtuous sovereign. His heart was good, and misfortunes had perhaps augmented his natural kindness. His eloquence was persuasive, nervous, and without art, and his mind active and penetrating. He was ready at repartée, and this talent remained to his last moments.During the fever which his accident produced, the queen recommended him to guard against cold. "You ought rather," he replied, " to caution me against heat."
Stanislaus cherished the arts and cultivated them. His court at Luneville became the Athens of France. He encouraged talents, and appeared to forget his own in giving brilliancy to those of others. He spoke French with purity and elegance. The love of mankind, and his desire to render them happy, gave birth to the various tracts he left behind him, under the title of "The Works of a Beneficent Philosopher," which have been published in 4 vols. 8vo. 1765.