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Augustus Iii

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AUGUSTUS III., or FREDERICK AUGUSTUS II., Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, only legitimate son of Augustus the Strong, was born at Dresden, 7th October 1696. He was brought up in the Protestant faith, but in 1712, while on his travels, he entered the Church of Rome, though his change of opinion was not publicly known till 1717. In 1733 he succeeded his father as elector of Saxony, and put forward claims to the kingdom of Poland. The Polish nobles, however, had become dissatisfied with foreign rule, and endeavoured to reinstate Stanislaus Leszczinski, whose daughter was married to Louis XV. of France. Russia and Austria, probably bribed, but certainly dreading French influence in Poland, supported Augustus, who was elected, though in an informal manner, and by their aid established himself in the kingdom. On the death of Charles of Austria in 1740, Saxony at first joined the league against Maria Theresa, but jealousy of the Prussian successes in the first campaign caused Augustus to unite with the empress when war broke out a second time in 1744. His forces were completely defeated by Frederick, and Saxony was overrun and pillaged by the Prussian troops. Eleven years later Augustus joined the alliance against Frederick, which gave rise to the Seven Years' War. He was again unfortunate ; the whole Saxon army was surrounded and compelled to surrender at Pirna in 1756, and during the remainder of the war Saxony and Poland were the seats of operations, and suffered severely. Augustus died 5th October 1763, surviving only by a few months the peace of Hubertsburg. During his reign considerable additions were made to the collections of art treasures formed by his father, and Dresden began to be celebrated throughout Europe for its china and pictures.

AUK, a name common to several species of sea-fowl belonging, with one exception, to the family Aleidx. Of these, special interest attaches to the Great Auk, or Garefowl (Alta imperenis), from the circumstance that there is no authentic record of its having been taken, or even seen alive, for more than a quarter of a century. In the autumn of 1821 Dr Fleming, while on a cruise through the Hebrides, observed and described one which had been taken alive in the sea off St Kilda and put on board the yacht. With a rope attached to one of its legs, this specimen was occasionally allowed to disport itself in its native element, where it astonished every one by the rapidity with which it swam under water. On one of these occasions it got loose from its bonds, and was soon beyond reach of pursuit. Another specimen had been observed a few years before off Papa Westra, one of the Orkney Islands, but in spite of the exertions of the crew of a six-oared boat, continued for several hours, the auk could not be overtaken. This specimen, however, was afterwards secured, and is now in the British Museum. The Great Auk measures about three feet in length, has a large bill, but wings so small as to be totally useless for flying, serving, however, as powerful swimming organs It is said to have laid a single egg on the bare rock, - usually, from the inability of the bird to rise on wing to the higher cliffs, close to the water edge. Its food, according to Fabricius, consisted of the lump-sucker and other fishes of a similar size. From the earliest existing accounts, the Great Auk does not appear to have ever been more than an occasional visitant to the British Isles, and then chiefly to the sea around St Kilda and the Orkneys, while Iceland, the Faroes, and the islets about Newfoundland, appear to have been its proper home. The probability that this bird is now totally extinct gives special value to the remains of it now existing. These, according to Professor Newton, are as follows :-71 or 72 skins, 9 skeletons, 38 or 41 detached bones of different birds, and 65 eggs. The other Auks are the Puffin, the Razorbill, and the Little Auk, all widely distributed along the northern-temperate and Arctic coasts.

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