Schlesien, what we call Silesia, lies in elliptic shape, spread on the top of Europe, partly girt with mountains, like the crown or crest to that part of the Earth;—highest table-land of Germany or of the Cisalpine Countries; and sending rivers into all the seas. The summit or highest level of it is in the southwest; longest diameter is from northwest to southeast. From Crossen, whither Friedrich is now driving, to the Jablunka Pass, which issues upon Hungary, is above 250 miles; the AXIS, therefore, or longest diameter, of our Ellipse we may call 230 English miles;—its shortest or conjugate diameter, from Friedland in Bohemia (Wallenstein's old Friedland), by Breslau across the Oder to the Polish Frontier, is about 100. The total area of Schlesien is counted to be some 20,000 square miles, nearly the third of England Proper.
Schlesien—will the reader learn to call it by that name, on occasion? for in these sad Manuscripts of ours the names alternate—is a fine, fertile, useful and beautiful Country. It leans sloping, as we hinted, to the East and to the North; a long curved buttress of Mountains ("RIESENGEBIRGE, Giant Mountains," is their best-known name in foreign countries) holding it up on the South and West sides. This Giant-Mountain Range,—which is a kind of continuation of the Saxon-Bohemian "Metal Mountains (ERZGEBIRGE)" and of the straggling Lausitz Mountains, to westward of these,—shapes itself like a bill-hook (or elliptically, as was said): handle and hook together may be some 200 miles in length. The precipitous side of this is, in general, turned outwards, towards Bohmen, Mahren, Ungarn (Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary, in our dialects); and Schlesien lies inside, irregularly sloping down, towards the Baltic and towards the utmost East, From the Bohemian side of these Mountains there rise two Rivers: Elbe, tending for the West; Morawa for the South;—Morawa, crossing Moravia, gets into the Donau, and thence into the Black-Sea; while Elbe, after intricate adventures among the mountains, and then prosperously across the plains, is out, with its many ships, into the Atlantic. Two rivers, we say, from the Bohemian or steep side: and again, from the Silesian side, there rise other two, the Oder and the Weichsel (VISTULA); which start pretty near one another in the Southeast, and, after wide windings, get both into the Baltic, at a good distance apart.
For the first thirty, or in parts, fifty miles from the Mountains, Silesia slopes somewhat rapidly; and is still to be called a Hill-country, rugged extensive elevations diversifying it: but after that, the slope is gentle, and at length insensible, or noticeable only by the way the waters run. From the central part of it, Schlesien pictures itself to you as a plain; growing ever flatter, ever sandier, as it abuts on the monotonous endless sand-flats of Poland, and the Brandenburg territories; nothing but Boundary Stones with their brass inscriptions marking where the transition is; and only some Fortified Town, not far off, keeping the door of the Country secure in that quarter.
On the other hand, the Mountain part of Schlesien is very picturesque; not of Alpine height anywhere (the Schnee-Koppe itself is under 5,000 feet), so that verdure and forest wood fail almost nowhere among the Mountains; and multiplex industry, besung by rushing torrents and the swift young rivers, nestles itself high up; and from wheat husbandry, madder and maize husbandry, to damask-weaving, metallurgy, charcoal-burning, tar-distillery, Schlesien has many trades, and has long been expert and busy at them to a high degree. A very pretty Ellipsis, or irregular Oval, on the summit of the European Continent;—"like the palm of a left hand well stretched out, with the Riesengebirge for thumb!" said a certain Herr to me, stretching out his arm in that fashion towards the northwest. Palm, well stretched out, measuring 250 miles; and the crossway 100. There are still beavers in Schlesien; the Katzbach River has gold grains in it, a kind of Pactolus not now worth working; and in the scraggy lonesome pine-woods, grimy individuals, with kindled mounds of pine-branches and smoke carefully kept down by sods, are sweating out a substance which they inform you is to be tar.
Who first lived in Schlesien, or lived long since in it, there is no use in asking, nor in telling if one knew. "The QUADI and the Lygii," says Dryasdust, in a groping manner: Quadi and consorts, in the fifth or sixth Century, continues he with more confidence, shifted Rome-ward, following the general track of contemporaneous mankind; weak remnant of Quadi was thereupon overpowered by Slavic populations, and their Country became Polish, which the eastern rim of it still essentially is. That was the end of the Quadi in those parts, says History. But they cannot speak nor appeal for themselves; History has them much at discretion. Rude burial urns, with a handful of ashes in them, have been dug up in different places; these are all the Archives and Histories the Quadi now have. It appears their name signifies WICKED. They are those poor Quadi (WICKED PEOPLE) who always go along with the Marcomanni (MARCHMEN), in the bead-roll Histories one reads; and I almost guess they must have been of the same stock: "Wickeds and Borderers;" considered, on both sides of the Border, to belong to the Dangerous Classes in those times. Two things are certain: First, QUAD and its derivatives have, to this day, in the speech of rustic Germans, something of that meaning,—"nefarious," at least "injurious," "hateful, and to be avoided:" for example, QUADdel, "a nettle-burn;" QUETSchen, "to smash" (say, your thumb while hammering); &c. &c. And then a second thing: The Polish equivalent word is ZLE (Busching says ZLEXI); hence ZLEzien, SCHLEsien, meaning merely BADland, QUADland, what we might called DAMAGitia, or Country where you get into Trouble. That is the etymology, or what passes for such. As to the History of Schlesien, hitherwards of these burial urns dug up in different places, I notice, as not yet entirely buriable, Three Epochs.
FIRST EPOCH; CHRISTIANITY: A.D. 966. Introduction of Christianity; to the length of founding a Bishopric that year, so hopeful were the aspects; "Bishopric of Schmoger" (SchMAGram, dim little Village still discoverable on the Polish frontier, not far from the Town of Namslau); Bishopric which, after one removal farther inward, got across the Oder, to "WRUTISLAV," which me now call Breslau; and sticks there, as Bishopric of Breslau, to this day. Year 966: it was in Adalbert, our Prussian Saint and Missionary's younger time. Preaching, by zealous Polacks, must have been going on, while Adalbert, Bright in Nobleness, was studying at Magdeburg, and ripening for high things in the general estimation. This was a new gift from the Polacks, this of Christianity; an infinitely more important one than that nickname of "ZLEZIEN," or "DAMAGitia," stuck upon the poor Country, had been.
SECOND EPOCH; GET GRADUALLY CUT LOOSE FROM POLAND: A.D. 1139-1159. Twenty years of great trouble in Poland, which were of lasting benefit to Schlesien. In 1139 the Polack King, a very potent Majesty whom we could name but do not, died; and left his Dominions shared by punctual bequest among his five sons. Punctual bequest did avail: but the eldest Son (who was King, and had Schlesien with much else to his share) began to encroach, to grasp; upon which the others rose upon him, flung him out into exile; redivided; and hoped now they might have quiet. Hoped, but were disappointed; and could come to no sure bargain for the next twenty years,—not till "the eldest brother," first author of these strifes, "died an exile in Holstein," or was just about dying, and had agreed to take Schlesien for all claims, and be quiet thenceforth.
His, this eldest's, three Sons did accordingly, in 1159, get Schlesien instead of him; their uncles proving honorable. Schlesien thereby was happy enough to get cut loose from Poland, and to continue loose; steering a course of its own;—parting farther and farther from Poland and its habits and fortunes. These three Sons, of the late Polish Majesty who died in exile in Holstein, are the "Piast Dukes," much talked of in Silesian Histories: of whose merits I specify this only, That they so soon as possible strove to be German. They were Progenitors of all the "Piast Dukes," Proprietors of Schlesien thenceforth, till the last of them died out in 1675,—and a certain ERBVERBRUDERUNG they had entered into could not take effect at that time. Their merits as Sovereign Dukes seem to have been considerable; a certain piety, wisdom and nobleness of mind not rare among them; and no doubt it was partly their merit, if partly also their good luck, that they took to Germany, and leant thitherward; steering looser and looser from Poland, in their new circumstances. They themselves by degrees became altogether German; their Countries, by silent immigration, introduction of the arts, the composures and sobrieties, became essentially so. On the eastern rim there is still a Polack remnant, its territories very sandy, its condition very bad; remnant which surely ought to cease its Polack jargon, and learn some dialect of intelligible Teutsch, as the first condition of improvement. In all other parts Teutsch reigns; and Schlesien is a green abundant Country; full of metallurgy, damask-weaving, grain-husbandry.—instead of gasconade, gilt anarchy, rags, dirt, and NIE POZWALAM.
A.D. 1327; GET COMPLETELY CUT LOOSE. The Piast Dukes, who soon ceased to be Polish, and hung rather upon Bohemia, and thereby upon Germany, made a great step in that direction, when King Johann, old ICH-DIEN whom we ought to recollect, persuaded most of them, all of them but two, "PRETIO AC PRECE," to become Feudatories (Quasi-Feudatories, but of a sovereign sort) to his Crown of Bohemia. The two who stood out, resisting prayer and price, were the Duke of Jauer and the Duke of Schweidnitz,—lofty-minded gentlemen, perhaps a thought too lofty. But these also Johann's son, little Kaiser Karl IV., "marrying their heiress," contrived to bring in;—one fruitful adventure of little Karl's, among the many wasteful he made, in the German Reich. Schlesien is henceforth a bit of the Kingdom of Bohemia; indissolubly hooked to Germany; and its progress in the arts and composures, under wise Piasts with immigrating Germans, we guess to have become doubly rapid. [Busching, Erdbeschreibung, viii. 725; Hubner, t. 94.]
THIRD EPOCH; ADOPT THE REFORMATION: A.D. 1414-1517. Schlesien, hanging to Bohemia in this manner, extensively adopted Huss's doctrines; still more extensively Luther's; and that was a difficult element in its lot, though, I believe, an unspeakably precious one. It cost above a Century of sad tumults, Zisca Wars; nay above two Centuries, including the sad Thirty-Years War;—which miseries, in Bohemia Proper, were sometimes very sad and even horrible. But Schlesien, the outlying Country, did, in all this, suffer less than Bohemia Proper; and did NOT lose its Evangelical Doctrine in result, as unfortunate Bohemia did, and sink into sluttish "fanatical torpor, and big Crucifixes of japanned Tin by the wayside," though in the course of subsequent years, named of Peace, it was near doing so. Here are the steps, or unavailing counter-steps, in that latter direction:—
A.D. 1537. Occurred, as we know, the ERBVERBRUDERUNG; Duke of Liegnitz, and of other extensive heritages, making Deed of Brotherhood with Kur-Brandenburg;—Deed forbidden, and so far as might be, rubbed out and annihilated by the then King of Bohemia, subsequently Kaiser Ferdinand I., Karl V.'s Brother. Duke of Liegnitz had to give up his parchments, and become zero in that matter: Kur-Brandenburg entirely refused to do so; kept his parchments, to see if they would not turn to something.
A.D. 1624. Schlesien, especially the then Duke of Liegnitz (great-grandson of the ERBVERBRUDERUNG one), and poor Johann George, Duke of Jagerndorf, cadet of the then Kur-Brandenburg, went warmly ahead into the Winter-King project, first fire of the Thirty-Years War; sufferings from Papal encroachment, in high quarters, being really extreme. Warmly ahead; and had to smart sharply for it;—poor Johann George with forfeiture of Jagerndorf, with REICHES-ACHT (Ban of the Empire), and total ruin; fighting against which he soon died. Act of Ban and Forfeiture was done tyrannously, said most men; and it was persisted in equally so, till men ceased speaking of it;—Jagerndorf Duchy, fruit of the Act, was held by Austria, ever after, in defiance of the Laws of the Reich. Religious Oppression lay heavy on Protestant Schlesien thenceforth; and many lukewarm individualities were brought back to Orthodoxy by that method, successful in the diligent skilled hands of Jesuit Reverend Fathers, with fiscals and soldiers in the rear of them.
A.D. 1648. Treaty of Westphalia mended much of this, and set fair limits to Papist encroachment;—had said Treaty been kept: but how could it? By Orthodox Authority, anxious to recover lost souls, or at least to have loyal subjects, it was publicly kept in name; and tacitly, in substance, it was violated more and more. Of the "Blossoming of Silesian Literature," spoken of in Books; of the Poet Opitz, Poets Logan, Hoffmannswaldau, who burst into a kind of Song better or worse at this Period, we will remember nothing; but request the reader to remember it, if he is tunefully given, or thinks it a good symptom of Schlesien.
A.D. 1707. Treaty of Altranstadt: between Kaiser Joseph I. and Karl XII. Swedish Karl, marching through those parts,—out of Poland, in chase of August the Physically Strong, towards Saxony, there to beat him soft,—was waited upon by Silesian Deputations of a lamentable nature; was entreated, for the love of Christ and His Evangel, to "Protect us poor Protestants, and get the Treaty of Westphalia observed on our behalf, and fair-play shown!" Which Karl did; Kaiser Joseph, with such weight of French War lying on him, being much struck with the tone of that dangerous Swede. The Pope rebuked Kaiser Joseph for such compliance in the Silesian matter: "Holy Father," answered this Kaiser (not of distinguished orthodoxy in the House), "I am too glad he did not ask me to become Lutheran; I know not how I should have helped myself!" [Pauli, Allgemeine Preussische Staats-Geschichte (viii. 298-592); Busching, Erdbeschreibung (viii. 700-739); &c.—Heinrich Wuttke, Friedrichs des Grossen Besitzergreifung von Schlesien (Seizure of Silesia by Friedrich, 2 vols. Leipzig, 1843), I mention only lest ingenuous readers should be tempted by the Title to buy it. Wuttke begins at the Creation of the World; and having, in two heavy volumes, at last struggled down close TO the BESITZERGREIFUNG or Seizure in question, calls halt; and stands (at ease, we will hope) immovably there for the seventeen years since.]
These are the Three Epochs;—most things, in respect of this Third or Reformation Epoch, stepping steadily downward hitherto. As to the Fourth Epoch, dating "13th Dec. 1740," which continues, up to our day and farther, and is the final and crowning Epoch of Silesian History,—read in the following Chapters.
At what hour Friedrich ceased dancing on that famous Ball-night of Bielfeld's, and how long he slept after, or whether at all, no Bielfeld even mythically says: but next morning, as is patent to all the world, Tuesday, 13th December, 1740, at the stroke of nine, he steps into his carriage; and with small escort rolls away towards Frankfurt-on-Oder; [Helden-Geschichte, i. 452; Preuss, Thronbesteigung, p. 456.] out upon an Enterprise which will have results for himself and others.
Two youngish military men, Adjutant-Generals both, were with him, Wartensleben, Borck; both once fellow Captains in the Potsdam Giants, and much in his intimacy ever since. Wartensleben we once saw at Brunswick, on a Masonic occasion; Borck, whom we here see for the first time, is not the Colonel Borck (properly Major-General) who did the Herstal Operation lately; still less is he the venerable old Minister, Marlborough Veteran, and now Field-Marshal Borck, whom Hotham treated with, on a certain occasion. There are numerous Borcks always in the King's service; nor are these three, except by loose cousinry, related to one another. The Borcks all come from Stettin quarter; a brave kindred, and old enough,—"Old as the Devil, DAS IST SO OLD ALS DE BORCKEN UND DE DUWEL," says the Pomeranian Proverb;—the Adjutant-General, a junior member of the clan, chances to be the notablest of them at this moment. Wartensleben, Borck, and a certain Colonel von der Golz, whom also the King much esteems, these are his company on this drive. For escort, or guard of honor out of Berlin to the next stages, there is a small body of Hussars, Life-guard and other Cavalry, "perhaps 500 horse in all."
They drive rapidly, through the gray winter; reach Frankfurt-on-Oder, sixty miles or more; where no doubt there is military business waiting. They are forward, on the morrow, for dinner, forty miles farther, at a small Town called Crossen, which looks over into Silesia; and is, for the present, headquarters to a Prussian Army, standing ready there and in the environs. Standing ready, or hourly marching in, and rendezvousing; now about 28,000 strong, horse and foot. A Rearguard of Ten or Twelve Thousand will march from Berlin in two days, pause hereabouts, and follow according to circumstances: Prussian Army will then be some 40,000 in all. Schwerin has been Commander, manager and mainspring of the business hitherto: henceforth it is to be the King; but Schwerin under him will still have a Division of his own.
Among the Regiments, we notice "Schulenburg Horse-Grenadiers,"—come along from Landsberg hither, these Horse-Grenadiers, with little Schulenburg at the head of them;—"Dragoon Regiment Bayreuth," "Lifeguard Carbineers," "Derschau of Foot;" and other Regiments and figures slightly known to us, or that will be better known. [List in Helden-Geschichte, i. 453.] Rearguard, just getting under way at Berlin, has for leaders the Prince of Holstein-Beck ("Holstein-VAISSELLE," say wags, since the Principality went all to SILVER-PLATE) and the Hereditary Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, whom we called the Young Dessauer, on the Strasburg Journey lately: Rearguard, we say, is of 12,000; main Army is 28,000; Horse and Foot are in the proportion of about 1 to 3. Artillery "consists of 20 three-pounders; 4 twelve-pounders; 4 howitzers (HAUBITZEN); 4 big mortars, calibre fifty pounds; and of Artillerymen 166 in all."
With this Force the young King has, on his own basis (pretty much in spite of all the world, as we find now and afterwards), determined to invade Silesia, and lay hold of the Property he has long had there;—not computing, for none can compute, the sleeping whirlwinds he may chance to awaken thereby. Thus lightly does a man enter upon Enterprises which prove unexpectedly momentous, and shape the whole remainder of his days for him; crossing the Rubicon as it were in his sleep. In Life, as on Railways at certain points,—whether you know it or not, there is but an inch, this way or that, into what tram you are shunted; but try to get out of it again! "The man is mad, CET HOMME-LA EST FOL!" said Louis XV. when he heard it. [Raumer, Beitrage (English Translation, called Frederick II. and his Times; from British Museum and State-Paper Office:—a very indistinct poor Book, in comparison with whet it might have been), p. 73 (24th Dec. 1740).]
At all events, the man means to try;—and is here dining at Crossen, noon of Wednesday, the 14th; certain important persons,—especially two Silesian Gentlemen, deputed from Grunberg, the nearest Silesian Town, who have come across the border on business,—having the honor to dine with him. To whom his manner is lively and affable; lively in mood, as if there lay no load upon his spirits. The business of these two Silesian Gentlemen, a Baron von Hocke one of them, a Baron von Kestlitz the other, was To present, on the part of the Town and Amt of Grunberg, a solemn Protest against this meditated entrance on the Territory of Schlesien; Government itself, from Breslau, ordering them to do so. Protest was duly presented; Friedrich, as his manner is, and continues to be on his march, glances politely into or at the Protest; hands it, in silence, to some page or secretary to deposit in the due pigeon-hole or waste-basket; and invites the two Silesian Gentlemen to dine with him; as, we see, they have the honor to do. "He (ER) lives near Grunberg, then, Mein Herr von Hocke?" "Close to it, IHRO MAJESTAT. My poor mansion, Schloss of Deutsch-Kessel, is some fifteen miles hence; how infinitely at your Majesty's service, should the march prove inevitable, and go that way!"—"Well, perhaps!" I find Friedrich did dine, the second day hence, with one of these Gentlemen; and lodged with the other. Government at Breslau has ordered such Protest, on the part of the Frontier populations and Official persons: and this is all that comes of it.
During these hours, it chanced that the big Bell of Crossen dropped from its steeple,—fulness of time, or entire rottenness of axle-tree, being at last completed, at this fateful moment. Perhaps an ominous thing? Friedrich, as Caesar and others have done, cheerfully interprets the omen to his own advantage: "Sign that the High is to be brought low!" says Friedrich. Were the march-routes, wagon-trains, and multifarious adjustments perfect to the last item here at Crossen, he will with much cheerfulness step into Silesia, independent of all Grunberg Protests and fallen Bells.
On the second day he does actually cross; "the regiments marching in, at different points; some reaching as far as 25 miles in." It is Friday, 16th December, 1740; there has a game begun which will last long! They went through the Village of Lasgen; that was the first point of Silesian ground ("Circle of Schwiebus," our old friend, is on the left near by); and "Schwerin's Regiment was the foremost." Others cross more to the left or right; "marching through the Village of Lessen," and other dim Villages and little Towns, round and beyond Grunberg; all regiments and divisions bearing upon Grunberg and the Great Road; but artistically portioned out,—several miles in breadth (for the sake of quarters), and, as is generally the rule, about a day's march in length. This evening nearly the whole Army was on Silesian ground.
Printed "Patent" or Proclamation, briefly assuring all Silesians, of whatever rank, condition or religion, "That we have come as friends to them, and will protect all persons in their privileges, and molest no peaceable mortal," is posted on Church-doors, and extensively distributed by hand. Soldiers are forbidden, "under penalty of the rods," Officers under that of "cassation with infamy," to take anything, without first bargaining and paying ready money for it. On these terms the Silesian villages cheerfully enough accept their new guests, interesting to the rural mind; and though the billeting was rather heavy, "as many as 24 soldiers to a common Farmer (GARTNER)," no complaints were made. In one Schloss, where the owners had fled, and no human response was to be had by the wayworn-soldiery, there did occur some breakages and impatient kickings about; which it grieved his Majesty to hear of, next morning;—in one, not in more.
Official persons, we perceive, study to be absolutely passive. This was the Burgermeister's course at Grunberg to-night; Grunberg, first Town on the Frontier, sets an example of passivity which cannot be surpassed. Prussian troops being at the Gate of Grunberg, Burgermeister and adjuncts sitting in a tacit expectant condition in their Town-hall, there arrives a Prussian Lieutenant requiring of the Burgermeister the Key of said Gate. "To deliver such Key? Would to God I durst, Mein Herr Lieutenant; but how dare I! There is the Key lying: but to GIVE it—You are not the Queen of Hungary's Officer, I doubt?"—The Prussian Lieutenant has to put out hand, and take the Key; which he readily does. And on the morrow, in returning it, when the march recommences, there are the same phenomena: Burgermeister or assistants dare not for the life of them touch that Key: It lay on the table; and may again, in the course of Providence, come to lie!—The Prussian Lieutenant lays it down accordingly, and hurries out, with a grin on his face. There was much small laughter over this transaction; Majesty himself laughing well at it. Higher perfection of passivity no Burgermeister could show.
The march, as readers understand, is towards Glogau; a strongish Garrison Town, now some 40 miles ahead; the key of Northern Schlesien. Grunberg (where my readers once slept for the night, in the late King's time, though they have forgotten it) is the first and only considerable Town on the hither side of Glogau. On to Glogau, I rather perceive, the Army is in good part provisioned before starting: after Glogau,—we must see. Bread-wagons, Baggage-wagons, Ammunition-and-Artillery wagons, all is in order; Army artistically portioned out. That is the form of march; with Glogau ahead. King, as we said above, dines with his Baron von Hocke, at the Schloss of Deutsch-Kessel, short way beyond Grunberg, this first day: but he by no means loiters there;—cuts across, a dozen miles westward, through a country where his vanguard on its various lines of march ought to be arriving;—and goes to lodge, at the Schloss of Schweinitz, with his other Baron, the Von Kestlitz of Wednesday at Crossen. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 459.] This is Friday, 16th December, his first night on Silesian ground.
Silesia, in the way of resistance, is not in the least prepared for him. A month ago, there were not above 3,000 Austrian Foot and 600 Horse in the whole Province: neither the military Governor Count Wallis, nor the Imperial Court, nor any Official Person near or far, had the least anticipation of such a Visit. Count Wallis, who commands in Glogau, did in person, nine or ten days ago, as the rumors rose ever higher, run over to Crossen; saw with his eyes the undeniable there; and has been zealously endeavoring ever since, what he could, to take measures. Wallis is now shut in Glogau; his second, the now Acting Governor, General Browne, a still more reflective man, is doing likewise his utmost; but on forlorn terms, and without the least guidance from Court. Browne has, by violent industry, raked together, from Mahren and the neighboring countries, certain fractions which raise his Force to 7,000 Foot: these he throws, in small parties, into the defensible points; or, in larger, into the Chief Garrisons. New Cavalry he cannot get; the old 600 Horse he keeps for himself, all the marching Army he has. [Particulars in Helden-Geschichte, i. 465; total of Austrian Force seems to be 7,800 horse and foot.]
Fain would he get possession of Breslau, and throw in some garrison there; but cannot. Neither he nor Wallis could compass that. Breslau is a City divided against itself, on this matter; full of emotions, of expectations, apprehensions for and against. There is a Supreme Silesian Government (OBER-AMT "Head-Office," kind of Austrian Vice-Royalty) in Breslau; and there is, on Breslau's own score, a Town-Rath; strictly Catholic both these, Vienna the breath of their nostrils. But then also there are forty-four Incorporated Trades; Oppressed Protestant in Majority; to whom Vienna is not breath, but rather the want of it. Lastly, the City calls itself Free; and has crabbed privileges still valid; a "JUS PROESIDII" (or right to be one's own garrison) one of them, and the most inconvenient just now. Breslau is a REICH-STADT; in theory, sovereign member of the Reich, and supreme over its own affairs, even as Austria itself:—and the truth is, old Theory and new Fact, resolved not to quarrel, have lapsed into one another's arms in a quite inextricable way, in Breslau as elsewhere! With a Head Government which can get no orders from Vienna, the very Town-Rath has little alacrity, inclines rather to passivity like Grunberg; and a silent population threatens to become vocal if you press upon it.
Breslau, that is to say the OBER-AMT there, has sent courier on courier to Vienna for weeks past: not even an answer;—what can Vienna answer, with Kur-Baiern and others threatening war on it, and only 10,000 pounds in its National Purse? Answer at last is, "Don't bother! Danger is not so near. Why spend money on couriers, and get into such a taking?" General Wallis came to Breslau, after what he had seen at Crossen; and urged strongly, in the name of self-preservation, first law of Nature, to get an Austrian real Garrison introduced; wished much (horrible to think of!) "the suburbs should be burnt, and better ramparts raised:" but could not succeed in any of these points, nor even mention some of them in a public manner. "You shall have a Protestant for commandant," suggested Wallis; "there is Count von Roth, Silesian-Lutheran, an excellent Soldier!"—"Thanks," answered they, "we can defend ourselves; we had rather not have any!" And the Breslau Burghers have, accordingly, set to drill themselves; are bringing out old cannon in quantity; repairing breaches; very strict in sentry-work: "Perfectly able to defend our City,—so far as we see good!"—Tuesday last, December 13th (the very day Friedrich left Berlin), as this matter of the Garrison, long urged by the Ober-Amt, had at last been got agreed to by the Town-Rath, "on proviso of consulting the Incorporated Trades", or at least consulting their Guild-Masters, who are usually a silent folk,—the Guild-Masters suddenly became in part vocal; and their forty-four Guilds unusually so:—and there was tumult in Breslau, in the Salz-Ring (big central Square or market-place, which they call RING) such as had not been; idle population, and guild-brethren of suspicious humor, gathering in multitudes into and round the fine old Town-hall there; questioning, answering, in louder and louder key; at last bellowing quite in alt; and on the edge of flaming into one knew not what: [Helden-Geschichte, i. 469.]—till the matter of Austrian Garrison (much more, of burning the suburbs!) had to be dropt; settled in what way we see.
Head Government (OBER-AMT) has, through its Northern official people, sent Protest, strict order to the Silesian Population to look sour on the Prussians:—and we saw, in consequence, the two Silesian Gentlemen did dine with Friedrich, and he has returned their visits; and the Mayor of Grunberg would not touch his keys. Head Government is now redacting a "Patent," or still more solemn Protest of its own; which likewise it will affix in the Salz-Ring here, and present to King Friedrich: and this—except "despatching by boat down the river a great deal of meal to Glogau", which was an important quiet thing, of Wallis's enforcing—is pretty much all it can do. No Austrian Garrison can be got in ("Perfectly able to defend ourselves!")—let Government and Wallis or Browne contrive as they may. And as to burning the suburbs, better not whisper of that again. Breslau feels, or would fain feel itself "perfectly able;"—has at any rate no wish to be bombarded; and contains privately a great deal of Protestant humor. Of all which, Friedrich, it is not doubted, has notice more or less distinct; and quickens his march the more.
General Browne is at present in the Southern parts; an able active man and soldier; but, with such a force what can he attempt to do? There are three strong places in the Country, Glogau, then Brieg, both on the Oder river; lastly Neisse, on the Neisse river, a branch of the Oder (one of the FOUR Neisse rivers there are in Germany, mostly in Silesia,—not handy to the accurate reader of German Books). Browne is in Neisse; and will start into a strange stare when the flying post reaches him: Prussians actually on march! Debate with them, if debate there is to be, Browne himself must contrive to do; from Breslau, from Vienna, no Government Supreme or Subordinate can yield his 8,000 and him the least help.
Glogau, as we saw, means to defend itself; at least, General Wallis the Commandant, does, in spite of the Glogau public; and is, with his whole might, digging, palisading, getting in meal, salt meat and other provender;—likewise burning suburbs, uncontrollable he, in the small place; and clearing down the outside edifices and shelters, at a diligent rate. Yesterday, 15th December, he burnt down the "three Oder-Mills, which lie outside the big suburban Tavern, also the ZIEGEL-SCHEUNE (Tile-Manufactory)," and other valuable buildings, careless of public lamentation,—fire catching the Town itself, and needing to be quenched again. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 473-475.] Nay, he was clear for burning down, or blowing up, the Protestant Church, indispensable sacred edifice which stands outside the walls: "Prussians will make a block-house of it!" said Wallis. A chief Protestant, Baron von Something, begged passionately for only twelve hours of respite,—to lay the case before his Prussian Majesty. Respite conceded, he and another chief Protestant had posted off accordingly; and did the next morning (Friday, 16th), short way from Crossen, meet his Majesty's carriage; who graciously pulled up for a few instants, and listened to their story. "MEINE HERREN, you are the first that ask a favor of me on Silesian ground; it shall be done you!" said the King; and straightway despatched, in polite style, his written request to Wallis, engaging to make no military use whatever of said Church, "but to attack by the other side, if attack were necessary." Thus his Majesty saved the Church of Glogau; which of course was a popular act. Getting to see this Church himself a few days hence, he said, "Why, it must come down at any rate, and be rebuilt; so ugly a thing!"
Wallis is making strenuous preparation; forces the inhabitants, even the upper kinds of them, to labor day and night by relays, in his rampartings, palisadings; is for burning all the adjacent Villages,—and would have done it, had not the peasants themselves turned out in a dangerous state of mind. He has got together about 1,000 men. His powder, they say, is fifty years old; but he has eatable provender from Breslau, and means to hold out to the utmost. Readers must admit that the Austrian military, Graf von Wallis to begin with,—still more, General Browne, who is a younger man and has now the head charge,—behave well in their present forsaken condition. Wallis (Graf FRANZ WENZEL this one, not to be confounded with an older Wallis heard of in the late Turk War) is of Scotch descent,—as all these Wallises are; "came to Austria long generations ago; REICHSGRAFS since 1612:"—Browne is of Irish; age now thirty-five, ten years younger than Wallis. Read this Note on the distinguished Browne:—
"A German-Irish Gentleman, this General (ultimately Fieldmarshal) Graf von Browne; one of those sad exiled Irish Jacobites, or sons of Jacobites, who are fighting in foreign armies; able and notable men several of them, and this Browne considerably the most so. We shall meet him repeatedly within the next eighteen years. Maximilian-Ulysses Graf von Browne: I said he was born German; Basel his birthplace (23d October, 1705), Father also a soldier: he must not be confounded with a contemporary Cousin of his, who is also 'Fieldmarshal Browne,' but serves in Russia, Governor of Riga for a long time in the coming years. This Austrian General, Fieldmarshal Browne, will by and by concern us somewhat; and the reader may take note of him.
"Who the Irish Brothers Browne, the Fathers of these Marshals Browne, were? I have looked in what Irish Peerages and printed Records there were, but without the least result. One big dropsical Book, of languid quality, called King James's Irish Army-List, has multitudes of Brownes and others, in an indistinct form; but the one Browne wanted, the one Lacy, almost the one Lally, like the part of HAMLET, are omitted. There are so many Irish in the like case with these Brownes. A Lacy we once slightly saw or heard of; busy in the Polish-Election time,—besieging Dantzig (investing Dantzig, that Munnich might besiege it);—that Lacy, 'Governor of Riga,' whom the RUSSIAN Browne will succeed, is also Irish: a conspicuous Russian man; and will have a Son Lacy, conspicuous among the Austrians. Maguires, Ogilvies (of the Irish stock), Lieutenants 'Fitzgeral;' very many Irish; and there is not the least distinct account to be had of any of them." [For Browne see "Anonymous of Hamburg" (so I have had to label a J.F.S. Geschichte des &c.—in fact, History of Seven-Years War, in successive volumes, done chiefly by the scissors; Leipzig and Frankfurt, 1759, et seqq.), i. 123-131 n.: elaborate Note of eight pages there; intimating withal that he, J.F.S., wrote the "Life of Browne," a Book I had in vain sought for; and can now guess to consist of those same elaborate eight pages, PLUS water and lathering to the due amount. Anonymous "of Hamburg" I call my J.F.S.,—having fished him out of the dust-abysses in that City: a very poor take; yet worth citing sometimes, being authentic, as even the darkest Germans generally are.—For a glimpse of LACY (the Elder Lacy) see Busching, Beitrage, vi. 162.—For WALLIS (tombstone Note on Wallis) see (among others who are copious in that kind of article, and keep large sacks of it, in admired disorder) Anonymous Seyfarth, Geschichte Friedrichs des Andern (Leipzig, 1784-1788), i. 112 n.; and Anonymous, Leben der &c. Marie Theresie (Leipzig, 1781), 27 n.: laboriously authentic Books both; essentialy DICTIONARIES,—stuffed as into a row of blind SACKS.]
Let us attend his Majesty on the next few marches towards Glogau, to see the manner of the thing a little; after which it will behoove us to be much more summary, and stick by the main incidents.
Friedrich's march proceeds with speed and regularity. Strict discipline is maintained; all things paid for, damage carefully avoided: "We come, not as invasive enemies of you or of the Queen of Hungary, but as protective friends of Silesia and of her Majesty's rights there;—her Majesty once allowing us (as it is presumable she will) our own rights in this Province, no man shall meddle with hers, while we continue here." To that effect runs the little "Patent," or initiatory Proclamation, extensively handed out, and posted in public places, as was said above; and the practice is conformable. To all men, coming with Protests or otherwise, we perceive, the young King is politeness itself; giving clear answer, and promise which will be kept, on the above principle. Nothing angers him except that gentlemen should disbelieve, and run away. That a mansion be found deserted by its owners, is the one evil omen for such mansion. Thus, at the Schloss of Weichau (which is still discoverable on the Map, across the "Black Ochel" and the "White," muddy streams which saunter eastward towards, the Oder there, nothing yet running westward for the Bober, our other limitary river), next night after Schweinitz, second night in Silesia, there was no Owner to be met with; and the look of his Majesty grew FINSTER (dark); remembering what had passed yesternight, in like case, at that other Schloss from which the owner with his best portable furniture had vanished. At which Schloss, as above noticed, some disorders were committed by angry parties of the march;—doors burst open (doors standing impudently dumb to the rational proposals made them!), inferior remainders of furniture smashed into firewood, and the like,—no doubt to his Majesty's vexation. Here at Weichau stricter measures were taken: and yet difficulties, risks were not wanting; and the AMTMANN (Steward of the place) got pulled about, and once even a stroke or two. Happily the young Herr of Weichau appeared in person on the morrow, hearing his Majesty was still there: "Papa is old; lives at another Schloss; could not wait upon your Majesty; nor, till now, could I have that honor."—"Well; lucky that you have come: stay dinner!" Which the young Count did, and drove home in the evening to reassure Papa; his Majesty continuing there another night, and the risk over. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 459.]
This day, Sunday, 18th, the Army rests; their first Sunday in Silesia, while the young Count pays his devoir: and here in Weichau, as elsewhere, it is in the Church, Catholic nearly always, that the Heretic Army does its devotions, safe from weather at least: such the Royal Order, they say; which is taken note of, by the Heterodox and by the Orthodox. And ever henceforth, this is the example followed; and in all places where there is no Protestant Church and the Catholics have one, the Prussian Army-Chaplain assembles his buff-belted audience in the latter: "No offence, Reverend Fathers, but there are hours for us, and hours for you; and such is the King's Order." There is regular divine-service in this Prussian Army; and even a good deal of inarticulate religion, as one may see on examining.
Country Gentlemen, Town Mayors and other civic Authorities, soon learn that on these terms they are safe with his Majesty; march after march he has interviews with such, to regulate the supplies, the necessities and accidents of the quartering of his Troops. Clear, frank, open to reasonable representation, correct to his promise; in fact, industriously conciliatory and pacificatory: such is Friedrich to all Silesian men. Provincial Authorities, who can get no instructions from Head-quarters; Vienna saying nothing, Breslau nothing, and Deputy-Governor Browne being far south in Neisse,—are naturally in difficulties: How shall they act? Best not to act at all, if one can help it; and follow the Mayor of Grunberg's unsurpassable pattern!—
"These Silesians," says an Excerpt I have made, "are still in majority Protestant; especially in this Northern portion of the Province; they have had to suffer much on that and other scores; and are secretly or openly in favor of the Prussians. Official persons, all of the Catholic creed, have leant heavy, not always conscious of doing it, against Protestant rights. The Jesuits, consciously enough, have been and are busy with them; intent to recall a Heretic Population by all methods, fair and unfair. We heard of Charles XII.'s interference, three-and-thirty years ago; and how the Kaiser, hard bested at that time, had to profess repentance and engage for complete amendment. Amendment did, for the moment, accordingly take place. Treaty of Westphalia in all its stipulations, with precautionary improvements, was re-enacted as Treaty of Altranstadt; with faithful intention of keeping it too, on Kaiser Joseph's part, who was not a superstitious man: 'Holy Father, I was too glad he did not demand my own conversion to the Protestant Heresy, bested as I am,—with Louis Quatorze and Company upon the neck of me!' Some improvement of performance, very marked at first, did ensue upon this Altranstadt Treaty. But the sternly accurate Karl of Sweden soon disappeared from the scene; Kaiser Joseph of Austria soon disappeared; and his Brother, Karl VI., was a much more orthodox person.
"The Austrian Government, and Kaiser Karl's in particular, is not to be called an intentionally unjust one; the contrary, I rather find; but it is, beyond others, ponderous; based broad on such multiplex formalities, old habitudes; and GRAVITATION has a great power over it. In brief, Official human nature, with the best of Kaisers atop, flagitated continually by Jesuit Confessors, does throw its weight on a certain side: the sad fact is, in a few years the brightness of that Altranstadt improvement began to wax dim; and now, under long Jesuit manipulation, Silesian things are nearly at their old pass; and the patience of men is heavily laden. To see your Chapel made a Soldiers' Barrack, your Protestant School become a Jesuit one,—Men did not then think of revolting under injuries; but the poor Silesian weaver, trudging twenty miles for his Sunday sermon; and perceiving that, unless their Mother could teach the art of reading, his boys, except under soul's peril, would now never learn it: such a Silesian could not want for reflections. Voiceless, hopeless, but heavy; and dwelling secretly, as under nightmare, in a million hearts. Austrian Officiality, wilfully unjust, or not wilfully so, is admitted to be in a most heavy-footed condition; can administer nothing well. Good Government in any kind is not known here: Possibly the Prussian will be better; who can say?
"The secret joy of these populations, as Friedrich advances among them, becomes more and more a manifest one. Catholic Officials do not venture on any definite hope, or definite balance of hope and fear, but adopt the Mayor of Grunberg's course, and study to be passive and silent. The Jesuit-Priest kind are clear in their minds for Austria; but think, Perhaps Prussia itself will not prove very tyrannous? At all events, be silent; it is unsafe to stir. We notice generally, it is only in the Southern or Mountain regions of Silesia, where the Catholics are in majority, that the population is not ardently on the Prussian side. Passive, if they are on the other side; accurately passive at lowest, this it is prescribed all prudent men to be."
On the 18th, while divine service went on at Weichau, there was at Breslau another phenomenon observable. Provincial Government in Breslau had, at length, after intense study, and across such difficulties as we have no idea of, got its "Patent," or carefully worded Protestation against Prussia, brought to paper; and does, this day, with considerable solemnity, affix it to the Rathhaus door there, for the perusal of mankind; despatching a Copy for his Prussian Majesty withal, by two Messengers of dignity. It has needed courage screwed to the sticking-place to venture on such a step, without instruction from Head-quarters; and the utmost powers of the Official mind have been taxed to couch this Document in language politely ambiguous, and yet strong enough;—too strong, some of us now think it. In any case, here it now is; Provincial Government's bolt, so to speak, is shot. The affixing took place under dark weather-symptoms; actual outburst of thunder and rain at the moment, not to speak of the other surer omens. So that, to the common mind at Breslau, it did not seem there would much fruit come of this difficult performance. Breslau is secretly a much-agitated City; and Prussian Hussar Parties, shooting forth to great distances ahead, were, this day for the first time, observed within sight of it.
And on the same Sunday we remark farther, what is still more important: Herr von Gotter, Friedrich's special Envoy to Vienna, has his first interview with the Queen of Hungary, or with Grand-Duke Franz the Queen's Husband and Co-Regent; and presents there, from Friedrich's own hand, written we remember when, brief distinct Note of his Prussian Majesty's actual Proposals and real meaning in regard to this Silesian Affair. Proposals anxiously conciliatory in tone, but the heavy purport of which is known to us: Gotter had been despatched, time enough, with these Proposals (written above a month ago); but was instructed not to arrive with them, till after the actual entrance into Silesia. And now the response to them is—? As good as nothing; perhaps worse. Let that suffice us at present. Readers, on march for Glogau, would grudge to pause over State-papers, though we shall have to read this of Friedrich's at some freer moment.
Monday, 19th, before daybreak, the Army is astir again, simultaneously wending forward; spread over wide areas, like a vast cloud (potential thunder in it) steadily advancing on the winds. Length of the Army, artistically portioned out, may be ten or fifteen miles, breadth already more, and growing more; Schwerin always on the right or western wing, close by the Bober River as yet, through Naumburg and the Towns on that side,—Liegnitz and other important Towns lying ahead for Schwerin, still farther apart from the main Body, were Glogau once settled.
So that the march is in two Columns; Schwerin, with the westernmost small column, intending towards Liegnitz, and thence ever farther southward, with his right leaning on the high lands which rise more and more into mountains as you advance. Friedrich himself commands the other column, has his left upon the Oder, in a country mounting continually towards the South, but with less irregularity of level, and generally flat as yet. From beginning to end, the entire field of march lies between the Oder and its tributary the Bober; climbing slowly towards the sources of both. Which two rivers, as the reader may observe, form here a rectangular or trapezoidal space, ever widening as we go southward. Both rivers, coming from the Giant Mountains, hasten directly north; but Oder, bulging out easterly in his sandy course, is obliged to turn fairly westward again; and at Glogau, and a good space farther, flows in that direction;—till once Bober strikes in, almost at right angles, carrying Oder with HIM, though he is but a branch, straight northward again. Northward, but ever slower, to the swollen Pommern regions, and sluggish exit into the Baltic there.
One of the worst features is the state of the weather. On Sunday, at Breslau, we noticed thunder bursting out on an important occasion; "ominous," some men thought;—omen, for one thing, that the weather was breaking. At Weichau, that same day, rain began,—the young Herr of Weichau, driving home to Papa from dinner with Majesty, would get his share of it;—and on Monday, 19th, there was such a pour of rain as kept most wayfarers, though it could not the Prussian Army, within doors. Rain in plunges, fallen and falling, through that blessed day; making roads into mere rivers of mud. The Prussian hosts marched on, all the same. Head-quarters, with the van of the wet Army, that night, were at Milkau;—from which place we have a Note of Friedrich's for Friend Jordan, perhaps producible by and by. His Majesty lodged in some opulent Jesuit Establishment there. And indeed he continued there, not idle, under shelter, for a couple of days. The Jesuits, by their two head men, had welcomed him with their choicest smiles; to whom the King was very gracious, asking the two to dinner as usual, and styling them "Your Reverence." Willing to ingratiate himself with persons of interest in this Country; and likes talk, even with Jesuits of discernment.
On the morrow (20th), came to him, here at Milkau,—probably from some near stage, for the rain was pouring worse than ever,—that Breslau "Patent," or strongish Protestation, by its two Messengers of dignity. The King looked over it "without visible anger" or change of countenance; "handed it," we expressly see, "to a Page to reposit" in the proper waste-basket;—spoke politely to the two gentlemen; asked each or one of them, "Are you of the Ober-Amt at Breslau, then?"—using the style of ER (He).—"No, your Majesty; we are only of the Land-Stande" (Provincial Parliament, such as it is). "Upon which [do you mark!] his Majesty became still more polite; asked them to dinner, and used the style of SIE." For their PATENT, now lying safe in its waste-basket, he gave them signed receipt; no other answer.
Rain still heavier, rain as of Noah, continued through this Tuesday, and for days afterwards: but the Prussian hosts, hastening towards Glogau, marched still on. This Tuesday's march, for the rearward of the Army, 10,000 foot and 2,000 horse; march of ten hours long, from Weichau to the hamlet Milkau (where his Majesty sits busy and affable),—is thought to be the wettest on record. Waters all out, bridges down, the Country one wild lake of eddying mud. Up to the knee for many miles together; up to the middle for long spaces; sometimes even up to the chin or deeper, where your bridge was washed away. The Prussians marched through it, as if they had been slate or iron. Rank and file, nobody quitted his rank, nobody looked sour in the face; they took the pouring of the skies, and the red seas of terrestrial liquid, as matters that must be; cheered one another with jocosities, with choral snatches (tobacco, I consider, would not burn); and swashed unweariedly forward. Ten hours some of them were out, their march being twenty or twenty-five miles; ten to fifteen was the average distance come. Nor, singular to say, did any loss occur; except of ALMOST one poor Army-Chaplain, and altogether of one poor Soldier's Wife;—sank dangerously both of them, beyond redemption she, taking the wrong side of some bridge-parapet. Poor Soldier's Wife, she is not named to me at all; and has no history save this, and that "she was of the regiment Bredow." But I perceive she washed herself away in a World-Transaction; and there was one rough Bredower, who probably sat sad that night on getting to quarters. His Majesty surveyed the damp battalions on the morrow (21st), not without sympathy, not without satisfaction; allowed them a rest-day here at Milkau, to get dry and bright again; and gave them "fifteen thalers a company," which is about ninepence apiece, with some words of praise. [Helden-Geschichte, i.482.]
Next day, Thursday, 22d, his Majesty and they marched on to Herrendorf; which is only five miles from Glogau, and near enough for Head-quarters, in the now humor of the place. Wallis has his messenger at Herrendorf, "Sorry to warn your Majesty, That if there be the least hostility committed, I shall have to resist it to the utmost." Head-quarters continue six days at Herrendorf, Army (main body, or left Column, of the Army) cantoned all round, till we consider what to do.
As to the right Column, or Schwerin's Division, that, after a rest-day or two, gathers itself into more complete separation here, tucking in its eastern skirts; and gets on march again, by its own route. Steadily southward;—and from Liegnitz, and the upland Countries, there will be news of Schwerin and it before long. Rain ending, there ensued a ringing frost;—not favorable for Siege-operations on Glogau:—and Silesia became all of flinty glass, with white peaks to the Southwest, whither Schwerin is gone.
Friedrich was over from Herrendorf with the first daylight, "reconnoitring Glogau, and rode up to the very glacis;" scanning it on all sides. [Ib. i. 484.] Since Wallis is so resolute, here is an intricate little problem for Friedrich, with plenty of corollaries and conditions hanging to it. Shall we besiege Glogau, then? We have no siege-cannon here. Time presses, Breslau and all things in such crisis; and it will take time. By what methods COULD Glogau be besieged?—Readers can consider what a blind many-threaded coil of things, heaping itself here in wide welters round Glogau, and straggling to the world's end, Friedrich has on hand: probably those six days, of Head-quarters at Herrendorf, were the busiest he had yet had.
One thing is evident, there ought to be siege-cannon got straightway; and, still more immediate, the right posts and battering-places should be ready against its coming.—"Let the Young Dessauer with that Rearguard, or Reserve of 10,000, which is now at Crossen, come up and assist here," orders Friedrich; "and let him be swift, for the hours are pregnant!" On farther reflection, perhaps on new rumors from Breslau, Friedrich perceives that there can be no besieging of Glogau at this point of time; that the Reserve, Half of the Reserve, must be left to "mask" it; to hold it in strict blockade, with starvation daily advancing as an ally to us, and with capture by bombarding possible when we like. That is the ultimate decision;—arrived at through a welter of dubieties, counterpoisings and perilous considerations, which we now take no account of. A most busy week; Friedrich incessantly in motion, now here now there; and a great deal of heavy work got well and rapidly done. The details of which, in these exuberant Manuscripts, would but weary the reader. Choosing of the proper posts and battering-places (post "on the other side of the River," "on this side of it," "on the Island in the middle of it"), and obstinate intrenching and preparing of the same in spite of frost; "wooden bridge built" farther up; with "regulation of the river-boats, the Polish Ferry," and much else: all this we omit; and will glance only at one pregnant point, by way of sample:—
... "Most indispensable of all, the King has to provide Subsistences:—and enters now upon the new plan, which will have to be followed henceforth. The Provincial Chief-men (LANDES-AELTESTEN, Land's-ELDESTS, their title) are summoned, from nine or ten Circles which are likely to be interested: they appear punctually, and in numbers,—lest contumacy worsen the inevitable. King dines them, to start with; as many as 'ninety-five covers,'—day not given, but probably one of the first in Herrendorf: not Christmas itself, one hopes!
"Dinner done, the ninety-five Land's-Eldest are instructed by proper parties, What the Infantry's ration is, in meat, in bread, exact to the ounce; what the Cavalry's is, and that of the Cavalry's Horse. Tabular statement, succinct, correct, clear to the simplest capacity, shows what quanties of men on foot, and of men on horseback, or men with draught-cattle, will march through their respective Circles; Lands-Eldests conclude what amount of meal and butcher's-meat it will be indispensable to have in readiness;—what Lands-Eldest can deny the fact? These Papers still exist, at least the long-winded Summary of them does: and I own the reading of it far less insupportable than that of the mountains of Proclamatory, Manifesto and Diplomatic matter. Nay it leaves a certain wholesome impression on the mind, as of business thoroughly well done; and a matter, capable, if left in the chaotic state, of running to all manner of depths and heights, compendiously forced to become cosmic in this manner.
"These Lands-Eldest undertake, in a mildly resigned or even hopeful humor. They will manage as required, in their own Circles; will communicate with the Circles farther on; and everywhere the due proviants, prestations, furtherances, shall be got together by fair apportionment on the Silesian Community, and be punctually ready as the Army advances. Book-keeping there is to be, legible record of everything; on all hands 'quittance' for everything furnished; and a time is coming, when such quittance, presented by any Silesian man, will be counted money paid by him, and remitted at the next tax-day, or otherwise made good. Which promise also was accurately kept, the hoped-for time having come. It must be owned the Prussian Army understands business; and, with brevity, reduces to a minimum its own trouble, and that of other people, non-fighters, who have to do with it. Non-fighters, I say; to fighters we hope it will give a respectable maximum of trouble when applied to!" [Helden-Geschichte, i. 492-499.]
The Gotter Negotiation at Vienna, which we saw begin there that wet Sunday, is now fast ending, as good as ended; without result except of a negative kind. Gotter's Proposals,—would the reader wish to hear these Proposals, which were so intensely interesting at one time? They are fivefold; given with great brevity by Friedrich, by us with still greater:—
1. "Will fling myself heartily into the Austrian scale, and endeavor for the interest of Austria in this Pragmatic matter, with my whole strength against every comer.
2. "Will make treaty with Vienna, with Russia and the Sea-Powers, to that effect.
3. "Will help by vote, and with whole amount of interest will endeavor, to have Grand-Duke Franz, the Queen's Husband, chosen Kaiser; and to maintain such choice against all and sundry. Feel myself strong enough to accomplish this result; and may, without exaggeration, venture to say it shall be done.
4. "To help the Court of Vienna in getting its affairs into good order and fencible condition,—will present to it, on the shortest notice, Two Million Gulden (200,000 pounds) ready money."—Infinitely welcome this Fourth Proposition; and indeed all the other Three are welcome: but they are saddled with a final condition, which pulls down all again. This, which is studiously worded, politely evasive in phrase, and would fain keep old controversies asleep, though in substance it is so fatally distinct,—we give in the King's own words:
5. "For such essential services as those to which I bind myself by the above very onerous conditions, I naturally require a proportionate recompense; some suitable assurance, as indemnity for all the dangers I risk, and for the part (ROLE) I am ready to play: in short, I require hereby the entire and complete cession of all Silesia, as reward for my labors and dangers which I take upon myself in this course now to be entered upon for the preservation and renown of the House of Austria;"—Silesia all and whole; and we say nothing of our "rights" to it; politely evasive to her Hungarian Majesty, though in substance we are so fatally distinct. [Preuss, Thronbesteigung, p. 451; "from Olenschlager, Geschichte des Interegni [Frankfurt, 1746], i. 134."]
These were Friedrich's Proposals; written down with his own hand at Reinsberg, five or six weeks ago (November 17th is the date of it); in what mood, and how wrought upon by Schwerin and Podewils, we saw above. Gotter has fulfilled his instructions in regard to this important little Document; and now the effect of it is—? Gotter can report no good effect whatever. "Be cautious," Friedrich instructs him farther; "modify that Fifth Proposal; I will take less than the whole, 'if attention is paid to my just claims on Schlesien.'" To that effect writes Friedrich once or twice. But it is to no purpose; nor can Gotter, with all his industry, report other than worse and worse. Nay, he reports before long, not refusal only, but refusal with mockery: "How strange that his Prussian Majesty, whose official post in Germany, as Kur-Brandenburg and Kaiser's Chamberlain, has been to present ewer and towel to the House of Austria, should now set up for prescribing rules to it!" A piece of wit, which could not but provoke Friedrich; and warn him that negotiation on this matter might as well terminate. Such had been his own thought, from the first; but in compliance with Schwerin and Podewils he was willing to try.
Better for Maria Theresa, and for all the world how much better, could she have accepted this Fifth Proposition! But how could she,—the high Imperial Lady, keystone of Europe, though by accident with only a few pounds of ready money at present? Twenty years of bitter fighting, and agony to herself and all the world, were necessary first; a new Fact of Nature having turned up, a new European Kingdom with real King to it; NOT recognizable as such, by the young Queen of Hungary or by any other person, till it do its proofs.
What Friedrich's own humor is, what Friedrich's own inner man is saying to him, while all the world so babbles about his Silesian Adventure? Of this too there are, though in diluted state, some glimmerings to be had,—chiefly in the Correspondence with Jordan.
Ingenious Jordan, Inspector of the Poor at Berlin,—his thousand old women at their wheels humming pleasantly in the background of our imaginations, though he says nothing of that,—writes twice a week to his Majesty: pleasant gossipy Letters, with an easy respectfulness not going into sycophancy anywhere; which keep the campaigning King well abreast of the Berlin news and rumors: something like the essence of an Old Newspaper; not without worth in our present Enterprise. One specimen, if we had room!
No. 1. "BERLIN, 14th DECEMBER, 1740 [day after his Majesty left]. Everybody here is on tiptoe for the Event; of which both origin and end are a riddle to the most. I am charmed to see a part of your Majesty's Dominions in a state of Pyrrhonism; the disease is epidemical here at present. Those who, in the style of theologians, consider themselves entitled to be certain, maintain That your Majesty is expected with religious impatience by the Protestants, and that the Catholics hope to see themselves delivered from a multitude of imposts which cruelly tear up the beautiful bosom of their Church. You cannot but succeed in your valiant and stoical Enterprise, since both religion and worldly interest rank themselves under your flag.
"Wallis," Austrian Commandant in Glogau, "they say, has punished a Silesian Heretic of enthusiastic turn, as blasphemer, for announcing that a new Messiah is just coming. I have a taste for that kind of martyrdom. Critical persons consider the present step as directly opposed to certain maxims in the ANTI-MACHIAVEL.
"The word MANIFESTO—[your Majesty's little PATENT on entering Silesia, which no reader shall be troubled with at present]—is the burden of every conversation. There is a short Piece of the kind to come out to-day, by way of preface to a large complete exposition, which a certain Jurisconsult is now busy with. People crowd to the Bookshops for it, as if looking out for a celestial phenomenon that had been predicted.—This is the beginning of my Gazette; can only come out twice a week, owing to the arrangement of the Posts. Friday, the day your Majesty crosses into Silesia, I shall spend in prayer and devotional exercises: Astronomers pretend that Mars will that day enter"—no matter what.
NOTE, The above Manifesto rumor is correct; Jurisconsult is ponderous Herr Ludwig, Kanzler (Chancellor) of Halle University, monster of law-learning,—who has money also, and had to help once with a House in Berlin for one Nussler, a son-in-law of his, transiently known to us;—ponderous Ludwig, matchless or difficult to match in learning of this kind, will write ample enough Deductions (which lie in print still, to the extent of tons' weight), and explain the ERBVERBRUDERUNG and violence done upon it, so that he who runs may read. Postpone him to a calmer time.
No. 2. "BERLIN, SATURDAY, 17th DECEMBER. Manifesto has appeared,"—can be seen, under thick strata of cobwebs, in many Books; [In Helden-Geschichte, i. 448, 453 (what Jordan now alludes to); IB. 559-592 ["Deduction" itself, Ludwig in all his strength, some three weeks hence; in OLENSCHLAGER (doubtless); in &c. &c.] is not worth reading now: Incontestable rights which our House has for ages had on Schlesien, and which doubtless the Hungarian Majesty will recognize; not the slightest injury intended, far indeed from that; and so on!—"people are surprised at its brevity; and, studying it as theologians do a passage of Scripture, can make almost nothing of it. Clear as crystal, says one; dexterously obscure by design, says another.
"Rumor that the Grand-Duke of Lorraine," Maria Theresa's Husband, "was at Reinsberg incognito lately," Grand-Duke a concerting party, think people looking into the thing with strong spectacles on their nose! "M. de Beauvau [French Ambassador Extraordinary, to whom the aces were promised if they came] said one thing that surprised me: 'What put the King on taking this step, I do not know; but perhaps it is not such a bad one.' Surprising news that the Elector of Saxony, King of Poland, is fallen into inconsolable remorse for changing his religion [to Papistry, on Papa's hest, many long years ago] and that it is not to the Pope, but to the King of Prussia, that he opens his heart to steady his staggering orthodoxy." Very astonishing to Jordan. "One thing is certain, all Paris rings with your Majesty's change of religion" (over to Catholicism, say those astonishing people, first conjurers of the universe)!
No. 3. "BERLIN, 20th DECEMBER. M. de Beauvau," French Ambassador, "is gone. Ended, yesterday, his survey of the Cabinet of Medals; charmed with the same: charmed too, as the public is, with the rich present he has got from said Cabinet [coronation medal or medals in gold, I could guess]: people say the King of France's Medal given to our M. de Camas is nothing to it.
"Rumor of alliance between your Majesty and France with Sweden,"—premature rumor. Item, "Queen of Hungary dead in child-birth;"—ditto with still more emphasis! "The day before yesterday, in all churches, was prayer to Heaven for success to your Majesty's arms; interest of the Protestant religion being the one cause of the War, or the only one assigned by the reverend gentlemen. At sound of these words, the zeal of the people kindles: 'Bless God for raising such a Defender! Who dared suspect our King's indifference to Protestantism?'"
A right clever thing this last (O LE BEAU COUP D'ETAT)! exclaims Jordan,—though it is not clever or the contrary, not being dramatically prearranged, as Jordan exults to think. Jordan, though there are dregs of old devotion lying asleep in him, which will start into new activity when stirred again, is for the present a very unbelieving little gentleman, I can perceive.—This is the substance of public rumor at Berlin for one week. Friedrich answers:—
TO M. JORDAN, AT BERLIN.
"QUARTER AT MILKAU, TOWARDS GLOGAU, 19th DECEMBER, 1740 [comfortable Jesuit-Establishment at Milkau, Friedrich just got in, out of the rain].—Seigneur Jordan, thy Letter has given me a deal of pleasure in regard to all these talkings thou reportest. To-morrow [not to-morrow, nor next day; wet troops need a rest] I arrive at our last station this side Glogau, which place I hope to get in a few days. All favors my designs: and I hope to return to Berlin, after executing them gloriously and in a way to be content with. Let the ignorant and the envious talk; it is not they that shall ever serve as loadstar to my designs; not they, but Glory [LA GLOIRE; Fame, depending not on them]: with the love of that I am penetrated more than ever; my troops have their hearts big with it, and I answer to thee for success. Adieu, dear Jordan. Write me all the ill that the public says of thy Friend, and be persuaded that I love and will esteem thee always."—F.
JORDAN TO THE KING.
No. 4; "BERLIN, 24th DECEMBER. Your Majesty's Letter fills me with joy and contentment. The Town declared your Majesty to be already in Breslau; founding on some Letter to a Merchant here. Ever since they think of your Majesty acting for Protestantism, they make you step along with strides of Achilles to the ends of Silesia.—Foreign Courts are all rating their Ambassadors here for not finding you out.
"Wolf," his negotiations concluded at last, "has entered Halle almost like the triumphant Entry to Jerusalem. A concourse of pedants escorted him to his house. Lange [his old enemy, who accused him of Atheism and other things] has called to see him, and loaded him with civilities, to the astonishment of the old Orthodox." There let him rest, well buttoned in gaiters, and avoiding to mount stairs.... "Madame de Roucoulles has sent me the three objects adjoined, for your Majesty's behoof,"—woollen achievements, done by the needle, good against the winter weather for one she nursed. The good old soul. Enough now, of Jordan. [OEuvres de Frederic, xvii. 75-78.]
Voltaire, who left Berlin 2d or 3d December, seems to have been stopt by overflow of rivers about Cleve, then to have taken boat; and is, about this very time, writing to Friedrich "from a vessel on the Coasts of Zealand, where I am driven mad." (Intends, privately, for Paris before long, to get his MAHOMET acted, if possible.) To Voltaire, here is a Note coming:
KING TO H. DE VOLTAIRE (at Brussels, if once got thither).
"QUARTER OF HERRENDORF IN SILESIA, 23d December, 1740.
"MY DEAR VOLTAIRE,—I have received two of your Letters; but could not answer sooner; I am like Charles Twelfth's Chess-King, who was always kept on the move. For a fortnight past, we have been continually afoot and under way, in such weather as you never saw.
"I am too tired to reply to your charming Verses; and shivering too much with cold to taste all the charm of them: but that will come round again. Do not ask poetry from a man who is actually doing the work of a wagoner, and sometimes even of a wagoner stuck in the mud. Would you like to know my way of life? We march from seven in the morning till four in the afternoon. I dine then; afterwards I work, I receive tiresome visits; with these comes a detail of insipid matters of business. 'Tis wrong-headed men, punctiliously difficult, who are to be set right; heads too hot which must be restrained, idle fellows that must be urged, impatient men that must be rendered docile, plunderers to restrain within the bounds of equity, babblers to hear babbling, dumb people to keep in talk: in fine, one has to drink with those that like it, to eat with those that are hungry; one has to become a Jew with Jews, a Pagan with Pagans.
"Such are my occupations;—which I would willingly make over to another, if the Phantom they call Fame (GLOIRE) did not rise on me too often. In truth, it is a great folly, but a folly difficult to cast away when once you are smitten by it. [Phantom of GLOIRE somewhat rampant in those first weeks; let us see whether it will not lay itself again, forevermore, before long!]
"Adieu, my dear Voltaire; may Heaven preserve from misfortune the man I should so like to sup with at night, after fighting in the morning! The Swan of Padua [Algarotti, with his big hook-nose and dusky solemnly greedy countenance] is going, I think, to Paris, to profit by my absence; the Philosopher Geometer [big Maupertuis, in red wig and yellow frizzles, vainest of human kind] is squaring curves; poor little Jordan [with the kindly hazel eyes, and pen that pleasantly gossips to us] is doing nothing, or probably something near it. Adieu once more, dear Voltaire; do not forget the absent who love you. FREDERIC." [OEuvres de Frederic, xxii. 57.]
Meanwhile, on the Western road, and along the foot of the snowy peaks over yonder, Schwerin with the small Right column is going prosperously forwards. Two columns always, as the reader recollects,—two parallel military currents, flowing steadily on, shooting out estafettes, or horse-parties, on the right and left; steadily submerging all Silesia as they flow forward. Left column or current is in slight pause at Glogau here; but will directly be abreast again. On Tuesday, 27th, Schwerin is within wind of Liegnitz; on Wednesday morning, while the fires are hardly lighted, or the smoke of Liegnitz risen among the Hills, Schwerin has done his feat with the usual deftness: Prussian grenadiers came softly on the sentry, softly as a dream; but with sudden levelling of bayonets, sudden beckoning, "To your Guard-house!"—and there, turn the key upon his poor company and him. Whereupon the whole Prussian column marches in; tramp tramp, without music, through the streets: in the Market-place they fold themselves into a ranked mass, and explode into wind-harmony and rolling of drums. Liegnitz, mostly in nightcap, looks cautiously out of window: it is a deed done, IHR HERREN; Liegnitz ours, better late than never; and after so many years, the King has his own again. Schwerin is sumptuously lodged in the Jesuits, Palace: Liegnitz, essentially a Protestant Town, has many thoughts upon this event, but as yet will be stingy of speaking them.
Thus is Liegnitz managed. A pleasant Town, amid pleasant hills on the rocky Katzbach; of which swift stream, and other towns and passes on it, we shall yet hear more. Population, silently industrious in weaving and otherwise, is now above 14,000; was then perhaps about half that number. Patiently inarticulate, by no means bright in speech or sentiment; a much-enduring, steady-going, frugal, pious and very desirable people.
The situation of Breslau, all this while, is very critical. Much bottled emotion in the place; no Austrian Garrison admissible; Authorities dare not again propose such a thing, though Browne is turning every stone for it,—lest the emotion burst bottle, and take fire. I have dim account that Browne has been there, has got 300 Austrian dragoons into the Dom Insel (CATHEDRAL ISLAND; "Not in the City, you perceive!" says General Browne: "no, separated by the Oder, on both sides, from the rest of the City; that stately mass of edifices, and good military post");—and had hoped to get the suburbs burnt, after all. But the bottled emotion was too dangerous. For, underground, there are ANTI-Brownes: one especially; a certain busy Deblin, Shoemaker by craft, whom Friedrich speaks of, but gives no name to; this zealous Cordwainer, Deblin, and he is not the only individual of like humor, operates on the guild-brothers and lower populations: [Preuss, Thronbesteigung, p. 469; OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 61. ] things seem to be looking worse and worse for the Authorities, in spite of General Browne and his activities and dragoons.
What the issue will be? Judge if Friedrich wished the Young Dessauer come! Friedrich's Hussar parties (or Schwerin's, instructed by Friedrich) go to look if the Breslau suburbs are burnt. Far from it, if Friedrich knew;—the suburbs merely sit quaking at such a proposal, and wish the Prussians were here. "But there is time ahead of us," said everybody at Breslau; "Glogau will take some sieging!" Browne, in the course of a day or two,—guessing, I almost think, that Glogau was not to be besieged,—ranked his 300 Austrian dragoons, and rode away; sending the Austrian State-Papers, in half a score of wagons, ahead of him. "Archives of Breslau!" cried the general population, at sight of these wagons; and largely turned out, with emotion again like to unbottle itself. "Mere Tax-Ledgers, and records of the Government Offices; come and convince yourselves!" answered the Authorities. And the ten wagons went on; calling at Ohlau and Brieg, for farther lading of the like kind. Which wagons the Prussian light-horse chased, but could not catch. On to Mahren went these Archive-wagons; to Brunn, far over the Giant Mountains;—did not come back for a long while, nor to their former Proprietor at all. Tuesday, 27th, Leopold the Young Dessauer does finally arrive, with his Reserve, at Glogau: never man more welcome; such a fermentation going on at Breslau,—known to Friedrich, and what it will issue in, if he delay, not known. With despatch, Leopold is put into his charge; posts all yielded to him; orders given,—blockade to be strictness itself, but no fighting if avoidable; "starvation will soon do it, two months at most," hopes Friedrich, too sanguine as it proved:—and with earliest daylight on the 28th, Friedrich's Army, Friedrich himself in the van as usual, is on march again; at its best speed for Breslau. Read this Note for Jordan:—
FRIEDRICH TO M. JORDAN, AT BERLIN.
"HERRENDORF, 27th Dec. 1740.
"SIEUR JORDAN,—I march to-morrow for Breslau; and shall be there in four days [three, it happened; there rising, as would seem, new reason for haste]. You Berliners [of the 24th last] have a spirit of prophecy, which goes beyond me. In fine, I go my road; and thou wilt shortly see Silesia ranked in the list of our Provinces. Adieu; this is all I have time to tell thee. Religion [Silesian Protestantism, and Breslau's Cordwainer], religion and our brave soldiers will do the rest.
"Tell Maupertuis I grant those Pensions he proposes for his Academicians; and that I hope to find good subjects for that dignity in the Country where I am, withal. Give him my compliments.
The march was of the swiftest,—swifter even than had been expected;—which, as Silesia is all ringing glass, becomes more achievable than lately. But certain regiments outdid themselves in marching; "in three marches, near upon seventy miles,"—with their baggage jingling in due proximity. Through Glasersdorf, thence through Parchwitz, Neumarkt, Lissa, places that will be better known to us;—on Saturday, last night of the Year, his Majesty lodged at a Schloss called Pilsnitz, five miles to west of Breslau; and van-ward regiments, a good few, quartered in the Western and Southern suburbs of Breslau itself; suburbs decidedly glad to see them, and escape conflagration. The Town-gates are hermetically shut;—plenty of emotion bottled in the 100,000 hearts within. The sentries on the walls presented arms; nay, it is affirmed, some could not help exclaiming, "WILKOMMEN, IHR LIEBEN HERREN (Welcome, dear Sirs)!" [Helden-Geschichte, i. 534.]
Colonel Posadowsky (active Horse Colonel whom we have seen before, who perhaps has been in Breslau before) left orders "at the Scultet Garden-House," that all must be ready and the rooms warmed, his Majesty intending to arrive here early on the morrow. Which happened accordingly; Majesty alighting duly at said Garden-House, near by the Schweidnitz Gate,—I fancy almost before break of day.
The issue of this Breslau transaction is known, or could be stated in few words; nor is the manner of it such as would, for Breslau's sake, deserve many. But we are looking into Friedrich, wish to know his manners and aspects: and here, ready to our hand, a Paper turns up, compiled by an exact person with better leisure than ours, minutely detailing every part of the affair. This Paper, after the question, Burn or insert? is to have the lot of appearing here, with what abridgments are possible:—
"SUNDAY, 1st JANUARY, 1741. The King having established himself in Herrn Scultet's Garden-House, not far from the Schweidnitz Gate, there began a delicate and great operation. The Prussians, in a soft cautious manner, in the gray of the morning, push out their sentries towards the three Gates on this side of the Oder; seize any 'Excise House,' or the like, that may be fit for a post; and softly put 'twenty grenadiers' in it. All this before sunrise. Breslau is rigidly shut; Breslau thought always it could stand upon its guard, if attacked;—is now, in Official quarters, dismally uncertain if it can; general population becoming certain that it cannot, and waiting anxious on the development of this grand drama.
"About 7 A.M. a Prussian subaltern advancing within cry of the Schweidnitz Gate, requests of the Town-guard there, To send him out a Town-Officer. Town-Officer appears; is informed, 'That Colonels Posadowsky and Borck, Commissioners or plenipotentiary Messengers from his Prussian Majesty, desire admittance to the Chief Magistrate of Breslau, for the purpose of signifying what his Prussian Majesty's instructions are.' Town-Officer bows, and goes upon his errand. Town-Officer is some considerable time before he can return; City Authorities being, as we know, various, partly Imperial, partly Civic; elderly; and some of them gone to church,—for matins, or to be out of the way. However, he does at last return; admits the two Colonels, and escorts them honorably, to the Chief RATHS-SYNDIC (Lord-Mayor) old Herr von Gutzmar's; where the poor old "President of the OBER AMT" (Von Schaffgotsch the name of this latter) is likewise in attendance.
"Prussian Majesty's proposals are of the mildest sort: 'Nothing demanded of Breslau but the plainly indispensable and indisputable, That Prussia be in it what Austria has been. In all else, STATUS QUO. Strict neutrality to Breslau, respect for its privileges as a Free City of the Reich; protection to all its rights and privileges whatsoever. Shall be guarded by its own Garrison; no Prussian soldier to enter except with sidearms; only 30 guards for the King's person, who will visit the City for a few days;—intends to form a Magazine, with guard of 1,000 men, but only outside the City: no requisitions; ready money for everything. Chief Syndic Gutzmar and President Schaffgotsch shall consider these points.' [Helden-Geschichte, i. 537.] Syndic and President answer, Surely! Cannot, however, decide till they have assembled the Town-Rath; the two Herren Colonels will please to be guests of Breslau, and lodge in the City till then.
"And they lodged, accordingly, in the 'GROSSE RING' (called also SALZ-RING, big Central Square, where the Rathhaus is); and they made and received visits,—visited especially the Chief President's Office, the Ober-Amt, and signified there, that his Prussian Majesty's expectation was, They would give some account of that rather high Proclamation or 'Patent' they had published against him the other day, amid thunder and lightning here, and what they now thought would be expedient upon it? All in grave official terms, but of such a purport as was not exhilarating to everybody in those Ober-Amt localities.
"MONDAY MORNING, 2d JANUARY. The Rath is assembled; and consults,—consults at great length. RATH-House and Syndic Gutzmar, in such crisis, would fain have advice from AMT-House or President Schaffgotsch; but can get none: considerable coming and going between them: at length, about 3 in the afternoon, the Treaty is got drawn up; is signed by the due Breslau hands, and by the two Prussian Colonels,—which latter ride out with it, about 4 of the clock; victorious after thirty hours. Straight towards the Scultet Garden ride they; Town-guard presenting Arms, at the Schweidnitz Gate; nay Town-band breaking out into music, which is never done but to Ambassadors and high people. By thirty hours of steady soft pressure, they have brought it thus far.
"Friedrich had waited patiently all Sunday, keeping steady guard at the Gates; but on Monday, naturally, the thirty hours began to hang heavy: at all events, he perceived that it would be well to facilitate conclusions a little from without. Breslau stands on the West, more strictly speaking, on the South side of the Oder, which makes an elbow here, and thus bounds it, or mostly bounds it, on two sides. The big drab-colored River spreads out into Islands, of a confused sort, as it passes; which are partly built upon, and constitute suburbs of the Town,—stretching over, here and there, into straggles of farther suburb beyond the River, where a road with its bridge happens to cross for the Eastern parts. The principal of these Islands is the DOM INSEL,"—known to General Browne and us,—"on which is the Cathedral, and the CLOSE with rich Canons and their edifices; Island filled with strong high architecture; and a superior military post.
"Friedrich has already as good as possessed himself of the three landward Gates, which look to the south and to the west; the riverward gates, or those on the north and the east, he perceives that it were good now also to have; these, and even perhaps something more? 'Gather all the river-boats, make a bridge of them across the Oder; push across 400 men:' this is done on Monday morning, under the King's own eye. This done, 'March up to that riverward Gate, and also to that other, in a mild but dangerous-looking manner; hew the beams of said Gate in two; start the big locks; fling wide open said Gate and Gates:' this too is done; Town-guard looking mournfully on. This done, 'March forward swiftly, in two halves, without beat of drum,—whitherward you know!'
"Those three hundred Austrian Dragoons, we saw them leave the Dom Island, three days ago; there are at present only Six Men, of the BISHOP'S Guard, walking under arms there,—at the end of the chief bridge, on the Townward side of their Dom Island. See, Prussian caps and muskets, ye six men under arms! The six men clutch at their drawbridge, and hastily set about hoisting:—alas, another Prussian corps, which has come privately by the eastern (or Country-ward) Bridge, King himself with it, taps them on the shoulder at this instant; mildly constrains the six into their guard-house: the drawbridge falls; 400 Prussian grenadiers take quiet possession of the Dom Island: King may return to the Scultet Garden, having quickened the lazy hours in this manner. To such of the Canons as he came upon, his Majesty was most polite; they most submiss. The six soldiers of the drawbridge, having spoken a little loud,—still more a too zealous beef-eater of old Schaffgotsch's found here, who had been very loud,—were put under arrest; but more for form's sake; and were let go, in a day or two."
Nothing could be gentler on Friedrich's part, and on that of his two Colonels, than this delicate operation throughout:—and at 4 P.M., after thirty hours of waiting, it is done, and nobody's skin scratched. Old Syndic Gutzmar, and the Town-Rath, urged by perils and a Town Population who are Protestant, have signed the Surrender with good-will, at least with resignation, and a feeling of relief. The Ober-Amt Officials have likewise had to sign; full of all the silent spleen and despondency which is natural to the situation: spleen which, in the case of old Schaffgotsch, weak with age, becomes passionately audible here and there. He will have to give account of that injurious Proclamation, or Queen's "Patent," to this King that has now come.
In the Royal Entrance which took place next day, note these points. Syndic Gutzmar and the Authorities came out, in grand coaches, at 8 in the morning; had to wait awhile; the King, having ridden away to look after his manifold affairs, did not get back till 10. Town Guard and Garrison are all drawn out; Gates all flung open, Prussian sentries withdrawn from them, and from the Excise-houses they had seized: King's Kitchen-and-Proviant Carriages (four mules to each, with bells, with uncommonly rich housings): King's Body-Coach very grand indeed, and grandly escorted, the Thirty Body-guards riding ahead; but nothing in it, only a most superfine cloak "lined wholly with ermine" flung upon the seat. Other Coaches, more or less grandly escorted; Head Cup-bearers, Seneschals, Princes, Margraves:—but where is the King? King had ridden away, a second time, with chief Generals, taking survey of the Town Walls, round as far as the ZIEGEL-THOR (Tile-Gate, extreme southeast, by the river-edge): he has thus made the whole circuit of Breslau;—unwearied in picking up useful knowledge, "though it was very cold," while that Procession of Coaches went on.
At noon, his Majesty, thrifty of time, did enter: on horseback, Schwerin riding with him; behind him miscellaneous chief Officers; Borck and Posadowsky among others; some miscellany of Page-people following. With this natural escort, he rode in; Town-Major (Commandant of Town-guard), with drawn sword going ahead;—King wore his usual Cocked Hat, and practical Blue Cloak, both a little dimmed by service: but his gray horse was admirable; and four scarlet Footmen, grand as galloon and silver fringe could make them, did the due magnificence in dress. He was very gracious; saluting to this side and to that, where he noticed people of condition in the windows. "Along Schweidnitz Street, across the Great Ring, down Albrecht Street." He alighted, to lodge, at the Count-Schlegenberg House; which used to be the Austrian Cardinal von Sinzendorf Primate of Silesia's hired lodging,—Sinzendorf's furniture is put gently aside, on this new occasion. King came on the balcony; and stood there for some minutes, that everybody might see him. The "immense shoutings," Dryasdust assures me, have been exaggerated; and I am warned not to believe the KRIEGS-FAMA such and such a Number, except after comparing it with him.—That day there was dinner of more than thirty covers, Chief Syndic Gutzmar and other such guests; but as to the viands, says my friend, these, owing to the haste, were nothing to speak of. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 545-548.]
Dinner, better and better ordered, King more and more gracious, so it continued all the four days of his Majesty's stay:—on the second day he had to rise suddenly from table, and leave his guests with an apology; something having gone awry, at one of the Gates. Awry there, between the Town Authorities and a General Jeetz of his,—who is on march across the River at this moment (on what errand we shall hear), and a little mistakes the terms. His Majesty puts Jeetz right; and even waits, till he sees his Brigade and him clear across. A junior Schaffgotsch, [Helden-Geschichte, ii. 159.] not the inconsolable Schaffgotsch senior, but his Nephew, was one of the guests this second day; an ecclesiastic, but of witty fashionable type, and I think a very worthless fellow, though of a family important in the Province. Dinner falls about noon; does not last above two hours or three, so that there is space for a ride ("to the Dom," the first afternoon, "four runners" always), and for much indoor work, before the supper-hour.
As the Austrian Authorities sat silent in their place, and gave no explanation of that "Patent," affixed amid thunder and lightning,—they got orders from his Majesty to go their ways next day; and went. In behalf of old President von Schaffgotsch, a chief of the Silesian Nobility, and man much loved, the Breslau people, and men from every guild and rank of society, made petition That, he should be allowed to continue in his Town House here. Which "first request of yours" his Majesty, with much grace, is sorry to be obliged to refuse. The suppressed, and insuppressible, weak indignation of old Schaffgotsch is visible on the occasion; nor, I think, does Friedrich take it ill; only sends him out of the way with it, for the time. The Austrian Ober-Amt vanished bodily from Breslau in this manner; and never returned. Proper "War-Commission (FELD-KRIEGS-COMMISSARIAT)," with Munchow, one of those skilful Custrin Munchows, at the top of it, organized itself instead; which, almost of necessity, became Supreme Government in a City ungoverned otherwise:—and truly there was little regret of the Ober-Amt, in Breslau; and ever less, to a marked extent, as the years went on.
On the 5th of January (fourth and last night here), his Majesty gave a grand Ball. Had hired, or Colonel Posadowsky instead of him had hired, the Assembly Rooms (REDOUTEN-SAAL), for the purpose: "Invite all the Nobility high and low;"—expense by estimate is a ducat (half-guinea) each; do it well, and his Majesty will pay. About 6 in the evening, his Majesty in person did us the honor to drive over; opened the Ball with Madam the Countess von Schlegenberg (I should guess, a Dowager Lady), in whose house he lodges. I am not aware that his Majesty danced much farther; but he was very condescending, and spoke and smiled up and down;—till, about 10 P.M., an Officer came in with a Letter. Which Letter his Majesty having read, and seemingly asked a question or two in regard to, put silently in his pocket, as if it were a finished thing. Nevertheless, after a few minutes, his Majesty was found to have silently withdrawn; and did not return, not even to supper. Perceiving which, all the Prussian official people gradually withdrew; though the dancing and supping continued not the less, to a late hour. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 557.]
"Open the Austrian Mail-bag (FELLEISEN); see a little what they are saying over there!" Such order had evidently been given, this night. In consequence of which, people wrote by Dresden, and not the direct way, in future; wishing to avoid that openable FELLEISEN. Next morning, January 6th, his Majesty had left for Ohlau,—early, I suppose; though there proved to be nothing dangerous ahead there, after all.
Ohlau is a pleasant little Town, two marches southeast of Breslau; with the Ohlau River on one side, and the Oder on the other; capable of some defence, were there a garrison. Brieg the important Fortress, still on the Oder, is some fifteen miles beyond Ohlau; after which, bending straight south and quitting Oder, Neisse the still more important may be thirty miles:—from Breslau to Neisse, by this route (which is BOW, not STRING), sixty-five or seventy miles. One of my Topographers yields this Note, if readers care for it:—
"Ohlau River, an insignificant drab-colored stream, rises well south of Breslau, about Strehlen; makes, at first, direct eastward towards the Oder; and then, when almost close upon it, breaks off to north, and saunters along, irregularly parallel to Oder, for twenty miles farther, before it can fall fairly in. To this circumstance both Breslau and a Town of Ohlau owe their existence; Towns, both of them, 'between the waters,' and otherwise well seated; Ohlau sheltering itself in the attempted outfall of its little river; Breslau clustering itself about the actual outfall: both very defensible places in the old rude time, and good for trade in all times. Both Oder and Ohlau Rivers have split and spread themselves into islands and deltas a good deal, at their place of meeting; and even have changed their courses, and cut out new channels for themselves, in the sandy country; making a very intricate watery network of a site for Breslau: and indeed the Ohlau River here, for centuries back, has been compelled into wide meanderings, mere filling of rampart-ditches, so that it issues quite obscurely, and in an artificial engineered condition, at Breslau."
Ohlau had been expected to make some defence; General Browne having thrown 300 men into it, and done what he could for the works. And Ohlau did at first threaten to make some; but thought better of it overnight, and in effect made none; but was got (morning of January 9th) on the common terms, by merely marching up to it in minatory posture. "Prisoners of War, if you make resistance; Free Withdrawal [Liberty to march away, arms shouldered, and not serve against us for a year], if you have made none:" this is the common course, where there are Austrian Soldiers at all; the course where none are, and only a few Syndics sit, with their Town-Key laid on the table, a prey to the stronger hand, we have already seen.
From Ohlau, proper Detachment, under General Kleist, is pushed forward to summon Brieg; Jeetz from the other side of the river (whom we saw crossing at Breslau the other day, interrupting his Majesty's dinner) is to co-operate with Kleist in that enterprise,—were the Country once cleared on his, Jeetz's, east side of Oder; especially were Namslau once had, a small Town and Castle over there, which commands the Polish and Hungarian road. Friedrich's hopes are buoyant; Schwerin is swiftly rolling forward to rightward, nothing resisting him; Detachment is gone from Schwerin, over the Hills, to Glatz (the GRAFSCHAFT, or County Glatz, an Appendage to Schlesien), under excellent guidance; under guidance, namely, of Colonel Camas, who has just come home from his Parisian Embassy, and got launched among the wintry mountains, on a new operation,—which, however, proves of non-effect for the present. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 678; Orlich, Geschichte der beiden Schlesischen Kriege, i. 49.]
Indeed, it is observable that southward of Breslau, the dispute, what dispute there can be, properly begins; and that General Browne is there, and shows himself a shining man in this difficult position. It must be owned, no General could have made his small means go farther. Effective garrisons, 1,600 each, put into Brieg and Neisse; works repaired, magazines collected, there and elsewhere; the rest of his poor 7,000 thriftily sprinkled about, in what good posts there are, and "capable of being got together in six hours:" a superior soldier, this Browne, though with a very bad task; and seems to have inspired everybody with something of his own temper. So that there is marching, detaching, miscellaneous difficulty for Friedrich in this quarter, more than had been expected. If the fate of Brieg and Neisse be inevitable, Browne does wonders to delay it.
Of the Prussian marches in these parts, recorded by intricate Dryasdust, there was no point so notable to me as this unrecorded one: the Stone Pillar which, I see, the Kleist Detachment was sure to find, just now, on the march from Ohlau to Brieg; last portion of that march, between the village of Briesen and Brieg. The Oder, flowing on your left hand, is hereabouts agreeably clothed with woods: the country, originally a swamp, has been drained, and given to the plough, in an agreeable manner; and there is an excellent road paved with solid whinstone,—quarried in Strehlen, twenty miles away, among the Hills to the right yonder, as you may guess;—road very visible to the Prussian soldier, though he does not ask where quarried. These beautiful improvements, beautiful humanities,—were done by whom? "Done in 1584," say the records, by "George the Pious;" Duke of Liegnitz, Brieg and Wohlau; 156 years ago. "Pious" his contemporaries called this George;—he was son of the ERBVERBRUDERUNG Duke, who is so important to us; he was grandfather's grandfather of the last Duke of all; after whom it was we that should have got these fine Territories; they should all have fallen to the Great Elector, had not the Austrian strong hand provided otherwise. George did these plantations, recoveries to the plough; made this perennial whinstone road across the swamps; upon which, notable to the roughest Prussian (being "twelve feet high by eight feet square"), rises a Hewn Mass with this Inscription on it,—not of the name or date of George; but of a thought of his, which is not without a pious beauty to me:—Straverunt alii nobis, nos Posteritati; Omnibus at Christus stravit ad asra viam. Others have made roads for us; we make them for still others: Christ made a road to the stars for us all. [Zollner, Briefe uber Schlesien, i. 175; Hubner, i. t. 101.]
I know not how many Brandenburgers of General Kleist's Detachment, or whether any, read this Stone; but they do all rustle past it there, claiming the Heritage of this Pious George; and their mute dim interview with him, in this manner, is a thing slightly more memorable than orders of the day, at this date.
It was on the 11th, two days after Ohlau, that General Kleist summoned Brieg; and Brieg answered resolutely, No. There is a garrison of 1,600 here, and a proper magazine: nothing for it but to "mask" Brieg too; Kleist on this side the River, Jeetz on that,—had Jeetz once done with Namslau, which he has not by any means. Namslau's answer was likewise stiffly in the negative; and Jeetz cannot do Namslau, at least not the Castle, all at once; having no siege-cannon. Seeing such stiffness everywhere, Friedrich writes to Glogau, to the Young Dessauer, "Siege-artillery hither! Swift, by the Oder; you don't need it where you are!" and wishes it were arrived, for behoof of Neisse and these stiff humors.
The Prussians met with serious resistance, for the first time (9th January, same day when Ohlau yielded), at a place called Ottmachau; a considerable little Town and Castle on the Neisse River, not far west of Neisse Town, almost at the very south of Silesia. It lay on the route of Schwerin's Column; long distances ahead of Liegnitz,—say, by straight highway a hundred miles;—during which, to right and to left, there had been nothing but submission hitherto. No resistance was expected here either, for there was not hope in any; only that Browne had been here; industrious to create delay till Neisse were got fully ready. He is, by every means, girding up the loins of Neisse for a tight defence; has put 1,600 men into it, with proper stores for them, with a resolute skilful Captain at the top of them: assiduous Browne had been at Ottmachau, as the outpost of Neisse, a day or two before; and, they say, had admonished them "Not to yield on any terms, for he would certainly come to their relief." Which doubtless he would have done, had it been in his power; but how, except by miracle, could it be? On the 9th of January, when Schwerin comes up, Browne is again waiting hereabouts. Again in defensive posture, but without force to undertake anything; stands on the Southern Uplands, with Bohmen and Mahren and the Giant Mountains at his back;—stands, so to speak, defensive at his own House-door, in this manner; and will have, after SEEING Ottmachau's fate and Neisse's, to duck in with a slam! At any rate, he had left these Towns in the above firm humor, screwed to the sticking-place; and had then galloped else-whither to screw and prepare.
And so the Ottmachau Austrians, "260 picked grenadiers" (400 dragoons there also at first were, who, after flourishing about on the outskirts as if for fighting, rode away), fire "DESPERAT," says my intricate friend; [Helden-Geschichte, i. 672-677; Orlich, i. 50.] entirely refusing terms from Schwerin; kill twelve of his people (Major de Rege, distinguished Engineer Major, one of them): so that Schwerin has to bring petards upon them, four cannon upon them; and burst in their Town Gate, almost their Castle Gate, and pretty much their Castle itself;—wasting three days of his time upon this paltry matter. Upon which they do signify a willingness for "Free Withdrawal." "No, IHR HERREN" answers, Schwerin; "not now; after such mad explosion. His Majesty will have to settle it." Majesty, who is by this time not far off, comes over to Ottmachau (January 12th); gives words of rebuke, rebuke not very inexorable; and admits them Prisoners of War. "The officers were sent to Custrin, common men to Berlin;" the usual arrangement in such case. Ottmachau Town belongs to the Right Reverend von Sinzendorf, Bishop of Breslau, and Primate; whose especial Palace is in Neisse; though he "commonly sends his refractory Priests to do their penance in the Schloss at Ottmachau here,"—and, I should say, had better himself make terms, and come out hitherward, under present aspects.
Friedrich continues at Ottmachau; head-quarters there thenceforth, till he see Neisse settled. On the morrow, (13th) he learns that the Siege Artillery is at Grotkau; well forward towards Neisse; halfway between Brieg and it. Same day, Colonel Camas returns to him out of Glatz; five of his men lost; and reports That Browne has had the roads torn up, that Glatz is mere ice and obstruction, and that nothing can be made of it at this season. Good news alternating with not so good.
The truth is, Friedrich has got no Strong Place in Schlesien; all strengths make unexpected defence; paltry little Namslan itself cannot be quite taken, Castle cannot, till Jeetz gets his siege-artillery,—which does not come along so fast as that to Neisse does. Here is an Excerpt from my Dryasdust, exact though abridged, concerning Jeetz:—
"JANUARY 24th, 1741. Prussians, masters of the Town for a couple of weeks back, have got into the Church at Namslau, into the Cloister; are preparing plank floors for batteries, cutting loop-holes; diligent as possible,—siege-guns now at last just coming. The Castle fires fiercely on them, makes furious sallies, steals six of our oxen,—makes insolent gestures from the walls; at least one soldier does, this day. 'Sir, may I give that fellow a shot?' asks the Prussian sentry. 'Do, then,' answers his Major: 'too insolent that one!' And the sentry explodes on him; brings him plunging down, head foremost (HERUNTER PURZELTE); the too insolent mortal, silent enough thenceforth." [Helden-Geschichte, i. 703.]—Jeetz did get his cannon, though not till now, this very day I think; and then, in a couple of days more, Jeetz finished off Namslau ("officers to Custrin, Common men to Berlin"); and thereupon blockades the Eastern side of Brieg, joining hands with Kleist on the Western: whereby Brieg, like Glogau, is completely masked,—till the season mend.
Friedrich, now that his artillery is come, expects no difficulty with Neisse. A "paltry hamlet (BICOQUE)" he playfully calls it; and, except this, Silesia is now his. Neisse got (which would be the desirable thing), or put under "mask" as Glogau is, and as Brieg is being, Austria possesses not an inch of land within these borders. Here are some Epistolary snatches; still in the light style, not to say the flimsy and uplifted; but worth giving, so transparent are they; off hand, like words we had heard his Majesty SPEAK, in his high mood:—
KING TO M. JORDAN, AT BERLIN (two successive Letters).
1. "OTTMACHAU, 14th JANUARY, 1741 [second day after our arrival there]. My dear Monsieur Jordan, my sweet Monsieur Jordan, my quiet Monsieur Jordan, my good, my benign, my pacific, my humanest Monsieur Jordan,—I announce to Thy Serenity the conquest of Silesia; I warn thee of the bombardment of Neisse [just getting ready], and I prepare thee for still more important projects; and instruct thee of the happiest successes that the womb of Fortune ever bore.
"This ought to suffice thee. Be my Cicero as to the justice of my cause, and I will be thy Caesar as to the execution. Adieu: thou knowest whether I am not, with the most cordial regard, thy faithful friend.—F."
2. "OTTMACHAU, 17th JANUARY, 1741. I have the honor to inform your Humanity that we are christianly preparing to bombard Neisse; and that if the place will not surrender of good-will, needs must that it be beaten to powder (NECESSITE SERA DE L'ABIMER). For the rest, our affairs go the best in the world; and soon thou wilt hear nothing more of us. For in ten days it will all be over; and I shall have the pleasure of seeing you and hearing you, in about a fortnight.
"I have seen neither my Brother [August Wilhelm, not long ago at Strasburg with us, and betrothed since then] nor Keyserling: I left them at Breslau, not to expose them to the dangers of war. They perhaps will be a little angry; but what can I do?—The rather as, on this occasion, one cannot share in the glory, unless one is a mortar!
"Adieu, M. le Conseiller [Poor's-RATH, so styled]. Go and amuse yourself with Horace, study Pausanias, and be gay over Anacreon. As to me, who for amusement have nothing but merlons, fascines and gabions, [Merlons are mounds of earth placed behind the solid or blind parts of the parapet (that is, between the embrasures) of a Fortification; fascines are bundles of brushwood for filling up a ditch; gabions, baskets filled with earth to be ranged in defence till you get trenches dug.] I pray God to grant me soon a pleasanter and peacefuler occupation, and you health, satisfaction and whatever your heart desires.—F." [OEuvres de Frederic, xvii. 84.]
KING FRIEDRICH TO M. LE COMTE ALGAROTTI (gone on a journey).
"OTTMACHAU, 17th JANUARY, 1741 [same day as the above to Jordan]. I have begun to settle the Figure of Prussia: the outline will not be altogether regular; for the whole of Silesia is taken, except one miserable hamlet (BICOQUE), which perhaps I shall have to keep blockaded till next spring.
"Up to this time, the whole conquest has cost only Twenty Men, and Two Officers, one of whom is the poor De Rege, whom you have seen at Berlin,"—De Rege, Engineer Major, killed here at Ottmachau, in Schwerin's late tussle.
"You are greatly wanting to me here. So soon as you have talked that business over, write to me about it. [What is the business? Whither is the dusky Swan of Padua gone?] In all these three hundred miles I have found no human creature comparable to the Swan of Padua. I would willingly give ten cubic leagues of ground for a genius similar to yours. But I perceive I was about entreating you to return fast, and join me again,—while you are not yet arrived where your errand was. Make haste to arrive, then; to execute your commission, and fly back to me. I wish you had a Fortunatus Hat; it is the only thing defective in your outfit.
"Adieu, dear Swan of Padua: think, I pray you, sometimes of those who are getting themselves cut in slices [ECHINER, chined] for the sake of glory here, and above all do not forget your friends who think a thousand times of you.
"FREDERIC." [OEuvres de Frederic, xviii. 28.]
The object of the dear Swan's journey, or even the whereabouts of it, cannot be discovered without difficulty; and is not much worth discovering. "Gone to Turin," we at last make out, "with secret commissions:" [Denina, La Prusse Litteraire (Berlin, 1790), i. 198. A poor vague Book; only worth consulting in case of extremity.] desirable to sound the Sardinian Majesty a little, who is Doorkeeper of the Alps, between France and Austria, and opens to the best bidder? No great things of a meaning in this mission, we can guess, or Algarotti had not gone upon it,—though he is handy, at least, for keeping it unnoticed by the Gazetteer species. Nor was the Swan successful, it would seem; the more the pity for our Swan! However, he comes back safe; attends Friedrich in Silesia; and in the course of next month readers will see him, if any reader wished it.
Neisse, which Friedrich calls a paltry hamlet (BICOQUE) is a pleasant strongly fortified Town, then of perhaps 6 or 8,000 inhabitants, now of double that number; stands on the right or south bank of the Neisse,—at this day, on both banks. Pleasant broad streets, high strong houses, mostly of stone. Pleasantly encircled by green Hills, northward buttresses of the Giant Mountains; itself standing low and level, on rich ground much inclined to be swampy. A lesser river, Biele, or Bielau, coming from the South, flows leisurely enough into the Neisse,—filling all the Fortress ditches, by the road. Orchard-growth and meadow-growth are lordly (HERRLICH); a land rich in fruit, and flowing with milk and honey. Much given to weaving, brewing, stocking-making; and, moreover, trades greatly in these articles, and above all in Wine. Yearly on St. Agnes Day, "21st January, if not a Sunday," there is a Wine-fair here; Hungarian, of every quality from Tokay downward, is gathered here for distribution into Germany and all the Western Countries. While you drink your Tokay, know that it comes through Neisse. St. Agnes Day falls but unhandily this year; and I think the Fair will, as they say, AUSBLEIBEN, or not be held.
Neisse is a Nest of Priests (PFAFFEN-NEST), says Friedrich once; which came in this way. About 600 years ago, an ill-conditioned Heir-Apparent of the Liegnitz Sovereign to whom it then belonged, quarrelled with his Father, quarrelled slightly with the Universe; and, after moping about for some time, went into the Church. Having Neisse for an apanage already his own, he gave it to the Bishop of Breslau; whose, in spite of the old Father's protestings, it continued, and continues. Bishops of Breslau are made very grand by it; Bishops of Breslau have had their own difficulties here. Thus once (in our Perkin-Warbeck time, A.D. 1497), a Duke of Oppeln, sitting in some Official Conclave or meeting of magnates here,—zealous for country privilege, and feeling himself insufferably put upon,—started up, openly defiant of Official men; glaring wrathfully into Duke Casimir of Teschen (Bohemian-Austrian Captain of Silesia), and into the Bishop of Breslau himself; nay at last, flashed out his sword upon those sublime dignitaries. For which, by and by, he had to lay his head on the block, in the great square here; and died penitent, we hope.
This place, my Dryasdust informs me, had many accidents by floodage and by fire; was seized and re-seized in the Thirty-Years War especially, at a great rate: Saxon Arnheim, Austrian Holk, Swedish Torstenson; no end to the battering and burning poor Neisse had, to the big ransoms "in new Reichs-thalers and 300 casks of wine." But it always rebuilt itself, and began business again. How happy when it could get under some effectual Protector, of the Liegnitz line, of the Austrian-Bohemian line, and this or the other battering, just suffered, was to be the last for some time!—Here again is a battering coming on it; the first of a series that are now imminent.
The reader is requested to look at Neisse; for besides the Tokay wine, there will things arrive there.—Neisse River, let us again mention, is one of four bearing that name, and all belonging to the Oder:—could not they be labelled, then, or NUMBERED, in some way? This Neisse, which we could call Neisse the FIRST (and which careful readers may as well make acquaintance with on their Map, where too they will find Neisse the SECOND, "the WUTHENDE or Roaring Neisse," and two others which concern us less), rises in the "Western Snow-Mountains (SCHNEEGEBIRGE)," Southwestern or Glatz district of the Giant Mountains; drains Glatz County and grows big there; washes the Town of Glatz; then eastward by Ottmachau, by Neisse Town; whence turning rather abruptly north or northeast, it gets into the Oder not far south of Brieg.
Neisse as a Place of Arms, the chief Fortress of Silesia and the nearest to Austria, is extremely desirable for Friedrich; but there is no hope of it without some kind of Siege; and Friedrich determines to try in that way. From Ottmachau, accordingly, and from the other sides, the Siege-Artillery being now at hand, due force gathers itself round Neisse, Schwerin taking charge; and for above a week there is demonstrating and posting, summoning and parleying; and then, for three days, with pauses intervening, there is extremely furious bombardment, red-hot at times: "Will you yield, then?"—with steady negative from Neisse. Friedrich's quarter is at Ottmachau, twelve miles off; from which he can ride over, to see and superintend. The fury of his bombardment, which naturally grieved him, testifies the intensity of his wish. But it was to no purpose. The Commandant, Colonel von Roth (the same who was proposed for Breslau lately, a wise head and a stout, famed in defences) had "poured water on his ramparts," after well repairing them,—made his ramparts all ice and glass;—and done much else. Would the reader care to look for a moment? Here, from our waste Paper-masses, is abundance, requiring only to be abridged:—
"JANUARY, 1741: MONDAY, 9th-WEDNESDAY, 11th. Monday, 9th, day when that sputter at Ottmachau began,—Prussian light-troops appeared transiently on the heights about Neisse, for the first time. Directly on sight of whom, Commandant Roth assembled the Burghers of the place; took a new Oath of Fidelity from one and all; admonished them to do their utmost, as they should see him do. The able-bodied and likeliest of them (say about 400) he has had arranged into Militia Companies, with what drill there could be in the interim; and since his coming, has employed every moment in making ready. Wednesday, 11th, he locks all the Gates, and stands strictly on his guard. The inhabitants are mostly Catholic; with sumptuous Bishops of Breslau, with KREUZHERREN (imaginary Teutsch or other Ritters with some reality of money), with Jesuit Dignitaries, Church and Quasi-Church Officialities, resident among them: population, high and low, is inclined by creed to the Queen of Hungary. Commandant Roth has only 1,200 regular soldiers; at the outside 1,600 men under arms: but he has gunpowder, he has meal; experience also and courage; and hopes these may suffice him for a time. One of the most determined Commandants; expert in the defence of strong places. A born Silesian (not Saxon, as some think),—and is of the Augsburg Confession; but that circumstance is not important here, though at Breslau Browne thought it was.
"THURSDAY, 12th. The Prussians, in regular force, appear on the Kaninchen Berg (Cony Hill, so called from its rabbits), south of the River, evidently taking post there. Roth fires a signal shot; the Southern Suburbs of Neisse, as preappointed, go up in flame; crackle high and far; in a lamentable manner (ERBARMLICH), through the grim winter air." This is the day Friedrich came over to Ottmachau, and settled the sputter there.
"Next day, and next again, the same phenomena at Neisse; the Prussians edging ever nearer, building their batteries, preparing to open their cannonade. Whereupon Roth burns the remaining Suburbs, with lamentable crackle; on all sides now are mere ashes. Bishop's Mill, Franciscan Cloister, Bishop's Pleasure-garden, with its summer-houses; Bishop's Hospital, and several Churches: Roth can spare none of these things, with the Prussians nestling there. Surely the Bishop himself, respectable Cardinal Graf von Sinzendorf, had better get out of these localities while time yet is?" "Saturday, 14th," that was the day Friedrich, at Ottmachau, wrote as above to Jordan (Letter No. 1), while the Neisse Suburbs crackled lamentably, twelve miles off, "Schwerin gets order to break up, in person, from Ottmachan to-morrow, and begin actual business on the Kaninchen Hill yonder.
"SUNDAY, 15th. Schwerin does; marches across the River; takes post on the south side of Neisse: notable to the Sunday rustics. Nothing but burnt villages and black walls for Schwerin, in that Cony-Hill quarter, and all round; and Roth salutes him with one twenty-four pounder, which did no hurt. And so the cannonade begins, Sunday, 15th; and intermittently, on both sides of the River, continues, always bursting out again at intervals, till Wednesday; a mere preliminary cannonade on Schwerin's part; making noise, doing little hurt: intended more to terrify, but without effect that way on Roth or the Townsfolk. The poor Bishop did, on the second day of it, come out, and make application to Schwerin; was kindly conducted to his Majesty, who happened to be over there; was kept to dinner; and easily had leave to retire to Freywalde, a Country-House he has, in the safe distance. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 683.] There let him be quiet, well out of these confused batterings and burnings of property.
"His Majesty's Head-quarter is at Ottmachau, but in two hours he can be here any day; and looks into everything; sorry that the cannonade does not yet answer. And remnants of suburbs are still crackling into flame; high Country-Houses of Kreuzherren, of Jesuits; a fanatic people seemingly all set against us. 'If Neisse will not yield of good-will, needs is it must be beaten to powder,' wrote his Majesty to Jordan in these circumstances, as we read above. Roth is sorry to observe, the Prussians have still one good Bishop's-mansion, in a place called the Karlau (Karl-Meadow), with the Bishop's winter fuel all ready stacked there; but strives to take order about the same.
"WEDNESDAY, 18th. This day two provocations happened. First, in the morning by his Majesty's order, Colonel Borck (the same we saw at Herstal) had gone with a Trumpeter towards Roth; intending to inform Roth how mild the terms would be, how terrible the penalty of not accepting them. But Roth or Roth's people singularly disregard Borck and his Parley Trumpet; answer its blasts by musketry; fire upon it, nay again fire worse when it advances a step farther; on these terms Borck and Trumpet had to return. Which much angered his Majesty at Ottmachau that evening; as was natural. Same evening, our fine quarters in the Karlau crackled up in flame, the Bishop's winter firewood all along with it: this was provocation second. Roth had taken order with the Karlau; and got a resolute Butcher to do the feat, under pretext of bringing us beef. It is piercing cold; only blackened walls for us now in the Karlau or elsewhere. His Majesty, naturally much angered, orders for the morrow a dose of bomb-shells and red-hot balls. Plant a few mortars on the North side too, orders his Majesty.
"THURSDAY, 19th. Accordingly, by 8 of the clock, cannon batteries reawaken with a mighty noise, and red-hot balls are noticeable; and at 10 the actual bombarding bursts out, terrible to hear and see;—first shell falling in Haubitz the Clothier's shop, but being happily got under. Roth has his City Militia companies, organized with water-hose for quenching of the red-hot balls: in which they became expert. So that though the fire caught many houses, they always put it out. Late in the night, hearing no word from Roth, the Prussians went to bed.
"FRIDAY, 20th. Still no word; on which, about 4 P.M., the Prussian batteries awaken again: volcanic torrent of red-hot shot and shells, for seven hours; still no word from Roth. About 11 at night his Majesty again sends a Drum (Parley Trumpet or whatever it is) to the Gate; formally summons Roth; asks him, 'If he has well considered what this can lead to? Especially what he, Roth, meant by firing on our first Trumpet on Wednesday last?' Roth answered, 'That as to the Trumpet, he had not heard of it before. On the other hand, that this mode of sieging by red-hot balls seems a little unusual; for the rest, that he has himself no order or intention but that of resisting to the last.' Some say the Drum hereupon by order talked of 'pounding Neisse into powder, mere child's-play hitherto;' to which Roth answered only by respectful dumb-show.
"SATURDAY, 21st-MONDAY, 23d. Midnight of Friday-Saturday, on this answer coming, the fire-volcanoes open again;—nine hours long; shells, and red-hot material, in terrible abundance. Which hit mostly the churches, Jesuits' Seminariums and Collegiums; but produced no change in Roth. From 9 A.M. the batteries are silent. Silent still, next morning: Divine Service may proceed, if it like. But at 4 of the afternoon, the batteries awaken worse than ever; from seven to nine bombs going at once. Universal rage, of noise and horrid glare, making night hideous, till 10 of the clock; Roth continuing inflexible. This is the last night of the Siege."
Friedrich perceived that Roth would not yield; that the utter smashing-down of Neisse might more concern Friedrich than Roth;—that, in fine, it would be better to desist till the weather altered. Next day, "Monday, 23d, between noon and 1 o'clock," the Prussians drew back;—converted the siege into a blockade. Neisse to be masked, like Brieg and Glogau (Brieg only half done yet, Jeetz without cannon till to-morrow, 24th, and little Namslau still gesticulating): "The only thing one could try upon it was bombardment. A Nest of Priests (PFAFFEN-NEST); not many troops in it: but it cannot well be forced at present. If spring were here, it will cost a fortnight's work." [FRIEDRICH TO THE OLD DESSAUER: Fraction of Letter (Ottmachau, 16th-21st January, 1741) cited by Orlich, i. 51;—from the Dessau Archives, where Herr Orlich has industriously been. To all but strictly military people these pieces of Letters are the valuable feature of Orlich's Book; and a general reader laments that it does not all consist of such, properly elucidated and labelled into accessibility.]
A noisy business; "King's high person much exposed: a bombardier and then a sergeant were killed close by him, though in all he lost only five men." [Helden-Geschichte, i. 680-690.]
Browne all this while has hung on the Mountain-side, witnessing these things; sending stores towards Glatz southwestward, and "ruining the ways" behind them; waiting what would become of Neisse. Neisse done, Schwerin is upon him; Browne makes off Southeastward, across the Mountains, for Moravia and home; Schwerin following hard. At a little place called Gratz, [The name, in old Slavic speech, signifies TOWN; and there are many GRATZES: KONIGINgratz (QUEEN'S, which for brevity is now generally called KONIGSgratz, in Bohemia); Gratz in Styria; WINDISCHgratz (Wendish-town); &c.] on the Moravian border, Browne faced round, tried to defend the Bridge of the Oppa, sharply though without effect; and there came (January 25th) a hot sputter between them for a few minutes:—after which Browne vanished into the interior, and we hear, in these parts, comparatively little more of him during this War. Friend and foe must admit that he has neglected nothing; and fairly made the best of a bad business here. He is but an interim General, too; his Successor just coming; and the Vienna Board of War is frequently troublesome,—to whose windy speculations Browne replies with sagacious scepticism, and here and there a touch of veiled sarcasm, which was not likely to conciliate in high places. Had her Hungarian Majesty been able to retain Browne in his post, instead of poor Neipperg who was sent instead, there might have been a considerably different account to give of the sequel. But Neipperg was Tutor (War-Tutor) to the Grand-Duke; Browne is still of young standing (age only thirty-five), with a touch of veiled sarcasm; and things must go their course.
In Schlesien, Schwerin is now to command in chief; the King going off to Berlin for a little, naturally with plenty of errand there. The Prussian Troops go into Winter-quarters; spread themselves wide; beset the good points, especially the Passes of the Hills,—from Jagerndorf, eastward to the Jablunka leading towards Hungary;—nay they can, and before long do, spread into the Moravian Territories, on the other side; and levy contributions, the Queen proving unreasonable.
It was Monday, 23d, when the Siege of Neisse was abandoned: on Wednesday, Friedrich himself turns homeward; looks into Schweidnitz, looks into Liegnitz; and arrives at Berlin as the week ends,—much acclamation greeting him from the multitude. Except those three masked Fortresses, capable of no defence to speak of, were Winter over, Silesia is now all Friedrich's,—has fallen wholly to him in the space of about Seven Weeks. The seizure has been easy; but the retaining of it, perhaps he himself begins to see more clearly, will have difficulties! From this point, the talk about GLOIRE nearly ceases in his Correspondence. In those seven weeks he has, with GLOIRE or otherwise, cut out for himself such a life of labor as no man of his Century had.
While Friedrich was so busy in Silesia, the world was not asleep around him; the world never is, though it often seems to be, round a man and what action he does in it. That Sunday morning, First Day of the Year 1741, in those same hours while Friedrich, with energy, with caution, was edging himself into Breslau, there went on in the Court of Versailles an interior Phenomenon; of which, having by chance got access to it face to face, we propose to make the reader participant before going farther.
Readers are languidly aware that phenomena do go on round their Friedrich; that their busy Friedrich, with his few Voltaires and renowned persons, are not the only population of their Century, by any means. Everybody is aware of that fact; yet, in practice, almost everybody is as good as not aware; and the World all round one's Hero is a darkness, a dormant vacancy. How strange when, as here, some Waste-paper spill (so to speak) turns up, which you can KINDLE; and, by the brief flame of it, bid a reader look with his own eyes!—From Herr Doctor Busching, who did the GEOGRAPHY and about a Hundred other Books,—a man of great worth, almost of genius, could he have elaborated his Hundred Books into Ten (or distilled, into flasks of aqua-vitae, what otherwise lies tumbling as tanks of mash and wort, now run very sour and mal-odorous);—it is from Herr Busching that we gain the following rough Piece, illuminative if one can kindle it:—
The Titular-Herr Baron Anton von Geusau, a gentleman of good parts, scholastic by profession, and of Protestant creed, was accompanying as Travelling Tutor, in those years, a young Graf von Reuss. Graf von Beuss is one of those indistinct Counts Reuss, who always call themselves "Henry;" and, being now at the eightieth and farther, with uncountable collateral Henrys intertwisted, are become in effect anonymous, or of nomenclature inscrutable to mankind. Nor is the young one otherwise of the least interest to us;—except that Herr Anton, the Travelling Tutor, punctually kept a Journal of everything. Which Journal, long afterwards, came into the hands of Busching, also a punctual man; and was by him abridged, and set forth in print in his Beitrage. Offering at present a singular daguerrotype glimpse of the then actual world, wherever Graf von Reuss and his Geusau happened to be. Nine-tenths of it, even in Busching's Abridgment, are now fallen useless and wearisome; but to one studying the days that then were, even the effete commonplace of it occasionally becomes alive again. And how interesting to catch, here and there, a Historical Figure on these conditions; Historical Figure's very self, in his work-day attitude; eating his victuals; writing, receiving letters, talking to his fellow-creatures; unaware that Posterity, miraculously through some chink of the Travelling Tutor's producing, has got its eye upon him.
"SUNDAY, 1st JANUARY, 1741, Geusau and his young Gentleman leave Paris, at 5 in the morning, and drive out to Versailles; intending to see the ceremonies of New-year's day there. Very wet weather it had been, all Wednesday, and for days before; [See in Barbier (ii. 283 et seqq.) what terrible Noah-like weather it had been; big houses, long in soak, tumbling down at last into the Seine; CHASSE of St. Genevieve brought out (two days ago), December 30th, to try it by miracle; &c. &c.] but on this Sunday, New-year's morning, all is ice and glass; and they slid about painfully by lamplight,—with unroughened horses, and on the Hilly or Meudon road, having chosen that as fittest, the waters being out;—not arriving at Court till 9. Nor finding very much to comfort them, except on the side of curiosity, when there. Ushers, INTRODUCTEURS, Cabinet Secretaries, were indeed assiduous to oblige; and the King's Levee will be: but if you follow it, to the Chapel Royal to witness high mass, you must kneel at elevation of the host; and this, as reformed Christians, Reuss and his Tutor cannot undertake to do. They accept a dinner invitation (12 the hour) from some good Samaritan of Quality; and, for sights, will content themselves with the King's Levee itself, and generally with what the King's Antechamber and the OEil-de-Boeuf can exhibit to them. The Most Christian King's Levee [LEVER, literally here his Getting out of Bed] is a daily miracle of these localities, only grander on New-year's day; and it is to the following effect:—
"Till Majesty please to awaken, you saunter in the Salle des Ambassadeurs; whole crowds jostling one another there; gossiping together in a diligent, insipid manner;" gossip all reported; snatches of which have acquired a certain flavor by long keeping;—which the reader shall imagine. "Meanwhile you keep your eye on the Grate of the Inner Court, which as yet is only ajar, Majesty inaccessible as yet. Behold, at last, Grate opens itself wide; sign that Majesty is out of bed; that the privileged of mankind may approach, and see the miracles." Geusau continues, abridged by Busching and us:—
"The whole Assemblage passed now into the King's Anteroom; had to wait there about half an hour more, before the King's bedroom was opened. But then at last, lo you,—there is the King, visible to Geusau and everybody, washing his hands. Which effected itself in this way: 'The King was seated; a gentleman-in-waiting knelt, before him, and held the Ewer, a square vessel silver-gilt, firm upon the King's breast; and another gentleman-in-waiting poured water on the King's hands.' Merely an official washing, we perceive; the real, it is to be hoped, had, in a much more effectual way, been going on during the half-hour just elapsed. After washing, the King rose for an instant; had his dressing-gown, a grand yellow silky article with silver flowerings, pulled off, and flung round his loins; upon which he sat down again, and,"—observe it, ye privileged of mankind,—"the Change of Shirt took place! 'They put the clean shirt down over his head,' says Anton, 'and plucked up the dirty one from within, so that of the naked skin you saw little or nothing.'" Here is a miracle worth getting out of bed to look at!
"His Majesty now quitted chair and dressing-gown; stood up before the fire; and, after getting on the rest of his clothing, which, on account of Czarina Anne's death [readers remember that], was of violet or mourning color, he had the powder-mantle thrown round him, and sat down at the Toilette to have his hair frizzled. The Toilette, a table with white cover shoved into the middle of the room, had on it a mirror, a powder-knife, and"—no mortal cares what. "The King," what all mortals note, as they do the heavenly omens, "is somewhat talky; speaks sometimes with the Dutch Ambassador, sometimes with the Pope's Nuncio, who seems a jocose kind of gentleman; sometimes with different French Lords, and at last with the Cardinal Fleury also,—to whom, however, he does not look particularly gracious,"—not particularly this time. These are the omens; happy who can read them!—Majesty then did his morning-prayer, assisted only by the common Almoners-in-waiting (Cardinal took no hand, much less any other); Majesty knelt before his bed, and finished the business 'in less than six seconds.' After which mankind can ebb out to the Anteroom again; pay their devoir to the Queen's Majesty, which all do; or wait for the Transit to Morning Chapel, and see Mesdames of France and the others flitting past in their sedans.
"Queen's Majesty was already altogether dressed," says Geusau, almost as if with some disappointment; "all in black; a most affable courteous Majesty; stands conversing with the Russian Ambassador, with the Dutch ditto, with the Ladies about her, and at last, 'in a friendly and merry tone,' with old Cardinal Fleury. Her Ladies, when the Queen spoke with them, showed no constraint at all; leant loosely with their arms on the fire-screens, and took things easy. Mesdames of France"—Geusau saw Mesdames. Poor little souls, they are the LOQUE, the COCHON (Rag, Pig, so Papa would call them, dear Papa), who become tragically visible again in the Revolution time:—all blooming young children as yet (Queen's Majesty some thirty-seven gone), and little dreaming what lies fifty years ahead! King Louis's career of extraneous gallantries, which ended in the Parc-aux-Cerfs, is now just beginning: think of that too; and of her Majesty's fine behavior under it; so affable, so patient, silent, now and always!—"In a little while, their Majesties go along the Great Gallery to Chapel;" whither the Protestant mind cannot with comfort accompany. [Busching, Beitrage, ii. 59-78.]
This is the daily miracle done at Versailles to the believing multitude; only that on New-year's day, and certain supreme occasions, the shirt is handed by a Prince of the Blood, and the towel for drying the royal hands by a ditto, with other improvements; and the thing comes out in its highest power of effulgence,—especially if you could see high mass withal. In the Antechamber and (OEil-de-Boeuf, Geusau), among hundreds of phenomena fallen dead to us, saw the Four following, which have still some life:—1. Many Knights of the Holy Ghost (CHEVALIERS DU SAINT ESPRIT) are about; magnificently piebald people, indistinct to us, and fallen dead to us: but there, among the company, do not we indisputably see, "in full Cardinal's costume," Fleury the ancient Prime Minister talking to her Majesty? Blandly smiling; soft as milk, yet with a flavor of alcoholic wit in him here and there. That is a man worth looking at, had they painted him at all. Red hat, red stockings; a serenely definite old gentleman, with something of prudent wisdom, and a touch of imperceptible jocosity at times; mildly inexpugnable in manner: this King, whose Tutor he was twenty years ago, still looks to him as his father; Fleury is the real King of France at present. His age is eighty-seven gone; the King's is thirty (seven years younger than his Queen): and the Cardinal has red stockings and red hat; veritably there, successively in both Antechambers, seen by Geusau, January 1st, 1741: that is all I know. 2. The Prince de Clermont, a Prince of the Blood, "handed the shirt," TESTE Geusau. Some other Prince, notable to Geusau, and to us nameless, had the honor of the "towel:" but this Prince de Clermont, a dissolute fellow of wasted parts, kind of Priest, kind of Soldier too, is seen visibly handing the shirt there;—whom the reader and I, if we cared about it, shall again see, getting beaten by Prince Ferdinand, at Crefeld, within twenty years hence. These are points first and second, slightly noticeable, slightly if at all.
Of the actual transit to high mass, transit very visible in the Great Gallery or OEil-de-Boeuf, why should a human being now say anything? Queen, poor Stanislaus's Daughter, and her Ladies, in their sublime sedans, one flood of jewels, sail first; next sails King Louis, shirt warm on his back, with "thirty-four Chevaliers of the Holy Ghost" escorting; next "the Dauphin" (Boy of eleven, Louis XVI.'s. Father), and "Mesdames of France, with"—but even Geusau stops short. Protestants cannot enter that Chapel, without peril of idolatry; wherefore Geusau and Pupil kept strolling in the general (OEil-de-Boeuf),—and "the Dutch Ambassador approved of it," he for one. And here now is another point, slightly noticeable:—3. High mass over, his Majesty sails back from Chapel, in the same magnificently piebald manner; and vanishes into the interior; leaving his Knights of the Holy Ghost, and other Courtier multitude, to simmer about, and ebb away as they found good. Geusau and his young Reuss had now the honor of being introduced to various people; among others "to the Prince de Soubise." Prince de Soubise: frivolous, insignificant being; of whom I have no portrait that is not nearly blank, and content to be so;—though Herr von Geusau would have one, with features and costume to it, when he heard of the Beating at Rossbach, long after! Prince de Soubise is pretty much a blank to everybody:—and no sooner are we loose of him, than (what every reader will do well to note) 4. Our Herren Travellers are introduced to a real Notability: Monseigneur, soon to be Marechal, the Comte de Belleisle; whom my readers and I are to be much concerned with, in time coming. "A tall lean man (LANGER HAGERER MANN), without much air of quality," thinks Geusau; but with much swift intellect and energy, and a distinguished character, whatever Geusau might think. "Comte de Belleisle was very civil; but apologized, in a courtly and kind way, for the hurry he was in; regretting the impossibility of doing the honors to the Comte de Reuss in this Country,—his, Belleisle's, Journey into Germany, which was close at hand, overwhelming him with occupations and engagements at present. And indeed, even while he spoke to us," says Geusau, "all manner of Papers were put into his hand." [Busching, ii. 79; see Barbier, ii. 282, 287.]
"Journey to Germany, Papers put into his hand:" there is perhaps no Human Figure in the world, this Sunday (except the one Figure now in those same moments over at Breslau, gently pressing upon the locked Gates there), who is so momentous for our Silesian Operations; and indeed he will kindle all Europe into delirium; and produce mere thunder and lightning, for seven years to come,—with almost no result in it, except Silesia! A tall lean man; there stands he, age now fifty-six, just about setting out on such errand. Whom one is thankful to have seen for a moment, even in that slight manner.
Charles Louis Auguste Fouquet, Comte de Belleisle, is Grandson of that Intendant Fouquet, sumptuous Financier, whom Louis XIV. at last threw out, and locked into the Fortress of Pignerol, amid the Savoy Alps, there to meditate for life, which lasted thirty years longer. It was never understood that the sumptuous Fouquet had altogether stolen public moneys, nor indeed rightly what he had done to merit Pignerol; and always, though fallen somehow into such dire disfavor, he was pitied and respected by a good portion of the public. "Has angered Colbert," said the public; "dangerous rivalry to Colbert; that is what has brought Pignerol upon him." Out of Pignerol that Fouquet never came; but his Family bloomed up into light again; had its adventures, sometimes its troubles, in the Regency time, but was always in a rising way:—and here, in this tall lean man getting papers put into his hand, it has risen very high indeed. Going as Ambassador Extraordinary to the Germanic Diet, "to assist good neighbors, as a neighbor and Most Christian Majesty should, in choosing their new Kaiser to the best advantage:" that is the official color his mission is to have. Surely a proud mission;—and Belleisle intends to execute it in a way that will surprise the Germanic Diet and mankind. Privately, Belleisle intends that he, by his own industries, shall himself choose the right Kaiser, such Kaiser as will suit the Most Christian Majesty and him; he intends to make a new French thing of Germany in general; and carries in his head plans of an amazing nature! He and a Brother he has, called the Chevalier de Belleisle, who is also a distinguished man, and seconds M. le Comte with eloquent fire and zeal in all things, are grandsons of that old Fouquet, and the most shining men in France at present. France little dreams how much better it perhaps were, had they also been kept safe in Pignerol!—
The Count, lean and growing old, is not healthy; is ever and anon tormented, and laid up for weeks, with rheumatisms, gouts and ailments: but otherwise he is still a swift ardent elastic spirit; with grand schemes, with fiery notions and convictions, which captivate and hurry off men's minds more than eloquence could, so intensely true are they to the Count himself;—and then his Brother the Chevalier is always there to put them into the due language and logic, where needed. [Voltaire, xxviii. 74; xxix. 392; &c.] A magnanimous high-flown spirit; thought to be of supreme skill both in War and in Diplomacy; fit for many things; and is still full of ambition to distinguish himself, and tell the world at all moments, "ME VOILA; World, I too am here!"—His plans, just now, which are dim even to himself, except on the hither skirt of them, stretch out immeasurable, and lie piled up high as the skies. The hither skirt of them, which will suffice the reader at present, is:—
That your Grand-Duke Franz, Maria Theresa's Husband, shall in no wise, as the world and Duke Franz expect, be the Kaiser chosen. Not he, but another who will suit France better: "Kur-Sachsen perhaps, the so-called King of Poland? Or say it were Karl Albert Kur-Baiern, the hereditary friend and dependent of France? We are not tied to a man: only, at any and at all rates, not Grand-Duke Franz." This is the grand, essential and indispensable point, alpha and omega of points; very clear this one to Belleisle,—and towards this the first steps, if as yet only the first, are also clear to him. Namely that "the 27th of February next",—which is the time set by Kur-Mainz and the native Officials for the actual meeting of their Reichstag to begin Election Business, will be too early a time; and must be got postponed. [Adelung, ii. 185 ("27th February-1st March, 1741, at Frankfurt-on-Mayn," appointed by Kur-Mainz "Arch-Chancellor of the REICH," under date November 3d, 1740);—ib. 236 ("Delay for a month or two," suggests Kur-Pfalz, on January 12th, seconded by others in the French interest);—upon which the appointment, after some arguing, collapsed into the vague, and there ensued delay enough; actual Election not till January 24th, 1742.] Postponed; which will be possible, perhaps for long; one knows not for how long: that is a first step definitely clear to Belleisle. Towards which, as preliminary to it and to all the others in a dimmer state, there is a second thing clear, and has even been officially settled (all but the day): That, in the mean while, and surely the sooner the better, he, Belleisle, Most Christian Majesty's Ambassador Extraordinary to the Reichstag coming,—do, in his most dazzling and persuasive manner, make a Tour among German Courts. Let us visit, in our highest and yet in our softest splendor, the accessible German Courts, especially the likely or well-disposed: Mainz, Koln, Trier, these, the three called Spiritual, lie on our very route; then Pfalz, Baiern, Sachsen:—we will tour diligently up and down; try whether, by optic machinery and art-magic of the mind, one cannot bring them round.
In all these preliminary steps and points, and even in that alpha and omega of excluding Grand-Duke Franz, and getting a Kaiser of his own, Belleisle succeeded. With painful results to himself and to millions of his fellow-creatures, to readers of this History, among others. And became in consequence the most famous of mankind; and filled the whole world with rumor of Belleisle, in those years.—A man of such intrinsic distinction as Belleisle, whom Friedrich afterwards deliberately called a great Captain, and the only Frenchman with a genius for war; and who, for some time, played in Europe at large a part like that of Warwick the Kingmaker: how has he fallen into such oblivion? Many of my readers never heard of him before; nor, in writing or otherwise, is there symptom that any living memory now harbors him, or has the least approach to an image of him! "For the times are babbly," says Goethe," And then again the times are dumb:—
Denn geschwatzig sind die Zeiten, Und sie sind auch wieder stumm."
Alas, if a man sow only chaff, in never so sublime a manner, with the whole Earth and the long-eared populations looking on, and chorally singing approval, rendering night hideous,—it will avail him nothing. And that, to a lamentable extent, was Belleisle's case. His scheme of action was in most felicitously just accordance with the national sense of France, but by no means so with the Laws of Nature and of Fact; his aim, grandiose, patriotic, what you will, was unluckily false and not true. How could "the times" continue talking of him? They found they had already talked too much. Not to say that the French Revolution has since come; and has blown all that into the air, miles aloft,—where even the solid part of it, which must be recovered one day, much more the gaseous, which we trust is forever irrecoverable, now wanders and whirls; and many things are abolished, for the present, of more value than Belleisle!—
For my own share, being, as it were, forced accidentally to look at him again, I find in Belleisle a really notable man; far superior to the vulgar of noted men, in his time or ours. Sad destiny for such a man! But when the general Life-element becomes so unspeakably phantasmal as under Louis XV., it is difficult for any man to be real; to be other than a play-actor, more or less eminent, and artistically dressed. Sad enough, surely, when the truth of your relation to the Universe, and the tragically earnest meaning of your Life, is quite lied out of you, by a world sunk in lies; and you can, with effort, attain to nothing but to be a more or less splendid lie along with it! Your very existence all become a vesture, a hypocrisy, and hearsay; nothing left of you but this sad faculty of sowing chaff in the fashionable manner! After Friedrich and Voltaire, in both of whom, under the given circumstances, one finds a perennial reality, more or less,—Belleisle is next; none FAILS to escape the mournful common lot by a nearer miss than Belleisle.
Beyond doubt, there are in this man the biggest projects any French head has carried, since Louis XIV. with his sublime periwig first took to striking the stars. How the indolent Louis XV. and the pacific Fleury have been got into this sublimely adventurous mood? By Belleisle chiefly, men say;—and by King Louis's first Mistresses, blown upon by Belleisle; poor Louis having now, at length, left his poor Queen to her reflections, and taken into that sad line, in which by degrees he carried it so far. There are three of them, it seems;—the first female souls that could ever manage to kindle, into flame or into smoke: in this or any other kind, that poor torpid male soul: those Mailly Sisters, three in number (I am shocked to hear), successive, nay in part simultaneous! They are proud women, especially the two younger; with ambition in them, with a bravura magnanimity, of the theatrical or operatic kind; of whom Louis is very fond. "To raise France to its place, your Majesty; the top of the Universe, namely!" "Well; if it could be done,—and quite without trouble?" thinks Louis. Bravura magnanimity, blown upon by Belleisle, prevails among these high Improper Females, and generally in the Younger Circles of the Court; so that poor old Fleury has had no choice but to obey it or retire. And so Belleisle stalks across the OEil-de-Boeuf in that important manner, visibly to Geusau; and is the shining object in Paris, and much the topic there at present.
A few weeks hence, he is farther—a little out of the common turn, but not beyond his military merits or capabilities—made Marechal de France; [Fastes de Louis XV., i. 356 (12th February, 1741).] by way of giving him a new splendor in the German Political World, and assisting in his operations there, which depend much upon the laws of vision. French epigrams circulate in consequence, and there are witty criticisms; to which Belleisle, such a dusky world of Possibility lying ahead, is grandly indifferent. Marechal de France;—and Geusau hears (what is a fact) that there are to be "thirty young French Lords in his suite;" his very "Livery," or mere plush retinue, "to consist of 110 persons;" such an outfit for magnificence as was never seen before. And in this equipment, "early in March" (exact day not given), magnificence of outside corresponding to grandiosity of faculty and idea, Belleisle, we shall find, does practically set off towards Germany;—like a kind of French Belus, or God of the Sun; capable to dazzle weak German Courts, by optical machinery, and to set much rotten thatch on fire!—
"There are curious daguerrotype glimpses of old Paris to be found in that Notebook of Geusau's", says another Excerpt; "which come strangely home to us, like reality at first-hand;—and a rather unexpected Paris it is, to most readers; many things then alive there, which are now deep underground. Much Jansenist Theology afloat; grand French Ladies piously eager to convert a young Protestant Nobleman like Reuss; sublime Dorcases, who do not rouge, or dress high, but eschew the evil world, and are thrifty for the Poor's sake, redeeming the time. There is a Cardinal de Polignac, venerable sage and ex-political person, of astonishing erudition, collector of Antiques (with whom we dined); there is the Chevalier Ramsay, theological Scotch Jacobite, late Tutor of the young Turenne. So many shining persons, now fallen indistinct again. And then, besides gossip, which is of mild quality and in fair proportion,—what talk, casuistic and other, about the Moral Duties, the still feasible Pieties, the Constitution Unigenitus! All this alive, resonant at dinner-tables of Conservative stamp; the Miracles of Abbe Paris much a topic there:—and not a whisper of Infidel Philosophies; the very name of Voltaire not once mentioned in the Reuss section of Parisian things.
"There is rumor now and then of a 'Comte de Rothenbourg,' conspicuous in the Parisian circles; a shining military man, but seemingly in want of employment; who has lost in gambling, within the last four years, upwards of 50,000 pounds (1,300,000 livres, the exact cipher given). This is the Graf von Rothenburg whom Friedrich made acquaintance with, in the Rhine Campaign six years ago, and has ever since had in his eye;—whom, in a few weeks hence, Friedrich beckons over to him into the Prussian States: 'Hither, and you shall have work!' Which Rothenburg accepts; with manifold advantage to both parties:—one of Friedrich's most distinguished friends for the rest of his life.
"Of Cardinal Polignac there is much said, and several dinners with him are transacted, dialogue partly given: a pious wise old gentleman really, in his kind (age now eighty-four); looking mildly forth upon a world just about to overset itself and go topsy-turvy, as he sees it will. His ANTI-LUCRETIUS was once such a Poem!—but we mention him here because his fine Cabinet of Antiques came to Berlin on his death, Friedrich purchasing; and one often hears of it (if one cared to hear) from the Prussian Dryasdust in subsequent years. [Came to Charlottenburg, August, 1742 (old Polignac had died November last, ten months after those Geusau times): cost of the Polignac Cabinet was 40,000 thalers (6,000 pounds) say some, 90,000 livres (under 4,000 pounds) say others; cheap at either price;—and, by chance, came opportunely, "a fire having just burnt down the Academy Edifice," and destroyed much ware of that kind. Rodenbeck, i. 73; Seyfarth (Anonymous), Geschichte Friedrichs des Andern, i. 236.]
"Of Friedrich's unexpected Invasion of Silesia there are also talkings and surmisings, but in a mild indifferent tone, and much in the vague. And in the best-informed circles it is thought Belleisle will manage to HAVE Grand-Duke Franz, the Queen of Hungary's Husband, chosen Kaiser, and, in some mild good way, put an end to all that;"—which is far indeed from Belleisle's intention!
I know not whether Major Winterfeld, who was sent to Petersburg in December last, had got back to Berlin in February, now while Friedrich is there: but for certain the good news of him had, That he had been completely successful, and was coming speedily, to resume his soldier duties in right time. As Winterfeld is an important man (nearly buried into darkness in the dull Prussian Books), let us pause for a moment on this Negotiation of his;—and on the mad Russian vicissitudes which preceded and followed, so far as they concern us. Russia, a big demi-savage neighbor next door, with such caprices, such humors and interests, is always an important, rather delicate object to Friedrich; and Fortune's mad wheel is plunging and canting in a strange headlong way there, of late. Czarina Anne, we know, is dead; the Autocrat of All the Russias following the Kaiser of the Romans within eight days. Iwan, her little Nephew, still in swaddling-clothes, is now Autocrat of All the Russias if he knew it, poor little red-colored creature; and Anton Ulrich and his Mecklenburg Russian Princess—But let us take up the matter where our Notebooks left it, in Friedrich Wilhelm's time:—
"Czarina Anne with the big cheek," continues that Notebook, [Supra, p. 129.] "was extremely delighted to see little Iwan; but enjoyed him only two months; being herself in dying circumstances. She appointed little Iwan her Successor, his Mother and Father to be Guardians over him; but one Bieren (who writes himself Biron, and "Duke of Courland,' being Czarina's Quasi-Husband these many years) to be Guardian, as it were, over both them and him. Such had been the truculent insatiable Bieren's demand on his Czarina. 'You are running on your destruction,' said she, with tears; but complied, as she had been wont.
"Czarina Anne died 28th October, 1740; leaving a Czar in his cradle; little Czar Ivan of two months, with Mother and Father to preside over him, and to be themselves presided over by Bieren, in this manner. [Mannstein, pp. 264-267 (28th October, by Russian or Old Style, is "17th;" we TRANSLATE, in this and other cases, Russian or English, into New Style, unless the contrary is indicated)]. This was the first great change for Anton Ulrich; but others greater are coming. Little Anton, readers know, is Friedrich's Brother-in-law, much patronized by Austria; Anton's spouse is the Half-Russian Princess Catherine of Mecklenburg (now wholly Russian, and called Princess Anne), whom Friedrich at one time thought of applying for, in his distress about a Wife. These two, will they side with Prussia, will they side with Austria? It was hardly worth inquiry, had not Fortune's wheel made suddenly a great cant, and pitched them to the top, for the time being.
"Bieren lasted only twenty days. He was very high and arbitrary upon everybody; Anne and Anton Ulrich suffering naturally most from him. They took counsel with Feldmarschall Munnich on the matter; who, after study, declared it a remediable case. Friday, 18th November, Munnich had, by invitation, to dine with Duke Bieren; Munnich went accordingly that day, and dined; Duke looking a little flurried, they say: and the same evening, dinner being quite over, and midnight come, Munnich had his measures all taken, soldiers ready, warrant in hand;—and arrested Bieren in his bed; mere Siberia, before sunrise, looming upon Bieren. Never was such a change as this from 18th day to 19th with a supreme Bieren. Our friend Mannstein, excellent punctual Aide-de-Camp of Munnich, was the executor of the feat; and has left punctual record of it, as he does of everything,—-what Bieren said, and what Madam Bieren, who was a little obstreperous on the occasion. [Mannstein, p. 268.] What side Anton Ulrich and Spouse will take in a quarrel between Prussia and Austria, is now well worth asking.
"Anton Ulrich and Wife Anne, that is to say, 'Regent Anne' and 'Generalissimo Anton Ulrich,' now ruled, with Munnich for right-hand man; and these were high times for Anton Ulrich, Generalissimo and Czar's-Father; who indeed was modest, and did not often interfere in words, though grieved at the foolish ways his Wife had. An indolent flabby kind of creature, she, unfit for an Autocrat; sat in her private apartments, all in a huddle of undress; had foolish notions,—especially had soubrettes who led her about by the ear. And then there was a 'Princess Elizabeth,' Cousin-german of Regent Anne,—daughter, that is to say, last child there now was, of Peter the Great and his little brown Catherine:—who should have been better seen to. Harmless foolish Princess, not without cunning; young, plump, and following merely her flirtations and her orthodox devotions; very orthodox and soft, but capable of becoming dangerous, as a centre of the disaffected. As 'Czarina Elizabeth' before long, and ultimately as 'INFAME CATIN DU NORD, she—" But let us not anticipate!
It was in this posture of affairs, about a month after it had begun, that Winterfeld arrived in Petersburg; and addressed himself to Munnich, on the Prussian errand. Winterfeld was Munnich's Son-in-law (properly stepson-in-law, having married Munnich's stepdaughter, a Fraulein von Malzahn, of good Prussian kin); was acquainted with the latitudes and longitudes here, and well equipped for the operation in hand. To Madam Munnich, once Madam Malzahn, his Mother-in-law, he carried a diamond ring of 1,200 pounds, "small testimony of his Prussian Majesty's regard to so high a Prussian Lady;" to Munnich's Son and Madam's a present of 3,000 pounds on the like score: and the wheels being oiled in this way, and the steam so strong (son Winterfeld an ardent man, father Munnich the like, supreme in Russia, and the thing itself a salutary thing), the diplomatic speed obtained was great. Winterfeld had arrived in Petersburg December 19th: Treaty of Alliance to the effect, "Firm friends and good neighbors, we Two, Majesties of Prussia and of All the Russias; will help each the other, if attacked, with 12,000 men,"—was signed on the 27th: whole Transaction, so important to Friedrich, complete in eight days. Austrian Botta, directly on the heel of those unsatisfactory Dialogues about Silesian roads, about troops that were pretty, but had never looked the wolf in the face,—had rushed off, full speed, for Petersburg, in hopes of running athwart such a Treaty as Winterfeld's, and getting one for Austria instead. But he arrived too late; and perhaps could have done nothing had he been in time. Botta tried his utmost for years afterwards, above ground and below, to obstruct and reverse this thing; but it was to no purpose, and even to less; and only, in result, brought Botta himself into flagrant diplomatic trouble and scandal; which made noise enough in the then Gazetteer world, and was the finale of Botta's Russian efforts, [Adelung, iii. ii. 289; Mannstein, p. 375 ("Lapuschin Plot," of Botta's raising, found out "August, 1743;"—Botta put in arrest, &c.).] though not worth mentioning now.
The Russian Notebook continues:—
"Munnich, supreme in Russia since Bieren's removal, had wise counsels for the Regent Anne and her Husband; though perhaps, being a high old military gentleman, he might be somewhat abrupt in his ways. And there were domestic Ostermanns, foreign Bottas, La Chetardies, and dangerous Intriguers and Opposition figures, to improve any grudge that might arise. Sure enough, in March, 1741, Feldmarschall Munnich was forbid the Court (some Ostermann succeeding him there): 'Ever true to your Two Highnesses, though no longer needed;'—and withdrew, in a lofty friendly strain; his Son continuing at Court, though Papa had withdrawn. Supreme Munnich had lasted about four months; Supreme Bieren hardly three weeks;—and Siberia is still agape.
"Munnich being gone to his own Town-Mansion, and Regent Anne sitting in hers in a huddle of undress; little accessible to her long-headed melancholic Ostermann, and too accessible to her Livonian maid: with poor little Anton Ulrich pouting and remonstrating, but unable to help,—this state of matters, with such intrigues undermining it, could not last forever. And had not Princess Elizabeth been of indolent luxurious nature, intent upon her prayers and flirtations, it would have ended sooner even than it did. Princess Elizabeth had a Surgeon called L'Estoc; a Marquis de la Chetardie, a high-flown French Excellency (who used to be at Berlin, to our young Friedrich's delight), was her—What shall I say? La Chetardie himself had no scruple to say it! These two plotted for her; these were ready,—could she have been got ready; which was not so easy. Regent Anne had her suspicions; but the Princess was so indolent, so good: at last, when directly taxed with such a thing, the Princess burst into ingenuous weeping; quite disarmed Regent Anne's suspicions;—but found she had now better take L'Estoc's advice, and proceed at once. Which she did.
"And so, on the morrow morning, 5th December, 1741, by aid of the Preobrazinsky Regiment, and the motions usual on such occasions,—in fact by merely pulling out the props from an undermined state of matters,—she reduced said state gently to ruin, ready for carting to Siberia, like its foregoers; and was hereby Czarina of All the Russias, prosperously enough for the rest of her life. Twenty years or rather more. An indolent, orthodox, plump creature, disinclined to cruelty; 'not an ounce of nun's flesh in her composition,' said the wits. She maintained the Friedrich Treaty, indignant at Botta and his plots; was well with Friedrich, or might have been kept so by management, for there was no cause of quarrel, but the reverse, between the Countries,—could Friedrich have held his witty tongue, when eavesdroppers were by. But he could not always; though he tried. And sarcastic quizzing (especially if it be truth too), on certain female topics, what Improper Female, Czarina of All the Russias, could stand it? The history is but a distressing one, a disgusting one, in human affairs. Elizabeth was orthodox, too, and Friedrich not, 'the horrid man!' The fact is,—fact dismally indubitable, though it is huddled into discreet dimness, and all details of it (as to what Friedrich's witticisms were, and the like) are refused us in the Prussian Books,—indignation, owing to such dismal cause, became fixed hate on the Czarina's part, and there followed terrible results at last: A Czarina risen to the cannibal pitch upon a man, in his extreme need;—'INFAME CATIN DU NORD,' thinks the man! Friedrich's wit cost him dear; him, and half a million others still dearer, twenty years hence."—Till which time we will gladly leave the Czarina and it.
Major von Winterfeld had been in Russia before this; and had wooed his fair Malzahn there. He is the same Winterfeld whom we once saw dining by the wayside with the late Friedrich Wilhelm, on that last Review-Journey his Majesty made. A Captain in the Potsdam Giants at that time; always in great favor with the late King; and in still greater with the present,—who finds in him, we can dimly discover, and pretty much in him alone, a soul somewhat like his own; the one real "peer" he had about him. A man of little education; bred in camps; yet of a proud natural eminency, and rugged nobleness of genius and mind. Let readers mark this fiery hero-spirit, lying buried in those dull Books, like lightning among clay. Here is another anecdote of his Russian business:—
"Winterfeld had gone, in Friedrich Wilhelm's time, with a party of Prussian drill-sergeants for Petersburg [year not given]; and duly delivered them there. He naturally saw much of Feldmarschall Munnich, naturally saw the Step-daughter of the Feldmarschall, a shining beauty in Petersburg; Winterfeld himself a man of shining gifts, and character; and one of the handsomest tall men in the world. Mutual love between the Fraulein and him was the rapid result. But how to obtain marriage? Winterfeld cannot marry, without leave had of his superiors: you, fair Malzahn, are Hof-Dame of Princess Elizabeth, all your fortune the jewels you wear; and it is too possible she will not let you go!
"They agreed to be patient, to be silent; to watch warily till Winterfeld got home to Prussia, till the Fraulein Malzahn could also contrive to get home. Winterfeld once home, and the King's consent had, the Fraulein applied to Princess Elizabeth for leave of absence: 'A few months, to see my friends in Deutschland, your Highness!' Princess Elizabeth looked hard at her; answered evasively this and that. At last, being often importuned, she answered plainly, 'I almost feel convinced thou wilt never come back!' Protestations from the Fraulein were not wanting:—'Well then,' said Elizabeth, 'if thou art so sure of it, leave me thy jewels in pledge. Why not?' The poor Fraulein could not say why; had to leave her jewels, which were her whole fine fortune, 'worth 100,000 rubles' (20,000 pounds); and is now the brave Wife of Winterfeld;—but could never, by direct entreaty or circuitous interest and negotiation, get back the least item of her jewels. Elizabeth, as Princess and as Czarina, was alike deaf on that subject. Now or henceforth that proved an impossible private enterprise for Winterfeld, though he had so easily succeeded in the public one." [Retzow, Charakteristik des siebenjahrigen Krieges (Berlin, 1802), i. 45 n.]
The new Czarina was not unmerciful. Munnich and Company were tried for life; were condemned to die, and did appear on the scaffold (29th January, 1742), ready for that extreme penalty; but were there, on the sudden, pardoned or half-pardoned by a merciful new Czarina, and sent to Siberia and outer darkness. Whither Bieren had preceded them. To outer darkness also, though a milder destiny had been intended them at first, went Anton Ulrich and his Household. Towards native Germany at first; they had got as far as Riga on the way to Germany, but were detained there, for a long while (owing to suspicions, to Botta Plots, or I know not what), till finally they were recalled into Russian exile. Strict enough exile, seclusion about Archangel and elsewhere; in convents, in obscure uncomfortable places:—little Iwan, after vicissitudes, even went underground; grew to manhood, and got killed (partly by accident, not quite by murder), some twenty-three years hence, in his dungeon in the Fortress of Schlusselburg, below the level of the Ladoga waters there. Unluckier Household, which once seemed the luckiest of the world, was never known. Canted suddenly, in this way, from the very top of Fortune's wheel to the very bottom; never to rise more;—and did not even die, at least not all die, for thirty or forty years after. [Anton Ulrich, not till 15th May, 1775 (two Daughters of his went, after this, to "Horstens, a poor Country-House in Jutland," whither Catherine II. had manumitted them, with pension;—she had wished Anton Ulrich to go home, many years before; but he would not, from shame).—Iwan had perished 5th August, 1764 (Catherine II. blamed for his death, but without cause); Iwan's Mother, Princess Anne, (mercifully) 18th March, 1746. See Russian Histories, TOOKE, CASTERA, &c.,—none of which, except MANNSTEIN, is good for much, or to be trusted without scrutiny.]
This is the Chetardie-L'Estoc conspiracy, of 5th December, 1741; the pitching up of Princess Elizabeth, and the pitching down of Anton Ulrich and his Munnichs, who had before pitched Bieren down. After which, matters remained more stationary at Petersburg: Czarina Elizabeth, fat indolent soul, floated with a certain native buoyancy, with something of bulky steadiness, in the turbid plunge of things, and did not sink. On the contrary, her reign, so called, was prosperous, though stupid; her big dark Countries, kindled already into growth, went on growing rather. And, for certain, she herself went on growing, in orthodox devotions of spiritual type (and in strangely heterodox ditto of NONspiritual!); in indolent mansuetudes (fell rages, if you cut on the RAWS at all!); in perpetual incongruity; and, alas, at last, in brandy-and-water,—till, as "INFAME CATIN DU NORD," she became terribly important to some persons!
At her accession, and for two years following, Czarina Elizabeth, in spite of real disinclination that way, had a War on her hands: the Swedish War (August, 1741-August, 1743), which, after long threatening on the Swedish side, had broken out into unwelcome actuality, in Anton Ulrich's time; and which could not, with all the Czarina's industry, be got rid of or staved off; Sweden being bent upon the thing, reason or no reason. War not to be spoken of, except on compulsion, in the most voluminous History! It was the unwisest of wars, we should say, and in practice probably the contemptiblest; if there were not one other Swedish War coming, which vies with it in these particulars, of which we shall be obliged to speak, more or less, at a future stage. Of this present Russian-Swedish war, having happily almost nothing to do with it, we can, except in the way of transient chronology, refrain altogether from speaking or thinking.
Poor Sweden, since it shot Karl XII. in the trenches at Fredericshall, could not get a King again; and is very anarchic under its Phantasm King and free National Palaver,—Senate with subaltern Houses;—which generally has French gold in its pocket, and noise instead of wisdom in its head. Scandalous to think of or behold. The French, desirous to keep Russia in play during these high Belleisle adventures now on foot, had, after much egging, bribing, flattering, persuaded vain Sweden into this War with Russia. "At Narva they were 80,000, we 8,000; and what became of them!" cry the Swedes always. Yes, my friends, but you had a Captain at Narva; you had not yet shot your Captain when you did Narva! "Faction of Hats," "Faction of Caps" (that is, NIGHT-caps, as being somnolent and disinclined to France and War): seldom did a once-valiant far-shining Nation sink to such depths, since they shot their Captain, and said to Anarchy, "THOU art Captaincy, we see, and the Divine thing!" Of the Wars and businesses of such a set of mortals let us shun speaking, where possible.
Mannstein gives impartial account, pleasantly clear and compact, to such as may be curious about this Swedish-Russian War; and, in the didactic point of view, it is not without value. To us the interesting circumstance is, that it does not interfere with our Silesian operations at all; and may be figured as a mere accompaniment of rumbling discord, or vacant far-off noise, going on in those Northern parts,—to which therefore we hope to be strangers in time coming. Here are some dates, which the reader may take with him, should they chance to illustrate anything:—
"AUGUST 4th, 1741. The Swedes declare War: 'Will recover their lost portions of Finland, will,' &c. &c. They had long been meditating it; they had Turk negotiations going on, diligent emissaries to the Turk (a certain Major Sinclair for one, whom the Russians waylaid and assassinated to get sight of his Papers) during the late Turk-Russian War; but could conclude nothing while that was in activity; concluded only after that was done,—striking the iron when grown COLD. A chief point in their Manifesto was the assassination of this Sinclair; scandal and atrocity, of which there is no doubt now the Russians were guilty. Various pretexts for the War:—prime movers to it, practically, were the French, intent on keeping Russia employed while their Belleisle German adventure went on, and who had even bargained with third parties to get up a War there, as we shall see.
"SEPTEMBER 3d, 1741. At Wilmanstrand,—key of Wyborg, their frontier stronghold in Finland, which was under Siege,—the Swedes (about 5,000 of them, for they had nothing to live upon, and lay scattered about in fractions) made fight, or skirmish, against a Russian attacking party: Swedes, rather victorious on their hill-top, rushed down; and totally lost their bit of victory, their Wilmanstrand, their Wyborg, and even the War itself;—for this was, in literal truth, the only fighting done by them in the entire course of it, which lasted near two years more. The rest of it was retreat, capitulation, loss on loss without stroke struck; till they had lost all Finland, and were like to lose Sweden itself,—Dalecarlian mutiny bursting out ('Ye traitors, misgovernors, worthy of death!'), with invasive Danes to rear of it;—and had to call in the very Russians to save them from worse. Czarina Elizabeth at the time of her accession, six months after Wilmanstrand, had made truce, was eager to make peace: 'By no means!' answered Sweden, taking arms again, or rather taking legs again; and rushing ruin-ward, at the old rate, still without stroke.
"JUNE 28th, 1743. They did halt; made Peace of Abo (Truce and Preliminaries signed there, that day: Peace itself, August 17th); Czarina magnanimously restoring most of their Finland (thinking to herself, 'Not done enough for me yet; cook it a little yet!');—and settling who their next King was to be, among other friendly things. And in November following, Keith, in his Russian galleys, with some 10,000 Russians on board, arrived in Stockholm; protective against Danes and mutinous Dalecarles: stayed there till June of next year, 1744." [Adelung, ii. 445. Mannstein, pp. 297 (Wilmanstrand Affair, himself present), 365 (Peace), 373 (Keith's RETURN with his galleys). Comte de Hordt (present also, on the Swedish side, and subsequently a Soldier of Friedrich's) Memoires (Berlin, 1789), i. 18-88. The murder of Sinclair (done by "four Russian subalterns, two miles from Naumberg in Silesia, 17th June, 1739, about 7 P.M.") is amply detailed from Documents, in a late Book: Weber, Aus Vier Jahrhunderten (Leipzig, 1858), i. 274-279.] Is not this a War!
On the Russian side, General Keith, under Field-marshal Lacy as chief in command (the same Keith whom we saw at Oczakow under Munnich, some time ago), had a great deal of the work and management; which was of a highly miscellaneous kind, commanding fleets of gunboats, and much else; and readers of MANNSTEIN can still judge,—much more could King Friedrich, earnestly watching the affair itself as it went on,—whether Keith did not do it in a solid and quietly eminent and valiant manner. Sagacious, skilful, imperturbable, without fear and without noise; a man quietly ever ready. He had quelled, once, walking direct into the heart of it, a ferocious Russian mutiny, or uproar from below, which would have ruined everything in few minutes more. (Mannstein, p. 130 (no date, April-May, 1742.) He suffered, with excellent silence, now and afterwards, much ill-usage from above withal;—till Friedrich himself, in the third year hence, was lucky enough to get him as General. Friedrich's Sister Ulrique, the marriage of Princess Ulrique,—that also, as it chanced, had something to do with this Peace of Abo. But we anticipate too far.
Friedrich stayed only three weeks at home; moving about, from Berlin to Potsdam, to Reinsberg and back: all the gay world is in Berlin, at this Carnival time; but Friedrich has more to do with business, of a manifold and over-earnest nature, than with Carnival gayeties. French Valori is here, "my fat Valori," who is beginning to be rather a favorite of Friedrich's: with Excellency Valori, and with the other Foreign Excellencies, there was diplomatic passaging in these weeks; and we gather from Valori, in the inverse way (Valori fallen sulky), that it was not ill done on Friedrich's part. He had some private consultation with the Old Dessauer, too; "probably on military points," thinks Valori. At least there was noticed more of the drill-sergeant than before, in his handling of the Army, when he returned to Silesia, continues the sulky one. "Troops and generals did not know him again,"—so excessively strict was he grown, on the sudden. And truly "he got into details which were beneath, not only a Prince who has great views, but even a simple Captain of Infantry,"—according to my (Valori's) military notions and experiences! [Valori, i. 99.]—
The truth is, Friedrich begins to see, more clearly than he did with GLOIRE dazzling him, that his position is an exceedingly grave one, full of risk, in the then mood and condition of the world; that he, in the whole world, has no sure friend but his Army; and that in regard to IT he cannot be too vigilant! The world is ominous to this youngest of the Kings more than to another. Sounds as of general Political Earthquake grumble audibly to him from the deeps: all Europe likely, in any event, to get to loggerheads on this Austrian Pragmatic matter; the Nations all watching HIM, to see what he will make of it:—fugleman he to the European Nations, just about bursting up on such an adventure. It may be a glorious position, or a not glorious; but, for certain, it is a dangerous one, and awfully solitary!—
Fuglemen the world and its Nations always have, when simultaneously bent any-whither, wisely or unwisely; and it is natural that the most adventurous spirit take that post. Friedrich has not sought the post; but following his own objects, has got it; and will be ignominiously lost, and trampled to annihilation under the hoofs of the world, if he do not mind! To keep well ahead;—to be rapid as possible; that were good:—to step aside were still better! And Friedrich we find is very anxious for that; "would be content with the Duchy of Glogau, and join Austria;" but there is not the least chance that way. His Special Envoy to Vienna, Gotter, and along with him Borck the regular Minister, are come home; all negotiation hopeless at Vienna; and nothing but indignant war-preparation going on there, with the most animated diligence, and more success than had seemed possible. That is the law of Friedrich's Silesian Adventure: "Forward, therefore, on these terms; others there are not: waste no words!" Friedrich recognizes to himself what the law is; pushes stiffly forward, with a fine silence on all that is not practical, really with a fine steadiness of hope, and audacity against discouragements. Of his anxieties, which could not well be wanting, but which it is royal to keep strictly under lock and key, of these there is no hint to Jordan or to anybody; and only through accidental chinks, on close scrutiny, can we discover that they exist. Symptom of despondency, of misgiving or repenting about his Enterprise, there is none anywhere, Friedrich's fine gifts of SILENCE (which go deeper than the lips) are noticeable here, as always; and highly they availed Friedrich in leading his life, though now inconvenient to Biographers writing of the same!—
It was not on matters of drill, as Valori supposes, that Friedrich had been consulting with the Old Dessauer: this time it was on another matter. Friedrich has two next Neighbors greatly interested, none more so, in the Pragmatic Question: Kur-Sachsen, Polish King, a foolish greedy creature, who is extremely uncertain about his course in it (and indeed always continued so, now against Friedrich, now for him, and again against); and Kur-Hanover, our little George of England, whose course is certain as that of the very stars, and direct against Friedrich at this time, as indeed, at all times not exceptional, it is apt to be. Both these Potentates must be attended to, in one's absence; method to be gentle but effectual; the Old Dessauer to do it:—and this is what these consultings had turned upon; and in a month or two, readers, and an astonished Gazetteer world, will see what comes of them.
It was February 19th when Friedrich left Berlin; the 21st he spends at Glogau, inspecting the Blockade there, and not ill content with the measures taken: "Press that Wallis all you can," enjoins he: "Hunger seems to be slow about it! Summon him again, were your new Artillery come up; threaten with bombardment; but spare the Town, if possible. Artillery is coming: let us have done here, and soon!" Next day he arrives, not at Breslau as some had expected, but at Schweidnitz sidewards; a strong little Town, at least an elaborately fortified, of which we shall hear much in time coming. It lies a day's ride west of Breslau: and will be quieter for business than a big gazing Capital would be,—were Breslau even one's own city; which it is not, though perhaps tending to be. Breslau is in transition circumstances at present; a little uncertain WHOSE it is, under its Munchows and new managers: Breslau he did not visit at all on this occasion. To Schweidnitz certain new regiments had been ordered, there to be disposed of in reinforcing: there, "in the Count Hoberg's Mansion," he principally lodges for six weeks to come; shooting out on continual excursions; but always returning to Schweidnitz, as the centre, again.
Algarotti, home from Turin (not much of a success there, but always melodious for talk), had travelled with him; Algarotti, and not long after, Jordan and Maupertuis, bear him company, that the vacant moments too be beautiful. We can fancy he has a very busy, very anxious, but not an unpleasant time. He goes rapidly about, visiting his posts,—chiefly about the Neisse Valley; Neisse being the prime object, were the weather once come for siege-work. He is in many Towns (specified in RODENBECK and the Books, but which may be anonymous here); doubtless on many Steeples and Hill-tops; questioning intelligent natives, diligently using his own eyes: intent to make personal acquaintance with this new Country,—where, little as he yet dreams of it, the deadly struggles of his Life lie waiting him, and which he will know to great perfection before all is done!
Neisse lies deep enough in Prussian environment; like Brieg, like Glogau, strictly blockaded; our posts thereabouts, among the Mountains, thought to be impregnable. Nevertheless, what new thing is this? Here are swarms of loose Hussar-Pandour people, wild Austrian Irregulars, who come pouring out of Glatz Country; disturbing the Prussian posts towards that quarter; and do not let us want for Small War (KLEINE KRIEG) so called. General Browne, it appears, is got back to Glatz at this early season, he and a General Lentulus busy there; and these are the compliments they send! A very troublesome set of fellows, infesting one's purlieus in winged predatory fashion; swooping down like a cloud of vulturous harpies on the sudden; fierce enough, if the chance favor; then to wing again, if it do not. Communication, especially reconnoitring, is not safe in their neighborhood. Prussian Infantry, even in small parties, generally beats them; Prussian Horse not, but is oftener beaten,—not drilled for this rabble and their ways. In pitched fight they are not dangerous, rather are despicable to the disciplined man; but can, on occasion, do a great deal of mischief.
Thus, it was not long after Friedrich's coming into these parts, when he learnt with sorrow that a Body of "500 Horse and 500 Foot" (or say it were only 300 of each kind, which is the fact [Orlich, i. 79; OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 68.]) had eluded our posts in the Mountains, and actually got into Neisse. "The Foot will be of little consequence," writes Friedrich; "but the Horse, which will disturb our communications, are a considerable mischief." This was on the 5th of March. And about a week before, on the 27th of February, there had well-nigh a far graver thing befallen,—namely the capture of Friedrich himself, and the sudden end of all these operations.
In most of the Anecdote-Books there used to figure, and still does, insisting on some belief from simple persons, a wonderful Story in very vague condition: How once "in the Silesian Wars," the King, in those Upper Neisse regions, in the Wartha district between Glatz and Neisse, was, one day, within an inch of being taken,—clouds of Hussars suddenly rising round him, as he rode reconnoitring, with next to no escort, only an adjutant or so in attendance. How he shot away, keeping well in the shade; and erelong whisked into a Convent or Abbey, the beautiful Abbey of Kamenz in those parts; and found Tobias Stusche, excellent Abbot of the place, to whom he candidly disclosed his situation. How the excellent Tobias thereupon instantly ordered the bells to be rung for a mass extraordinary, Monks not knowing why; and, after bells, made his appearance in high costume, much to the wonder of his Monks, with a SECOND Abbot, also in high costume, but of shortish stature, whom they never saw before or after. Which two Abbots, or at least Tobias, proceeded to do the so-called divine office there and then; letting loose the big chant especially, and the growl of organs, in a singularly expressive manner. How the Pandours arrived in clouds meanwhile; entered, in searching parties, more or less reverent of the mass; searched high and low; but found nothing, and were obliged to take Tobias's blessing at last, and go their ways. How the Second Abbot thereupon swore eternal friendship with Tobias, in the private apartments; and rode off as—as a rescued Majesty, determined to be more cautious in Pandour Countries for the future! [Hildebrandt, Anekdoten, i. 1-7. Pandour proper is a FOOT-soldier (tall raw-boned ill-washed biped, in copious Turk breeches, rather barish in the top parts of him; carries a very long musket, and has several pistols and butcher's-knives stuck in his girdle): specifically a footman; but readers will permit me to use him withal, as here, in the generic sense.]—Which story, as to the body of it, is all myth; though, as is oftenest the case, there lies in it some soul of fact too. The History-Books, which had not much heeded the little fact, would have nothing to do with this account of it. Nevertheless the people stuck to their Myth; so that Dryasdust (in punishment for his sinful blindness to the human and divine significance of facts) was driven to investigate the business; and did at last victoriously bring it home to the small occurrence now called SKIRMISH OF BAUMGARTEN, which had nearly become so great in the History of the World,—to the following effect.
There are two Valleys with roads that lead from that Southwest quarter of Silesia towards Glatz, each with a little Town at the end of it, looking up into it: Wartha the name of the one: Silberberg that of the other. Through the Wartha Valley, which is southernmost, young Neisse River comes rushing down,—the blue mountains thereabouts very pretty, on a clear spring day, says my touring friend. Both at Wartha, and at Silberberg the little Town which looks into the mouth of the northernmost Valley, the Prussians have a post. Old Derschau, Malplaquet Derschau, with headquarters at Frankenstein, some seven or eight miles nearer Schweidnitz, has not failed in that precaution. Friedrich wished to visit Silberberg and Wartha; set out accordingly, 27th February, with small escort, carelessly as usual: the Pandour people had wind of it; knew his habits on such occasions; and, gliding through other roadless valleys, under an adventurous Captain, had determined to whirl him off. And they were in fact not far from succeeding, had not a mistake happened.
Silberberg, and Wartha the southernmost, which stands upon the Neisse River (rushing out there into the plainer country), are each about seven or eight miles from Frankenstein, the Head-quarters; and there are relays of posts, capable of supporting one another, all the way from Frankenstein to each. Friedrich rode to Silberberg first; examined the post, found it right; then rode across to Wartha, seven or eight miles southward; examined Wartha likewise; after which, he sat down to dinner in that little Town, with an Officer or two for company,—having, I suppose, found all right in both the posts. In the way hither, he had made some change in the relay arrangements, which at first involved some diminution of his own escort, and then some marching about and redistributing: so that, externally, it seemed as if the Principal Relay-party were now marching on Baumgarten, an intermediate Village,—at least so the Pandour Captain understands the movements going on; and crouches into the due thickets in consequence, not doubting but the King himself is for Baumgarten, and will be at hand presently. Principal relay-party, a squadron of Schulenburg's Dragoons, with a stupid Major over them, is not quite got into Baumgarten, when "with horrible cries the Pandour Captain with about 500 horse," plunges out of cover, direct upon the throat of it: and Friedrich, at Wartha, is but just begun dining when tumult of distant musketry breaks in upon him. With Friedrich himself, at this time, as I count, there might be 150 Horse; in Wartha post itself are at least "forty hussars and fifty foot." By no means "nothing but a single adjutant," as the Myth bears.
The stupid Major ought to have beaten this rabble, though above two to one of him. But he could not, though he tried considerably; on the contrary, he was himself beaten; obliged to make off, leaving "ten dragoons killed, sixteen prisoners, one standard and two kettle-drums:"—victory and all this plunder, ye Pandour gentry; but evidently no King. The Pandour gentry, on the instant, made off too, alarm being abroad; got into some side-valley, with their prisoners and drum-and-standard honors, and vanished from view of mankind.
Friedrich had started from dinner; got his escort under way, with the forty hussars and the fifty foot, and what small force was attainable; and hurried towards the scene. He did see, by the road, another strongish party of Pandours; dashed them across the Neisse River out of sight;—but, getting to Baumgarten, found the field silent, and ten dead men upon it. "I always told you those Schulenburg Dragoons were good for nothing!" writes he to the Old Dessauer; but gradually withal, on comparing notes, finds what a danger he had run, and how rash and foolish he had been. "An ETOURDERIE (foolish trick)," he calls it, writing to Jordan; "a black eye;" and will avoid the like. Vienna got its two kettle-drums and flag; extremely glad to see them; and even sang TE-DEUM upon them, to general edification. [Orlich, i. 62-64.] This is the naked primordial substance out of which the above Myth grew to its present luxuriance in the popular imagination. Place, the little Village of Baumgarten; day, 27th February, 1741. Of Tobias Stusche or the Convent of Kamenz, not one authentic word on this occasion. Tobias did get promotions, favors in coming years: a worthy Abbot, deserving promotion on general grounds; and master of a Convent very picturesque, but twelve miles from the present scene of action.
Friedrich avoided visiting Breslau, probably for the reasons above given; though there are important interests of his there, especially his chief Magazine; and issues of moment are silently working forward. Here are contemporary Excerpts (in abridged form), which are authentic, and of significance to a lively reader:—
"BRESLAU, MIDDLE OF JANUARY, 1741. The Prussian Envoy, Herr von Gotter, had appeared here, returning from Vienna; Gotter, and then Borck, who made no secret in Breslau society, That not the slightest hope of a peaceable result existed, as society might have flattered itself; but that war and battle would have to decide this matter. A Saxon Ambassador was also here, waiting some time; message thought to be insignificant:—probably some vague admonitory stuff again from Kur-Sachsen (Polish King, son of August the Strong, a very insignificant man), who acts as REICHS-VICARIUS in those Northern parts." For the reader is to know, there are Reichs-Vicars more than one (nay more than two on this occasion, with considerable jarring going on about them); and I could say much about their dignities, limits, duties, [Adelung, ii. 143, &c.; Kohler, Reichs-Historie, pp. 585-589.]—if indeed there were any duties, except dramatic ones! But the Reich itself, and Vicarship along with it, are fallen into a nearly imaginary condition; and the Regensburg Diet (not Princes now, but mere Delegates of Princes, mostly Bombazine People), which, "ever since 1663," has sat continual, instead of now and then, is become an Enchanted Piggery, strange to look upon, under those earnest stars. "As King Friedrich did not call at Greslau," after those Neisse bombardments, but rolled past, straight homewards, the three Excellencies all departed,—Borck and Gotter to Berlin, the Saxon home again with his insignificant message.
"JANUARY 19th. Schwerin too was here in the course of the winter, to see how the magazines and other war-preparations were going on: Breslau outwardly and inwardly is whirling with business, and offers phenomena. For instance, it is known that the Army-Chest, heaps of silver and gold in it, lies in the Scultet Garden-House, where the King lodged; and that only one sentry walks there, and that in the guard-house itself, which is some way off, there are only thirty men. January 19th, about 9 of the clock, [Helden-Geschichte, i. 700.] alarm rises, That 2,000 DIEBS-GESINDEL (Collective Thief-rabble of Breslau and dependencies) are close by; intending a stroke upon said Garden-House and Army-Chest! Perhaps this rumor sprang of its own accord;—or perhaps not quite? It had been very rife; and ran high; not without remonstrances in Town-Hall, and the like, which we can imagine. Issue was, The Officer on post at Scultet's loaded his treasure in carts; conveyed it, that same night, to the interior of the City, in fact to the OBERAMTS-HAUS (Government-House that was);—which doubtless was a step in the right direction. For now the Two Feld-Kriegs-Commissariat Gentlemen (one of whom is the expert Munchow, son of our old Custrin friend), supreme Prussian Authorities here, do likewise shift out of their inns; and take old Schaffgotsch's apartments in the same Oberamts-Haus; mutely symbolling that perhaps THEY are likely to become a kind of Government. And the reader can conceive how, in such an element, the function of governing would of itself fall more and more into their hands. They were consummately polite, discreet, friendly towards all people; and did in effect manage their business, tax-gatherings in money and in kind, with a perfection and precision which made the evil a minimum.
"FEBRUARY 17th.... This day also, there arrived at Breslau, by boat up the Oder, ten heavy cannon, three mortars, and ammunition of powder, bombshells, balls, as much as loaded fifty wagons; the whole of which were, in like manner, forwarded to Ohlau. This day, as on other days before and after. Great Magazines forming here; the Military chiefly at Ohlau; at Breslau the Provender part,—and this latter under noteworthy circumstances. In the Dom-Island, namely; which is definable (in a case of such necessity) as being 'outside the walls.' Especially as the Reverend Fathers have mostly glided into corners, and left the place vacant. In the Dom-Island, it certainly is; and such a stock,—all bought for money down, and spurred forward while the roads were under frost,—'such a stock as was not thought to be in all Silesia,' says exaggerative wonder. The vacant edifices in the Dom-Island are filled to the neck with meal and corn; the Prussian brigade now quartering there ('without the walls,' in a sense) to guard the same. And in the Bishop's Garden [poor Sinzendorf, far enough away and in no want of it just now] are mere hay-mows, bigger than houses: who can object,—in a case of necessity? No man, unless he politically meddle, is meddled with; politically meddling, you are at once picked up; as one or two are,—clapped into gentle arrest, or, like old Schaffgotsch, and even Sinzendorf before long, requested to leave the Country till it get settled. Rigor there is, but not intentional injustice on Munchow's part, and there is a studious avoidance of harsh manner.
"FEBRUARY-MARCH. Considerable recruiting in Schlesien: six hundred recruits have enlisted in Breslau alone. Also his Prussian Majesty has sent a supply of Protestant Preachers, ordained for the occasion, to minister where needed;—which is piously acknowledged as a godsend in various parts of Silesia. Twelve came first, all Berliners; soon afterwards, others from different parts, till, in the end, there were about Sixty in all. Rigorous, punctilious avoidance of offence to the Catholic minorities, or of whatever least thing Silesian Law does not permit, is enjoined upon them; 'to preach in barns or town-halls, where by Law you have no Church.' Their salary is about 30 pounds a year; they are all put under supervision of the Chaplain of Margraf Karl's Regiment" (a judicious Chaplain, I have no doubt, and fit to be a Bishop); and so far as appears, mere benefit is got of them by Schlesien as well as by Friedrich, in this function. Friedrich is careful to keep the balance level between Catholic and Protestant; but it has hung at such an angle, for a long while past! In general, we observe the Catholic Dignitaries, and the zealous or fanatic of that creed, especially the Jesuits, are apt to be against him: as for the non-fanatic, they expect better government, secular advantage; these latter weigh doubtfully, and with less weight whichever way. In the general population, who are Protestant, he recognizes friends;—and has sent them Sixty Preachers, which by Law was their due long since. Here follow two little traits, comic or tragi-comic, with which we can conclude:—
"Detached Jesuit parties, here and there, seem to have mischief in hand in a small way, encouraging deserters and the like;—and we keep an eye on them. No discontent elsewhere, at least none audible; on the contrary, much enlisting on the part of the Silesian youth, with other good symptoms. But in the Dom, there is, singular to say, a Goblin found walking, one night;—advancing, not with airs from Heaven, upon the Prussian sentry there! The Prussian sentry handles arms; pokes determinedly into the Goblin, and finding him solid, ever more determinedly, till the Goblin shrieked 'Jesus Maria!' and was hauled to the Guard-house for investigation." A weak Goblin; doubtless of the valet kind; worth only a little whipping; but testifies what the spirit is.
"Another time, two deserter Frenchmen getting hanged [such the law in aggravated cases], certain polite Jesuits, who had by permission been praying and extreme-unctioning about them, came to thank the Colonel after all was over. Colonel, a grave practical man, needs no 'thanks;' would, however, 'advise your Reverences to teach your people that perjury is not permissible, that an oath sworn ought to be kept;' and in fine 'would advise you Holy Fathers hereabouts, and others, to have a care lest you get into'—And twitching his reins, rode away without saying into what." [Helden-Geschichte, i. 723.]
Schwerin has been doing his best in this interim; collecting magazines with double diligence while the roads are hard, taking up the Key-positions far and wide, from the Jablunka round to the Frontier Valleys of Glatz again. He was through Jablunka, at one time; on into Mahren, as far as Olmutz; levying contributions, emitting patents: but as to intimidating her Hungarian Majesty, if that was the intention, or changing her mind at all, that is not the issue got. Austria has still strength, and Pragmatic Sanction and the Laws of Nature have! Very fixed is her Hungarian Majesty's determination, to part with no inch of Territory, but to drive the intrusive Prussians home well punished.
How she has got the funds is, to this day, a mystery;—unless George and Walpole, from their Secret-Service Moneys, have smuggled her somewhat? For the Parliament is not sitting, and there will be such jargonings, such delays: a preliminary 100,000 pounds, say by degrees 200,000 pounds,—we should not miss it, and in her Majesty's hands it would go far! Hints in the English Dryasdust we have; but nothing definite; and we are left to our guesses. [Tindal (XX. 497) says expressly 200,000 pounds, but gives no date or other particular.] A romantic story, first set current by Voltaire, has gone the round of the world, and still appears in all Histories: How in England there was a Subscription set on foot for her Hungarian Majesty; outcome of the enthusiasm of English Ladies of quality,—old Sarah Duchess of Marlborough putting down her name for 40,000 pounds, or indeed putting down the ready sum itself; magnanimous veteran that she was. Voltaire says, omitting date and circumstance, but speaking as if it were indubitable, and a thing you could see with eyes: "The Duchess of Marlborough, widow of him who had fought for Karl VI. [and with such signal returns of gratitude from the said Karl VI.], assembled the principal Ladies of London; who engaged to furnish 100,000 pounds among them; the Duchess herself putting down [EN DEPOSA, tabling IN CORPORE] 40,000 pounds of it. The Queen of Hungary had the greatness of soul to refuse this money;—needing only, as she intimated, what the Nation in Parliament assembled might please to offer her." [Voltaire, OEuvres (Siecle de Louis XV., c. 6), xxviii. 79.]
One is sorry to run athwart such a piece of mutual magnanimity; but the fact is, on considering a little and asking evidence, it turns out to be mythical. One Dilworth, an innocent English soul (from whom our grandfathers used to learn ARITHMETIC, I think), writing on the spot some years after Voltaire, has this useful passage: "It is the great failing of a strong imagination to catch greedily at wonders. Voltaire was misinformed; and would perhaps learn, by a second inquiry, a truth less splendid and amusing. A Contribution was, by News-writers upon their own authority, fruitlessly proposed. It ended in nothing: the Parliament voted a supply;"—that did it, Mr. Dilworth; supplies enough, and many of them! "Fruitlessly, by News-writers on their own authority;" that is the sad fact. [The Life and Heroick Actions of Frederick III. (SIC, a common blunder), by W. H. Dilworth, M.A. (London, 1758), p. 25. A poor little Book, one of many coming out on that subject just then (for a reason we shall see on getting thither); which contains, of available now, the above sentence and no more. Indeed its brethren, one of them by Samnel Johnson (IMPRANSUS, the imprisoned giant), do not even contain that, and have gone wholly to zero.—Neither little Dilworth nor big Voltaire give the least shadow of specific date; but both evidently mean Spring, 1742 (not 1741).]
It is certain, little George, who considers Pragmatic Sanction as the Keystone of Nature in a manner, has been venturing far deeper than purse for that adorable object; and indeed has been diving, secretly, in muddier waters than we expected, to a dangerous extent, on behalf of it, at this very time. In the first days of March, Friedrich has heard from his Minister at Petersburg of a DETESTABLE PROJECT, [Orlich, i. 83 (scrap of Note to Old Dessauer; no date allowed us; "early in March").]—project for "Partitioning the Prussian Kingdom," no less; for fairly cutting into Friedrich, and paring him down to the safe pitch, as an enemy to Pragmatic and mankind. They say, a Treaty, Draught of a Treaty, for that express object, is now ready; and lies at Petersburg, only waiting signature. Here is a Project! Contracting parties (Russian signature still wanting) are: Kur-Sachsen; her Hungarian Majesty; King George; and that Regent Anne (MRS. Anton Ulrich, so to speak), who sits in a huddle of undress, impatient of Political objects, but sensible to the charms of handsome men. To the charms of Count Lynar, especially: the handsomest of Danish noblemen (more an ancient Roman than a Dane), whom the Polish Majesty, calculating cause and effect, had despatched to her, with that view, in the dead of winter lately. To whom she has given ear;—dismissing her Munnich, as we saw above;—and is ready for signing, or perhaps has signed! [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 68.] Friedrich's astonishment, on hearing of this "detestable Project," was great. However, he takes his measures on it;—right lucky that he has the Old Dessauer, and machinery for acting on Kur-Sachsen and the Britannic Majesty. "Get your machinery in gear!" is naturally his first order. And the Old Dessauer does it, with effect: of which by and by.
Never did I hear, before or since, of such a plunge into the muddy unfathomable, on the part of little George, who was an honorable creature, and dubitative to excess: and truly this rash plunge might have cost him dear, had not he directly scrambled out again. Or did Friedrich exaggerate to himself his Uncle's real share in the matter? I always guess, there had been more of loose talk, of hypothesis and fond hope, in regard to George's share, than of determinate fact or procedure on his own part. The transaction, having had to be dropped on the sudden, remains somewhat dark; but, in substance, it is not doubtful; [Tindal, xx. 497.] and Parliament itself took afterwards to poking into it, though with little effect. Kur-Sachsen's objects in the adventure were of the earth, earthy; but on George's part it was pure adoration of Pragmatic Sanction, anxiety for the Keystone of Nature, and lest Chaos come again. In comparison with such transcendent divings, what is a little Secret-Service money!—
The Count Lynar of this adventure, who had well-nigh done such a feat in Diplomacy, may turn up transiently again. A conspicuous, more or less ridiculous person of those times. Busching (our Geographical friend) had gone with him, as Excellency's Chaplain, in this Russian Journey; which is a memorable one to Busching; and still presents vividly, through his Book, those haggard Baltic Coasts in midwinter, to readers who have business there. Such a journey for grimness of outlook, upon pine-tufts and frozen sand; for cold (the Count's very tobacco-pipe freezing in his mouth), for hardship, for bad lodging, and extremity of dirt in the unfreezable kinds, as seldom was. They met, one day on the road, a Lord Hyndford, English Ambassador just returning from Petersburg, with his fourgons and vehicles, and arrangements for sleep and victual, in an enviably luxurious condition,—whom we shall meet, to our cost. They saw, in the body, old Field-marshal Lacy, and dined with him, at Riga; who advised brandy schnapps; a recipe rejected by Busching. And other memorabilia, which by accident hang about this Lynar. [Busching, Beitrage, vi. 132-164.]—All through Regent Anne's time he continued a dangerous object to Friedrich; and it was a relief when Elizabeth CATIN became Autocrat, instead of Deshabille Anne and her Lynar. Adieu to him, for fifteen years or more.
Of Friedrich's military operations, of his magazines, posts, diligent plannings and gallopings about, in those weeks; of all this the reader can form some notion by looking on the map and remembering what has gone before: but that subterranean growling which attended him, prophetic of Earthquake, that universal breaking forth of Bedlams, now fallen so extinct, no reader can imagine. Bedlams totally extinct to everybody; but which were then very real, and raged wide as the world, high as the stars, to a hideous degree among the then sons of men;—unimaginable now by any mortal.
And, alas, this is one of the grand difficulties for my readers and me; Friedrich's Life-element having fallen into such a dismal condition. Most dismal, dark, ugly, that Austrian-Succession Business, and its world-wide battlings, throttlings and intriguings: not Dismal Swamp, under a coverlid of London Fog, could be uglier! A Section of "History" so called, which human nature shrinks from; of which the extant generation already knows nothing, and is impatient of hearing anything! Truly, Oblivion is very due to such an Epoch: and from me far be it to awaken, beyond need, its sordid Bedlams, happily extinct. But without Life-element, no Life can be intelligible; and till Friedrich and one or two others are extricated from it, Dismal Swamp cannot be quite filled in. Courage, reader!—Our Constitutional Historian makes this farther reflection:—
"English moneys, desperate Russian intrigues, Treaties made and Treaties broken—If instead of Pragmatic Sanction with eleven Potentates guaranteeing, Maria Theresa had at this time had 200,000 soldiers and a full treasury (as Prince Eugene used to advise the late Kaiser), how different might it have been with her, and with the whole world that fell upon one another's throats in her quarrel! Some eight years of the most disastrous War; and except the falling of Silesia to its new place, no result gained by it. War at any rate inevitable, you object? English-Spanish War having been obliged to kindle itself; French sure to fall in, on the Spanish side; sure to fall upon Hanover, so soon as beaten at sea, and thus to involve all Europe? Well, it is too likely. But, even in that case, the poor English would have gone upon their necessary Spanish War, by the direct road and with their eyes open, instead of somnambulating and stumbling over the chimney-tops; and the settlement might have come far sooner, and far cheaper to mankind.—Nay, we are to admit that the new place for Silesia was, likewise, the place appointed it by just Heaven; and Friedrich's too was a necessary War. Heaven makes use of Shadow-hunting Kaisers too; and its ways in this mad world are through the great Deep."
Money somewhere her Hungarian Majesty has got; that is one thing evident. She has an actual Army on foot, "drawn out of Italy," or whence she could; formidable Army, says rumor, and getting well equipped;—and here are the Pandour Precursors of it, coming down like storm-clouds through the Glatz valleys;—nearly finishing the War for her at a stroke, the other day, had accident favored;—and have thrown reinforcement of 600 into Neisse. Friedrich is not insensible to these things; and amid such alarms from far and from near, is becoming eager to have, at least, Glogau in his hand. Glogau, he is of opinion, could now, and should, straightway be done.
Glogau is not a strong place; after all the repairing, it could stand little siege, were we careless of hurting it. But Wallis is obstinate; refuses Free Withdrawal; will hold out to the uttermost, though his meal is running low. He pretends there is relief coming; relief just at hand; and once, in midnight time, "lets off a rocket and fires six guns," alarming Prince Leopold as if relief were just in the neighborhood. A tough industrious military man; stiff to his purpose, and not without shift.
Friedrich thinks the place might be had by assault: "Open trenches; set your batteries going, which need not injure the Town; need only alarm Wallis, and TERRIFY it; then, under cover of this noise and feint of cannonading, storm with vigor." Leopold, the Young Dessauer, is cautious; wants petards if he must storm, wants two new battalions if he must open trenches;—he gets these requisites, and is still cunctatory. Friedrich has himself got the notion, "from clear intelligence," true or not, that relief to Glogau is actually on way; and under such imminences, Russian and other, in so ticklish a state of the world, he becomes more and more impatient that this thing were done. In the first week of March, still hurrying about on inspection-business, he writes, from four or five different places ("Mollwitz near Brieg" is one of them, a Village we shall soon know better), Note after Note to Leopold; who still makes difficulties, and is not yet perfect to the last finish in his preparations. "Preparations!" answers Friedrich impatiently (date MOLLWITZ, 5th MARCH, the third or fourth impatient Note he has sent); and adds, just while quitting Mollwitz for Ohlau, this Postscript in his own hand:—
P.S. "I am sorry you have not understood me! They have, in Bohmen, a regular enterprise on hand for the rescue of Glogau. I have Infantry enough to meet them; but Cavalry is quite wanting. You must therefore, without delay, begin the siege. Let us finish there, I pray you!" [Orlich, i. 70.]
And next day, Monday 6th, to cut the matter short, he despatches his General-Adjutant Goltz in person (the distance is above seventy miles), with this Note wholly in autograph, which nothing vocal on Leopold's part will answer:—
"OHLAU, 6th MARCH. As I am certainly informed that the Enemy will make some attempt, I hereby with all distinctness command, That, so soon as the petards are come [which they are], you attack Glogau. And you must make your Arrangement (DISPOSITION) for more than one attack; so that if one fail, the other shall certainly succeed. I hope you will put off no longer;—otherwise the blame of all the mischief that might arise out of longer delay must lie on you alone." [Ib. i. 71.]
Goltz arrived with this emphatic Piece, Tuesday Evening, after his course of seventy miles: this did at last rouse our cautious Young Dessauer; and so there is next obtainable, on much compression, the following authentic Excerpt:—
"GLOGAU, 8th MARCH, 1741. His Durchlaucht the Prince Leopold summoned all the Generals at noon; and informed them That, this very night, Glogau must be won. He gave them their Instructions in writing: where each was to post himself; with what detachments; how to proceed. There are to be three Attacks: one up stream, coming on with the River to its right; one down stream, River to its left; and a third from the landward side, perpendicular to the other two. The very captains that shall go foremost are specified; at what hour each is to leave quarters, so that all be ready simultaneously, waiting in the posts assigned;—against what points to advance out of these, and storm Rampart and Wall. Places, times, particulars, everything is fixed with mathematical exactitude: 'Be steady, be correct, especially be silent; and so far as Law of Nature will permit, be simultaneous! When the big steeple of Glogau peals Midnight,—Forward, with the first stroke; with the second, much more with the twelfth stroke, be one and all of you, in the utmost silence, advancing! And, under pain of death, two things: Not one shot till you are in; No plundering when you are.'—In this manner is the silent three-sided avalanche to be let go. Whereupon", says my Dryasdust, "the Generals retired; and had, for one item, their fire-arms all cleaned and new-loaded." [Helden-Geschichte, i. 823; ii. 165.]
Without plans of Glogau, and more detail and study than the reader would consent to, there can no Narrative be given. Glogau has Ramparts, due Ring-fence, palisaded and repaired by Wallis; inside of this is an old Town-Wall, which will need petards: there are about 1,000 men under Wallis, and altogether on the works, not to count a mortar or two, fifty-eight big guns. The reader must conceive a poor Town under blockade, in the wintry night-time, with its tough Count Wallis; ill-off for the necessaries of life; Town shrouded in darkness, and creeping quietly to its bed. This on the one hand: and on the other hand, Prussian battalions marching up, at 10 o'clock or later, with the utmost softness of step; "taking post behind the ordinary field-watches;" and at length, all standing ranked, in the invisible dark; silent, like machinery, like a sleeping avalanche: Husht!—No sentry from the walls dreams of such a thing. "Twelve!" sings out the steeple of Glogau; and in grim whisper the word is, "VORWARTS!" and the three-winged avalanche is in motion.
They reach their glacises, their ditches, covered ways, correct as mathematics; tear out chevaux-de-frise, hew down palisades, in the given number of minutes: Swift, ye Regiment's-carpenters; smite your best! Four cannon-shot do now boom out upon them; which go high over their heads, little dreaming how close at hand they are. The glacis is thirty feet high, of stiff slope, and slippery with frost: no matter, the avalanche, led on by Leopold in person, by Margraf Karl the King's Cousin, by Adjutant Goltz and the chief personages, rushes up with strange impetus; hews down a second palisade; surges in;—Wallis's sentries extinct, or driven to their main guards. There is a singular fire in the besieging party. For example, Four Grenadiers,—I think of this First Column, which succeeded sooner, certainly of the Regiment Glasenapp,—four grenadiers, owing to slippery or other accidents, in climbing the glacis, had fallen a few steps behind the general body; and on getting to the top, took the wrong course, and rushed along rightward instead of leftward. Rightward, the first thing they come upon is a mass of Austrians still ranked in arms; fifty-two men, as it turned out, with their Captain over them. Slight stutter ensues on the part of the Four Grenadiers; but they give one another the hint, and dash forward: "Prisoners?" ask they sternly, as if all Prussia had been at their rear. The fifty-two, in the darkness, in the danger and alarm, answer "Yes."—"Pile arms, then!" Three of the grenadiers stand to see that done; the fourth runs off for force, and happily gets back with it before the comedy had become tragic for his comrades. "I must make acquaintance with these four men," writes Friedrich, on hearing of it; and he did reward them by present, by promotion to sergeantcy (to ensigncy one of them), or what else they were fit for. Grenadiers of Glasenapp: these are the men Friedrich heard swearing-in under his window, one memorable morning when he burst into tears! At half-past Twelve, the Ramparts, on all sides, are ours.
The Gates of the Town, under axe and petard, can make little resistance, to Leopold's Column or the other two. A hole is soon cut in the Town-Gate, where Leopold is; and gallant Wallis, who had rallied behind it, with his Artillery-General and what they could get together, fires through the opening, kills four men; but is then (by order, and not till then) fired upon, and obliged to draw back, with his Artillery-General mortally hurt. Inside he attempts another rally, some 200 with him; and here and there perhaps a house-window tries to give shot; but it is to no purpose, not the least stand can be made. Poor Wallis is rapidly swept back, into the Market-place, into the Main Guard-house; and there piles arms: "Glogau yours, Ihr Herren, and we prisoners of War!" The steeple had not yet quite struck One. Here has been a good hour's-work!
Glogau, as in a dream, or half awake, and timidly peeping from behind window-curtains, finds that it is a Town taken. Glogau easily consoles itself, I hear, or even is generally glad; Prussian discipline being so perfect, and ingress now free for the necessaries of life. There was no plundering; not the least insult: no townsman was hurt; not even in houses where soldiers had tried firing from windows. The Prussian Battalions rendezvous in the Market-place, and go peaceably about their patrolling, and other business; and meddle with nothing else. They lost, in killed, ten men; had of killed and wounded, forty-eight; the Austrians rather more. [Orlich, i. 75, 78; Helden-Geschichte, i. 829; irreconcilable otherwise, in some slight points.] Wallis was to have been set free on parole; but was not,—in retaliation for some severity of General Browne's in the interim (picking up of two Silesian Noblemen, suspected of Prussian tendency, and locking them in Brunn over the Hills),—and had to go to Berlin, till that was repaired. To the wounded Artillery-General there was every tenderness shown, but he died in few days.—The other Prisoners were marched to the Custrin-Stettin quarter; "and many of them took Prussian service."
And this is the Scalade of Glogau: a shining feat of those days; which had great rumor in the Gazettes, and over all the then feverish Nations, though it has now fallen dim again, as feats do. Its importance at that time, its utility to Friedrich's affairs, was undeniable; and it filled Friedrich with the highest satisfaction, and with admiration to overflowing. Done 9th March, 1741; in one hour, the very earliest of the day.
Goltz posted back to Schweidnitz with the news; got thither about 5 P.M.; and was received, naturally, with open arms. Friedrich in person marched out, next morning, to make FEU-DE-JOIE and TE-DEUM-ing;—there was Royal Letter to Leopold, which flamed through all the Newspapers, and can still be read in innumerable Books; Letter omissible in this place. We remark only how punctual the King is, to reward in money as well as praise, and not the high only, but the low that had deserved: to Prince Leopold he presents 2,000 pounds; to each private soldier who had been of the storm, say half a guinea,—doubling and quadrupling, in the special cases, to as high as twenty guineas, of our present money. To the old Gazetteers, and their readers everywhere, this of Glogau is a very effulgent business; bursting out on them, like sudden Bude-light, in the uncertain stagnancy and expectancy of mankind. Friedrich himself writes of it to the Old Dessauer:—
"The more I think of the Glogau business, the more important I find it. Prince Leopold has achieved the prettiest military stroke (DIE SCHONSTE ACTION) that has been done in this Century. From my heart I congratulate you on having such a Son. In boldness of resolution, in plan, in execution, it is alike admirable; and quite gives a turn to my affairs." [Date, 13th March, 1741 (Orlich, i. 77).]
And indeed, it is a perfect example of Prussian discipline, and military quality in all kinds; such as it would be difficult to match elsewhere. Most potently correct; coming out everywhere with the completeness and exactitude of mathematics; and has in it such a fund of martial fire, not only ready to blaze out (which can be exampled elsewhere), but capable of bottling itself IN, and of lying silently ready. Which is much rarer; and very essential in soldiering! Due a little to the OLD Dessauer, may we not say, as well as to the Young? Friedrich Wilhelm is fallen silent; but his heavy labors, and military and other drillings to Prussian mankind, still speak with an audible voice.
About three weeks after this of Glogau, Leopold the Old Dessauer, over in Brandenburg, does another thing which is important to Friedrich, and of great rumor in the world. Steps out, namely, with a force of 36,000 men, horse, foot and artillery, completely equipped in all points; and takes Camp, at this early season, at a place called Gottin, not far from Magdeburg, handy at once for Saxony and for Hanover; and continues there encamped,—"merely for review purposes." Readers can figure what an astonishment it was to Kur-Sachsen and British George; and how it struck the wind out of their Russian Partition-Dream, and awoke them to a sense of the awful fact!—Capable of being slit in pieces, and themselves partitioned, at a day's warning, as it were! It was on April 2d, that Leopold, with the first division of the 36,000, planted his flag near Gottin. No doubt it was the "detestable Project" that had brought him out, at so early a season for tent-life, and nobody could then guess why. He steadily paraded here, all summer; keeping his 36,000 well in drill, since there was nothing else needed of him.
The Camp at Gottin flamed greatly abroad through the timorous imaginations of mankind, that Year; and in the Newspapers are many details of it. And, besides the important general fact, there is still one little point worth special mention: namely, that old Field-marshal Katte (Father of poor Lieutenant Katte whom we knew) was of it; and perhaps even got his death by it: "Chief Commander of the Cavalry here," such honor had he; but died at his post, in a couple of months, "at Rekahn, May 31st;" [Militair-Lexikon, ii. 254.] poor old gentleman, perhaps unequal to the hardships of field-life at so early a season of the year.
At Glogau there was Homaging, on the very morrow after the storm; on the second day, the superfluous regiments marched off: no want of vigorous activity to settle matters on their new footing there. General Kalkstein (Friedrich's old Tutor, whom readers have forgotten again) is to be Commandant of Glogau; an office of honor, which can be done by deputy except in cases of real stress. The place is to be thoroughly new-fortified,—which important point they commit to Engineer Wallrave, a strong-headed heavy-built Dutch Officer, long since acquired to the service, on account of his excellence in that line; who did, now and afterwards, a great deal of excellent engineering for Friedrich; but for himself (being of deep stomach withal, and of life too dissolute) made a tragic thing of it ultimately. As will be seen, if we have leisure.
In seven or eight days, Prince Leopold having wound up his Glogau affairs, and completed the new preliminaries there, joins the King at Schweidnitz. In the highest favor, as was natural. Kalkstein is to take a main hand in the Siege of Neisse; for which operation it is hoped there will soon be weather, if not favorable yet supportable. What of the force was superfluous at Glogau had at once marched off, as we observed; and is now getting re-distributed where needful. There is much shifting about; strengthening of posts, giving up of posts: the whole of which readers shall imagine for themselves,—except only two points that are worth remembering: FIRST, that Kalkstein with about 12,000 takes post at Grotkau, some twenty-five miles north of Neisse, ready to move on, and open trenches, when required: and SECOND, that Holstein-Beck gets posted at Frankenstein (chief place of that Baumgarten Skirmish), say thirty-five miles west-by-north of Neisse; and has some 8 or 10,000 Horse and Foot thereabouts, spread up and down,—who will be much wanted, and not procurable, on an occasion that is coming.
Friedrich has given up the Jablunka Pass; called in the Jablunka and remoter posts; anxious to concentrate, before the Enemy get nigh. That is the King's notion; and surely a reasonable one; the AREA of the Prussian Army, as I guess it from the Maps, being above 2,000 square miles, beginning at Breslau only, and leaving out Glogau. Schwerin thinks differently, but without good basis. Both are agreed, "The Austrian Army cannot take the field till the forage come," till the new grass spring, which its cavalry find convenient. That is the fair supposition; but in that both are mistaken, and Schwerin the more dangerously of the two.—Meanwhile, the Pandour swarms are observably getting rifer, and of stormier quality; and they seem to harbor farther to the East than formerly, and not to come all out of Glatz. Which perhaps are symptomatic circumstances? The worst effect of these preliminary Pandour clouds is, Your scout-service cannot live among them; they hinder reconnoitring, and keep the Enemy veiled from you. Of that sore mischief Friedrich had, first and last, ample experience at their hands! This is but the first instalment of Pandours to Friedrich; and the mere foretaste of what they can do in the veiling way.
Behind the Mountains, in this manner, all is inane darkness to Friedrich and Schwerin. They know only that Neipperg is rendezvousing at Olmutz; and judge that he will still spend many weeks upon it; the real facts being: That Neipperg—"who arrived in Olmutz on the 10th of March," the very day while Glogau was homaging—has been, he and those above him and those under him, driving preparations forward at a furious rate. That Neipperg held—I think at Steinberg his hithermost post, some twenty miles hither of Olmutz—a Council of War, "all the Generals and even Lentulus from Glatz, present at it," day not given; where the unanimous decision was, "March straightway; save Neisse, since Glogau is gone!"—and in fine, That on the 26th, Neipperg took the road accordingly, "in spite of furious snow blowing in his face;" and is ever since (30,000 strong, says rumor, but perhaps 10,000 of them mere Pandours) unweariedly climbing the Mountains, laboriously jingling forward with his heavy guns and ammunition-wagons; "contending with the steep snowy icy roads;" intent upon saving Neisse. This is the fact; profoundly unknown to Friedrich and Schwerin; who will be much surprised, when it becomes patent to them at the wrong time.
SCHWEIDNITZ, 27th MARCH. This day Friedrich, with considerable apparatus, pomp and processional cymballing, greatly the reverse of his ulterior use and wont in such cases, quitted Schweidnitz and his Algarottis; solemnly opening Campaign in this manner; and drove off for Ottmachau, having work there for to-morrow.
The Siege of Neisse is now to proceed forthwith; trenches to be opened April 4th. Friedrich is still of opinion, that his posts lie too wide apart; that especially Schwerin, who is spread among the Hills in Jagerndorf Country, ought to come down, and take closer order for covering the siege. [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 70.] Schwerin answers, That if the King will spare him a reinforcement of eight squadrons and nine battalions (say 1,200 Horse, 9,000 Foot), he will maintain himself where he is, and no Enemy shall get across the Mountains at all. That is Schwerin's notion; who surely is something of a judge. Friedrich assents; will himself conduct the reinforcement to Schwerin, and survey matters, with his own eyes, up yonder. Friedrich marches from Ottmachau, accordingly, 29th March;—Kalkstein, Holstein-Beck, and others are to be rendezvoused before Neisse, in the interim; trenches ready for opening on the sixth day hence;—and in this manner, climbs these Mountains, and sees Jagerndorf Country for the first time.
Beautiful blue world of Hills, ridge piled on ridge behind that Neisse region; fruitful valleys lapped in them, with grim stone Castles and busy little Towns disclosing themselves as we advance: that is Jagerndorf Country,—which Uncle George of Anspach, hundreds of years ago, purchased with his own money; which we have now come to lay hold of as his Heir! Friedrich, I believe, thinks little of all this, and does not remember Uncle George at all. But such are the facts; and the Country, regarded or not, is very blue and beautiful, with the Spring sun shining on it; or with the sudden Spring storms gathering wildly on the peaks, as if for permanent investiture, but vanishing again straightway, leaving only a powdering of snow.
He met Schwerin at Neustadt, half-way to Jagerndorf; whither they proceeded next day. "What news have you of the Enemy?" was Friedrich's first question. Schwerin has no news whatever; only that the Enemy is far off, hanging in long thin straggle from Olmutz westward. "I have a spy out," said Schwerin; "but he has not returned yet,"—nor ever will, he might have added. If diligent readers will now take to their Map, and attend day by day, an invincible Predecessor has compelled what next follows into human intelligibility, and into the Diary Form, for their behoof;—readers of an idler turn can skip: but this confused hurry-scurry of marches issues in something which all will have to attend to.
"JAGERNDORF, 2d APRIL, 1741. This is the day when the Old Dessauer makes appearance with the first brigades of his Camp at Gottin. Friedrich is satisfied with what he has seen of Jagerndorf matters; and intends returning towards Neisse, there to commence on the 4th. He is giving his final orders, and on the point of setting off, when—Seven Austrian Deserters, 'Dragoons of Lichtenstein,' come in; and report, That Neipperg's Army is within a few miles! And scarcely had they done answering and explaining, when sounds rise of musketry and cannon, from our outposts on that side; intimating that here is Neipperg's Army itself. Seldom in his life was Friedrich in an uglier situation. In Jagerndorf, an open Town, are only some three or four thousand men, 'with three field-pieces, and as much powder as will charge them forty times.' Happily these proved only the Pandour outskirts of Neipperg's Army, scouring about to reconnoitre, and not difficult to beat; the real body of it is ascertained to be at Freudenthal, fifteen miles to westward, southwestward; making towards Neisse, it is guessed, by the other or western road, which is the nearer to Glatz and to the Austrian force there.
"Had Neipperg known what was in Jagerndorf—! But he does not know. He marches on, next morning, at his usual slow rate; wide clouds of Pandours accompanying and preceding him; skirmishing in upon all places [upon Jagerndorf, for instance, though fifteen miles wide of their road], to ascertain if Prussians are there. One can judge whether Friedrich and Schwerin were thankful when the huge alarm produced nothing! 'The mountain,' as Friedrich says, 'gave birth to a mouse;'—nay it was a 'mouse' of essential vital use to Friedrich and Schwerin; a warning, That they must instantly collect themselves, men and goods; and begone one and all out of these parts, double-quick towards Neisse. Not now with the hope of besieging Neisse,—far from that;—but of getting their wide-scattered posts together thereabouts, and escaping destruction in detail!
"APRIL 4th, HEAD-QUARTERS NEUSTADT. By violent exertion, with the sacrifice only of some remote little storehouses, all is rendezvoused at Jagerndorf, within two days; and this day they march; King and vanguard reaching Neustadt, some twenty-five miles forward, some twenty still from Neisse. At Neustadt, the posts that had stood in that neighborhood are all assembled, and march with the King to-morrow. Of Neipperg, except by transitory contact with his Pandour clouds, they have seen nothing: his road is pretty much parallel to theirs, and some fifteen miles leftward, Glatzward; goes through Zuckmantel, Ziegenhals, straight upon Neisse. [Zuckmantel, "Twitch-Cloak," occurs more than once as a Town's name in those regions: name which, says my Dryasdust without smile visible, it got from robberies done on travellers, "twitchings of your cloak," with stand-and-deliver, as you cross those wild mountain spaces. (Zeiller, Beschreibung des Konigreichs Boheim, Frankfurt, 1650;—a rather worthless old Book, like the rest of Zeiller's in that kind.)] Neipperg's men are wearied with the long climb out of Mahren; and he struggles towards Neisse as the first object;—holding upon Glatz and Lentulus with his left. Numerous orders have been speeded from the King's quarters, at Jagerndorf, and here at Neustadt; order especially to Holstein-Beck at Frankenstein, and to Kalkstein at Grotkau, How they are to unite, first with one another; and then to cross Neisse River, and unite with the King,—to which end there is already a Bridge laid for them, or about to be laid in good time.
"APRIL 5th, HEAD-QUARTERS STEINAU. Steinau is a little Town twenty miles east of Neisse, on the road to Kosel [strongish place, on the Oder, some forty miles farther east]: here Friedrich, with the main body, take their quarters; rearguard being still at Neustadt. Temporary Bridge there is, ready or all but ready, at Sorgau [twelve miles to north of us, on our left]: by this Kalkstein, with his 10,000, comes punctually across; while other brigades from the Kosel side are also punctual in getting in; which is a great comfort: but of Holstein-Beck there is no vestige, nor did there ever appear any. Holstein, 'whom none of the repeated orders sent him could reach,' says Friedrich, 'remained comfortably in his quarters; and looked at the Enemy rushing past him to right and left, without troubling his head with them.' [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 70.] The too easy-minded Holstein! Austrian Deserters inform us, That General Neipperg arrived to-day with his Army in Neisse; and has there been joined by Lentulus with the Glatz force, chiefly cavalry, a good many thousands. We may be attacked, then, this very night, if they are diligent? Friedrich marks out ground and plan in such case, and how and where each is to rank himself. There came nothing of attack; but the poor little Village of Steinau, with so many troops in it and baggage-drivers stumbling about, takes fire; burns to ashes; 'and we had great difficulty in saving the artillery and powder through the narrow streets, with the houses all burning on each hand.'" Fancy it,—and the poor shrieking inhabitants; gone to silence long since with their shrieks, not the least whisper left of them. "The Prussians bivouac on the field, each in the place that has been marked out. Night extremely cold."
In this poor Steinau was a Schloss, which also went up in fire; disclosing certain mysteries of an almost mythical nature to the German Public. It was the Schloss of a Grafin von Callenberg, a dreadful old Dowager of Medea-Messalina type, who "always wore pistols about her;" pistols, and latterly, with more and more constancy, a brandy-bottle;—who has been much on the tongues of men for a generation back. Herr Nussler (readers recollect shifty Nussler) knew her, in the way of business, at one time; with pity, if also with horror. Some weeks ago, she was, by the Austrian Commandant at Neisse, summoned out of this Schloss, as in correspondence with Prussian Officers: peasants breaking in, tied her with ropes to the bed where she was; put bed and her into a farm-cart, and in that scandalous manner delivered her at Neisse to the Commandant; by which adventure, and its rages and unspeakabilities, the poor old Callenberg is since dead. And now the very Schloss is dead; and there is finis to a human dust-vortex, such as is sometimes noisy for a time. Perhaps Nussler may again pass that way, if we wait. [Busching, Beitrage, ii.273 et seqq.]
"APRIL 6th, HEAD-QUARTERS FRIEDLAND. To Friedland on the 6th.,—and do not, as expected, get away next morning. Friedland is ten miles down the Neisse, which makes a bend of near ninety degrees opposite Steinau; and runs thence straight north for the Oder, which it reaches some dozen miles or more above Brieg. Both Steinau and Friedland are a good distance from the River; Friedland, the nearer of the two, with Sorgau Bridge direct west of it, is perhaps eight miles from that important structure. There, being now tolerably rendezvoused, and in strength for action, Friedrich purposes to cross Neisse River to-morrow; hoping perhaps to meet Holstein-Beck, and incorporate him; anxious, at any rate, to get between the Austrians and Ohlau, where his heavy Artillery, his Ammunition, not to mention other indispensables, are lying. The peculiarity of Neipperg at this time is, that the ground he occupies bears no proportion to the ground he commands. His regular Horse are supposed to be the best in the world; and of the Pandour kind, who live, horse and man, mainly upon nothing (which means upon theft), his supplies are unlimited. He sits like a volcanic reservoir, therefore, not like a common fire of such and such intensity and power to burn;—casts the ashes of him, on all sides, to many miles distance.
"FRIDAY 7th APRIL, FRIEDLAND (still Head-quarters). Unluckily, on trying, there is no passage to be had at Sorgau. The Officer on charge there still holds the Bridge, but has been obliged to break away the farther end of it; 'Lentulus and Dragoons, several thousands strong' (such is the report), having taken post there. Friedrich commands that the Bridge be reinstated; field-pieces to defend it; Prince Leopold to cross, and clear the ways. All Friday, Friedrich waiting at Friedland, was spent in these details. Leopold in due force started for Sorgau, himself with Cavalry in the van; Leopold did storm across, and go charging and fencing, some space, on the other side; but, seeing that it was in truth Lentulus, and Dragoons without limit, had to send report accordingly; and then to wind himself to this side again, on new order from the King. What is to be done, then? Here is no crossing. Friedrich decides to go down the River; he himself to Lowen, perhaps near twenty miles farther down, but where there is a Bridge and Highway leading over; Prince Leopold, with the heavier divisions and baggages, to Michelau, some miles nearer, and there to build his Pontoons and cross. Which was effected, with success. And so,
"SATURDAY, 8th APRIL, With great punctuality, the King and Leopold met at Michelau, both well across the Neisse. Here on Pontoons, Leopold had got across about noon; and precisely as he was finishing, the King's Column, which had crossed at Lowen, and come up the left bank again, arrived. The King, much content with Leopold's behavior, nominates him General of Infantry, a stage higher in promotion, there and then. Brieg Blockade is, as natural, given up; the Blockading Body joining with the King, this morning, while he passed that way. From Holstein-Beck not the least whisper,—nor to him, if we knew it.
"Neipperg has quitted Neisse; but walks invisible within clouds of Pandours; nothing but guessing as to Neipperg's motions. Rightly swift, and awake to his business, Neipperg might have done, might still do, a stroke upon us here. But he takes it easy; marches hardly five miles a day, since he quitted Neisse again. From Michelau, Friedrich for his part turns southwestward, in quest of Holstein and other interests; marches towards Grotkau, not intending much farther that night. Thick snow blowing in their faces, nothing to be seen ahead, the Prussian column tramps along. [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 156.] In Leipe, a little Hamlet sidewards of the road, short way from Grotkau, our Hussar Vanguard had found Austrian Hussars; captured forty, and from them learned that the Austrian Army is in Grotkau; that they took Grotkau half an hour before, and are there! A poor Lieutenant Mitschepfal (whom I think Friedrich used to know in Reinsberg) lay in Grotkau, 'with some sixty recruits and deserters,' says Friedrich,—and with several hundreds of camp-laborers (intended for the trenches, which will not now be opened):—Mitschepfal made a stout defence; but, after three hours of it, had to give in: and there is nothing now for us at Grotkau. 'Halt,' therefore! Neipperg is evidently pushing towards Ohlau, towards Breslau, though in a leisurely way; there it will behoove us to get the start of him, if humanly possible: To the right about, therefore, without delay! The Prussians repass Leipe (much to the wonder of its simple people); get along, some seven miles farther, on the road for Ohlau; and quarter, that night, in what handy villages there are; the King's Corps in two Villages, which he calls 'Pogrel and Alsen,'"—which are to be found still on the Map as "Pogarell and Alzenau," on the road from Lowen towards Ohlau.
This is the end of that March into the Mountains, with Neisse Siege hanging triumphant ahead. These are the King's quarters, this wintry Spring night, Saturday, 8th April, 1741; and it is to be guessed there is more of care than of sleep provided for him there. Seldom, in his life, was Friedrich in a more critical position; and he well knows it, none better. And could have his remorses upon it,—were these of the least use in present circumstances. Here are two Letters which he wrote that night; veiling, we perceive, a very grim world of thoughts; betokening, however, a mind made up. Jordan, Prince August Wilhelm Heir-Apparent, and other fine individuals who shone in the Schweidnitz circle lately, are in Breslau, safe sheltered against this bad juncture; Maupertuis was not so lucky as to go with them.
THE KING TO PRINCE AUGUST WILHELM (in Breslau).
"POGARELL, 8th April, 1741.
"MY DEAREST BROTHER,—The Enemy has just got into Silesia; we are not more than a mile (QUART DE MILLE) from them. To-morrow must decide our fortune.
"If I die, do not forget a Brother who has always loved you very tenderly. I recommend to you my most dear Mother, my Domestics, and my First Battalion [LIFEGUARD OF FOOT, men picked from his own old Ruppin Regiment and from the disbanded Giants, star of all the Battalions]. [See Preuss, i. 144, iv. 309; Nicolai, Beschreibung von Berlin, iii, 1252.] Eichel and Schuhmacher [Two of the Three Clerks] are informed of all my testamentary wishes. Remember me always, you; but console yourself for my death: the glory of the Prussian Arms, and the honor of the House have set me in action, and will guide me to my last moment. You are my sole Heir: I recommend to you, in dying, those whom I have the most loved during my life: Keyserling, Jordan, Wartensleben; Hacke, who is a very honest man; Fredersdorf [Factotum], and Eichel, in whom you may place entire confidence. I bequeath 8,000 crowns (1,200 pounds, which I have with me), to my Domestics; but all that I have elsewhere depends on you. To each of my Brothers and Sisters make a present in my name; a thousand affectionate regards (AMITIES ET COMPLIMENTS) to my Sister of Baireuth. You know what I think on their score; and you know better than I could tell you, the tenderness and all the sentiments of most inviolable friendship with which I am, dearest Brother,
"Your faithful Brother and Servant till death,
"FEDERIC." [OEuvres de Frederic, xxvi. 85; List of Friedrich's Testamentary arrangements in Note there,—Six in all, at different times, besides this.]
THE KING TO M. JORDAN (in Breslau).
"POGARELL, 8th April, 1741.
"My DEAR JORDAN,—-We are going to fight to-morrow. Thou knowest the chances of war; the life of Kings not more regarded than that of private people. I know not what will happen to me.
"If my destiny is finished, remember a friend, who loves thee always tenderly: if Heaven prolong my days, I will write to thee after to-morrow, and thou wilt hear of our victory. Adieu, dear friend; I shall love thee till death.
"FEDERIC." [Ib. xvii. 98.]
The King, we incidentally discover somewhere, "had no sleep that night;" none, "nor the next night either,"—such a crisis coming, still not come.
"To-morrow," Sunday, did not prove the Day of Fight, after all. Being a day of wild drifting snow, so that you could not see twenty paces, there was nothing for it but to sit quiet. The King makes all his dispositions; sketches out punctually, to the last item, where each is to station himself, how the Army is to advance in Four Columns, ready for Neipperg wherever he may be,—towards Ohlau at any rate, whither it is not doubted Neipperg is bent. These snowy six-and-thirty hours at Pogarell were probably, since the Custrin time, the most anxious of Friedrich's life.
Neipperg, for his part, struggles forward a few miles, this Sunday, April 9th; the Prussians rest under shelter in the wild weather. Neipperg's head-quarters, this night, are a small Village or Hamlet, called Mollwitz: there and in the adjacent Hamlets, chiefly in Laugwitz and Gruningen, his Army lodges itself:—he is now fairly got between us and Ohlau,—if, in the blowing drift, we knew it, or he knew it. But, in this confusion of the elements, neither party knows of the other: Neipperg has appointed that to-morrow, Monday, 10th, shall be a rest-day:—appointment which could by no means be kept, as it turned out!
Friedrich had despatched messengers to Ohlau, that the force there should join him; messengers are all captured. The like message had already gone to Brieg, some days before, and the Blockading Body, a good few thousand strong, quitted Brieg, as we saw, and effected their junction with him. All day, this Sunday, 9th, it still snows and blows; you cannot see a yard before you. No hope now of Holstein-Beck. Not the least news from any quarter; Ohlau uncertain, too likely the wrong way: What is to be done? We are cut off from our Magazines, have only provision for one other day. "Had this weather lasted," says an Austrian reporter of these things, "his Majesty would have passed his time very ill." [Feldzuge der Preussen (the complete Title is, Sammlung ungedruckter Nachrichten so die Geschichte der Feldzuge der Preussen von 1740 bis 1779 erlautern, or in English words, Collection of unprinted Narratives which elucidate the Prussian Campaigns from 1740 to 1779: 5 vols. Dresden, 1782-1785), i. 33. Excellent Narratives, modest, brief, effective (from Private Diaries and the like; many of them given also in SEYFARTH); well worth perusal by the studious military man, and creditably characteristic of the Prussian writers of them and actors in them.]
Of the Battle of Mollwitz, as indeed of all Friedrich's Battles, there are ample accounts new and old, of perfect authenticity and scientific exactitude; so that in regard to military points the due clearness is, on study, completely attainable. But as to personal or human details, we are driven back upon a miscellany of sources; most of which, indeed all of which except Nicolai, when he sparingly gives us anything, are of questionable nature; and, without intending to be dishonest, do run out into the mythical, and require to be used with caution. The latest and notablest of these, in regard to Mollwitz, is the pamphlet of a Dr. Fuchs; from which, in spite of its amazing quality, we expect to glean a serviceable item here and there. [Jubelschrift zur Feier (Centenary) der Schlacht bei Mollwitz, 10 April, 1741, von Dr. Medicinae Fuchs (Brieg, 10th April, 1841).] It is definable as probably the most chaotic Pamphlet ever written; and in many places, by dint of uncorrected printing, bad grammar, bad spelling, bad sense, and in short, of intrinsic darkness in so vivacious a humor, it has become abstruse as Sanscrit; and really is a sharp test of what knowledge you otherwise have of the subject. Might perhaps be used in that way, by the Examining Military Boards, in Prussia and elsewhere, if no other use lie in it? Fuchs's own contributions, mere ignorance, folly and credulity, are not worth interpreting: but he has printed, and in the same abstruse form, one or two curious Parish Manuscripts, particularly a "HISTORY" of this War, privately jotted down by the then Schoolmaster of Mollwitz, a good simple accurate old fellow-creature; through whose eyes it is here and there worth while to look. In regard to Fuchs himself, a late Tourist says:—
"This 'Centenary-Celebration Pamphlet' (Celebration itself, so obtuse was the Country, did not take effect) was by a zealous, noisy but not wise, old Medical Gentleman of these parts, called Dr. Fuchs (FOX); who had set his heart on raising, by subscription, a proper National Monument on the Field of Mollwitz, and so closing his old career. Subscriptions did not take, in that April, 1841, nor in the following months or twelve-months: the zealous Doctor, therefore, indignantly drew his own purse; got a big Obelisk of Granite hewn ready, with suitable Inscription on it; carted his big Obelisk from the quarries of Strehlen; assembled the Country round it, on Mollwitz Field; and passionately discoursed and pleaded, That at least the Country should bring block-and-tackle, with proper framework, and set up this Obelisk on the pedestal he had there built for it. The Country listened cheerfully (for the old Doctor was a popular man, clever though flighty); but the Country was again obtuse in the way of active furtherance, and would not even bring block-and-tackle. The old Doctor had to answer, 'Well, then!' and go on his way on more serious errands. The cattle have much undermined, and rubbed down, his poor Pedestal, which is of rubble-work; his Obelisk still lies mournfully horizontal, uninjured;—and really ought to be set up, by some parish-rate, or effort of the community otherwise." [Tourist's Note (Brieg, 1858).]
From the old Mollwitz Schoolmaster we distil the following:—
"MOLLWITZ, SUNDAY, 9th APRIL. Country for two days back: was in new alarm by the Austrian Garrison of Brieg now left at liberty, who sallied out upon the Villages about, and plundered black-cattle, sheep, grain, and whatever they could come at. But this day (Sunday) in Mollwitz the whole Austrian Army was upon us. First, there went 300 Hussars through the Village to Gruningen, who quartered themselves there; and rushed hither and thither into houses, robbing and plundering. From one they took his best horses, from another they took linen, clothes, and other furnitures and victual. General Neuburg [Neipperg] halted here at Mollwitz, with the whole Army; before the Village, in mind to quarter. And quarter was settled, so that a BAUER [Plough-Farmer] got four to five companies to lodge, and a GARTNER [Spade-Farmer] two or three hundred cavalry..The houses were full of Officers, the GARTE [Garths] and the Fields full of horsemen and baggage; and all round, you saw nothing but fires burning; the ZAUNE [wooden railings] were instantly torn down for firewood; the hay, straw, barley and haver, were eaten away, and brought to nothing; and everything from the barns was carried out. And, as the whole Army could not lodge itself with us, 1,100 Infantry quartered at Laugwitz; Barzdorf got 400 Cavalry; and this day, nobody knew what would come of it." [Extract in FUCHS, p. 6.]
Monday morning, the Prussians are up betimes; King Friedrich, as above noted, had not, or had hardly at all, slept during those two nights, such his anxieties. This morning, all is calm, sleeked out into spotless white; Pogarell and the world are wrapt as in a winding-sheet, near two feet of snow on the ground. Air hard and crisp; a hot sun possible about noon season. "By daybreak" we are all astir, rendezvousing, ranking,—into Four Columns; ready to advance in that fashion for battle, or for deploying into battle, wherever the Enemy turn up. The orders were all given overnight, two nights ago; were all understood, too, and known to be rhadamanthine; and, down to the lowest pioneer, no man is uncertain what to do. If we but knew where the Enemy is; on which side of us; what doing, what intending?
Scouts, General-Adjutants are out on the quest; to no purpose hitherto. One young General-Adjutant, Saldern, whose name we shall know again, has ridden northward, has pulled bridle some way north of Pogarell; hangs, gazing diligently through his spy-glass, there;—can see nothing but a Plain of silent snow, with sparse bearding of bushes (nothing like a hedge in these countries), and here and there a tree, the miserable skeleton of a poplar:—when happily, owing to an Austrian Dragoon—Be pleased to accept (in abridged form) the poor old Schoolmaster's account of a small thing:—
"Austrian Dragoon of the regiment Althan, native of Kriesewitz in this neighborhood, who was billeted in Christopher Schonwitz's, had been much in want of a clean shirt, and other interior outfit; and had, last night, imperatively despatched the man Scholzke, a farm-servant of the said Christopher's, off to his, the Dragoon's, Father in Kriesewitz, to procure such shirt or outfit, and to return early with the same; under penalty of—Scholzke and his master dare not think under what penalty. Scholzke, floundering homewards with the outfit from Kriesewitz, flounders at this moment into Saldern's sphere of vision: 'Whence, whither?' asks Saldern: 'Dost thou know where the Austrians are?' (RECHT GUT: in Mollwitz), whither I am going!' Saldern takes him to the King,—and that was the first clear light his Majesty had on the matter." [Fuchs, pp. 6, 7.] That or something equivalent, indisputably was; Saldern and "a Peasant," the account of it in all the Books.
The King says to this Peasant, "Thou shalt ride with me to-day!" And Scholzke, Ploschke others call him,—heavy-footed rational biped knowing the ground there practically, every yard of it,—did, as appears, attend the King all morning; and do service, that was recognizable long years afterwards. "For always," say the Books, "when the King held review here, Ploschke failed not to make appearance on the field of Pogarell, and get recognition and a gift from his Majesty."
At break of day the ranking and arranging began. Pogarell clock is near striking ten, when the last squadron or battalion quits Pogarell; and the Four Columns, punctiliously correct, are all under way. Two on each side of Ohlau Highway; steadily advancing, with pioneers ahead to clear any obstacle there may be. Few obstacles; here and there a little ditch (where Ploschke's advice may be good, under the sleek of the snow), no fences, smooth wide Plain, nothing you would even call a knoll in it for many miles ahead and around. Mollwitz is some seven miles north from Pogarell; intermediate lie dusty fractions of Villages more than one; two miles or more from Mollwitz we come to Pampitz on our left, the next considerable, if any of them can be counted considerable.
"All these Dorfs, and indeed most German ones," says my Tourist, "are made on one type; an agglomerate of dusty farmyards, with their stalls and barns; all the farmyards huddled together in two rows; a broad negligent road between, seldom mended, never swept except by the elements. Generally there is nothing to be seen, on each hand, but thatched roofs, dead clay walls and rude wooden gates; sometimes a poor public-house, with probable beer in it; never any shop, nowhere any patch of swept pavement, or trim gathering-place for natives of a social gossipy turn: the road lies sleepy, littery, good only for utilitarian purposes. In the middle of the Village stands Church and Churchyard, with probably some gnarled trees around it: Church often larger than you expected; the Churchyard, always fenced with high stone-and-mortar wall, is usually the principal military post of the place. Mollwitz, at the present day, has something of whitewash here and there; one of the farmer people, or more, wearing a civilized prosperous look. The belfry offers you a pleasant view: the roofs and steeples of Brieg, pleasantly visible to eastward; villages dotted about, Laugwitz, Barzdorf, Hermsdorf, clear to your inquiring: and to westward, and to southward, tops of Hill-country in the distance. Westward, twenty miles off, are pleasant Hills; and among them, if you look well, shadowy Town-spires, which you are assured are Strehlen, a place also of interest in Friedrich's History.—Your belfry itself, in Mollwitz, is old, but not unsound; and the big iron clock grunts heavily at your ear, or perhaps bursts out in a too deafening manner, while you study the topographies. Pampitz, too, seems prosperous, in its littery way; the Church is bigger and newer,"—owing to an accident we shall hear of soon;—"Country all about seems farmed with some industry, but with shallow ploughing; liable to drought. It is very sandy in quality; shorn of umbrage; painfully naked to an English eye." That is the big champaign, coated with two feet of snow, where a great Action is now to go forward.
Neipperg, all this while, is much at his ease on this white resting-day, He is just sitting down to dinner at the Dorfschulze's (Village Provost, or miniature Mayor of Mollwitz), a composed man; when—rockets or projectiles, and successive anxious sputterings from the steeple-tops of Brieg, are hastily reported: what can it mean? Means little perhaps;—Neipperg sends out a Hussar party to ascertain, and composedly sets himself to dine. In a little while his Hussar party will come galloping back, faster than it went; faster and fewer;—and there will be news for Neipperg during dinner! Better here looking out, though it was a rest-day?—
The truth is, the Prussian advance goes on with punctilious exactitude, by no means rapidly. Colonel Count van Rothenburg,—the same whom we lately heard of in Paris as a miracle of gambling,—he now here, in a new capacity, is warily leading the Vanguard of Dragoons; warily, with the Four Columns well to rear of him: the Austrian Hussar party came upon Rothenburg, not two miles from Mollwitz; and suddenly drew bridle. Them Rothenburg tumbles to the right-about, and chases;—finds, on advancing, the Austrian Army totally unaware. It is thought, had Rothenburg dashed forward, and sent word to the rearward to dash forward at their swiftest, the Austrian Army might have been cut in pieces here, and never have got together to try battle at all. But Rothenburg had no orders; nay, had orders Not to get into fighting;—nor had Friedrich himself, in this his first Battle, learned that feline or leonine promptitude of spring which he subsequently manifested. Far from it! Indeed this punctilious deliberation, and slow exactitude as on the review-ground, is wonderful and noteworthy at the first start of Friedrich;—the faithful apprentice-hand still rigorous to the rules of the old shop. Ten years hence, twenty years hence, had Friedrich found Neipperg in this condition, Neipperg's account had been soon settled!— Rothenburg drove back the Hussars, all manner of successive Hussar parties, and kept steadily ahead of the main battle, as he had been bidden.
Pampitz Village being now passed, and in rear of them to left, the Prussian Columns halt for some instants; burst into field-music; take to deploying themselves into line. There is solemn wheeling, shooting out to right and left, done with spotless precision: once in line,—in two lines, "each three men deep," lines many yards apart,—they will advance on Mollwitz; still solemnly, field-music guiding, and banners spread. Which will be a work of time. That the King's frugal field-dinner was shot away, from its camp-table near Pampitz (as Fuchs has heard), is evidently mythical; and even impossible, the Austrians having yet no cannon within miles of him; and being intent on dining comfortably themselves, not on firing at other people's dinners.
Fancy Neipperg's state of mind, busy beginning dinner in the little Schulze's, or Town-Provost's house, when the Hussars dashed in at full gallop, shouting "DER FEIND, The Enemy! All in march there; vanguard this side of Pampitz; killed forty of us!"—Quick, your Plan of Battle, then? Whitherward; How; What? answer or perish! Neipperg was infinitely struck; dropt knife and fork: "Send for Romer, General of the Horse!" Romer did the indispensable: a swift man, not apt to lose head. Romer's battle-plan, I should hope, is already made; or it will fare ill with Neipperg and him. But beat, ye drummers; gallop, ye aides-de-camp as for life! The first thing is to get our Force together; and it lies scattered about in three other Villages besides Mollwitz, miles apart. Neipperg's trumpets clangor, his aides-de-camp gallop: he has his left wing formed, and the other parts in a state of rapid genesis, Horse and Foot pouring in from Laugwitz, Barzdorf, Gruningen, before the Prussians have quite done deploying themselves, and got well within shot of him. Romer, by birth a Saxon gentleman, by all accounts a superior soldier and excellent General of Horse, commands this Austrian left wing, General Goldlein, [(Anonymous) MARIA THERESA (already cited), p. 8 n.] a Swiss veteran of good parts, presiding over the Infantry in that quarter. Neipperg himself, were he once complete, will command the right wing.
Neipperg is to be in two lines, as the Prussians are, with horse on each wing, which is orthodox military order. His length of front, I should guess, must have been something better than two English miles: a sluggish Brook, called of Laugwitz, from the Village of that name which lies some way across, is on his right hand; sluggish, boggy; stagnating towards the Oder in those parts:—improved farming has, in our time, mostly dried the strip of bog, and made it into coarse meadow, which is rather a relief amid the dry sandy element. Neipperg's right is covered by that. His left rests on the Hamlet of Gruningen, a mile-and-half northeast of Mollwitz;—meant to have rested on Hermsdorf nearly east, but the Prussians have already taken that up. The sun coming more and more round to west of south (for it is now past noon) shines right in Neipperg's face, and is against him: how the wind is, nobody mentions,—probably there was no wind. His regular Cavalry, 8,600, outnumbers twice or more that of the Prussians, not to mention their quality; and he has fewer Infantry, somewhat in proportion;—the entire force on each side is scarcely above 20,000, the Prussians slightly in majority by count. In field-pieces Neipperg is greatly outnumbered; the Prussians having about threescore, he only eighteen. [Kausler, Atlas der merkwurdigsten Schlachten, p. 232.] And now here ARE the Prussians, close upon our left wing, not yet in contact with the right,—which in fact is not yet got into existence;—thank Heaven they have not come before our left got into existence, as our right (if you knew it) has not yet quite finished doing!—
The Prussians, though so ready for deploying, have had their own difficulties and delays. Between the boggy Brook of Laugwitz on their left, and the Village of Hermsdorf, two miles distant, on which their right wing is to lean, there proves not to be room enough; [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 73.] and then, owing to mistake of Schulenburg (our old pipe-clay friend, who commands the right wing of Horse here, and is not up in time), there is too much room. Not room enough, for all the Infantry, we say: the last three Battalions of the front line therefore, the three on the utmost right, wheel round, and stand athwart; EN POTENCE (as soldiers say), or at right angles to the first line; hanging to it like a kind of lid in that part,—between Schulenburg and them,—had Schulenburg come up. Thus are the three battalions got rid of at least; "they cap the First Prussian line rectangularly, like a lid," says my authority,—lid which does not reach to the Second Line by a good way. This accidental arrangement had material effects on the right wing. Unfortunate Schulenburg did at last come up:—had he miscalculated the distances, then? Once on the ground, he will find he does not reach to Hermsdorf after all, and that there is now too much room! What his degree of fault was I know not; Friedrich has long been dissatisfied with these Dragoons of Schulenburg; "good for nothing, I always told you" (at that Skirmish of Baumgarten): and now here is the General himself fallen blundering!—In respect of Horse, the Austrians are more than two to one; to make out our deficiency, the King, imitating something he had read about Gustavus Adolphus, intercalates the Horse-Squadrons, on each wing, with two Battalions of Grenadiers, and SO lengthens them;—"a manoeuvre not likely to be again imitated," he admits.
All these movements and arrangements are effected above a mile from Mollwitz, no enemy yet visible. Once effected, we advance again with music sounding, sixty pieces of artillery well in front,—steady, steady!—across the floor of snow which is soon beaten smooth enough, the stage, this day, of a great adventure. And now there is the Enemy's left wing, Romer and his Horse; their right wing wider away, and not yet, by a good space, within cannon-range of us. It is towards Two of the afternoon; Schulenburg now on his ground, laments that he will not reach to Hermsdorf;—but it may be dangerous now to attempt repairing that error? At Two of the clock, being now fairly within distance, we salute Romer and the Austrian left, with all our sixty cannon; and the sound of drums and clarinets is drowned in universal artillery thunder. Incessant, for they take (by order) to "swift-shooting," which is almost of the swiftness of musketry in our Prussian practice; and from sixty cannon, going at that rate, we may fancy some effect. The Austrian Horse of the left wing do not like it; all the less as the Austrians, rather short of artillery, have nothing yet to reply with.
No Cavalry can stand long there, getting shivered in that way; in such a noise, were there nothing more. "Are we to stand here like milestones, then, and be all shot without a stroke struck?" "Steady!" answers Romer. But nothing can keep them steady: "To be shot like dogs (WIE HUNDE)! For God's sake (URN GOTTES WILLEN), lead us forward, then, to have a stroke at them!"—in tones ever more plangent, plaintively indignant; growing ungovernable. And Romer can get no orders; Neipperg is on the extreme right, many things still to settle there; and here is the cannon-thunder going, and soon their very musketry will open. And—and there is Schulenburg, for one thing, stretching himself out eastwards (rightwards) to get hold of Hermsdorf; thinking this an opportunity for the manoeuvre. "Forward!" cries Romer; and his thirty Squadrons, like bottled whirlwind now at last let loose, dash upon Schulenburg's poor ten (five of them of Schulenburg's own regiment),—who are turned sideways too, trotting towards Hermsdorf, at the wrong moment,—and dash them into wild ruin. That must have been a charge! That was the beginning of hours of chaos, seemingly irretrievable, in that Prussian right wing.
For the Prussian Horse fly wildly; and it is in vain to rally. The King is among them; has come in hot haste, conjuring and commanding: poor Schulenburg addresses his own regiment, "Oh, shame, shame! shall it be told, then?" rallies his own regiment, and some others; charges fiercely in with them again; gets a sabre-slash across the face,—does not mind the sabre-slash, small bandaging will do;—gets a bullet through the head (or through the heart, it is not said which); [Helden-Geschichte, i. 899.] and falls down dead; his regiment going to the winds again, and HIS care of it and of other things concluding in this honorable manner. Nothing can rally that right wing; or the more you rally, the worse it fares: they are clearly no match for Romer, these Prussian Horse. They fly along the front of their own First Line of Infantry, they fly between the two Lines; Romer chasing,—till the fire of the Infantry (intolerable to our enemies, and hitting some even of our fugitive friends) repels him. For the notable point in all this was the conduct of the Infantry; and how it stood in these wild vortexes of ruin; impregnable, immovable, as if every man of it were stone; and steadily poured out deluges of fire,—"five Prussian shots for two Austrian:"—such is perfect discipline against imperfect; and the iron ramrod against the wooden.
The intolerable fire repels Romer, when he trenches on the Infantry: however, he captures nine of the Prussian sixty guns; has scattered their Horse to the winds; and charges again and again, hoping to break the Infantry too,—till a bullet kills him, the gallant Romer; and some other has to charge and try. It was thought, had Goldlein with his Austrian Infantry advanced to support Romer at this juncture, the Battle had been gained. Five times, before Romer fell and after, the Austrians charged here; tried the Second Line too; tried once to take Prince Leopold in rear there. But Prince Leopold faced round, gave intolerable fire; on one face as on the other, he, or the Prussian Infantry anywhere, is not to be broken. "Prince Friedrich", one of the Margraves of Schwedt, King's Cousin, whom we did not know before, fell in these wild rallyings and wrestlings; "by a cannon-ball, at the King's hand," not said otherwise where. He had come as Volunteer, few weeks ago, out of Holland, where he was a rising General: he has met his fate here,—and Margraf Karl, his Brother, who also gets wounded, will be a mournful man to-night.
The Prussian Horse, this right wing of it, is a ruined body; boiling in wild disorder, flooding rapidly away to rearward,—which is the safest direction to retreat upon. They "sweep away the King's person with them," say some cautious people; others say, what is the fact, that Schwerin entreated, and as it were commanded, the King to go; the Battle being, to all appearance, irretrievable. Go he did, with small escort, and on a long ride,—to Oppeln, a Prussian post, thirty-five miles rearward, where there is a Bridge over the Oder and a safe country beyond. So much is indubitable; and that he despatched an Aide-de-camp to gallop into Brandenburg, and tell the Old Dessauer, "Bestir yourself! Here all seems lost!"—and vanished from the Field, doubtless in very desperate humor. Upon which the extraneous world has babbled a good deal, "Cowardice! Wanted courage: Haha!" in its usual foolish way; not worth answer from him or from us. Friedrich's demeanor, in that disaster of his right wing, was furious despair rather; and neither Schulenburg nor Margraf Friedrich, nor any of the captains, killed or left living, was supposed to have sinned by "cowardice" in a visible degree!—
Indisputable it is, though there is deep mystery upon it, the King vanishes from Mollwitz Field at this point for sixteen hours, into the regions of Myth, "into Fairyland," as would once have been said; but reappears unharmed in to-morrow's daylight: at which time, not sooner, readers shall hear what little is to be said of this obscure and much-disfigured small affair. For the present we hasten back to Mollwitz,—where the murderous thunder rages unabated all this while; the very noise of it alarming mankind for thirty miles round. At Breslau, which is thirty good miles off, horrible dull grumble was heard from the southern quarter ("still better, if you put a staff in the ground, and set your ear to it"); and from the steeple-tops, there was dim cloudland of powder-smoke discernible in the horizon there. "At Liegnitz," which is twice the distance, "the earth sensibly shook," [Helden-Geschichte; and Jordan's Letter, infra.]—at least the air did, and the nerves of men.
"Had Goldlein but advanced with his Foot, in support of gallant Romer!" say the Austrian Books. But Goldlein did not advance; nor is it certain he would have found advantage in so doing: Goldlein, where he stands, has difficulty enough to hold his own. For the notable circumstance, miraculous to military men, still is, How the Prussian Foot (men who had never been in fire, but whom Friedrich Wilhelm had drilled for twenty years) stand their ground, in this distraction of the Horse. Not even the two outlying Grenadier Battalions will give way: those poor intercalated Grenadiers, when their Horse fled on the right and on the left, they stand there, like a fixed stone-dam in that wild whirlpool of ruin. They fix bayonets, "bring their two field-pieces to flank" (Winterfeld was Captain there), and, from small arms and big, deliver such a fire as was very unexpected. Nothing to be made of Winterfeld and them. They invincibly hurl back charge after charge; and, with dogged steadiness, manoeuvre themselves into the general Line again; or into contact with the three superfluous Battalions, arranged EN POTENCE, whom we heard of. Those three, ranked athwart in this right wing ("like a lid," between First Line and second), maintained themselves in like impregnable fashion,—Winterfeld commanding;—and proved unexpectedly, thinks Friedrich, the saving of the whole. For they also stood their ground immovable, like rocks; steadily spouting fire-torrents. Five successive charges storm upon them, fruitless: "Steady, MEINE KINDER; fix bayonets, handle ramrods! There is the Horse-deluge thundering in upon you; reserve your fire, till you see the whites of their eyes, and get the word; then give it them, and again give it them: see whether any man or any horse can stand it!"
Neipperg, soon after Romer fell, had ordered Goldlein forward: Goldlein with his Infantry did advance, gallantly enough; but to no purpose. Goldlein was soon shot dead; and his Infantry had to fall back again, ineffectual or worse. Iron ramrods against wooden; five shots to two: what is there but falling back? Neipperg sent fresh Horse from his right wing, with Berlichingen, a new famed General of Horse; Neipperg is furiously bent to improve his advantage, to break those Prussians, who are mere musketeers left bare, and thinks that will settle the account: but it could in no wise be done. The Austrian Horse, after their fifth trial, renounce charging; fairly refuse to charge any more; and withdraw dispirited out of ball-range, or in search of things not impracticable. The Hussar part of them did something of plunder to rearward;—and, besides poor Maupertuis's adventure (of which by and by), and an attempt on the Prussian baggage and knapsacks, which proved to be "too well guarded,"—"burnt the Church of Pampitz," as some small consolation. The Prussians had stript their knapsacks, and left them in Pampitz: the Austrians, it was noticed, stript theirs in the Field; built walls of them, and fired behind, the same, in a kneeling, more or less protected posture,—which did not avail them much.
In fact, the Austrian Infantry too, all Austrians, hour after hour, are getting wearier of it: neither Infantry nor Cavalry can stand being riddled by swift shot in that manner. In spite of their knapsack walls, various regiments have shrunk out of ball-range; and several cannot, by any persuasion, be got to come into it again. Others, who do reluctantly advance,—see what a figure they make; man after man edging away as he can, so that the regiment "stands forty to eighty men deep, with lanes through it every two or three yards;" permeable everywhere to Cavalry, if we had them; and turning nothing to the Enemy but color-sergeants and bare poles of a regiment! And Romer is dead, and Goldlein of the Infantry is dead. And on their right wing, skirted by that marshy Brook of Laugwitz,—Austrian right wing had been weakened by detachments, when Berlichingen rode off to succeed Romer,—the Austrians are suffering: Posadowsky's Horse (among whom is Rothenburg, once vanguard), strengthened by remnants who have rallied here, are at last prospering, after reverses. And the Prussian fire of small arms, at such rate, has lasted now for five hours. The Austrian Army, becoming instead of a web a mere series of flying tatters, forming into stripes or lanes in the way we see, appears to have had about enough.
These symptoms are not hidden from Schwerin. His own ammunition, too, he knows is running scarce, and fighters here and there are searching the slain for cartridges:—Schwerin closes his ranks, trims and tightens himself a little; breaks forth into universal field-music, and with banners spread, starts in mass wholly, "Forwards!" Forwards towards these Austrians and the setting sun.
An intelligent Austrian Officer, writing next week from Neisse, [Feldzuge der Preussen (above cited), i. 38.]' confesses he never saw anything more beautiful. "I can well say, I never in my life saw anything more beautiful. They marched with the greatest steadiness, arrow-straight, and their front like a line (SCHNURGLEICH), as if they had been upon parade. The glitter of their clear arms shone strangely in the setting sun, and the fire from them went on no otherwise than a continued peal of thunder." Grand picture indeed; but not to be enjoyed as a Work of Art, for it is coming upon us! "The spirits of our Army sank altogether", continues he; "the Foot plainly giving way, Horse refusing to come forward, all things wavering towards dissolution:"—so that Neipperg, to avoid worse, gives the word to go;—and they roll off at double-quick time, through Mollwitz, over Laugwitz Bridge and Brook, towards Grotkau by what routes they can. The sun is just sunk; a quarter to eight, says the intelligent Austrian Officer,—while the Austrian Army, much to its amazement, tumbles forth in this bad fashion.
They had lost nine of their own cannon, and all of those Prussian nine which they once had, except one: eight cannon MINUS, in all. Prisoners of them were few, and none of much mark: two Field-marshals, Romer and Goldlein, lie among the dead; four more of that rank are wounded. Four standards too are gone; certain kettle-drums and the like trophies, not in great number. Lieutenant-General Browne was of these retreating Austrians; a little fact worth noting: of his actions this day, or of his thoughts (which latter surely must have been considerable), no hint anywhere. The Austrians were not much chased; though they might have been,—fresh Cavalry (two Ohlau regiments, drawn hither by the sound [Interesting correct account of their movements and adventures this day and some previous days, in Nicolai, Anekdoten, ii. 142-148.]) having hung about to rear of them, for some time past; unable to get into the Fight, or to do any good till now. Schwerin, they say, though he had two wounds, was for pursuing vigorously: but Leopold of Anhalt over-persuaded him; urged the darkness, the uncertainty. Berlichingen, with their own Horse, still partly covered their rear; and the Prussians, Ohlauers included, were but weak in that branch of the service. Pursuit lasted little more than two miles, and was never hot. The loss of men, on both sides, was not far from equal, and rather in favor of the Austrian side:—Austrians counted in killed, wounded and missing, 4,410 men; Prussians 4,613; [Orlich, i. 108; Kansler, p. 235, correct; Helden-Geschichte, i. 895, incorrect.]—but the Prussians bivouacked on the ground, or quartered in these Villages, with victory to crown them, and the thought that their hard day's work had been well done. Besides Margraf Friedrich, Volunteer from Holland, there lay among the slain Colonel Count von Finkenstein (Old Tutor's Son), King's friend from boyhood, and much loved. He was of the six whom we saw consulting at the door at Reinsberg, during a certain ague-fit; and he now rests silent here, while the matter has only come thus far.
Such was Mollwitz, the first Battle for Silesia; which had to cost many Battles first and last. Silesia will be gained, we can expect, by fighting of this kind in an honest cause. But here is something already gained, which is considerable, and about which there is no doubt. A new Military Power, it would appear, has come upon the scene; the Gazetteer-and-Diplomatic world will have to make itself familiar with a name not much heard of hitherto among the Nations. "A Nation which can fight," think the Gazetteers; "fight almost as the very Swedes did; and is led on by its King too,—who may prove, in his way, a very Charles XII., or small Macedonia's Madman, for aught one knows?" In which latter branch of their prognostic the Gazetteers were much out.—
The Fame of this Battle, which is now so sunk out of memory, was great in Europe; and struck, like a huge war-gong, with long resonance, through the general ear. M. de Voltaire had run across to Lille in those Spring days: there is a good Troop of Players in Lille; a Niece, Madame Denis, wife of some Military Commissariat Denis, important in those parts, can lodge the divine Emilie and me;—and one could at last see MAHOMET, after five years of struggling, get upon the boards, if not yet in Paris by a great way, yet in Lille, which is something. MAHOMET is getting upon the boards on those terms; and has proceeded, not amiss, through an Act or two, when a Note from the King of Prussia was handed to Voltaire, announcing the victory of Mollwitz. Which delightful Note Voltaire stopt the performance till he read to the Audience: "Bravissimo!" answered the Audience. "You will see," said M. de Voltaire to the friends about him, "this Piece at Mollwitz will make mine succeed:" which proved to be the fact. [Voltaire, OEuvres (Vie Privee), ii. 74.] For the French are Anti-Austrian; and smell great things in the wind. "That man is mad, your Most Christian Majesty?" "Not quite; or at any rate not mad only!" think Louis and his Belleisles now.
Dimly poring in those old Books, and squeezing one's way into face-to-face view of the extinct Time, we begin to notice what a clangorous rumor was in Mollwitz to the then generation of mankind;—betokening many things; universal European War, as the first thing. Which duly came to pass; as did, at a slower rate, the ulterior thing, not yet so apparent, that indeed a new hour had struck on the Time Horologe, that a New Epoch had risen. Yes, my friends. New Charles XII. or not, here truly has a new Man and King come upon the scene: capable perhaps of doing something? Slumberous Europe, rotting amid its blind pedantries, its lazy hypocrisies, conscious and unconscious: this man is capable of shaking it a little out of its stupid refuges of lies, and ignominious wrappages and bed-clothes, which will be its grave-clothes otherwise; and of intimating to it, afar off, that there is still a Veracity in Things, and a Mendacity in Sham-Things, and that the difference of the two is infinitely more considerable than was supposed.
This Mollwitz is a most deliberate, regulated, ponderously impressive (GRAVITATISCH) Feat of Arms, as the reader sees; done all by Regulation methods, with orthodox exactitude; in a slow, weighty, almost pedantic, but highly irrefragable manner. It is the triumph of Prussian Discipline; of military orthodoxy well put in practice: the honest outcome of good natural stuff in those Brandenburgers, and of the supreme virtues of Drill. Neipperg and his Austrians had much despised Prussian soldiering: "Keep our soup hot," cried they, on running out this day to rank themselves; "hot a little, till we drive these fellows to the Devil!" That was their opinion, about noon this day: but that is an opinion they have renounced for all remaining days and years.—It is a Victory due properly to Friedrich Wilhelm and the Old Dessauer, who are far away from it. Friedrich Wilhelm, though dead, fights here, and the others only do his bidding on this occasion. His Son, as yet, adds nothing of his own; though he will ever henceforth begin largely adding,—right careful withal to lose nothing, for the Friedrich Wilhelm contribution is invaluable, and the basis of everything;—but it is curious to see in what contrast this first Battle of Friedrich's is with his latter and last ones.
Considering the Battle of Mollwitz, and then, in contrast, the intricate Pragmatic Sanction, and what their consequences were and their antecedents, it is curious once more! This, then, is what the Pragmatic Sanction has come to? Twenty years of world-wide diplomacy, cunningly devised spider-threads overnetting all the world, have issued here. Your Congresses of Cambray, of Soissons, your Grumkow-Seckendorf Machiavelisms, all these might as well have lain in their bed. Real Pragmatic Sanction would have been, A well-trained Army and your Treasury full. Your Treasury is empty (nothing in it but those foolish 200,000 English guineas, and the passionate cry for more): and your Army is not trained as this Prussian one; cannot keep its ground against this one. Of all those long-headed Potentates, simple Friedrich Wilhelm, son of Nature, who had the honesty to do what Nature taught him, has come out, gainer. You all laughed at him as a fool: do you begin to see now who was wise, who fool? He has an Army that "advances on you with glittering musketry, steady as on the parade-ground, and pours out fire like one continuous thunder-peal;" so that, strange as it seems, you find there will actually be nothing for you but—taking to your heels, shall we say?—rolling off with despatch, as second-best! These things are of singular omen. Here stands one that will avenge Friedrich Wilhelm,—if Friedrich Wilhelm were not already sufficiently avenged by the mere verdict of facts, which is palpably coming out, as Time peels the wiggeries away from them more and more. Mollwitz and such places are full of veracity; and no head is so thick as to resist conviction in that kind.
Of the King's Flight, or sudden disappearance into Fairyland, during this first Battle, the King himself, who alone could have told us fully, maintained always rigorous silence, and nowhere drops the least hint. So that the small fact has come down to us involved in a great bulk of fabulous cobwebs, mostly of an ill-natured character, set agoing by Voltaire, Valori and others (which fabulous process, in the good-natured form, still continues itself); and, except for Nicolai's good industry (in his ANEKDOTEN-Book), we should have difficulty even in guessing, not to say understanding, as is now partly possible. The few real particulars—and those do verify themselves, and hang perfectly together, when the big globe of fable is burnt off from them—are to the following effect.
"Battle lost," said Schwerin: "but what is the loss of a Battle to that of your Majesty's own Person? For Heaven's sake, go; get across the Oder; be you safe, till this decide itself!" That was reasonable counsel. If defeated, Schwerin can hope to retreat upon Ohlau, upon Breslau, and save the Magazines. This side the Oder, all will be movements, a whirlpool of Hussars; but beyond the Oder, all is quiet, open. To Ohlau, to Glogau, nay home to Brandenburg and the Old Dessauer with his Camp at Gottin, the road is free, by the other side of the Oder.—Schwerin and Prince Leopold urging him, the King did ride away; at what hour, with what suite, or with what adventures (not mostly fabulous) is not known:—but it was towards Lowen, fifteen miles off (where he crossed Neisse River, the other day); and thence towards Oppeln, on the Oder, eighteen miles farther; and the pace was swift. Leopold, on reflection, ordered off a Squadron of Gens-d'Armes to overtake his Majesty, at Lowen or sooner; which they never did. Passing Pampitz, the King threw Fredersdorf a word, who was among the baggage there: "To Oppeln; bring the Purse, the Privy Writings!" Which Fredersdorf, and the Clerks (and another Herr, who became Nicolai's Father-in-law in after years) did; and joined the King at Lowen; but I hope stopped there.
The King's suite was small, names not given; but by the time he got to Lowen, being joined by cavalry fugitives and the like, it had got to be seventy persons: too many for the King. He selected what was his of them; ordered the gates to be shut behind him on all others, and again rode away. The Leopold Squadron of Gens-d'Armes did not arrive till after his departure; and having here lost trace of him, called halt, and billeted for the night. The King speeds silently to Oppeln on his excellent bay horse, the worse-mounted gradually giving in. At Oppeln is a Bridge over the Oder, a free Country beyond: Regiment La Motte lay, and as the King thinks, still lies in Oppeln;—but in that he is mistaken. Regiment La Motte is with the baggage at Pampitz, all this day; and a wandering Hussar Party, some sixty Austrians, have taken possession of Oppeln. The King, and the few who had not yet broken down, arrive at the Gate of Oppeln, late, under cloud of night: "Who goes?" cried the sentry from within. "Prussians! A Prussian Courier!" answer they;—and are fired upon through the gratings; and immediately draw back, and vanish unhurt into Night again. "Had those Hussars only let him in!" said Austria afterwards: but they had not such luck. It was at this point, according to Valori, that the King burst forth into audible ejaculations of a lamentable nature. There is no getting over, then, even to Brandenburg, and in an insolvent condition. Not open insolvency and bankrupt disgrace; no, ruin, and an Austrian jail, is the one outlook. "O MON DIEU, O God, it is too much (C'EN EST TROP)!" with other the like snatches of lamentation; [Valori, i. 104.] which are not inconceivable in a young man, sleepless for the third night, in these circumstances; but which Valori knows nothing of, except by malicious rumor from the valet class,—who have misinformed Valori about several other points.
The King riding diligently, with or without ejaculations, back towards Lowen, comes at an early hour to the Mill of Hilbersdorf, within a mile-and-half of that place. He alights at the Mill; sends one of his attendants, almost the only one now left, to inquire what is in Lowen. The answer, we know, is: "A squadron of Gens-d'Armes there; furthermore, a Prussian Adjutant come to say, Victory at Mollwitz!" Upon which the King mounts again;—issues into daylight, and concludes these mythical adventures. That "in Lowen, in the shop at the corner of the Market-place, Widow Panzern, subsequently Wife Something-else, made his Majesty a cup of coffee, and served a roast fowl along with it," cannot but be welcome news, if true; and that his Majesty got to Mollwitz again before dark that same "day," [Fuchs, p. 11.] is liable to no controversy.
In this way was Friedrich snatched by Morgante into Fairyland, carried by Diana to the top of Pindus (or even by Proserpine to Tartarus, through a bad sixteen hours), till the Battle whirlwind subsided. Friendly imaginative spirits would, in the antique time, have so construed it: but these moderns were malicious-valetish, not friendly; and wrapped the matter in mere stupid worlds of cobweb, which require burning. Friedrich himself was stone-silent on this matter, all his life after; but is understood never quite to have pardoned Schwerin for the ill-luck of giving him such advice. [Nicolai, ii. 180-195 (the one true account); Laveaux, i. 194; Valori, i. 104; &c., &c. (the myth in various stages). Most distractedly mythical of all, with the truth clear before it, is the latest version, just come out, in Was sich die Schlesier vom alten Fritz erzahlen (Brieg, 1860), pp. 113-125.]
Friedrich's adventure is not the only one of that kind at Mollwitz; there is another equally indubitable,—which will remain obscure, half-mythical to the end of the world. The truth is, that Right Wing of the Prussian Army was fallen chaotic, ruined; and no man, not even one who had seen it, can give account of what went on there. The sage Maupertuis, for example, had climbed some tree or place of impregnability ("tree" Voltaire calls it, though that is hardly probable), hoping to see the Battle there. And he did see it, much too clearly at last! In such a tide of charging and chasing, on that Right Wing and round all the Field in the Prussian rear; in such wide bickering and boiling of Horse-currents,—which fling out, round all the Prussian rear quarters, such a spray of Austrian Hussars for one element,—Maupertuis, I have no doubt, wishes much he were at home, doing his sines and tangents. An Austrian Hussar-party gets sight of him, on his tree or other standpoint (Voltaire says elsewhere he was mounted on an ass, the malicious spirit!)—too certain, the Austrian Hussars got sight of him: his purse, gold watch, all he has of movable is given frankly; all will not do. There are frills about the man, fine laces, cloth; a goodish yellow wig on him, for one thing:—their Slavonic dialect, too fatally intelligible by the pantomime accompanying it, forces sage Maupertuis from his tree or standpoint; the big red face flurried into scarlet, I can fancy; or scarlet and ashy-white mixed; and—Let us draw a veil over it! He is next seen shirtless, the once very haughty, blustery, and now much-humiliated man; still conscious of supreme acumen, insight and pure science; and, though an Austrian prisoner and a monster of rags, struggling to believe that he is a genius and the Trismegistus of mankind. What a pickle! The sage Maupertuis, as was natural, keeps passionately asking, of gods and men, for an Officer with some tincture of philosophy, or even who could speak French. Such Officer is at last found; humanely advances him money, a shirt and suit of clothes; but can in nowise dispense with his going to Vienna as prisoner. Thither he went accordingly; still in a mythical condition. Of Voltaire's laughing, there is no end; and he changes the myth from time to time, on new rumors coming; and there is no truth to be had from him. [Voltaire, OEuvres (Vie Prive), ii. 33-34; and see his LETTERS for some were after the event.]
This much is certain: at Vienna, Maupertuis, prisoner on parole, glided about for some time in deep eclipse, till the Newspapers began babbling of him. He confessed then that he was Maupertuis, Flattener of the Earth; but for the rest, "told rather a blind story about himself," says Robinson; spoke as if he had been of the King's suite, "riding with the King," when that Hussar accident befell;—rather a blind story, true story being too sad. The Vienna Sovereignties, in the turn things had taken, were extremely kind; Grand-Duke Franz handsomely pulled out his own watch, hearing what road the Maupertuis one had gone; dismissed the Maupertuis, with that and other gifts, home:—to Brittany (not to Prussia), till times calmed for engrafting the Sciences. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 902; Robinson's Despatch (Vienna, 22d April, 1741, n.s.); Voltaire, ubi supra.]
On Wednesday, Friedrich writes this Note to his Sister; the first utterance we have from him since those wild roamings about Oppeln and Hilbersdorf Mill:—
KING TO WILHELMINA (at Baireuth; two days after Mollwitz).
"OHLAU, 12th April, 1741.
"MY DEAREST SISTER,—I have the satisfaction to inform you that we have yesterday [day before yesterday; but some of us have only had one sleep!] totally beaten the Austrians. They have lost more than 5,000 men, killed, wounded and prisoners. We have lost Prince Friedrich, Brother of Margraf Karl; General Schulenburg, Wartensleben of the Carabineers, and many other Officers. Our troops did miracles; and the result shows as much. It was one of the rudest Battles fought within memory of man.
"I am sure you will take part in this happiness; and that you will not doubt of the tenderness with which I am, my dearest Sister,—Yours wholly, FEDERIC." [OEuvres, xxvii. i. 101.]
And on the same day there comes, from Breslau, Jordan's Answer to the late anxious little Note from Pogarell; anxieties now gone, and smoky misery changed into splendor of flame:
JORDAN TO THE KING (finds him at Ohlau).
"BRESLAU, 11th April, 1741. "SIRE,—Yesterday I was in terrible alarms. The sound of the cannon heard, the smoke of powder visible from the steeple-tops here; all led us to suspect that there was a Battle going on. Glorious confirmation of it this morning! Nothing but rejoicing among all the Protestant inhabitants; who had begun to be in apprehension, from the rumors which the other party took pleasure in spreading. Persons who were in the Battle cannot enough celebrate the coolness and bravery of your Majesty. For myself, I am at the overflowing point. I have run about all day, announcing this glorious news to the Berliners who are here. In my life I have never felt a more perfect satisfaction.
"M. de Camas is here, very ill for the last two days; attack of fever—the Doctor hopes to bring him through,"—which proved beyond the Doctor: the good Camas died here three days hence (age sixty-three); an excellent German-Frenchman, of much sense, dignity and honesty; familiar to Friedrich from infancy onwards, and no doubt regretted by him as deserved. The Widow Camas, a fine old Lady, German by birth, will again come in view. Jordan continues:—
"One finds, at the corner of every street, an orator of the Plebs celebrating the warlike feats of your Majesty's troops. I have often, in my idleness, assisted at these discourses: not artistic eloquence, it must be owned, but spurting rude from the heart...."
Jordan adds in his next Note: "This morning (14th) I quitted M. de Camas; who, it is thought, cannot last the day. I have hardly left him during his illness:" [OEuvres de Frederic, xvii. 99.]—and so let that scene close.
Neipperg, meanwhile, had fallen back on Neisse; taken up a strong encampment in that neighborhood; he lies thereabouts all summer; stretched out, as it were, in a kind of vigilant dog-sleep on the threshold, keeping watch over Neisse, and tries fighting no more at this time, or indeed ever after, to speak of. And always, I think, with disadvantage, when he does try a little. He had been Grand-Duke Franz's Tutor in War-matters; had got into trouble at Belgrade once before, and was almost hanged by the Turks. George II. had occasionally the benefit of him, in coming years. Be not too severe on the poor man, as the Vienna public was; he had some faculty, though not enough. "Governor of Luxemburg," before long: there, for most part, let him peacefully drill, and spend the remainder of his poor life. Friedrich says, neither Neipperg nor himself, at this time, knew the least of War; and that it would be hard to settle which of them made the more blunders in their Silesian tussle.
Friedrich, in about three weeks hence, was fully ready for opening trenches upon Brieg; did open trenches, accordingly, by moonlight, in a grand nocturnal manner (as readers shall see anon); and, by vigorous cannonading,—Marechal de Belleisle having come, by this time, to enjoy the fine spectacle,—soon got possession of Brieg, and held it thenceforth. Neisse now alone remained, with Neipperg vigilantly stretched upon the threshold of it. But the Marechal de Belleisle, we say, had come; that was the weighty circumstance. And before Neisse can be thought of, there is a whole Europe, bickering aloft into conflict; embattling itself from end to end, in sequel of Mollwitz Battle; and such a preliminary sea of negotiating, diplomatic finessing, pulse-feeling, projecting and palavering, with Friedrich for centre all summer, as—as I wish readers could imagine without my speaking of it farther! But they cannot.
[MAP ON PAGE 75 GOES HEREABOUTS—missing]
The Battle of Mollwitz went off like a signal-shot among the Nations; intimating that they were, one and all, to go battling. Which they did, with a witness; making a terrible thing of it, over all the world, for above seven years to come. Foolish Nations; doomed to settle their jarring accounts in that terrible manner! Nay, the fewest of them had any accounts, except imaginary ones, to settle there at all; and they went into the adventure GRATIS, spurred on by spectralities of the sick brain, by phantasms of hope, phantasms of terror; and had, strictly speaking, no actual business in it whatever.
Not that Mollwitz kindled Europe; Europe was already kindled for some two years past;—especially since the late Kaiser died, and his Pragmatic Sanction was superadded to the other troubles afoot. But ever since that Image of JENKINS'S EAR had at last blazed up in the slow English brain, like a fiery constellation or Sign in the Heavens, symbolic of such injustices and unendurabilities, and had lighted the Spanish-English War, Europe was slowly but pretty surely taking fire. France "could not see Spain humbled," she said: England (in its own dim feeling, and also in the fact of things) could not do at all without considerably humbling Spain. France, endlessly interested in that Spanish-English matter, was already sending out fleets, firing shots,—almost, or altogether, putting forth her hand in it. "In which case, will not, must not, Austria help us?" thought England,—and was asking, daily, at Vienna (with intense earnestness, but without the least result), through Excellency Robinson there, when the late Kaiser died. Died, poor gentleman;—and left his big Austrian Heritages lying, as it were, in the open market-place; elaborately tied by diplomatic packthread and Pragmatic Sanction; but not otherwise protected against the assembled cupidities of mankind! Independently of Mollwitz, or of Silesia altogether, it was next to impossible that Europe could long avoid blazing out; especially unless the Spanish-English quarrel got quenched, of which there was no likelihood.
But if not as cause, then as signal, or as signal and cause together (which it properly was), the Battle of Mollwitz gave the finishing stroke, and set all in motion. This was "the little stone broken loose from the mountain;" this, rather than the late Kaiser's Death, which Friedrich defined in that manner. Or at least, this was the first LEAP it took; hitting other stones big and little, which again hit others with their leaping and rolling,—till the whole mountain-side is in motion under law of gravity, and you behold one wide stone-torrent thundering towards the valleys; shivering woods, farms, habitations clean away with it: fatal to any Image of composite Clay and Brass which it may meet!
There is, accordingly, from this point, a change in Friedrich's Silesian Adventure; which becomes infinitely more complicated for him,—and for those that write of him, no less! Friedrich's business henceforth is not to be done by direct fighting, but rather by waiting to see how, and on what side, others will fight: nor can we describe or understand Friedrich's business, except as in connection with the immense, obsolete, and indeed delirious Phenomenon called Austrian-Succession War, upon which it is difficult to say any human word. If History, driven upon Dismal Swamp with its horrors and perils, can get across unsunk, she will be lucky!
For, directly on the back of Mollwitz, there ensued, first, an explosion of Diplomatic activity such as was never seen before; Excellencies from the four winds taking wing towards Friedrich; and talking and insinuating, and fencing and fugling, after their sort, in that Silesian Camp of his, the centre being there. A universal rookery of Diplomatists;—whose loud cackle and cawing is now as if gone mad to us; their work wholly fallen putrescent and avoidable, dead to all creatures. And secondly, in the train of that, there ensued a universal European War, the French and the English being chief parties in it; which abounds in battles and feats of arms, spirited but delirious, and cannot be got stilled for seven or eight years to come; and in which Friedrich and his War swim only as an intermittent Episode henceforth. What to do with such a War; how extricate the Episode, and leave the War lying? The War was at first a good deal mad; and is now, to men's imagination, fallen wholly so; who indeed have managed mostly to forget it; only the Episode (reduced thereby to an UNintelligible state) retaining still some claims on them.
It is singular into what oblivion the huge Phenomenon called Austrian-Succession War has fallen; which, within a hundred years ago or little more, filled all mortal hearts! The English were principals on one side; did themselves fight in it, with their customary fire, and their customary guidance ("courageous Wooden Pole with Cocked Hat," as our friend called it); and paid all the expenses, which were extremely considerable, and are felt in men's pockets to this day: but the English have more completely forgotten it than any other People. "Battle of Dettingen, Battle of Fontenay,—what, in the Devil's name, were we ever doing there?" the impatient Englishman asks; and can give no answer, except the general one: "Fit of insanity; DELIRIUM TREMENS, perhaps FURENS;—don't think of it!" Of Philippi and Arbela educated Englishmen can render account; and I am told young gentlemen entering the Army are pointedly required to say who commanded at Aigos-Potamos and wrecked the Peloponnesian War: but of Dettingen and Fontenoy, where is the living Englishman that has the least notion, or seeks for any? The Austrian-Succession War did veritably rage for eight years, at a terrific rate, deforming the face of Earth and Heaven; the English paying the piper always, and founding their National Debt thereby:—but not even that could prove mnemonic to them; and they have dropped the Austrian-Succession War, with one accord, into the general dustbin, and are content it should lie there. They have not, in their language, the least approach to an intelligible account of it: How it went on, whitherward, whence; why it was there at all,—are points dark to the English, and on which they do not wish to be informed. They have quitted the matter, as an unintelligible huge English-and-Foreign Delirium (which in good part it was); Delirium unintelligible to them; tedious, not to say in parts, as those of the Austrian Subsidies, hideous and disgusting to them; happily now fallen extinct; and capable of being skipped, in one's inquiries into the wonders of this England and this World. Which, in fact, is a practical conclusion not so unwise as it looks.
"Wars are not memorable," says Sauerteig, "however big they may have been, whatever rages and miseries they may have occasioned, or however many hundreds of thousands they may have been the death of,—except when they have something of World-History in them withal. If they are found to have been the travail-throes of great or considerable changes, which continue permanent in the world, men of some curiosity cannot but inquire into them, keep memory of them. But if they were travail-throes that had no birth, who of mortals would remember them? Unless perhaps the feats of prowess, virtue, valor and endurance, they might accidentally give rise to, were very great indeed. Much greater than the most were, which came out in that Austrian-Succession case! Wars otherwise are mere futile transitory dust-whirlwinds stilled in blood; extensive fits of human insanity, such as we know are too apt to break out;—such as it rather beseems a faithful Son of the House of Adam NOT to speak about again; as in houses where the grandfather was hanged, the topic of ropes is fitly avoided.
"Never again will that War, with its deliriums, mad outlays of blood, treasure, and of hope and terror, and far-spread human destruction, rise into visual life in any imagination of living man. In vain shall Dryasdust strive: things mad, chaotic and without ascertainable purpose or result, cannot be fixed into human memories. Fix them there by never so many Documentary Histories, elaborate long-eared Pedantries, and cunning threads, the poor human memory has an alchemy against such ill usage;—it forgets them again; grows to know them as a mere torpor, a stupidity and horror, and instinctively flies from Dryasdust and them."
Alive to any considerable degree, in the poor human imagination, this Editor does not expect or even wish the Austrian-Succession War to be. Enough for him if it could be understood sufficiently to render his poor History of Friedrich intelligible. For it enwraps Friedrich like a world-vortex henceforth; modifies every step of his existence henceforth; and apart from it, there is no understanding of his business or him. "So much as sticks to Friedrich:" that was our original bargain! Assist loyally, O reader, and we will try to make the indispensable a minimum for you.
The first point to be noted is, Where did it originate? To which the answer mainly is, With that lean Gentleman whom we saw with Papers in the OEil-de-Boeuf on New-year's day last. With Monseigneur the Marechal de Belleisle principally; with the ambitious cupidities and baseless vanities of the French Court and Nation, as represented by Belleisle. George II.'s Spanish War, if you will examine, had a real necessity in it. Jenkins's Ear was the ridiculous outside figure this matter had: Jenkins's Ear was one final item of it; but the poor English People, in their wrath and bellowings about that small item, were intrinsically meaning: "Settle the account; let us have that account cleared up and liquidated; it has lain too long!" And seldom were a People more in the right, as readers shall yet see.
The English-Spanish War had a basis to stand on in this Universe. The like had the Prussian-Austrian one; so all men now admit. If Friedrich had not business there, what man ever had in an enterprise he ventured on? Friedrich, after such trial and proof as has seldom been, got his claims on Schlesien allowed by the Destinies. His claims on Schlesien;—and on infinitely higher things; which were found to be his and his Nation's, though he had not been consciously thinking of them in making that adventure. For, as my poor Friend insists, there ARE Laws valid in Earth and in Heaven; and the great soul of the world is just. Friedrich had business in this War; and Maria Theresa VERSUS Friedrich had likewise cause to appear in court, and do her utmost pleading against him.
But if we ask, What Belleisle or France and Louis XV. had to do there? the answer is rigorously, Nothing. Their own windy vanities, ambitions, sanctioned not by fact and the Almighty Powers, but by phantasm and the babble of Versailles; transcendent self-conceit, intrinsically insane; pretensions over their fellow-creatures which were without basis anywhere in Nature, except in the French brain alone: it was this that brought Belleisle and France into a German War. And Belleisle and France having gone into an Anti-Pragmatic War, the unlucky George and his England were dragged into a Pragmatic one,—quitting their own business, on the Spanish Main, and hurrying to Germany,—in terror as at Doomsday, and zeal to save the Keystone of Nature these. That is the notable point in regard to this War: That France is to be called the author of it, who, alone of all the parties, had no business there whatever. And the wages due to France for such a piece of industry,—the reader will yet see what wages France and the other parties got, at the tail of the affair. For that too is apparent in our day.
We have often said, the Spanish-English War was itself likely to have kindled Europe; and again Friedrich's Silesian War was itself likely,—France being nearly sure to interfere. But if both these Wars were necessary ones, and if France interfered in either of them on the wrong side, the blame will be to France, not to the necessary Wars. France could, in no way, have interfered in a more barefacedly unjust and gratuitous manner than she now did; nor, on any terms, have so palpably made herself the author of the conflagration of deliriums that ensued for above Seven years henceforth. Nay for above Twenty years,—the settlement of this Silesian Pragmatic-Antipragmatic matter (and of Jenkins's Ear, incidentally, ALONG with this!) not having fairly completed itself till 1763.
It is very wrong to keep Enchanted Wiggeries sitting in this world, as if they were things still alive! By a species of "conservatism," which gets praised in our Time, but which is only a slothful cowardice, base indifference to truth, and hatred to trouble in comparison with lies that sit quiet, men now extensively practise this method of procedure;—little dreaming how bad and fatal it at all times is. When the brains are out, things really ought to die;—no matter what lovely things they were, and still affect to be, the brains being out, they actually ought in all cases to die, and with their best speed get buried. Men had noses, at one time; and smelt the horror of a deceased reality fallen putrid, of a once dear verity become mendacious, phantasmal; but they have, to an immense degree, lost that organ since, and are now living comfortably cheek-by-jowl with lies. Lies of that sad "conservative" kind,—and indeed of all kinds whatsoever: for that kind is a general mother; and BREEDS, with a fecundity that is appalling, did you heed it much!—
It was pity that the "Holy Romish Reich, Teutsch by Nation," had not got itself buried some ages before. Once it had brains and life, but now they were out. Under the sway of Barbarossa, under our old anti-chaotic friend Henry the Fowler, how different had it been! No field for a Belleisle to come and sow tares in; no rotten thatch for a French Sun-god to go sailing about in the middle of, and set fire to! Henry, when the Hungarian Pan-Slavonic Savagery came upon him, had got ready in the interim; and a mangy dog was the "tribute" he gave them; followed by the due extent of broken crowns, since they would not be content with that. That was the due of Belleisle too,—had there been a Henry to meet him with it, on his crossing the marches, in Trier Country, in Spring, 1741: "There, you anarchic Upholstery-Belus, fancying yourself God of the Sun; there is what Teutschland owes you. Go home with that; and mind your own business, which I am told is plentiful, if you had eye for it!"
But the sad truth is, for above Four Centuries now,—and especially for Three, since little Kaiser Karl IV. "gave away all the moneys of it," in his pressing occasions, this Holy Romish Reich, Teutsch by Nation, has been more and ever more becoming an imaginary quantity; the Kaisership of it not capable of being worn by anybody, except a Hapsburger who had resources otherwise his own. The fact is palpable. And Austria, and Anti-Reformation Entity, "conservative" in that bad sense, of slothfully abhorring trouble in comparison with lies, had not found the poison more mal-odorous in this particular than in many others. And had cherished its "Holy Romish Reich" grown UNholy, phantasmal, like so much else in Austrian things; and had held firm grip of it, these Three Hundred years; and found it a furthersome and suitable thing, though sensible it was more and more becoming an Enchanted Wiggery pure and simple. Nor have the consequences failed; they never do. Belleisle, Louis XIV., Henri II., Francois I.: it is long since the French have known this state of matters; and been in the habit of breaking in upon it, fomenting internal discontents, getting up unjust Wars,—with or without advantage to France, but with endless disadvantage to Germany. Schmalkaldic War; Thirty-Years War; Louis XIV.'s Wars, which brought Alsace and the other fine cuttings; late Polish-Election War, and its Lorraine; Austrian-Succession War: many are the wars kindled on poor Teutschland by neighbor France; and large is the sum of woes to Europe and to it, chargeable to that score. Which appears even yet not to be completed?—Perhaps not, even yet. For it is the penalty of being loyal to Enchanted Wiggeries; of living cheek-by-jowl with lies of a peaceable quality, and stuffing your nostrils, and searing your soul, against the accursed odor they all have!—For I can assure you the curse of Heaven does dwell in one and all of them; and the son of Adam cannot too soon get quit of their bad partnership, cost him what it may.
Belleisle's Journey as Sun-god began in March,—"end of March, 1741," no date of a day to be had for that memorable thing:—and he went gyrating about, through the German Courts, for almost a year afterwards; his course rather erratic, but always in a splendor as of Belus, with those hundred and thirty French Lords and Valets, and the glory of Most Christian King irradiating him. Very diligent for the first six months, till September or October next, which we may call his SEED-TIME; and by no means resting after nine or twelve months, while the harrowing and hoeing went on. In January, 1742, he had the great satisfaction to see a Bavarian Kaiser got, instead of an Austrian; and everywhere the fruit of his diligent husbandry begin to BEARD fairly above ground, into a crop of facts (like armed men from dragon's teeth), and "the pleasure of the"—WHOM was it the pleasure of?—"prosper in his hands." Belleisle was a pretty man; but I doubt it was not "the Lord" he was doing the pleasure of, on this occasion, but a very Different Personage, disguised to resemble him in poor Belleisle's eyes!—
Austria was not dangerous to France in late times, and now least of all; how far from it,—humbled by the loss of Lorraine; and now as it were bankrupt, itself in danger from all the world. And France, so far as express Treaties could bind a Nation, was bound to maintain Austria in its present possessions. The bitter loss of Lorraine had been sweetened to the late Kaiser by that solitary drop of consolation;—as his Failure of a Life had been, poor man: "Failure the most of me has been; but I have got Pragmatic Sanction, thanks to Heaven, and even France has signed it!" Loss of Lorraine, loss of Elsass, loss of the Three Bishoprics; since Karl V.'s times, not to speak of earlier, there has been mere loss on loss:—and now is the time to consummate it, think Belleisle and France, in spite of Treaties.
Towards humbling or extinguishing Austria, Belleisle has two preliminary things to do: FIRST, Break the Pragmatic Sanction, and get everybody to break it; SECOND, Guide the KAISERWAHL (Election of a Kaiser), so that it issue, not in Grand-Duke Franz, Maria Theresa's Husband, as all expect it will, but in another party friendly to France:—say in Karl Albert of Bavaria, whose Family have long been good clients of ours, dependent on us for a living in the Political World. Belleisle, there is little doubt, had from the first cast his eye on this unlucky Karl Albert for Kaiser; but is uncertain as to carrying him. Belleisle will take another if he must; Kur-Sachsen, for example;—any other, and all others, only not the Grand-Duke: that is a point already fixed with Belleisle, though he keeps it well in the background, and is careful not to hint it till the time come.
In regard to Pragmatic Sanction, Belleisle and France found no difficulty,—or the difficulty only (which we hope must have been considerable) of eating their own Covenant in behalf of Pragmatic Sanction; and declaring, which they did without visible blush, That it was a Covenant including, if not expressly, then tacitly, as all human covenants do, this clause, "SALVO JURE TERTII (Saving the rights of Third Parties),"—that is, of Electors of Bavaria, and others who may object, against it! O soul of honor, O first Nation of the Universe, was there ever such a subterfuge? Here is a field of flowering corn, the biggest in the world, begirt with elaborate ring-fence, many miles of firm oak-paling pitched and buttressed;—the poor gentleman now dead gave you his Lorraine, and almost his life, for swearing to keep up said paling. And you do keep it up,—all except six yards; through which the biggest team on the highway can drive freely, and the paltriest cadger's ass can step in for a bellyful!
It appears, the first Nation of the Universe had, at an early period of their consultations, hit upon this of SALVO JURE TERTII, as the method of eating their Covenant, before an enlightened public. [20th January, 1741, in their Note of Ceremony, recognizing Maria Theresa as Queen of Hungary, Note which had been due so very long (ADELUNG, ii. 206), there is ominous silence on Pragmatic Sanction; "beginning of March," there is virtual avowal of SALVO JURE (ib. 279);—open avowal on Belleisle's advent (ib. 305).] And they persisted in it, there being no other for them. An enlightened public grinned sardonically, and was not taken in; but, as so many others were eating their Covenants, under equally poor subterfuges, the enlightened public could not grin long on any individual,—could only gape mutely, with astonishment, on all. A glorious example of veracity and human nobleness, set by the gods of this lower world to their gazing populations, who could read in the Gazettes! What is truth, falsity, human Kingship, human Swindlership? Are the Ten Commandments only a figure of speech, then? And it was some beggarly Attorney-Devil that built this sublunary world and us? Questions might rise; had long been rising;—but now there was about enough, and the response to them was falling due; and Belleisle himself, what is very notable, had been appointed to get ready the response. Belleisle (little as Belleisle dreamt of it, in these high Enterprises) was ushering in, by way of response, a RAGNAROK, or Twilight of the Gods, which, as "French Revolution, or Apotheosis of SANSCULOTTISM," is now well known;—and that is something to consider of!
The operation once accomplished on its own Pragmatic Covenant, France found no difficulty with the others. Everybody was disposed to eat his Covenant, who could see advantage in so doing, after that admirable example. The difficulty of France and Belleisle rather was, to keep the hungry parties back: "Don't eat your Covenant TILL the proper time; patience, we say!" A most sad Miscellany of Royalties, coming all to the point, "Will you eat your Covenant, Will you keep it?"—and eating, nearly all; in fact, wholly all that needed to eat.
On the first Invasion of Silesia, Maria Theresa had indignantly complained in every Court; and pointing to Pragmatic Sanction, had demanded that such Law of Nature be complied with, according to covenant. What Maria Theresa got by this circuit of the Courts, everybody still knows. Except England, which was willing, and Holland, which was unwilling, all Courts had answered, more or less uneasily: "Law of Nature,—humph: yes!"—and, far from doing anything, not one of them would with certainty promise to do anything. From England alone and her little King (to whom Pragmatic Sanction is the Palladium of Human Freedoms and the Keystone of Nature) could she get the least help. The rest hung back; would not open heart or pocket; waited till they saw. They do now see; now that Belleisle has done his feat of Covenant-eating!—
Eleven great Powers, some count Thirteen, some Twelve, [Scholl, ii. 286; Adelung, LIST, ii. 127.]—but no two agree, and hardly one agrees with himself;—enough, the Powers of Europe, from Naples and Madrid to Russia and Sweden, have all signed it, let us say a Dozen or a Baker's-Dozen of them. And except our little English Paladin alone, whose interest and indeed salvation seemed to him to lie that way, and who needed no Pragmatic Covenant to guide him, nobody whatever distinguished himself by keeping it. Between December, 1740, when Maria Theresa set up her cries in all Courts, on to April, 1741, England, painfully dragging Holland with her, had alone of the Baker's-Dozen spoken word of disapproval; much less done act of hindrance. Two especially (France and Bavaria, not to mention Spain) had done the reverse, and disowned, and declared against, Pragmatic Sanction. And after the Battle of Mollwitz, when the "little stone" took its first leap, and set all thundering, then came, like the inrush of a fashion, throughout that high Miscellany or Baker's-Dozen, the general eating of Covenants (which was again quickened in August, for a reason we shall see): and before November of that Year, there was no Covenant left to eat. Of the Baker's-Dozen nobody remained but little George the Paladin, dragging Holland painfully along with him;—and Pragmatic Sanction had gone to water, like ice in a June day, and its beautiful crystalline qualities and prismatic colors were forever vanished from the world. Will the reader note a point or two, a personage or two, in this sordid process,—not for the process's sake, which is very sordid and smells badly, but for his own sake, to elucidate his own course a little in the intricacies now coming or come upon him and me?
1. ELECTOR OF BAVARIA.—Karl Albert of Baiern is by some counted as a Signer of the Pragmatic Sanction, and by others not; which occasions that discrepancy of sum-total in the Books. And he did once, in a sense, sign it, he and his Brother of Koln; but, before the late Kaiser's death, he had openly drawn back from it again; and counted himself a Non-signer. Signer or not, he, for his part, lost no moment (but rather the contrary) in openly protesting against it, and signifying that he never would acknowledge it. Of this the reader saw something, at the time of her Hungarian Majesty's Accession. Date and circumstances of it, which deserve remembering, are more precisely these: October 20th, 1740, Karl Albert's Ambassador, Perusa by name, wrote to Karl from Vienna, announcing that the Kaiser was just dead. From Munchen, on the 21st, Karl Albert, anticipating such an event, but not yet knowing it, orders Perusa, in CASE of the Kaiser's decease, which was considered probable at Munchen, to demand instant audience of the proper party (Kanzler Sinzendorf), and there openly lodge his Protest. Which Perusa did, punctually in all points,—no moment LOST, but rather the contrary, as we said! Let poor Karl Albert have what benefit there is in that fact. He was, of all the Anti-Pragmatic Covenant-Breakers (if he ever fairly were such), the only one that proceeded honorably, openly and at once, in the matter; and he was, of them all, by far the most unfortunate.
This is the poor gentleman whom Belleisle had settled on for being Kaiser. And Kaiser he became; to his frightful sorrow, as it proved: his crown like a crown of burning iron, or little better! There is little of him in the Books, nor does one desire much: a tall aquiline type of man; much the gentleman in aspect; and in reality, of decorous serious deportment, and the wish to be high and dignified. He had a kind of right, too, in the Anti-Pragmatic sense; and was come of Imperial kindred,—Kaiser Ludwig the Bavarian, and Kaiser Rupert of the Pfalz, called Rupert KLEMM, or Rupert Smith's-vice, if any reader now remember him, were both of his ancestors. He might fairly pretend to Kaisership and to Austrian ownership,—had he otherwise been equal to such enterprises. But, in all ambitions and attempts, howsoever grounded otherwise, there is this strict question on the threshold: "Are you of weight for the adventure; are not you far too light for it?" Ambitious persons often slur this question; and get squelched to pieces, by bringing the Twelve Labors of Hercules on Unherculean backs! Not every one is so lucky as our Friedrich in that particular,—whose back, though with difficulty, held out. Which poor Karl Albert's never had much likelihood to do. Few mortals in any age have offered such an example of the tragedies which Ambition has in store for her votaries; and what a matter Hope FULFILLED may be to the unreflecting Son of Adam.
We said, he had a kind of right to Austria, withal. He descended by the female line from Kaiser Ferdinand I. (as did Kur-Sachsen, though by a younger Daughter than Karl Albert's Ancestress); and he appealed to Kaiser Ferdinand's Settlement of the Succession, as a higher than any subsequent Pragmatic could be. Upon which there hangs an incident; still famous to German readers. Karl Albert, getting into Public Argument in this way, naturally instructed Perusa to demand sight of Kaiser Ferdinand's Last Will, the tenor of which was known by authentic Copy in Munchen, if not elsewhere among the kindred. After some delay, Perusa (4th November, 1740), summoning the other excellencies to witness, got sight of the Will: to his horror, there stood, in the cardinal passage, instead of "MUNNLICHE" (male descendants), "EHELICHE" (lawfully begotten descendants),—fatal to Karl Albert's claim! Nor could he PROVE that the Parchment had been scraped or altered, though he kept trying and examining for some days. He withdrew thereupon, by order, straightway from Vienna; testifying in dumb-show what he thought. "It is your Copy that is false," cried the Vienna people: "it has been foisted on you, with this wrong word in it; done by somebody (your friend, the Excellency Herr von Hartmann, shall we guess?), wishing to curry favor with ambitious foolish persons!" Such was the Austrian story. Perhaps in Munchen itself their Copyist was not known;—for aught I learn, the Copy was made long since, and the Copyist dead. Hartmann, named as Copyist by the Vienna people, made emphatic public answer: "Never did I copy it, or see it!" And there rose great argument, which is not yet quite ended, as to the question, "Original falsified, or Copy falsified?"—and the modern vote, I believe, rather clearly is, That the Austrian Officials had done it—in a case of necessity. [Adelung, ii. 150-154 (14th-20th November, 1740), gives the public facts, without commentary. Hormayr (Anemonen aus dem Tagebuch eines alten Pilgersmannes, Jena, 1845, i. 162-169,—our old Hormayr of the AUSTRIAN PLUTARCH, but now Anonymous, and in Opposition humor) considers the case nearly proved against Austria, and that Bartenstein and one Bessel, a pillar of the Church, were concerned in it.] Possible? "But you will lose your soul!" said the Parson once to a poor old Gentlewoman, English by Nation, who refused, in dying, to contradict some domestic fiction, to give up some domestic secret: "But you will lose your soul, Madam!"—"Tush, what signifies my poor silly soul compared with the honor of the family?"—
2. KING FRIEDRICH;—King Friedrich may be taken as the Anti-Pragmatic next in order of time. He too lost not a moment, and proceeded openly; no quirking to be charged upon him. His account of himself in this matter always was: "By the Treaty of Wusterhausen, 1726, unquestionably Prussia undertook to guarantee Pragmatic Sanction; the late Kaiser undertaking in return, by the same Treaty, to secure Berg and Julich to Prussia, and to have some progress made in it within six months from signing. And unquestionably also, the late Kaiser did thereupon, or even had already done, precisely the reverse; namely, secured, so far as in him was possible, Berg and Julich to Kur-Pfalz. Such Treaty, having in this way done suicide, is dead and become zero: and I am free, in respect of Pragmatic Sanction, to do whatever shall seem good to me. My wish was, and would still be, To maintain Pragmatic Sanction, and even to support it by 100,000 men, and secure the Election of the Grand-Duke to the Kaisership,—were my claims on Silesia once liquidated. But these have no concern with Pragmatic Sanction, for or against: these are good against whoever may fall Heir to the House of Austria, or to Silesia: and my intention is, that the strong hand, so long clenched upon my rights, shall open itself by this favorable opportunity, and give them out." That is Friedrich's case. And in truth the jury everywhere has to find,—so soon as instructed, which is a long process in some sections of it (in England, for example),—That Pragmatic Sanction has not, except helpless lamentations, "Alas that YOU should be here to insist upon your rights, and to open fists long closed!"—the least, word to say to Friedrich.
3. TERMAGANT OF SPAIN.—Perhaps the most distracted of the Anti-Pragmatic subterfuges was that used by Spain, when the She-dragon or Termagant saw good to eat her Covenant; which was at a very early stage. The Termagant's poor Husband is a Bourbon, not a Hapsburg at all: "But has not he fallen heir to the Spanish Hapsburgs; become all one as they, an ALTER-EGO of the Spanish Hapsburgs?" asks she. "And the Austrian Hapsburgs being out, do not the Spanish Hapsburgs come in? He, I say, this BOURBON-Hapsburg, he is the real Hapsburg, now that the Austrian Branch is gone; President he of the Golden Fleece [which a certain "Archduchess," Maria Theresa, had been meddling with]; Proprietor, he, of Austrian Italy, and of all or most things Austrian!"—and produces Documentary Covenants of Philip II. with his Austrian Cousins; "to which Philip," said the Termagant, "we Bourbons surely, if you consider it, are Heir and Alter-Ego!" Is not, this a curious case of testamentary right; human greed obliterating personal identity itself?
Belleisle had a great deal of difficulty, keeping the Termagant back till things were ripe. Her hope practically was, Baby Carlos being prosperous King of Naples this long while, to get the Milanese for another Baby she has,—Baby Philip, whom she once thought of making Pope;—and she is eager beyond measure to have a stroke at the Milanese. "Wait!" hoarsely whispers Belleisle to her; and she can scarcely wait. Maria Theresa's Note of Announcement "New Queen of Hungary, may it please you!" the French, as we saw, were very long in answering. The Termagant did not answer it at all; complained on the contrary, "What is this, Madam! Golden Fleece, you?"—and, early in March, informed mankind that she was Spanish Hapsburg, the genuine article; and sent off Excellency Montijos, a little man of great expense, to assist at the Election of a proper Kaiser, and be useful to Belleisle in the great things now ahead. [Spain's Golden-Fleece pretensions, 17th January, 1741 (Adelung, ii. 233, 234); "Publishes at Paris," in March (ib. 293); and on the 23d March accredits Montijos (ib. 293): Italian War, held back by Belleisle and the English Fleets, cannot get begun till October following.]
4. KING OF POLAND.—The most ticklish card in Belleisle's game, and probably the greatest fool of these Anti-Pragmatic Dozen, was Kur-Sachsen, King of Poland. He, like Karl Albert Kur-Baiern, derives from Kaiser Ferdinand, though by a YOUNGER Daughter, and has a like claim on the Austrian Succession; claim nullified, however, by that small circumstance itself, but which he would fain mend by one makeshift or another; and thinks always it must surely be good for something. This is August III., this King of Poland, as readers know; son of August the Strong: Papa made him change to the Catholic religion so called,—for the sake of getting Poland, which proves a very poor possession to him. Who knows what damage the poor creature may have got by that sad operation;—which all Saxony sighed to the heart on hearing of; for it was always hoped he had some real religion, and would deliver them from that Babylonish Captivity again! He married Kaiser Joseph I.'s Daughter,—Maria Theresa's Cousin, and by an Elder Brother;—this, too, ought surely to be something in the Anti-Pragmatic line? It is true, Kur-Baiern has to Wife another Daughter of Kaiser Joseph's; but she is the younger: "I am senior THERE, at least!" thinks the foolish man.
Too true, he had finally, in past years, to sign Pragmatic Sanction; no help for it, no hope without it, in that Polish-Election time. He will have to eat his Covenant, therefore, as the first step in Anti-Pragmatism; and he is extremely in doubt as to the How, sometimes as to the Whether. And shifts and whirls, accordingly, at a great rate, in these months and years; now on Maria Theresa's side, deluded by shadows from Vienna, and getting into Russian Partition-Treaties; anon tickled by Belleisle into the reverse posture; then again reversing. An idle, easy-tempered, yet greedy creature, who, what with religious apostasy in early manhood, what with flaccid ambitions since, and idle gapings after shadows, has lost helm in this world; and will make a very bad voyage for self and country.
His Palinurus and chief Counsellor, at present and afterwards, is a Count von Bruhl, once page to August the Strong; now risen to such height: Bruhl of the three hundred and sixty-five suits of clothes; whom it has grown wearisome even to laugh at. A cunning little wretch, they say, and of deft tongue; but surely among the unwisest of all the Sons of Adam in that day, and such a Palinurus as seldom steered before. Kur-Sachsen, being Reichs-Vicar in the Northern Parts,—(Kur-Baiern and Kur-Pfalz, as friends and good Wittelsbacher Cousins surely ought, in a crisis like this, have agreed to be JOINT-Vicars in the Southern Parts, and no longer quarrel upon it),—Kur-Sachsen has a good deal to do in the Election preludings, formalities and prearrangements; and is capable, as Kur-Pfalz and Cousin always are, of serving as chisel to Belleisle's mallet, in such points, which will plentifully turn up.
5. KING OF SARDINIA.—Reichs-Vicar in the Italian Parts is Charles Amadeus King of Sardinia (tough old Victor's Son, whom we have heard of): an office mostly honorary; suitable to the important individual who keeps the Door of the Alps. Charles Amadeus had signed the Pragmatic Sanction; but eats his Covenant, like the others, on example of France;—having, as he now bethinks himself, claims on the Milanese. There are two claimants on the Milanese, then; the Spanish Termagant, and he? Yes; and they will have their difficulties, their extensive tusslings in Italian War and otherwise, to make an adjustment of it; and will give Belleisle (at least the Doorkeeper will) an immensity of trouble, in years coming.
In this way do the Pragmatic people eat their own Covenant, one after the other, and are not ashamed;—till all have eaten, or as good as eaten; and, almost within year and day, Pragmatic Sanction is a vanished quantity; and poor Kaiser Karl's life-labor is not worth the sheepskin and stationery it cost him. History reports in sum, That "nobody kept the Pragmatic Sanction; that the few [strictly speaking, the one] who acted by it, would have done precisely the same, though there had never been such a Document in existence." To George II., it is, was and will be, the Keystone of Nature, the true Anti-French palladium of mankind; and he, dragging the unwilling Dutch after him, will do great things for it: but nobody else does anything at all. Might we hope to bid adieu to it, in this manner, and never to mention it again!—
Document more futile there had not been in Nature, nor will be. Friedrich had not yet fought at Mollwitz in assertion of his Silesian claim, when the poor Pope—poor soul, who had no Covenant to eat, but took pattern by others—claimed, in solemn Allocution, Parma and Piacenza for the Holy See. [Adelung, ii. 376 (5th April, 1741)] All the world is claiming. Of the Court of Wurtemberg and its Protestings, and "extensive Deduction" about nothing at all, we do not speak; [Ib. ii. 195, 403.] nor of Montmorency claiming Luxemburg, of which he is Titular "Duke;" nor of Monsignore di Guastalla claiming Mantua; nor of—In brief, the fences are now down; a broad French gap in those miles of elaborate paling, which are good only as firewood henceforth, and any ass may rush in and claim a bellyful. Great are the works of Belleisle!—
At equal step with the ruining of Pragmatic Sanction goes on that spoiling of Grand-Duke Franz's Election to the Kaisership: these two operations run parallel; or rather, under different forms, they are one and the same operation. "To assist, as a Most Christian neighbor ought, in picking out the fit Kaiser," was Belleisle's ostensible mission; and indeed this does include virtually his whole errand. Till three months after Belleisle's appearance in the business, Grand-Duke Franz never doubted but he should be Kaiser; Friedrich's offers to, help him in it he had scorned, as the offer of a fifth wheel to his chariot, already rushing on with four. "Here is Kur-Bohmen, Austria's own vote," counts the Grand-Duke; "Kur-Sachsen, doing Prussian-Partition Treaties for us; Kur-Trier, our fat little Schonborn, Austrian to the bone; Kur-Mainz, important chairman, regulator of the Conclave; here are Four Electors for us: then also Kur-Pfalz, he surely, in return for the Berg-Julich service; finally, and liable to no question Kur-Hanover, little George of England with his endless guineas and resources, a little Jack-the-Giantkiller, greater than all Giants, Paladin of the Pragmatic and us: here are Six Electors of the Nine. Let Brandenburg and the Bavarian Couple, Kur-Baiern and Kur-Koln, do their pleasure!" This was Grand-Duke Franz's calculation.
By the time Belleisle had been three months in Germany, the Grand-Duke's notion had changed; and he began "applying to the Sea-Powers," "to Russia," and all round. In Belleisle's sixth month, the Grand-Duke, after such demolition of Pragmatic, and such disasters and contradictions as had been, saw his case to be desperate; though he still stuck to it, Austrian-like,—or rather, Austria for him stuck to it, the Grand-Duke being careless of such things;—and indeed, privately, never did give in, even AFTER the Election, as we shall have to note.
The Reich itself being mainly a Phantasm or Enchanted Wiggery, its "Kaiser-Choosing" (KAISERWAHL),—now getting under way at Frankfurt, with preliminary outskirts at Regensburg, and in the Chancery of Mainz—is very phantasmal, not to say ghastly; and forbidding, not inviting, to the human eye. Nine Kurfursts, Choosers of Teutschland's real Captain, in none of whom is there much thought for Teutschland or its interests,—and indeed in hardly more than One of whom (Prussian Friedrich, if readers will know it) is there the least thought that way; but, in general, much indifference to things divine or diabolic, and thought for one's own paltry profits and losses only! So it has long been; and so it now is, more than usual.—Consider again, are Enchanted Wiggeries a beautiful thing, in this extremely earnest World?—
The Kaiserwahl is an affair depending much on processions, proclamations, on delusions optical, acoustic; on palaverings, manoeuvrings, holdings back, then hasty pushings forward; and indeed is mainly, in more senses than one, under guidance of the Prince of the Power of the Air. Unbeautiful, like a World-Parliament of Nightmares (if the reader could conceive such a thing); huge formless, tongueless monsters of that species, doing their "three readings,"—under Presidency or chief-pipership as above! Belleisle, for his part, is consummately skilful, and manages as only himself could. Keeps his game well hidden, not a hint or whisper of it except in studied proportions; spreads out his lines, his birdlime; tickles, entices, astonishes; goes his rounds, like a subtle Fowler, taking captive the minds of men; a Phoebus-Apollo, god of melody and of the sun, filling his net with birds.
I believe, old Kur-Pfalz, for the sake of French neighborhood, and Berg-and-Julich, were there nothing more, was very helpful to him;—in March past, when the Election was to have been, when it would have gone at once in favor of the Grand-Duke, Kur-Pfalz got the Election "postponed a little." Postponing, procrastinating; then again pushing violently on, when things are ripe: Belleisle has only to give signal to a fit Kur-Pfalz. In all Kurfurst Courts, the French Ambassadors sing diligently to the tune Belleisle sets them; and Courts give ear, or will do, when the charmer himself arrives.
Kur-Sachsen, as above hinted, was his most delicate operation, in the charming or trout-tickling way. And Kur-Sachsen—and poor Saxony, ever since—knows if he did not do it well! "Deduct this Kur-Sachsen from the Austrian side," calculates Belleisle; "add him to ours, it is almost an equality of votes. Kur-Baiern, our own Imperial Candidate; Kur-Koln, his Brother; Kur-Pfalz, by genealogy his Cousin (not to mention Berg-Julich matters); here are three Wittelsbachers, knit together; three sure votes; King Friedrich, Kur-Brandenburg, there is a fourth; and if Kur-Sachsen would join?" But who knows if Kur-Sachsen will! The poor soul has himself thoughts of being Kaiser; then no thoughts, and again some: thoughts which Belleisle knows how to handle. "Yes, Kaiser you, your Majesty; excellent!" And sets to consider the methods: "Hm, ha, hm! Think, your Majesty: ought not that Bohemian Vote to be excluded, for one thing? Kur-Bohmen is fallen into the distaff, Maria Theresa herself cannot vote. Surely question will rise, Whether distaff can, validly, hand it over to distaff's husband, as they are about doing? Whether, in fact, Kur-Bohmen is not in abeyance for this time?" "So!" answered Kur-Sachsen, Reichs-Vicarius. And thereupon meetings were summoned; Nightmare Committees sat on this matter under the Reichs-Vicar, slowly hatching it; and at length brought out, "Kur-Bohmen NOT transferable by the distaff; Kur-Bohmen in abeyance for this time." Greatly to the joy of Belleisle; infinitely to the chagrin of her Hungarian Majesty,—who declared it a crying injustice (though I believe legally done in every point); and by and by, even made it a plea of Nullity, destructive to the Election altogether, when her Hungarian Majesty's affairs looked up again, and the world would listen to Austrian sophistries and obstinacies. This was an essential service from Kur-Sachsen. [Began, indistinctly, "in March" (1741); languid "for some months" (Adelung, ii. 292); "November 4th," was settled in the negative, "Kur-Bohmen not to have a vote" (Maria Theresiens Leben, p. 47 n.)].
After which Kur-Sachsen's own poor Kaisership died away into "Hm, ha, hm!" again, with a grateful Belleisle. Who nevertheless dexterously retained Kur-Sachsen as ally; tickling the poor wretch with other baits. Of the Kaiser he had really meant all along, there was dead silence, except between the parties; no whisper heard, for six months after it had been agreed upon; none, for two or near three months after formal settlement, and signing and sealing. Karl Albert's Treaty with Belleisle was 18th May, 1741; and he did not declare himself a Candidate till 1st-4th July following. [Adelung, ii. 357, 421.] Belleisle understands the Nightmare Parliaments, the electioneering art, and how to deal with Enchanted Wiggeries. More perfect master, in that sad art, has not turned up on record to one's afflicted mind. Such a Sun-god, and doing such a Scavengerism! Belleisle, in the sixth month (end of August, 1741), feels sure of a majority. How Belleisle managed, after that, to checkmate George of England, and make even George vote for him, and the Kaiserwahl to be unanimous against Grand-Duke Franz, will be seen. Great are Belleisle's doings in this world, if they were useful either to God or man, or to Belleisle himself first of all!—
Belleisle's schemes, in the rear of all this labor, are grandiose to a degree. Men wonder at the First Napoleon's mad notions in that kind. But no Napoleon, in the fire of the revolutionary element; no Sham-Napoleon, in the ashes of it: hardly a Parisian Journalist of imaginative turn, speculating on the First Nation of the Universe and what its place is,—could go higher than did this grandiose Belleisle; a man with clear thoughts in his head, under a torpid Louis XV. Let me see, thinks Belleisle. Germany with our Bavarian for Kaiser; Germany to be cut into, say, Four little Kingdoms: 1. Bavaria with the lean Kaiserhood; 2. Saxony, fattened by its share of Austria; 3. Prussia the like; 4. Austria itself, shorn down as above, and shoved out to the remote Hungarian parts: VOILA. These, not reckoning Hanover, which perhaps we cannot get just yet, are Four pretty Sovereignties. Three, or Two, of these hireable by gold, it is to be hoped. And will not France have a glorious time of it; playing master of the revels there, egging one against the other! Yes, Germany is then, what Nature designed it, a Province of France: little George of Hanover himself, and who knows but England after him, may one day find their fate inevitable, like the others. O Louis, O my King, is not this an outlook? Louis le Grand was great; but you are likely to be Louis the Grandest; and here is a World shaped, at last, after the real pattern!
Such are, in sad truth, Belleisle's schemes; not yet entirely hatched into daylight or articulation; but becoming articulate, to himself and others, more and more. Reader, keep them well in mind: I had rather not speak of them again. They are essential to our Story; but they are afflictively vain, contrary to the Laws of Fact; and can, now or henceforth, in nowise be. My friend, it was not Beelzebub, nor Mephistopheles, nor Autolyeus-Apollo that built this world and us; it was Another. And you will get your crown well rapped, M. le Marechal, for so forgetting that fact! France is an extremely pretty creature; but this of making France the supreme Governor and God's-Vicegerent of Nations, is, was, and remains, one of the maddest notions. France at its ideal BEST, and with a demi-god for King over it, were by no means fit for such function; nay of many Nations is eminently the unfittest for it. And France at its WORST or nearly so, with a Louis XV. over it by way of demi-god—O Belleisle, what kind of France is this; shining in your grandiose imagination, in such contrast to the stingy fact: like a creature consisting of two enormous wings, five hundred yards in potential extent, and no body bigger than that of a common cock, weighing three pounds avoirdupois. Cock with his own gizzard much out of sorts, too!
It was "early in March" [Adelung, ii. 305.] when Belleisle, the Artificial Sun-god, quitted Paris on this errand. He came by the Moselle road; called on the Rhine Kurfursts, Koln, Trier, Mainz; dazzling them, so far as possible, with his splendor for the mind and for the eye. He proceeded next to Dresden, which is a main card: and where there is immense manipulation needed, and the most delicate trout-tickling; this being a skittish fish, and an important, though a foolish. Belleisle was at Dresden when the Battle of Mollwitz fell out: what a windfall into Belleisle's game! He ran across to Friedrich at Mollwitz, to congratulate, to consult,—as we shall see anon.
Belleisle, I am informed, in this preliminary Tour of his, speaks only, or hints only (except in the proper quarters), of Election Business; of the need there perhaps is, on the part of an Age growing in liberal ideas, to exclude the Austrian Grand-Duke; to curb that ponderous, harsh, ungenerous House of Austria, too long lording it over generous Germany; and to set up some better House,—Bavaria, for example; Saxony, for example? Of his plans in the rear of this he is silent; speaks only by hints, by innuendoes, to the proper parties. But ripening or ripe, plans do lie to rear; far-stretching, high-soaring; in part, dark even at Versailles; darkly fermenting, not yet developed, in Belleisle's own head; only the Future Kaiser a luminous fixed point, shooting beams across the grandiose Creation-Process going on there.
By the end of August, 1741, Belleisle had become certain of his game; 24th January, 1742, he saw himself as if winner. Before August, 1741, he had got his Electors manipulated, tickled to his purpose, by the witchery of a Phoebus-Autolycus or Diplomatic Sun-god; majority secured for a Bavarian Kaiser, and against an Austrian one. And in the course of that month,—what was still more considerable!—he was getting, under mild pretexts, about a hundred thousand armed Frenchmen gently wafted over upon the soil of Germany. Two complete French Armies, 40,000 each (PLUS their Reserves), one over the Upper Rhine, one over the Lower; about which we shall hear a great deal in time coming! Under mild pretexts: "Peaceable as lambs, don't you observe? Merely to protect Freedom of Election, in this fine neighbor country; and as allies to our Friend of Bavaria, should he chance to be new Kaiser, and to persist in his modest claims otherwise." This was his crowning stroke. Which finished straightway the remnants of Pragmatic Sanction and of every obstacle; and in a shining manner swept the roads clear. And so, on January 24th following, the Election, long held back by Belleisle's manoeuvrings, actually takes effect,—in favor of Karl Albert, our invaluable Bavarian Friend. Austria is left solitary in the Reich; Pragmatic Sanction, Keystone of Nature, which Belleisle and France had sworn to keep in, is openly torn out by Belleisle and by France and the majority of mankind; and Belleisle sees himself, to all appearance, winner.
This was the harvest reaped by Belleisle, within year and day; after endless manoeuvring, such as only a Belleisle in the character of Diplomatic Sun-god could do. Beyond question, the distracted ambitions of several German Princes have been kindled by Belleisle; what we called the rotten thatch of Germany is well on fire. This diligent sowing in the Reich—to judge by the 100,000, armed men here, and the counter hundreds of thousands arming—has been a pretty stroke of dragon's-teeth husbandry on Belleisle's part.
It was April 26th when Marechal de Belleisle, with his Brother the Chevalier, with Valori and other bright accompaniment, arrived in Friedrich's Camp. "Camp of Mollwitz" so named; between Mollwitz and Brieg; where Friedrich is still resting, in a vigilant expectant condition; and, except it be the taking of Brieg, has nothing military on hand. Wednesday, 26th April, the distinguished Excellency—escorted for the last three miles by 120 Horse, and the other customary ceremonies—makes his appearance: no doubt an interesting one to Friedrich, for this and the days next following. Their talk is not reported anywhere: nor is it said with exactitude how far, whether wholly now, or only in part now, Belleisle expounded his sublime ideas to Friedrich; or what precise reception they got. Friedrich himself writes long afterwards of the event; but, as usual, without precision, except in general effect. Now, or some time after, Friedrich says he found Belleisle, one morning, with brow clouded, knit into intense meditation: "Have you had bad news, M. le Marechal?" asks Friedrich. "No, oh no! I am considering what we shall make of that Moravia?"—"Moravia; Hm!" Friedrich suppresses the glance that is rising to his eyes: "Can't you give it to Saxony, then? Buy Saxony into the Plan with it!" "Excellent," answers Belleisle, and unpuckers his stern brow again.
Friedrich thinks highly, and about this time often says so, of the man Belleisle: but as to the man's effulgencies, and wide-winged Plans, none is less seduced by them than Friedrich: "Your chickens are not hatched, M. le Marechal; some of us hope they never will be,—though the incubation-process may have uses for some of us!" Friedrich knows that the Kaisership given to any other than Grand-Duke Franz will be mostly an imaginary quantity. "A grand Symbolic Cloak in the eyes of the vulgar; but empty of all things, empty even of cash, for the last Two Hundred Years: Austria can wear it to advantage; no other mortal. Hang it on Austria, which is a solid human figure,—so." And Friedrich wishes, and hopes always, Maria Theresa will agree with him, and get it for her Husband. "But to hang it on Bavaria, which is a lean bare pole? Oh, M. le Marechal!—And those Four Kingdoms of yours: what a brood of poultry, those! Chickens happily yet UNhatched;—eggs addle, I should venture to hope:—only do go on incubating, M. le Marechal!" That is Friedrich's notion of the thing. Belleisle stayed with Friedrich "a few days," say the Books. After which, Friedrich, finding Belleisle too winged a creature, corresponded, in preference, with Fleury and the Head Sources;—who are always intensely enough concerned about those "aces" falling to him, and how the same are to be "shared." [Details in Helden-Geschichte, i. 912, 962, 916; in OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 79, 80; &c.]
Instead of parade or review in honor of Belleisle, there happened to be a far grander military show, of the practical kind. The Siege of Brieg, the Opening of the Trenches before Brieg, chanced to be just ready, on Belleisle's arrival:—and would have taken effect, we find, that very night, April 26th, had not a sudden wintry outburst, or "tempest of extraordinary violence," prevented. Next night, night of the 27th-28th, under shine of the full Moon, in the open champaign country, on both sides of the River, it did take effect. An uncommonly fine thing of its sort; as one can still see by reading Friedrich's strict Program for it,—a most minute, precise and all-anticipating Program, which still interests military men, as Friedrich's first Piece in that kind,—and comparing therewith the Narratives of the performance which ensued. [Ordre und Dispositiones (SIC), wornach sich der General-Lieutenant von Kalckstein bei Eroffnung der Trancheen, &c. (Oeuvres de Frederic, xxx. 39-44): the Program. Helden-Geschichte, i. 916-928: the Narrative.]
Kalkstein, Friedrich's old Tutor, is Captain of the Siege; under him Jeetz, long used to blockading about Brieg. The silvery Oder has its due bridges for communication; all is in readiness, and waiting manifold as in the slip,—and there is Engineer Walrave, our Glogau Dutch friend, who shall, at the right instant, "with his straw-rope (STROHSEIL) mark out the first parallel," and be swift about it! There are 2,000 diggers, with the due implements, fascines, equipments; duly divided, into Twelve equal Parties, and "always two spademen to one pickman" (which indicates soft sandy ground): these, with the escorting or covering battalions, Twelve Parties they also, on both sides of the River, are to be in their several stations at the fixed moments; man, musket, mattock, strictly exact. They are to advance at Midnight; the covering battalions so many yards ahead: no speaking is permissible, nor the least tobacco-smoking; no drum to be allowed for fear of accident; no firing, unless you are fired on. The covering battalions are all to "lie flat, so soon as they get to their ground, all but the Officers and sentries." To rear of these stand Walrave and assistants, silent, with their straw-rope;—silent, then anon swift, and in whisper or almost by dumb-show, "Now, then!" After whom the diggers, fascine-men, workers, each in his kind, shall fall to, silently, and dig and work as for life.
All which is done; exact as clock-work: beautiful to see, or half see, and speak of to your Belleisle, in the serene moonlight! Half an hour's marching, half an hour's swift digging: the Town-clock of Brieg was hardly striking One, when "they had dug themselves in." And, before daybreak, they had, in two batteries, fifty cannon in position, with a proper set of mortars (other side the River),—ready to astonish Piccolomini and his Austrians; who had not had the least whisper of them, all night, though it was full moon. Graf von Piccolomini, an active gallant person, had refused terms, some time before; and was hopefully intent on doing his best. And now, suddenly, there rose round Piccolomini such a tornado of cannonading and bombardment, day after day, always "three guns of ours playing against one of theirs," that his guns got ruined; that "his hay-magazines took fire,"—and the Schloss itself, which was adjacent to them, took fire (a sad thing to Friedrich, who commanded pause, that they might try quenching, but in vain):—and that, in short, Piccolomini could not stand it; but on the 4th of May, precisely after one week's experience, hung out the white flag, and "beat chamade at 3 of the afternoon." He was allowed to march out next morning, with escort to Neisse; parole pledged, Not to serve against us for two years coming.
Friedrich in person (I rather guess, Belleisle not now at his side) saw the Garrison march out;—kept Piccolomini to dinner; a gallant Piccolomini, who had hoped to do better, but could not. This was a pretty enough piece of Siege-practice. Torstenson, with his Swedes, had furiously besieged Brieg in 1642, a hundred years ago; and could do nothing to it. Nothing, but withdraw again, futile; leaving 1,400 of his people dead. Friedrich, the Austrian Garrison once out, set instantly about repairing the works, and improving them into impregnability,—our ugly friend Walrave presiding over that operation too.
Belleisle, we may believe, so long as he continued, was full of polite wonder over these things; perhaps had critical advices here and there, which would be politely received. It is certain he came out extremely brilliant, gifted and agreeable, in the eyes of Friedrich; who often afterwards, not in the very strictest language, calls him a great man, great soldier, and by far the considerablest person you French have. It is no less certain, Belleisle displayed, so far as displayable, his magnificent Diplomatic Ware to the best advantage. To which, we perceive, the young King answered, "Magnificent, indeed!" but would not bite all at once; and rather preferred corresponding with Fleury, on business points, keeping the matter dexterously hanging, in an illuminated element of hope and contingency, for the present.
Belleisle, after we know not how many days, returned to Dresden; perfected his work at Dresden, or shoved it well forward, with "that Moravia" as bait. "Yes, King of Moravia, you, your Polish Majesty, shall be!"—and it is said the simple creature did so style himself, by and by, in certain rare Manifestoes, which still exist in the cabinets of the curious. Belleisle next, after only a few days, went to Munchen; to operate on Karl Albert Kur-Baiern, a willing subject. And, in short, Belleisle whirled along incessantly, torch in hand; making his "circuit of the German Courts,"—details of said circuit not to be followed by us farther. One small thing only I have found rememberable; probably true, though vague. At Munchen, still more out at Nymphenburg, the fine Country-Palace not far off, there was of course long conferencing, long consulting, secret and intense, between Belleisle with his people and Karl Albert with his. Karl Albert, as we know, was himself willing. But a certain Baron von Unertl—heavy-built Bavarian of the old type, an old stager in the Bavarian Ministries—was of far other disposition. One day, out at Nymphenburg, Unertl got to the Council-room, while Belleisle and Company were there: Unertl found the apartment locked, absolutely no admittance; and heard voices, the Kurfurst's and French voices, eagerly at work inside. "Admit me, Gracious Herr; UM GOTTES WILLEN, me!" No admission. Unertl, in despair, rushed round to the garden side of the Apartment; desperately snatched a ladder, set it up to the window, and conjured the Gracious Highness: "For the love of Heaven, my ALLERGNADIGSTER, don't! Have no trade with those French! Remember your illustrious Father, Kurfurst Max, in the Eugene-Marlborough time, what a job he made of it, building actual architecture on THEIR big promises, which proved mere acres of gilt balloon!" [Hormayr, Anemonen (cited above), ii. 152.] Words terribly prophetic; but they were without effect on Karl Albert.
The rest of Belleisle's inflammatory circuitings and extensive travellings, for he had many first and last in this matter, shall be left to the fancy of the reader. May 18th, he made formal Treaty with Karl Albert: Treaty of Nymphenburg, "Karl Albert to be Kaiser; Bavaria, with Austria Proper added to it, a Kingdom; French armies, French moneys, and other fine items." [Given in Adelung, ii. 359.] Treaty to be kept dead secret; King Friedrich, for the present, would not accede. [Given in Adelung, ii. 421.] June 25th, after some preliminary survey of the place, Belleisle made his Entry into Frankfurt: magnificent in the extreme. And still did not rest there; but had to rush about, back to Versailles, to Dresden, hither, thither: it was not till the last day of July that he fairly took up his abode in Frankfurt; and—the Election eggs, so to speak, being now all laid—set himself to hatch the same. A process which lasted him six months longer, with curious phenomena to mankind. Not till the middle of August did he bring those 80,000 Armed Frenchmen across the Rhine, "to secure peace in those parts, and freedom of voting." Not till November 4th had Kur-Sachsen, with the Nightmares, finished that important problem of the Bohemian Vote, "Bohemian Vote EXCLUDED for this time;"—after which all was ready, though still not in the least hurry. November 20th, came the first actual "Election-Conference (WAHL-CONFERENZ)" in the Romer at Frankfurt; to which succeeded Two Months more of conferrings (upon almost nothing at all): and finally, 24th January, 1742, came the Election itself, Karl Albert the man; poor wretch, who never saw another good day in this world.
Belleisle during those six months was rather high and airy, extremely magnificent; but did not want discretion: "more like a Kurfurst than an Ambassador;" capable of "visiting Kur-Mainz, with servants purposely in OLD liveries,"—where the case needed old, where Kur-Mainz needed snubbing; not otherwise. [Buchholz, ii. 57 n.] "The Marechal de Belleisle," says an Eye-witness, of some fame in those days, "comes out in a variety of parts, among us here; plays now the General, now the Philosopher, now the Minister of State, now the French Marquis;—and does them all to perfection. Surely a master in his art. His Brother the Chevalier is one of the sensiblest and best-trained persons you can see. He has a penetrating intellect; is always occupied, and full of great schemes; and has nevertheless a staid kind of manner. He is one of the most important Personages here; and in all things his Brother's right hand." [Von Loen, Kleine Schriften (cited in Adelung, ii. 400).] In Frankfurt, both Belleisle and his Brother were much respected, the Brother especially, as men of dignified behavior and shining qualities; but as to their hundred and thirty French Lords and other Valetry, these by their extravagances and excesses (AUSSCHWEIFUNGEN) made themselves extremely detestable, it would appear. [Buchholz, ii. 54; in Adelung, ii. 398 n., a French BROCARD on the subject, of sufficient emphasis.]
George II. did not hear of Mollwitz for above a fortnight after it fell out; but he had no need of Mollwitz to kindle his wrath or his activity in that matter. [Mollwitz first heard of in London, April 25th (14th); Subsidy of 300,000 pounds voted same day. London Gazette (April 11th-14th, 1741); Commons Journals, xxiii. 705.] George II. had seen, all along, with natural manifold aversion and indignation, these high attempts of his Nephew. "Who is this new little King, that will not let himself be snubbed, and laughed at, and led by the nose, as his Father did; but seems to be taking a road of his own, and tacitly defying us all? A very high conduct indeed, for a Sovereign of that magnitude. Aspires seemingly to be the leader among German Princes; to reduce Hanover and us,—us, with the gold of England in our breeches-pocket,—to the second place? A reverend old Bishop of Liege, twitched by the rochet, and shaken hither and thither, like a reverend old clothes-screen, till he agree to stand still and conform. And now a Silesia seized upon; a Pragmatic Sanction kicked to the winds: the whole world to be turned topsy-turvy, and Hanover and us, with our breeches-pocket, reduced to—?"
The emotions, the prognosticatings, and distracted procedures of his Britannic Majesty, of which we have ourselves seen somewhat, in this fermentation of the elements, are copiously set down for us by the English Dryasdust (mostly in unintelligible form): but, except for sane purposes, one must be careful not to dwell on them, to the sorrow of readers. Seldom was there such a feat of Somnambulism, as that by the English and their King in the next twenty Years. To extract the particle of sanity from it, and see how the poor English did get their own errand done withal, and Jenkins's Ear avenged,—that is the one interesting point; Dryasdust and the Nightmares shall, to all time, be welcome to the others. Here are some Excerpts, a select few; which will perhaps be our readiest expedient. These do, under certain main aspects, shadow forth the intricate posture of King George and his Nation, when Belleisle, as Protagonistes or Chief Bully, stept down into the ring, in that manner; asking, "Is there an Antagonistes, then, or Chief Defender?" I will label them, number them; and, with the minimum of needful commentary, leave them to imaginative readers.
The fuliginous explosions, more or less volcanic, which went on in Parliament and in English society, against Friedrich's Silesian Enterprise, for long years from this date, are now all dead and avoidable,—though they have left their effects among us to this day. Perhaps readers would like to see the one reasonable word I have fallen in with, of opposite tendency; Mr. Viner's word, at the first starting of that question: plainly sensible word, which, had it been attended to (as it was not), might have saved us so much nonsense, not of idle talk only, but of extremely serious deed which ensued thereupon!
"LONDON, 19th APRIL, 1741. This day [Mollwitz not yet known, Camp of Gottin too well known!] King George, in his own high person, comes down to the House of Lords,—which, like the Other House, is sunk painfully in Walpole Controversies, Spanish-War Controversies, of a merely domestic nature;—and informs both Honorable Houses, with extreme caution, naming nobody, That he much wishes they would think of helping him in these alarming circumstances of the Celestial Balance, ready apparently to go heels uppermost. To which the general answer is, 'Yes, surely!'—with a vote of 300,000 pounds for her Hungarian Majesty, a few days hence. From those continents of Parliamentary tufa, now fallen so waste and mournful, here is one little piece which ought to be extricated into daylight:—
"MR. VINER (on his legs):... 'If I mistake not the true intention of the Address proposed,' in answer to his Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne, 'we are invited to declare that we will oppose the King of Prussia in his attempts upon Silesia: a declaration in which I see not how any man can concur who KNOWS NOT the nature of his Prussian Majesty's Claim, and the Laws of the German Empire [NOR DO I, MR. V.]! It ought therefore, Sir, to have been the first endeavor of those by whom this Address has been so zealously supported, to show that his Prussian Majesty's Claim, so publicly explained [BY KAUZLER LUDWIG, OF HALLE, WHO, IT SEEMS, HAS STAGGERED OR CONVINCED MR. VINER], so firmly urged and so strongly supported, is without foundation and reason, and is only one of those imaginary titles which Ambition may always find to the dominions of another.' (HEAR MR VINER!)" [Tindal, xx. 491, gives the Royal Speech (DATE in a very slobbery condition); see also Coxe, House of Austria, iii. 365. Viner's Fragment of a Speech is in Thackeray, Life of Chatham, i. 87.]...
A most indispensable thing, surely. Which was never done, nor can ever be done; but was assumed as either unnecessary or else done of its own accord, by that Collective Wisdom of England (with a sage George II. at the head of it); who plunged into Dettingen, Fontenoy, Austrian Subsidies, Aix-la-Chapelle, and foundation of the English National Debt, among other strange things, in consequence!—
Upon that of Kanzler Ludwig, and the "so public Explanation" (which we slightly heard of long since), here is another Note,—unless readers prefer to skip it:—
"That the Diplomatic and Political world is universally in travail at this time, no reader need be told; Europe everywhere in dim anxiety, heavy-laden expectation (which to us has fallen so vacant); looking towards inevitable changes and the huge inane. All in travail;—and already uttering printed Manifestoes, Patents, Deductions, and other public travail-SHRIEKS of that kind. Printed; not to speak of the unprinted, of the oral which vanished on the spot; or even of the written which were shot forth by breathless estafettes, and unhappily did not vanish, but lie in archives, still humming upon us, "Won't you read me, then?"—Alas, except on compulsion, No! Life being precious (and time, which is the stuff of life), No!—
"At Reinsberg as elsewhere, at Reinsberg first of all, it had been felt, in October last, that there would be Manifestoes needed; learned Proof, the more irrefragable the better, of our Right to Silesia. It was settled there, Let Ludwig, Kanzler of the University of Halle, do it. [Herr Kanzler Ludwig, monster of Antiquarian, Legal and other Learning there: wealthy, too, and close-fisted; whom we have seen obliged to open his closed fist, and to do building in the Friedrich Strasse, before now; Nussler, his son-in-law, having no money:—as careless readers have perhaps forgotten?] Ludwig set about his new task with a proud joy. Ludwig knows that story, if he know anything. Long years ago he put forth a Chapter upon it; weighty Chapter; in a Book of weight, said Judges;—Book weighing, in pounds avoirdupois and otherwise, none of us now knows what: [Title of this weighty Performance (see Preuss, Thronbesteigung, p. 432) is, or was (size not given), Germania Princeps (Halae, 1702). Preuss says farther, "That Book ii. c. 3 handles the Prussian claims: Jagerndorf being? 13; Liegnitz,? 14; Oppeln and Ratibor,? 16;—and that Ludwig had sent a Copy of this Argument [weighty Performance altogether? Or Book ii. c. 3 of it, which would have had a better chance?] to King Friedrich, on the death of Kaiser Karl VI."]—but, in after years, it used to be said by flatterers of the Kanzler, 'Herr Kanzler, see the effect of Learning. It was you, it was your weighty Book, that caused all this World-tumult, and flung the Nations into one another's hair!' Upon which the old Kanzler would blush: 'You do me too much honor!'
"Ludwig, directly on order given, gathered out his documents again, in the King's name this time; and promised something weighty by New-year's day at latest." Doubtless to the joy of Nussler, who has still no regular appointment, though well deserving one. "And sure enough, on January 7th, at Berlin, 'in three languages,' Ludwig's DEDUCTION had come out; an eager Public waiting for it: [Title is, Rechtsgegrundetes Eigenthum (in the Latin copies, Patrimonium, and Propriete fondee en Droit in the French copies) des &c.,—that is to say, Legal Right of Property in the Royal-Electoral House of Brandenburg to the Duchies and Principalities of Jagerndorf, Liegnitz, Brieg, Wohlau (Berlin, 7th January, 1741).]—and at Berlin it was generally thought to be conclusive. I have looked into Ludwig's Deduction, stern duty urging, in this instance for one: such portions as I read are nothing like so stupid as was expected; and, in fact, are not to be called stupid at all, but fit for their purpose, and moderately intelligible to those who need them,"—which happily we do not in this place.
Judicious Mr. Viner availed nothing against the Proposed Address; any more than he would against the Atlantic Tide, coming in unanimous, under influence of the Moon itself,—as indeed this Address, and the triumphant Subsidy which was voted in the rear of it, may be said to have done. [Coxe, iii. 265.] Subsidy of 300,000 pounds to her Hungarian Majesty; which, with the 200,000 pounds already gone that road, makes a handsome Half-million for the present Year. The first gush of the Britannia Fountain,—which flowed like an Amalthea's Horn for seven years to come; refreshing Austria, and all thirsty Pragmatic Nations, to defend the Keystone of this Universe. Unluckily every guinea of it went, at the same time, to encourage Austria in scorning King Friedrich's offers to it; which perhaps are just offers, thinks Mr. Viner; which once listened to, Pragmatic Sanction would be safe. [Mr. Viner was of Pupham, or Pupholm, in Lincolnshire, for which County he sat then, and for many years before and after,—from about 1713 till 1761, when he died. A solid, instructed man, say his contemporaries. "He was a friend of Bolingbroke's, and had a house near Bolingbroke's Battersea one." He is Great great-grandfather to the present Mr. Viner, and to the Countess de Grey and Ripon; which is an interesting little fact.]
This Parliament is strong for Pragmatic Sanction, and has high resentments against Walpole; in both which points the New Parliament, just getting elected, will rival and surpass it,—especially in the latter point, that of uprooting Walpole, which the Nation is bent on, with a singular fury. Pragmatic Sanction like to be ruined; and Walpole furiously thrown out: what a pair of sorrows for poor George! During his late Caroline's time, all went peaceably, and that of "governing" was a mere pleasure; Walpole and Caroline cunningly doing that for him, and making him believe he was doing it. But now has come the crisis, the collapse; and his poor Majesty left alone to deal with it!—
"For above Ten Years, Walpole himself", says my Constitutional Historian (unpublished), "for almost Twenty Years, Walpole virtually and through others, has what they call 'governed' England; that is to say, has adjusted the conflicting Parliamentary Chaos into counterpoise, by what methods he had; and allowed England, with Walpole atop, to jumble whither it would and could. Of crooked things made straight by Walpole, of heroic performance or intention, legislative or administrative, by Walpole, nobody ever heard; never of the least hand-breadth gained from the Night-realm in England, on Walpole's part: enough if he could manage to keep the Parish Constable walking, and himself float atop. Which task (though intrinsically zero for the Community, but all-important to the Walpole, of Constitutional Countries) is a task almost beyond the faculty of man, if the careless reader knew it!
"This task Walpole did,—in a sturdy, deep-bellied, long-headed, John-Bull fashion, not unworthy of recognition. A man of very forcible natural eyesight, strong natural heart,—courage in him to all lengths; a very block of oak, or of oakroot, for natural strength. He was always very quiet with it, too; given to digest his victuals, and be peaceable with everybody. He had one rule, that stood in place of many: To keep out of every business which it was possible for human wisdom to stave aside. 'What good will you get of going into that? Parliamentary criticism, argument and botheration? Leave well alone. And even leave ill alone:—are you the tradesman to tinker leaky vessels in England? You will not want for work. Mind your pudding, and say little!' At home and abroad, that was the safe secret. For, in Foreign Politics, his rule was analogous: 'Mind your own affairs. You are an Island, you can do without Foreign Politics; Peace, keep Peace with everybody: what, in the Devil's name, have you to do with those dog-worryings over Seas? Once more, mind your pudding!' Not so bad a rule; indeed it is the better part of an extremely good one;—and you might reckon it the real rule for a pious Rritannic Island (reverent of God, and contemptuous of the Devil) in times of general Down-break and Spiritual Bankruptcy, when quarrellings of Sovereigns are apt to be mere dog-worryings and Devil's work, not good to interfere in.
"In this manner, Walpole, by solid John-Bull faculty (and methods of his own), had balanced the Parliamentary swaggings and clashings, for a great while; and England had jumbled whither it could, always in a stupid, but also in a peaceable way. As to those same 'methods of his own' they were—in fact they were Bribery. Actual purchase of votes by money slipt into the hand. Go straight to the point. 'The direct real method this,' thinks Walpole: 'is there in reality any other?' A terrible question to Constitutional Countries; which, I hear, has never been resolved in the negative, by the modern improvements of science. Changes of form have introduced themselves; the outward process, I hear, is now quite different. According as the fashions and conditions alter,—according as you have a Fourth Estate developed, or a Fourth Estate still in the grub stage and only developing,—much variation of outward process is conceivable.
"But Votes, under pain of Death Official, are necessary to your poor Walpole: and votes, I hear, are still bidden for, and bought. You may buy them by money down (which is felony, and theft simple, against the poor Nation); or by preferments and appointments of the unmeritorious man,—which is felony double-distilled (far deadlier, though more refined), and theft most compound; theft, not of the poor Nation's money, but of its soul and body so far, and of ALL its moneys and temporal and spiritual interests whatsoever; theft, you may say, of collops cut from its side, and poison put into its heart, poor Nation! Or again, you may buy, not of the Third Estate in such ways, but of the Fourth, or of the Fourth and Third together, in other still more felonious and deadly, though refined ways. By doing clap-traps, namely; letting off Parliamentary blue-lights, to awaken the Sleeping Swineries, and charm them into diapason for you,—what a music! Or, without clap-trap or previous felony of your own, you may feloniously, in the pinch of things, make truce with the evident Demagogos, and Son of Nox and of Perdition, who has got 'within those walls' of yours, and is grown important to you by the Awakened Swineries, risen into alt, that follow him. Him you may, in your dire hunger of votes, consent to comply with; his Anarchies you will pass for him into 'Laws,' as you are pleased to term them;—instead of pointing to the whipping-post, and to his wicked long ears, which are so fit to be nailed there, and of sternly recommending silence, which were the salutary thing.—Buying may be done in a great variety of ways. The question, How you buy? is not, on the moral side, an important one. Nay, as there is a beauty in going straight to the point, and by that course there is likely to be the minimum of mendacity for you, perhaps the direct money-method is a shade less damnable than any of the others since discovered;—while, in regard to practical damage resulting, it is of childlike harmlessness in comparison!
"That was Walpole's method; with this to aid his great natural faculty, long-headed, deep-bellied, suitable to the English Parliament and Nation, he went along with perfect success for ten or twenty years. And it might have been for longer,—had not the English Nation accidentally come to wish, that it should CEASE jumbling NO-whither; and try to jumble SOME-whither, at least for a little while, on important business that had risen for England in a certain quarter. Had it not been for Jenkins's Ear blazing out in the dark English brain, Walpole might have lasted still a long while. But his fate lay there:—the first Business vital to England which might turn up; and this chanced to be the Spanish War. How vital, readers shall see anon. Walpole, knowing well enough in what state his War-apparatus was, and that of all his Apparatuses there was none in a working state, but the Parliamentary one,—resisted the Spanish War; stood in the door against it, with a rhinoceros determination, nay almost something of a mastiff's; resolute not to admit it, to admit death as soon. Doubtless he had a feeling it would be death, the sagacious man;—and such it is now proving; the Walpole Ministry dying by inches from it; dying hard, but irremediably.
"The English Nation was immensely astonished, which Walpole was not, any more than at the other Laws of Nature, to find Walpole's War-apparatus in such a condition. All his Apparatuses, Walpole guesses, are in no better, if it be not the Parliamentary one. The English Nation is immensely astonished, which Walpole again is not, to find that his Parliamentary Apparatus has been kept in gear and smooth-going by the use of OIL: 'Miraculous Scandal of Scandals!' thinks the English Nation. 'Miracle? Law of Nature, you fools!' thinks Walpole. And in fact there is such a storm roaring in England, in those and in the late and the coming months, as threatens to be dangerous to high roofs,—dangerous to Walpole's head at one time. Storm such as had not been witnessed in men's memory; all manner of Counties and Constituencies, with solemn indignation, charging their representatives to search into that miraculous Scandal of Scandals, Law of Nature, or whatever it may be; and abate the same, at their peril.
"To the now reader there is something almost pathetic in these solemn indignations, and high resolves to have Purity of Parliament and thorough Administrative Reform, in spite of Nature and the Constitutional Stars;—and nothing I have met with, not even the Prussian Dryasdust, is so unsufferably wearisome, or can pretend to equal in depth of dull inanity, to ingenuous living readers, our poor English Dryasdust's interminable, often-repeated Narratives, volume after volume, of the debatings and colleaguings, the tossings and tumults, fruitless and endless, in Nation and National Palaver, which ensued thereupon. Walpole (in about a year hence), [February 13th (2d), 1742, quitting the House after bad usage there, said he would never enter it again; nor did: February 22d, resigned in favor of Pulteney and Company (Tindal, xx. 530; Thackeray, i. 45).] though he struck to the ground like a rhinoceros, was got rolled out. And a Successor, and series of Successors, in the bright brand-new state, was got rolled in; with immense shouting from mankind:—but up to this date we have no reason to believe that the Laws of Nature were got abrogated on that occasion, or that the constitutional stars have much altered their courses since."
That Walpole will probably be lost, goes much home to the Royal bosom, in these troublous Spring months of 1741, as it has done and will do. And here, emerging from the Spanish Main just now, is a second sorrow, which might quite transfix the Royal bosom, and drive Majesty itself to despair; awakening such insoluble questions,—furnishing such proof, that Walpole and a good few other persons (persons, and also things, and ideas and practices, deep-rooted in the Country) stand much in need of being lost, if England is to go a good road!
The Spanish War being of moment to us here, we will let our Constitutional Historian explain, in his own dialect, How it was so vital to England; and shall even subjoin what he gives as History of it, such being so admirably succinct, for one quality.
"There was real cause for a War with Spain. It is one of the few cases, this, of a war from necessity. Spain, by Decree of the Pope,—some Pope long ago, whose name we will not remember, in solemn Conclave, drawing accurately 'his Meridian Line,' on I know not what Telluric or Uranic principles, no doubt with great accuracy 'between Portugal and Spain,'—was proprietor of all those Seas and Continents. And now England, in the interim, by Decree of the Eternal Destinies, had clearly come to have property there, too; and to be practically much concerned in that theoretic question of the Pope's Meridian. There was no reconciling of theory with fact. 'Ours indisputably,' said Spain, with loud articulate voice; 'Holiness the Pope made it ours!'—while fact and the English, by Decree of the Eternal Destinies, had been grumbling inarticulately the other way, for almost two hundred years past, and no result had.
"In Oliver Cromwell's time, it used to be said, 'With Spain, in Europe, there may be peace or war; but between the Tropics it is always war.' A state of things well recognized by Oliver, and acted on, according to his opportunities. No settlement was had in Oliver's brief time; nor could any be got since, when it was becoming yearly more pressing. Bucaniers, desperate naval gentlemen living on BOUCAN, or hung beef; who are also called Flibustiers (FLIBUTIERS, 'Freebooters,' in French pronunciation, which is since grown strangely into FILIBUSTERS, Fillibustiers, and other mad forms, in the Yankee Newspapers now current): readers have heard of those dumb methods of protest. Dumb and furious; which could bring no settlement; but which did astonish the Pope's Decree, slashing it with cutlasses and sea-cannon, in that manner, and circuitously forwarded a settlement. Settlement was becoming yearly more needful: and, ever since the Treaty of Utrecht especially, there had been an incessant haggle going on, to produce one; without the least effect hitherto. What embassyings, bargainings, bargain-breakings; what galloping of estafettes; acres of diplomatic paper, now fallen to the spiders, who always privately were the real owners! Not in the Treaty of Utrecht, not in the Congresses of Cambray, of Soissons, Convention of Pardo, by Ripperda, Horace Walpole, or the wagging of wigs, could this matter be settled at all. Near two hundred years of chronic misery;—and had there been, under any of those wigs, a Head capable of reading the Heavenly Mandates, with heart capable of following them, the misery might have been briefly ended, by a direct method. With what immense saving in all kinds, compared with the oblique method gone upon! In quantity of bloodshed needed, of money, of idle talk and estafettes, not to speak of higher considerations, the saving had been incalculable. For it was England's one Cause of War during the Century we are now upon; and poor England's course, when at last driven into it, went ambiguously circling round the whole Universe, instead of straight to the mark. Had Oliver Cromwell lived ten years longer;—but Oliver Cromwell did not live; and, instead of Heroic Heads, there came in Constitutional Wigs, which makes a great difference.
"The pretensions of Spain to keep Half the World locked up in embargo were entirely chimerical; plainly contradictory to the Laws of Nature; and no amount of Pope's Donation Acts, or Ceremonial in Rota or Propaganda, could redeem them from untenability, in the modern days. To lie like a dog in the manger over South America, and say snarling, 'None of you shall trade here, though I cannot!'—what Pope or body of Popes can sanction such a procedure? Had England had a Head, instead of Wigs, amid its diplomatists, England, as the chief party interested, would have long since intimated gently to such dog in the manger: 'Dog, will you be so obliging as rise! I am grieved to say, we shall have to do unpleasant things otherwise. Dogs have doors for their hutches: but to pretend barring the Tropic of Cancer,—that is too big a door for any dog. Can nobody but you have business here, then, which is not displeasing to the gods? We bid you rise!' And in this mode there is no doubt the dog, bark and bite as he might, would have ended by rising; not only England, but all the Universe being against him. And furthermore, I compute with certainty, the quantity of fighting needed to obtain such result would, by this mode, have been a minimum. The clear right being there, and now also the clear might, why take refuge in diplomatic wiggeries, in Assiento Treaties, and Arrangements which are NOT analogous to the facts; which are but wigged mendacities, therefore; and will but aggravate in quantity and in quality the fighting yet needed? Fighting is but (as has been well said) a battering out of the mendacities, pretences, and imaginary elements: well battered-out, these, like dust and chaff, fly torrent-wise along the winds, and darken all the sky; but these once gone, there remain the facts and their visible relation to one another, and peace is sure.
"The Assiento Treaty being fixed upon, the English ought to have kept it. But the English did not, in any measure; nor could pretend to have done. They were entitled to supply Negroes, in such and such number, annually to the Spanish Plantations; and besides this delightful branch of trade, to have the privilege of selling certain quantities of their manufactured articles on those coasts; quantities regulated briefly by this stipulation, That their Assiento Ship was to be of 600 tons burden, so many and no more. The Assiento Ship was duly of 600 tons accordingly, promise kept faithfully to the eye; but the Assiento Ship was attended and escorted by provision-sloops, small craft said to be of the most indispensable nature to it. Which provision-sloops, and indispensable small craft, not only carried merchandise as well, but went and came to Jamaica and back, under various pretexts, with ever new supplies of merchandise; converting the Assiento Ship into a Floating Shop, the Tons burden and Tons sale of which set arithmetic at defiance. This was the fact, perfectly well known in England, veiled over by mere smuggler pretences, and obstinately persisted in, so profitable was it. Perfectly well known in Spain also, and to the Spanish Guarda-Costas and Sea-Captains in those parts; who were naturally kept in a perennial state of rage by it,—and disposed to fly out into flame upon it, when a bad case turned up! Such a case that of Jenkins had seemed to them; and their mode of treating it, by tearing off Mr. Jenkins's Ear, proved to be—bad shall we say, or good?—intolerable to England's thick skin; and brought matters to a crisis, in the ways we saw."...
The Jenkins's-Ear Question, which then looked so mad to everybody, how sane has it now grown to my Constitutional Friend! In abstruse ludicrous form there lay immense questions involved in it; which were serious enough, certain enough, though invisible to everybody. Half the World lay hidden in embryo under it. Colonial-Empire, whose is it to be? Shall Half the World be England's, for industrial purposes; which is innocent, laudable, conformable to the Multiplication-table at least, and other plain Laws? Or shall it be Spain's for arrogant-torpid sham-devotional purposes, contradictory to every Law? The incalculable Yankee Nation itself, biggest Phenomenon (once thought beautifulest) of these Ages,—this too, little as careless readers on either side of the sea now know it, lay involved. Shall there be a Yankee Nation, shall there not be; shall the New World be of Spanish type, shall it be of English? Issues which we may call immense. Among the then extant Sons of Adam, where was he who could in the faintest degree surmise what issues lay in the Jenkins's-Ear Question? And it is curious to consider now, with what fierce deep-breathed doggedness the poor English Nation, drawn by their instincts, held fast upon it, and would take no denial, as if THEY had surmised and seen. For the instincts of simple guileless persons (liable to be counted STUPID, by the unwary) are sometimes of prophetic nature, and spring from the deep places of this Universe!—My Constitutional Friend entitles his next Section CARTHAGENA; but might more fitly have headed it (for such in reality it is, Carthagena proving the evanescent point of that sad business),
1. WAR, AND PORTO-BELLO (NOVEMBER, 1739-MARCH, 1740).—"November 4th, 1739, War was at length (after above four months' obscure quasi-declaring of it, in the shape of Orders in Council, Letters of Marque, and so on) got openly declared; 'Heralds at Arms at the usual places' blowing trumpets upon it, and reading the royal Manifesto, date of which is five days earlier, 'Kensington, October 30th (19th).' The principal Events that ensue, arrange themselves under Three Heads, this of Porto-Bello being the FIRST; and (by intense smelting) are datable as follows:—[Gentleman's Magazine, ix. 551, x. 124, 142, 144, 350; Tindal, xx. 430-433, 442; &c.]
"Tuesday Evening, 1st December, 1739, Admiral Vernon, our chosen Anti-Spaniard, finding, a while ago, that he had missed the Azogue Ships on the Coast of Spain, and must try America and the Spanish Main, in that view arrives at Porto-Bello. Next day, December 2d, Vernon attacks Porto-Bello; attacks certain Castles so called, with furious broadsiding, followed by scalading; gets surrender (on the 3d);—seamen have allowance instead of plunder;—blows up what Castles there are; and returns to Port Royal in Jamaica.
"Never-imagined joy in England, and fame to Vernon, when the news came: 'Took it with Six Ships,' cry they; 'the scurvy Ministry, who had heard him, in the fire of Parliamentary debate, say Six, would grant him no more: invincible Vernon!' Nay, next Year, I see, 'London was illuminated on the Anniversary of Porto-Bello:'—day settled in permanence as one of the High-tides of the Calendar, it would appear. And 'Vernon's Birthday' withal—how touching is stupidity when loyal!—was celebrated amazingly in all the chief Towns, like a kind of Christmas, when it came round; Nature having deigned to produce such a man, for a poor Nation in difficulties. Invincible Vernon, it is thought by Gazetteers, 'will look in at Carthagena shortly;' much more important Place, where a certain Governor Don Blas has been insolent withal, and written Vernon letters.
"2. PRELIMINARIES TO CARTHAGENA (MARCH-NOVEMBER, 1740).—Monday, 14th March, 1740, Vernon did, accordingly, look in on Carthagena; [Gentleman's Magazine, x. 350.] cast anchor in the shallow waste of surfs there, that Monday; and tried some bombarding, with bomb-ketches and the like, from Thursday till Saturday following. Vernon hopes he did hit the Jesuits' College, South Bastion, Custom-house and other principal edifices; but found that there was no getting near enough on that seaward side. Found that you must force the Interior Harbor,—a big Inland Gulf or Lake, which gushes in by what they call LITTLE-MOUTH (Boca-Chica), and has its Booms, Castles and Defences, which are numerous and strongish;—and that, for this end, you must have seven or eight thousand Land Forces, as well as an addition of Ships. On Saturday Evening, therefore, Vernon calls in his bomb-ketches; sails past, examining these things; and goes forth on other small adventures. For example,—
"Sunday, 3d April, 1740, 'about 10 at night' opens cannonade on Chagres (place often enough taken, by cutlass and pistol, in the Bucanier times); and, on Tuesday, 5th, gets surrender of Chagres: 'Custom-house crammed with goods, which we set fire to.' On news of which, there is again, in England, joy over the day of small things. The poor English People are set on this business of avenging Jenkins's Ear, and of having the Ocean Highway unbarred; and hope always it can be done by the Walpole Apparatuses, which ought to be in working order, and are not. 'Support this hero, you Walpole and Company, in his Carthagena views: it will be better for you!"
"Walpole and Company, aware of that fact, do take some trouble about it; and now, may not we say, PAULLO MAJORA CANAMUS? All through that Summer, 1740,"—while King Friedrich went rushing about, to Strasburg, to Wesel; doing his Herstals and Practicalities, with a light high hand, in almost an entertaining manner; and intent, still more, on his Voltaires and a Life to the Muses,—"there was, in England, serious heavy tumult of activity, secret and public. In the Dockyards, on the Drill-grounds, what a stir: Camp in the Isle of Wight, not to mention Portsmouth and the Sea-Industries; 6,000 Marines are to be embarked, as well as Land Regiments,—can anybody guess whither? America itself is to furnish 'one Regiment, with Scotch Officers to discipline it,' if they can.
"Here is real haste and effort; but by no means such speed as could be wished; multiplex confusions and contradictions occurring, as is usual, when your machinery runs foul. Nor are the Gazetteers without their guesses, though they study to be discreet. 'Here is something considerable in the wind; a grand idea, for certain;'—and to men of discernment it points surely towards Carthagena and heroic Vernon out yonder? Government is dumb altogether; and lays occasional embargo; trying hard (without success), in the delays that occurred, to keep it secret from Don Blas and others. The outcome of all which was,
"3. CARTHAGENA ITSELF (NOVEMBER, 1740—APRIL, 1741).—On November 6th,—by no means 'July 3d,' as your first fond program bore; which delay was itself likely to be fatal, unless the Almanac, and course of the Tropical Seasons would delay along with you!—we say, On Sunday, 6th November, 1740 [Kaiser Karl's Funeral just over, and great thoughts going on at Reinsberg], Rear-Admiral Sir Chaloner Ogle,—so many weeks and months after the set time,—does sail from St. Helen's (guessed, for Carthagena); all people sending blessings with him. Twenty-five big Ships of the Line, with three Half-Regiments on board; fireships, bomb-ketches, in abundance; and eighty Transports, with 6,000 drilled Marines: a Sea-and-Land Force fit to strengthen Hero Vernon with a witness, and realize his Carthagena views. A very great day at Portsmouth and St. Helen's for these Sunday folk. [Tindal, xx. 463 (LISTS, &c. there; date wrong, "31st October," instead of 26th (o.s.),—many things wrong, and all things left loose and flabby, and not right! As is poor Tindal's way).]
"Most obscure among the other items in that Armada of Sir Chaloner's, just taking leave of England; most obscure of the items then, but now most noticeable, or almost alone noticeable, is a young Surgeon's-Mate,—one Tobias Smollett; looking over the waters there and the fading coasts, not without thoughts. A proud, soft-hearted, though somewhat stern-visaged, caustic and indignant young gentleman. Apt to be caustic in speech, having sorrows of his own under lock and key, on this and subsequent occasions. Excellent Tobias; he has, little as he hopes it, something considerable by way of mission in this Expedition, and in this Universe generally. Mission to take Portraiture of English Seamanhood, with the due grimness, due fidelity; and convey the same to remote generations, before it vanish. Courage, my brave young Tobias; through endless sorrows, contradictions, toils and confusions, you will do your errand in some measure; and that will be something!—
"Five weeks before (29th September, 1740, which was also several months beyond time set), there had sailed, strictly hidden by embargoes which were little effectual, another Expedition, all Naval; intended to be subsidiary to this one: Commodore Anson's, of three inconsiderable Ships; who is to go round Cape Horn, if he can; to bombard Spanish America from the other side; and stretch out a hand to Vernon in his grand Carthagena or ulterior views. Together they may do some execution, if we judge by the old Bucanier and Queen-Elizabeth experiences? Anson's Expedition has become famous in the world, though Vernon got no good of it."
Well! Here truly was a business; not so ill-contrived. Somebody of head must have been at the centre of this: and it might, in result, have astonished the Spaniard, and tumbled him much topsy-turvy in those latitudes,—had the machinery for executing it been well in gear. Under Friedrich Wilhelm's captaincy and management, every person, every item, correct to its time, to its place, to its function, what a thing! But with mere Walpole Machinery: alas, it was far too wide a Plan for Machinery of that kind, habitually out of order, and only used to be as correct as—as it could. Those DELAYS themselves, first to Anson, then to Ogle, since the Tropical Almanac would not delay along with them, had thrown both Enterprises into weather such as all but meant impossibility in those latitudes! This was irremediable;—had not been remediable, by efforts and pushings here and there. The best of management, as under Anson, could not get the better of this; worst of management, as in the other case, was likely to make a fine thing of it! Let us hasten on:—
"January 20th, 1741, We arrive, through much rough weather and other confused hardships, at Port Royal in Jamaica; find Vernon waiting on the slip; the American Regiment, tolerably drilled by the Scotch Lieutenants, in full readiness and equipment; a body of Negroes superadded, by way of pioneer laborers fit for those hot climates. One sad loss there had been on the voyage hither: Land forces had lost their Commander, and did not find another. General Cathcart had died of sickness on the voyage; a Charles Lord Cathcart, who was understood to possess some knowledge of his business; and his Successor, one Wentworth, did not happen to have any. Which was reckoned unlucky, by the more observant. Vernon, though in haste for Carthagena, is in some anxiety about a powerful French Fleet which has been manoeuvring in those waters for some time; intent on no good that Vernon can imagine. The first thing now is, See into that French Fleet. French Fleet, on our going to look in the proper Island, is found to be all off for home; men 'mostly starved or otherwise dead,' we hear; so that now, after this last short delay,—To Carthagena with all sail.
"Wednesday Evening, 15th March, 1741, We anchor in the Playa Grande, the waste surfy Shallow which washes Carthagena seaward: 124 sail of us, big and little. We find Don Blas in a very prepared posture. Don Blas has been doing his best, this twelvemonth past; plugging up that Boca-Chica (LITTLE MOUTH) Ingate, with batteries, booms, great ships; and has castles not a few thereabouts and in the Interior Lake or Harbor; all which he has put in tolerable defence, so far as can be judged: not an inactive, if an insolent Don. We spend the next five days in considering and surveying these Performances of his: What is to be done with them; how, in the first place, we may force Boca-Chica; and get in upon his Interior Castles and him. After consideration, and plan fixed:
"Monday, 20th March, Sir Chaloner, with broadsides, sweeps away some small defences which lie to left of Boca-Chica [to our LEFT, to Boca-Chica's RIGHT, if anybody cares to be particular]. Whereupon the Troops land, some of them that same evening; and, within the next two days, are all ashore, implements, Negroes and the rest; building batteries, felling wood; intent to capture Boca-Chica Castle, and demolish the War-Ships, Booms, and fry of Fascine and other Batteries; and thereby to get in upon Don Blas, and have a stroke at his Interior Castles and Carthagena itself. Till April 5th, here are sixteen days of furious intricate work; not ill done:—the physical labor itself, the building of batteries, with Boca-Chica firing on you over the woods, is scarcely do-able by Europeans in that season; and the Negroes who are able for it, 'fling down their burdens, and scamper, whenever a gun goes off.' Furious fighting, too, there was, by seamen and landsmen; not ill done, considering circumstances.
"On the sixteenth day, April 5th [King Friedrich hurrying from the Mountains that same day, towards Steinau, which took fire with him at night], Boca-Chica Castle and the intricate War-Ships, Booms, and Castles thereabouts (Don Blas running off when the push became intense), are at last got. So that now, through Boca-Chica, we enter the Interior Harbor or Harbors. 'Harbors' which are of wide extent, and deep enough: being in fact a Lake, or rather Pair of Lakes, with Castles (CASTILLO GRANDE, 'Castle Grand,' the chief of them), with War-Ships sunk or afloat, and miscellaneous obstructions: beyond all which, at the farther shore, some five miles off, Carthagena itself does at last lie potentially accessible; and we hope to get in upon Don Blas and it. There ensue five days of intricate sea-work; not much of broadsiding, mainly tugging out of sunk War-Ships, and the like, to get alongside of Castle Grand, which is the chief obstruction.
"April 10, Castle Grand itself is got; nobody found in it when we storm. Don Blas and the Spaniards seem much in terror; burning any Ships they still have, near Carthagena; as if there were no chance now left." This is the very day of Mollwitz Battle; near about the hour when Schwerin broke into field-music, and advanced with thunderous glitter against the evening sun! Carthagena Expedition is, at length, fairly in contact with its Problem,—the question rising, 'Do you understand it, then?'
"Up to this point, mistakes of management had been made good by obstinate energy of execution; clear victory had gone on so far, the Capture of Carthagena now seemingly at hand. One thing was unfortunate: 'the able Mr. Moor [meritorious Captain of Foot, who, by accident, had spent some study on his business], the one real Engineer we had,' got killed in that Boca-Chica struggle: an end to poor Moor! So that the Siege of Carthagena will have to go on WITHOUT Engineer science henceforth. May be important, that,—who knows? Another thing was still more palpably important: Sea-General Vernon had an undisguised contempt for Land-General Wentworth. 'A mere blockhead, whose Brother has a Borough,' thinks Vernon (himself an Opposition Member, of high-sniffing, angry, not too magnanimous turn);—and withdraws now to his Ships; intimating: 'Do your Problem, then; I have set you down beside it, which was my part of the affair!'—Let us give the attack of Fort Lazar, and end this sad business.
"Sunday, 16th April, Wentworth, once master of the Uppermost Lake or Harbor (what the Natives call the SURGIDERO, or Anchorage Proper), had disembarked, high up to the right, a good way south of Carthagena; meaning to attack there-from a certain Fort Lazar, which stands on a Hill between Carthagena and him: this Hill and Fort once his, he has Carthagena under his cannon; Carthagena in his pocket, as it were. 'Fort not to be had without batteries,' thinks Wentworth; though the sickly rainy season has set in. 'Batteries? Scaling-ladders, you mean!' answers Vernon, with undisguised contempt. For the two are, by this time, almost in open quarrel. Wentworth starts building batteries, in spite of the rain-deluges; then stops building;—decides to do it by scalade, after all. And, at two in the morning of this Sunday, April 16th, sets forth, in certain columns,—by roads ill-known, with arrangements that do NOT fit like clock-work,—to storm said Hill and Fort. The English are an obstinate people; and strenuous execution will sometimes amend defects of plan,—sometimes not.
"The obstinate English, nothing in them but sullen fire of valor, which has to burn UNluminous, did, after mistake on mistake, climb the rocks or heights of Lazar Hill, in spite of the world and Don Blas's cannonading; but found, when atop, That Fort Lazar, raining cannon-shot, was still divided from them by chasms; that the scaling-ladders had not come (never did come, owing to indiscipline somewhere),—and that, without wings as of eagles, they could not reach Fort Lazar at all! For about four hours, they struggled with a desperate doggedness, to overcome the chasms, to wrench aside the Laws of Nature, and do something useful for themselves; patiently, though sulkily; regardless of the storm of shot which killed 600 of them, the while. At length, finding the Laws of Nature too strong for them, they descended gloomily: 'in gloomy silence' marched home to their tents again,—in a humor too deep for words.
"Yes; and we find they fell sick in multitudes, that night; and, 'in two days more, were reduced from 6,645 to 3,200 effective;' Vernon, from the sea, looking disdainfully on:—and it became evident that the big Project had gone to water; and that nothing would remain but to return straightway to Jamaica, in bankrupt condition. Which accordingly was set about. And ten days hence (April 26th)) the final party of them did get on board,—punctual to take 'three tents,' their last rag of Siege-furniture, along with them; 'lest Don Blas have trophies,' thinks poor Wentworth. And sailed away, with their sad Siege finished in such fashion. Strenuous Siege; which, had the War-Sciences been foolishness, and the Laws of Nature and the rigors of Arithmetic and Geometry been stretchable entities, might have succeeded better!" [Smollett's Account, Miscellaneous Works (Edinburgh, 1806), iv. 445-469, is that of a highly intelligent Eye-witness, credible and intelligible in every particular.]
"Evening of April 26th:"—I perceive it was in the very hours while Belleisle arrived in Friedrich's Camp at Mollwitz; eve of that Siege of Brieg, which we saw performing itself with punctual regard to said Laws and rigors, and issuing in so different a manner! Nothing that my Constitutional Historian has said equals in pungent enormity the matter-of-fact Picture, left by Tobias Smollett, of the sick and wounded, in the interim which follow&d that attempt on Fort Lazar and the Laws of Nature:—
"As for the sick and wounded", says Tobias, "they were, next day, sent on board of the transports and vessels called hospital-ships; where they languished in want of every necessary comfort and accommodation. They were destitute of surgeons, nurses, cooks and proper provision; they were pent up between decks in small vessels, where they had not room to sit upright; they wallowed in filth; myriads of maggots were hatched in the putrefaction of their sores, which had no other dressing than that of being washed by themselves with their own allowance of brandy; and nothing was heard but groans, lamentations and the language of despair, invoking death to deliver them from their miseries. What served to encourage this despondence, was the prospect of those poor wretches who had strength and opportunity to look around them; for there they beheld the naked bodies of their fellow-soldiers and comrades floating up and down the harbor, affording prey to the carrion-crows and sharks, which tore them in pieces without interruption, and contributing by their stench to the mortality that prevailed.
"This picture cannot fail to be shocking to the humane reader, especially when he is informed, that while those miserable objects cried in vain for assistance, and actually perished for want of proper attendance, every ship of war in the fleet could have spared a couple of surgeons for their relief; and many young gentlemen of that profession solicited their captains in pain for leave to go and administer help to the sick and wounded. The necessities of the poor people were well known; the remedy was easy and apparent; but the discord between the chiefs was inflamed to such a degree of diabolical rancor, that the one chose rather to see his men perish than ask help of the other, who disdained to offer his assistance unasked, though it might have saved the lives of his fellow-subjects." [Smollett, IBID. (Anderson's Edition), iv. 466.]
In such an amazing condition is the English Fighting Apparatus under Walpole, being important for England's self only; while the Talking Apparatus, important for Walpole, is in such excellent gearing, so well kept in repair and oil! By Wentworth's blame, who had no knowledge of war; by Vernon's, who sat famous on the Opposition side, yet wanted loyalty of mind; by one's blame and another's, WHOSE it is idle arguing, here is how your Fighting Apparatus performs in the hour when needed. Unfortunate General, or General's Cocked-Hat (a brave heart too, they say, though of brain too vacant, too opaque); unfortunate Admiral (much blown away by vanity, in-nature and Parliamentary wind);—doubly unfortunate Nation, that employs such to lead its armaments! How the English Nation took it? The English Nation has had much of this kind to take, first and last; and apparently will yet have. "Gloomy silence," like that of the poor men going home to their tents, is our only dialect towards it.
This is a dreadful business, this of the wrecked Carthagena Expedition; such a force of war-munitions in every kind,—including the rare kind, human Courage and force of heart, only not human Captaincy, the rarest kind,—as could have swallowed South America at discretion, had there been Captains over it. Has gone blundering down into Orcus and the shark's belly, in that unutterable manner. Might have been didactic to England, more than it was; England's skin being very thick against lessons of that nature. Might have broken the heart of a little Sovereign Gentleman Curator of England, had he gone hypochondriacally into it; which he was far from doing, brisk little Gentleman; looking out else-whither, with those eyes A FLEUR DE TETE, and nothing of insoluble admitted into the brain that dwelt inside.
What became subsequently of the Spanish War, we in vain inquire of History-Books. The War did not die for many years to come, but neither did it publicly live; it disappears at this point: a River Niger, seen once flowing broad enough; but issuing—Does it issue nowhere, then? Where does it issue? Except for my Constitutional Historian, still unpublished, I should never have known where.—By the time these disastrous Carthagena tidings reached England, his Britannic Majesty was in Hanover; involved, he, and all his State doctors, English and Hanoverian, in awful contemplation on Pragmatic Sanction, Kaiserwahl, Celestial Balance, and the saving of Nature's Keystone, should this still prove possible to human effort and contrivance. In which Imminency of Doomsday itself, the small English-Spanish matter, which the Official people, and his Majesty as much as any, had bitterly disliked, was quite let go, and dropped out of view. Forgotten by Official people; left to the dumb English Nation, whose concern it was, to administer as IT could.
Anson—with his three ships gone to two, gone ultimately to one—is henceforth what Spanish War there officially is. Anson could not meet those Vernon-Wentworth gentlemen "from the other side of the Isthmus of Darien," the gentlemen, with their Enterprise, being already bankrupt and away. Anson, with three inconsiderable ships, which rotted gradually into one, could not himself settle the Spanish War: but he did, on his own score, a series of things, ending in beautiful finis of the Acapulco Ship, which were of considerable detriment, and of highly considerable disgrace, to Spain;—and were, and are long likely to be, memorable among the Sea-heroisms of the world. Giving proof that real Captains, taciturn Sons of Anak, are still born in England; and Sea-kings, equal to any that were. Luckily, too, he had some chaplain or ship's-surgeon on board, who saw good to write account of that memorable VOYAGE of his; and did it, in brief, perspicuous terms, wise and credible: a real Poem in its kind, or Romance all Fact; one of the pleasantest little Books in the World's Library at this date. Anson sheds some tincture of heroic beauty over that otherwise altogether hideous puddle of mismanagement, platitude, disaster; and vindicates, in a pathetically potential way, the honor of his poor Nation a little.
Apart from Official Anson, the Spanish War fell mainly, we may say, into the hands of—of Mr. Jenkins himself, and such Friends of his, at Wapping, Bristol and the Seaports, as might be disposed to go privateering. In which course, after some crosses at first, and great complaints of losses to Spanish Privateers, Wapping and Bristol did at length eminently get the upper hand; and thus carried on this Spanish War (or Spanish-French, Spain and France having got into one boat), for long years coming; in an entirely inarticulate, but by no means quite ineffectual manner,—indeed, to the ultimate clearance of the Seas from both French and Spaniard, within the next twenty years. Readers shall take this little Excerpt, dated Three Years hence, and set it twinkling in the night of their imaginations:—
BRISTOL, MONDAY, 21st (10th) SEPTEMBER, 1744.... "Nothing is to be seen here but rejoicings for the number of French prizes brought into this port. Our Sailors are in high spirits, and full of money; and while on shore, spend their whole time in carousing, visiting their mistresses, going to plays, serenading, &c., dressed out with laced hats, tossels (SIC), swords with sword-knots, and every other way of spending their money." [Extract of a Letter from Bristol, in Gentleman's Magazine, xiv. 504.]
Carthagena, Walpole, Viners: here are Sorrows for a Britannic Majesty;—and these are nothing like all. But poor readers should have some respite; brief breathing-time, were it only to use their pocket-handkerchiefs, and summon new courage!
After Brieg, Friedrich undertook nothing military, except strict vigilance of Neipperg, for a couple of months or more. Military, especially offensive operations, are not the methods just now. Rest on your oars; see how this seething Ocean of European Politics, and Peace or War, will settle itself into currents, into set winds; by which of them a man may steer, who happens to have a fixed port in view. Neipperg, too, is glad to be quiescent; "my Infantry hopelessly inferior," he writes to head-quarters: "Could not one hire 10,000 Saxons, think you,"—or do several other chimerical things, for help? Except with his Pandour people, working what mischief they can, Neipperg does nothing. But this Hungarian rabble is extensively industrious, scouring the country far and wide; and gives a great deal of trouble both to Friedrich and the peaceable inhabitants. So that there is plenty of Small War always going on:—not mentionable here, any passage of it, except perhaps one, at a place called Rothschloss; which concerns a remarkable Prussian Hussar Major, their famed Ziethen, and is still remembered by the Prussian public.
We have heard of Captain, now Major Ziethen, how Friedrich Wilhelm sent him to the Rhine Campaign, six years ago, to learn the Hussar Art from the Austrians there. One Baronay (BARONIAY, or even BARANYAI, as others write him), an excellent hand, taught him the Art;—and how well he has learned, Baronay now sadly experiences. The affair of Rothschloss (in abridged form) befell as follows:—
"In these Small-War businesses, Baronay, Austrian Major-General of Hussars, had been exceedingly mischievous hitherto. It was but the other day, a Prussian regular party had to go out upon him, just in time; and to RE-wrench 'sixty cart-loads of meal,' wrenched by him from suffering individuals; with which he was making off to Neisse, when the Prussians [from their Camp of Mollwitz, where they still are] came in sight.
"And now again (May 16th) news is, That Baronay, and 1,400 Hussars with him, has another considerable set of meal-carts,—in the Village of Rothschloss, about twenty miles southward, Frankenstein way; and means to march with them Neisse-ward to-morrow. Two marches or so will bring him home; if Prussian diligence prevent not. 'Go instantly,' orders Friedrich,—appointing Winterfeld to do it: Winterfeld with 300 dragoons, with Ziethen and Hussars to the amount of 600; which is more than one to two of Austrians.
"Winterfeld and Ziethen march that same day; are in the neighborhood of Rothschloss by nightfall; and take their measures,—block the road to Neisse, and do other necessary things. And go in upon Baronay next morning, at the due rate, fiery men both of them; sweep poor Baronay away, MINUS the meal; who finds even his road blocked (bridge bursting into cannon-shot upon him, at one point), instead of bridge, a stream, or slow current of quagmire for him,—and is in imminent hazard. Ziethen's behavior was superlative (details of it unintelligible off the ground); and Baronay fled totally in wreck;—his own horse shot, and at the moment no other to be had; swam the quagmire, or swashed through it, 'by help of a tree;' and had a near miss of capture. Recovering himself on the other side, Baronay, we can fancy, gave a grin of various expression, as he got into saddle again: 'The arrow so near killing was feathered from one's own wing, too!'—And indeed, a day or two after, he wrote Ziethen a handsome Letter to that effect." [Helden-Geschichte, i. 927; Orlich, i. 120. The Life of General de Zieten (English Translation, very ill printed, Berlin, 1803), BY FRAU VON BLUMENTHAL (a vaguish eloquent Lady, but with access to information, being a connection of Z.'s), p. 84.]
Ziethen, for minor good feats, had been made Lieutenant-Colonel, the very day he marched; his Commission dates May 16th, 1741; and on the morrow he handsels it in this pretty manner. He is now forty-two; much held down hitherto; being a man of inarticulate turn, hot and abrupt in his ways,—liable always to multifarious obstruction, and unjust contradiction from his fellow-creatures. But Winterfeld's report on this occasion was emphatic; and Ziethen shoots rapidly up henceforth; Colonel within the year, General in 1744; and more and more esteemed by Friedrich during their subsequent long life together.
Though perhaps the two most opposite men in Nature, and standing so far apart, they fully recognized one another in their several spheres. For Ziethen too had good eyesight, though in abstruse sort:—rugged simple son of the moorlands; nourished, body and soul, on orthodox frugal oatmeal (so to speak), with a large sprinkling of fire and iron thrown in! A man born poor: son of some poor Squirelet in the Ruppin Country;—"used to walk five miles into Ruppin on Saturday nights," in early life, "and have his hair done into club, which had to last him till the week following." [Militair-Lexikon, iv. 310.] A big-headed, thick-lipped, decidedly ugly little man. And yet so beautiful in his ugliness: wise, resolute, true, with a dash of high uncomplaining sorrow in him;—not the "bleached nigger" at all, as Print-Collectors sometimes call him! No; but (on those oatmeal terms) the Socrates-Odysseus, the valiant pious Stoic, and much-enduring man. One of the best Hussar Captains ever built. By degrees King Friedrich and he grew to be,—with considerable tiffs now and then, and intervals of gloom and eclipse,—what we might call sworn friends. On which and on general grounds, Ziethen has become, like Friedrich himself, a kind of mythical person with the soldiery and common people; more of a demi-god than any other of Friedrich's Captains.
Friedrich is always eagerly in quest of men like Ziethen; specially so at this time. He has meditated much on the bad figure his Cavalry made at Mollwitz; and is already drilling them anew in multiplex ways, during those leisure days he now has,—with evident success on the next trial, this very Summer. And, as his wont is, will not rest satisfied there. But strives incessantly, for a series of summers and years to come, till he bring them to perfection; or to the likeness of his own thought, which probably was not far from that. Till at length it can be said his success became world-famous; and he had such Seidlitzes and Ziethens as were not seen before or since.
[MAP FOR THE FIRST AND SECOND SILESIAN WAR HERE—missing]
END OF BOOK 12