HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH II. OF PRUSSIA
FREDERICK THE GREAT
by Thomas Carlyle
Chapter I. — BRITANNIC MAJESTY AS PALADIN OF THE PRAGMATIC.
Chapter II. — CAMP OF STREHLEN.
EXCELLENCY ROBINSON BUSY IN THE VIENNA HOFRATH CIRCLES, TO PRODUCE A
EXCELLENCY ROBINSON HAS AUDIENCE OF FRIEDRICH (Camp of Strehlen, 7th
Chapter III. — GRAND REVIEW AT STREHLEN: NEIPPERG TAKES AIM AT BRESLAU.
Chapter IV. — FRIEDRICH TAKES THE FIELD AGAIN, INTENT ON HAVING NEISSE.
Chapter V. — KLEIN-SCHNELLENDORF: FRIEDRICH GETS NEISSE, IN A FASHION.
FRIEDRICH TAKES NEISSE BY SHAM SIEGE (CAPTURE NOT SHAM); GETS HOMAGED IN
Chapter VI. — NEW MAYOR OF LANDSHUT MAKES AN INSTALLATION SPEECH.
Chapter VII. — FRIEDRICH PURPOSES TO MEND THE KLEIN-SCHNELLENDORF FAILURE: FORTUNES OF THE BELLEISLE ARMAMENT.
BROGLIO HAS A BIVOUAC OF PISEK; KHEVENHULLER LOOKS IN UPON THE DONAU
Chapter VIII. — FRIEDRICH STARTS FOR MORAVIA, ON A NEW SCHEME HE HAS.
Chapter IX. — WILHELMINA GOES TO SEE THE GAYETIES AT FRANKFURT.
THE DUCHESS DOWAGER OF WURTEMBERG, RETURNING FROM BERLIN FAVORS US WITH
Chapter X. — FRIEDRICH DOES HIS MORAVIAN EXPEDITION WHICH PROVES A MERE
THE SAXONS THINK IGLAU ENOUGH; THE FRENCH GO HOME.
FRIEDRICH SUBMERGES THE MORAVIAN COUNTRIES; BUT CANNOT BRUNN, WHICH IS
THE SAXONS HAVE NO CANNON FOR BRUNN, CANNOT AFFORD ANY; THERE IS A HIGH
Chapter XI. —NUSSLER IN NEISSE, WITH THE OLD DESSAUER AND WALRAVE.
Chapter XII. — PRINCE KARL DOES COME ON.
Chapter XIII. —BATTLE OF CHOTUSITZ.
Chapter XIV. — PEACE OF BRESLAU.
BOOK XIII. — FIRST SILESIAN WAR, LEAVING THE GENERAL EUROPEAN ONE ABLAZE ALL ROUND, GETS ENDED. — May, 1741-July, 1742.
Chapter I. — BRITANNIC MAJESTY AS PALADIN OF THE PRAGMATIC.
Part, is now perhaps conceivable to readers. But as to the Second, the Germanic or Pragmatic Part,—articulate History, after much consideration, is content to renounce attempting these; feels that these will remain forever inconceivable to mankind in the now altered times. So small a gentleman; and he feels, dismally though with heroism, that he has got the axis of the world on his shoulder. Poor Majesty! His eyes, proud as Jove's, are nothing like so perspicacious; a pair of the poorest eyes: and he has to scan with them, and unriddle under pain of death, such a waste of insoluble intricacies, troubles and world-perils as seldom was,—even in Dreams. In fact, it is of the nature of a long Nightmare Dream, all this of the Pragmatic, to his poor Majesty and Nation; and wakeful History must not spend herself upon it, beyond the essential.
May 12th, betimes this Year, his Majesty got across to Hanover, Harrington with him; anxious to contemplate near at hand that Camp of the Old Dessauer's at Gottin, and the other fearful phenomena, French, Prussian and other, in that Country. His Majesty, as natural, was much in Germany in those Years; scanning the phenomena; a long while not knowing what in the world to make of them. Bully Belleisle having stept into the ring, it is evident, clear as the sun, that one must act, and act at once; but it is a perfect sphinx-enigma to say How. Seldom was Sovereign or man so spurred, and goaded on, by the highest considerations; and then so held down, and chained to his place, by an imbroglio of counter-considerations and sphinx-riddles! Thrice over, at different dates (which shall be given), the first of them this Year, he starts up as in spasm, determined to draw sword, and plunge in; twice he is crushed down again, with sword half drawn; and only the third time (in 1743) does he get sword out, and brandish it in a surprising though useless manner. After which he feels better. But up to that crisis, his case is really tragical,—had idle readers any bowels for him; which they have not! One or two Fractions, snatched from the circumambient Paper Vortex, must suffice us for the indispensable in this place:—
CUNCTATIONS, YET INCESSANT AND UBIQUITOUS ENDEAVORINGS, OF HIS BRITANNIC
... After the wonderful Russian Partition-Treaty, which his English Walpoles would not hear of,—and which has produced the Camp of Gottin, see, your Majesty!—George does nothing rashly. Far from it: indeed, except it be paying money, he becomes again a miracle of cunctations; and staggers about for years to come, like the—Shall we say, like the White Hanover Horse amid half a dozen sieves of beans? Alas, no, like the Hanover Horse with the shadows of half a dozen Damocles'-swords dangling into the eyes of it;—enough to drive any Horse to its wit's end!—
"To do, to dare," thinks the Britannic Majesty;—yes, and of daring there is a plenty: but, "In which direction? What, How?" these are questions for a fussy little gentleman called to take the world on his shoulders. We suppose it was by Walpole's advice that he gave her Hungarian Majesty that 200,000 pounds of Secret-Service Money;—advice sufficiently Walpolean: "Russian Partition-Treaties; horrible to think of;—beware of these again! Give her Majesty that cash; can be done; it will keep matters afloat, and spoil nothing!" That, till the late Subsidy payable within year and day hence, was all of tangible his Majesty had yet done;—truly that is all her Hungarian Majesty has yet got by hawking the world, Pragmatic Sanction in hand. And if that were the bit of generosity which enabled Neipperg to climb the Mountains and be beaten at Mollwitz, that has helped little! Very big generosities, to a frightful cipher of Millions Sterling through the coming years, will go the same road; and amount also to zero, even for the receiving party, not to speak of the giving! For men and kings are wise creatures.
But wise or unwise, how great are his Britannic Majesty's activities in this Pragmatic Business! We may say, they are prodigious, incessant, ubiquitous. They are forgotten now, fallen wholly to the spiders and the dust-bins;—though Friedrich himself was not a busier King in those days, if perhaps a better directed. It is a thing wonderful to us, but sorrowful and undeniable. We perceive the Britannic Majesty's own little mind pulsing with this Pragmatic Matter, as the biggest volcano would do;—shooting forth dust and smoke (subsidies, diplomatic emissaries, treaties, offers of treaty, plans, foolish futile exertions), at an immense rate. When the Celestial Balances are canting, a man ought to exert himself. But as to this of saving the House of Austria from France,—surely, your Britannic Majesty, the shortest way to that, if that is so indispensable, were: That the House of Austria should consent to give up its stolen goods, better late than never; and to make this King of Prussia its friend, as he offers to be! Joined with this King, it would manage to give account of France and its balloon projects, by and by. Could your Britannic Majesty but take Mr. Viner's hint; and, in the interim, mind your OWN business!—His Britannic Majesty intends immediate fighting; and, both in England and Hanover, is making preparation loud and great. Nay, he will in his own person fight, if necessary, and rather likes the thought of it: he saw Oudenarde in his young days; and, I am told, traces in himself a talent for Generalship. Were the Britannic Majesty to draw his own puissant sword!-His own puissant purse he has already drawn; and is subsidizing to right and left; knocking at all doors with money in hand, and the question, "Any fighting done here?" In England itself there goes on much drilling, enlisting; camping, proposing to camp; which is noisy enough in the British Newspapers, much more in the Foreign. One actual Camp there was "on Lexden Heath near Colchester," from May till October of this 1741, [Manifold but insignificant details about it, in the old Newspapers of those Months.]—Camp waiting always to be shipped across to the scene of action, but never was:—this actual Camp, and several imaginary ones here, which were alarming to the Continental Gazetteer. In England his Majesty is busy that way; still more among his Hanoverians, now under his own royal eye; and among his Danes and Hessians, whom he has now brought over into Hanover, to combine with the others. Danes and Hessians, 6,000 of each kind, he for some time keeps back in stall, upon subsidy, ready for such an occasion. Their "Camp at Hameln," "Camp at Nienburg" (will, with the Hanoverians, be 30,000 odd); their swashing and blaring about, intending to encamp at Hameln, at Nienburg, and other places, but never doing it, or doing it with any result: this, with the alarming English Camps at Lexden and in Dreamland, which also were void of practical issue, filled Europe with rumor this Summer.—Eager enough to fight; a noble martial ardor in our little Hercules-Atlas! But there lie such enormous difficulties on the threshold; especially these Two, which are insuperable or nearly so.
Difficulty FIRST, is that of the laggard Dutch; a People apt to be heavy in the stern-works. They are quite languid about Pragmatic Sanction, these Dutch; they answer his Britannic Majesty's enthusiasm with an obese torpidity; and hope always they will drift through, in some way; buoyant in their own fat, well ballasted astern; and not need such swimming for life. "What a laggard notion," thinks his Majesty; "notion in ten pair of breeches, so to speak!" This stirring up of the Dutch, which lasts year on year, and almost beats Lord Stair, Lord Carteret, and our chief Artists, is itself a thing like few! One of his Britannic Majesty's great difficulties;—insuperable he never could admit it to be. "Surely you are a Sea-Power, ye valiant Dutch; the OTHER Sea-Power? Bound by Barrier Treaty, Treaty of Vienna, and Law of Nature itself, to rise with us against the fatal designs of France; fatal to your Dutch Barrier, first of all; if the Liberties of Mankind were indifferent to you! How is it that you will not?" The Dutch cannot say how. France rocks them in security, by oily-mouthed Diplomatists, Fenelon and others: "Would not touch a stone of your Barrier, for the world, ye admirable Dutch neighbors: on our honor, thrice and four times, No!" They have an eloquent Van Hoey of their own at Paris; renowned in Newspapers: "Nothing but friendship here!" reports Van Hoey always; and the Dutch answer his Britannic Majesty: "Hm, rise? Well then, if we must!"—but sit always still.
Nowhere in Political Mechanics have I seen such a Problem as this of hoisting to their feet the heavy-bottomed Dutch. The cunningest leverage, every sort of Diplomatic block-and-tackle, Carteret and Stair themselves running over to help in critical seasons, is applied; to almost no purpose. Pull long, pull strong, pull all together,—see, the heavy Dutch do stir; some four inches of daylight fairly visible below them: bear a hand, oh, bear a hand!—Pooh, the Dutch flap down again, as low as ever. As low,—unless (by Diplomatic art) you have WEDGED them at the four inches higher; which, after the first time or two, is generally done. At the long last, partially in 1743 (upon which his Britannic Majesty drew sword), completely in 1747, the Dutch were got to their feet;—unfortunately good for nothing when they were! Without them his Britannic Majesty durst not venture. Hidden in those dust-bins, there is nothing so absurd, or which would be so wearisome, did it not at last become slightly ludicrous, as this of hoisting the Dutch.
Difficulty SECOND, which in enormity of magnitude might be reckoned first, as in order of time it ranks both first and last, is: The case of dear Hanover; case involved in mere insolubilities. Our own dear Hanover, which (were there nothing more in it) is liable, from that Camp at Gottin, to be slit in pieces at a moment's warning! No drawing sword against a nefarious Prussia, on those terms. The Camp at Gottin holds George in checkmate. And then finally, in this same Autumn, 1741, when a Maillebois with his 40 or 50,000 French (the Leftward or western of those Two Belleisle Armies), threatening our Hanover from another side, crossed the Lower Rhine—But let us not anticipate. The case of Hanover, which everybody saw to be his Majesty's vulnerable point, was the constant open door of France and her machinations, and a never-ending theme of angry eloquences in the English Parliament as well.
So that the case of Hanover proved insoluble throughout, and was like a perpetual running sore. Oh the pamphleteerings, the denouncings, the complainings, satirical and elegiac, which grounded themselves on Hanover, the CASE OF THE HANOVER FORCES, and innumerable other Hanoverian cases, griefs and difficulties! So pungently vital to somnambulant mankind at that epoch; to us fallen dead as carrion, and unendurable to think of. My friends, if you send for Gentlemen from Hanover, you must take them with Hanover adhering more or less; and ought not to quarrel with your bargain, which you reckoned so divine! No doubt, it is singular to see a Britannic Majesty neglecting his own Spanish War, the one real business he has at present; and running about over all the world; busy, soul, body and breeches-pocket, in other people's wars; egging on other fighting, whispering every likely fellow he can meet, "Won't you perhaps fight? Here is for you, if so!"—hand to breeches-pocket accompanying the word. But it must be said, and ought to be better known than in our day it is, His Majesty's Ministers, and the English State-Doctors generally, were precisely of the same mind. TO them too the Austrian Quarrel was everything, their own poor Spanish Quarrel nothing; and the complaint they make of his Majesty is rather that he does not rush rapidly enough, with brandished sword, as well as with guineas raining from him, into this one indispensable business. "Owing to his fears for Hanover!" say they, with indignation, with no end of suspicion, angry pamphleteering and covert eloquence, "within those walls" and without.
The suspicion of Hanover's checking his Majesty's Pragmatic velocity is altogether well founded; and there need no more be said on that Hanover score. Be it well understood and admitted, Hanover was the Britannic Majesty's beloved son; and the British Empire his opulent milk-cow. Richest of milk-cows; staff of one's life, for grand purposes and small; beautiful big animal, not to be provoked; but to be stroked and milked:—Friends, if you will do a Glorious Revolution of that kind, and burn such an amount of tar upon it, why eat sour herbs for an inevitable corollary therefrom! And let my present readers understand, at any rate, that,—except in Wapping, Bristol and among the simple instinctive classes (with whom, it is true, go Pitt and some illustrious figures),—political England generally, whatever of England had Parliamentary discourse of reason, and did Pamphlets, Despatches, Harangues, went greatly along with his Majesty in that Pragmatic Business. And be the blame of delirium laid on the right back, where it ought to lie, not on the wrong, which has enough to bear of its own. And go not into that dust-whirlwind of extinct stupidities, O reader:—what reader would, except for didactic objects? Know only that it does of a truth whirl there; and fancy always, if you can, that certain things and Human Figures, a Friedrich, a Chatham and some others, have it for their Life-Element. Which, I often think, is their principal misfortune with Posterity; said Life-Element having gone to such an unutterable condition for gods and men.
"One other thing surprises us in those Old Pamphlets," says my Constitutional Friend: "How the phrase, 'Cause of Liberty' ever and anon turns up, with great though extinct emphasis, evidently sincere. After groping, one is astonished to find it means Support of the House of Austria; keeping of the Hapsburgs entire in their old Possessions among mankind! That, to our great-grandfathers, was the 'Cause of Liberty;'—said 'Cause' being, with us again, Electoral Suffrage and other things; a notably different definition, perhaps still wider of the mark.
"Our great-grandfathers lived in perpetual terror that they would be devoured by France; that French ambition would overset the Celestial Balance, and proceed next to eat the British Nation. Stand upon your guard then, one would have said: Look to your ships, to your defences, to your industries; to your virtues first of all,—your VIRTUTES, manhoods, conformities to the Divine Law appointed you; which are the great and indeed sole strength to any Man or Nation! Discipline yourselves, wisely, in all kinds; more and more, till there be no anarchic fibre left in you. Unanarchic, disciplined at all points, you might then, I should say, with supreme composure, let France, and the whole World at its back, try what they could do upon you and the unique little Island you are so lucky as to live in?—Foolish mortals: what Potentiality of Battle, think you (not against France only, but against Satanas and the Ministers of Chaos generally), would a poor Friedrich Wilhelm, not to speak of better, have got out of such a Possession, had it been his to put in drill! And drill is not of soldiers only; though perhaps of soldiers first and most indispensably of all; since 'without Being,' as my Friend Oliver was wont to say, 'Well-being is not possible.' There is military drill; there is industrial, economic, spiritual; gradually there are all kinds of drill, of wise discipline, of peremptory mandate become effective everywhere, 'OBEY the Laws of Heaven, or else disappear from these latitudes!' Ah me, if one dealt in day-dreams, and prophecies of an England grown celestial,—celestial she should be, not in gold nuggets, continents all of beef, and seas all of beer, Abolition of Pain, and Paradise to All and Sundry, but in that quite different fashion; and there, I should say, THERE were the magnificent Hope to indulge in! That were to me the 'Cause of Liberty;' and any the smallest contribution towards that kind of 'Liberty' were a sacred thing!—
"Belleisle again may, if he pleases, call his the Cause of Sovereignty. A Sovereign Louis, it would appear, has not governing enough to do within his own French borders, but feels called to undertake Germany as well;—a gentleman with an immense governing faculty, it would appear? Truly, good reader, I am sick of heart, contemplating those empty sovereign mountebanks, and empty antagonist ditto, with their Causes of Liberty and Causes of Anti-Liberty; and cannot but wish that we had got the ashes of that World-Explosion, of 1789, well riddled and smelted, and the poor World were quit of a great many things!"—
My Constitutional Historian of England, musing on Belleisle and his Anti-Pragmatic industries and grandiosities,—"how Chief-Bully Belleisle stept down into the ring as a gay Volunteer, and foolish Chief-Defender George had to follow dismally heroic, as a Conscript of Fate,"—drops these words: in regard to the Wages they respectively had:—
"Nations that go into War without business there, are sure of getting business as they proceed; and if the beginning were phantasms,—especially phantasms of the hoping, self-conceited kind,—the results for them are apt to be extremely real! As was the case with the French in this War, and those following, in which his Britannic Majesty played chief counter-tenor. From 1741, in King Friedrich's First War, onwards to Friedrich's Third War, 1756-1763, the volunteer French found a great deal of work lying ready for them,—gratuitous on their part, from the beginning. And the results to them came out, first completely visible, in the World-Miracles of 1789, and the years following!
"Nations, again, may be driven upon War by phantasm TERRORS, and go into it, in sorrow of heart, not gayety of heart; and that is a shade better. And one always pities a poor Nation, in such case;—as the very Destinies rather do, and judge it more mercifully. Nay, the poor bewildered Nation may, among its brain-phantasms, have something of reality and sanity inarticulately stirring it withal. It may have a real ordinance of Heaven to accomplish on those terms:—and IF so, it will sometimes, in the most chaotic circuitous ways, through endless hazards, at a hundred or a hundred thousand times the natural expense, ultimately get it done! This was the case of the poor English in those Wars.
"They were Wars extraneous to England little less than to France; neither Nation had real business in them; and they seem to us now a very mad object on the part of both. But they were not gratuitously gone into, on the part of England; far from that. England undertook them, with its big heart very sorrowful, strange spectralities bewildering it; and managed them (as men do sleep-walking) with a gloomy solidity of purpose, with a heavy-laden energy, and, on the whole, with a depth of stupidity, which were very great. Yet look at the respective net results. France lies down to rot into grand Spontaneous-Combustion, Apotheosis of Sansculottism, and much else; which still lasts, to her own great peril, and the great affliction of neighbors. Poor England, after such enormous stumbling among the chimney-pots, and somnambulism over all the world for twenty years, finds on awakening, that she is arrived, after all, where she wished to be, and a good deal farther! Finds that her own important little errand is somehow or other, done;—and, in short, that 'Jenkins's Ear [as she named the thing] HAS been avenged,' and the Ocean Highways 'opened' and a good deal more, in a most signal way! For the Eternal Providences—little as poor Dryasdust now knows of it, mumbling and maundering that sad stuff of his—do rule; and the great soul of the world, I assure you once more, is JUST. And always for a Nation, as for a man, it is very behooveful to be honest, to be modest, however stupid!"—
By this time, however,—Mollwitz having fallen out, and Belleisle being evidently on the steps,—his Britannic Majesty recognizes clearly, and insists upon it, strengthened by his Harringtons and everybody of discernment, That, nefarious or not, this Friedrich will require to be bargained with. That, far from breaking in upon him, and partitioning him (how far from it!), there is no conceivable method of saving the Celestial Balances till HE be satisfied, in some way. This is the one step his Britannic Majesty has yet made, out of these his choking imbroglios; and truly this is one. Hyndford, his best negotiator, is on the road for Friedrich's Camp; Robinson at Vienna, has been directed to say and insist, "Bargain with that man; he must be bargained with, if our Cause of Liberty is to be saved at all?"—
And now, having opened the dust-bin so far, that the reader's fancy might be stirred without affliction to his lungs and eyes, let us shut it down again,—might we but hope forever! That is too fond a hope. But the background or sustaining element made imaginable, the few events deserving memory may surely go on at a much swifter pace.
Chapter II. — CAMP OF STREHLEN.
Friedrich's Silesian Camps this Summer, Camp of Strehlen chiefly, were among the strangest places in the world. Friedrich, as we have often noticed, did not much pursue the defeated Austrians, at or near Mollwitz, or press them towards flat ruin in their Silesian business: it is clear he anxiously wished a bargain without farther exasperation; and hoped he might get it by judicious patience. Brieg he took, with that fine outburst of bombardment, which did not last a week: but Brieg once his, he fell quiet again; kept encamping, here there, in that Mollwitz-Neisse region, for above three months to come; not doing much, beyond the indispensable; negotiating much, or rather negotiated with, and waiting on events. [In Camp of Mollwitz (nearer Brieg than the Battle-field was) till 28th May (after the Battle seven weeks); then to Camp at Grotkau (28th May-9th June, twelve days); thence (9th June) to Friedewalde, Herrnsdorf; to Strehlen (21st June-20th August, nine or ten weeks in all). See Helden-Geschichte, i. 924, ii. 931; Rodenbeck, Orlich, &c.]
Both Armies were reinforcing themselves; and Friedrich's, for obvious reasons, in the first weeks especially, became much the stronger. Once in May, and again afterwards, weary of the pace things went at, he had resolved on having Neisse at once; on attacking Neipperg in his strong camp there, and cutting short the tedious janglings and uncertainties. He advanced to Grotkau accordingly, some twelve or fifteen miles nearer Neisse (28th May,—stayed till 9th June), quite within wind of Neipperg and his outposts; but found still, on closer inspection, that he had better wait;—and do so withal at a greater distance from Neipperg and his Pandour Swarms. He drew back therefore to Strehlen, northwestward, rather farther from Neisse than before; and lay encamped there for nine or ten weeks to come. Not till the beginning of August did there fall out any military event (Pandour skirmishing in plenty, but nothing to call an event); and not till the end of August any that pointed to conclusive results. As it was at Strehlen where mostly these Diplomacies went on, and the Camp of Strehlen was the final and every way the main one, it may stand as the representative of these Diplomatizing Camps to us, and figure as the sole one which in fact it nearly was.
Strehlen is a pleasant little Town, nestled prettily among its granite Hills, the steeple of it visible from Mollwitz; some twenty-five miles west of Brieg, some thirty south of Breslau, and about as far northwest of Neisse: there Friedrich and his Prussians lie, under canvas mainly, with outposts and detachments sprinkled about under roofs:—a Camp of Strehlen, more or less imaginable by the reader. And worth his imagining; such a Camp, if not for soldiering, yet for negotiating and wagging of diplomatic wigs, as there never was before. Here, strangely shifted hither, is the centre of European Politics all Summer. From the utmost ends of Europe come Ambassadors to Strehlen: from Spain, France, England, Denmark, Holland,—there are sometimes nine at once, how many successively and in total I never knew. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 932.] They lodge generally in Breslau; but are always running over to Strehlen. There sits, properly speaking, the general Secret Parliament of Europe; and from most Countries, except Austria, representatives attend at Strehlen, or go and come between Breslau and Strehlen, submissive to the evils of field-life, when need is. A surprising thing enough to mankind, and big as the world in its own day; though gone now to small bulk,—one Human Figure pretty much all that is left of memorable in it to mankind and us.
French Belleisle we have seen; who is gone again, long since, on his wide errands; fat Valori too we have seen, who is assiduously here. The other figures, except the English, can remain dark to us. Of Montijos, the eminent Spaniard, a brown little man, magnificent as the Kingdom of the Incas, with half a page of titles (half a peck, five-and-twenty or more, of handles to his little name, if you should ever require it); who, finding matters so backward at Frankfurt, and nothing to do there, has been out, in the interim, touring to while away the tedium; and is here only as sequel and corroboration of Belleisle,—say as bottle-holder, or as high-wrought peacock's-tail, to Belleisle:—of the eminent Montijos I have to record next to nothing in the shape of negotiation ("Treaty" with the Termagant was once proposed by him here, which Friedrich in his politest way declined); and shall mention only, That his domestic arrangements were sumptuous and commodious in the extreme. Let him arrive in the meanest village, destitute of human appliances, and be directed to the hut where he is to lodge,—straightway from the fourgons and baggage-chests of Montijos is produced, first of all, a round of arras hangings, portable tables, portable stove, gold plate and silver; thus, with wax-lights, wines of richest vintage, exquisite cookeries, Montijos lodges, a king everywhere, creating an Aladdin's palace everywhere; able to say, like the Sage Bias, OMNIA MEA NAECUM PORTO. These things are recorded of Montijos. What he did in the way of negotiation has escaped men's memory, as it could well afford to do.
Of Hyndford's appurtenances for lodging we already had a glimpse, through Busching once;—pointing towards solid dinner-comforts rather than arras hangings; and justifying the English genius in that respect. The weight of the negotiations fell on Hyndford; it is between him and French Valori that the matter lies, Montijos and the others being mere satellites on their respective sides. Much battered upon, this Hyndford, by refractory Hanoverians pitting George as Elector against the same George as King, and egging these two identities to woful battle with each other,—"Lay me at his Majesty's feet" full length, and let his Majesty say which is which, then! A heavy, eating, haggling, unpleasant kind of mortal, this Hyndford; bites and grunts privately, in a stupid ferocious manner, against this young King: "One of the worst of men; who will not take up the Cause of Liberty at all, and is not made in the image of Hyndford at all." They are dreadfully stiff reading, those Despatches of Hyndford: but they have particles of current news in them; interesting glimpses of that same young King;—likewise of Hyndford, laid at his Majesty's feet, and begging for self and brothers any good benefice that may fall vacant. We can discern, too, a certain rough tenacity and horse-dealer finesse in the man; a broad-based, shrewdly practical Scotch Gentleman, wide awake; and can conjecture that the diplomatic function, in that element, might have been in worse hands. He is often laid metaphorically at the King's feet, King of England's; and haunts personally the King of Prussia's elbow at all times, watching every glance of him, like a British house-dog, that will not be taken in with suspicious travellers, if he can help it; and casting perpetual horoscopes in his dull mind.
Of Friedrich and his demeanor in this strange scene, centre of a World all drawing sword, and jumbling in huge Diplomatic and other delirium about his ears, the reader will desire to see a direct glimpse or two. As to the sad general Imbroglio of Diplomacies which then weltered everywhere, readers can understand that, it has, at this day, fallen considerably obscure (as it deserved to do); and that even Friedrich's share of it is indistinct in parts. The game, wide as Europe, and one of the most intricate ever played by Diplomatic human creatures, was kept studiously dark while it went on; and it has not since been a pleasant object of study. Many of the Documents are still unpublished, inaccessible; so that the various moves in the game, especially what the exact dates and sequence of them were (upon which all would turn), are not completely ascertainable,—nor in truth are they much worth hunting after, through such an element. One thing we could wish to have out of it, the one thing of sane that was in it: the demeanor and physiognomy of Friedrich as there manifested; Friedrich alone, or pretty much alone of all these Diplomatic Conjurers, having a solid veritable object in hand. The rest—the spiders are very welcome to it: who of mortals would read it, were it made never so lucid to him? Such traits of Friedrich as can be sifted out into the conceivable and indubitable state, the reader shall have; the extinct Bedlam, that begirdled Friedrich far and wide, need not be resuscitated except for that object. Of Friedrich's fairness, or of Friedrich's "trickiness, machiavelism and attorneyism," readers will form their own notion, as they proceed. On one point they will not be doubtful, That here is such a sharpness of steady eyesight (like the lynx's, like the eagle's), and, privately such a courage and fixity of resolution, as are highly uncommon.
April 26th, 1741, in the same days while Belleisle arrived in the Camp at Mollwitz, and witnessed that fine opening of the cannonade upon Brieg, Excellency Hyndford got to Berlin; and on notifying the event, was invited by the King to come along to Breslau, and begin business. England has been profuse enough in offering her "good offices with Austria" towards making a bargain for his Prussian Majesty; but is busy also, at the Hague, concerting with the Dutch "some strong joint resolution,"—resolution, Openly to advise Friedrich to withdraw his troops from Silesia, by way of starting fair towards a bargain. A very strong resolution, they and the Gazetteers think it; and ask themselves, Is it not likely to have some effect? Their High Mightinesses have been screwing their courage, and under English urgency, have decided (April 24th), [Helden-Geschichte, i. 964; the ADVICE itself, a very mild-spoken Piece, but of riskish nature think the Dutch, is given, ib. 965, 966.] "Yes, we will jointly so advise!" and Friedrich has got inkling of it from Rasfeld, his Minister there. Hyndford's first business (were the Dutch Excellency once come up, but those Dutch are always hanging astern!) is to present said "Advice," and try what will come of that, An "Advice" now fallen totally insignificant to the Universe and to us,—only that readers will wish to see how Friedrich takes it, and if any feature of Friedrich discloses itself in the affair.
EXCELLENCY HYNDFORD HAS HIS FIRST AUDIENCE (Camp of Mollwitz, May 7th);
AND FRIEDRICH MAKES A MOST IMPORTANT TREATY,—NOT WITH HYNDFORD.
May 2d, Hyndford arrived in Breslau; and after some preliminary flourishings, and difficulties about post-horses and furnitures in a seat of War, got to Brieg; and thence, May 7th, "to the Camp [Camp of Mollwitz still], which is about an English mile off,"—Podewils escorting him from Brieg, and what we note farther, Pollnitz too; our poor old Pollnitz, some kind of Chief Goldstick, whom we did not otherwise know to be on active duty in those rude scenes. Belleisle had passed through Breslau while Hyndford was there:—"am unable to inform your Lordship what success he has had." Brieg Siege is done only three days ago; Castle all lying black; and the new trenching and fortifying hardly begun. In a word, May 7th, 1741, "about 11 A.M.," Excellency Hyndford is introduced to the King's Tent, and has his First Audience. Goldstick having done his motions, none but Podewils is left present; who sits at a table, taking notes of what is said. Podewils's Notes are invisible to me; but here, in authentic though carefully compressed state, is Hyndford's minute Narrative:—
Excellency Hyndford mentioned the Instructions he had, as to "good offices," friendship and so forth. "But his Prussian Majesty had hardly patience to hear me out; and said in a passion [we rise, where possible, Hyndford's own wording; readers will allow for the leaden quality in some parts]:—KING (in a passion). 'How is it possible, my Lord, to believe things so contradictory? It is mighty fine all this that you now tell me, on the part of the King of England; but how does it correspond to his last Speech to his Parliament [19th April last, when Mr. Viner was in such minority of one] and to the doings of his Ministers at Petersburg [a pretty Partition-Treaty that; and the Excellency Finch still busy, as I know!] and at the Hague [Excellency Trevor there, and this beautiful Joint-Resolution and Advice which is coming!] to stir up allies against me? I have reason rather to doubt the sincerity of the King of England. They perhaps mean to amuse me. [That is Friedrich's real opinion. [His Letter to Podewils (Ranke, ii. 268).]] But, by God, they are mistaken! I will risk everything rather than abate the least of my pretensions.'"
Poor Hyndford said and mumbled what he could; knew nothing what instructions Finch had, Trevor had, and—KING. "'My Lord, there seems to be a contradiction in all this. The King of England, in his Letter, tells me you are instructed as to everything; and yet you pretend ignorance! But I am perfectly informed of all. And I should not be surprised if, after all these fine words, you should receive some strong letter or resolution for me,'"—Joint-Resolution to Advise, for example?
Hyndford, not in the strength of conscious innocence, stands silent; the King, "in his heat of passion," said to Podewils:—KING TO PODEWILS (on the sudden). "'Write down, that my Lord would be surprised [as he should be] to receive such Instructions!'" (A mischievous sparkle, half quizzical, half practical, considerably in the Friedrich style.)—Hyndford, "quite struck, my Lord, with this strange way of acting," and of poking into one, protests with angry grunt, and "was put extremely upon my guard." Of course Podewils did net write....
HYNDFORD. "'Europe is under the necessity of taking some speedy resolution, things are in such a state of crisis. Like a fever in a human body, got to such a height that quinquina becomes necessary.' ... That expression made him smile, and he began to look a little cooler.... 'Shall we apply to Vienna, your Majesty?'
FRIEDRICH. "'Follow your own will in that.'
HYNDFORD. "'Would your Majesty consent now to stand by his Excellency Gotter's original Offer at Vienna on your part? Agree, namely, in consideration of Lower Silesia and Breslau, to assist the Queen with all your troops for maintenance of Pragmatic Sanction, and to vote for the Grand-Duke as Kaiser?'
KING. "'Yes' [what the reader may take notice of, and date for himself].
HYNDFORD. "'What was the sum of money then offered her Hungarian Majesty?'
"King hesitated, as if he had forgotten; Podewils answered, 'Three million florins (300,000 pounds).'
KING. "'I should not value the money; if money would content her Majesty, I would give more.'... Here was a long pause, which I did not break;"—nor would the King. Podewils reminded me of an idea we had been discoursing of together ("on his suggestion, my Lord, which I really think is of importance, and worth your Lordship's consideration"); whereupon, on such hint,
HYNDFORD. "'Would your Majesty consent to an Armistice?'
FRIEDRICH. "'Yes; but [counts on his fingers, May, June, till he comes to December] not for less than six months,—till December 1st. By that time they could do nothing,'" the season out by that time.
HYNDFORD. "'His Excellency Podewils has been taking notes; if I am to be bound by them, might I first see that he has mistaken nothing?'
KING. "'Certainly!'"—Podewils's Note-protocol is found to be correct in every point; Hyndford, with some slight flourish of compliments on both sides, bows himself away (invited to dinner, which he accepts, "will surely have that honor before returning to Breslau");—and so the First Audience has ended. [Hyndford's Despatches, Breslau, 5th and 13th May, 1741. Are in State-Paper Office, like the rest of Hyndford's; also in British Museum (Additional MSS. 11,365 &c.), the rough draughts of them.] Baronay and Pandours are about,—this is ten days before the Ziethen feat on Baronay;—but no Pandour, now or afterwards, will harm a British Excellency.
These utterances of Friedrich's, the more we examine them by other lights that there are, become the more correctly expressive of what Friedrich's real feelings were on the occasion. Much contrary, perhaps, to expectation of some readers. And indeed we will here advise our readers to prepare for dismissing altogether that notion of Friedrich's duplicity, mendacity, finesse and the like, which was once widely current in the world; and to attend always strictly to what Friedrich says, if they wish to guess what he is thinking;—there being no such thing as "mendacity" discoverable in Friedrich, when you take the trouble to inform yourself. "Mendacity," my friends? How busy have the Owls been with Friedrich's memory, in different countries of the world;—perhaps even more than their sad wont is in such cases! For indeed he was apt to be of swift abrupt procedure, disregardful of Owleries; and gave scope for misunderstanding in the course of his life. But a veracious man he was, at all points; not even conscious of his veracity; but had it in the blood of him; and never looked upon "mendacity" but from a very great height indeed. He does not, except where suitable, at least he never should, express his whole meaning; but you will never find him expressing what is not his meaning. Reticence, not dissimulation. And as to "finesse,"—do not believe in that either, in the vulgar or bad sense. Truly you will find his finesse is a very fine thing; and that it consists, not in deceiving other people, but in being right himself; in well discerning, for his own behoof, what the facts before him are; and in steering, which he does steadily, in a most vigilant, nimble, decisive and intrepid manner, by monition of the same. No salvation but in the facts. Facts are a kind of divine thing to Friedrich; much more so than to common men: this is essentially what Religion I have found in Friedrich. And, let me assure you, it is an invaluable element in any man's Religion, and highly indispensable, though so often dispensed with! Readers, especially in our time English readers, who would gain the least knowledge about Friedrich, in the extinct Bedlam where his work now lay, have a great many things to forget, and sad strata of Owl-droppings, ancient and recent, to sweep away!—
To Friedrich a bargain with Austria, which would be a getting into port, in comparison to going with the French in that distracted voyage of theirs, is highly desirable. "Shall I join with the English, in hope of some tolerable bargain from Austria? Shall I have to join with the French, in despair of any?" Readers may consider how stringent upon Friedrich that question now was, and how ticklish to solve. And it must be solved soon,—under penalty of "being left with no ally at all" (as Friedrich expresses himself), while the whole world is grouping itself into armed heaps for and against! If the English would but get me a bargain—? Friedrich dare not think they will. Nay, scanning these English incoherences, these contradictions between what they say here and what they do and say elsewhere, he begins to doubt if they zealously wish it,—and at last to believe that they sincerely do not wish it; that "they mean to amuse me" (as he said to Hyndford)—till my French chance too is over. "To amuse me: but, PAR DIEU—!" His Notes to Podewils, of which Ranke, who has seen them, gives us snatches, are vivid in that sense: "I should be ashamed if the cunningest Italian could dupe me; but that a lout of a Hanoverian should do it!"—and Podewils has great difficulty to keep him patient yet a little; Valori being so busy on the other side, and the time so pressing. Here are some dates and some comments, which the reader should take with him;—here is a very strange issue to the Joint-Resolution of a strong nature now on hand!
A few days after that First Audience, Ginkel the Dutch Excellency, with the due Papers in his pocket, did arrive. Excellency Hyndford, who is not without rough insight into what lies under his nose, discovers clearly that the grand Dutch-English Resolution, or Joint-Exhortation to evacuate Silesia, will do nothing but mischief; and (at his own risk, persuading Ginkel also to delay) sends a Courier to England before presenting it. And from England, in about a fortnight, gets for answer, "Do harm, think you? Hm, ha!—Present it, all the same; and modify by assurances afterwards,"—as if these would much avail! This is not the only instance in which St. James's rejects good advice from its Hyndford; the pity would be greater, were not the Business what it is! Podewils has the greatest difficulty to keep Friedrich quiet till Hyndford's courier get back. And on his getting back with such answer, "Present it all the same," Friedrich will not wait for that ceremony, or delay a moment longer. Friedrich has had his Valori at work, all this while; Valori and Podewils, and endless correspondence and consultation going on; and things hypothetically almost quite ready; so that—
June 5th, 1741, Friedrich, spurring Podewils to the utmost speed, and "ordering secrecy on pain of death," signs his Treaty with France! A kind of provisional off-and-on Treaty, I take it to be; which was never published, and is thought to have had many IFS in it: signs this Treaty;—and next day (June 6th, such is the impetuosity of haste) instructs his Rasfeld at the Hague, "You will beforehand inform the High Mightinesses, in regard to that Advice of April 24th, which they determined on giving me, through the Excellency Herr von Ginkel along with Excellency Hyndford, That such Advice can, by me, only be considered as a blind complaisance to the Court of Vienna's improper urgencies, improper in such a matter. That for certain I will not quit Silesia till my claims be satisfied. And the longer I am forced to continue warring for them here," wasting more resource and risk upon them, "the higher they will rise!" [Helden-Geschichte, i. 963.] And this is what comes of that terribly courageous Dutch-English "Joint-Resolution of a strong nature;" it has literally cut before the point: the Exhortation is not yet presented, but the Treaty with France is signed in virtue of it!—
Undoubtedly this of June 5th is the most important Treaty in the Austrian-Succession War, and the cardinal element of Friedrich's procedure in that Adventure. And it has never been published; nor, till Herr Professor Ranke got access to the Prussian Archives, has even the date of signing it been rightly known; but is given two or three ways in different express Collections of Treaties. [Scholl, ii. 297 (copying "Flassan, Hist. de la Diplom. Franc. v. 142"), gives "5th July" as the date; Adelung (ii. 357, 390, 441) guesses that it was "in August;" Valori (i. 108), who was himself in it, gives the correct date,—but then his Editor (thought inquiring readers) was such a sloven and ignoramus. See Stenzel, iv. 143; Ranke, ii. 274.] Herr Ranke knows this Treaty, and the correspondences, especially Friedrich's correspondence with Podewils preparatory to it; and speaks, as his wont is, several exact things about it; thanks to him, in the circumstances. I wish it could be made, even with his help, fully intelligible to the reader! For, were the Treaty never so express, surely the mode of keeping it, on both parts, was very strange; and that latter concerns us somewhat.
A very fast-and-loose Treaty, to all appearance! Outwardly it is a mere Treaty of Alliance, each party guaranteeing the other for Fifteen Years; without mention made of the joint Belleisle Adventure now in the wind. But then, like the postscript to a lady's letter, there come "secret articles" bearing upon that essential item: How France, in the course of this current season 1741, is to bring an Army across the Rhine in support of its friend Kur-Baiern VERSUS Austria; is, in the same term of time, to make Sweden declare war on Russia (important for Friedrich, who is never sure a moment that those Russians will not break in upon him); and finally, most important of all, That France "guarantees Lower Silesia with Breslau to his Prussian Majesty." In return for which his Prussian Majesty—will do what? It is really difficult to say what: Be a true ally and second to France in its grand German Adventure? Not at all. Friedrich does not yet know, nor does Belleisle himself quite precisely, what the grand German Adventure is; and Friedrich's wishes never were, nor will be, for the prosperity of that. Support France, at least in its small Bavarian Anti-Austrian Adventure? By no means definitely even that. "Maintain myself in Lower Silesia with Breslau, and fight my best to such end:" really that, you might say, is in substance the most of what Friedrich undertakes; though inarticulately he finds himself bound to much more,—and will frankly go into it, IF you do as you have said; and unless you do, will not. Never was a more contingent Treaty: "unless you stir up Sweden, Messieurs; unless you produce that Rhine Army; unless—" such is steadily Friedrich's attitude; long after this, he refuses to say whom he will vote for as Kaiser: "Fortune of War will decide it," answers he, in regard to that and to many other things; and keeps himself to an incomprehensible extent loose; ready, for weeks and months after, to make bargain on his own Silesian Affair with anybody that can. [Ranke, ii. 271, 275, 280.]
For indeed the French also are very contingent; Fleury hanging one way, Belleisle pushing another; and know not how far they will go on the grand German Adventure, nor conclusively whether at all. Here is an Anecdote by Friedrich himself. Valori was, one night, with him; and, on rising to take leave, the fat hand, sticking probably in the big waistcoat-pocket, twitched out a little diplomatic-looking Note; which Friedrich, with gentle adroitness (permissible in such circumstances), set his foot upon, till Valori had bowed himself out. The Note was from Amelot, French Minister of the Foreign Department: "Don't give his Prussian Majesty Glatz, if it can possibly be helped." Very well, thought Friedrich; and did not forget the fine little Note on burning it. [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 90.] There went, in French couriers' bags, a great many such, to Austria some of them, of far more questionable tenor, within the next twelve months.
Two things we have to remark: FIRST, That Friedrich, with an eye to real business on his part in the Bavarian Adventure, in which Kur-Pfalz is sure to accompany, volunteered (like a real man of business, and much to Belleisle's surprise) to renounce the Berg-Julich controversy, and let Kur-Pfalz have his way, that there might be no quarrelling among allies. This too is contingent; but was gladly accepted by Belleisle. SECOND, That Belleisle had instructed Valori, Not to insist on active help from Friedrich in the German Adventure, but merely to stipulate for his Neutrality throughout, in case they could get no more. How joyfully would Friedrich have accepted this,—had Valori volunteered with it, which he did not! [Ranke, ii. 280.] But, after all, in result it was the same; and had to be,—PLUS only a great deal of clamor by and by, from the French and the Gazetteers, about the Article in question.
Was there ever so contingent a Treaty before? It is signed, Breslau, 5th June, 1741, and both parties have their hands loose, and make use of their liberty for months to come; nay, in some sort, all along; feeling how contingent it was! Friedrich did not definitely tie himself till 4th November next, five months after: when he signed the French-Bavarian Treaty, renounced Berg-Julich controversies, and fairly went into the French-Bavarian, smaller French Adventure; into the greater, or wide-winged Belleisle one, he never went nor intended to go,—perhaps even the contrary, if needful. Readers may try to remember these elucidative items, riddled from the immensities of Dryasdust: I have no more to give, nor can afford to return upon it. May not we well say, as above, "A Treaty thought to have many IFS in it!"—And now, 8th June, comes solemnly the Joint-Resolution itself; like mustard (under a flourish of trumpets) three days after dinner:—
"CAMP OF GROTKAU, 8th JUNE. Hyndford and Ginkel [the same respectable old Ginkel whom we used to know in Friedrich Wilhelm's time], having, according to renewed order, got out from Breslau with that formidable Dutch-English 'Advice' or Joint-Exhortation in their pocket, did this day in the Camp at Grotkau present the same. A very mild-spoken Piece, though it had required such courage; and which is not now worth speaking of, things having gone as we see. Friedrich received it with a gracious mien: 'Infinitely sensible to the trouble his Britannic Majesty and their High Mightinesses took with his affairs; Document should receive his best consideration,'—which indeed it has already done, and its Answer withal: A FRENCH Treaty signed three days ago, in virtue of it! 'Might I request a short Private Audience of your Majesty?' solicits Hyndford, intending to modify by new assurances, as bidden.—'Surely,' answers Friedrich.
"The two Excellencies dine with the King, who is in high spirits. After dinner, Hyndford gets his Private Audience; does his best in the way of 'new assurances;' which produce what effect we can fancy. Among other things, he appeals to the King's 'magnanimity, how grand and generous it will be to accept moderate terms from Austria, to—' KING (interrupting): 'My Lord, don't talk to me of magnanimity, a Prince [acting not for himself but for his Nation] ought to consult his interest in the first place. I am not against Peace: but I expect to have Four Duchies given me.'" [State-Paper Office (Hyndford, Breslau, 12th June, 1741).]
Hyndford and Ginkel slept that night in Grotkau Town: "at 4 next morning the King sent us word, That if we had a mind to see the Army on march," just moving off, Strehlen way, "we might come out by the North Gate." We accordingly saw the whole Army leave Camp; and march in four columns towards Friedewald, where Marshal Neipperg is encamped. "Not a bit of it, your Excellency! Neipperg is safe at Neisse; amid inaccessible embankments and artificial mud: and these are mere Hussar-Pandour rabble out here; whom a push or two sends home again,—would it could keep them there! But they are of sylvan (or SALVAGE) nature, affecting the shade; and burst out, for theft and arson, sometimes at great distances, no calculating where. The King's Army lay all that night upon their arms, and encamped next morning, the 10th. I believe nothing happened that day, for we were obliged to stay at Grotkau, for want of post-horses, a good part of it."
Hyndford hears (in secret Opposition Circles, and lays the flattering unction to his soul and your Lordship's): "The King of Prussia's Army, as I am informed, unless he will take counsel, another campaign will go near to ruin. Everything is in the greatest disorder; utmost dejection amongst the Officers from highest to lowest;"—fact being that the King has important improvements and new drillings in view (to go on at Strehlen), Cavalry improvements, Artillery improvements, unknown to Hyndford and the Opposition; and will not be ruined next campaign. "I hope the news we have here, of the taking of Carthagena, is true," concludes he. Alas, your Excellency!
By a different hand, from the southward Hungarian regions, far over the Hills, take this other entry; almost of enthusiastic style:—
"PRESBURG, 25th JUNE. Maria Theresa, in high spirits about her English Subsidy and the bright aspects, left Vienna about a week ago for Presburg [a drive of fifty miles down the fine Donau country]; and is celebrating her Coronation there, as Queen of Hungary, in a very sublime manner. Sunday, 25th June, 1741, that is the day of putting on your Crown,—Iron Crown of St. Stephen, as readers know. The Chivalry of Hungary, from Palfy and Esterhazy downward, and all the world are there; shining in loyalty and barbaric gold and pearl. A truly beautiful Young Woman, beautiful to soul and eye, devout too and noble, though ill-informed in Political or other Science, is in the middle of it, and makes the scene still more noticeable to us. See, as the finish of the ceremonies, she has mounted a high swift horse, sword girt to her side,—a great rider always, this young Queen;—and gallops, Hungary following like a comet-tail, to the Konigsberg [KING'S-HILL so called; no great things of a Hill, O reader; made by barrow, you can see], to the top of the Konigsberg; there draws sword; and cuts, grandly flourishing, to the Four Quarters of the Heavens: 'Let any mortal, from whatever quarter coming, meddle with Hungary if he dare!' [Adelung, ii. 293, 294.] Chivalrous Hungary bursts into passionate acclaim; old Palfy, I could fancy, into tears; and all the world murmurs to itself, with moist-gleaming eyes, 'REX NOSTER!' This is, in fact, the beautifulest King or Queen that now is, this radiant young woman; beautiful things have been, and are to be, reported of her; and she has a terrible voyage just ahead,—little dreaming of it at this grand moment. I wish his Britannic Majesty, or Robinson who has followed out hither, could persuade her to some compliance on the Silesian matter: what a thing were that, for herself, and for all mankind, just now! But she will not hear of that; and is very obstinate, and her stupid Hofraths equally and much more blamably so. Deaf to hard Facts knocking at their door; ignorant what Noah's-Deluges have broken out upon them, and are rushing on inevitable."
By a notable coincidence, precisely while those sword-flourishings go on at Presburg, Marechal Excellency Belleisle is making his Public Entry into Frankfurt-on-Mayn: [25th June, 1741 (Adelung, ii. 399).] Frankfurt too is in cheery emotion; streets populous with Sunday gazers, and critics of the sublime in spectacle! This is not Belleisle's first entrance; he himself has been here some time, settling his Household, and a good many things: but today he solemnly leads in his Countess and Appendages (over from Metz, where Madame and he officially reside in common times, "Governor of Metz," one of his many offices);—leads in Madame, in suitably resplendent manner; to kindle household fire, as it were; and indicate that here is his place, till he have got a Kaiser to his mind. Twin Phenomena, these two; going on 500 miles apart; unconscious of one another, or of what kinship they happen to have!—
EXCELLENCY ROBINSON BUSY IN THE VIENNA HOFRATH CIRCLES, TO PRODUCE A
Britannic George, both for Pragmatic's sake and for dear Hanover's, desires much there were a bargain made with Friedrich: How is the Pragmatic to be saved at all, if Friedrich join France in its Belleisle machinations, thinks George? And already here is that Camp of Gottin, glittering in view like a drawn sword pointed at one's throat or at one's Hanover. Nay, in a month or two hence, as the Belleisle schemes got above ground in the shape of facts, this desire became passionate, and a bargain with Prussia seemed the one thing needful. For, alas, the reader will see there comes, about that time, a second sword (the Maillebois Army, namely), pointed at one's throat from the French side of things: so that a Paladin of the Pragmatic, and Hanoverian King of England, knows not which way to turn! George's sincerity of wish is perhaps underrated by Friedrich; who indeed knows well enough on which side George's wishes would fall, if they had liberty (which they have not), but much overrates "the astucity" of poor George and his English; ascribing, as is often done, to fine-spun attorneyism what is mere cunctation, ignorance, negligence, and other forms of a stupidity perhaps the most honest in the world! By degrees Friedrich understood better; but he never much liked the English ways of doing business. George's desire is abundantly sincere, not wholly resting on sublime grounds; and grows more and more intense every day; but could not be gratified for a good while yet.
Co-operating with Hyndford, from the Vienna side, is Excellency Robinson; who has a still harder job of it there. Pity poor Robinson, O English reader, if you can for indignation at the business he is in. Saving the Liberties of Europe! thinks Robinson confidently: Founding the English National Debt, answers Fact; and doing Bottom the Weaver, with long ears, in the miserablest Pickleherring Tragedy that ever was!—This is the same Robinson who immortalized himself, nine or ten years ago, by the First Treaty of Vienna; thrice-salutary Treaty, which DISJOINED Austria from Bourbon-Spanish Alliances, and brought her into the arms of the grateful Sea-Powers again. Imminent Downfall of the Universe was thus, glory to Robinson, arrested for that time. And now we have the same Robinson instructed to sharpen all his faculties to the cutting pitch, and do the impossible for this new and reverse face of matters. What a change from 1731 to 1741! Bugbear of dreadful Austrian-Spanish Alliance dissolves now into sunlit clouds, encircling a beautiful Austrian Andromeda, about to be devoured for us; and the Downfall of the Universe is again imminent, from Spain and others joining AGAINST Austria. Oh, ye wigs, and eximious wig-blocks, called right-honorable! If a man, sovereign or other, were to stay well at home, and mind his own visible affairs, trusting a good deal that the Universe would shift for itself, might it not be better for him? Robinson, who writes rather a heavy style, but is full of inextinguishable heavy zeal withal, will have a great deal to do in these coming years. Ancestor of certain valuable Earls that now are; author of immeasurable quantities of the Diplomatic cobwebs that then were.
To a modern English reader it is very strange, that Austrian scene of things in which poor Robinson is puffing and laboring. The ineffable pride, the obstinacy, impotency, ponderous pedantry and helplessness of that dull old Court and its Hofraths, is nearly inconceivable to modern readers. Stupid dilapidation is in all departments, and has long been; all things lazily crumbling downwards, sometimes stumbling down with great plunges. Cash is done; the world rising, all round, with plunderous intentions; and hungry Ruin, you would say, coming visibly on with seven-league boots: here is little room for carrying your head high among mankind. High nevertheless they do carry it, with a grandly mournful though stolid insolent air, as if born superior to this Earth and its wisdoms and successes and multiplication-tables and iron ramrods,—really with "a certain greatness," says somebody, "greatness as of great blockheadism" in themselves and their neighbors;—and, like some absurd old Hindoo Idol (crockery Idol of Somnauth, for instance, with the belly of him smashed by battle-axes, and the cart-load of gold coin all run out), persuade mankind that they are a god, though in dilapidated condition. That is our first impression of the thing.
But again, better seen into, there is not wanting a certain worthily steadfast, conservative and broad-based high air (reminding you of "Kill our own mutton, Sir!" and the ancient English Tory species), solid and loyal, though stolid Ancient Austrian Tories, that definition will suffice for us;—and Toryism too, the reader may rely on it, is much patronized by the Upper Powers, and goes a long way in this world. Nay, without a good solid substratum of that, what thing, with never so many ballot-boxes, stump-orators, and liberties of the subject, is capable of going at all, except swiftly to perdition? These Austrians have taken a great deal of ruining, first and last! Their relation to the then Sea-Powers, especially to England embarked on the Cause of Liberty, fills one with amazement, by no means of an idolatrous nature; and is difficult to understand at all, or to be patient with at all.
Of disposition to comply with Prussia, Robinson finds, in spite of Mollwitz and the sad experiences, no trace at Vienna. The humor at Vienna is obstinately defiant; simply to regard Friedrich as a housebreaker or thief in the night; whom they will soon deal with, were they once on foot and implements in their hand: "Swift, ye Sea-Powers; where are the implements, the cash, that means implements?" The Young Hungarian Majesty herself is magnificently of that opinion, which is sanctioned by her Bartensteins and wisest Hofraths, with hardly a dissentient (old Sinzendorf almost alone in his contrary notion, and he soon dies). Robinson urges the dangers from France. No Hofrath here will allow himself to believe them; to believe them would be too horrible. "Depend upon it, France's intentions are not that way. And at the worst, if France do rise against us, it is but bargaining with France; better so than bargaining with Prussia, surely. France will be contentable with something in the Netherlands; what else can she want of us? Parings from that outskirt, what are these compared with Silesia, a horrid gash into the vital parts? And what is yielding to the King of France, compared with yielding to your Prussian King!"—
It is true they have no money, these blind dull people; but are not the Sea-Powers, England especially, there, created by Nature to supply money? What else is their purpose in Creation? By Nature's law, as the Sun mounts in the Ecliptic and then falls, these Sea-Powers, in the Cause of Liberty, will furnish us money. No surrender; talk not to me of Silesia or surrender; I will die defending my inheritances: what are the Sea-Powers about, that they do not furnish more money in a prompt manner? These are the things poor Robinson has to listen to: Robinson and England, it is self-evident at Vienna, have one duty, that of furnishing money. And in a prompt manner, if you please, Sir; why not prompt and abundant?
An English soul has small exhilaration, looking into those old expenditures, and bullyings for want of promptitude! But if English souls will solemnly, under high Heaven, constitute a Duke of Newcastle and a George II. their Captains of the march Heavenward, and say, without blushing for it, nay rejoicing at it, in the face of the sun, "You are the most godlike Two we could lay hold of for that object,"—what have English souls to expect? My consolation is, and, alas, it is a poor one, the money would have been mostly wasted any way. Buy men and gunpowder with your money, to be shot away in foreign parts, without renown or use: is that so much worse than buying ridiculous upholsteries, idle luxuries, frivolities, and in the end unbeautiful pot-bellies corporeal and spiritual with it, here at home? I am struck silent, looking at much that goes on under these stars;—and find that misappointment of your Captains, of your Exemplars and Guiding and Governing individuals, higher and lower, is a fatal business always; and that especially, as highest instance of it, which includes all the lower ones, this of solemnly calling Chief Captain, and King by the Grace of God, a gentleman who is NOT so (and SEEMS to be so mainly by Malice of the Devil, and by the very great and nearly unforgivable indifference of Mankind to resist the Devil in that particular province, for the present), is the deepest fountain of human wretchedness, and the head mendacity capable of being done!—
As for the brave young Queen of Hungary, my admiration goes with that of all the world. Not in the language of flattery, but of evident fact, the royal qualities abound in that high young Lady; had they left the world, and grown to mere costume elsewhere, you might find certain of them again here. Most brave, high and pious-minded; beautiful too, and radiant with good-nature, though of temper that will easily catch fire: there is perhaps no nobler woman then living. And she fronts the roaring elements in a truly grand feminine manner; as if Heaven itself and the voice of Duty called her: "The Inheritances which my Fathers left me, we will not part with these. Death, if it so must be; but not dishonor:—Listen not to that thief in the night!" Maria Theresa has not studied, at all, the History of the Silesian Duchies; she knows only that her Father and Grandfather peaceably held them; it was not she that sent out Seckendorf to ride 25,000 miles, or broke the heart of Friedrich Wilhelm and his Household. Pity she had not complied with Friedrich, and saved such rivers of bitterness to herself and mankind! But how could she see to do it,—especially with little George at her back, and abundance of money? This, for the present, is her method of looking at the matter; this magnanimous, heroic, and occasionally somewhat female one.
Her Husband, the Grand Duke, an inert, but good-tempered, well-conditioned Duke after his sort, goes with her. Him we shall see try various things; and at length take to banking and merchandise, and even meal-dealing on the great scale. "Our Armies had most part of their meal circuitously from him," says Friedrich, of times long subsequent. Now as always he follows loyally his Wife's lead, never she his: Wife being, intrinsically as well as extrinsically, the better man, what other can he do?—Of compliance with Friedrich in this Court, there is practically no hope till after a great deal of beating have enlightened it. Out of deference to George and his ardors, they pretend some intention that way; and are "willing to bargain, your Excellency;"—no doubt of it, provided only the price were next to nothing!
And so, while the watchful edacious Hyndford is doing his best at Strehlen, poor Robinson, blown into triple activity, corresponds in a boundless zealous manner from Vienna; and at last takes to flying personally between Strehlen and Vienna; praying the inexorable young Queen to comply a little, and then the inexorable young King to be satisfied with imaginary compliance; and has a breathless time of it indeed. His Despatches, passionately long-winded, are exceedingly stiff reading to the like of us. O reader, what things have to be read and carefully forgotten; what mountains of dust and ashes are to be dug through, and tumbled down to Orcus, to disengage the smallest fraction of truly memorable! Well if, in ten cubic miles of dust and ashes, you discover the tongue of a shoe-buckle that has once belonged to a man in the least heroic; and wipe your brow, invoking the supernal and the infernal gods. My heart's desire is to compress these Strehlen Diplomatic horse-dealings into the smallest conceivable bulk. And yet how much that is not metal, that is merely cinders, has got through: impossible to prevent,—may the infernal gods deal with it, and reduce Dryasdust to limits, one day! Here, however, are important Public News transpiring through the old Gazetteers:—
"MUNCHEN, JULY 1st [or in effect a few days later, when the Letters DATED July 1st had gone through their circuitous formalities], [Adelung, ii. 421.] Karl Albert Kur-Baiern publicly declares himself Candidate for the Kaisership; as, privately, he had long been rumored and believed to be. Kur-Baiern, they say, has of militias and regulars together about 30,000 men on foot, all posted in good places along the Austrian Frontier; and it is commonly thought, though little credible at Vienna, that he intends invading Austria as well as contesting the Election. To which the Vienna Hofrath answers in the style of 'Pshaw!'
"VERSAILLES, 11th JULY. Extraordinary Council of State; Belleisle being there, home from Frankfurt, to take final orders, and get official fiat put upon his schemes. 'All the Princes of the Blood and all the Marechals of France attend;' question is, How the War is to be, nay, Whether War is to be at all,—so contingent is the French-Prussian Bargain, signed five weeks ago. Old Fleury, to give freedom of consultation and vote, quits the room. Some are of opinion, one Prince of the Blood emphatically so, That Pragmatic Sanction should be kept, at least War AGAINST it be avoided. But the contrary opinion triumphs, King himself being strongly with it; Belleisle to be supreme in field and cabinet; shall execute, like a kind of Dictator or Vice-Majesty, by his own magnificent talent, those magnificent devisings of his, glorious to France and to the King. [Ib. 417, 418; see also Baumer, p. 104 (if you can for his date, which is given in OLD STYLE as if it were in New; a very eclipsing method!).] These many months, the French have been arming with their whole might. The Vienna people hear now, That an 'Army of 40,000 is rumored to be coming,' or even two Armies, 40,000 each; but will not imagine that this is certain, or that it can be seriously meant against their high House, precious to gods and men. Belleisle having perfected the multiplex Army details, rushes back to Frankfurt and his endless Diplomatic businesses (July 25th): Armies to be on actual march by the 10th of August coming. 'During this Versailles visit, he had such a crowd of Officers and great people paying court to him as was like the King's Levee itself.' [Barbier, ii. 305.]
"PASSAU, 31st JULY. Passau is the Frontier Austrian City on the Donau (meeting of the Inn and Donau Valleys); a place of considerable strength, and a key or great position for military purposes. Austrian, or Quasi-Austrian; for, like Salzburg, it has a Bishop claiming some imaginary sovereignties, but always holds with Austria. July 31st, early in the morning, a Bavarian Exciseman ('Salt-Inspector') applied at the gate of Passau for admission; gate was opened;—along with the Exciseman 'certain peasants' (disguised Bavarian soldiers) pushed in; held the gate choked, till General Minuzzi, Karl Albert's General, with horse, foot, cannon, who had been lurking close by, likewise pushed in; and at once seized the Town. Town speedily secured, Minuzzi informs the Bishop, who lives in his Schloss of Oberhaus (strongish place on a Hill-top, other side the Donau), That he likewise, under pain of bombardment, must admit garrison. The poor Bishop hesitates; but, finding bombardment actually ready for him, yields in about two hours. Karl Albert publishes his Manifesto, 'in forty-five pages folio' [Adelung, ii. 426.] (to the effect, 'All Austria mine; or as good as all,—if I liked!'); and fortifies himself in Passau. 'Insidious, nefarious!' shrieks Austria, in Counter-Manifesto; calculates privately it will soon settle Karl Albert,—'Unless, O Heavens, France with Prussia did mean to back him!'—and begins to have misgivings, in spite of itself."
Misgivings, which soon became fatal certainties. Robinson records, doubtless on sure basis, though not dating it, a curious piece of stage-effect in the form of reality; "On hearing, beyond possibility of doubt, that Prussia, France, and Bavaria had combined, the whole Aulic Council," Vienna Hofrath in a body, "fell back into their chairs [and metaphorically into Robinson's arms] like dead men!" [Raumer, p. 104.] Sat staring there;—the wind struck out of them, but not all the folly by a great deal. Now, however, is Robinson's time to ply them.
EXCELLENCY ROBINSON HAS AUDIENCE OF FRIEDRICH (Camp of Strehlen, 7th
By unheard-of entreaties and conjurations, aided by these strokes of fate, Robinson has at length extorted from his Queen of Hungary, and her wise Hofraths, something resembling a phantasm of compliance; with which he hurries to Breslau and Hyndford; hoping against hope that Friedrich will accept it as a reality. Gets to Breslau on the 3d of August; thence to Strehlen, consulting much with Hyndford upon this phantasm of a compliance. Hyndford looks but heavily upon it;—from us, in this place, far be it to look at all:—alas, this is the famed Scene they Two had at Strehlen with Friedrich, on Monday, August 7th; reported by the faithful pen of Robinson, and vividly significant of Friedrich, were it but compressed to the due pitch. We will give it in the form of Dialogue: the thing of itself falls naturally into the Dramatic, when the flabby parts are cut away;—and was perhaps worthier of a Shakspeare than of a Robinson, all facts of it considered, in the light they have since got.
Scene is Friedrich's Tent, Prussian Camp in the neighborhood of the little Town of Strehlen: time 11 o'clock A.M. Personages of it, Two British subjects in the high Diplomatic line: ponderous Scotch Lord of an edacious gloomy countenance; florid Yorkshire Gentleman with important Proposals in his pocket. Costume, frizzled peruke powdered; frills, wrist-frills and other; shoe-buckles, flapped waistcoat, court-coat of antique cut and much trimming: all this shall be conceived by the reader. Tight young Gentleman in Prussian military uniform, blue coat, buff breeches, boots; with alert flashing eyes, and careless elegant bearing, salutes courteously, raising his plumed hat. Podewils in common dress, who has entered escorting the other Two, sits rather to rearward, taking refuge beside the writing apparatus.—First passages of the Dialogue I omit: mere pickeerings and beatings about the bush, before we come to close quarters. For Robinson, the florid Yorkshire Gentleman, is charged to offer,—what thinks the reader?—two million guilders, about 200,000 pounds, if that will satisfy this young military King with the alert Eyes!
ROBINSON.... "'Two hundred thousand pounds sterling, if your Majesty will be pleased to retire out of Silesia, and renounce this enterprise!'
KING. "'Retire out of Silesia? And for money? Do you take me for a beggar! Retire out of Silesia, which has cost me so much treasure and blood in the conquest of it? No, Monsieur, no; that is not to be thought of! If you have no better proposals to make, it is not worth while talking.' These words were accompanied with threatening gestures and marks of great anger;" considerably staggering to the Two Diplomatic British gentlemen, and of evil omen to Robinson's phantasm of a compliance. Robinson apologetically hums and hahs, flounders through the bad bit of road as he can; flounderingly indicates that he has more to offer.
KING. "'Let us see then (VOYONS), what is there more?'
ROBINSON (with preliminary flourishings and flounderings, yet confidently, as now tabling his best card).... "'Permitted to offer your Majesty the whole of Austrian Guelderland; lies contiguous to your Majesty's Possessions in the Rhine Country; important completion of these: I am permitted to say, the whole of Austrian Guelderland!' Important indeed: a dirty stripe of moorland (if you look in Busching), about equivalent to half a dozen parishes in Connemara.
KING. "'What do you mean? [turning to Podewils]—QU'EST-CE QUE NOUS MANQUE DE TOUTE LA GUELDRE (How much of Guelderland is theirs, and not ours already)?'
PODEWILS. "'Almost nothing (PRESQUE RIEN).
KING (to Robinson). "'VOICI ENCORE DE GUEUSERIES (more rags and rubbish yet)! QUOI, such a paltry scraping (BICOQUE) as that, for all my just claims in Silesia? Monsieur—!' His Majesty's indignation increased here, all the more as I kept a profound silence during his hot expressions, and did not speak at all except to beg his Majesty's reflection upon what I had said.—'Reflection?'" asks the King, with eyes dangerous to behold;—"My Lord," continues Robinson, heavily narrative, "his contempt of what I had said was so great," kicking his boot through Guelderland and the guilders as the most contemptible of objects, "and was expressed in such violent terms, that now, if ever (as your Lordship perceives), it was time to make the last effort;" play our trump-card down at once; "a moment longer was not to be lost, to hinder the King from dismissing us;" which sad destiny is still too probable, after the trump-card. Trump-card is this:
ROBINSON.... "'The whole Duchy of Limburg, your Majesty! It is a Duchy which—' I extolled the Duchy to the utmost, described it in the most favorable terms; and added, that 'the Elector Palatine [old Kur-Pfalz, on one occasion] had been willing to give the whole Duchy of Berg for it.'
PODEWILS. "'Pardon, Monsieur: that is not so; the contrary of so; Kur-Pfalz was not ready to give Berg for it!'—[We are not deep in German History, we British Diplomatic gentlemen, who are squandering, now and of old, so much money on it! The Aulic Council, "falls into our arms like dead men;" but it is certain the Elector Palatine was not ready to give Berg in that kind of exchange.]
KING. "'It is inconceivable to me how Austria should dare to think of such a thing. Limburg? Are there not solemn Engagements upon Austria, sanctioned and again sanctioned by all the world, which render every inch of ground in the Netherlands inalienable?'
ROBINSON. "'Engagements good as against the French, your Majesty. Otherwise the Barrier Treaty, confirmed at Utrecht, was for our behoof and Holland's.'
KING. "'That is your present interpretation, But the French pretend it was an arrangement more in their favor than against them.'
ROBINSON. "'Your Majesty, by a little Engineer Art, could render Limburg impregnable to the French or others.'
KING. "'Have not the least desire to aggrandize myself in those parts, or spend money fortifying there. Useless to me. Am not I fortifying Brieg and Glogau? These are enough: for one who intends to live well with his neighbors. Neither the Dutch nor the French have offended me; nor will I them by acquisitions in the Netherlands. Besides, who would guarantee them?'
ROBINSON. "'The Proposal is to give guarantees at once.'
KING. "'Guarantees! Who minds or keeps guarantees in this age? Has not France guaranteed the Pragmatic Sanction; has not England? Why don't you all fly to the Queen's succor?'"—Robinson, inclined to pout, if he durst, intimates that perhaps there will be succorers one day yet.
KING. "'And pray, Monsieur, who are they?'
ROBINSON. "'Hm, hm, your Majesty.... Russia, for example, which Power with reference to Turkey—'
KING. "'Good, Sir, good (BEAU, MONSIEUR, BEAU), the Russians! It is not proper to explain myself; but I have means for the Russians' [a Swedish War just coming upon Russia, to keep its hand in use; so diligent have the French been in that quarter!].
ROBINSON (with some emphasis, as a Britannic gentleman). "'Russia is not the only Power that has engagements with Austria, and that must keep them too! So that, however averse to a breach—'
KING ("laying his finger on his nose," mark him;—aloud, and with such eyes). "'No threats, Sir, if you please! No threats' ["in a loud voice," finger to nose, and with such eyes looking in upon me].
HYNDFORD (heavily coming to the rescue). "'Am sure his Excellency is far from such meaning, Sire. His Excellency will advance nothing so very contrary to his Instructions.'—Podewils too put in something proper" in the appeasing way.
ROBINSON. "'Sire, I am not talking of what this Power or that means to do; but of what will come of itself. To prophesy is not to threaten, Sire! It is my zeal for the Public that brought me hither; and—'
KING. "'The Public will be much obliged to you, Monsieur! But hear me. With respect to Russia, you know how matters stand. From the King of Poland I have nothing to fear. As for the King of England,—he is my relation [dear Uncle, in the Pawnbroker sense], he is my all: if he don't attack me, I won't him. And if he do, the Prince of Anhalt [Old Dessauer out at Gottin yonder] will take care of him.'
ROBINSON. "'The common news now is [rumor in Diplomatic circles, rather below the truth this time], your Majesty, after the 12th of August, will join the French. [King looks fixedly at him in silence.] Sire, I venture to hope not! Austria prefers your friendship; but if your Majesty disdain Austria's advances, what is it to do? Austria must throw itself entirely into the hands of France,—and endeavor to outbid your Majesty.' [King quite silent.]
"King was quite silent upon this head," says Robinson, reporting: silence, guesses Robinson, founded most probably upon his "consciousness of guilt"—what I, florid Yorkshire Gentleman, call GUILT, as being against the Cause of Liberty and us!"From time to time he threw out remarks on the advantageousness of his situation:—"
KING.... "'At the head of such an Army, which the Enemy has already made experience of; and which is ready for the Enemy again, if he have appetite! With the Country which alone I am concerned with, conquered and secured behind me; a Country that alone lies convenient to me; which is all I want, which I now have; which I will and must keep! Shall I be bought out of this country? Never! I will sooner perish in it, with all my troops. With what face shall I meet my Ancestors, if I abandon my right, which they have transmitted to me? My first enterprise; and to be given up lightly?'"—With more of the like sort; which Friedrich, in writing of it long after, seems rather ashamed of; and would fain consider to have been mock fustian, provoked by the real fustian of Sir Thomas Robinson, "who negotiated in a wordy high-droning way, as if he were speaking in Parliament," says Friedrich (a Friedrich not taken with that style of eloquence, and hoping he rather quizzed it than was serious with it, [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 84.]—though Robinson and Hyndford found in him no want of vehement seriousness, but rather the reverse!)—He concludes: "Have I need of Peace? Let those who need it give me what I want; or let them fight me again, and be beaten again. Have not they given whole Kingdoms to Spain? [Naples, at one swoop, to the Termagant; as broken glass, in that Polish-Election freak!] And to me they cannot spare a few trifling Principalities? If the Queen does not now grant me all I require, I shall in four weeks demand Four Principalities more! [Nay, I now do it, being in sibylline tune.] I now demand the whole of Lower Silesia, Breslau included;—and with that Answer you can return to Vienna.'
ROBINSON. "'With that Answer: is your Majesty serious?'
KING. "'With that.'" A most vehement young King; no negotiating with him, Sir Thomas! It is like negotiating for the Sibyl's Books: the longer you bargain, the higher he will rise. In four weeks, time he will demand Four Principalities more; nay, already demands them, the whole of Lower Silesia and Breslau. A precious negotiation I have made of it! Sir Thomas, wide-eyed, asks a second time:—
ROBINSON. "'Is that your Majesty's deliberate answer?'
KING. "'Yes, I say! That is my Answer; and I will never give another.'
HYNDFORD and ROBINSON (much flurried, to Podewils). "'Your Excellency, please to comprehend, the Proposals from Vienna were—'
KING. "'Messieurs, Messieurs, it is of no use even to think of it.' And taking off his hat," slightly raising his hat, as salutation and finale, "he retired precipitately behind the curtain of the interior corner of the tent," says the reporter: EXIT King!
ROBINSON (totally flurried, to Podewils). "'Your Excellency, France will abandon Prussia, will sacrifice Prussia to self-interest.'
PODEWILS. "'No, no! France will not deceive us; we have not deceived France.'" (SCENE CLOSES; CURTAIN FALLS.) [State-Paper Office (Robinson to Harrington, Breslau, 9th August, 1741); Raumer, pp. 106-110. Compare OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 84; and Valori, i. 119, 122.]
The unsuccessfulest negotiation well imaginable by a public man. Strehlen, Monday, 7th August, 1741:—Friedrich has vanished into the interior of his tent; and the two Diplomatic gentlemen, the wind struck out of them in this manner, remain gazing at one another. Here truly is a young Royal gentleman that knows his own mind, while so many do not. Unspeakable imbroglio of negotiations, mostly insane, welters over all the Earth; the Belleisles, the Aulic Councils, the British Georges, heaping coil upon coil: and here, notably, in that now so extremely sordid murk of wiggeries, inane diplomacies and solemn deliriums, dark now and obsolete to all creatures, steps forth one little Human Figure, with something of sanity in it: like a star, like a gleam of steel,—shearing asunder your big balloons, and letting out their diplomatic hydrogen;—salutes with his hat, "Gentlemen, Gentlemen, it is of no use!" and vanishes into the interior of his tent. It is to Excellency Robinson, among all the sons of Adam then extant, that we owe this interesting Passage of History,—authentic glimpse, face to face, of the young Friedrich in those extraordinary circumstances: every feature substantially as above, and recognizable for true. Many Despatches his Excellency wrote in this world,—sixty or eighty volumes of them still left,—but among them is this One: the angriest of mankind cannot say that his Excellency lived and embassied quite in vain!
The Two Britannic Gentlemen, both on that distressing Monday and the day following, had the honor to dine with the King: who seemed in exuberant spirits; cutting and bantering to right and left; upon the Court of Vienna, among other topics, in a way which I Robinson "will not repeat to your Lordship." Bade me, for example, "As you pass through Neisse, make my compliments to Marshal Neipperg; and you can say, Excellency Robinson, that I hope to have the pleasure of calling, one of these days!"—Podewils, who was civil, pressed us much to stay over Wednesday, the 9th. "On Thursday is to be a Grand Review, one of the finest military sights; to which the Excellencies from Breslau, one and all, are coming out." But we, having our Despatches and Expresses on hand, pleaded business, and declined, in spite of Podewils's urgencies. And set off for Breslau, Wednesday, morning,—meeting various Excellencies, by degrees all the Excellencies, on the road for that Review we had heard of.
Readers must accept this Robinsoniad as the last of Friedrich's Diplomatic performances at Strehlen, which in effect it nearly was; and from these instances imagine his way in such things. Various Letters there are, to Jordan principally, some to Algarotti; both of whom he still keeps at Breslau, and sends for, if there is like to be an hour of leisure. The Letters indicate cheerfulness of humor, even levity, in the Writer; which is worth noting, in this wild clash of things now tumbling round him, and looking to him as its centre: but they otherwise, though heartily and frankly written, are, to Jordan and us, as if written from the teeth outward; and throw no light whatever either on things befalling, or on Friedrich's humor under them. Reading diligently, we do notice one thing, That the talk about "fame (GLOIRE)" has died out. Not the least mention now of GLOIRE;—perception now, most probably, that there are other things than "GLOIRE" to be had by taking arms; and that War is a terribly grave thing, lightly as one may go into it at first! This small inference we do negatively draw, from the Friedrich Correspondence of those months: and except this, and the levity of humor noticeable, we practically get no light whatever from it; the practical soul and soul's business of Friedrich being entirely kept veiled there, as usual.
And veiled, too, in such a way that you do not notice any veil,—the young King being, as we often intimate, a master in this art. Which useful circumstance has done him much ill with readers and mankind. For if you intend to interest readers,—that is to say, idle neighbors, and fellow-creatures in need of gossip,—there is nothing like unveiling yourself: witness Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and many other poor waste creatures, going off in self-conflagration, for amusement of the parish, in that manner. But may not a man have something other on hand with his Existence than that of "setting fire to it [such the process terribly IS], to show the people a fine play of colors, and get himself applauded, and pathetically blubbered over?" Alas, my friends!—
It is certain there was seldom such a life-element as this of Friedrich's in Summer, 1741. Here is the enormous jumbling of a World broken loose; boiling as in very chaos; asking of him, him more than any other, "How? What?" Enough to put GLOIRE out of his head; and awaken thoughts,—terrors, if you were of apprehensive turn! Surely no young man of twenty-nine more needed all the human qualities than Friedrich now. The threatenings, the seductions, big Belleisle hallucinations,—the perils to you infinite, if you MISS the road. Friedrich did not miss it, as is well known; he managed to pick it out from that enormous jumble of the elements, and victoriously arrived by it, he alone of them all. Which is evidence of silent or latent faculty in him, still more wonderful than the loud-resounding ones of which the world has heard. Probably there was not, in his history, any chapter more significant of human faculty than this, which is not on record at all.
Chapter III. — GRAND REVIEW AT STREHLEN: NEIPPERG TAKES AIM AT BRESLAU,
BUT ANOTHER HITS IT.
A day or two before that famous Audience of Hyndford and Robinson's, Neipperg had quitted his impregnable Camp at Neisse, and taken the field again; in the hope of perhaps helping Robinson's Negotiation by an inverse method. Should Robinson's offers not prove attractive enough, as is to be feared, a push from behind may have good effects. Neipperg intends to have a stroke on Breslau; to twitch Breslau out of Friedrich's hands, by a private manoeuvre on new resources that have offered themselves. [ Helden-Geschichte, i. 982, and ii. 227.]
In Breslau, which is by great majority Protestant in creed and warmly Prussian in temper, there has been no oppression or unfair usage heard of to any class of persons; and certainly in the matter of Protestant and Catholic, there has been perfect equality observed. True, the change from favor and ascendency to mere equality, is not in itself welcome to human creatures:—one conceives, for various reasons of lower and higher nature, a minority of discontented individuals in Breslau, zealous for their creed and old perquisites sacred and profane; who long in secret, sometimes vocally to one another, for the good old times,—when souls were not liable to perish wholesale, and people guilty only of loyalty and orthodoxy to be turned out of their offices on suspicion. Friedrich says, it was mainly certain zealous Old Ladies of Quality who went into this adventure; and from whispering to one another, got into speaking, into meeting in one another's houses for the purpose of concerting and contriving. [OEuvres, ii. 82, 83.] Zealous Old Ladies of Quality,—these we consider were the Talking-Apparatus or Secret-Parliament of the thing: but it is certain one or two Official Gentlemen (Syndic Guzmar for instance, and others NOT yet become Ex-Official) had active hand in it, and furnished the practical ideas.
Continual Correspondence there was with Vienna, by those Old Ladies; Guzmar and the others shy of putting pen to paper, and only doing it where indispensable. Zealous Addresses go to her Hungarian Majesty, "Oh, may the Blessed Virgin assist your Majesty!"—accompanied, it is said, with Subscriptions of money (poor old souls); and what is much more dangerous and feasible, there goes prompt notice to Neipperg of everything the Prussian Army undertakes, and the Postscript always, "Come and deliver us, your Excellency." Of these latter Documents, I have heard of some with Syndic Guzmar's and other Official hands to them. Generally such things can, through accidental Pandour channels, were there no other, easily reach Neipperg; though they do not always. Enough, could Neipperg appear at the Gates of Breslau, in some concerted night-hour, or push out suitable Detachment on forced-march that way,—it is evident to him he would be let in; might smother the few Prussians that are in the Dom Island, and get possession of the Enemy's principal Magazine and the Metropolis of the Province. Might not the Enemy grow more tractable to Robinson's seductions in such case?
Neipperg marches from Neisse (1st-6th August) with his whole Army; first some thirty miles westward up the right or southern bank of the Neisse; then crosses the Neisse, and circles round to northward, giving Friedrich wide room: [Orlich, i. 130, 133.] that night of Robinson's Audience, when Friedrich was so merry at dinner, Neipperg was engaged in crossing the River; the second night after, Neipperg lay encamped and intrenched at Baumgarten (old scene of Friedrich's Pandour Adventure), while Hyndford and Robinson had got back to Breslau. In another day or so, he may hope to be within forced-march of Breslau, to detach Feldmarschall Browne or some sharp head; and to do a highly considerable thing?
Unluckily for Neipperg's Adventure, the Prussians had wind of it, some time ago. They have got "a false Sister smuggled into that Old-Ladies' Committee," who has duly reported progress; nay they have intercepted something in Syndic Guzmar's own hand: and everything is known to Friedrich. The Protestant population, and generally the practical quiet part of the Breslauers, are harassed with suspicion of some such thing, but can gain no certainty, nor understand what to do. Protestants especially, who have been so zealous, "who were seen dropping down on the streets to pray, while the muffled thunder came from Mollwitz that day," [Ranke, ii. 289.]—fancy how it would now be, were the tables suddenly turned, and indignant Orthodoxy made supreme again, with memory fresh! But, in fact, there is no danger whatever to them. Schwerin has orders about Breslau; Schwerin and the Young Dessauer are maturely considering how to manage.
Readers recollect how Podewils pressed the Two Britannic Excellencies to stay in Strehlen a day or two longer: "Grand Review, with festivities, just on hand; whole of the Foreign Ministers in Breslau invited out to see it,"—though Hyndford and Robinson would not consent; but left on the 9th, meeting the others at different points of the road. Next day, Thursday, 10th August, was in fact a great day at Strehlen; grand muster, manoeuvring of cavalry above all, whom Friedrich is delighted to find so perfect in their new methods; riding as if they were centaurs, horse and man one entity; capable of plunging home, at full gallop, in coherent masses upon an enemy, and doing some good with him. "Neipperg's Croat-people, and out-pickets on the distant Hill-sides, witnessed these manoeuvres," [Ranke, ii. 288.] I know not with what criticism. Furthermore, about noon-time, there was heard (mark it, reader) a distant cannon-shot, one and no more, from the Northern side; which gave his Majesty a lively pleasure, though he treated it as nothing. All the Foreign Ministers were on the ground; doubtless with praises, so far as receivable; and in the afternoon came festivities not a few. A great day in Strehlen:—but in Breslau a much greater; which explained, to our Two Excellencies, why Podewils had been so pressing!
August 10th, at six in the morning, Schwerin, and under him the Young Dessauer,—who had arrived in the Southwestern suburbs of Breslau overnight, with 8,000 foot and horse, and had posted themselves in a vigilant Anti-Neipperg manner there, and laid all their plans,—appear at the Nicolai Gate; and demand, in the common way, transit for their regiments and baggages: "bound Northward," as appears; "to Leubus," where something of Pandour sort has fallen out. So many troops or companies at a time, that is the rule; one quantity of companies you admit; then close and bolt, till it have marched across and out at the opposite Gate; after which, open again for a second lot. But in this case,—owing to accident (very unusual) of a baggage-wagon breaking down, and people hurrying to help it forward,—the whole regiment gets in, escorted as usual by the Town-guard. Whole regiment; and marches, not straight through; but at a certain corner strikes off leftward to the Market-place; where, singular to say, it seems inclined to pause and rearrange itself a little. Nay, more singular still, other regiments (owing to like accidents), from other Gates, join it;—and—in fact—"Herr Major of the Town-guard, in the King's name, you are required to ground arms!" What can the Town Major do; Prussian grenadiers, cannoneers, gravely environing him? He sticks his sword into the scabbard, an Ex-Town Major; and Breslau City is become Friedrich's, softly like a movement during drill. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 982, n. 227, 268; Adelung, ii. 439; Stenzel, iv. 152.]
Not the least mistake occurred. Cannon with case-shot planted themselves in all the thoroughfares, Horse-patrols went circulating everywhere; Town-arsenal, gates, walls, are laid hold of; Town-guards all disarmed, rather "with laughter on their part" than otherwise: "Majesty perhaps will give us muskets of his own;—well!" The operation altogether did not last above an hour-and-half, and nobody's skin got scratched. Towards 9 A.M. Schwerin summoned the Town Dignitaries to their Rathhaus to swear fealty; who at once complied; and on his stepping out with proposal, to the general population, of "a cheer for King Friedrich, Duke of Lower Silesia," the poor people rent the skies with their "Friedrich and Silesia forever!" which they repeated, I think, seven times. Upon which Schwerin fired off his signal-cannon, pointing to the South; where other posts and cannons took up the sound, and pushed it forward, till, as we noticed, it got to Friedrich in few minutes, on the review-ground at Strehlen; right welcome to him, among the manoeuvrings there. Protestant Breslau or cordwainer Doblin cannot lament such a result; still less dare the devout Old Ladies of Quality openly lament, who are trembling to the heart, poor old creatures, though no evil came of it to them; penitent, let off for the fright; checking even their aspirations henceforth.
Syndic Guzmar and the peccant Officials being summoned out to Strehlen, it had been asked of them, "Do you know this Letter?" Upon which they fell on their knees, "ACH IHRO MAJESTAT!" unable to deny their handwriting; yet anxious to avoid death on the scaffold, as Friedrich said was usual under such behavior; and were sent home, after a few hours of arrest. [Orlich, i. 134; Helden-Geschichte, ii. 228.] Schwerin (as King's substitute till the King himself one day arrive) continued to take the Homaging, and to make the many new arrangements needful. All which went off in a soft and pleasantly harmonious manner;—only the Jesuits scrupling a little to swear as yet; and getting gently sent their ways, with revenues stopt in consequence. Otherwise the swearing, which lasted for several days, was to appearance a joyful process, and on the part of the general population an enthusiastic one, "ES LEBE KONIG FRIEDRICH!" rising to the welkin with insatiable emphasis, seven times over, on the least signal given. Neipperg's Adventure, and Orthodox Female Parliament, have issued in this sadly reverse manner.
Robinson and Hyndford have to witness these phenomena; Robinson to shoot off for Presburg again, with the worst news in the world. Queen and Hofraths have been waiting in agony of suspense, "Will Friedrich bargain on those gentle terms, and help us with 100,000 men?" Far from it, my friends; how far! "My most important intelligence," writes the Russian Envoy there, some days ago, ["5 August, 1741," not said to whom (in Ranke, ii. 324 n.).] "is, that a Bavarian War has broken out, that Kur-Baiern is in Passau. God grant that Monsieur Robinson may succeed in his negotiation! All here are in the completest irresolution, and total inactivity, till Monsieur Robinson return, or at least send news of himself."
Chapter IV. — FRIEDRICH TAKES THE FIELD AGAIN, INTENT ON HAVING NEISSE.
This Breslau Adventure, which had yielded Friedrich so important an acquisition, was furthermore the cause of ending these Strehlen inactivities, and of recommencing field operations. August 11th, Neipperg, provoked by the grievous news just come from Breslau, pushes suddenly forward on Schweidnitz, by way of consolation; Schweidnitz, not so strong as it might be made, where the Prussians have a principal Magazine: "One might at least seize that?" thinks Neipperg, in his vexed humor. But here too Friedrich was beforehand with him; broke out, rapidly enough, to Reichenbach, westward, which bars the Neipperg road to Schweidnitz: upon which,—or even before which (on rumor of it coming, which was not YET true),—Neipperg, half done with his first day's march, called halt; prudently turned back, and hastened, Baumgarten way, to his strong Camp at Frankenstein again. His hope in the Schweidnitz direction had lasted only a few hours; a hope springing on the mere spur of pique, soon recognizable by him as futile; and now anxieties for self-preservation had succeeded it on Neipperg's part. For now Friedrich actually advances on him, in a menacing manner, hardly hoping Neipperg will fight; but determined to have done with the Neisse business, in spite of strong camps and cunctations, if it be possible. [Orlich, i. 137, 138.]
It was August 16th, when Friedrich stirred out of Strehlen; August 21st, when he encamped at Reichenbach. Till September 7th, he kept manoeuvring upon Neipperg, who counter-manoeuvred with vigilance, good judgment, and would not come to action: September 7th, Friedrich, weary of these hagglings, dashed off for Neisse itself, hoped to be across Neisse River, and be between Neisse Town and Neipperg, before Neipperg could get up. There would then be no method of preventing the Siege of Neisse, except by a Battle: so Friedrich had hoped; but Neipperg again proved vigilant.
Accordingly, September 11th, Friedrich's Vanguard was actually across the Neisse; had crossed at a place called Woitz, and had there got Two Pontoon Bridges ready, when Friedrich, in the evening, came up with the main Army, intending to cross;—and was astonished to find Neipperg taking up position, in intricate ground, near by, on the opposite side! Ground so intricate, hills, bogs, bushes of wood, and so close upon the River, there was no crossing possible; and Friedrich's Vanguard had to be recalled. Two days of waiting, of earnest ocular study; no possibility visible. On the third day, Friedrich, gathering in his pontoons overnight, marched off, down stream: Neisse-wards, but on the left or north bank of the River; passed Neisse Town (the River between him and it); and encamped at Gross Neundorf, several miles from Neipperg and the River. Neipperg, at an equal step, has been wending towards his old Camp, which lies behind Neisse, between Neisse and the Hills: there, a river in front, dams and muddy inundations all round him, begirt with plentiful Pandours, Neipperg waits what Friedrich will attempt from Gross Neundorf.
From Gross Neundorf, Friedrich persists twelve days (13th-25th September), studying, endeavoring; mere impossibility ahead. And by this time (what is much worth noting), Hyndford, silently quitting Breslau, has got back to these scenes of war, occasionally visible in Friedrich's Camp again;—on important mysterious business; which will have results. Valori also is here in Camp; these two Excellencies jealously eying one another; both of them with teeth rather on edge,—Europe having suddenly got into such a plunge (as if the highest mountains were falling into the deepest seas) since Friedrich began this Neipperg problem of his;—in which, after twelve days, he sees mere impossibility ahead.
On the twelfth day, Friedrich privately collects himself for a new method: marches, soon after midnight, [26th September, 2 A.M.: Orlich, i. 144.] fifteen miles down the River (which goes northward in this part, as the reader may remember); crosses, with all his appurtenances, unmolested; and takes camp a few miles inland, or on the right bank, and facing towards Neisse again. He intends to be in upon Neipperg front the rear quarter; and cut him off from Mahren and his daily convoys of food. "Daily food cut off,—the thickest-skinned rhinoceros, the wildest lion, cannot stand that: here, for Neipperg, is one point on which all his embankments and mud-dams will not suffice him!" thinks Friedrich. Certain preliminary operations, and military indispensabilities, there first are for Friedrich,—Town of Oppeln to be got, which commands the Oder, our rearward highway; Castle of Friedland, and the country between Oder and Neisse Rivers:—while these preliminary things are being done (September 28th-October 3d), Friedrich in person gradually pushes forward towards Neipperg, reconnoitring, bickering with Croats: October 3d, preliminaries done, Neipperg's rear had better look to itself.
Neipperg, well enough seeing what was meant, has by this time come out of his mud-dams and impregnabilities; and advanced a few miles towards Friedrich. Neipperg lies now encamped in the Hamlet of Griesau, a little way behind Steinau,—poor Steinau, which the reader saw on fire one night, when Friedrich and we were in those parts, in Spring last. Friedrich's Camp is about five miles from Neipperg's on the other side of Steinau. A tolerable champaign country; I should think, mostly in stubble at this season. Nearly midway between these two Camps is a pretty Schloss called Klein-Schnellendorf, occupied by Neipperg's Croats just now, of which Prince Lobkowitz (he, if I remember, but it matters nothing), an Austrian General of mark, far away at present, is proprietor.
Friedrich's Oppeln preparations are about complete; and he intends to advance straightway. "Hold, for Heaven's sake, your Majesty!" exclaims Hyndford; getting hold of him one day (waylaying him, in fact; for it is difficult, owing to Valori); "Wait, wait; I have just been to the—to the Camp of Neipperg," silently gesticulates Hyndford: "Within a week all shall be right, and not a drop of blood shed!" Friedrich answers, by silence chiefly, to the effect, "Tush, tush;" but not quite negatively, and does in effect wait. We had better give the snatch of Dialogue in primitive authentic form; date is, Camp of Neundorf, September 22d:—
FRIEDRICH (pausing impatiently, on the way towards his tent). "'MILORD, DE QUOI S'AGIT-IL A PRESENT (What is it now, then)?'
HYNDFORD. "'Should much desire to have some assurance from your Majesty with regard to that neutrality of Hanover you were pleased to promise.' All else is coming right; hastening towards beautiful settlement, were that settled.
FRIEDRICH. "'Have not I great reason to be dissatisfied with your Court? Britannic Majesty, as King of England and as Elector of Hanover, is wonderful! Milord, when you say a thing is white, Schweichelt, the Hanoverian Excellency, calls it black, and VICE VERSA. But I will do your King no harm; none, I say! Follow me to dinner; dinner is cold by this time; and we have made more than one person think of us. Swift! [and EXIT].'" [Hyndford's Despatch, Neisse, 4th October, 1741.]
This is a strange motion on the part of Hyndford; but Friedrich, severely silent to it, understands it very well; as readers soon will, when they hear farther. But marvellous things have happened on the sudden! In these three weeks, since the Camp of Strehlen broke up, there have been such Events; strategic, diplomatic: a very avalanche of ruin, hurling Austria down to the Nadir; of which it is now fit that the reader have some faint conception, an adequate not being possible for him or me:—
"AUGUST l5th, 1741. Robinson reappears in Presburg; and precious surely are the news he brings to an Aulic Council fallen back in its chairs, and staring with the wind struck out of it. Their expected Seizure of Breslau gone heels over head, in that way; Friedrich imperiously resolute, gleaming like the flash of steel amid these murky imbecilities, and without the Cession of Silesia no Peace to be made with him! And all this is as nothing, to news which arrives just on the back of Robinson, from another quarter.
"AUGUST 15th-21st. French Army of 40,000 men, special Army of Belleisle, sedulously equipt and completed, visibly crosses the Rhine at Fort Louis (an Island Fortress in the Rhine, thirty miles below Strasburg; STONES of it are from the old Schloss of Hagenau);—steps over deliberately there; and on the sixth day is all on German ground. These troops, to be commanded by Belleisle, so soon as he can join them, are to be the Elector of Bavaria's troops, Kur-Baiern Generalissimo over Belleisle and them; [Fastes de Louis XV., ii. 264.] and they are on rapid march to join that ambitious Kurfurst, in his Passau Expedition; and probably submerge Vienna itself.
"And what is this we hear farther, O Robinson, O Excellencies Hyndford, Schweichelt and Company: That another French Army, of the same strength, under Maillebois, has in the self-same days gone across the Lower Rhine (at Kaisersworth, an hour's ride below Dusseldorf)! At Kaisersworth; ostensibly for comforting and strengthening Kur-Koln (the lanky Ecclesiastical Gentleman, Kur-Baiern's Brother), their excellent ally, should anybody meddle with him. Ostensibly for this; but in reality to keep the Sea-Powers, and especially George of England quiet. It marches towards Osnabruck, this Maillebois Army; quarters itself up and down, looking over into Hanover,—able to eat Hanover, especially if joined by the Prussians and Old Leopold, at any moment.
"These things happen in this month of August, close upon the rear of that steel-shiny scene in the Tent at Strehlen, where Friedrich lifted his hat, saying, ''T is of no use, Messieurs!'—which was followed by the seizure of Breslau the wrong way. Never came such a cataract of evil news on an Aulic Council before. The poor proud people, all these months they have been sitting torpid, helpless, loftily stupid, like dumb idols; 'in flat despair,' as Robinson says once, 'only without the strength to be desperate.'
"Sure enough the Sea-Powers are checkmated now. Let them make the least attempt in favor of the Queen, if they dare. Holland can be overrun, from Osnabruck quarter, at a day's warning. Little George has his Hanoverians, his subsidized Hessians, Danes, in Hanover, his English on Lexden Heath: let him come one step over the marches, Maillebois and the Old Dessauer swallow him. It is a surprising stroke of theatrical-practical Art; brought about, to old Fleury's sorrow, by the genius of Belleisle, aud they say of Madame Chateauroux; enough to strike certain Governing Persons breathless, for some time; and denotes that the Universal Hurricane, or World-Tornado, has broken out. It is not recorded of little George that he fell back in his chair, or stared wider than usual with those fish-eyes: but he discerned well, glorious little man, that here is left no shadow of a chance by fighting; that he will have to sit stock-still, under awful penalties; and that if Maria Theresa will escape destruction, she must make her peace with Friedrich at any price."
This fine event, 80,000 French actually across the Rhine, happened in the very days while Friedrich and Neipperg had got into wrestle again,—Neipperg just off from that rash march for Schweidnitz, and whirling back on rumor (15th August), while the first instalment of the French were getting over. Friedrich must admit that the French fulfil their promises so far. A week ago or more, they made the Swedes declare War against Russia, as covenanted. War is actually declared, at Stockholm, August 4th, the Faction of Hats prevailing over that of Nightcaps, after terrible debates and efforts about the mere declaring of it, as if that alone were the thing needed. We mentioned this War already, and would not willingly again. One of the most contemptible Wars ever declared or carried on; but useful to Friedrich, as keeping Russia off his hands, at a critical time, and conclusively forbidding help to Austria from that quarter.
Marechal de Belleisle, wrapt in Diplomatic and Electioneering business, cannot personally take command for the present; but has excellent lieutenants,—one of whom is Comte de Saxe, Moritz our old friend, afterwards Marechal de Saxe. Among the finest French Armies, this of Belleisle's is thought to be, that ever took the field: so many of our Nobility in it, and what best Officers, Segurs, Saxes, future Marechal's, we have. Army full of spirit and splendor; come to cut Germany in four, and put France at last in its place in the Universe. Here is courage, here is patriotism, of a sort. And if this is not the good sort, the divinely pious, the humanly noble,—Fashionable Society feels it to be so, and can hit no nearer. New-fashioned "Army of the Oriflamme," one might call this of Belleisle's; kind of Sham-Sacred French Army (quite in earnest, as it thinks);—led on, not by St. Denis and the Virgin, but by Sun-god Belleisle and the Chateauroux, under these sad new conditions! Which did not prosper as expected.
"Let the Holy German Reich take no offence," said this Army, eager to conciliate: "we come as friends merely; our intentions charitable, and that only. Bavarian Treaty of Nymphenburg (18th May last) binds us especially, this time; Treaty of Westphalia binds us sacredly at all times. Peaceable to you, nay brotherly, if only you will be peaceable!" Which the poor Reich, all but Austria and the Sea-Powers, strove what it could to believe.
On reaching the German shore out of Elsass, "every Officer put, the Bavarian Colors, cockade of blue-and-white, on his hat;" [Adelung, ii. 431.] a mere "Bavarian Army," don't you see? And the 40,000 wend steadily forward through Schwaben eastward, till they can join Karl Albert Kur-Baiern, who is Generalissimo, or has the name of such. They march in Seven Divisions. Donauworth (a Town we used to know, in Marlborough's time and earlier) is to be their first resting-point; Ingolstadt their place-of-arms: will readers recollect those two essential circumstances? To Donauworth is 250 miles; to Passau will be 180 more: five or six long weeks of marching. But after Donauworth they are to go, the Infantry of them are, in boats; Horse, under Saxe, marching parallel. Forward, ever forward, to Passau (properly to Scharding, twelve miles up the Inn Valley, where his Bavarian Highness is in Camp); and thence, under his Bavarian Highness, and in concert with him, to pour forth, deluge-like, upon Linz, probably upon Vienna itself, down the Donau Valley,—why not to Vienna itself, and ruin Austria at one swoop? [Espagnac, Histoire de Maurice Comte de Saxe (German Translation, Leipzig, 1774), i. 83:—an excellent military compend. Campagnes des Trois Marechaux (Maillebois, Broglio, Belleisle: Armsterdam. 1773), ii. 53-56:—in nine handy little volumes (or if we include the NOAILLES and the COIGNY set, making "CING MARECHAUX," nineteen volumes in all, and a twentieth for INDEX); consisting altogether of Official Letters (brief, rapid, meant for business, NOT for printing in the Newspapers); which are elucidative BEYOND bargain, and would even be amusing to read,—were the topic itself worth one's time.]
The second or Maillebois French Army spreads itself, by degrees, considerably over Westphalia;—straitened for forage, and otherwise not the best of neighbors. But, in theory, in speech, this too was abundantly conciliatory,—to the Dutch at least. "Nothing earthly in view, nothing, ye magnanimous Dutch, except to lodge here in the most peaceable manner, paying our way, and keep down disturbances that might arise in these parts. That might arise; not from you, ye magnanimous High Mightinesses, how far from it! Nor will we meddle with one broken brick of your respectable Barrier, or Barrier Treaty, which is sacred to us, or do you the shadow of an injury. No; a thousand times, upon our honor, No!" For brevity's sake, I lend them that locution, "No, a thousand times,"—and in actual arithmetic, I should think there are at least four or five hundred times of it,—in those extinct Diplomatic Eloquences of Excellency Fenelon and the other French;—vaguely counting, in one's oppressed imagination, during the Two Years that ensue. For the Dutch lazily believed, or strove to believe, this No of Fenelon's; and took an obstinate laggard sitting posture, in regard to Pragmatic Sanction; whereby the task of "hoisting" them (as above hinted), which fell upon a certain King, became so famous in Diplomatic History.
Imagination may faintly picture what a blow this advent of Maillebois was to his Britannic Majesty, over in Herrenhausen yonder! He has had of Danes six thousand, of Hessians six, of Hanoverians sixteen,—in all some 30,000 men, on foot here since Spring last, camping about (in two formidable Camps at this moment); not to mention the 6,000 of English on Lexden Heath, eager to be shipped across, would Parliament permit; and now—let him stir in any direction if he dare. Camp of Gottin like a drawn sword at one's throat (at one's Hanover) from the east; and lo, here a twin fellow to it gleaming from the south side! Maillebois can walk into the throat of Hanover at a day's warning. And such was actually the course proposed by Maillebois's Government, more than once, in these weeks, had not Friedrich dissuaded and forbidden. It is a strangling crisis. What is his Britannic Majesty to do? Send orders, "Double YOUR diligence, Excellency Robinson!" that is one clear point; the others are fearfully insoluble, yet pressing for solution: in a six weeks hence (September 27th), we shall see what they issue in!—
As for Robinson, he is duly with the Queen at Presburg; duly conjuring incessantly, "Make your peace with Friedrich!" And her Majesty will not, on the terms. Poor Robinson, urged two ways at once, is flurried doubly and trebly; tossed about as Diplomatist never was. King of Prussia flashes lightning-looks upon him, clapping finger to nose; Maria Theresa, knowing he will demand cession of Silesia, shudders at sight of him; and the Aulic Council fall into his arms like dead men, murmuring, "Money; where is your money?"
"AUGUST 29th. While Friedrich was pushing into Neipperg, in the Baumgarten Country, and could get no battle out of him, Excellency Robinson reappears at Breslau; Maria Theresa, after deadly efforts on his part, has mended her offers, in these terrible circumstances; and Robinson is here again. 'Half of Silesia, or almost half, provided his Majesty will turn round, and help against the French:' these, secretly, are Robinson's rich offers. The Queen, on consenting to these new offers, had 'wrung her hands,' like one in despair, and said passionately, 'Unless accepted within a fortnight, I will not be bound by them!' 'Admit his Excellency to the honor of an interview,' solicits Hyndford; 'his offers are much mended.' Notable to witness, Friedrich will not see Robinson at all this time, nor even permit Podewils to see him; signifies plainly that he wants to hear no more of his offers, and that, in fact, the sooner he can take himself away from Breslau, it will be the better. To that effect, Robinson, rushing back in mortified astonished manner, reports progress at Presburg; to that and no better. 'High Madam,' urges Robinson, still indefatigable, 'the King of Prussia's help would be life, his hostility is death at this crisis. Peace must be with him, at any price!' 'Price?' answers her Majesty once: 'If Austria must fall, it is indifferent to me whether it be by Kur-Baiern or Kur-Brandenburg!' [Stenzel, iv. 156.] Nevertheless, in about a week she again yields to intense conjuring, and the ever-tightening pressure of events;—King George, except it be for counselling, is become stock-still, with Maillebois's sword at his throat; and is, without metaphor, sinking towards absolute neutrality: 'Cannot help you, Madam, any farther; must not try it, or I perish, my Hanover and I!'—So that Maria Theresa again mends her offers: 'Give him all Lower Silesia, and he to join with me!' and Robinson post-haste despatches a courier to Breslau with them. Notable again: King Friedrich will not hear of them; answers by a 'No, I tell you! Time was, time is not. I have now joined with France; and to join against it in this manner? Talk to me no more!'" [Friedrich to Hyndford: "Au Camp [de Neuendorf] 14me septembre," 1741. "Milord j'ai recu les nouvelles propositions d'alliance que l'infatigable Robinson vous envoie. Je les trouve aussi chimeriques que les precedentes."—"Ces gens sont-ils fols, Milord, de s'imaginer que je commisse la trahison de tourner en leur faveur mes armes, et de"—"Je vous prie de ne me plus fatiguer avec de pareilles propositions, et de me croire assez honnete homme pour ne point violer mes engagements.— FREDERIC." (British Museum: Hyndford Papers, fol. 133.)]...
Here is a catastrophe for the Two Britannic Excellencies, and the Cause of Freedom! Robinson, in dudgeon and amazement, has hurried back to Presburg, has ceased sending even couriers; and, in a three weeks hence (9th October, a day otherwise notable), wishes "to come home," the game being up. [His Letter, "9th October, 1741" (in Lord Mahon's History of England, iii. Appendix, p. iii: edit. London, 1839)]. Such is Robinson's gloomy view: finished, he, and the game lost,—unless perhaps Hyndford could still do something? Of which what hope is there! Hyndford, who has a rough sagacity in him, and manifests often a strong sense of the practical and the practicable, strikes into—Readers, from the following Fragments of Correspondence, now first made public, will gather for themselves what new course, veiled in triple mystery, Hyndford had struck into. Four bits of Notes, well worth reading, under their respective dates:—
1. EXCELLENCY HYNDFORD TO SECRETARY HARRINGTON (Two Notes). "BRESLAU, 2d SEPTEMBER, 1711 [on the heel of Robinson's second miscarriage].... My Lord, all these contretemps are very unlucky at present, when time is so precious; for France is pressing the King of Prussia in the strongest manner to declare himself; but whatever eventual preliminaries may be probably agreed between them, I still doubt if they have any Treaty signed"—have had one, any time these three months (since 5th June last); signed sufficiently; but of a most fast-and-loose nature; neither party intending to be rigorous in keeping it. "I wish to God the Court of Vienna may be brought to think before it is too late." [HYNDFORD PAPERS (Brit. Mus. Additional MSS. 11,366), ii. fol. 91.]
2. "BRESLAU, 6th SEPTEMBER.... I am not without hopes of succeeding in a project which has occurred to me on this occasion, and which seems to be pretty well relished by some people [properly by one individual, Goltz, the King's Adjutant and factotum], who are in great confidence about the King of Prussia's person; and I think it is the only thing that now remains to be tried; and as it is the least of two evils, I hope I shall have the King my Master's approbation in attempting it; and if the Court of Vienna will open their eyes, they must see it is the only thing left to save them from utter destruction;"—and, finally, here it is:—
"Since Mr. Robinson left this place,—["Sooner YOU go, the better, Sir!"],—"I have been sounding the people afore mentioned, the individual afore hinted at, 'Whether the King of Prussia would hearken to a Neutrality with respect to the Queen of Hungary, and at the same time fulfil his engagements to his Majesty with respect to the defence of his Majesty's German Dominions, IF she would give him the Lower Silesia with Breslau?' At first they rejected it; saying it was a thing they dared not propose. However, I have reason to believe, by a Letter I saw this day, that it has been proposed to the King, and that he is not absolutely averse to it. I shall know more in a few days; but if it can be done at all, it must be done in the very greatest secrecy, for neither the King nor his Ministers wish to appear in it; and I question if his Minister Podewils will be informed of it." [Hyndford Papers, fol. 97, 98.]
3. EXCELLENCY ROBINSON (in a flutter of excitement, temporary hope and excitement, about Goltz) TO HYNDFORD, AT BRESLAU.
"PRESBURG, 8th SEPTEMBER (N.S.), 1741. My Lord, I could desire your Lordship to summon up, if it were necessary, the spirit of all your Lordship's Instructions, and the sense of the King, of the Parliament, and of the whole British Nation. It is upon this great moment that depends the fate, not of the House of Austria, not of the Empire, but of the House of Brunswick, of Great Britain, and of all Europe. I verily believe the King of Prussia does not himself know the extent of the present danger. With whatever motive he may act, there is not one, not that of the mildest resentment, that can blind him to this degree, of himself perishing in the ruin he is bringing upon others. With his concurrence, the French will, in less than six weeks, be masters of the German Empire. The weak Elector of Bavaria is but their instrument: Prague and Vienna may, and probably will, be taken in that short time. Will even the King of Prussia himself be reserved to the last?
"Upon this single transaction [of your Lordship's affair with the mysterious individual] depend the CITA MORS, or the VICTORIA LAETA of all Europe. Nothing will equal the glory of your Lordship, in the latter case, but that to be acquired by the King of Prussia in his immediate imitation of the great Sobieski"—reputed "savior of Vienna," O your Excellency!... "Prince Lichtenstein will, if found in time upon his estates in Bohemia, be, I believe, the person to repair to the King of Prussia, the moment your Lordship shall have signed the Preliminaries. Once again, give me leave, my Lord, to express my most ardent wishes, my"—T. ROBINSON. [Hyndford Papers, fol. 102.]
4. EXCELLENCY HYNDFORD TO SECRETARY HARRINGTON.
"BRESLAU, 9th SEPTEMBER,... Received a message to meet him,"—HIM, for we now speak in the singular number, though still without naming Goltz,—"one of the persons I mentioned in my former Despatch: in a very unsuspected place; for we have agreed to avoid all appearance of familiarity. He told me he had received a Letter this morning from the Camp,"—Prussian Majesty's Camp, or Bivouac (in the Munsterberg Hill-Country), on that march towards Woitz, for crossing the Neisse upon Neipperg, which proved impracticable,—"and that he could with pleasure tell me that the King agreed to this last trial, although he would not, nor could appear in it.... Then this person read to me a Paper, but I could not see whether it was the King's hand or not; for when I desired to take a copy, he said he could not show me the original; but dictated as follows:—
"'Toute la Basse Silesie, la riviere de Neisse pour limite, la ville de Neisse a nous, aussi bien que Glatz; de l'autre cote de l'Oder l'ancien limite entre les Duches de Brieg et d'Oppeln. Namslau a nous. Les affaires de religion IN STATU QUO. Point de dependance de la Boheme; cession eternelle. En echange nous n'irons pas plus loin. Nous assiegerons Neisse PRO FORMA: le commandant se rendra et sortira. Nous prendrons les quartiers tranquillement, et ils pourront mener leur Armee oh ils voudront. Que tout cela soit fini en douze jours.'" That is to say:—
"'The whole of Lower Silesia, Neisse Town included; Neisse River for boundary:—Glatz withal. Beyond the Oder, for the Duchies of Brieg and Oppeln the ancient limits. Namslau ours. Affairs of Religion to continue IN STATU QUO. No dependence [feudal tie or other, as there used to be] on Bohemia; cession of Silesia to be absolute and forever.—We, in return, will proceed no farther. We will besiege Neisse for form; the Commandant shall surrender and depart. We will pass quietly into winter-quarters; and the Austrian Army may go whither it will. Bargain to be concluded within twelve days.'" [Coxe (iii. 272) gives this Translation, not saying whence he had it.]—Can his Excellency Hyndford get Vienna, get Feldmarschall Reipperg with power from Vienna, to accept: Yes or No? Excellency Hyndford thinks, Yes; will try his very utmost!—
"He (Goltz) then tore the Paper in very small pieces; and he repeated again, that if the affair should be discovered, both the King and he were determined to deny it.... 'But how about engagements with regard to my Master's German Dominions; not a word about that?' He answered, 'You have not the least to fear from France;' protested the King of Prussia's great regard for his Majesty of England, &c. I told him these fine words did not satisfy me; and that if this affair should succeed, I expected there should be some stipulation." [Hyndford Papers, fol. 115.] Yes; and came, about a fortnight hence, "waylaying his Majesty" to get one,—as readers saw above.
Prussian Dryasdust (poor soul, to whom one is often cruel!) shall glad himself with the following Two bits of Autography from Goltz, who had instantly quitted Breslau again;—and, to us, they will serve as date for the actual arrival of Excellency Hyndford in those fighting regions, and commencement of his mysterious glidings about between Camp and Camp.
GOLTZ TO THE EXCELLENCY HYNDFORD, AT BRESLAU (most Private).
"AU CAMP DE NEUENDORF, 16me septembre, a 9 heures du seir. (1.) "MILORD,—Vons savez que je suis porte pour la bonne cause. Sur ce pied je prends la liberte de vous conseiller en ami et serviteur, de venir ici incessamment, et de presser votre voyage de sorte que vous puissiez paraitre publiquement lundi [18th] vers midi. Vous trouverez 6 (SIC) chevaux de postes a Olau et a Grottkau tout prets. Hatez-vous, Milord, tout ce que vous pourrez au monde. J'ai l'honneur de" Meaning, in brief English:—
"Be at Neundorf here, publicly, on Monday next, 18th, towards noon." Things being ripe. "Haste, Milord, haste!"
"Ce 18me a 3 heures apres-midi. (2). "Je suis an desespoir, Milord, de votre maladie. Voici le courrier que vous attendiez. Venez le plutot que vous pourrez au monde; si non, dites au General Marwitz de quoi il s'agit, afin qu'il puisse me le faire savoir.... Le courrier serait arrive quatre heures plutot, si nous ne l'avions renvoye au Comte Neuberg (SIC) a cause de votre maladie.—GOLTZ." [Hyndford Papers, fol. 150-152.]—That is to say:—
"Distressed inexpressibly by your Lordship's biliary condition. One cannot travel under colic;—and things were so ripe! Courier would have reached you four hours sooner, but we had to send him over to Neipperg first. Come, oh come!"—Which Hyndford, now himself again, at once does.
This is the Mystery, which, on September 22d, had arrived at that stage, indicated above: "Tush! Follow me: Dinner is already falling cold, and there are eyes upon us!" And in about another fortnight—But we shall have to take the luggage with us, too, what minimum of it is indispensable!
Chapter V. — KLEIN-SCHNELLENDORF: FRIEDRICH GETS NEISSE, IN A FASHION.
While these combined Mysteries and War-movements go on, in Neisse and its Environs, the World-Phenomena continue,—in Upper Austria and elsewhere. Of which take these select summits, or points chiefly luminous in the dusk of the forgotten Past:—
LINZ, SEPTEMBER 14th. Karl Albert, being joined some days ago at Scharding by the first three French Divisions, 15,000 men in all (the other four Divisions of them are still in the Donauworth-Ingolstadt quarter, making their manifold arrangements), has pushed forward, sixty miles (land-marches, south side of the Donau, which makes a bend here), and this day, September 14th, appears at Linz. Pleasant City of Linz; where, as readers may remember, Mr. John Kepler, long ago, busy discovering the System of the World (grandest Conquest ever made, or to be made, by the Sons of Adam), had his poor CAMERA OBSCURA set out, to get himself a livelihood in the interim: here now is Karl Albert's flag on the winds, and, as it were, the Oriflamme with it, on a singularly different Adventure. "Open Gates!" demands Karl Albert with authority: "Admit me to my Capital of Upper Austria!" Which cannot be denied him, there being nothing but Town-guards in the place.
Karl Albert continued there some weeks, in a serenely victorious posture; doing acts of authority; getting homaged by the STANDE; pushing out his forces farther and farther down the Donau, post after post,—victorious Oriflamme-Bavarian Army may be 40,000 strong or so, in those parts. Friedrich urged him much to push on without pause, and take opportunity by the forelock; sent Schmettau (elder of the two Schmettaus, who is much employed on such business) to urge him; wrote an express Paper of Considerations pressingly urgent: but he would not, and continued pausing.
Vienna, all in terror, is fortifying itself; citizens toiling at the earthworks, resolute for making some defence; Constituted Authorities, National Archives even, Court in a body, and all manner of Noble and Official people, flying else-whither to covert: chiefly to Presburg, where her Majesty already is. The Archives were carried to Gratz; the two Dowager Empresses (for there are two, Maria Theresa's Mother, and Maria Theresa's Aunt, Kaiser Joseph's Widow) fled different ways,—I forget which. An agitated, paralyzed population. Except the diligent wheelbarrows on the ramparts, no vehicle is rolling in Vienna but furniture-wagons loading for flight. General Khevenhuller with 6,000, who pesides with fine scientific skill, and an iron calmness and clearness, over these fortifyings, is the only force left. [Anonymous, Histoire de la Derniere Guerre de Boheme (a Francfort, 1745-1747, 4 tomes), i. 190. A lively succinct little Book, vague not false; still readable, though not now, as then, with complete intelligence, to the unprepared reader. Said, in Dictionaries, to be by Mauvillon PERE, though it resembles nothing else of his that is known to me.]' Neipperg's, our only Army in the world, is hundreds of miles away, countermarching and manoeuvring about Woitz, and Neisse Town and River,—pretty sure to be beaten in the end,—and it is high time there were a Silesian bargain had, if Hyndford can get us any.
DRESDEN, SEPTEMBER 19th (Excellency Hyndford just recovering from his colic, in Breslau), Kur-Sachsen, after many waverings, signs Treaty of Copartnery with France and Bavaria, seduced by "that Moravia," and the ticklings of Belleisle acting on a weak mind. [Adelung, ii. 469, 304, 503.] His troops are 20,000, or rather more; said to be of good quality, and well equipped. In February last we saw him engaged in Russian, Anti-Prussian Partition schemes. In April, as these suddenly (on sight of the Camp of Gottin) extinguished themselves, he agreed to go, in the pacific way, with her Hungarian Majesty for friend (Treaty with her, signed 11th April); but never went (Treaty never ratified); kept his 20,000 lying about in Camp, in an enigmatic manner,—first about Torgau, latterly in the Lausitz, much nearer to the ERZGEBIRGE (Metal-Mountains), Frontier of Bohemia;—and now signs as above; intent to march as soon as possible. Is to have Four Circles of Bohemia, imaginary Kingships of Moravia, and other prizes. Belleisle has tickled that big trout: Belleisle could now have the Election as he wishes it, would the Electors but be speedy; but they will not, and he is obliged to push continually.
"Moriamur pro Rege nostro Maria Theresia," IN THE POETIC, AND THEN ALSO IN THE PROSE FORM.
PRESBURG, SEPTEMBER 21st. This is the date (or chief date, for, alas, there turn out to be two!) of the world-famous "MORIAMUR PRO REGE NOSTRO MARIA THERESIA;" of which there are now needed Two Narratives; the generally received (in part mythical) going first, in the following strain:—
"The Queen has been in Presburg mainly, where the Hungarian Diet is sitting, ever since her Coronation-ceremony. On the 11th September [or 11th and 21st together], the afflicted Lady makes an appearance there, which, for theatrical reality, has become very celebrated. Alas, it is but three months since she galloped to the top of the Konigsberg, and cut defiantly with bright sabre towards the Four Points of the Universe; and already it has come to this. Hungarian Magnates in high session, the high Queen enters, beautiful and sad,—and among her Ministers is noticeable a Nurse with the young Archduke, some six months old, a fine thriving child, perhaps too wise for his age, who became Kaiser Joseph II. in after time.
"The Hungarian Session is not on record for me, Hall of meeting, Magyar Parliamentary eloquence unknown; nor is any point conspicuously visible, exact and certain, except these [alas, not even these]: That it was the 11th of September; that her Majesty coming forward to speak, took the child in her arms, and there, in a clear and melodiously piercing voice, sorrow and courage on her noble face, beautiful as the Moon riding among wet stormy clouds, spake, as the Hungarian Archives still have it, a short Latin Harangue; in substance as follows:... 'Hostile invasion of Austria; imminent peril, to this Kingdom of Hungary, to our person, to our children, to our crown. Forsaken by all,—AB OMNIBUS DERELICTI [Britannic Majesty himself standing stock-still,—blamably, one thinks, the two swords being only at HIS throat, and a good way off!]—I have no resource but to throw myself on the loyalty and help of Your renowned Body, and invoke the ancient Hungarian virtue to rise swiftly and save me!' Whereat the assembled Hungarian Synod, their wild Magyar hearts touched to the core, start up in impetuous acclaim, flourish aloft their drawn swords, and shout unanimously in passionate tenor-voice, 'MORIAMUR (Let us die) for our Rex Maria Theresa!' [Maria Theresiens Leben (which speaks hypothetically), iv, 44; Coxe, iii. 270 (who is positive, "after examining the Documents").] Which were not vain words. For a general 'Insurrection' was thereupon decreed; what the Magyars call their 'Insurrection,' which is by no means of rebellious nature; and many noblemen, old Count Palfy himself a chief among them, though past threescore and ten, took the field at their own cost; and the noise of the Hungarian Insurrection spread like a voice of hope over all Pragmatic countries."—
A very beautiful heroic scene; which has gone about the world, circulating triumphantly through all hearts for above a Century past; and has only of late acknowledged itself mythical,—not true, except as toned down to the following stingy prose pitch:—
PRESBURG, SEPTEMBER 21st. Maria Theresa, since that fine Coronation-scene, June 28th, has had a mixed time of it with her Hungarian Diet; soft passages alternating with hard: a chivalrous people, most consciously chivalrous; but a constitutional withal, very stiff upon their Charter (PACTA CONVENTA, or whatever the name is); who wrangle much upon privileges, upon taxes, and are difficult to keep long in tune. Ten days ago (September 11th), her Majesty tried them on a new tack; summoned them to her Palace; threw herself upon their nobleness, "No allies but you in the world" (and other fine things, authentically, as above, legible in the Archives to this day):—so spake the beautiful young Queen, her eyes filling with tears as she went on, and yet a noble fire gleaming through them. Which melted the Hungarian heart a good deal; and produced fine cheering, some persons even shedding tears, and voices of "Life and Fortune to your Majesty!" being heard in it. In which humor the Diet returned to its Session-House, and voted the "Insurrection,"—or general Arming of Hungary, County by County, each according to its own contingent;—with all speed, in pursuance of her Majesty's implied desire. This was voted in rapid manner; but again, in the detail of executing, it was liable to haggles. From this day, however, matters did decidedly improve; PACTA CONVENTA, or any remainder of them, are got adjusted,—the good Queen yielding on many points. So that, September 20th, Grand-Duke Franz is elected Co-regent,—let him start from Vienna instantly, for Instalment;—and it is hoped the Insurrection will go well, and not prove haggly, or hang fire in the details.
At any rate, next day, September 21st, Duke Franz, who arrived last night,—and Baby with him, or in the train of him (to the joy of Mamma!)—is in the Palace Audience-Hall, "at 8 A.M.;" ready for the Diet, and what Homagings aud mutual Oath, as new Co-regent, are necessary. Grand-Duke Franz, Mamma by his side, with the suitable functionaries; and to rearward Nurse and Baby, not so conspicuous till needed. Diet enters with the stroke of 8; solemnity proceeds. At the height of the solemnity, when Duke Franz, who is really risen now to something of a heroic mood, in these emergencies and perils, has just taken his Oath, and will have to speak a fit word or two,—the Nurse, doubtless on hint given, steps forward; holds up Baby (a fine noticing fellow, I have no doubt,—"weighed sixteen pounds avoirdupois when born"); as if Baby too, fine mutual product of the Two Co-regents, were mutually swearing and appealing. Enough to touch any heart. "Life and blood (VITAM ET SANGUINEM) for our Queen and Kingdom!" exclaims the Grand-Duke, among other things. "Yes, VITAM ET SANGUINEM!" re-echoes the Diet, "our life and our blood!" many-voiced, again and again;—and returns to its own Place of Session, once more in a fine strain of loyal emotion.
And there, O reader, is the naked truth, neither more nor less. It was some Vienna Pamphleteer of theatrical imaginative turn, finding the thing apt, a year or two afterwards—who by kneading different dates and objects into one, boldly annihilating time and space, and adding a little paint,—gave it that seductive mythical form. From whom Voltaire adopted it, with improvements, especially in the little Harangue; and from Voltaire gratefully the rest of mankind. [Voltaire, Siecle de Louis XV., c. 6 (OEuvres, xxviii. 78); Coxe, House of Austria, iii. 270; and innumerable others (who give this Myth)]; Maria Theresiens Leben, p. 44 n. (who cites the Vienna Pamphleteers, without much believing them); Mailath (a Hungarian), Geschichte des OEsterrichischen Kaiser-Staats (Hamburg, 1850), v. 11-13 (who explodes the fable). Cut down to the practical, it stands as above:—by no means a bad thing still. That of "bringing in Baby" was a pretty touch in the domestic-royal way;—and surely very natural; and has no "art" in it, or none to blame and not love rather, on the part of the bright young Mother, now girdled in such tragic outlooks, and so glad to have Baby back at least, and Papa with him! It is certain the "Insurrection" was voted with enthusiasm; and even became rapidly a fact. And there was, in few months hence, an immense mounted force of Hungarians raised, which galloped and plundered (having almost no pay), and occasionally fenced and fought, very diligently during all these Wars. Hussars, Croats, Pandours, Tolpatches, Warasdins, Uscocks, never heard of in war before: who were found very terrible to look upon once, in the imagination or with the naked eye; but whose fighting talent, against regular troops, was next to worthless; and who gradually became hateful rather than terrible in the military world.
HANOVER, SEPTEMBER 27th. Britannic Majesty, reduced to that frightful pinch, has at last given way. Treaty of Neutrality for Hanover; engagement again to stick one's puissant Pragmatic sword into its scabbard, to be perfectly quiescent and contemplative in these French-Bavarian Anti-Austrian undertakings, and digest one's indignation as one can. For our Paladin of the Pragmatic what a posture! This is the first of Three Attempts by our puissant little Paladin to draw sword;—not till the third could he get his sword out, or do the least fighting (even foolish fighting) with all the 40,000 he had kept on pay and subsidy for years back. The Neutrality was for Hanover only, and had no specific limit as to time. Opportunities did rise; but something always rose along with them,—mainly the impossibility of hoisting those lazy Dutch,—and checked one's noble rage. His Majesty has covenanted to vote for Karl Albert as Kaiser; even he, and will make the thing unanimous! A thoroughly check-mated Majesty. Passing home to England, this time in a gloomy condition of mind, shortly after these humiliations, he was just issuing from Osnabruck by the Eastern Gate, when Maillebois's people entered by the Western,—the ugly shoes of them insulting his kibes in this manner. And a furious Anti-Walpole Parliament, most perturbed of National Palavers, is waiting him at St. James's. Heavy-laden little Hercules that he is!
Karl Albert lay at Linz for a month longer (till October 24th, six weeks in all); pausing in uncertainties, in a pleasant dream of victory and sovereignty; not pouncing on Vienna, as Friedrich urged on the French and him, to cut the matter by the root. He does push forward certain troops, Comte de Saxe with Three Horse Regiments as vanguard, ever nearer to Vienna; at last to within forty miles of it; nay, light-horse parties came within twenty-five miles. And there was skirmishing with Mentzel, a sanguinary fellow, of whom we shall hear more; who had got "1,000 Tolpatches" under him, and stood ruggedly at bay.
Karl Albert has been sending out sovereign messages from Linz: Letters to Vienna;—one letter addressed "To the Arch-duchess Maria Theresa;" which came back unopened, "No such person known here." October 2d, he is getting homaged at Linz, by the STANDE of the Province,—on summons sent some time before,—many of whom attend, with a willing enough appearance; Kur-Baiern rather a favorite in Upper Austria, say some. Much fine processioning, melodious haranguing, there now is for Karl Albert, and a pleasant dream of Sovereignty at Linz: but if he do not pounce upon Vienna till Khevenhuller get it fortified? Khevenhuller is drawing home Italian Garrisons, gradually gathering something like an Army round him. In Khevenhuller's imperturbable military head, one of the clearest and hardest, there is some hope. Above all, if Neipperg's Army were to disengage itself, and be let loose into those parts?
EXCELLENCY HYNDFORD BRINGS ABOUT A MEETING AT KLEIN-SCHNELLENDORF (9th
It was the second day after that Homaging at Linz, when Hyndford (Sept. 22d) with mysterious negotiations, now nearly ripe, for disengaging Neipperg, waylaid his Prussian Majesty; and was answered, as we saw, with "Tush, tush! Dinner is already cold!"
It must be owned, these Friedrich-Hyndford Negotiations, following on an express French-Prussian Treaty of June 5th, which have to proceed in such threefold mystery now and afterwards, are of questionable distressing nature: nor can the fact that they are escorted copiously enough by a correspondent sort on the French side, and indeed on the Austrian and on all sides, be a complete consolation,—far otherwise, to the ingenuous reader. Smelfungus indignantly calls it an immorality and a dishonor, "a playing with loaded dice;" which in good part it surely was. Nor can even Friedrich, who has many pleas for himself, obtain spoken acquittal; unspoken, accompanied with regrets and pity, is all even Friedrich can aspire to. My own impression is, Smelfungus, if candid, would on clearer information and consideration have revoked much of what he says here in censure of Friedrich. At all events, if asked: Where then is the specifical not "superstitious" WANT of "veracity" you ever found in Friedrich? and How, OTHERWISE than even as Friedrich did, would you, most veracious Smelfungus, have plucked out your Silesia from such an Element and such a Time?—he would be puzzled to answer. I give his Fragment as I find it, with these deductions:—
"What negotiating we have had, and shall have," exclaims Smelfungus, my sad foregoer,—"fit rather to be omitted from a serious History, which intends to be read by human creatures! Bargaining, Promising, Non-performing. False in general as dicers' oaths; false on this side and on that, from beginning to end. Intercepted Letters from Fleury; Letter dropping from Valori's waistcoat-pocket, upon which Friedrich claps his foot: alas, alas, we are in the middle of a whole world of that. Friedrich knows that the French are false to him; he by no means intends to be romantically true to them, and that also they know. What is the use to human creatures of recording all that melancholy stuff? If sovereign persons want their diplomacies NOT to be swept into the ash-pit, there are two conditions, especially one which is peremptory: FIRST, that they should not be lies;—SECOND, that they should be of some importance, some wisdom; which with known lies is not a possible condition. To unravel cobwebs, and register laboriously and date and sort in the sorrow of your soul the oaths of crowned dicers,—what use is it to gods or men? Having well dressed and sliced your cucumber, the next clear human duty is: Throw it out of window. In that foul Lapland-witch world, of seething Diplomacies and monstrous wigged mendacities, horribly wicked and despicably unwise, I find nothing notable, memorable even in a small degree, except this aspect of a young King who does know what he means in it. Clear as a star, sharp as cutting steel (very dangerous to hydrogen balloons), he stands in the middle of it, and means to extort his own from it by such methods as there are.
"Magnanimous I can by no means call Friedrich to his allies and neighbors, nor even superstitiously veracious, in this business: but he thoroughly understands, he alone, what just thing he wants out of it, and what an enormous wigged mendacity it is he has got to deal with. For the rest, he is at the gaming-table with these sharpers; their dice all cogged;—and he knows it, and ought to profit by his knowledge of it. And in short, to win his stake out of that foul weltering mellay, and go home safe with it if he can."
Very well, my friend! Let us keep to windward of the Diplomatic wizard's-caldron; let Hyndford, Valori and Company preside over it, throwing in their eye of newt and limb of toad, as occasion may be. Enough, if the reader can be brought to conceive it; and how the young King,—who perhaps alone had real business in this foul element, and did not volunteer into it like the others, though it now unexpectedly envelops him like a world-whirlwind (frightful enough, if one spoke of that to anybody), is struggling with his whole soul to get well out of it. As supremely adroit, all readers already know him; his appearance what we called starlike,—always something definite, fixed and lucid in it.
He is dexterously holding aloof from Hyndford at present, clinging to French Valori as his chosen companion: we may fancy what a time he has of it, like a polygamist amid jealous wives. It will quicken Hyndford, he perceives, in these ulterior stages, to leave him well alone. Hyndford accordingly, as we have noticed, could not see the King at all; had to try every plan, to watch, waylay the King for a bit of interview, when indispensable. However, Hyndford, with his Neipperg in sight of the peril, manages better than Robinson with his Aulic Council at a distance: besides he is a long-headed dogged kind of man, with a surly edacious strength, not inexpert in negotiation, nor easily turned aside from any purpose he may have.
Between the two Camps, nearly midway, lies a Hamlet called Klein-Schnellendorf, LITTLE Schnellendorf, to distinguish it from another Schnellendorf called GREAT, which is a mile or two northwestward, out of the straight line. Not far from the first of these poor Hamlets lies a Schloss or noble Mansion, likewise called Klein-Schnellendorf, belonging to a certain Count von Sternberg, who is not there at present, but whose servants are, and a party of Croats over them for some days back: a pleasant airy Mansion among pleasant gardens, well shut out from the intrusion of the world. Upon this Castle of Klein-Schnellendorf judicious Hyndford has cast his eye:—and Neipperg, now come to a state of readiness, approves the suggestion of Hyndford, and promptly at the due moment converts it into a fact. Arrests namely, on a given morning (the last act of his Croats there, who withdrew directly with their batch of prisoners), every living soul within or about the Mansion;—"suspected of treason;" only for one day;—and in this way, has it reduced to the comfortable furnished solitude of Sleeping Beauty's Castle; a place fit for high persons to hold a Meeting in, which shall remain secret as the grave. Such a thing was indispensable. For Friedrich, keeping shy of Hyndford, as he well may with a Valori watching every step, has, by words, by silences, when Hyndford could waylay him for a moment, sufficiently indicated what he will and what he will not; and, for one indispensable condition, in the present thrice-delicate Adventure, he will not sign anything; will give and take word of honor, and fully bind himself, but absolutely not put pen to paper at all. Neipperg being willing too, judicious Hyndford finds a medium. Let the parties meet at Klein-Schnellendorf, and judicious Hyndford be there with pen and paper. [Orlich, i. 146; Helden-Geschichte, i. 1009.]
Monday, 9th October, 1741, accordingly, there is meeting to be held. Hyndford, Neipperg with his General Lentulus (a Swiss-Austrian General, whose Son served under Friedrich afterwards), these wait for Friedrich, on the one hand:—"to fix some cartel for exchange of prisoners," it is said;—in these precincts of Klein-Schnellendorf; which are silent, vacant, yet comfortably furnished, like Sleeping Beauty's Castle. And Friedrich, on the other hand, is actually riding that way, with Goltz;—visiting outposts, reconnoitring, so to speak. "Dine you with Prince Leopold (the Young Dessauer), my fine Valori; I fear I shan't be home to dinner!" he had said when going off; hoodwinking his fine Valori, who suspects nothing. At a due distance from Klein-Schnellendorf, the very groom is left behind; and Friedrich, with Goltz only, pushes on to the Schloss. All ready there; salutations soon done; business set about, perfected:—and Hyndford with pen and ink in his hand, he, by way of Protocol, or summary of what had been agreed on, on mutual word of honor, most brief but most clear on this occasion, writes a State Paper, which became rather famous afterwards. This is the Paper in condensed state; though clear, it is very dull!
KLEIN-SCHNELLENDORF, 9th OCTOBER, 1741. Britannic Excellency Hyndford testifies, That, here and now, his Majesty of Prussia, and Neipperg on behalf of her Hungarian Majesty do, solemnly though only verbally, agree to the following Four Things:—
"FIRST, That General Neipperg, on the 16th of the month [this day week] shall have liberty to retire through the Mountains, towards Moravia; unmolested, or with nothing but sham-attacks in the rear of him. SECOND, That, in consequence, his Prussian Majesty, on making sham-siege of Neisse, shall have the place surrendered to him on the fifteenth day. THIRD, That there shall be, nay in a sense, there hereby is, a Peace made; his Majesty retaining Neisse and Silesia [according to the limits known to us:—nothing said of Glatz]; and that a complete Treaty to that effect shall be perfected, signed and ratified, before the Year is out. FOURTH, That these sham-hostilities, but only sham, shall continue; and that his Majesty, wintering in Bohemia, and carrying on sham-hostilities [to the satisfaction of the French], shall pay his own expenses, and do no mischief." [Given in Helden-Geschichte, i. 1009; in &c.]
To these Four Things they pledge their word of honor; and Hyndford signs and delivers each a Copy. Unwritten a Fifth Thing is settled, That the present transaction in all parts of it shall be secret as death,—his Majesty expressly insisting that, if the least inkling of it ooze out, he shall have right to deny it, and refuse in any way to be bound by it. Which likewise is assented to.
Here is a pretty piece of work done for ourself and our allies, while Valori is quietly dining with the Prince of Dessau! The King stayed about two hours; was extremely polite, and even frank and communicative. "A very high-spirited young King," thinks Neipperg, reporting of it; "will not stand contradiction; but a great deal can be made of him, if you go into his ideas, and humor him in a delicate dexterous way. He did not the least hide his engagements with France, Bavaria, Saxony; but would really, so far as I Neipperg could judge, prefer friendship with Austria, on the given terms; and seems to have secretly a kind of pique at Saxony, and no favor for the French and their plans." [Orlich, i. 149 (in condensed state).]
"Business being done [this is Hyndford's report], the King, who had been politeness itself, took Neipperg aside, beckoning Hyndford to be of the party, 'I wish you too, my Lord, to hear every word:—his Britannic Majesty knows or should know my intentions never were to do him hurt, but only to take care of myself; and pray inform him [what is the fact] that I have ordered my Army in Brandenburg to go into winter-quarters, and break up that Camp at Gottin.' Friedrich's talk to Neipperg is, How he may assault the French with advantage: 'Join Lobkowitz and what force he has in Bohmen; go right into your enemies, before they can unite there. If the Queen prosper, I shall—perhaps I shall have no objection to join her by and by? If her Majesty fail; well, every one must look to himself.'" These words Hyndford listened to with an edacious solid countenance, and greedily took them down. [Hyndford's Despatch, Breslau, 14th October, 1741.]
Once more, a curious glimpse (perhaps imprudently allowed us, in the circumstances) into the real inner man of Friedrich. He had, at this time, now that the Belleisle Adventure is left in such a state, no essential reason to wish the French ruined,—nor probably did he; but only stated both chances, as in the way of unguarded soliloquy; and was willing to leave Neipperg a sweet morsel to chew. Secret mode of corresponding with the Court of Austria is agreed upon; not direct, but through certain Commandants, till the Peace-Treaty be perfected,—at latest "by December 24th," we hope. And so, "BON VOYAGE, and well across the Mountains, M. LE MARECHAL; till we meet again! And you, Excellency Hyndford, be so good you as write to me,—for Valori's behoof,—complaining that I am deaf to all proposals, that nothing can be had of me. And other Letters, pray, of the like tenor, all round; to Presburg, to England, to Dresden:—if the Couriers are seized, it shall be well. 'Your Letter to myself, let a trumpet come with it while I am at dinner,' and Valori beside me!"—"Certainly, your Majesty," answers Hyndford; and does it, does all this; which produces a soothing effect on Valori, poor soul!
FRIEDRICH TAKES NEISSE BY SHAM SIEGE (CAPTURE NOT SHAM); GETS HOMAGED IN
BRESLAU; AND RETURNS TO BERLIN.
Thus, if the Austrians hold to their bargain, has Friedrich, in a most compendious manner, got done with a Business which threatened to be infinite: by this short cut he, for his part, is quite out of the waste-howling jungle of Enchanted Forest, and his foot again on the firm free Earth. If only the Austrians hold to their bargain! But probably he doubts if they will. Well, even in that case, he has got Neisse; stands prepared for meeting them again; and, in the mean while, has freedom to deny that there ever was such a bargain.
Of the Political morality of this game of fast-and-loose, what have we to say,—except, that the dice on both sides seem to be loaded; that logic might be chopped upon it forever; that a candid mind will settle what degree of wisdom (which is always essentially veracity), and what of folly (which is always falsity), there was in Friedrich and the others; whether, or to what degree, there was a better course open to Friedrich in the circumstances:—and, in fine, it will have to be granted that you cannot work in pitch and keep hands evidently clean. Friedrich has got into the Enchanted Wilderness, populous with devils and their works;—and, alas, it will be long before he get out of it again, HIS life waning towards night before he get victoriously out, and bequeath his conquest to luckier successors! It is one of the tragic elements of this King's life; little contemplated by him, when he went lightly into the Silesian Adventure, looking for honor bright, what he called "GLOIRE," as one principal consideration, hardly a year ago!—
Neipperg, according to covenant, broke up punctually that day week, October 16th; and went over the Mountains, through Jagerndorf, Troppau, towards Mahren; Prussians hanging on his rear, and skirmishing about, but only for imaginary or ostensible purposes. After a three-weeks march, he gets to a place called Frating, [Espagnac, i. 104.] easternmost border of Mahren, on the slopes of the Mannhartsberg Hill-Country, which is within wind of Vienna itself; where, as we can fancy, his presence is welcome as morning-light in the present dark circumstances.
Friedrich, on the morrow after Neipperg went, invested Neisse (October 17th); set about the Siege of Neisse with all gravity, as if it had been the most earnest operation; which nobody of mankind, except three or four, doubted but it was. Before opening of the trenches, Leopold young Dessauer took the road for Glatz Country, and the adjoining Circles of Bohemia; there to canton himself, peaceably according to contract; and especially to have an eye upon Glatz, should the Klein-Schnellendorf engagement go awry in any point. The King in his Dialogue with Neipperg had said several things about Glatz, and what a sacrifice he made there for the sake of speedy pace, the French having guaranteed him Glatz, though he now forbore it. Leopold, who has with him some 15,000 horse and foot, cantons himself judiciously in those ultramontane parts,—"all the artillery in the Glatz Country;" [Helden-Geschichte, ii. 431; Orlich, i. 174.]—and we shall hear of him again, by and by, in regard to other business that rises there.
Neisse is a formidable Fortress, much strengthened since last year; but here is a Besieger with much better chance! He marked out parallels, sent summonses, reconnoitred, manoeuvred,—in a way more or less surprising to the eye of Valori, who is military, and knows about sieges. Rather singular, remarks Valori; good engineers much wanted here! But the bombardment did finally begin: night of October 26th-27th, the Prussiaus opened fire; and, at a terrible rate, cannonaded and bombarded without intermission. In point of fire and noise it is tremendous; Valori trusts it may be effective, in spite of faults; goes to Breslau in hope: "Yes, go to Breslau, MON CHER VALORI; wait for me there. Neipperg be chased, say you? Shall not he,—if we had got this place!" And so the fire continues night and day. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 1006.]
Fantastic Bielfeld, in his semi-fabulous style, has a LETTER on this bombardment, attractive to Lovers of the Picturesque,—(written long afterwards, and dated &c. WRONG). As Bielfeld is a rapid clever creature of the coxcomb sort, and doubtless did see Neisse Siege, and entertained seemingly a blazing incorrect recollection of it, his Pseudo-Neisse Letter may be worth giving, to represent approximately what kind of scene it was there at Neisse in the October nights:—
"Marechal Schwerin was lodged in a Village about three-quarters of a mile from Head-Quarters. One day he did me the honor to invite me to dinner; and even offered me a horse to ride thither with him. I found excellent company; a superb repast, and wine of the gods. Host and guests were in high spirits; and the pleasures of the table were kept up so late, that it was midnight when we rose. I was obliged to return to Head-Quarters, having still to wait upon the King, as usual. The Marechal was kind enough to lend me another horse; but the groom mischievously gave me the charger which the Marechal rode at the Battle of Mollwitz; a very powerful animal, and which, from that day, had grown very skittish.
"I was made aware of this circumstance, before we were fairly out of the Village; and the night being of the darkest, I twenty times ran the risk of breaking my neck. We had to pass over a hill, to get to Head-Quarters. When I reached the top, a shudder came over me, and my hair stood on end. I had nobody with me but a strange groom. The country all around was infested with troops and marauders; I was mounted on an unmanageable horse. Under my feet, so to say, I saw the bombardment of the Town of Neisse. I heard the roar of cannon and doleful shrieks. Above our batteries the whole atmosphere was inflamed; and to complete the calamity, I missed the way, and got lost in the darkness. Finally, in descending the hill, my horse, frightened, made a terrible swerve or side-jump. I did not know the cause; but after having, with difficulty, got him into the road again, I found myself opposite to a deserter who had been hanged that day! I was horribly disgusted by the sight; the gallows being very low, and the head of the malefactor almost parallel with mine. I spurred on, and galloped away from such unpleasant night-company. At last I arrived at Head-Quarters, all in a perspiration. I sent my horse back; and went in to the King, who asked me at once, why I was so heated. I made his Majesty a faithful report of all my disasters. He laughed much; and advised me seriously not again to go out by night, and alone, beyond the circuit of Head-Quarters." [Bielfeld, ii. 31, 32.]
After four days and nights of this sublime Playhouse thunder (with real bullets in it, which killed some men, and burnt considerable property), the Neisse Commandant (not Roth this time, Roth is now in Brunn),—his "fortnight of siege," October 17th to October 31st, being accomplished or nearly so,—beat chamade; and was, after grave enough treatying, allowed to march away. Marched, accordingly, on the correct Klein-Schnellendorf terms; most of his poor garrison deserting, and taking Prussian service. Ever since which moment, Neisse, captured in this curious manner, has been Friedrich's and his Prussia's.
November 1st, the Prussian soldiers entered the place; and Friedrich, after diligent inspection and what orders were necessary, left for Brieg on the following day;—where general illuminating and demonstrating awaited him, amid more serious business. After strict examinations, and approval of Walrave and his works at Brieg, he again takes the road; enters Breslau, in considerable state (November 4th); where many Persons of Quality are waiting, and the general Homaging is straightway to be,—or indeed should have been some days ago, but has fallen behind by delays in the Neisse affair.
The Breslau HULDIGUNG,—Friedrich sworn to and homaged with the due solemnities as "Sovereign Duke of Lower Silesia,"—was an event to throw into fine temporary frenzy the descriptive Gazetteers, and Breslau City, overflowing with Quality people come to act and to see on the occasion. Event which can be left to the reader's fancy, at this date. There were Corporations out in quantity, "all in cloaks" and with sublime Addresses, partly in poetry, happily rather brief. There were beautiful Prussian Life-guards "First Battalion," admirable to the softer sex, not to speak of the harder); much military resonance and splendor. Friedrich drove about in carriages-and-six, "nay carriage-and-eight, horses cream-color:" a very high King indeed; and a very busy one, for those four days (November 4th-8th) 1741), but full of grace and condescension. The HULDIGUNG itself took effect on the 7th; in the fine old Rathhaus, which Tourists still know,—the surrounding Apple-women sweeping themselves clear away for one day. Ancient Ducal throne and proper apparatus there was; state-sword unluckily wanting: Schwerin, who was to act Grand-Marshal, could find no state-sword, till Friedrich drew his own and gave it him. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 1022, 1025; ii. 349.]
Podewils the Minister said something, not too much; to which one Prittwitz, head of a Silesian Family of which we shall know individuals, made pithy and pretty response, before swearing. "There were above Four Hundred of Quality present, all in gala." The customary Free-Gift of the STANDE Friedrich magnanimously refused: "Impossible to be a burden to our Silesia in such harassed war-circumstances, instead of benefactor and protector, as we intended and intend!" The Ceremony, swearing and all, was over in two hours; hundreds of silver medals, not to speak of the gold ones, flying about; and Breslau giving itself up joyfully to dinner and festivities. And, after dinner, that evening, to Illumination; followed by balls and jubilations for days after, in a highly harmonious key. Of the lamps-festoons, astonishing transparencies, and glad symbolic devices, I could say a great deal; but will mention only two, both of comfortably edible or quasi-edible tendency:—1. That of David Schulze, Flesher by profession; who had a Transparency large as life, representing his own fat Person in the act of felling a fat Ox; to which was appended this epigraph:—
"Wer mir wird den Konig in Preussen verachten, Den will ich wie diesen Ochsen schlacten." "Who dares me the King of Prussia insult, Him I will serve like this fat head of nolt." Signed "DAVID SCHULER, A BRANDENBURGER."—
2. How, in another quarter, there was set aloft IN RE, by some Pastry-cook of patriotic turn: "An actual Ox roasted whole; filled with pheasants, partridges, grouse, hares and geese; Prussian Eagle atop, made of roasted fowls, larks and the like,"—unattainable, I doubt, except for money down. [Helden-Geschichte, ii. 359.]
On the fifth morning, 9th November,—after much work done during this short visit, much ceremonial audiencing, latterly, and raising to the peerage,—Friedrich rolled on to Glogau. Took accurate survey of the engineering and other interests there, for a couple of days; thence to Berlin (noon of the 11th), joyfully received by Royal Family and all the world;—and, as we might fancy, asking himself: "Am I actually home, then; out of the enchanted jungles and their devilries; safe here, and listening, I alone in Peace, to the universal din of War?" Alas, no; that was a beautiful hypothesis; too beautiful to be long credible! Before reaching Berlin,—or even Breslau, as appears,—Friedrich, vigilantly scanning and discerning, had seen that fine hope as good as vanish; and was silently busy upon the opposite one.
In a fortnight hence, Hyndford, who had followed to Berlin, got transient sight of the King one morning, hastening through some apartment or other: "'My Lord,' said the King, 'the Court of Vienna has entirely divulged our secret. Dowager Empress Amelia [Kaiser Joseph's widow, mother of Karl Albert's wife] has acquainted the Court of Bavaria with it; Wasner [Austrian Minister at Paris] has told Fleury; Sinzendorf [ditto at Petersburg] has told the Court of Russia; Robinson, through Mr. Villiers [your Saxon Minister], has told the Court of Dresden; and several members of your Government in England have talked publicly about it!' And, with a shrug of the shoulders, he left me,"—standing somewhat agape there. [Hyndford's Despatch, Berlin, 28th November, 1741; Ib. Breslau, 28th October (secret already known).]
Chapter VI. — NEW MAYOR OF LANDSHUT MAKES AN INSTALLATION SPEECH.
The late general Homaging at Breslau, and solemn Taking Possession of the Country by King Friedrich, under such peaceable omens, had straightway, as we gather, brought about, over Silesia at large, or at least where pressingly needful, various little alterations,—rectifications, by the Prussian model and new rule now introduced. Of which, as it is better that the reader have some dim notion, if easily procurable, than none at all, I will offer him one example;—itself dim enough, but coming at first-hand, in the actual or concrete form, and beyond disputing in whatever light or twilight it may yield us.
At Landshut, a pleasant little Mountain Town, in the Principality of Schweidnitz, high up, on the infant River Bober, near the Bohemian Frontier—(English readers may see QUINCY ADAMS'S description of it, and of the long wooden spouts which throw cataracts on you, if walking the streets in rain [John Quincy Adams (afterwards President of the United States), Letters on Silesia (London, 1804). "The wooden spouts are now gone" (Tourist's Note, of 1858).]): at Landshut, as in some other Towns, it had been found good to remodel the Town Magistracy a little; to make it partly Protestant, for one thing, instead of Catholic (and Austrian), which it had formerly been. Details about the "high controversies and discrepancies" which had risen there, we have absolutely none; nor have the special functions of the Magistracy, what powers they had, what work they did, in the least become distinct to us: we gather only that a certain nameless Burgermeister (probably Austrian and Catholic) had, by "Most gracious Royal Special-Order," been at length relieved from his labors, and therewith "the much by him persecuted and afflicted Herr Theodorus Spener" been named Burgermeister instead. Which respectable Herr Theodorus Spener, and along with him Herr Johann David Fischer as RATHS-SENIOR, and Herr Johann Caspar Ruffer, and also Herr Johann Jacob Umminger, as new Raths (how many of the old being left I cannot say), were accordingly, on the 4th of December, 1741, publicly installed, and with proper solemnity took their places; all Landshut looking on, with the conceivable interest and astonishment, almost as at a change in the obliquity of the ecliptic,—change probably for the better.
Respectable Herr Theodorus Spener (we hope it is SpeNer, for they print him SPEER in one of the two places, and we have to go by guess) is ready with an Installation Speech on the occasion; and his Speech was judged so excellent, that they have preserved it in print. Us it by no means strikes by its Demosthenic or other qualities: meanwhile we listen to it with the closest attention; hoping, in our great ignorance, to gather from it some glimmerings of instruction as to the affairs, humors, disposition and general outlook and condition of Landshut, and Silesia in that juncture;—and though a good deal disappointed, have made an Abstract of it in the English language, which perhaps the reader too, in his great ignorance, will accept, in defect of better. Scene is Landshut among the Giant Mountains on the Bohemian Border of Silesia: an old stone Town, where there is from of old a busy trade in thread and linen; Town consisting, as is common there, of various narrow winding streets comparable to spider-legs, and of a roomy central Market-place comparable to the body of the spider; wide irregular Market-place with the wooden spouts (dry for the moment) all projecting round it. Time, 4th December, 1741 (doubtless in the forenoon); unusual crowd of population simmering about the Market-place, and full audience of the better sort gravely attentive in the interior of the Rathhaus; Burgermeister Spener LOQUITUR [Helden-Geschichte, ii. 416.] (liable to abridgment here and there, on warning given):—
"I enter, then, in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, upon an Office, to which Divine Providence has appointed, and the gracious and potent hand of a great King has raised me. Great as is the dignity [giddy height of Mayoralty in Landshut], though undeserved, which the Ever-Merciful has thus conferred upon me, equally great and much greater is the burden connected therewith. I confess"—He confesses, in high-stalking earnest wooden language very foreign to us in every way: (1.) That his shoulders are too weak; but that he trusts in God. For (2.) it is God's doing; and He that has called Spener, will give Spener strength, the essential work being to do God's will, to promote His honor, and the common weal. (3.) That he comes out of a smaller Office (Office not farther specified, probably exterior to the RATHS-COLLEGE, and subaltern to the late tyrannous Mayor and it), and has taken upon him the Mayoralty of this Town (an evident fact!); but that the labor and responsibility are dreadfully increased; and that the point is not increase of honor, of respectability or income, but of heavy duties. (A sonorous, pious-minded Spener; much more in earnest than readers now think!)
It is easy, intimates he, to govern a Town, if, as some have perhaps done, you follow simply your own will, regardless of the sighs and complaints your subjects utter for injustice undergone,—indifferent to the thought that the caprice of one Town Sovereign is to be glorified by so many thousand tears (dim glance into the past history of Landshut!). Such Town Sovereign persecutes innocence, stops his ears to its cry; flourishes his sharp scourge;—no one shall complain: for is it not justice? thinks such a Town Sovereign. The reason is, He does not know himself, poor man; has had his eye always on the duties of his subjects towards him, and rarely or never on his towards them. A Sovereign Mayor that governs by fear,—he must live in continual fear of every one, and of himself withal. A weak basis: and capable of total overturn in one day. On the contrary, the love of your burgher subjects: that, if you can kindle it, will go on like a house on fire (AUSBRUCH EINES FEURES), and streams of water won't put it out.... "And [let us now take Spener's very words] if a man keep the fear of God before his eyes, there will be no need for any other kind of fear.
"I will therefore, you especially High-honored Gentlemen, study to direct all my judicial endeavors to the honor of the great God, and to inviolable fidelity towards my most gracious King and Lord [Friedrich, by Decision of Providence—at Mollwitz and elsewhere].
"To the Citizens of this Town, from of old so dear to me, and now by Royal grace committed to my charge, and therefore doubly and trebly to be held dear, I mean to devote myself altogether. I will, on every occasion and occurrence, still more expressly than aforetime, stand by them; and when need is, not fail to bring their case before the just Throne of our Anointed [Friedrich, by Decision of Providence]. Justice and fairness I will endeavor, under whatever complexities, to make my loadstar. Yes, I shall and will, by means of this my Office, equip myself with weapons whereby I may be capable to damp such humors (INTELLIGENTIEN), should such still be (but I believe there are now none such), as may repugn against the Royal interest, with possibility of being dangerous; and to put a bridle on mouths that are unruly. And, to say much in little compass, I will be faithful to God, to my King and to this Town.
"Having now the honor and happiness to be put into Official friendship with those Gentlemen who, as Burgermeisters, and as old and as new Members of Council, have for long years made themselves renowned among us, I will entertain, in respect of the former [the old] a firm confidence That the zeal they have so strongly manifested for behoof of the most serene Archducal House of Austria will henceforth burn in them for our most Beloved Land's Prince whom God has now given us; that the fire of their lately plighted truth and devotion, towards his Royal Majesty, shall shine not in words only, but in works, and be extinguished only with their lives. [Can that be, O Spener or Speer? Are we alarm-clocks, that need only to be wound up, and told at what hour, and for whom?] God, who puts Kings in and casts them out, has given to us a no less potent Sovereign than supremely loving Land's-Father, who, by the renown of his more than royal virtues, had taken captive the hearts of his future subjects and children still sooner than even by his arms, familiar otherwise to victory, he did the Land. And who shall be puissant and mighty enough, now to lead men's minds in a contrary direction; to control the Most High Power, ruler over hearts and Lands, who had decreed it should be so; and again to change this change? [Hear Spener: he has taken great pains with his Discourse, and understands composition!]
"This change, High-honored Gentlemen [of the Catholic persuasion], is also for you a not unhappy one. For our now as pious as wise King will, especially in one most vital point, take pattern by the King of all Kings; and means to be lord of his subjects only, not of the consciences of his subjects. He requires nothing from you but what you are already bound by God, by conscience, and duty, to render: to wit, obedience and inviolable unbroken fidelity. And by that, and without more asked than that, you will render yourselves worthy of his protection, and become partakers of the Royal favor. Nay you will render yourselves all the worthier in that high quarter, and the more meritorious towards our civic commonweal, the more you, High-honored Gentlemen [of the Catholic persuasion], accept, with all frankness of colleague-love and amity, me and the Evangelical brother Raths now introduced by Royal grace and power; and make the new position generously tenable and available to us;—and thereby bind with us the more firmly the band of peace and colleague-unity, for helping up this dear, and for some years greatly fallen, Town along with us.
"We, for our poor part, will, one and all, strive only to surpass each other in obedience and faith to our Most Gracious King. We will, as Regents of the Citizenry committed to us, go before them with a good example; and prove to all and every one, That, little and in war untenable as our Landshut is, it shall, in extent and impregnability of faith towards its Most Dearest Land's-Prince, approve itself unconquerable. As well I as"—Professes now, in the most intricate phraseology, that he, and Fischer and Umminger (giving not only the titles, but a succinct history of all three, in a single sentence, before he comes to the verb!), bring a true heart, &c. &c.—Or would the reader perhaps like to see it IN NATURA, as a specimen of German human-nature, and the art these Silesian spinners have in drawing out their yarns?
"As well I as [1.] The Titular Herr Johann David Fischer, distinguished trader and merchant of this Town, who, by his tradings in and beyond our Silesian Countries, has made himself renowned, and by his merit and address in particular instances [delicate instances known to Landshut, not to us] has made himself beloved, who has now been installed as Raths-Senior; and also as [2.] The Titular Herr Johann Caspar Ruffer, well-respected Citizen, and Revenue-office Manager here, who for many years has with much fidelity and vigilance managed the Revenue-office, and who for his experience in the economic constitution of this Town has been all-graciously nominated Raths-Herr;—and not less [3.] The Titular Johann Jacob Umminger, whilom Advocate at Law in Breslau, who, for his good studies in Law, and manifested skill in the practice of Law, has been an all-graciously nominated Supernumerary Councillor and Notary's-Adjunct among us:—As well I as these Three not only assure you, High-honored Gentlemen, of all imaginable estimation and return of love on our part; but do likewise assure all and sundry these respectable Herren Town-Jurats [specially present], representing here the universal well-beloved Citizenry of our Town,—that we bring a heart sincere, and intent only on aiming at the welfare of a Citizenry so loveworthy. We have the firm purpose by God's grace, so to order our walk, and so to conduct our government that we may, one day, when summoned from our judgment-seats to answer before the Universal Judgment-seat of Christ, be able to say, with that pious King and Judge of Israel: 'Lord, thou knowest if we have walked uprightly before thee.' And we hope to understand that the rewards of justice, in that Life, will be much more than those of injustice in this.
"We believe that the Most High will, in so far, bless these our honest purposes and wholesome endeavors, as that the actual fruits thereof will in time coming, and when Peace now soon expected (which God grant) has returned to us, be manifest; and that if, in our Office, as is common, we should rather have thorns of persecution than roses of recompense to expect, yet to each of us there will at last accrue praise in the Earth and reward in Heaven. [Hear Spener!]
"Meanwhile we will unite all our wishes, That the Almighty may vouchsafe to his Royal Majesty, our now All-dearest Duke and Land's-Father, many long years of life and of happy reign; and maintain this All-highest Royal-Prussian and Elector-Brandenburgic House in supremest splendor and prosperity, undisturbed to the end of all Days; and along with it, our Town-Council, and whole Merchantry and Citizenry, safe under this Prussian Sceptre, in perpetual blessing, peace and unity [what a modest prayer!]: to all which may Heaven speak its powerful Amen!" [Helden-Geschichte, ii. 416-422.]—
Whereupon solemn waving of hats; indistinct sough of loyal murmur from the universal Landshut Population; after which, continued to the due extent, they return to their spindles and shuttles again.
Chapter VII. -- FRIEDRICH PURPOSES TO MEND THE KLEIN-SCHNELLENDORF FAILURE: FORTUNES OF THE BELLEISLE ARMAMENT.
We shall not dwell upon the movements of the French into Germany for the purpose of overwhelming Austria, and setting up four subordinate little Sovereignties to take their orders from Louis XV. The plan was of the mad sort, not recognized by Nature at all; the diplomacy was wide, expensive, grandiose, but vain and baseless; nor did the soldiering that followed take permanent hold of men's memory. Human nature cannot afford to follow out these loud inanities; and, at a certain distance of time, is bound to forget them, as ephemera of no account in the general sum. Difficult to say what profit human nature could get out of such transaction. There was no good soldiering on the part of the French except by gleams here and there; bad soldiering for the most part, and the cause was radically bad. Let us be brief with it; try to snatch from it, huge rotten heap of old exuviae and forgotten noises and deliriums, what fractions of perennial may turn up for us, carefully forgetting the rest.
Maillebois with his 40,000, we have seen how they got to Osnabruck, and effectually stilled the war-fervor of little George II.; sent him home, in fact, to England a checkmated man, he riding out of Osnabruck by one gate, the French at the same moment marching in by the other. There lies Maillebois ever since; and will lie, cantoned over Westphalia, "not nearer than three leagues to the boundary of Hanover," for a year and more. There let Maillebois lie, till we see him called away else-wither, upon which the gallant little George, check-mate being lifted, will get into notable military activity, and attempt to draw his sword again,—though without success, owing to the laggard Dutch. Which also, as British subjects, if not otherwise, the readers of this Book will wish to see something of. Maillebois did not quite keep his stipulated distance of "three leagues from the boundary" (being often short of victual), and was otherwise no good neighbor. Among his Field-Officers, there is visible (sometimes in trouble about quarters and the like) a Marquis du Chatelet,—who, I find, is Husband or Ex-Husband to the divine Emilie, if readers care to think of that! [Campagnes (i. 45, 193); and French Peerage-Books,? DU CHATELAT.] Other known face, or point of interest for or against, does not turn up in the Maillebois Operation in those parts.
As for the other still grander Army, Army of the Oriflamme as we have called it,—which would be Belleisle's, were not he so overwhelmed with embassying, and persuading the Powers of Germany,—this, since we last saw it, has struck into a new course, which it is essential to indicate. The major part of it (Four rear Divisions! if readers recollect) lay at Ingolstadt, its place of arms; while the Vanward Three Divisions, under Maurice Comte de Saxe, flowed onward, joining with Bavaria at Passau; down the Donau Country, to Linz and farther, terrifying Vienna itself; and driving all the Court to Presburg, with (fabulous) "MORIAMUR PRO REGE NOSTRO MARIA THERESIA," but with actual armament of Tolpatches, Pandours, Warasdins, Uscocks and the like unsightly beings of a predatory centaur nature. Which fine Hungarian Armament, and others still more ominous, have been diligently going on, while Karl Albert sat enjoying his Homagings at Linz, his Pisgah-views Vienna-ward; and asking himself, "Shall we venture forward, and capture Vienna, then?"
The question is intricate, and there are many secret biasings concerned in the solution of it. Friedrich, before Klein-Schnellendorf time, had written eagerly, had sent Schmettau with eager message, "Push forward; it is feasible, even easy: cut the matter by the root!" This, they say, was Karl Albert's own notion, had not the French overruled him;—not willing, some guess, he should get Austria, and become too independent of them all at once. Nay, it appears Karl Albert had inducements of his own towards Bohemia rather. The French have had Kur-Sachsen to manage withal; and there are interests in Bohemia of his and theirs,—clippings of Bohemia promised him as bribes, besides that "Kingdom of Moravia," to get his 21,000 set on march. "Clippings of Bohemia? Interests of Kur-Sachsen's in that Country?" asks Karl Albert with alarm: and thinks it will be safer, were he himself present there, while Saxony and France do the clippings in question! Sure enough, he did not push on. Belleisle, from the distance, strongly opined otherwise; Karl Albert himself had jealous fears about Bohmen. Friedrich's importunities and urgencies were useless: and the one chance there ever was for Karl Albert, for Belleisle and the Ruin of Austria, vanished without return.
Karl Albert has turned off, leftwards, towards his Bohemian Enterprises: French, Bavarians, Saxons, by their several routes, since the last days of October, are all on march that way. We will mark an exact date here and there, as fixed point for the reader's fancy. Poor Karl Albert, he had sat some six weeks at Linz,—about three weeks since that Homaging there (October 2d);—imaginary Sovereign of Upper Austria; looking over to Vienna and the Promised Land in general. And that fine Pisgah-view was all he ever had of it. Of Austrian or other Conquests earthly or heavenly, there came none to him in this Adventure;—mere MINUS quantities they all proved. For a few weeks more, there are, blended with awful portents, an imaginary gleam or two in other quarters; after which, nothing but black horror and disgrace, deepening downwards into utter darkness, for the poor man. Belleisle is an imaginary Sun-god; but the poor Icarus, tempted aloft in that manner into the earnest elements, and melting at once into quills and rags, is a tragic reality!—Let us to our dates:—
"OCTOBER 24th, The Bavarian Troops, who had lain at Mautern on the Donau some time, forty miles from Vienna and the Promised Land, got under way again;—not FORWARD, but sharp to left, or northward, towards the Bohemian parts. Thither all the Belleisle Armaments are now bound; and a general rallying of them is to be at Prag; for conquest of that Country, as more inviting than Austria at present. Comte de Saxe, who had lain at St. Polten, a march to southward of Mautern, he with the Vanward of the great Belleisle Army, bestirred himself at the same time; and followed steadily (Karl Albert in person was with Saxe), at a handy distance by parallel roads. To Prag may be about 200 miles. Across the Mannhartsberg Country, clear out of Austria, into Bohmen, towards Prag. At Budweis, or between that and Tabor, Towns of our old friend Zisca's, of which we shall hear farther in these Wars; Towns important by their intricate environment of rock and bog, far up among the springs of the Moldau,—there can these Bavarians, and this French Vanward of Belleisle, halt a little, till the other parties, who are likewise on march, get within distance."
For in these same days, as hinted above, the Rearward of the Belleisle Army (Four Divisions, strength not accurately given) pushes forward from Donauworth, well rested, through the Bavarian Passes, towards Bohemia and Prag: these have a longer march (say 250 miles)? to northeast; and the leader of them is one Polastron, destined unhappily to meet us on a future occasion. With them go certain other Bavarians; accompanying or preceding, as in the Vanward case. And then the Saxons (21,000 strong, a fine little Army, all that Saxony has) are, at the same time, come across the Metal Mountains (ERZGEBIRGE), in quest of those Bohemian clippings, of that Kingdom of Moravia: and march from the westward upon Prag,—Rutowsky leading them. Comte de Rutowsky, Comte de Saxe's Half-Brother, one of the Three Hundred and Fifty-four:—with whom is CHEVALIER de Saxe, a second younger ditto; and I think there is still a third, who shall go unnamed. In this grand Oriflamme Expedition, Four of the Royal-Saxon Bastards altogether." Who cost us more distinguishing than they are worth!
Chief General of these Saxons, says an Authentic Author, is Rutowsky; got from a Polish mother, I should guess: he commands in chief here;—once had a regiment under Friedrich Wilhelm, for a while; but has not much head for strategy, it may be feared. But mark that Fourth individual of the Three Hundred and Fifty-four, who has a great deal. Fourth individual, called Comte de Saxe, who is now in that French Vanward a good way to east, was (must I again remind you!) the produce of the fair Aurora von Konigsmark, Sister of the Konigsmark who vanished instantaneously from the light of day at Hanover long since, and has never reappeared more. It was in search of him that Aurora, who was indeed a shining creature (terribly insolvent all her life, whose charms even Charles XII. durst not front), came to Dresden; and,—in this Comte de Saxe, men see the result. Tall enough, restless enough; most eupeptic, brisk, with a great deal of wild faculty,—running to waste, nearly all. There, with his black arched eyebrows, black swift physically smiling eyes, stands Monseigneur le Comte, one of the strongest-bodied and most dissolute-minded men now living on our Planet. He is now turned of forty: no man has been in such adventures, has swum through such seas of transcendent eupepticity determined to have its fill. In this new Quasi-sacred French Enterprise, under the Banner of Belleisle and the Chateauroux, he has at last, after many trials, unconsciously found his culmination: and will do exploits of a wonderful nature,—very worthy of said Banner and its patrons.
"Here, then, are Three streams or Armaments pouring forward upon Prag; perhaps some 60,000 men in all:—a good deal uncertain what they are to do at Prag, except arrive simultaneously so far as possible. Belleisle, far off, has fallen sick in these critical days. Comte de Saxe cannot see his way in the matter at all: 'What are we to live upon,' asks Comte de Saxe, 'were there nothing more!'—For, simultaneously with these Three Armaments on march, there is an important Austrian one, likewise on the road for Prag: that of Grand-Duke Franz, who has left Presburg, with say 30,000 (including the Pandour element); and duly meets the Neipperg, or late Silesian Army;—well capable, now, to do a stroke upon the Three Armaments, if he be speedy? 'November 7th' it was when Grand-Duke Franz picked up Neipperg, 'at Frating' deep in Moravia (November 7th, the very day while Friedrich was getting homaged in Breslau), and turned him northwestward again. The Grand-Duke, in such strength, marches Rag-ward what he can; might be there before the French, were he swift; and is at any rate in disagreeable proximity to that Budmeis-Tabor Country, appointed as one's halting-place."
And Belleisle, in these critical days, is—consider it!—"Poor Belleisle, he has all the Election Votes ready; he has done unspeakable labors in the diplomatic way; and leaves Europe in ebullition and conflagration behind him. He has all these Armies in motion, and has got rid of 'that Moravia,'—given it to Saxony, who adds the title 'King of Moravia' to his other dignities, and has set on march those 21,000 men. 'Would he were ready with them!' Belleisle had been saying, ever since the Treaty for them,—Treaty was, September 19th. Belleisle, to expedite him, came to Dresden [what day is not said, but deep in October]; intending next for the Prag Country, there to commence General, the diplomacies being satisfactorily done. Valori ran over from Berlin to wait upon him there. Alas, the Saxons are on march, or nearly so; but the great man himself, worn down with these Herculean labors, has fallen into rheumatic fever; is in bed, out at Hubertsburg (serene Country Palace of his Moravian Polish Majesty); and cannot get the least well, to march in person with the Three Armaments, with the flood of things he has set reeling and whirling at such rate.
"The sympathies of Valori go deep at this spectacle. The Alcides, who was carrying the axis of the world, fallen down in physical rheumatism! But what can sympathies avail? The great man sees the Saxons march without him. The great man, getting no alleviation from physicians, determines, in his patriotic heroism, to surrender glory itself; writes home to Court, 'That he is lamed, disabled utterly; that they must nominate another General.' And they nominate another; nominate Broglio, the fat choleric Marshal, of Italian breed and physiognomy, whom we saw at Strasburg last year, when Friedrich was there. Broglio will quit Strasburg too soon, and come. A man fierce in fighting, skilled too in tactics; totally incompetent in strategy, or the art of LEADING armies, and managing campaigns;—defective in intelligence indeed, not wise to discern; dim of vision, violent of temper; subject to sudden cranks, a headlong, very positive, loud, dull and angry kind of man; with whose tumultuous imbecilities the great Belleisle will be sore tried by and by. 'I reckon this,' Valori says, 'the root of all our woes;' this Letter which the great Belleisle wrote home to Court. Let men mark it, therefore, as a cardinal point,—and snatch out the date, when they have opportunity upon the Archives of France. [See Valori, i. 131.]
"Monseigneur the Comte de Saxe, before quitting the Vienna Countries, had left some 10,000 French and Bavarians, posted chiefly in Linz, under a Comte de Segur, to maintain those Donau Conquests, which have cost only the trouble of marching into them. Count Khevenhuller has ceased working at the ramparts of Vienna, nothing of siege to be apprehended now, civic terror joyfully vanishing again; and busies himself collecting an Army at Vienna, with intent of looking into those same French Segurs, before long. It is probable the so-called Conquests on the Donau will not be very permanent.
"NOVEMBER 19th-21st, The Three Belleisle Armaments, Karl Albert's first, have, simultaneously enough for the case, arrived on three sides of Prag; and lie looking into it,—extremely uncertain what to do when there. To Comte de Saxe, to Schmettau, who is still here, the outlook of this grand Belleisle Army, standing shelterless, provisionless, grim winter at hand, long hundreds of miles from home or help, is in the highest degree questionable, though the others seem to make little of it: 'Fight the Grand-Duke when he comes,' say they; 'beat him, and—' 'Or suppose, he won't fight? Or suppose, we are beaten by him?' answer Saxe and Schmettau, like men of knowledge, in the same boat with men of none. (We have no strong place, or footing in this Country: what are we to do? Take Prag!' advises Comte de Saxe, with earnestness, day after day. [His Letters on it to Karl Albert and others (in Espagnac, i. 94-99).)] 'Take Prag: but how?' answer they. 'By escalade, by surprise, and sword in hand, answers he: 'Ogilvy their General has but 3,000, and is perhaps no wizard at his trade: we can do it, thus and thus, and then farther thus; and I perceive we are a lost Army if we don't!' So counsels Maurice Comte de Saxe, brilliant, fervent in his military views;—and, before it is quite too late, Schmettau and he persuade Karl Albert, persuade Rutowsky chief of the Saxons; and Count Polastron, Gaisson or whatever subaltern Counts there are, of French type, have to accede, and be saved in spite of themselves. And so,
"SATURDAY NIGHT, 25th NOVEMBER, 1741, brightest of moonshiny nights, our dispositions are all made: Several attacks, three if I remember; one of them false, under some Polastron, Gaisson, from the south side; a couple of them true, from the northwest and the southeast sides, under Maurice with his French, and Rutowsky with his Saxons, these two. And there is great marching 'on the side of the Karl-Thor (Charles-Gate),' where Rutowsky is; and by Count Maurice 'behind the Wischerad;'—and shortly after midnight the grand game begins. That French-Polastron attack, false, though with dreadful cannonade from the south, attracts poor Ogilvy with almost all his forces to that quarter; while the couple of Saxon Captains (Rutowsky not at once successful, Maurice with his French completely so) break in upon Ogilvy from rearward, on the right flank and on the left; and ruin the poor man. Military readers will find the whole detail of it well given in Espagnac. Looser account is to be had in the Book they call Mauvillon's." [Derniere Guerre de Boheme, i. 252-264. Saxe's own Account (Letter to Chevalier de Folard) is in Espagnac, i. 89 et seqq.]
One thing I remember always: the bright moonlight; steeples of Prag towering serene in silvery silence, and on a sudden the wreaths of volcanic fire breaking out all round them. The opposition was but trifling, null in some places, poor Ogilvy being nothing of a wizard, and his garrison very small. It fell chiefly on Rutowsky; who met it with creditable vigor, till relieved by the others. Comte Maurice, too, did a shifty thing. Circling round by the outside of the Wischerad, by rural roads in the bright moonshine, he had got to the Wall at last, hollow slope and sheer wall; and was putting-to his scaling-ladders,—when, by ill luck, they proved too short! Ten feet or so; hopelessly too short. Casting his head round, Maurice notices the Gallows hard by: "There, see you, are a few short ladders: MES ENFANS, bring me these, and we will splice with rope!" Supplemented by the gallows, Maurice soon gets in, cuts down the one poor sentry; rushes to the Market-place, finds all his Brothers rushing, embraces them with "VICTOIRE!" and "You see I am eldest; bound to be foremost of you!"
"No point in all the War made a finer blaze in the French imagination, or figured better in the French gazettes, than this of the Scalade of Prag, 25th November, 1741. And surely it was important to get hold of Prag; nevertheless, intrinsically it is no great thing, but an opportune small thing, done by the Comte de Saxe, in spite of such contradiction as we saw."
It was while news of this exploit was posting towards Berlin, but not yet arrived there, that Friedrich, passing through the apartment, intimated to Hyndford, "Milord, all is divulged, our Klein-Schnellendorf mystery public as the house-tops;" and vanished with a shrug of the shoulders,—thinking doubtless to himself, "What is OUR next move to be, in consequence?" Treaty with Kur-Baiern (November 4th) he had already signed in consequence, expressly declaring for Kur-Baiern, and the French intentions towards him. This news from Prag—Prag handsomely captured, if Vienna had been foolishly neglected—put him upon a new Adventure, of which in following Chapters we shall hear more.
THE FRENCH SAFE IN PRAG; KAISERWAHL JUST COMING ON.
Grand-Duke Franz, with that respectable amount of Army under him, ought surely to have advanced on Prag, and done some stroke of war for relief of it, while time yet was. Grand-Duke Franz, his Brother Karl with him and his old Tutor Neipperg, both of whom are thought to have some skill in war, did advance accordingly. But then withal there was risk at Prag; and he always paused again, and waited to consider. From Frating, on the 16th, [Espagnac, i. 87.] he had got to Neuhaus, quite across Mahren into Bohemian ground, and there joined with Lobkowitz and what Bohemian force there was; by this time an Army which you would have called much stronger than the French. Forward, therefore! Yes; but with pauses, with considerations. Pause of two days at Neuhaus; thence to Tabor (famed Zisca's Tabor), a safe post, where again pause three days. From Tabor is broad highway to Prag, only sixty miles off now:—screwing their resolution to the sticking-point, Grand-Duke and Consorts advance at length with fixed determination, all Friday, all Saturday (November 24th, 25th), part of Sunday too, not thinking it shall be only PART; and their light troops are almost within sight of Prag, when—they learn that Prag is scaladed the night before, and quite settled; that there is nothing except destruction to be looked for in Prag! Back again, therefore, to the Tabor-and-Budweis land. They strike into that boggy broken country about Budweis, some 120 miles south of Prag; and will there wait the signs of the times.
Grand-Duke Franz had seen war, under Seckendorf, under Wallis and otherwise, in the disastrous Turk Countries; but, though willing enough, was never much of a soldier: as to Neipperg, among his own men especially, the one cry is, He ought to go about his business out of Austrian Armies, as an imbecile and even a traitor. "Is it conceivable that Friedrich could have beaten us, in that manner, except by buying Neipperg in the first place? Neipperg and the generality of them, in that luckless Silesian Business? Glogau scaladed with the loss of half a dozen men; Brieg gone within a week; Neisse ditto: and Mollwitz, above all, where, in spite of Romer and such Horse-charging as was never seen, we had to melt, dissolve, and roll away in the glitter of the evening sun!" The common notion is, they are traitors, partial-traitors, one and all. [Guerre de Boheme, saepius.] Poor Neipperg he has seen hard service, had ugly work to do: it was he that gave away Belgrade to the Turks (so interpreting his orders), and the Grand Vizier, calling him Dog of a Giaour: spat in his face, not far from hanging him; and the Kaiser and Vienna people, on his coming home, threw him into prison, and were near cutting off his head. And again, after such sleety marchings through the Mountains, he has had to dissolve at Mollwitz; float away in military deluge in the manner we saw. And now, next winter, here is he lodged among the upland bogs at Budweis, escorted by mere curses. What a life is the soldier's, like other men's; what a master is the world! Aulic Cabinet is not all-wise; but may readily be wiser than the vulgar, and, with a Maria Theresa at his head, it is incapable of truculent impiety like that. Neipperg, guilty of not being a Eugene, is not hanged as a traitor; but placed quietly as Commandant in Luxemburg, spends there the afternoon of his life, in a more commodious manner. Friedrich had, of late, rather admired his movements on the Neisse River; and found him a stiff article to deal with.
The French, now with Prag for their place of arms, stretched themselves as far as Pisek, some seventy miles southwestward; occupied Pisek, Pilsen and other Towns and posts, on the southwest side, some seventy miles from Prag; looking towards the Bavarian Passes and homeward succors that might come: the Saxons, a while after, got as far as Teutschbrod, eighty miles on the southeastward or Moravian hand. Behind these outposts, Prag may be considered to hang on Silesia, and have Friedrich for security. This, in front or as forecourt of Friedrich's Silesia, this inconsiderable section, was all of Bohemian Country the French and Confederates ever held, and they did not hold this long. As for Karl Albert, he had his new pleasant Dream of Sovereignty at Prag; Titular of Upper Austria, and now of Bohmen as well; and enjoyed his Feast of the Barmecide, and glorious repose in the captured Metropolis, after difficulty overcome. December 7th, he was homaged (a good few of the Nobility attending, for which they smarted afterwards), with much processioning, blaring and TE-DEUM-ing: on the 19th he rolled off, home to Munchen; there to await still higher Romish-Imperial glories, which it is hoped are now at hand.
A day or two after the Capture of Prag, Marechal de Belleisle, partially cured of his rheumatisms, had hastened to appear in that City; and for above four weeks he continued there, settling, arranging, ordering all things, in the most consummate manner, with that fine military head of his. About Christmas time, arrived Marechal de Broglio, his unfortunate successor or substitute; to whom he made everything over; and hastened off for Frankfurt, where the final crisis of KAISERWAHL is now at hand, and the topstone of his work is to be brought out with shouting. Marechal de Broglio had an unquiet Winter of it in his new command; and did not extend his quarters, but the contrary.
BROGLIO HAS A BIVOUAC OF PISEK; KHEVENHULLER LOOKS IN UPON THE DONAU
Grand-Duke Franz edged himself at last a little out of that Tabor-Budweis region, and began looking Prag-ward again;—hung about, for some time, with his Hungarian light-troops scouring the country; but still keeping Prag respectfully to right, at seventy miles distance. December 28th, to Broglio's alarm, he tried a night-attack on Pisek, the chief French outpost, which lies France-ward too, and might be vital. But he found the French (Broglio having got warning) unexpectedly ready for him at Pisek,—drawn up in the dark streets there, with torrents of musketry ready for his Pandours and him;—and entirely failed of Pisek. Upon which he turned eastward to the Budweis-Tabor fastnesses again; left Brother Karl as Commander in those parts (who soon leaves Lobkowitz as Substitute, Vienna in the idle winter-time being preferable);—left Brother Karl, and proceeded in person, south, towards the Donau Countries, to see how Khevenhuller might be prospering, who is in the field there, as we shall hear.
Of Pisek and the night-skirmish at Pisek, glorious to France, think all the Gazettes, I should have said nothing, were it not that Marechal Broglio, finding what a narrow miss he had made, established a night-watch there, or bivouac, for six weeks to come; such as never was before or since: Cavalry and Infantry, in quantity, bivouacking there, in the environs of Pisek, on the grim Bohemian snow or snow-slush, in the depth of winter, nightly for six weeks, without whisper of an enemy at any time; whereby the Marechal did save Pisek (if Pisek was ever again in danger), but froze horse and man to the edge of destruction or into it; so that the "Bivouac of Pisek" became proverbial in French Messrooms, for a generation coming. [Guerre de Boheme, ii. 23, &c.] And one hears in the mind a clangorous nasal eloquence from antique gesticulative mustachio-figures, witty and indignant,—who are now gone to silence again, and their fruitless bivouacs, and frosty and fiery toils, tumbling pell-mell after them. This of Pisek was but one of the many unwise hysterical things poor Broglio did, in that difficult position; which, indeed, was too difficult for any mortal, and for Broglio beyond the average.
One other thing we note: Graf von Khevenhuller, solid Austrian man, issued from Vienna, December 31st, last day of the Year, with an Army of only some 15,000, but with an excellent military head of his own, to look into those Conquests on the Donau. Which he finds, as he expected, to be mere conquests of stubble, capable of being swept home again at a very rapid rate. "Khevenhuller, here as always, was consummate in his choice of posts," says Lloyd; [General Lloyd, History of Seven-Years War, &c. (incidentally, somewhere).]—discovered where the ARTERIES of the business lay, and how to handle the same. By choice of posts, by silent energy and military skill, Khevenhuller very rapidly sweeps Segur back; and shuts him up in Linz. There Segur, since the first days of January, is strenuously barricading himself; "wedging beams from house to house, across the streets;"—and hopes to get provision, the Donau and the Bavarian streams being still open behind him; and to hold out a little. It will be better if he do,—especially for poor Karl Albert and his poor Bavaria! Khevenhuller has also detached through the Tyrol a General von Barenklau (BEAR'S-CLAW, much heard of henceforth in these Wars), who has 12,000 regulars; and much Hussar-folk under bloody Mentzel:-across the Tyrol, we say; to fall in upon Bavaria and Munchen itself; which they are too like doing with effect. Ought not Karl Albert to be upon the road again? What a thing, were the Kaiser Elect taken prisoner by Pandours!
In fine, within a short two weeks or so, Karl Albert quits Munchen, as no safe place for him; comes across to Mannheim to his Cousin Philip, old Kur-Pfalz, whom we used to know, now extremely old, but who has marriages of Grand-daughters, and other gayeties, on hand; which a Cousin and prospective Kaiser—especially if in peril of his life—might as well come and witness. This is the excuse Karl Albert makes to an indulgent Public; and would fain make to himself, but cannot. Barenklau and Khevenhuller are too indisputable. Nay this rumor of Friedrich's "Peace with Austria," divulged Bargain of Klein-Schnellendorf, if this also (horrible to think) were true—! Which Friedrich assures him it is not. Karl Albert writes to Friedrich, and again writes; conjuring him, for the love of God, To make some thrust, then, some inroad or other, on those man-devouring Khevenhullers; and take them from his, Karl Albert's, throat and his poor Country's. Which Friedrich, on his own score, is already purposing to do.
Chapter VIII. — FRIEDRICH STARTS FOR MORAVIA, ON A NEW SCHEME HE HAS.
The Austrian Court had not kept Friedrich's secret of Klein-Schnellendorf, hardly even for a day. It was whispered to the Dowager Empress, or Empresses; who whispered it, or wrote it, to some other high party; by whom again as usual:—in fact, the Austrian Court, having once got their Neipperg safe to hand, took no pains to keep the secret; but had probably an interest rather in letting it filter out, to set Friedrich and his Allies at variance. At all events, in the space of a few weeks, as we have seen, the rumor of a Treaty between Austria and Friedrich was everywhere rife; Friedrich, as he had engaged, everywhere denying it, and indeed clearly perceiving that there was like to be no ground for acknowledging it. The Austrian Court, instead of "completing the Treaty before Newyear's-day," had broken the previous bargain; evidently not meaning to complete; intent rather to wait upon their Hungarian Insurrection, and the luck of War.
There is now, therefore, a new turn in the game. And for this also Friedrich has been getting the fit card ready; and is not slow to play it. Some time ago, November 4th,—properly November 1st, hardly three weeks since that of Klein-Schnellendorf,—finding the secret already out ("whispered of at Breslau, 28th October," casually testifies Hyndford), he had tightened his bands with France; had, on November 4th, formally acceded to Karl Albert's Treaty with France. [Accession agreed to, "Frankfurt, Nov. 1st," 1741; ratified "Nov. 4th."] Glatz to be his: he will not hear of wanting Glatz; nor of wanting elsewhere the proper Boundary for Schlesien, "Neisse River both banks" (which Neipperg had agreed to, in his late Sham-Bargain);—quite strict on these preliminaries.
And furthermore, Kur-Sachsen being now a Partner in that French-Bavarian Treaty,—and a highly active one (with 21,000 in the field for him), who is "King of Moravia" withal, and has some considerable northern Paring of Bohemia thrown in, by way of "Road to Moravia,"—Friedrich made, at the same time, special Treaty with Kur-Sachsen, on the points specially mutual to them; on the Boundary point, first of all. Which latter treaty is dated also November 1st, and was "ratified November 8th."
Treaty otherwise not worth reading; except perhaps as it shows us Friedrich putting, in his brief direct way, Kur-Sachsen at once into Austria's place, in regard to Ober-Schlesien. "Boundary between your Polish Majesty and me to be the River Neisse PLUS a full German mile;"—which (to Belleisle's surprise) the Polish Majesty is willing to accept; and consents, farther, Friedrich being of succinct turn, That Commissioners go directly and put down the boundary-stones, and so an end. "Let the Silesian matter stand where it stood," thinks Friedrich: "since Austria will not, will you? Put down the boundary-pillars, then!"—an interesting little glance into Friedrich's inner man. And a Prussian Boundary Commissioner, our friend Nussler the man, did duly appear;—whom perhaps we shall meet,—though no Saxon one quite did. [Busching, Beitrage, i. 339 (? NUSSLER).] It is this boundary clause, it is Friedrich's little decision, "Put down the pillars, then," that alone can now interest any mortal in this Saxon Bargain; the clause itself, and the bargain itself, having quite broken down on the Saxon side, and proved imaginary as a covenant made in dreams. Could not be helped, in the sequel!—
Meanwhile, the preliminary diplomacies being done in this manner, Friedrich had ordered certain of his own Forces to get in motion a little; ordered Leopold, who has had endless nicety of management, since the French and Saxons came into those Bohemian Circles of his, to go upon Glatz; to lay fast hold of Glatz, for one thing. And farther eastward, Schwerin, by order, has lately gone across the Mountains; seized Troppau, Friedenthal; nay Olmutz itself, the Capital of Mahren,—in one day (December 27th), garrison of Olmutz being too weak to resist, and the works in disrepair. "In Heaven's name, what are your intentions, then?" asked the Austrians there. "Peaceable in the extreme," answered Schwerin, "if only yours are. And if they are NOT—!" There sits Schwerin ever since, busy strengthening himself, and maintains the best discipline; waiting farther orders.
"The Austrians will not complete their bargain of Klein-Schnellendorf?" thinks this young King; "Very well; we will not press them to completion. We will not ourselves complete, should they now press. We will try another method, and that without loss of time."—It was a pungent reflection with Friedrich that Karl Albert had not pushed forward on Vienna, from Linz that time, but had blindly turned off to the left, and thrown away his one chance. "Cannot one still mend it; cannot one still do something of the like?" thinks Friedrich now: "Schwerin in Olmutz; Prussian Troops cantoned in the Highlands of Silesia, or over in Bohemia itself, near the scene of action; the Saxons eastward as far as Teutschbrod, still nearer; the French triumphant at Prag, and reinforcement on the road for them: a combined movement on Vienna, done instantly and with an impetus!" That is the thing Friedrich is now bent upon; nor will he, like Karl Albert, be apt to neglect the hour of tide, which is so inexorable in such operations.
At Berlin, accordingly, he has been hurrying on his work, inspection, preparation of many kinds,—Marriage of his Brother August Wilhelm, for one business; [6th January, 1742 (in Bielfeld, ii. 55-69, exuberant account of the Ceremony, and of B.'s part in it).]—and (January 18th), after a stay of two months, is off fieldward again, on this new project. To Dresden, first of all; Saxony being an essential element; and Valori being appointed to meet him there on the French side. It is January 20th, 1742, when Friedrich arrives; due Opera festivities, "triple salute of all the guns," fail not at Dresden; but his object was not these at all. Polish Majesty is here, and certain of the warlike Bastard Brothers home from Winter-quarters, Comte de Saxe for one; Valori also, punctually as due; and little Graf von Bruhl, highest-dressed of human creatures, who is factotum in this Court.
"Your Polish Majesty, by treaty and title you are King of Moravia withal: now is the time, now or never, to become so in fact! Forward with your Saxons:" urges Friedrich: "The Austrians and their Lobkowitz are weak in that Country: at Iglau, just over the Moravian border, they have formed a Magazine; seize that, snatch it from Lobkowitz: that gives us footing and basis there. Forward with your Saxons; Valori gives us so-many French; I myself will join with 20,000: swift, steady, all at once; we can seize Moravia, who knows if not Vienna itself, and for certain drive a stroke right home into the very bowels of the Enemy!" That is Friedrich's theme from the first hour of his arrival, and during all the four-and-twenty that he stayed.
In one hour, Polish Majesty, who is fonder of tobacco and pastimes than of business, declared himself convinced;—and declared also that the time of Opera was come; whither the two Majesties had to proceed together, and suspend business for a while. Polish Majesty himself was very easily satisfied; but with the others, as Valori reports it, the argument was various, long and difficult. "Winter time; so dangerous, so precarious," answer Bruhl and Comte de Saxe: There is this danger, this uncertainty, and then that other;—which the King and Valori, with all their eloquence, confute. "Impossible, for want of victual," answers Maurice at last, driven into a corner: "Iglau, suppose we get it, will soon be eaten; then where is our provision?"—"Provision?" answers Valori: "There is M. de Sechelles, Head of our Commissariat in Prag; such a Commissary never was before." "And you consent, if I take that in hand?" urges Friedrich upon them. They are obliged to consent, on that proviso. Friedrich undertakes Sechelles: the Enterprise cannot now be refused. [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 170; Valori, i. 139; &c. &c.] "Alert, then; not a moment to be lost! Good-night; AU REVOIR, my noble friends!"—and to-morrow many hours before daybreak, Friedrich is off for Prag, leaving Dresden to awaken when it can.
At Prag he renews acquaintance with his old maladroit Strasburg friend, Marechal de Broglio, not with increase of admiration, as would seem; declines the demonstrations and civilities of Broglio, business being urgent: finds M. de Sechelles to be in truth the supreme of living Commissaries (ready, in words which Friedrich calls golden, "to make the impossible possible"): "Only march, then, noble Saxons: swift!"—and dashes off again, next morning, to northeastward, through Leopold's Bohemian cantonments, Glatz-ward by degrees, to be ready with his own share of the affair; no delay in him, for one. January 24th, after Konigsgratz and other Prussian posts,—January 24th, which is elsewhere so notable a day,—his route goes northeast, to Glatz, a hundred miles away, among the intricacies of the Giant Mountains, hither side of the Silesian Highlands; wild route for winter season, if the young King feared any route. From Berlin, hither and farther, he may have gone well-nigh his seven hundred miles within the week; rushing on continually (starts, at say four in the winter morning); doing endless business, of the ordering sort, as he speeds along.
Glatz, a southwestern mountainous Appendage to Silesia, abutting on Moravia and Bohemia, is a small strong Country; upon which, ever since the first Friedrich times, we have seen him fixed; claiming it too, as expenses from the Austrians, since they will not bargain. For he rises Sibyl-like: a year ago, you might have had him with his 100,000 to boot, for the one Duchy of Glogau; and now—! At Glatz or in these adjacent Bohemian parts, the Young Dessauer has been on duty, busy enough, ever since the late Siege of Neisse: Glatz Town the Young Dessauer soon got, when ordered; Town, Population, Territory, all is his,—all but the high mountain Fortress (centre of the Town of Glatzj), with its stiff-necked Austrian Garrison shut up there, which he is wearing out by hunger. We remember the little Note from Valori's waistcoat-pocket, "Don't give him Glatz, if you can possibly help it!" In his latest treaties with the French and their Allies, Friedrich has very expressly bargained for the Country (will even pay money for it); [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 85.] and is determined to have it, when the Austrians next take to bargaining. Of Glatz Fortress, now getting hungered out by Leopold's Prussian Detachment, I will say farther, though Friedrich heeds these circumstances little at present, that it stands on a scarped rock, girt by the grim intricate Hills; and that in the Arsenal, in dusty fabulous condition, lies a certain Drum, which readers may have heard of. Drum is not a fable, but an antique reality fallen flaccid; made, by express bequest, as is mythically said, from the skin of Zisca, above 300 years ago: altogether mythic that latter clause. Drum, Fortress, Town, Villages and Territory, all shall be Friedrich's, had hunger done its work. [Town already, after short scuffle, 14th January, 1742; Fortress, by hunger (no firing nor being fired on, in the interim), 25th April following,—when the once 2,000 of garrison, worn to about 200, pale as shadows, marched away to Brunn; "only ten of them able for duty on arriving." (Orlich, i. 174.)]
Friedrich, while at Glatz this time, gave a new Dress to the Virgin, say all the Biographers; of which the story is this. Holy Virgin stood in the main Convent of Glatz, in rather a threadbare condition, when the Prussians first approached; the Jesuits, and ardently Orthodox of both sexes, flagitating Heaven and her with their prayers, that she would vouchsafe to keep the Prussians out. In which case pious Madame Something, wife of the Austrian Commandant, vowed her a new suit of clothes. Holy Virgin did not vouchsafe; on the Contrary, here the Prussians are, and Starvation with them. "Courage, nevertheless, my new friends!" intimates Friedrich: "The Prussians are not bugaboos, as you imagined: Holy Virgin shall have a new coat, all the same!" and was at the expense of the bit of broadcloth with trimmings. He was in the way of making such investments, in his light sceptical humor; and found them answer to him. At Glatz, and through those Bohemian and Silesian Cantonments, he sets his people in motion for the Moravian Expedition; rapidly stirs up the due Prussian detachments from their Christmas rest among the Mountains; and has work enough in these regions, now here now there. Schwerin is already in Olmutz, for a month past; and towards him, or his neighborhood, the march is to be.
January 26th, Friedrich, now with considerable retinue about him, gets from Glatz to Landskron, some fifty miles Olmutz-ward; such a march as General Stille never saw,—"through the ice and through the snow, which covered that dreadful Chain of Mountains between Bohmen and Mahren: we did not arrive till very late; many of our carriages broken down, and others overturned more than once." [Stille (Anonymous, Friedrich's Old-Tutor Stille), Campagnes du Roi de Prusse (English Translation, 12mo, London, 1763), p. 5. An intelligent, desirable little Volume,—many misprints in the English form of it.] At Landskron next day, Friedrich, as appointed, met the Chevalier de Saxe (CHEVALIER, by no means Comte, but a younger Bastard, General of the Saxon Horse); and endeavored to concert everything: Prussian rendezvous to be at Wischau, on the 5th next; thence straightway to meet the Saxons at Trebitsch (convenient for that Iglau),—if only the Saxons will keep bargain.
January 28th, past midnight, after another sore march, Friedrich arrived at Olmutz; a pretty Town,—with an excellent old Bishop, "a Graf von Lichtenstein, a little gouty man about fifty-two years of age, with a countenance open and full of candor; [Stille, p. 8.] in whose fine Palace, most courteously welcomed, the King lodged till near the day of rendezvousing. We will leave him there, and look westward a little; before going farther into the Moravian Expedition. Friedrich himself is evidently much bent on this Expedition; has set his heart on paying the Austrians for their trickery at Klein-Schnellendorf, in this handsome way, and still picking up the chance against them which Karl Albert squandered. If only the French and Saxons would go well abreast with Friedrich, and thrust home! But will they? Here is a surprising bit of news; not of good omen, when it reaches one at Olmutz!
"LINZ, 24th JANUARY, 1742 [day otherwise remarkable]. After the much barricading, and considerable defiance and bravadoing, by Comte de Segur and his 10,000, he has lost this City in a scandalous manner [not quite scandalous, but reckoned so by outside observers]; and Linz City is not now Segur's, but Khevenhuller's. To Khevenhuller's first summons M. de Segur had answered, 'I will hang on the highest gallows the next man that comes to propose such a thing!'—and within a week [Khevenhuller having seized the Donau River to rear of Linz, and blasted off the Bavarian party there], M. de Segur did himself propose it ('Free withdrawal: Not serve against you for a year'); and is this day beginning to march out of Linz." [Campagnes des Trois Marechaux, iii. 280, &c.; Adelung, iii. A, p. 12, and p. 15 (a Paris street-song on it).] Here is an example of defending Key-Positions! If Segur's be the pattern followed, those Conquests on the Donau are like to go a fine road!—There came to Friedrich, in all privacy, during his stay in Olmutz at this Bishop's, a Diplomatic emissary from Vienna, one Pfitzner; charged with apologies, with important offers probably;—important; but not important enough. Friedrich blames himself for being too abrupt on the man; might perhaps have learned something from him by softer treatment. [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 109.] After three days, Pfitzner had to go his ways again, having accomplished nothing of change upon Friedrich.
Chapter IX. — WILHELMINA GOES TO SEE THE GAYETIES AT FRANKFURT.
On the day when Friedrich, overhung by the grim winter Mountains, was approaching Glatz, same day when Segur was evacuating Linz on those sad terms, that is, on the 24th day of January, 1742,—two Gentlemen were galloping their best in the Frankfurt-Mannheim regions; bearing what they reckoned glad tidings towards Mannheim and Karl Albert; who is there "on a visit" (for good reasons), after his triumphs at Prag and elsewhere. The hindmost of the two Gentlemen is an Official of rank (little conscious that he is preceded by a rival in message-bearing); Official Gentleman, despatched by the Diet of Frankfurt to inform Karl Albert, That he now is actually Kaiser of the Holy Romish Empire; votes, by aid of Heaven and Belleisle, having all fallen in his favor. Gallop, therefore, my Official Gentleman:—alas, another Gentleman, Non-official, knowing how it would turn, already sat booted and saddled, a good space beyond the walls of Frankfurt, waiting till the cannon should fire; at the first burst of cannon, he (cunning dog) gives his horse the spur; and is miles ahead of the toiling Official Gentleman, all the way. [Adelung, iii. A, 52.]
In the dreary mass of long-winded ceremonial nothingnesses, and intricate Belleisle cobwebberies, we seize this one poor speck of human foolery in the native state, as almost the memorablest in that stupendous business. Stupendous indeed; with which all Germany has been in travail these sixteen months, on such terms! And in verity has got the thing called "German Kaiser" constituted, better or worse. Heavens, was a Nation ever so bespun by gossamer; enchanted into paralysis, by mountains of extinct tradition, and the want of power to annihilate rubbish! There are glittering threads of the finest Belleisle diplomacy, which seem to go beyond the Dog-star, and to be radiant, and irradiative, like paths of the gods: and they are, seem what they might, poor threads of idle gossamer, sunk already to dusty cobweb, unpleasant to poor human nature; poor human nature concerned only to get them well swept into the fire. The quantities of which sad litter, in this Universe, are very great!—
Karl Albert, now at the top-gallant of his hopes: homaged Archduke of Upper Austria, homaged King of Bohemia, declared Kaiser of the German Nation,—is the highest-titled mortal going: and, poor soul, it is tragical, once more, to think what the reality of it was for him. Ejection from house and home; into difficulty, poverty, despair; life in furnished lodgings, which he could not pay;—and at last heart-break, no refuge for him but in the grave. All which is mercifully hidden at present; so that he seems to himself a man at the top-gallant of his wishes; and lives pleasantly, among his friends, with a halo round his head to his own foolish sense and theirs.
"Karl Albert, Kurfurst of Baiern [lazy readers ought to be reminded], whose achievements will concern us to an unpleasant extent, for some years, is now a lean man of forty-five; lean, erect, and of middle stature; a Prince of distinguished look, they say; of elegant manners, and of fair extent of accomplishment, as Princes go. His experiences in this world, and sudden ups and downs, have been and will be many. Note a few particulars of them; the minimum of what are indispensable here.
"English readers know a Maximilian Kurfurst of Baiern, who took into French courses in the great Spanish-Succession War; the Anti-Marlborough Maximilian, who was quite ruined out by the Battle of Blenheim; put under Ban of the Empire, and reduced to depend on Louis XIV. for a living,—till times mended with him again; till, after the Peace of Utrecht, he got reinstated in his Territories; and lived a dozen years more, in some comparative comfort, though much sunk in debt. Well, our Karl Albert is the son of that Anti-Marlborough Kurfurst Maximilian; eldest surviving son; a daughter of the great Sobieski of Poland was his mother. Nay, he is great-grandson of another still more distinguished Maximilian, him of the Thirty-Years War,—(who took the Jesuits to his very heart, and let loose Ate on his poor Country for the sake of them, in a determined manner; and was the First of all the Bavarian KURFURSTS, mere Dukes till then; having got for himself the poor Winter-King's Electorship, or split it into two as ultimately settled, out of that bad Business),—great-grandson, we say, of that forcible questionable First Kurfurst Max; and descends from Kaiser Ludwig, 'Ludwig the BAIER,' if that is much advantage to him.
"In his young time he had a hard upcoming; seven years old at the Battle of Blenheim, and Papa living abroad under Louis XIV.'s shelter, the poor Boy was taken charge of by the victorious Austrian Kaisers, and brought up in remote Austrian Towns, as a young 'Graf von Wittelsbach' (nothing but his family name left him), mere Graf and private nobleman henceforth. However, fortune took the turn we know, and he became Prince again; nothing the worse for this Spartan part of his breeding. He made the Grand Tour, Italy, France, perhaps more than once; saw, felt, and tasted; served slightly, at a Siege of Belgrade (one of the many Sieges of Belgrade);—wedded, in 1722, a Daughter of the late Kaiser Joseph's, niece of the late Kaiser Karl's, cousin of Maria Theresa's; making the due 'renunciations,' as was thought; and has been Kurfurst himself for the last fourteen Years, ever since 1726, when his Father died. A thrifty Kurfurst, they say, or at least has occasionally tried to be so, conscious of the load of debts left on him; fond of pomps withal, extremely polite, given to Devotion and to BILLETS-DOUX; of gracious address, generous temper (if he had the means), and great skill in speaking languages. Likes hunting a little,—likes several things, we see!—has lived tolerably with his Wife and children; tolerably with his Neighbors (though sour upon the late Kaiser now and then); and is an ornament to Munchen, and well liked by the population there. A lean, elegaut, middle-sized gentleman; descended direct from Ludwig the ancient Kaiser; from Maximilian the First Kurfurst, who walked by the light of Father Lammerlein (LAMBKIN) and Company, thinking IT light from Heaven; and lastly is son of Maximilian the Third Kurfurst, whom learned English readers know as the Anti-Marlborough one, ruined out by the Battle of Blenheim.
"His most important transaction hitherto has been the marriage with Kaiser Joseph's Daughter;—of which, in Pollnitz somewhere, there is sublime account; forgettable, all except the date (Vienna, 5th October, 1722), if by chance that should concern anybody. Karl Albert (KURPRINZ, Electoral Prince or Heir-Apparent, at that time) made free renunciation of all right to Austrian Inheritances, in such terms as pleased Karl VI., the then Kaiser; the due complete 'renunciations' of inheriting in Austria; and it was hoped he would at once sign the Pragmatic Sanction, when published; but he has steadily refused to do so; 'I renounced for my Wife,' says Kurfurst Karl, 'and will never claim an inch of Austrian land on her account; but my own right, derived from Kaiser Ferdinand of blessed memory, who was Father of my Great-grandmother, I did not, do not, never will renounce; and I appeal to HIS Pragmatic Sanction, the much older and alone valid one, according to which, it is not you, it is I that am the real and sole Heir of Austria.'
"This he says, and has steadily said or meant: 'It is I that am to be King of Bohemia; I that shall and will inherit all your Austrias, Upper, Under, your Swabian Brisgau or Hither Austria, and what of the Tyrol remained wanting to me. Your Archduchess will have Hungary, the Styrian-Carinthian Territories; Florence, I suppose, and the Italian ones. What is hers by right I will be one of those that defend for her; what is not hers, but mine, I will defend against her, to the best of my ability!' This was privately, what it is now publicly, his argument; from which he never would depart; refusing always to accept Kaiser Karl's new Pragmatic Sanction; getting Saxony (who likewise had a Ferdinand great-grandmother) to refuse,—till Polish Election compelled poor Saxony, for a time. Karl Albert had likewise secretly, in past years, got his abstruse old Cousin of the Pfalz (who mended the Heidelberg Tun) to back him in a Treaty; nay, still better, still more secretly, had got France itself to promise eventual hacking:—and, on the whole, lived generally on rather bad terms with the late Kaiser Karl, his Wife's Uncle; any reconciliation they had proving always of temporary nature. In the Rhenish War (1734), Karl Albert, far from assisting the Kaiser, raised large forces of his own; kept drilling them, in four or three camps, in an alarming manner; and would not even send his Reich's Contingent (small body of 3,000 he is by law bound to send), till he perceived the War was just expiring. He was in angry controversy with the Kaiser, claiming debts,—debts contracted in the last generation, and debts going back to the Thirty-Years War, amounting to hundreds of millions,—when the poor Kaiser died; refusing payment to the last, nay claiming lands left HIM, he says, by Margaret Mouthpoke: [Michaelis, ii. 260; Buchholz, ii. 9; Hormayr, Anemonen, ii. 182; &c.] 'Cannot pay your Serene Highness (having no money); and would not, if I could!' Leaving Karl Albert to protest to the uttermost;"—which, as we ourselves saw in Vienna, he at once honorably did.
Karl Albert's subsequent history is known to readers; except the following small circumstance, which occurred in his late transit, flight, or whatever we may call it, to Mannheim, and is pleasantly made notable to us by Wilhelmina. "His Highness on the way from Munchen," intimates our Princess, "passed through Baireuth in a very bad post-chaise." This, as we elsewhere pick out, was on January 16th; Karl Albert in post-haste for the marriage-ceremony, which takes place at Mannheim to-morrow. [Adelung, iii. A, 51.] "My Margraf, accidentally hearing, galloped after him, came up with him about fifteen miles away: they embraced, talked half an hour; very content, both." [Wilhelmina, ii. 334.]
And eight days afterwards, 24th January, 1742, busy Belleisle (how busy for this year past, since we saw him in the OEil-de-Boeuf!) gets him elected Kaiser;—and Segur, in the self-same hours, is packing out of Linz; and one's Donau "Conquests," not to say one's Munchen, one's Baiern itself, are in a fine way! The marriage-ceremony, witnessed on the 17th, was one of the sublimest for Kur-Pfalz and kindred; and it too had secretly a touch of tragedy in it for the Poor Karl Albert. A double marriage: Two young Princesses, Grand-daughters, priceless Heiresses, to old Kur-Pfalz; married, one of them to Duke Clement of Baiern, Karl Albert's nephew, which is well enough: but married, the other and elder of them, to Theodor of Deux-Ponts, who will one day—could we pierce the merciful veil—be Kurfurst of Baiern, and succeed our own childless Son! [Michaelis, ii. 265.]
"Kaiser Karl VII.," such the style he took, is to be crowned February 12th; makes sublime Public Entry into Frankfurt, with that view, January 31st;—both ceremonies splendid to a wonder, in spite of finance considerations. Which circumstance should little concern us, were it not that Wilhelmina, hearing the great news (though in a dim ill-dated state), decided to be there and see; did go;—and has recorded her experiences there, in a shrill human manner. Wishful to see our fellow-creatures (especially if bound to look at them), even when they are fallen phantasmal, and to make persons of them again, we will give this Piece; sorry that it is the last we have of that fine hand. How welcome, in the murky puddle of Dryasdust, is any glimpse by a lively glib Wilhelmina, which we can discern to be human! Hear what Wilhelmina says (in a very condensed form):—
WILHELMINA AT THE CORONATION.
Wilhelmina, in the end of January, 1742,—Karl Albert having shot past, one day lately, in a bad post-chaise, and kindled the thought in her,—resolved to go and see him crowned at Frankfurt, by way of pleasure-excursion. We will, struggling to be briefer, speak in her person; and indicate withal where the very words are hers, and where ours.
The Marwitz, elder Marwitz, her poor father being wounded at Mollwitz, [Militair-Lexikon, iii. 23; and Preussische Adels-Lexikon, iii. 365.] had gone to Berlin to nurse him; but she returned just now,—not much to my joy; I being, with some cause, jealous of that foolish minx. The Duchess Dowager of Wurtemberg also came, sorrow on her; a foolish talking woman, always cutting jokes, making eyes, giggling and coquetting; "HAS some wit and manner, but wearies you at last: her charms, now on the decline, were never so considerable as rumor said; in the long-run she bores you with her French gayeties and sprightliness: her character for gallantry is too notorious. She quite corrupted Marwitz, in this and a subsequent visit; turned the poor girl's head into a French whirligig, and undermined any little moral principle she had. She was on the road to Berlin,"—of which anon, for it is not quite nothing to us;—"but she was in no hurry, and would right willingly have gone with us." And it required all our female diplomacy to get her under way again, and fairly out of our course. January 28th, SHE off to Berlin; WE, same day, to Frankfurt-on-Mayn. [Wilhelmina, ii. 334; see pp. 335, 338, 347, &c. for the other salient points that follow.]
Coronation was to have been (or we Country-folk thought it was), January 31st: Let us be there INCOGNITO, the night before; see it, and return the day after. That was our plan. Bad roads, waters all out; we had to go night and day;—reached the gates of Frankfurt, 30th January late. Berghover, our Legationsrath there, says we are known everywhere; Coronation is not to be till February 12th! I was fatigued to death, a bad cold on me, too: we turned back to the last Village; stayed there overnight. Back again to Berghover, in secret (A LA SOURDINE), next night; will see the Public Entry of Karl Albert, which is to be to-morrow (not quite, my Princess; January 31st for certain, [Adelung, iii. A, 63; &c. &c.] did one the least care). "It was a very grand thing indeed (DES PLUS SUPERBES); but I will not stop describing it. Masked ball that night; where I had much amusement, tormenting the masks; not being known to anybody. We next day retired to a small private House, which Berghover had got for us, out of Town, for fear of being discovered; and lodged there, waiting February 12th, under difficulties."
The weather was bitterly cold; we had brought no clothes; my dames and I nothing earthly but a black ANDRIENNE each (whatever that may be), to spare bulk of luggage: strictest incognito was indispensable. The Marwitzes, for giggling, raillery, French airs, and absolute impertinence, were intolerable, in that solitary place. We return to Frankfurt again; have balls and theatres, at least: "of these latter I missed none. One evening, my head-dress got accidentally shoved awry, and exposed my face for a moment; Prince George of Hessen-Cassel, who was looking that way, recognized me; told the Prince of Orange of it;—they are in our box, next minute!"
Prince George of Hessen-Cassel, did readers ever hear of him before? Transiently perhaps, in Friedrich's LETTERS TO HIS FATHER; but have forgotten him again; can know him only as the outline of a shadow. A fat solid military man of fifty; junior Brother of that solid WILHELM, Vice-regent and virtual "Landgraf of Hessen"—(VICE an elder and eldest Brother, FRIEDRICH, the now Majesty of Sweden, who is actual Hereditary Landgraf, but being old, childless, idle, takes no hold of it, and quite leaves it to Wilhelm),—of whom English readers may have heard, and will hear. For it is Wilhelm that hires us those "subsidized 6,000," who go blaring about on English pay (Prince George merely Commandant of them); and Wilhelm, furthermore, has wedded his Heir-Apparent to an English Princess lately; [Princess Mary (age only about seventeen), 28th June, 1740; Prince's name was Friedrich (became Catholic, 1749; WIFE made family-manager in Consequence, &c. &c.).] which also (as the poor young fellow became Papist by and by) costs certain English people, among others, a good deal of trouble. Uncle George, we say, is merely Commandant of those blaring 6,000; has had his own real soldierings before this; his own labors, contradictions, in his time; but has borne all patiently, and grown fat upon it, not quarrelling with his burdens or his nourishments. Perhaps we may transiently meet him again.
As to the Prince of Orange, him we have seen more than once in times past: a young fellow in comparison, sprightly, reckoned clever, but somewhat humpbacked; married an English Princess, years ago ("Papa, if he were as ugly as a baboon!")—which fine Princess, we find, has stopt short at Cassel, too fatigued on the present occasion. "His ESPRIT," continues Wilhelmina, "and his conversation, delighted me. His Wife, he said, was at Cassel; he would persuade her to come and make my acquaintance;"—could not; too far, in this cold season. "These two Serene Highnesses would needs take me home in their carriage; they asked the Margraf to let them stay supper: from that hour they were never out of our house. Next morning, by means of them, the secret had got abroad. Kur-Koln [lanky hook-nosed gentleman, richest Pluralist in the Church] had set spies on us; next evening he came up to me, and said, 'Madam, I know your Highness; you must dance a measure with me!' That comes of one's head-gear getting awry! We had nothing for it but to give up the incognito, and take our fate!"
This dancing Elector of Koln, a man still only entering his forties, is the new Emperor's Brother: [Clement August (Hubner, t. 134).] do readers wonder to see him dance, being an Archbishop? The fact is certain,—let the Three Kings and the Eleven Thousand Virgins say to it what they will. "He talked a long time with me; presented to me the Princess Clemence his Niece [that is to say, Wife of his Nephew ClemENT; one of the Two whom his now Imperial Majesty saw married the other day], [Michaelis, ii. 256, 123; Hubner, tt. 141, 134.] and then the Princess"—in fact, presented all the three Sulzbach Princesses (for there is a youngest, still to wed),—"and then Prince Theodor [happy Husband of the eldest], and Prince Clement [ditto of the younger];" and was very polite indeed. How keep our incognito, with all these people heaping civilities upon us? Let us send to Baireuth for clothes, equipages; and retire to our country concealment till they arrive.
"Just as we were about setting off thither, I waiting till the Margraf were ready, the Xargraf entered, and a Lady with him; who, he informed me, was Madame de Belleisle, the French Ambassador's Wife:"—Wife of the great Belleisle, the soul of all these high congregatings, consultations, coronations, who is not Kaiser but maker of Kaisers: what is to be done!—"I had carefully avoided her; reckoning she would have pretensions I should not be in the humor to grant. I took my resolution at the moment [being a swift decisive creature]; and received her like any other Lady that might have come to me. Her visit was not long. The conversation turned altogether upon praises of the King [my Brother]. I found Madame de Belleisle very different from the notion I had formed of her. You could see she had moved in high company (SENTAIT SON MONDE); but her air appeared to me that of a waiting-maid (SOUBRETTE), and her manners insignificant." Let Madame take that.
"Monseigneur himself," when our equipages had come, "waited on me several times,"—Monseigueur the grand Marechal de Belleisle, among the other Principalities and Lordships: but of this lean man in black (who has done such famous things, and will have to do the Retreat of Prag within year and day), there is not a word farther said. Old Seckendorf too is here; "Reich's-Governor of Philipsburg;" very ill with Austria, no wonder; and striving to be well with the new Kaiser. Doubtless old Seckendorf made his visit too (being of Baireuth kin withal), and snuffled his respects: much unworthy of mention; not lovely to Wilhelmina. Prince of Orange, hunchbacked, but sprightly and much the Prince, bore me faithful company all the Coronation time; nor was George of Hessen-Cassel wanting, good fat man.
Of the Coronation itself, though it was truly grand, and even of an Oriental splendor,[Anemonen, ubi supra.] I will say nothing. The poor Kaiser could not enjoy it much. He was dying of gout and gravel, and could scarcely stand on his feet. Poor gentleman; and the French are driven dismally out of Linz; and the Austrians are spreading like a lava-flood or general conflagration over Baiern—Demon Mentzel, whom they call Colonel Mentzel, he (if we knew it) is in Munchen itself, just as we are getting crowned here! And unless King Friedrich, who is falling into Mahren, in the flank of them, call back this Infernal Chase a little, what hope is there in those parts!—The poor Kaiser, oftenest in his bed, is courting all manner of German Princes,—consulting with Seckendorfs, with cunning old stagers. He has managed to lead my Margraf into a foolish bargain, about raising men for him. Which bargain I, on fairly getting sight of it, persuade my Margraf to back out of; and, in the end, he does so. Meanwhile, it detains us some time longer in Frankfurt, which is still full of Principalities, busy with visitings and ceremonials.
Among other things, by way of forwarding that Bargain I was so averse to, our Official People had settled that I could not well go without having seen the Empress, after her crowning. Foolish people; entangling me in new intricacies! For if she is a Kaiser's Daughter and Kaiser's Spouse, am not I somewhat too? "How a King's Daughter and an Empress are to meet, was probably never settled by example: what number of steps down stairs does she come? The arm-chair (FAUTEUIL), is that to be denied me?" And numerous other questions. The official people, Baireuthers especially, are in despair; and, in fact, there were scenes. But I held firm; and the Berlin ambassadors tempering, a medium was struck: steps of stairs, to the due number, are conceded me; arm-chair no, but the Empress to "take a very small arm-chair," and I to have a big common chair (GRAND DOSSIER). So we meet, and I have sight of this Princess, next day.
In her place, I confess I would have invented all manner of etiquettes, or any sort of contrivance, to save myself from showing face. "Heavens! The Empress is below middle size, and so corpulent (PUISSANTE), she looks like a ball; she is ugly to the utmost (LAIDE AU POSSIBLE), and without air or grace." Kaiser Joseph's youngest Daughter,—the gods, it seems, have not been kind to her in figure or feature! And her mind corresponds to her appearance: she is bigoted to excess; passes her nights and days in her oratory, with mere rosaries and gaunt superstitious platitudes of that nature; a dark fat dreary little Empress. "She was all in a tremble in receiving me; and had so discountenanced an air, she could n't speak a word. We took seats. After a little silence, I began the conversation, in French. She answered me in her Austrian jargon, That she did not well understand that language, and begged I would speak to her in German. Our conversation was not long. Her Austrian dialect and my Lower-Saxon are so different that, till you have practised, you are not mutually intelligible in them. Accordingly we were not. A by-stander would have split with laughing at the Babel we made of it; each catching only a word here and there, and guessing the rest. This Princess was so tied to her etiquette, she would have reckoned it a crime against the Reich to speak to me in a foreign language; for she knew French well enough.
"The Kaiser was to have been of this visit; but he had fallen so ill, he was considered even in danger of his life. Poor Prince, what a lot had he achieved for himself!" reflects Wilhelmina, as we often do. He was soft, humane, affable; had the gift of captivating hearts. Not without talent either; but then of an ambition far disproportionate to it. "Would have shone in the second rank, but in the first went sorrowfully eclipsed," as they say! He could not be a great man, nor had about him any one that could; and he needed now to be so. This is the service a Belleisle can do; inflating a poor man to Kaisership, beyond his natural size! Crowned Kaiser, and Mentzel just entering his Munchen the while; a Kaiser bedrid, stranded; lying ill there of gout and gravel, with the Demon Mentzels eating him:—well may his poor little bullet of a Kaiserinn pray for him night and day, if that will avail!—
THE DUCHESS DOWAGER OF WURTEMBERG, RETURNING FROM BERLIN FAVORS US WITH
I am sorry to say this is almost the last scene we shall get out of Wilhelmina. She returns to Baireuth; breaks there conclusively that unwise Frankfurt bargain; receives by and by (after several months, when much has come and gone in the world) the returning Duchess of Wurtemberg, effulgent Dowager "spoken of only as a Lais:" and has other adventures, alluded to up and down, but not put in record by herself any farther.—Sorrowfully let us hear Wilhelmina yet a little, on this Lais Duchess, who will concern us somewhat. Dowager, much too effulgent, of the late Karl Alexander, a Reichs-Feldmarschall (or FOURTH-PART of one, if readers could remember) and Duke of Wurtemberg,—whom we once dined with at Prag, in old Friedrich-Wilhelm and Prince-Eugene times:—
"This Princess, very famous on the bad side, had been at Berlin to see her three Boys settled there, whose education she [and the STANDE of Wurtemberg, she being Regent] had committed to the King. These Princes had been with us on their road thither, just before their Mamma last time. The Eldest, age fourteen, had gone quite agog (S'ETOIT AMOURACHE) about my little Girl, age only nine; and had greatly diverted us by his little gallantries [mark that, with an Alas!]. The Duchess, following somewhat at leisure, had missed the King that time; who was gone for Mahren, January 18th. ... I found this Princess wearing pretty well. Her features are beautiful, but her complexion is faded and very yellow. Her voice is so high and screechy, it cuts your ears; she does not want for wit, and expresses herself well. Her manners are engaging for those whom she wishes to gain; and with men are very free. Her way of thinking and acting offers a strange contrast of pride and meanness. Her gallantries had brought her into such repute that I had no pleasure in her visits." [Wilhelmina, ii. 335.] No pleasure; though she often came; and her Eldest Prince, and my little Girl—Well, who knows!
Besides her three Boys (one of whom, as Reigning Duke, will become notorious enough to Wilhelmina and mankind), the Lais Duchess has left at Berlin—at least, I guess she has now left him, in exchange perhaps for some other—a certain very gallant, vagabond young Marquis d'Argens, "from Constantinople" last; originally from the Provence countries; extremely dissolute creature, still young (whom Papa has had to disinherit), but full of good-humor, of gesticulative loyal talk, and frothy speculation of an Anti-Jesuit turn (has written many frothy Books, too, in that strain, which are now forgotten): who became a very great favorite with Friedrich, and will be much mentioned in subsequent times.
"In the end of July," continues Wilhelmina, "we went to Stouccard [Stuttgard, capital of Wurtemberg, O beautiful glib tongue!], whither the Duchess had invited us: but—" And there we are on blank paper; our dear Wilhelmina has ceased speaking to us: her MEMOIRS end; and oblivious silence wraps the remainder!—
Concerning this effulgent Dowager of Wurtemberg, and her late ways at Berlin, here, from Bielfeld, is another snatch, which we will excerpt, under the usual conditions:
"BERLIN, FEBRUARY, 1742 [real date of all that is not fabulous in Bielfeld, who chaotically dates it "6th December" of that Year]. ... A day or two after this [no matter WHAT] I went to the German Play, the only spectacle which is yet fairly afoot in Berlin. In passing in, I noticed the Duchess Dowager of Wurtemberg, who had arrived, during my absence, with a numerous and brilliant suite, as well to salute the King and the Queens [King off, on his Moravian Business, before she came], and to unite herself more intimately with our Court, as to see the Three Princes her Children settled in their new place, where, by consent of the States of Wurtemberg, they are to be educated henceforth.
"As I had not yet had myself presented to the Duchess, I did not presume to approach too near, and passed up into the Theatre. But she noticed me in the side-scenes; asked who I was [such a handsome fashionable fellow], and sent me order to come immediately and pay my respects. To be sure, I did so; was most graciously received; and, of course, called early next day at her Palace. Her Grand-Chamberlain had appointed me the hour of noon. He now introduced me accordingly: but what was my surprise to find the Princess in bed; in a negligee all new from the laundress, and the gallantest that art could imagine! On a table, ready to her hand, at the DOSSIER or bed-bead, stood a little Basin silver-gilt, filled with Holy Water: the rest was decorated with extremely precious Relics, with a Crucifix, and a Rosary of rock-crystal. Her dress, the cushions, quilt, all was of Marseilles stuff, in the finest series of colors, garnished with superb lace. Her cap was of Alencon lace, knotted with a ribbon of green and gold. Figure to yourself, in this gallant deshabille, a charming Princess, who has all the wit, perfection of manner—and is still only thirty-seven, with a beauty that was once so brilliant! Round the celestial bed were courtiers, doctors, almoners, mostly in devotional postures; the three young Princes; and a Dame d'Atours, who seemed to look slightly ENNUYEE or bored." I had the honor to kiss her Serene Highness's hand, and to talk a great many peppered insipidities suitable to the occasion.
Dinner followed, more properly supper, with lights kindled: "Only I cannot dress, you know," her Highness had said; "I never do, except for the Queen-Mother's parties;"—and rang for her maids. So that you are led out to the Anteroom, and go grinning about, till a new and still more charming deshabille be completed, and her Most Serene Highness can receive you again: "Now Messieurs! Pshaw, one is always stupid, no ESPRIT at all except by candlelight!"—After which, such a dinner, unmatchable for elegance, for exquisite gastronomy, for Attic-Paphian brilliancy and charm! And indeed there followed hereupon, for weeks on weeks, a series of such unmatchable little dinners; chief parts, under that charming Presidency, being done by "Grand-Chamberlain Baron de" Something-or-other, "by your humble servant Bielfeld, M. Jordan, and a Marquis d'Argens, famous Provencal gentleman now in the suite of her Highness:" [Bielfeld, ii. 74-78.]—feasts of the Barmecide I much doubt, poor Bielfeld being in this Chapter very fantastic, MISDATEful to a mad extent; and otherwise, except as to general effect, worth little serious belief.
We shall meet this Paphian Dowager again (Crucifix and Myrtle joined): meet especially her D'Argens, and her Three little Princes more or less;—wherefore, mark slightly (besides the D'Argens as above):—
"1. The Eldest little Prince, Karl Eugen; made 'Reigning Duke' within three years hence [Mamma falling into trouble with the STANDE]: a man still gloomily famous in Germany [Poet Schiller's Duke of Wurtemberg], of inarticulate, extremely arbitrary turn,—married Wilhelmina's Daughter by and by [with horrible usage of her]; and otherwise gave Friedrich and the world cause to think of him.
"2. The Second little Prince, Friedrich Eugen, Prussian General of some mark, who will incidentally turn up again, He was afterwards Successor to the Dukedom [Karl Eugen dying childless]; and married his Daughter to Paul of Russia, from whom descend the Autocrats there to this day.
"3. Youngest little Prince, Ludwig Eugen, a respectable Prussian Officer, and later a French one: he is that 'Duc de Wirtemberg' who corresponds with Voltaire [inscrutable to readers, in most of the Editions]; and need not be mentioned farther." [See Michaelis, iii. 449; Preuss, i. 476; &c. &c.]
But enough of all this. It is time we were in Mahren, where the Expedition must be blazing well ahead, if things have gone as expected.
Chapter X. — FRIEDRICH DOES HIS MORAVIAN EXPEDITION WHICH PROVES A MERE
While these Coronation splendors had been going on, Friedrich, in the Moravian regions, was making experiences of a rather painful kind; his Expedition prospering there far otherwise than he had expected. This winter Expedition to Mahren was one of the first Friedrich had ever undertaken on the Joint-stock Principle; and it proved of a kind rather to disgust him with that method in affairs of war.
A deeply disappointing Expedition. The country hereabouts was in bad posture of defence; nothing between us and Vienna itself, in a manner. Rushing briskly forward, living on the country where needful, on that Iglau Magazine, on one's own Sechelles resources; rushing on, with the Saxons, with the French, emulous on the right hand and the left, a Captain like Friedrich might have gone far; Vienna itself—who knows!—not yet quite beyond the reach of him. Here was a way to check Khevenhuller in his Bavarian Operations, and whirl him back, double-quick, for another object nearer home!—But, alas, neither the Saxons nor the French would rush on, in the least emulous. The Saxons dragged heavily arear; the French Detachment (a poor 5,000 under Polastron, all that a captious Broglio could be persuaded to grant) would not rush at all, but paused on the very frontier of Moravia, Broglio so ordering, and there hung supine, or indeed went home.
Friedrich remonstrated, argued, turned back to encourage; but it was in vain. The Saxon Bastard Princes "lived for days in any Schloss they found comfortable;" complaining always that there was no victual for their Troops; that the Prussians, always ahead, had eaten the country. No end to haggling; and, except on Friedrich's part, no hearty beginning to real business. "If you wish at all to be 'King of Moravia,' what is this!" thinks Friedrich justly. Broglio, too, was unmanageable,—piqued that Valori, not Broglio, had started the thing;—showed himself captious, dark, hysterically effervescent, now over-cautious, and again capable of rushing blindly headlong.
To Broglio the fact at Linz, which everybody saw to be momentous, was overwhelming. Magnanimous Segur, and his Linz "all wedged with beams," what a road have they gone! Said so valiantly they would make defence; and did it, scarcely for four days: January 24th; before this Expedition could begin! True, M. le Marechal, too true:—and is that a reason for hanging back in this Mahren business; or for pushing on in it, double-quick, with all one's strength? "But our Conquests on the Donau," thinks Broglio, "what will become of them,—and of us!" To Broglio, justly apprehensive about his own posture at Prag and on the Donau, there never was such a chance of at once raking back all Austrians homewards, post-haste out of those countries. But Broglio could by no means see it so,—headstrong, blusterous, over-cautious and hysterically headlong old gentleman; whose conduct at Prag here brought Strasburg vividly to Friedrich's memory. Upon which, as upon the ghost of Broglio's Breeches, Valori had to hear "incessant sarcasms" at this time.
In a word, from February 5th, when Friedrich, according to bargain, rendezvoused his Prussians at Wischau to begin this Expedition, till April 5th, when he re-rendezvoused them (at the same Wischau, as chanced) for the purpose of ending it and going home,—Friedrich, wrestling his utmost with Human Stupidity, "MIT DER DUMMHEIT [as Schiller sonorously says], against which the very gods are unvictorious," had probably two of the most provoking months of his Life, or of this First Silesian War, which was fruitful in such to him. For the common cause he accomplished nearly nothing by this Moravian Expedition. But, to his own mind, it was rich in experiences, as to the Joint-Stock Principle, as to the Partners he now had. And it doubtless quickened his steps towards getting personally out of this imbroglio of big French-German Wars,—home to Berlin, with Peace and Silesia in his pocket,—which had all along been the goal of his endeavors. As a feat of war it is by no means worth detailing, in this place,—though succinct Stille, and bulkier German Books give lucid account, should anybody chance to be curious. [Stille, Campaigns of the King of Prussia, i. 1-55; Helden-Geschichte, ii. 548-611; OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 110-114; Orlich, ii.; &c. &c.] Only under the other aspect, as Friedrich's experience of Partnership, and especially of his now Partners, are present readers concerned to have, in brief form, some intelligible notion of it.
IGLAU IS GOT, BUT NOT THE MAGAZINE AT IGLAU.
Friedrich was punctual at Wischau; Head-quarters there (midway between Olmutz and Brunn), Prussians all assembled, 5th February, 1742. Wischau is some eighty miles EAST or inward of Iglau; the French and Saxons are to meet us about Trebitsch, a couple of marches from that Teutschbrod of theirs, and well within one march of Iglau, on our route thither. The French and Saxons are at Trebitsch, accordingly; but their minds and wills seem to be far elsewhere. Rutowsky and the Chevalier de Saxe command the Saxons (20,000 strong on paper, 16,000 in reality); Comte de Polastron the French, who are 5,000, all Horse. Along with whom, professedly as French Volunteer, has come the Comte de Saxe, capricious Maurice (Marechal de Saxe that will be), who has always viewed this Expedition with disfavor. Excellency Valori is with the French Detachment, or rather poor Valori is everywhere; running about, from quarter to quarter, sometimes to Prag itself; assiduous to heal rents everywhere; clapping cement into manifold cracks, from day to day. Through Valori we get some interesting glimpses into the secret humors and manoeuvres of Comte Maurice. It is known otherwise Comte Maurice was no friend to Belleisle, but looked for his promotion from the opposite or Noailles party, in the French Court: at present, as Valori perceives, he has got the ear of Broglio, and put much sad stuff into the loud foolish mind of him.
To these Saxon gentlemen, being Bastard-Royal and important to conciliate, Friedrich has in a high-flown way assigned the Schloss of Budischau for quarters, an excellent superbly magnificent mansion in the neighborhood of Trebitsch, "nothing like it to be seen except in theatres, on the Drop-scene of The Enchanted Island;" [Stille, Campaigns, p. 14.] where they make themselves so comfortable, says Friedrich, there is no getting them roused to do anything for three days to come. And yet the work is urgent, and plenty of it. "Iglau, first of all," urges Friedrich, "where the Austrians, 10,000 or so, under Prince Lobkowitz, have posted themselves [right flank of that long straggle of Winter Cantonments, which goes leftwards to Budweis and farther], and made Magazines: possession of Iglau is the foundation-stone of our affairs. And if we would have Iglau WITH the Magazines and not without, surely there is not a moment to be wasted!" In vain; the Saxon Bastard Princes feel themselves very comfortable. It was Sunday the 11th of February, when our junction with them was completed: and, instead of next morning early, it is Wednesday afternoon before Prince Dietrich of Anhalt-Dessau, with the Saxon and French party roused to join his Prussians and him, can at last take the road for Iglau. Prince Dietrich makes now the reverse of delay; marches all night, "bivouacs in woods near Iglau," warming himself at stick-fires till the day break; takes Iglau by merely marching into it and scattering 2,000 Pandours, so soon as day has broken; but finds the Magazines not there. Lobkowitz carted off what he could, then burnt "Seventeen Barns yesterday;" and is himself off towards Budweis Head-quarters and the Bohemian bogs again. This comes of lodging Saxon royal gentlemen too well.
THE SAXONS THINK IGLAU ENOUGH; THE FRENCH GO HOME.
Nay, Iglau taken, the affair grows worse than ever. Our Saxons now declare that they understand their orders to be completed; that their Court did not mean them to march farther, but only to hold by Iglau, a solid footing in Moravia, which will suffice for the present. Fancy Friedrich; fancy Valori, and the cracks he will have to fill! Friedrich, in astonishment and indignation, sends a messenger to Dresden: "Would the Polish Majesty BE 'King of Moravia,' then, or not be?" Remonstrances at Budischau rise higher and higher; Valori, to prevent total explosion, flies over once, in the dead of the night, to deal with Rutowsky and Brothers. Rutowsky himself seems partly persuadable, though dreadfully ill of rheumatism. They rouse Comte Maurice; and Valori, by this Comte's caprices, is driven out of patience. "He talked with a flippant sophistry, almost with an insolence" says Valori; "nay, at last, he made me a gesture in speaking,"—what gesture, thumb to nose, or what, the shuddering imagination dare not guess! But Valori, nettled to the quick, "repeated it," and otherwise gave him as good as he brought. "He ended by a gesture which displeased me"—"and went to bed." [Valori, i. 148, 149.] This is the night of February 18th; third night after Iglau was had, and the Magazines in it gone to ashes. Which the Saxons think is conquest enough.
Poor Polish Majesty, poor Karl Albert, above all, now "Kaiser Karl VII.," with nothing but those French for breath to his nostrils! With his fine French Army of the Oriflamme, Karl Albert should have pushed along last Autumn; and not merely "read the Paper" which Friedrich sent him to that effect, "and then laid it aside." They will never have another chance, his French and he,—unless we call this again a chance; which they are again squandering! Linz went by capitulation; January 24th, the very day of one's "Election" as they called it: and ever since that day of Linz, the series of disasters has continued rapid and uniform in those parts. Linz gone, the rest of the French posts did not even wait to capitulate; but crackled all off, they and our Conquests on the Donau, like a train of gunpowder, and left the ground bare. And General von Barenklau (BEAR'S-CLAW), with the hideous fellow called Mentzel, Colonel of Pandours, they have broken through into Bavaria itself, from the Tyrol; climbing by Berchtesgaden and the wild Salzburg Mountains, regardless of Winter, and of poor Bavarian militia-folk;—and have taken Munchen, one's very Capital, one's very House and Home!—Poor Karl Albert,—and, what is again remarkable, it was the very day while he was getting "crowned" at Frankfurt, "with Oriental pomp," that Mentzel was about entering Munchen with his Pandours. [Coronation was February 12th; Capitulation to Mentzel, "Munchen, February 13th," is in Guerre de Boheme, ii. 56-59.] And this poor Archduke of the Austrian, King of Bohemia, Kaiser of the Holy Romish Reich Teutsch by Nation, is becoming Titular merely, and owns next to nothing in these extensive Sovereignties. Judge if there is not call for despatch on all sides!—The Polish Majesty sent instant rather angry order to his Saxons, "Forward, with you; what else! We would be King in Mahren!"
The Saxons then have to march forward; but we can fancy with what a will. Rutowsky flings up his command on this Order (let us hope, from rheumatism partly), and goes home; leaving the Chevalier de Saxe to preside in room of him. As for Polastron, he produces Order from Broglio, "Iglau got, return straightway;" must and will cross over into Bohemia again; and does. Nay, the Comte de Saxe had, privately in his pocket, a Commission to supersede Polastron, and take command himself, should Polastron make difficulties about turning back. Poor Polastron made no difficulties: Maurice and he vanish accordingly from this Adventure, and only the unwilling Saxons remain with Friedrich. Poor Polastron ("a poor weak creature," says Friedrich, "fitter for his breviary than anything else") fell sick, from the hardships of campaigning; and soon died, in those Bohemian parts. Maurice is heard of, some weeks hence, besieging Eger;—very handsomely capturing Eger: [19th April, 1742 (Guerre de Boheme, ii. 78-65).]—on which service Broglio had ordered him after his return. The former Commandant of the Siege, not very progressive, had just died; and Broglio, with reason (all the more for his late Moravian procedures) was passionate to have done there. One of the first auspicious exploits of Maurice, that of Eger; which paved the way to his French fortunes, and more or less sublime glories, in this War. Friedrich recognizes his ingenuities, impetuosities, and superior talent in war; wrote high-flown Letters of praises, now and then, in years coming; but, we may guess, would hardly wish to meet Maurice in the way of joint-stock business again.
FRIEDRICH SUBMERGES THE MORAVIAN COUNTRIES; BUT CANNOT BRUNN, WHICH IS
THE INDISPENSABLE POINT.
February 19th, these sad Iglau matters once settled, Friedrich, followed by the Saxons, plunges forward into Moravia; spreads himself over the country, levying heavy contributions, with strict discipline nevertheless; intent to get hold of Brunn and its Spielberg, if he could. Brunn is the strong place of Moravia; has a garrison of 6 or 7,000; still better, has the valiant Roth, whom we knew in Neisse once, for Commandant: Brunn will not be had gratis.
Schwerin, with a Detachment of 6,000 horse and foot, Posadowsky, Ziethen, Schmettau Junior commanding under him, has dashed along far in the van; towards Upper Austria, through the Town of Horn, towards Vienna itself; levying, he also, heavy contributions,—with a hand of iron, and not much of a glove on it, as we judge. There is a grim enough Proclamation (in the name of a "frightfully injured Kaiser," as well as Kaiser's Ally), still extant, bearing Schwerin's signature, and the date "STEIN, 26th Feb. 1742." [In Helden-Geschichte, ii. 556.] Stein is on the Donau, a mile or two from Krems, and twice as far from Mautern, where the now Kaiser was in Autumn last. Forty and odd miles short of Vienna: this proved the Pisgah of Schwerin in that direction, as it had done of Karl Albert. Ziethen, with his Hussars coursed some 20 miles farther, on the Vienna Highway; and got the length of Stockerau; a small Town, notable slightly, ever since, as the Prussian NON-PLUS-ULTRA in that line.
Meanwhile, Prince Lobkowitz is rallying; has quitted Budweis and the Bohemian Bogs, for some check of these insolences. Lobkowitz, rallying to himself what Vienna force there is, comes, now in good strength, to Waidhofen (rearward of Horn, far rearward of Stein and Stockerau), so that Ziethen and Schwerin have to draw homeward again. Lobkowitz fortifies himself in Waidhofen; gathers Magazines there, as if towards weightier enterprises. For indeed much is rallying, in a dangerous manner; and Moravia is now far other than when Friedrich planned this Expedition. And at Vienna, 25th February last, there was held Secret Council, and (much to Robinson's regret) a quite high Resolution come to,—which Friedrich gets to know of, and does not forget again.
THE SAXONS HAVE NO CANNON FOR BRUNN, CANNOT AFFORD ANY; THERE IS A HIGH
RESOLUTION TAKEN AT VIENNA (February 25th): FRIEDRICH QUITS THE MORAVIAN ENTERPRISE.
Friedrich keeps his Head-quarter, all this while, closer and closer upon Brunn. First, chiefly at a Town called Znaim, on the River Taya; many-branched river, draining all those Northwestern parts; which sends its widening waters down to Presburg,—latterly in junction with those of the Morawa from North, which washes Olmutz, drains the Northern and Eastern parts, and gives the Country its name of "Moravia." Brunn lies northeast of Friedrich, while in Znaim, some fifty miles; the Saxon head-quarter is at Kromau, midway towards that City. After Znaim, he shifts inward, to Selowitz, still in the same Taya Valley, but much nearer Brunn; and there continues. [At Znaim, 19th February-9th March; at Selowitz, 13th March-5th April (Rodenbeck, i. 65).]
Striving hard for Brunn; striving hard, under difficulties, for so many things distant and near; we may fancy him busy enough;—and are surprised at the fractions of light Jordan Correspondence which he still finds time for. Pretty bits of Letters, in prose and doggerel, from and to those Moravian Villages; Jordan, "twice a week," bearing the main weight; Friedrich, oftener than one could hope, flinging some word of answer,—very intent on Berlin gossip, we can notice. "Vattel is still here, your Majesty," [OEuvres, xvii. 163, &c.] insinuates Jordan:—young Vattel, afterwards of the DROIT DES GENS, whom his Majesty might have kept, but did not.—What more of your D'Argens, then; anything in your D'Argens? Friedrich will ask. "For certain, D'Argens is full of ESPRIT," answers Jordan, in a dexterous way; and How the Effulgent of Wurtemberg" has quarrelled outright with her D'Argens, and will not eat off silver (D'ARGENT), lest she have to name him by accident!"—with other gossip, in a fine brief airy form, at which Jordan excels. Cheering the rare leisure hour, in one's Tent at Selowitz, Pohrlitz, Irrlitz, far away!—There are also orders about CICERO and Books. Of Business for most part, or of private feelings, nothing: Berlin gossip, and Books for one's reading, are the staple. But to return.
Out from Head-quarters, diligent operations shoot forth, far enough, along those Taya-Morawa Valleys, where Hungarian "Insurgents" are beginning to be dangerous. South of Brunn, all round Brunn, are diligent operations, frequent skirmishings, constant strict levyings of contributions. The saving operation, Friedrich well sees, would be to get hold of Brunn: but, unluckily, How? Vigilant Roth scorns all summoning; sallies continually in a dangerous manner; and at length, when closer pressed, burns all the Villages round him: "we counted as many as sixteen villages laid in ashes," says Friedrich. Here is small comfort of outlook.
And then the Saxons, at Kromau or wherever they may be: no end of trouble and vexation with these Saxons. Their quarters are not fairly allotted, they say; we make exchange of quarters, without improvement noticeable. "One fine day, on some slight alarm, they came rushing over to us, all in panic; ruined, merely by Pandour noises, had not we marched them back, and reinstated them." Friedrich sends to Silesia for reinforcements of his own, which he can depend upon. Sends to Silesia, to Glatz and the Young Dessauer;—nay to Brandenburg and the Old Dessauer? ultimately. Finding Roth would not yield, he has sent to Dresden for Siege-Artillery: Polish Majesty there, titular "King of Moravia," answers that he cannot meet the expense of carriage. "He had just purchased a green diamond which would have carried them thither and back again:" What can be done with such a man?—And by this time, early in March, Hungarian "MORIAMUR PRO REGE" begins to show itself. Clouds of Hungarian Insurgents, of the Tolpatch, Pandour sort, mount over the Carpathians on us, all round the east, from south to north; and threaten to penetrate Silesia itself. So that we have to sweep laboriously the Morawa-Taya Valleys; and undertake first one and then another outroad, or sharp swift sally, against those troublesome barbarians.
And more serious still, Prince Karl and the regular Army, quickened by such Khevenhuller-Barenklau successes in the Donau Countries, are beginning to stir. Prince Karl, returning from Vienna and its consultations, took command, 4th March; [Helden-Geschichte, ii. 557.] with whom has come old Graf von Konigseck, an experienced head to advise with; Prince Karl is in motion, skirting us southward, about Waidhofen, where Lobkowitz lay waiting him with Magazines ready. Rumor says, the force in those parts is already 40,000, with more daily coming in. Friedrich has of his own, apart from the Saxons, some 24,000. Prince Karl, with so many heavy troops, and with unlimited supply of light, is very capable of doing mischief: he has orders (and Friedrich now knows of it) To go in upon us;—such their decision in Secret Council at Vienna, on the 25th of February last, That he must go and fight us:—"Better we met him with fewer thrums on our hands!" thinks Friedrich; and beckons the Old Dessauer out of Brandenburg withal. "Swift, your Serenity; hitherward with 20,000!" Which the Old Dessauer (having 30,000 to pick from, late Camp-of-Gottin people) at once sets about. Will be a security, in any event! [Orlich, i. 221: Date of the Order, "13th March, 1742."] To finish with Brunn, Friedrich has sent for Siege-Artillery of his own; he urges Chevalier de Saxe to close with him round Brunn, and batter it energetically into swift surrender. Is it not the one thing needful? Chevalier de Saxe admits, half promises; does not perform. Being again urged, Why have not you performed? he answers, "Alas, your Majesty, here are Orders for me to join Marshal Broglio at Prag, and retire altogether out of this!"
"Altogether out of it," thinks Friedrich to himself: "may all the Powers be thanked! Then I too, without disgrace, can go altogether out of it;—and it shall be a sharp eye that sees me in joint-stock with you again, M. le Chevalier." Friedrich has written in his HISTORY, and Valori used to hear him often say in words, Never were tidings welcomer than these, that the Saxons were about to desert him in this manner. Go: and may all the Devils—But we will not fall into profane swearing. It is proper to get out of this Enterprise at one's best speed, and never get into the like of it again! Friedrich (on this strange Saxon revelation, 30th March) takes instant order for assembling at Wischau again, for departing towards Olmutz; thence homewards, with deliberate celerity, by the Landskron mountain-country, Tribau, Zwittau, Leutomischl, and the way he came. He has countermanded his Silesian reinforcements; these and the rest shall rendezvous at Chrudim in Bohemia; whitherwards the two Dessauers are bound:—in Brunn, with its wrecked environs, famed Spielberg looking down from its conical height, and sixteen villages in ashes, Roth shall do his own way henceforth.
The Saxons pushed straight homewards; did not "rejoin Broglio," rejoin anybody,—had, in fact, done with this First Silesian War, as it proved; and were ready for the OPPOSITE side, on a Second falling out! Their march, this time, was long and harassing,—sad bloody passage in it, from Pandours and hostile Village-people, almost at starting, "four Companies of our Rear-guard cut down to nine men; Village burnt, and Villagers exterminated (SIC), by the rescuing party." [Details in Helden-Geschichte, ii. 606; in &c. &c.] They arrived at Leitmeritz and their own Border, "hardly above 8,000 effective." Naturally, in a highly indignant humor; and much disposed to blame somebody. To the poor Polish NON-Moravian Majesty, enlightened by his Bruhls and Staff-Officers, it became a fixed truth that the blame was all Friedrich's,—"starving us, marching us about!"—that Friedrich's conduct to us was abominable, and deserved fixed resentment. Which accordingly it got, from the simple Polish Majesty, otherwise a good-natured creature;—got, and kept. To Friedrich's very great astonishment, and to his considerable disadvantage, long after!
Friedrich's look, when Valori met him again coming home from this Moravian Futility, was "FAROUCHE," fierce and dark; his laugh bitter, sardonic; harsh mockery, contempt and suppressed rage, looking through all he said. A proud young King, getting instructed in several things, by the stripes of experience. Look in that young Portrait by Pesne, the full cheeks, and fine mouth capable of truculence withal, the brow not unused to knit itself, and the eyes flashing out in sharp diligent inspection, of a somewhat commanding nature. We can fancy the face very impressive upon Valori in these circumstances. Poor Valori has had dreadful work; running to and fro, with his equipages breaking, his servants falling all sick, his invaluable D'Arget (Valori's chief Secretary, whom mark) quite disabled; and Valori's troubles are not done. He has been to Prag lately; is returning futile, as usual. Driving through the Mountains to rejoin Friedrich, he meets the Prussians in retreat; learns that the Pandours, extremely voracious, are ahead; that he had better turn, and wait for his Majesty about Chrudim in the Elbe region, upon highways, and within reach of Prag.
Friedrich, on the 5th of April, is in full march out of the Moravian Countries,—which are now getting submerged in deluges of Pandours; towards the above-said Chrudim, whereabouts his Magazines lie, where privately he intends to wait for Prince Karl, and that Vienna Order of the 25th February, with hands clearer of thrums. The march goes in proper columns, dislocations; Prince Dietrich, on the right, with a separate Corps, bent else-whither than to Chrudim, keeps off the Pandours. A march laborious, mountainous, on roads of such quality; but, except baggage-difficulties and the like, nothing material going wrong. "On the 13th [April], we marched to Zwittau, over the Mountain of Schonhengst. The passage over this Mountain is very steep; but not so impracticable as it had been represented; because the cannon and wagons can be drawn round the sides of it." [Stille, p. 86.] Yes;—and readers may (in fancy) look about them from the top; for we shall go this road again, sixteen years hence; hardly in happier circumstances!
Friedrich gets to Chrudim, April 17th; there meets the Young Dessauer with his forces: by and by the Old Dessauer, too, comes to an Interview there (of which shortly). The Old Dessauer—his 20,000 not with him, at the moment, but resting some way behind, till he return—is to go eastward with part of them; eastward, Troppau-Jablunka way, and drive those Pandour Insurgencies to their own side of the Mountains: a job Old Leopold likes better than that of the Gottin Camp of last year. Other part of the 20,000 is to reinforce Young Leopold and the King, and go into cantonments and "refreshment-quarters" here at Chrudim. Here, living on Bohemia, with Silesia at their back, shall the Troops repose a little; and be ready for Prince Karl, if he will come on. That is what Friedrich looks to, as the main Consolation left.
In Moravia, now overrun with Pandours, precursors of Prince Karl, he has left Prince Dietrich of Anhalt, able still to maintain himself, with Olmutz as Head-quarters, for a calculated term of days: Dietrich is, with all diligence, to collect Magazines for that Jablunka-Troppau Service, and march thither to his Father with the same (cutting his way through those Pandour swarms); and leaving Mahren as bare as possible, for Prince Karl's behoof. All which Prince Dietrich does, in a gallant, soldier-like, prudent and valiant manner,—with details of danger well fronted, of prompt dexterity, of difficulty overcome; which might be interesting to soldier students, if there were among us any such species; but cannot be dwelt upon here. It is a march of 60 or 70 miles (northeast, not northwest as Friedrich's had been), through continual Pandours, perils and difficulties:—met in the due way by Prince Dietrich, whose toils and valors had been of distinguished quality in this Moravian Business. Take one example, not of very serious nature (in the present March to Troppau):—
"OLISCHAU, EVENING OF APRIL 21st. Just as we were getting into Olischau [still only in the environs of Olmutz], the Vanguard of Prince Karl's Army appeared on the Heights. It did not attack; but retired, Olmutz way, for the night. Prince Dietrich, not doubting but it would return next day, made the necessary preparations overnight. Nothing of it returned next day; Prince Dietrich, therefore, in the night of April 22d, pushed forward his sick-wagons, meal-wagons, heavy baggage, peaceably to Sternberg; and, at dawn on the morrow, followed with his army, Cavalry ahead, Infantry to rear;" nothing whatever happening,—unless this be a kind of thing:—"Our Infantry had scarcely got the last bridge broken down after passing it, when the roofs of Olischau seemed as it were to blow up; the Inhabitants simultaneously seizing that moment, and firing, with violent diligence, a prodigious number of shot at us,—no one of which, owing to their hurry and the distance, took any effect;" [Stille, p. 50.] but only testified what their valedictory humor was.
Or again—(Place, this time, is UNGARISCH-BROD, near Goding on the Moravian-Hungarian Frontier, date MARCH 13th; one of those swift Outroads, against Insurgents or "Hungarian Militias" threatening to gather):—... "Godinq on our Moravian side of the Border, and then Skalitz on their Hungarian, being thus finished, we make for Ungarisch-Brod," the next nucleus of Insurgency. And there is the following minute phenomenon,—fit for a picturesque human memory: "As this, from Skalitz to Ungarisch-Brod, is a long march, and the roads were almost impassable, Prince Dietrich with his Corps did not arrive till after dark. So that, having sufficiently blocked the place with parties of horse and foot, he had, in spite of thick-falling snow, to wait under the open sky for daylight. In which circumstances, all that were not on sentry lay down on their arms;" slept heartily, we hope; "and there was half an ell of snow on them, when day broke." [BERICHT VON DER UNTERNEHMUNG DES &c. (in Seyfarth, Beylage, i. p. 508).] When day broke, and they shook themselves to their feet again,—to the astonishment of Ungarisch-Brod!...
There had been fine passages of arms, throughout, in this Business, round Brunn, in the March home, and elsewhere; and Friedrich is well contented with the conduct of his men and generals,—and dwells afterwards with evident satisfaction on some of the feats they did. [For instance, TRUCHSESS VON WALDBURG'S fine bit of Spartanism (14th March, at Lesch, near Brunn, near AUSTERLITZ withal), which was much celebrated; King himself, from Selowitz, heard the cannonading (Seyfarth, Beylage, i. 518-520). Selchow's feat (ib. 521). Fouquet's (this is the CAPTAIN Fonquet, with "MY two candles, Sir," of the old Custrin-Prison time; who is dear to Friedrich ever since, and to the end): "Account of Fouquet's Grenadier Battalion, to and at Fulnek, January-April, 1742 (is in Feldzuge der Preussen, i. 176-184); especially his March, from Fulnek, homewards, part of Prince Dietrich's that way (in Seyfarth, Beylage, i. 510-515). With various others (in SEYFARTH and FELDZUGE): well worth reading till you understand them.] I am sorry to say, General Schwerin has taken pique at this preference of the Old Dessauer for the Troppau Anti-Pandour Operation; and is home in a huff: not to reappear in active life for some years to come. "The Little Marlborough,"—so they call him (for he was at Blenheim, and has abrupt hot ways),—will not participate in Prince Karl's consolatory Visit, then! Better so, thinks Friedrich perhaps (remembering Mollwitz): "This is the freak of an imitation ANGLAIS!" sneers he, in mentioning it to Jordan.—Friedrich's Synopsis of this Moravian Failure of an Expedition, in answer to Jordan's curiosity about it,—curiosity implied, not expressed by the modest Jordan, is characteristic:—
"Moravia, which is a very bad Country, could not be held, owing to want of victual; and the Town of Brunn could not be taken, because the Saxons had no cannon; and when you wish to enter a Town, you must first make a hole to get in by. Besides, the Country has been reduced to such a state: that the Enemy cannot subsist in it, and you will soon see him leave it. There is your little military lesson; I would not have you at a loss what to think of our Operations; or what to say, should other people talk of them in your presence!" [Friedrich to Jordan (OEuvres, xvii. 196), Chrudim, 5th May, 1742.]
"Winter Campaigns," says Friedrich elsewhere, much in earnest, and looking back on this thing long afterwards, "Winter Campaigns are bad, and should always be avoided, except in cases of necessity. The best Army in the world is liable to be ruined by them. I myself have made more Winter Campaigns than any General of this Age; but there were reasons. Thus:—
"In 1740," Winter Campaign which we saw, "there were hardly above two Austrian regiments in Silesia, at Karl VI.'s death. Being determined to assert my right to that Duchy, I had to try it at once, in winter, and carry the war, if possible, to the Banks of the Neisse. Had I waited till spring, we must have begun the war between Crossen and Glogau; what was now to be gained by one march would then have cost us three or four campaigns. A sufficient reason, this, for campaigning in winter.
"If I did not succeed in the Winter Campaign of 1742," Campaign which we have just got out of, "which I made with a design to deliver the Elector of Bavaria's Country, then overrun by Austria, it was because the French acted like fools, and the Saxons like traitors." Mark that deliberate opinion.
"In 1745-46," Winter Campaign which we expect to see, "the Austrians having got Silesia, it was necessary to drive them out. The Saxons and they had formed a design to enter my Hereditary Dominions, to destroy them with fire and sword. I was beforehand with them. I carried the War into the heart of Saxony." [MILITARY INSTRUCTIONS WRITTEN BY &c. "translated by an Officer" (London, 1762), pp. 171, 172. One of the best, or altogether the best, of Friedrich's excellent little Books written successively (thrice-PRIVATE, could they have been kept so) for the instruction of his Officers. Is to be found now in OEuvres de Frederic, xxviii. (that is vol. i. of the "OEuvres Militaires," which occupy 3 vols.) pp. 4 et seqq.]
Digesting many bitter-enough thoughts, Friedrich has cantoned about Chrudim; expecting, in grim composed humor, the one Consolation there can now be. February 25th, as readers well know, the Majesty of Hungary and her Aulic Council had decided, "One stroke more, O Excellency Robinson; one Battle more for our Silesian jewel of the crown! If beaten, we will then give it up; oh, not till then!" Robinson and Hyndford,—imagination may faintly represent their feelings, on the wilful downbreak of Klein-Schnellendorf; or what clamor and urgency the Majesty of Britain and they have been making ever since. But they could carry it no further: "One stroke more!"
At Chrudim, and to the right and the left of it, sprinkled about in long, very thin, elliptic shape (thirty or forty miles long, but capable of coalescing "within eight-and-forty hours"), there lies Friedrich: the Elbe River is behind him; beyond Elbe are his Magazines, at Konigsgratz, Nimburg, Podiebrad, Pardubitz; the Giant Mountains, and world of Bohemian Hills, closing-in the background, far off: that is his position, if readers will consult their Map. The consolatory Visit, he privately thinks, cannot be till the grass come; that is, not till June, two months hence; but there also he was a little mistaken.
Chapter XI. —NUSSLER IN NEISSE, WITH THE OLD DESSAUER AND WALRAVE.
The Old Dessauer with part of his 20,000,—aided by Boy Dietrich (KNABE, "Knave Dietrich," as one might fondly call him) and the Moravian Meal-wagons,—accomplished his Troppau-Jablunka Problem perfectly well; cleaning the Mountains, and keeping them clean, of that Pandour rabble, as he was the man to do. Nor would his Expedition require mentioning farther,—were it not for some slight passages of a purely Biographical character; first of all, for certain rubs which befell between his Majesty and him. For example, once, before that Interview at Chrudim, just on entering Bohemia thitherward, Old Leopold had seen good to alter his march-route; and—on better information, as he thought it, which proved to be worse—had taken a road not prescribed to him. Hearing of which, Friedrich reins him up into the right course, in this sharp manner:—
"CHRUDIM, 21st APRIL. I am greatly surprised that your Serenity, as an old Officer, does not more accurately follow my orders which I give you. If you were skilfuler than Caesar, and did not with strict accuracy observe my orders, all else were of no help to me. I hope this notice, once for all, will be enough; and that in time coming you will give no farther causes to complain." [King to Furst Leopold (Orlich, i. 219-221).]
Friedrich, on their meeting at Chrudim, was the same man as ever. But the old Son of Gunpowder stood taciturn, rigorous, in military business attitude, in the King's presence; had not forgotten the passage; and indeed he kept it in mind for long months after. And during all this Ober-Schlesien time, had the hidden grudge in his heart;—doing his day's work with scrupulous punctuality; all the more scrupulous, they say. Friedrich tried, privately through Leopold Junior, some slight touches of assuagement; but without effect; and left the Senior to Time, and to his own methods of cooling again.
Besides that of keeping down Hungarian Enterprises in the Mountains, Old Leopold had, as would appear, to take some general superintendence in Ober-Schlesien; and especially looks after the new Fortification-work going on in those parts. Which latter function brought him often to Neisse, and into contact with the ugly Walrave, Engineer-in-Chief there. A much older and much worthier acquaintance of ours, Herr Boundary-Commissioner Nussler, happens also to be in Neisse;—waiting for those Saxon Gentlemen; who are unpunctual to a degree, and never come (nor in fact ever will, if Nussler knew it). Luckily Nussler kept a Notebook; and Busching ultimately got it, condensed it, printed it;—whereby (what is rare, in these Dryasdust labyrinths, inane spectralities and cinder-mountains) there is sudden eyesight vouchsafed; and we discern veritably, far off, brought face to face for an instant, this and that! I must translate some passages,—still farther condensed:—
HOW NUSSLER HAPPENED TO BE IN NEISSE, MAY, 1742.
Nussler had been in this Country, off and on, almost since Christmas last; ready here, if the Saxons had been ready. As the Saxons were not ready, and always broke their appointment, Nussler had gone into the Mountains, to pass time usefully, and take preliminary view of the ground.
... "From Berlin, 20th December, 1741; by Breslau,"—where some pause and correspondence;—"thence on, Neisse way, as far as Lowen [so well known to Friedrich, that Mollwitz night!]. From Berlin to Lowen, Nussler had come in a carriage: but as there was much snow falling, he here took a couple of sledges; in which, along with his attendants, he proceeded some fifty miles, to Jauernik, a stage beyond Neisse, to the southwest. Jauernik is a little Town lying at the foot of a Hill, on the top of which is the Schloss of Johannisberg. Here it began to rain; and the getting up the Hill, on sledges, was a difficult matter. The DROST [Steward] of this Castle was a Nobleman from Brunswick-Luneburg; who, for the sake of a marriage and this Drostship for dowry, had changed from Protestant to Roman Catholic,"—poor soul! "His wife and he were very polite, and showed Nussler a great deal of kindness. Nussler remarked on the left side of this Johannisberg," western side a good few miles off, "the pass which leads from Glatz to Upper and Lower Schlesien,"—where the reader too has been, in that BAUMGARTEN SKIRMISH, if he could remember it,—"with a little Block-house in the bottom," and no doubt Prussian soldiers in it at the moment. "Nussler, intent always on the useful, did not institute picturesque reflections; but considered that his King would wish to have this Pass and Block-house; and determined privately, though it perhaps lay rather beyond the boundary-mark, that his Master must have it when the bargaining should come....
"On the homeward survey of these Borders, Nussler arrived at Steinau [little Village with Schloss, which we saw once, on the march to Mollwitz, and how accident of fire devoured it that night], and at sight of the burnt Schloss standing black there, he remembered with great emotion the Story of Grafin von Callenberg [dead since, with her pistols and brandy-bottle] and of the Grafin's Daughter, in which he had been concerned as a much-interested witness, in old times.... For the rest, the journey, amid ice and snow, was not only troublesome in the extreme, but he got a life-long gout by it [and no profit to speak of]; having sunk, once, on thin ice, sledge and he, into a half-frozen stream, and got wetted to the loins, splashing about in such cold manner,—happily not quite drowned." The indefatigable Nussler; working still, like a very artist, wherever bidden, on wages miraculously low.
The Saxon Gentlemen never came;—privately the Saxons were quite off from the Silesian bargain, and from Friedrich altogether;—so that this border survey of Nussler's came to nothing, on the present occasion. But it served him and Friedrich well, on a new boundary-settling, which did take effect, and which holds to this day. Nussler, during these operations, and vain waitings for the Saxons, had Neisse for head-quarters; and, going and returning, was much about Neisse; Walrave, Marwitz (Father of Wilhelmina's baggage Marwitz), Feldmarschall Schwerin (in earlier stages), and other high figures, being prominent in his circle there.
"The old Prince of Dessau came thither: for some days. [Busching, Beitrage, i. 347 (beginning of May as we guess, but there is no date given).] He was very gracious to Nussler, who had been at his Court, and known him before this. The Old Dessauer made use of Walrave's Plate; usually had Walrave, Nussler, and other principal figures to dinner. Walrave's Plate, every piece of it, was carefully marked with a RAVEN on the rim,—that being his crest ["Wall-raven" his name]: Old Dessauer, at sight of so many images of that bird, threw out the observation, loud enough, from the top of the table, 'Hah, Walrave, I see you are making yourself acquainted with the RAVENS in time, that they may not be strange to you at last,'"—when they come to eat you on the gibbet! (not a soft tongue, the Old Dessauer's). "Another day, seeing Walrave seated between two Jesuit Guests, the Prince said: 'Ah, there you are right, Walrave; there you sit safe; the Devil can't get you there!' As the Prince kept continually bantering him in this strain, Walrave determined not to come; sulkily absented himself one day: but the Prince sent the ORDINANZ (Soldier in waiting) to fetch him; no refuge in sulks.
"They had Roman-Catholic victual for Walrave and others of that faith, on the meagre-days; but Walrave eat right before him,—evidently nothing but the name of Catholic. Indeed, he was a man hated by the Catholics, for his special rapacity on them. 'He is of no religion at all,' said the Catholic Prelate of Neisse, one day, to Nussler; (greedy to plunder the Monasteries here; has wrung gold, silver aud jewels from them,—nay from the Pope himself,—by threatening to turn Protestant, and use the Monasteries still worse. And the Pope, hearing of this, had to send him a valuable Gift, which you may see some day.' Nussler did, one day, see this preciosity: a Crucifix, ebony bordered with gold, and the Body all of that metal, on the smallest of altars,—in Walrave's bedroom. But it was the bedroom itself which Nussler looked at with a shudder," Nussler and we: "in the middle of it stood Walrave's own bed, on his right hand that of his Wife, and on his left that of his Mistress:"—a brutish polygamous Walrave! "This Mistress was a certain Quarter-Master's Wife,"—Quarter-Master willing, it is probable, to get rid of such an article gratis, much more on terms of profit. "Walrave had begged for him the Title of Hofrath from King Friedrich,"—which, though it was but a clipping of ribbon contemptible to Friedrich, and the brute of an Engineer had excellent talents in his business, I rather wish Friedrich had refused in this instance. But he did not; "he answered in gibing tone, 'I grant you the Hofrath Title for your Quarter-Master; thinking it but fit that a General's'—What shall we call her? (Friedrich uses the direct word)—'should have some handle to her name.'" [Busching, Beitrage, i. 343-348.]
It was this Mistress, one is happy to know, that ultimately betrayed the unbeautiful Walrave, and brought him to Magdeburg for the rest of his life.—And now let us over the Mountains, to Chrudim again; a hundred and fifty miles at one step.
Chapter XII. — PRINCE KARL DOES COME ON.
It was before the middle of May, not of June as Friedrich had expected, that serious news reached Chrudim. May 11th, from that place, there is a Letter to Jordan, which for once has no verse, no bantering in it: Prince Karl actually coming on; Hussar precursors, in quantity, stealing across to attack our Magazines beyond Elbe;—and in consequence, Orders are out this very day: "Cantonments, cease; immediate rendezvous, and Encampment at Chrudim here!" Which takes effect two days hence, Monday, 13th May: one of the finest sights Stille ever saw. "His Majesty rode to a height; you never beheld such a scene: bright columns, foot and horse, streaming in from every point of the compass, their clear arms glittering in the sun; lost now in some hollow, then emerging, winding out with long-drawn glitter again; till at length their blue uniforms and actual faces come home to you. Near upon 30,000 of all arms; trim exact, of stout and silently good-humored aspect; well rested, by this time;—likely fellows for their work, who will do it with a will. The King seemed to be affected by so glorious a spectacle; and, what I admired, his Majesty, though fatigued, would not rest satisfied with reports or distant view, but personally made the tour of the whole Camp, to see that everything was right, and posted the pickets himself before retiring." [Stille, p. 57 (or Letter X.).]
Prince Karl, since we last heard of him, had hung about in the Brunn and other Moravian regions, rallying his forces, pushing out Croat parties upon Prince Dietrich's home-march, and the like; very ill off for food, for draught-cattle, in a wasted Country. So that he had soon quitted Mahren; made for Budweis and neighborhood:—dangerous to Broglio's outposts there? To a "Castle of Frauenberg," across the Moldau from Budweis; which is Broglio's bulwark there, and has cost Broglio much revictualling, reinforcing, and flurry for the last two months. Prince Karl did not meddle with Brauenberg, or Broglio, on this occasion; leaves Lobkowitz, with some Reserve-party, hovering about in those parts;—and himself advances, by Teutschbrod (well known to the poor retreating Saxons latcey!) towards Chrudim, on his grand Problem, that of 25th February last. Cautiously, not too willingly, old Konigseck and he. But they were inflexibly urged to it by the Heads at Vienna; who, what with their Bavarian successes, what with their Moravian and other, had got into a high key;—and scorned the notion of "Peace," when Hyndford (getting Friedrich's permission, in the late Chrudim interval) had urged it again. [Orlich, i. 226.]
Broglio is in boundless flurry; nothing but spectres of attack looming in from Karl, from Khevenhuller, from everybody; and Eger hardly yet got. [19th April (Guerre de Boheme, ii. 77-81.) Fine reinforcement, 25,000 under a Due d'Harcourt; this and other good outlooks there are; but it is the terrible alone that occupy Broglio. And indeed the poor man—especially ever since that Moravian Business would not thrive in spite of him—is not to be called well off! Friedrich and he are in correspondence, by no means mutually pleasant, on the Prince-Karl phenomenon. "Evidently intending towards Prag, your Majesty perceives!" thinks Broglio. "If not towards Chrudim, first of all, which is 80 miles nearer him, on his rode to Prag!" urges Friedrich, at this stage: "Help me with a few regiments in this Chrudim Circle, lest I prove too weak here. Is not this the bulwark of your Prag just now?" In vain; Broglio (who indeed has orders that way) cannot spare a man. "Very well," thinks Friedrich; and has girded up his own strength for the Chrudim phenomenon; but does not forget this new illustration of the Joint-Stock Principle, and the advantages of Broglio Partnership.
Friedrich's beautiful Encampment at Chrudim lasted only two days. Precursor Tolpatcheries (and, in fact, Prince Karl's Vanguard, if we knew it) come storming about, rifer and rifer; attempting the Bridge of Kolin (road to our Magazines); attempting this and that; meaning to get between us and Prag; and, what is worse, to seize the Magazines, Podiebrad, Nimburg, which we have in that quarter! Tuesday, May 15th, accordingly, Friedrich himself gets on march, with a strong swift Vanguard, horse and foot (grenadiers, hussars, dragoons), Prag-ward,—probably as far as Kuttenberg, a fine high-lying post, which commands those Kodin parts;—will march with despatch, and see how that matter is. The main Army is to follow under Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau to-morrow, Wednesday," so soon as their loaves have come from Konigsgratz,"—for "an Army goes on its belly," says Friedrich often. Loaves do not come, owing to evil chance, on this occasion: Leopold's people "take meal instead;" but will follow, next morning, all the same, according to bidding. Readers may as well take their Map, and accompany in these movements; which issue in a notable conclusive thing.
Tuesday morning, 15th May, Friedrich marches from Chrudim; on which same morning of the 15th, Prince Karl, steadily on the advance he too, is starting,—and towards the same point,—from a place called Chotieborz, only fifteen miles to southward of Chrudim. In this way, mutually unaware, but Prince Karl getting soonest aware, the Vanguards of the Two Armies (Prince Karl's Vanguard being in many branches, of Tolpatch nature) are cast athwart each other; and make, both to Friedrich and Prince Karl, an enigmatic business of it for the next two days. Tuesday, 15th, Friedrich marching along, vigilantly observant on both hands, some fifteen miles space, came that evening to a Village called Podhorzan, with Height near by; [Stille, pp. 60, 61.] Height which he judged unattackable, and on the side of which he pitches his camp accordingly,—himself mounting the Height to look for news. News sure enough: there, south of us on the heights of Ronnow, three or four miles off, are the Enemy, camped or pickeering about, 7 or 8,000 as we judge. Lobkowitz, surely not Lobkowitz? He has been gliding about, on the French outskirts, far in the southwest lately: can this be Lobkowitz, about to join Prince Karl in these parts?—Truly, your Majesty, this is not Lobkowitz at all; this is Prince Karl's Vanguard, and Prince Karl himself actually in it for the moment,—anxiously taking view of your Vanguard; recognizing, and admitting to himself, "Pooh, they will be at Kuttenberg before us; no use in hastening. Head-quarters at Willimow to-night; here at Ronnow to-morrow: that is all we can do!" [Orlich, i. 233.]
To-morrow, 16th May, before sunrise at Podhorzan, the supposed Lobkowitz is clean vanished: there is no Enemy visible to Friedrich, at Ronnow or elsewhere. Leaving Friedrich in considerable uncertainty: clear only that there are Enemies copiously about; that he himself will hold on for Kuttenberg; that young Leopold must get hitherward, with steady celerity at the top of his effort,—parts of the ground being difficult; especially a muddy Stream, called Dobrowa, which has only one Bridge on it fit for artillery, the Bridge of Sbislau, a mile or two ahead of this. Instructions are sent Leopold to that effect; and farther that Leopold must quarter in Czaslau (a substantial little Town, with bogs about it, and military virtues); and, on the whole, keep close to heel of us, the Enemy in force being near, Upon which, his Majesty pushes on for Kuttenberg; Prince Leopold following with best diligence, according to Program. His Majesty passed a little place called Neuhof that afternoon (Wednesday, 16th May); and encamped a short way from Kuttenberg, behind or north of that Town,—out of which, on his approach, there fled a considerable cloud of Austrian Irregulars, and "left a large baking of bread." Bread just about ready to their order, and coming hot out of the ovens; which was very welcome to his Majesty that night; and will yield refreshment, partial refreshment, next morning, to Prince Leopold, not too comfortable on his meal-diet just now.
Poor Prince Leopold had his own difficulties this day; rough ground, very difficult to pass; and coming on the Height of Podhorzan where his Majesty was yesterday, Leopold sees crowds of Hussars, needing a cannon-shot or two; sees evident symptoms, to southward, that the whole Force of the Enemy is advancing upon him! "Speed, then, for Sbislau Bridge yonder; across the Dobrowa, with our Artillery-wagons, or we are lost!" Prince Karl, with Hussar-parties all about, is fully aware of Prince Leopold and his movements, and is rolling on, Ronnow-ward all day, to cut him off, in his detached state, if possible. Prince Karl might, with ease, have broken this Dobrowa Bridge; and Leopold and military men recognize it as a capital neglect that he did not.
Leopold, overloaded with such intricacies and anxieties, sends off three messengers, Officers of mark (Schmettau Junior one of them), to apprise the King: the Officers return, unable to get across to his Majesty; Leopold sends proper detachment of horse with them,—uncertain still whether they will get through. And night is falling; we shall evidently be too late for getting Czaslau: well if we can occupy Chotusitz and the environs; a small clay Hamlet, three miles nearer us. It was 11 at night before the rear-guard got into Chotusitz: Czaslau, three miles south of us, we cannot attend to till to-morrow morning. [Orlich, pp. 236-239.] And the three messengers, despatched with escort, send back no word. Have they ever got to his Majesty? Leopold sends off a fourth. This fourth one does get through; reports to his Majesty, That, by all appearance, there will be Battle on the morrow early; that not Czaslau, but only Chotusitz is ours; and that Instructions are wanted. Deep in the night, this fourth messenger returns; a welcome awakening for Prince Leopold; who studies his Majesty's Instructions, and will make his dispositions accordingly.
It is 2 or 3 in the morning, [Ib. p. 238.] in Leopold's Camp,—Bivouac rather, with its face to the south, and Chotusitz ahead. Thursday, 17th May, 1742; a furiously important Day about to dawn. High Problem of the 23th February last; Britannic Majesty and his Hyndfords and Robinsons vainly protesting:—it had to be tried; Hungarian Majesty having got, from Britannic, the sinews for trying it: and this is to be the Day.
Chapter XIII. —BATTLE OF CHOTUSITZ.
Kuttenberg, Czaslau, Chotusitz and all these other places lie in what is called the Valley of the Elbe, but what to the eye has not the least appearance of a hollow, but of an extensive plain rather, dimpled here and there; and, if anything, rather sloping FROM the Elbe,—were it not that dull bushless brooks, one or two, sauntering to NORTHward, not southward, warn you of the contrary. Conceive a flat tract of this kind, some three or four miles square, with Czaslau on its southern border, Chotusitz on its northern; flanked, on the west, by a straggle of Lakelets, ponds and quagmires (which in our time are drained away, all but a tenth part or so of remainder); flanked, on the east, by a considerable puddle of a Stream called the Dobrowa; and cut in the middle by a nameless poor Brook ("BRTLINKA" some write it, if anybody could pronounce), running parallel and independent,—which latter, of more concernment to us here, springs beyond Czaslau, and is got to be of some size, and more intricate than usual, with "islands" and the like, as it passes Chotusitz (a little to east of Chotusitz);—this is our Field of Battle. Sixty or more miles to eastward of Prag, eight miles or more to southward of Elbe River and the Ford of Elbe-Teinitz (which we shall hear of, in years coming). A scene worth visiting by the curious, though it is by no means of picturesque character.
Uncomfortably bare, like most German plains; mean little hamlets, which are full of litter when you enter them, lie sprinkled about; little church-spires (like suffragans to Chotusitz spire, which is near you); a ragged untrimmed country: beyond the Brook, towards the Dobrowa, two or more miles from Chotusitz, is still noticeable: something like a Deer-park, with umbrageous features, bushy clumps, and shadowy vestiges of a Mansion, the one regular edifice within your horizon. Schuschitz is the name of this Mansion and Deer-park; farther on lies Sbislau, where Leopold happily found his Bridge unbroken yesterday.
The general landscape is scrubby, littery; ill-tilled, scratched rather than ploughed; physiognomic of Czech Populations, who are seldom trim at elbows: any beauty it has is on the farther side of the Dobrowa, which does not concern Prince Leopold, Prince Karl, or us at present. Prince Leopold's camp lies east and west, short way to north of Chotusitz. Schuschitz Hamlet (a good mile northward of Sbislau) covers his left, the chain of Lakelets covers his right: and Chotusitz, one of his outposts, lies centrally in front. Prince Karl is coming on, in four columns, from the Hills and intricacies south of Czaslau,—has been on march all night, intending a night-attack or camisado if he could; but could not in the least, owing to the intricate roadways, and the discrepancies of pace between his four columns. The sun was up before anything of him appeared:—drawing out, visibly yonder, by the east side of Czaslau; 30,000 strong, they say. Friedrich's united force, were Friedrich himself on the ground, will be about 28,000.
Friedrich's Orders, which Leopold is studying, were: "Hold by Chotusitz for Centre; your left wing, see you lean it on something, towards Dobrowa side,—on that intricate Brook (Brtlinka) or Park-wall of Schuschitz, [SBISLAU, Friedrich hastily calls it (OEuvres, ii. 121-126); Stille (p. 63) is more exact.] which I think is there; then your right wing westwards, till you lean again on something: two lines, leave room for me and my force, on the corner nearest here. I will start at four; be with you between seven and eight,—and even bring a proportion of Austrian bread (hot from these ovens of Kuttenberg) to refresh part of you." Leopold of Anhalt, a much-comforted man, waits only for the earliest gray of the morning, to be up and doing. From Chotusitz he spreads out leftwards towards the Brtlinka Brook,—difficult ground that, unfit for cavalry, with its bog-holes, islands, gullies and broken surface; better have gone across the Brtlinka with mere infantry, and leant on the wall of that Deer-park of Schuschitz with perhaps only 1,000 horse to support, well rearward of the infantry and this difficult ground? So men think,—after the action is over. [Stille, pp. 63, 67.] And indeed there was certainly some misarrangement there (done by Leopold's subordinates), which had its effects shortly.
Leopold was not there in person, arranging that left wing; Leopold is looking after centre and right. He perceives, the right wing will be his best chance; knows that, in general, cavalry must be on both wings. On a little eminence in front of his right, he sees how the Enemy comes on; Czaslau, lately on their left, is now getting to rear of them:—"And you, stout old General Buddenbrock, spread yourself out to right a little, hidden behind this rising ground; I think we may outflank their left wing by a few squadrons, which will be an advantage."
Buddenbrock spreads himself out, as bidden: had Buddenbrock been reinforced by most of the horse that could do no good on our LEFT wing, it is thought the Battle had gone better. Buddenbrock in this way, secretly, outflanks the Austrians; to HIS right all forward, he has that string of marshy pools (Lakes of Czirkwitz so called, outflowings from the Brook of Neuhof), and cannot be taken in flank by any means. Brook of Neuhof, which his Majesty crossed yesterday, farther north;—and ought to have recrossed by this time?—said Brook, hereabouts a mere fringe of quagmires and marshy pools, is our extreme boundary on the west or right; Brook of Brtlinka (unluckily NOT wall of the Deer-park) bounds us eastward, or on our left, Prince Karl, drawn up by this time, is in two lines, cavalry on right and left, but rather in bent order; bent towards us at both ends (being dainty of his ground, I suppose); and comes on in hollow-crescent form;—which is not reckoned orthodox by military men. What all these Villages, human individuals and terrified deer, are thinking, I never can conjecture! Thick-soled peasants, terrified nursing-mothers: Better to run and hide, I should say; mount your garron plough-horses, hide your butter-pots, meal-barrels; run at least ten miles or so!—
It is now past seven, a hot May morning, the Austrians very near;—and yonder, of a surety, is his Majesty coming. Majesty has marched since four; and is here at his time, loaves and all. His men rank at once in the corner left for them; one of his horse-generals, Lehwald, is sent to the left, to put straight what my be awry there (cannot quite do it, he either);—and the attack by Buddenhrock, who secretly outflanks here on the right, this shall at once take effect. No sooner has his Majesty got upon the little eminence or rising ground, and scanned the Austrian lines for an instant or two, than his cannon-batteries awaken here; give the Austrian horse a good blast, by way of morning salutation and overture to the concert of the day. And Buddenbrock, deploying under cover of that, charges, "first at a trot, then at a gallop," to see what can be done upon them with the white weapon. Old Uuddenbrock, surely, did not himself RIDE in the charge? He is an old man of seventy; has fought at Oudenarde, Malplaquet, nay at Steenkirk, and been run through the body, under Dutch William; is an old acquaintance of Charles XII.s even; and sat solemnly by Friedrich Wilhelm's coffin, after so much attendance during life. The special leader of the charge was Bredow; also a veteran gentleman, but still only in the fifties; he, I conclude, made the charge; first at a trot, then at a gallop,—with swords flashing hideous, and eyebrows knit.
"The dust was prodigious," says Friedrich, weather being dry and ground sandy; for a space of time you could see nothing but one huge whirlpool of dust, with the gleam of steel flickering madly in it: however, Buddenbrock, outflanking the Austrian first line of horse, did hurl them from their place; by and by you see the dust-tempest running south, faster and faster south,—that is to say, the Austrian horse in flight; for Buddenbrock, outflanking them by three squadrons, has tumbled their first line topsy-turvy, and they rush to rearward, he following away and away. [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 123.] Now were the time for a fresh force of Prussian cavalry,—for example, those you have standing useless behind the gullies and quagmires on your left wing (says Stille, after the event);—due support to Buddenbrock, and all that Austrian cavalry were gone, and their infantry left bare.
But now again, see, do not the dust-clouds pause? They pause, mounting higher and higher; they dance wildly, then roll back towards us; too evidently back. Buddenbrock has come upon the secoud line of Austrian horse; in too loose order Buddenbrock, by this time, and they have broken him:—and it is a mutual defeat of horse on this wing, the Prussian rather the worse of the two. And might have been serious,—had not Rothenburg plunged furiously in, at this crisis, quite through to the Austrian infantry, and restored matters, or more. Making a confused result of it in this quarter. Austrian horse-regiments there now were that fled quite away; as did even one or two foot-regiments, while the Prussian infantry dashed forward on them, escorted by Rothenburg in this manner,—who got badly wounded in the business; and was long an object of solicitude to Friedrich. And contrariwise certain Prussian horse also, it was too visible, did not compose themselves till fairly arear of our foot. This is Shock First in the Battle; there are Three Shocks in all.
Partial charging, fencing and flourishing went on; but nothing very effectual was done by the horse in this quarter farther. Nor did the fire or effort of the Prussian Infantry in this their right wing continue; Austrian fury and chief effort having, by this time, broken out in an opposite quarter. So that the strain of the Fight lies now in the other wing over about Chotusitz and the Brtlinka Brook; and thither I perceive his Majesty has galloped, being "always in the thickest of the danger" this day. Shock Second is now on. The Austrians have attacked at Chotusitz; and are threatening to do wonders there.
Prince Leopold's Left Wing, as we said, was entirely defective in the eye of tacticians (after the event). Far from leaning on the wall of the Deer-park, he did not even reach the Brook,—or had to weaken his force in Chotusitz Village for that object. So that when the Austrian foot comes storming upon Chotusitz, there is but "half a regiment" to defend it. And as for cavalry, what is to become of cavalry, slowly threading, under cannon-shot and musketry, these intricate quagmires and gullies, and dangerously breaking into files and strings, before ever it can find ground to charge? Accordingly, the Austrian foot took Chotusitz, after obstinate resistance; and old Konigseck, very ill of gout, got seated in one of the huts there; and the Prussian cavalry, embarrassed to get through the gullies, could not charge except piecemeal, and then though in some cases with desperate valor, yet in all without effectual result. Konigseck sits in Chotusitz;—and yet withal the Russians are not out of it, will not be driven out of it, but cling obstinately; whereupon the Austrians set fire to the place; its dry thatch goes up in flame, and poor old Konigseck, quite lame of gout, narrowly escaped burning, they say.
And, see, the Austrian horse have got across the Brtlinka, are spread almost to the Deer-park, and strive hard to take us in flank,—did not the Brook, the bad ground and the platoon-firing (fearfully swift, from discipline and the iron ramrods) hold them back in some measure. They make a violent attempt or two; but the problem is very rugged. Nor can the Austrian infantry, behind or to the west of burning Chotusitz, make an impression, though they try it, with levelled bayonets and deadly energy, again and again: the Prussian ranks are as if built of rock, and their fire is so sure and swift. Here is one Austrian regiment, came rushing on like lions; would not let go, death or no-death:—and here it lies, shot down in ranks; whole swaths of dead men, and their muskets by them,—as if they had got the word to take that posture, and had done it hurriedly! A small transitory gleam of proud rage is visible, deep down, in the soul of Friedrich as he records this fact. Shock Second was very violent.
The Austrian horse, after such experimenting in the Brtlinka quarter, gallop off to try to charge the Prussians in the rear;—"pleasanter by far," judge many of them, "to plunder the Prussian Camp," which they descry in those regions; whither accordingly they rush. Too many of them; and the Hussars as one man. To the sorrowful indignation of Prince Karl, whose right arm (or wing) is fallen paralytic in this manner. After the Fight, they repented in dust and ashes; and went to say so, as if with the rope about their neck; upon which he pardoned them.
Nor is Prince Karl's left wing gaining garlands just at this moment. Shock Third is awakening;—and will be decisive on Prince Karl. Chotusitz, set on fire an hour since (about 9 A.M.), still burns; cutting him in two, as it were, or disjoining his left wing from his right: and it is on his right wing that Prince Karl is depending for victory, at present; his left wing, ruffled by those first Prussian charges of horse, with occasional Prussian swift musketry ever since, being left to its own inferior luck, which is beginning to produce impression on it. And, lo, on the sudden (what brought finis to the business), Friedrich, seizing the moment, commands a united charge on this left wing: Friedrich's right wing dashes forward on it, double-quick, takes it furiously, on front and flank; fifteen field-pieces preceding, and intolerable musketry behind them. So that the Austrian left wing cannot stand it at all.
The Austrian left wing, stormed in upon in this manner, swags and sways, threatening to tumble pell-mell upon the right wing; which latter has its own hands full. No Chotusitz or point of defence to hold by, Prince Karl is eminently ill off, and will be hurled wholly into the Brtlinka, and the islands and gullies, unless he mind! Prince Karl,—what a moment for him!—noticing this undeniable phenomenon, rapidly gives the word for retreat, to avoid worse. It is near upon Noon; four hours of battle; very fierce on both the wings, together or alternately; in the centre (westward of Chotusitz) mostly insignificant: "more than half the Prussians" standing with arms shouldered. Prince Karl rolls rapidly away, through Czaslau towards southwest again; loses guns in Czaslau; goes, not quite broken, but at double-quick time for five miles; cavalry, Prussian and Austrian, bickering in the rear of him; and vanishes over the horizon towards Willimow and Haber that night, the way he had come.
This is the battle of Chotusitz, called also of Czaslau: Thursday, 17th May, 1742. Vehemently fought on both sides;—calculated, one may hope, to end this Silesian matter? The results, in killed and wounded, were not very far from equal. Nay, in killed the Prussians suffered considerably the worse; the exact Austrian cipher of killed being 1,052, while that of the Prussians was 1,905,—owing chiefly to those fierce ineffectual horse-charges and bickerings, on the right wing and left; "above 1,200 Prussian cavalry were destroyed in these." But, in fine, the general loss, including wounded and missing, amounted on the Austrian side (prisoners being many, and deserters very many) to near seven thousand, and on the Prussian to between four and five. [Orlich, i. 255; Feldzuge der Preussen, p. 113; Stille, pp. 62-71; Friedrich himself, OEuvres, ii. 121-126; and (ib. pp. 145-150) the Newspaper "RELATION," written also by him.] Two Generals Friedrich had lost, who are not specially of our acquaintance; and several younger friends whom he loved. Rothenburg, who was in that first charge of horse with Buddenbrock, or in rescue of Buddenbrock, and did exploits, got badly hurt, as we saw,—badly, not fatally, as Friedrich's first terror was,—and wore his arm in a sling for a long while afterwards.
Buddenbrock's charge, I since hear, was ruined by the DUST; [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 121.] the King's vanguard, under Rothenburg, a "new-raised regiment of Hussars in green," coming to the rescue, were mistaken for Austrians, and the cry rose, "Enemy to rear!" which brought Rothenburg his disaster. Friedrich much loved and valued the man; employed him afterwards as Ambassador to France and in places of trust. Friedrich's Ambassadors are oftenest soldiers as well: bred soldiers, he finds, if they chance to have natural intelligence, are fittest for all kinds of work.—Some eighteen Austrian cannon were got; no standards, because, said the Prussians, they took the precaution of bringing none to the field, but had beforehand rolled them all up, out of harm's way.—Let us close with this Fraction of topography old aud new:—
"King Friedrich purchased Nine Acres of Ground, near Chotusitz, to bury the slain; rented it from the proprietor for twenty-five years. [Helden-Geschichte, ii. 634.] I asked, Where are those nine acres; what crop is now upon them? but could learn nothing. A dim people, those poor Czech natives; stupid, dirty-skinned, ill-given; not one in twenty of them speaking any German;—and our dragoman a fortuitous Jew Pedler; with the mournfulest of human faces, though a head worth twenty of those Czech ones, poor oppressed soul! The Battle-plain bears rye, barley, miscellaneous pulse, potatoes, mostly insignificant crops;—the nine hero-acres in question, perhaps still of slightly richer quality, lie indiscriminate among the others; their very fence, if they ever had one, now torn away.
"The Country, as you descend by dusty intricate lanes from Kuttenberg, with your left hand to the Elbe, and at length with your back to it, would be rather pretty, were it well cultivated, the scraggy litter swept off, and replaced by verdure and reasonable umbrage here and there. The Field of Chotusitz, where you emerge on it, is a wide wavy plain; the steeple of Chotusitz, and, three or four miles farther, that of Czaslau (pronounce 'KOTusitz,' 'CHASlau'), are the conspicuous objects in it. The Lakes Friedrich speaks of, which covered his right, and should cover ours, are not now there,—'all, or mostly all, drained away, eighty years ago,' answered the Czechs; answered one wiser Czech, when pressed upon, and guessed upon; thereby solving the enigma which was distressful to us. Between those Lakes and the Brtlinka Brook may be some two miles; Chotusitz is on the crown of the space, if it have a crown. But there is no 'height' on it, worth calling a height except by the military man; no tree or bush; no fence among the scrubby ryes and pulses: no obstacle but that Brook, which, or the hollow of which, you see sauntering steadily northward or Elbe-ward, a good distance on your left, as you drive for Chotusitz and steeple. Schuschitz, a peaked brown edifice, is visible everywhere, well ahead and leftwards, well beyond said hollow; something of wood and 'deer-park' still noticeable or imaginable yonder.
"Chotusitz itself is a poor littery place; standing white-washed, but much unswept: in two straggling rows, now wide enough apart (no Konigseck need now get burnt there): utterly silent under the hot sun; not a child looked out on us, and I think the very dogs lay wisely asleep. Church and steeple are at the farther or south end of the Village, and have an older date than 1742. High up on the steeple, mending the clock-hands or I know not what, hung in mid-air one Czech; the only living thing we saw. Population may be three or four hundred,—all busy with their teams or otherwise, we will hope. Czaslau, which you approach by something of avenues, of human roads (dust and litter still abounding), is a much grander place; say of 2,000 or more: shiny, white, but also somnolent; vast market-place, or central square, sloping against you: two shiny Hotels on it, with Austrian uniforms loitering about;—and otherwise great emptiness and silence. The shiny Hotels (shine due to paint mainly) offer little of humanly edible; and, in the interior, smells strike you as—as the OLDEST you have ever met before. A people not given to washing, to ventilating! Many gospels have been preached in those parts, aud abstruse Orthodoxies, sometimes with fire and sword, and no end of emphasis; but that of Soap-and-Water (which surely is as Catholic as any, and the plainest of all) has not yet got introduced there!" [Tourist's Note (13th September, 1858).]
Czaslau hangs upon the English mind (were not the ignorance so total) by another tie: it is the resting-place of Zisca, whose drum, or the fable of whose drum, we saw in the citadel of Glatz. Zisca was buried IN his skin, at Czaslau finally: in the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul there; with due epitaph; and his big mace or battle-club, mostly iron, hung honorable on the wall close by. Kaiser Ferdinand, Karl V.'s brother, on a Progress to Prag, came to lodge at Czaslau, one afternoon: "What is that?" said the Kaiser, strolling over this Peter-and-Paul's Church, and noticing the mace. "Ugh! Faugh!" growled he angrily, on hearing what; and would not lodge in the Town, but harnessed again, and drove farther that same night. The club is now gone; but Zisca's dust lies there irremovable till Doomsday, in the land where his limbs were made. A great behemoth of a war-captain; one of the fiercest, inflexiblest, ruggedest creatures ever made in the form of man. Devoured Priests, with appetite, wherever discoverable: Dishonorers of his Sister; murderers of the God's-witness John Huss; them may all the Devils help! Beat Kaiser Sigismund SUPRA-GRAMMATICAM again and ever again, scattering the Kitter hosts in an extraordinary manner;—a Zisca conquerable only by Death, and the Pest-Fever passing that way.
His birthplace, Troznow, is a village in the Budweis neighborhood, 100 miles to south. There, for three centuries after him, stood "Zisca's Oak" (under shade of which, his mother, taken suddenly on the harvest-field, had borne Zisca): a weird object, gate of Heaven and of Orcus to the superstitious populations about. At midnight on the Hallow-Eve, dark smiths would repair thither, to cut a twig of the Zisca Oak: twig of it put, at the right moment, under your stithy, insures good luck, lends pith to arm and heart, which is already good luck. So that a Bishop of those parts, being of some culture, had to cut it down, above a hundred years ago,—and build some Chapel in its stead; no Oak there now, but an orthodox Inscription, not dated that I could see. [Hormayr, OEsterreichischer Plutarch, iii. (3tes), 110-145.]
Friedrich did not much pursue the Austrians after this Victory; having cleared the Czaslau region of them, he continued there (at Kuttenberg mainly); and directed all his industry to getting Peace made. His experiences of Broglio, and of what help was likely to be had from Broglio,—whom his Court, as Friedrich chanced to know, had ordered "to keep well clear of the King of Prussia,"—had not been flattering. Beaten in this Battle, Broglio's charity would have been a weak reed to lean upon: he is happy to inform Broglio, that though kept well clear of, he is not beaten.
[MAP GOES HERE—-Book xiii, page 164——missing]
Blustering Broglio might have guessed that HE now would have to look to himself. But he did not; his eyes naturally dim and bad, being dazzled at this time, by "an ever-glorious victory" (so Broglio thinks it) of his own achieving. Broglio, some couple of days after Czaslau, had marched hastily out of Prag for Budweis quarter, where Lobkowitz and the Austrians were unexpectedly bestirring themselves, and threatening to capture that "Castle of Frauenberg" (mythic old Hill-castle among woods), Broglio's chief post in those regions. Broglio, May 24th, has fought a handsome skirmish (thanks partly to Belleisle, who chanced to arrive from Frankfurt just in the nick of time, and joined Broglio): Skirmish of Sahay; magnified in all the French gazettes into a Victory of Sahay, victory little short of Pharsalia, says Friedrich;—the complete account of which, forgotten now by all creatures, is to be read in him they call Mauvillon; [Guerre de Boheme, ii. 204.] and makes a pretty enough piece of fence, on the small scale. Lobkowitz had to give up the Frauenberg enterprise; and cross to Budweis again, till new force should come.
"Why not drive him out of Budweis," think the Two French Marshals, "him and whatever force can come? If those lucky Prussians would co-operate, and those unlucky Saxons, how easy were it!"—Belleisle sets off to persuade Friedrich, to persuade Saxony (and we shall see him on the route); Broglio waiting sublime, on the hither side of the Moldau, well within wind of Budweis, till Belleisle prevail, and return with said co-operation, What became of Broglio, waiting in this sublime manner, we shall also have to see; but perhaps not for a great while yet (cannot pause on such absurd phenomena yet),—though Broglio's catastrophe is itself a thing imminent; and, within some ten days of that astonishing Victory of Sahay, astonishes poor Broglio the reverse way. A man born for surprises!
Chapter XIV. — PEACE OF BRESLAU.
In actual loss of men or of ground, the results of that Chotusitz Affair were not of decisive nature. But it had been fought with obstinacy; with great fury on the Austrian side (who, as it were, had a bet upon it ever since February 25th), Britannic George, and all the world, looking on: and, in dispiritment and discredit to the beaten party, its results were considerable. The voice of all the world, declaring through its Gazetteer Editors, "You cannot beat those Prussians!" voice confirmed by one's own sad thoughts:—in such sounding of the rams horns round one's Jericho, there is always a strange influence (what is called panic, as if Pan or some god were in it), and one's Jericho is the apter to fall!
Among the Austrian Prisoners, there was a General Pallandt, mortally wounded too; whom Friedrich, according to custom, treated with his best humanity, though all help was hopeless to poor Pallandt. Calling one day at Pallandt's sick-couch, Friedrich was so sympathetic, humane and noble, that Pallandt was touched by it; and said, "What a pity your noble Majesty and my noble Queen should ruin one another, for a set of French intruders, who play false even to your Majesty!" "False?" Friedrich inquires farther: Pallandt, a man familiar at Court, has seen a Letter from Fleury to the Queen of Hungary, conclusive as to Fleury's good faith; will undertake, if permitted, to get his Majesty a sight of it. Friedrich permits; the Fleury letter comes; to the effect: "Make peace with us, O Queen; with your Prussian neighbor you shall make—what suits you!" Friedrich read; learned conclusively, what perhaps he had already as good as known otherwise; and drew the inference. [Helden-Geschichte, ii. 633; Hormayr, Anemonen, ii. 186; Adelung, iii. A, 149 n.] Actual copy of this letter the most ardent Gazetteer curiosity could not attain to, at that epoch; but the Pallandt story seems to have been true;—and as to the Fleury letter in such circumstances, copies of various Fleury letters to the like purport are still public enough; and Fleury's private intentions, already guessed at by Friedrich, are in our time a secret to nobody that inquires about them.
Certain enough, Peace with Friedrich is now on the way; and cannot well linger:—what prospect has Austria otherwise? Its very supplies from England will be stopped. Hyndford redoubles his diligence; Britannic Majesty reiterates at Vienna: "Did not I tell you, Madam; there is no hope or possibility till these Prussians are off our hands!" To which her Hungarian Majesty, as the bargain was, now sorrowfully assents; sorrowfully, unwillingly,—and always lays the blame on his Britannic Majesty afterwards, and brings it up again as a great favor she had done HIM. "Did not I give up my invaluable Silesia, the jewel of my crown, for you, cruel Britannic Majesty with the big purse, and no heart to speak of?" This she urges always, on subsequent occasions; the high-souled Lady; reproachful of the patient, big-pursed little Gentleman, who never answers as he might, "For ME, Madam? Well—!" In short, Hyndford, Podewils and the Vienna Excellencies are busy.
Of these negotiations which go on at Breslau, and of the acres of despatchcs, English, Austrian, and other, let us not say one word. Enough that the Treaty is getting made, and rapidly,—though military offences do not quite cease; clouds of Austrian Pandours hovering about everywhere in Prince Karl's rear; pouncing down upon Prussian outposts, convoys, mostly to little purpose; hoping (what proves quite futile) they may even burn a Prussian magazine here or there. Contemptible to the Prussian soldier, though very troublesome to him. Friedrich regards the Pandour sort, with their jingling savagery, as a kind of military vermin; not conceivable a Prussian formed corps should yield to any odds of Pandour Tolpatch tagraggery. Nor does the Prussian soldier yield; though sometimes, like the mastiff galled by inroad of distracted weasels in too great quantity, he may have his own difficulties. Witness Colonel Retzow and the Magazine at Pardubitz ("daybreak, May 24th") VERSUS the infinitude of sudden Tolpatchery, bursting from the woods; rabid enough for many hours, but ineffectual, upon Pardubitz and Retzow. A distinguished Colonel this; of whom we shall hear again. Whose style of Narrative (modest, clear, grave, brief), much more, whose vigilant inexpugnable procedure on the occasion, is much to be commended to the military man. [Given in Seyfarth, Beylage, i. 548 et seqq.] Friedrich, the better to cover his Magazines, and be out of such annoyances, fell back a little; gradually to Kuttenberg again (Tolpatchery vanishing, of its own accord); and lay encamped there, head-quarters in the Schloss of Maleschau near by,—till the Breslau Negotiations completed themselves.
Prince Karl, fringed with Tolpatchery in this manner, but with much desertion, much dispiritment, in his main body,—the HOOPS upon him all loose, so to speak,—staggers zigzag back towards Budweis, and the Lobkowitz Party there; intending nothing more upon the Prussians;—capable now, think some NON-Prussians, of being well swept out of Budweis, and over the horizon altogether. If only his Prussian Majesty will co-operate! thinks Belleisle. "Your King of Prussia will not, M. le Marechal!" answers Broglio:—No, indeed; he has tried that trade already, M. le Marechal! think Broglio and we. The suspicions that Friedrich, so quiescent after his Chotusitz, is making Peace, are rife everywhere; especially in Broglio's head and old Fleury's; though Belleisle persists with emphasis, officially and privately, in the opposite opinion, "Husht, Messieurs!" Better go and see, however.
Belleisle does go; starts for Kuttenberg, for Dresden; his beautiful Budweis project now ready, French reinforcements streaming towards us, heart high again,—if only Friedrich and the Saxons will co-operate. Belleisle, the Two Belleisles, with Valori and Company, arrived June 2d at Kuttenberg, at the Schloss of Maleschau;—"spoke little of Chotusitz," says Stille; "and were none of them at the pains to ride to the ground." Marechal Belleisle, for the next three days, had otherwise speech of Friedrich; especially, on June 5th, a remarkable Dialogue. "Won't your Majesty co-operate?" "Alas, Monseigneur de Belleisle—" How gladly would we give this last Dialogue of Friedrich's and Belleisle's, one of the most ticklish conceivable: but there is not anywhere the least record of it that can be called authentic;—and we learn only that Friedrich, with considerable distinctness, gave him to know, "clearly" (say all the Books, except Friedrich's own), that co-operation was henceforth a thing of the preter-pluperfect tense. "All that I ever wanted, more than I ever demanded, Austria now offers; can any one blame me that I close such a business as ours has all along been, on such terms as these now offered me are?"
It is said, and is likely enough, the Pallandt-Fleury Letter came up; as probably the MORAVIAN FORAY, and various Broglio passages, would, in the train of said Letter. To all which, and to the inexorable painful corollary, Belleisle, in his high lean way, would listen with a stern grandiose composure. But the rumors add, On coming out into the Anteroom, dialogue and sentence now done, Monseigneur de Belleisle tore the peruke from his head; and stamping on it, was heard to say volcanically, "That cursed parson,—CE MAUDIT CALOTTE [old Fleury],—has ruined everything!" Perhaps it is not true? If true,—the prompt valets would quickly replace Monseigneur's wig; chasing his long strides; and silence, in so dignified a man, would cloak whatever emotions there were. [Adelung, iii. A, 154; &c. &c. Guerre de Boheme, (silent about the wig) admits, as all Books do, the perfect clearness;—compare, however, OEuvres de Frederic; and also Broglio's strange darkness, twelve days later, and Belleisle now beside him again (Campagnes des Trois Marechaux, v. 190, 191, of date 17th June);—darkness due perhaps to the strange humor Broglio was then in?] He rolled off, he and his, straightway to Dresden, there to invite co-operation in the Budweis Project; there also in vain.—"CO-operation," M. le Marechal? Alas, it has already come to operation, if you knew it! Aud your Broglio is—Better hurry back to Prag, where you will find phenomena!
June 15th, Friedrich has a grand dinner of Generals at Maleschau; and says, in proposing the first bumper, "Gentlemen, I announce to you, that, as I never wished to oppress the Queen of Hungary, I have formed the resolution of agreeing with that Princess, and accepting the Proposals she has made me in satisfaction of my rights,"—telling them withal what the chief terms were, and praising my Lord Hyndford for his great services. Upon which was congratulation, cordial, universal; and, with full rummers, "Health to the Queen of Hungary!" followed by others of the like type, "Grand-Duke of Lorraine!" and "The brave Prince Karl!" especially.
Brevity being incumbent on us, we shall say only that the Hyndford-Podewils operations had been speeded, day and night; brought to finis, in the form of Signed Preliminaries, as "Treaty of Breslau, 11th June, 1742;" and had gone to Friedrich's satisfaction in every particular. Thanks to the useful Hyndford,—to the willing mind of his Britannic Majesty, once so indignant, but made willing, nay passionately eager, by his love of Human Liberty and the pressure of events! To Hyndford, some weeks hence, [2d August (Helden-Geschichte, ii. 729).]—I conclude, on Friedrich's request,—there was Order of the Thistle sent; and grandest investiture ever seen almost, done by Friedrich upon Hyndford (Jordan, Keyserling, Schwerin, and the Sword of State busy in it; Two Queens and all the Berlin firmament looking on); and, perhaps better still, on Friedrich's part there was gift of a Silver Dinner-Service; gift of the Royal Prussian Arms (which do enrich ever since the Shield of those Scottish Carmichaels, as doubtless the Dinner-Service does their Plate-chest); and abundant praise and honor to the useful Hyndford, heavy of foot, but sure, who had reached the goal.
This welcome Treaty, signed at Breslau, June 11th, and confirmed by "Treaty of Berlin, July 28th," in more explicit solemn manner, to the self-same effect, can be read by him that runs (if compelled to read Treaties); [In Helden-Geschichte, i. 1061-1064 (Treaty of Breslau), ib. 1065-1070 (that of Berlin); to be found also in Wenck, Rousset, Scholl, Adeluug, &c.] the terms, in compressed form, are:—
1. "Silesia, Lower and Upper, to beyond the watershed and the Oppa-stream,—reserving only the Principality of Teschen, with pertinents, which used to be reckoned Silesian, and the ulterior Mountain-tops [Mountain-tops good for what? thought Friedrich, a year or two afterwards!]—Silesia wholly, within those limits, and furthermore the County Glatz and its dependencies, are and remain the property of Friedrich and of his Heirs male or female; given up, and made his, to all intents and purposes, forevermore. With which Friedrich, to the like long date, engages to rest satisfied, and claim nothing farther anywhere.
2. "Silesian Dutch-English Debt [Loan of about Two Millions, better half of it English, contracted by the late Kaiser, on Silesian security, in that dreadful Polish-Election crisis, when the Sea-Powers would not help, but left it to their Stockbrokers] is undertaken by Friedrich, who will pay interest on the same till liquidated.
3. "Religion to stand where it is. Prussian Majesty not to meddle in this present or in other Wars of her Hungarian Majesty, except with his ardent wishes that General Peace would ensue, and that all his friends, Hungarian Majesty among others, were living in good agreement around him."
This is the Treaty of Breslau (June 11th, 1742), or, in second more solemn edition, Treaty of Berlin (July 28th following); signed, ratified, guaranteed by his Britannic Majesty for one, [Treaty of Westminster, between Friedrich aud George, 29th (18th) November, 1842 (Scholl, ii. 313).] and firmly planted on the Diplomatic adamant (at least on the Diplomatic parchment) of this world. And now: Homewards, then; march!—
Huge huzzaing, herald-trumpeting, bob-majoring, bursts forth from all Prussian Towns, especially from all Silesian ones, in those June days, as the drums beat homewards; elaborate Illuminations, in the short nights; with bonfires, with transparencies,—Transparency inscribed "FREDERICO MAGNO (To Friedrich THE GREAT)," in one small instance, still of premature nature. [Helden-Geschichte (ii. 702-729) is endless on these Illuminations; the Jauer case, of FREDERICO MAGNO (Jauer in Silesia), is of June 15th (ib. 712).]
Omitting very many things, about Silesian Fortresses, Army-Cantons, Silesian settlements, military and civil, which would but weary the reader, we add only this from Bielfeld: dusty Transit of a victorious Majesty, now on the threshold of home. Precise date (which Bielfeld prudently avoids guessing at) is July 11th, 1742; "M. de Pollnitz and I are in the suite of the King:—
"We never stopped on the road, except some hours at Frankfurt-on-Oder, where the Fair was just going on. On approaching the Town, we found the highway lined on both sides with crowds of traders, and other strangers of all nations; who had come out, attracted by curiosity to see the conqueror of Silesia, and had ranged themselves in two rows there. His Majesty's entry into Frankfurt, although a very triumphant one, was far from being ostentatious. We passed like lightning before the eyes of the spectators, and we were so covered with dust, that it was difficult to distinguish the color of our coats and the features of our faces. We made some purchases at Frankfurt; and arrived safely in the Capital [next day], where the King was received amidst the acclamations of his People." [Bielfeld, ii. 51.]
Here is a successful young King; is not he? Has plunged into the Mahlstrom for his jewelled gold Cup, and comes up with it, alive, unlamed. Will he, like that DIVER of Schiller's, have to try the feat a second time? Perhaps a second time, and even a third!—