HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH II OF PRUSSIA, Volume 15
FREDERICK THE GREAT
by Thomas Carlyle
Chapter I.—PRELIMINARY: HOW THE MOMENT ARRIVED.
Chapter II.—FRIEDRICH MARCHES UPON PRAG, CAPTURES PRAG.
Chapter III.—FRIEDRICH, DILIGENT IN HIS BOHEMIAN CONQUESTS, UNEXPECTEDLY COMES UPON PRINCE KARL, WITH NO FRENCH ATTENDING HIM.
THE FRENCH ARE LITTLE GRATEFUL FOR THE PLEASURE DONE THEM AT SUCH RUINOUS EXPENSE.
FRIEDRICH'S RETREAT; ESPECIALLY EINSIEDEL'S FROM PRAG.
THE FRENCH FULLY INTEND TO BEHAVE BETTER NEXT SEASON TO FRIEDRICH AND THEIR GERMAN ALLIES;—BUT ARE PREVENTED BY VARIOUS ACCIDENTS (November, 1744-April, 1745; April-August, 1745).
STRANGE ACCIDENT TO MARECHAL DE BELLEISLE IN THE HARZ MOUNTAINS (20th December, 1744).
THE KAISER KARL VII. GETS SECURED FROM OPPRESSIONS, IN A TRAGIC WAY. FRIEDRICH PROPOSES PEACE, BUT TO NO PURPOSE.
2. THERE IS A, "UNION OF WARSAW" (8th January, 1745); AND STILL MORE SPECIALLY A "TREATY OF WARSAW" (8th January-18th May, 1745).
3. VALORI'S ACCOUNT OF HIS MISSION (in compressed form). [Valori, i. 211-219.]
MIDDLE-RHINE ARMY IN A STAGGERING STATE; THE BAVARIAN INTRICACY SETTLES ITSELF, THE WRONG WAY.
FRIEDRICH TO PODEWILS (as before, April-May, 1745).
Chapter IX.—THE AUSTRIAN-SAXON ARMY INVADES SILESIA, ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS.
Chapter X.—BATTLE OF HOHENFRIEDBERG.
Chapter XI.—CAMP OF CHLUM: FRIEDRICH CANNOT ACHIEVE PEACE.
SCHONBRUNN, 2d AUGUST, 1745, ROBINSON HAS AUDIENCE OF HER HUNGARIAN MAJESTY.
GRAND-DUKE FRANZ IS ELECTED KAISER (13TH SEPTEMBER, 1745); FRIEDRICH, THE SEASON AND FORAGE BEING DONE, MAKES FOR SILESIA.
Chapter XIII.—SAXONY AND AUSTRIA MAKE A SURPRISING LAST ATTEMPT.
PRINCE KARL, CUT IN TWO, TUMBLES HOME AGAIN DOUBLE-QUICK.
Chapter XV.—PEACE OF DRESDEN: FRIEDRICH DOES MARCH HOME.
BOOK XV.—SECOND SILESIAN WAR, IMPORTANT EPISODE IN THE GENERAL EUROPEAN ONE.—15th Aug. 1744-25th Dec. 1745.
Chapter I.—PRELIMINARY: HOW THE MOMENT ARRIVED.
Battle being once seen to be inevitable, it was Friedrich's plan not to wait for it, but to give it. Thanks to Friedrich Wilhelm and himself, there is no Army, nor ever was any, in such continual preparation. Military people say, "Some Countries take six months, some twelve, to get in motion for war: but in three weeks Prussia can be across the marches, and upon the throat of its enemy." Which is an immense advantage to little Prussia among its big neighbors. "Some Countries have a longer sword than Prussia; but none can unsheathe it so soon:"—we hope, too, it is moderately sharp, when wielded by a deft hand.
The French, as was intimated, are in great vigor, this Year; thoroughly provoked; and especially since Friedrich sent his Rothenburg among them, have been doing their very utmost. Their main effort is in the Netherlands, at present;—and indeed, as happened, continues all through this War to be. They by no means intend, or ever did, to neglect Teutschland; yet it turns out, they have pretty much done with their fighting there. And next Year, driven or led by accidents of various kinds, they quit it altogether; and turning their whole strength upon the Netherlands and Italy, chiefly on the Netherlands, leave Friedrich, much to his astonishment, with the German War hanging wholly round HIS neck, and take no charge of it farther! In which, to Friedrich's Biographers, there is this inestimable benefit, if far the reverse to Friedrich's self: That we shall soon have done with the French, then; with them and with so much else; and may, in time coming, for most part, leave their huge Sorcerer's Sabbath of a European War to dance itself out, well in the distance, not encumbering us farther, like a circumambient Bedlam, as it has hitherto done. Courage, reader! Let us give, in a glance or two, some notion of the course things took, and what moment it was when Friedrich struck in;—whom alone, or almost alone, we hope to follow thenceforth; "Dismal Swamp" (so gracious was Heaven to us) lying now mostly to rearward, little as we hoped it!
It was mere accident, a series of bad accidents, that led King Louis and his Ministers into gradually forsaking Friedrich. They were the farthest in the world from intending such a thing. Contrariwise, what brain-beating, diplomatic spider-weaving, practical contriving, now and afterwards, for that object; especially now! Rothenburg, Noailles, Belleisle, Cardinal Tencin, have been busy; not less the mistress Chateauroux, who admires Friedrich, being indeed a high-minded unfortunate female, as they say; and has thrown out Amelot, not for stammering alone. They are able, almost high people, this new Chateauroux Ministry, compared with some; and already show results.
Nay, what is most important of all, France has (unconsciously, or by mere help of Noailles and luck) got a real General to her Armies: Comte de Saxe, now Marechal de Saxe; who will shine very splendent in these Netherland operations,—counter-shone by mere Wades, D'Ahrembergs, Cumberlands,—in this and the Four following Years. Noailles had always recognized Comte de Saxe; had long striven for him, in Official quarters; and here gets the light of him unveiled at last, and set on a high place: loyal Noailles.
This was the Year, this 1744, when Louis XV., urged by his Chateauroux, the high-souled unfortunate female, appeared in person at the head of his troops: "Go, Sire, go, MON CHOU (and I will accompany); show yourself where a King should be, at the head of your troops; be a second Louis-le-Grand!" Which he did, his Chateauroux and he; actually went to the Netherlands, with baggage-train immeasurable, including not cooks only, but play-actors with their thunder-barrels (off from Paris, May 3d), to the admiration of the Universe. [Adelung, iv. 113; Barbier, ii. 391, 394; Dulaure, Hist. de Paris; &c.] Took the command, nominal-command, first days of June; and captured in no-time Menin, Ipres, Furnes, and the Fort of Knock, and as much of the Austrian Netherlands as he liked,—that is to say, saw Noailles and Saxe do it;—walking rapidly forward from Siege to Siege, with a most thundering artillery; old Marshal Wade and consorts dismally eating their victuals, and looking on from the distance, unable to attempt the least stroke in opposition. So that the Dutch Barrier, if anybody now cared for it, did go all flat; and the Balance of Power gets kicked out of its sacred pivot: to such purpose have the Dutch been hoisted! Terrible to think of;—had not there, from the opposite quarter, risen a surprising counterpoise; had not there been a Prince Karl, with his 70,000, pressing victoriously over the Rhine; which stayed the French in these sacrilegious procedures.
PRINCE KARL GETS ACROSS THE RHINE (20 JUNE-2 JULY, 1744).
Prince Karl, some weeks ago, at Heilbronn, joined his Rhine Army, which had gathered thither from the Austrian side, through Baiern, and from the Hither-Austrian or Swabian Winter-quarters; with full intent to be across the Rhine, and home upon Elsass and the Compensation Countries, this Summer, under what difficulties soever. Karl, or, as some whisper, old Marshal Traun, who is nominally second in command, do make a glorious campaign of it, this Year;—and lift the Cause of Liberty, at one time, to the highest pitch it ever reached. Here, in brief terms, is Prince Karl's Operation on the Rhine, much admired by military men:—
"STOCKSTADT, JUNE 20th, 1744. Some thirty and odd miles north of Mannheim, the Rhine, before turning westward at Mainz, makes one other of its many Islands (of which there are hundreds since the leap at Schaffhausen): one other, and I think the biggest of them all; perhaps two miles by five; which the Germans call KUHKOPF (Cowhead), from the shape it has,—a narrow semi-ellipse; River there splitting in two, one split (the western) going straight, the other bending luxuriantly round: so that the HIND-head or straight end of the Island lies towards France, and the round end, or cow-LIPS (so to speak) towards native Teutschland, and the woody Hills of the Berg-Strasse thereabouts. Stockstadt, chief little Town looking over into this Cowhead Island, lies under the CHIN: understand only farther that the German branch carries more than two-thirds of the River; that on the Island itself there is no town, or post of defence; and that Stockstadt is the place for getting over. Coigny and the French, some 40,000, are guarding the River hereabouts, with lines, with batteries, cordons, the best they can; Seckendorf, with 20,000 more ('Imperial' Old Bavarian Troops, revivified, recruited by French pay), is in his garrison of Philipsburg, ready to help when needed:"—not moulting now, at Wembdingen, in that dismal manner; new-feathered now into "Kaiser's Army;" waiting in his Philipsburg to guard the River there. "Coigny's French have ramparts, ditches, not quite unfurnished, on their own shore, opposite this Cowhead Island (ISLE DE HERON, as they call it); looking over to the hind-head, namely: but they have nothing considerable there; and in the Island itself, nothing whatever. 'If now Stockstadt were suddenly snatched by us,' thinks Karl;—'if a few pontoons were nimbly swung in?'
"JUNE 20th,—Coigny's people all shooting FEU-DE-JOIE, for that never enough to be celebrated Capture of Menin and the Dutch Barrier a fortnight ago,—this is managed to be done. The active General Barenklau, active Brigadier Daun under him, pushes rapidly across into Kuhkopf; rapidly throws up intrenchments, ramparts, mounts cannon, digs himself in,—greatly to Coigny's astonishment; whose people hereabouts, and in all their lines and posts, are busy shooting FEU-DE-JOIE for those immortal Dutch victories, at the moment, and never dreaming of such a thing. Fresh force floods in, Prince Karl himself arrives next day, in support of Barenklau; Coigny (head-quarters at Speyer, forty miles south) need not attempt dislodging him; but must stand upon his guard, and prepare for worse. Which he does with diligence; shifting northward into those Stockstadt-Mainz parts; calling Seckendorf across the River, and otherwise doing his best,—for about ten days more, when worse, and almost worst, did verily befall him.
"No attempt was made on Barenklau; nor, beyond the alarming of the Coigny-Seckendorf people, did anything occur in Cowhead Island,—unless it were the finis of an ugly bully and ruffian, who has more than once afflicted us: which may be worth one word. Colonel Mentzel [copper-faced Colonel, originally Play-actor, "Spy in Persia," and I know not what] had been at the seizure of Kuhkopf; a prominent man. Whom, on the fifth day after ('June 25th'), Prince Karl overwhelmed with joy, by handing him a Patent of Generalcy: 'Just received from Court, my Friend, on account of your merits old and late.'—'Aha,' said Barenklau, congratulating warmly: 'Dine with me, then, Herr General Mentzel, this very day. The Prince himself is to be there, Highness of Hessen-Darmstadt, and who not; all are impatient to drink your health!' Mentzel had a glorious dinner; still more glorious drink,—Prince Karl and the others, it is said, egging him into much wild bluster and gasconade, to season their much wine. Eminent swill of drinking, with the loud coarse talk supposable, on the part of Mentzel and consorts did go on, in this manner, all afternoon: in the evening, drunk Mentzel came out for air; went strutting and staggering about; emerging finally on the platform of some rampart, face of him huge and red as that of the foggiest rising Moon;—and stood, looking over into the Lorraine Country; belching out a storm of oaths, as to his taking it, as to his doing this and that; and was even flourishing his sword by way of accompaniment; when, lo, whistling slightly through the summer air, a rifle-ball from some sentry on the French side (writers say, it was a French drummer, grown impatient, and snatching a sentry's piece) took the brain of him, or the belly of him; and he rushed down at once, a totally collapsed monster, and mere heap of dead ruin, never to trouble mankind more." [Guerre de Boheme, iii. 165.] For which my readers and I are rather thankful. Voltaire, and perhaps other memorable persons, sometimes mention this brute (miraculous to the Plebs and Gazetteers); otherwise eternal oblivion were the best we could do with him. Trenck also, readers will be glad to understand, ends in jail and bedlam by and by.
"Prince Karl had not the least intention of crossing by this Cowhead Island. Nevertheless he set about two other Bridges in the neighborhood, nearer Mainz (few miles below that City); kept manoeuvring his Force, in huge half-moon, round that quarter, and mysteriously up and down; alarming Coigny wholly into the Mainz region. For the space of ten days; and then, stealing off to Schrock, a little Rhine Village above Philipsburg, many miles away from Coigny and his vigilantes, he—
"NIGHT OF 30th JUNE-1st JULY, Suddenly shot Pandour Trenck, followed by Nadasti and 6,000, across at Schrock who scattered Seckendorf's poor outposts thereabouts to the winds; 'built a bridge before morning, and next day another.' Next day Prince Karl in person appeared; and on the 3d of July, had his whole Army with its luggages across; and had seized the Lines of Lauterburg and Weissenburg (celebrated northern defence of Elsass),—much to Coigny's amazement; and remained inexpugnable there, with Elsass open to him, and to Coigny shut, for the present! [Adelung, iv. 139-141.] Coigny made bitter wail, accusation, blame of Seckendorf, blame of men and of things; even tried some fighting, Seckendorf too doing feats, to recover those Lines of Weissenburg: but could not do it. And, in fact, blazing to and fro in that excited rather than luminous condition, could not do anything; except retire into the strong posts of the background; and send express on express, swifter than the wind if you can, to a victorious King overturning the Dutch Barrier: 'Help, your Majesty, or we are lost; and France is—what shall I say!'"
"Admirable feat of Strategy! What a General, this Prince Karl!" exclaimed mankind,—Cause-of-Liberty mankind with special enthusiasm; and took to writing LIVES of Prince Karl, [For instance, The Life of his Highness Prince Charles of &c., with &c. &c. (London, 1746); one of the most distracted Blotches ever published under the name of Book;—wakening thoughts of a public dimness very considerable indeed, to which this could offer itself as lamp!] as well as tar-burning and TE-DEUM-ing on an extensive scale. For it had sent the Cause of Liberty bounding up again to the top of things, this of crossing the Rhine, in such fashion. And, in effect, the Cause of Liberty, and Prince Karl himself, had risen hereby to their acme or culminating point in World-History; not to continue long at such height, little as they dreamt of that, among their tar-burnings. The feat itself—contrived by Nadasti, people say, and executed (what was the real difficulty) by Traun—brought Prince Karl very great renown, this Year; and is praised by Friedrich himself, now and afterwards, as masterly, as Julius Caesar's method, and the proper way of crossing rivers (when executable) in face of an enemy. And indeed Prince Karl, owing to Traun or not, is highly respectable in the way of Generalship at present; and did in these Five Months, from June onward, really considerable things. At his very acme of Life, as well as of Generalship; which, alas, soon changed, poor man; never to culminate again. He had got, at the beginning of the Year, the high Maria Theresa's one Sister, Archduchess Maria Anna, to Wife; [Age then twenty-five gone: "born 14th September, 1718; married to Prince Karl 7th January, 1744; died, of childbirth, 16th December same year" (Hormayr, OEsterreichischer Plutarch, iv. erstes Baudchen, 54).] the crown of long mutual attachment; she safe now at Brussels, diligent Co-Regent, and in a promising family-way; he here walking on victorious:—need any man be happier? No man can be supremely happy long; and this General's strategic felicity and his domestic were fatally cut down almost together. The Cause of Liberty, too, now at the top of its orbit, was—But let us stick by our Excerpting:
"DUNKIRK, 19th JULY, 1744 [Princess Ulrique's Wedding, just two days ago]. King Louis, on hearing of the Job's-news from Elsass, instantly suspended his Conquests in Flanders; detached Noailles, detached this one and that, double-quick, Division after Division (leaving Saxe, with 45,000, to his own resources, and the fatuities of Marshal Wade); and, 19th July, himself hastens off from Dunkirk (leaving much of the luggage, but not the Chateauroux behind him), to save his Country, poor soul. But could not, in the least, save it; the reverse rather. August 4th, he got to Metz, Belleisle's strong town, about 100 miles from the actual scene; his detached reinforcements, say 50,000 men or so, hanging out ahead like flame-clouds, but uncertain how to act;—Noailles being always cunctatious in time of crisis, and poor Louis himself nothing of a Cloud-Compeller;—and then,
"METZ, AUGUST 8th, The Most Christian King fell ill; dangerously, dreadfully, just like to die. Which entirely paralyzed Noailles and Company, or reduced them to mere hysterics, and excitement of the unluminous kind. And filled France in general, Paris in particular, with terror, lamentation, prayers of forty hours; and such a paroxysm of hero-worship as was never seen for such an object before." [Espagnac, ii. 12; Adelung, iv. 180; Fastes de Louis XV., ii. 423; &c. &c.]
For the Cause of Liberty here, we consider, was the culminating moment; Elsass, Lorraine and the Three Bishoprics lying in their quasi-moribund condition; Austrian claims of Compensation ceasing to be visions of the heated brain, and gaining some footing on the Earth as facts. Prince Karl is here actually in Elsass, master of the strong passes; elate in heart, he and his; France, again, as if fallen paralytic, into temporary distraction; offering for resistance nothing hitherto but that universal wailing of mankind, Hero-worship of a thrice-lamentable nature, and the Prayers of Forty-Hours! Most Christian Majesty, now IN EXTREMIS, centre of the basest hubbub that ever was, is dismissing Chateauroux. Noailles, Coigny and Company hang well back upon the Hill regions, and strong posts which are not yet menaced; or fly vaguely, more or less distractedly, hither and thither; not in the least like fighting Karl, much less like beating him. Karl has Germany free at his back (nay it is a German population round him here); neither haversack nor cartridge-box like to fail: before him are only a Noailles and consorts, flying vaguely about;—and there is in Karl, or under the same cloak with him at present, a talent of manoeuvring men, which even Friedrich finds masterly. If old Marshal Wade, at the other end of the line, should chance to awaken and press home on Saxe, and his remnant of French, with right vigor? In fact, there was not, that I can see, for centuries past, not even at the Siege of Lille in Marlborough's time, a more imminent peril for France.
FRIEDRICH DECIDES TO INTERVENE.
King Friedrich, on hearing of these Rhenish emergencies and of King Louis's heroic advance to the rescue, perceived that for himself too the moment was come; and hastened to inform heroic Louis, That though the terms of their Bargain were not yet completed, Sweden, Russia and other points being still in a pendent condition, he, Friedrich,—with an eye to success of their Joint Adventure, and to the indispensability of joint action, energy, and the top of one's speed now or never,—would, by the middle of this same August, be on the field with 100,000 men. "An invasion of Bohemia, will not that astonish Prince Karl; and bring him to his Rhine-Bridges again? Over which, if your Most Christian Majesty be active, he will not get, except in a half, or wholly ruined state. Follow him close; send the rest of your force to threaten Hanover; sit well on the skirts of Prince Karl. Him as he hurries homeward, ruined or half-ruined, him, or whatever Austrian will fight, I do my best to beat. We may have Bohemia, and a beaten Austria, this very Autumn: see,—and, in one Campaign, there is Peace ready for us!" This is Friedrich's scheme of action; success certain, thinks he, if only there be energy, activity, on your side, as there shall be on mine;—and has sent Count Schmettau, filled with fiery speed and determination, to keep the French full of the like, and concert mutual operations.
"Magnanimous!" exclaim Noailles and the paralyzed French Gentlemen (King Louis, I think, now past speech, for Schmettau only came August 9th): "Most sublime behavior, on his Prussian Majesty's part!" own they. And truly it is a fine manful indifference (by no means so common as it should be) to all interests, to all considerations, but that of a Joint Enterprise one has engaged in. And truly, furthermore, it was immediate salvation to the paralyzed French Gentlemen, in that alarming crisis; though they did not much recognize it afterwards as such: and indeed were conspicuously forgetful of all parts of it, when their own danger was over.
Maria Theresa's feelings may be conceived; George II's feelings; and what the Cause of Liberty in general felt, and furiously said and complained, when—suddenly as a DEUS EX MACHINA, or Supernal Genie in the Minor Theatres—Friedrich stept in. Precisely in this supreme crisis, 7th August, 1744, Friedrich's Minister, Graf von Dohna, at Vienna, has given notice of the Frankfurt Union, and solemn Engagement entered into: "Obliged in honor and conscience; will and must now step forth to right an injured Kaiser; cannot stand these high procedures against an Imperial Majesty chosen by all the Princes of the Reich, this unheard-of protest that the Kaiser is no Kaiser, as if all Germany were but Austria and the Queen of Hungary's. Prussian Majesty has not the least quarrel of his own with the Queen of Hungary, stands true, and will stand, by the Treaty of Berlin and Breslau;—only, with certain other German Princes, has done what all German Princes and peoples not Austrian are bound to do, on behalf of their down-trodden Kaiser, formed a Union of Frankfurt; and will, with armed hand if indispensable, endeavor to see right done in that matter." [In Adelung, iv. 155, 156, the Declaration itself (Audience, "7th August, 1744." Dohna off homeward "on the second day after").]
This is the astonishing fact for the Cause of Liberty; and no clamor and execration will avail anything. This man is prompt, too; does not linger in getting out his Sword, when he has talked of it. Prince Karl's Operation is likely to be marred amazingly. If this swift King (comparable to the old Serpent for devices) were to burst forth from his Silesian strengths; tread sharply on the TAIL of Prince Karl's Operation, and bring back the formidably fanged head of IT out of Alsace, five hundred miles all at once,—there would be a business!
We will now quit the Rhine Operations, which indeed are not now of moment; Friedrich being suddenly the key of events again. I add only, what readers are vaguely aware of, that King Louis did not die; that he lay at death's door for precisely one week (8th-15th August), symptoms mending on the 15th. In the interim,—Grand-Almoner Fitz-James (Uncle of our Conte di Spinelli) insisting that a certain Cardinal, who had got the Sacraments in hand, should insist; and endless ministerial intrigue being busy,—moribund Louis had, when it came to the Sacramental point, been obliged to dismiss his Chateauroux. Poor Chateauroux; an unfortunate female; yet, one almost thinks, the best man among them: dismissed at Metz here, and like to be mobbed! That was the one issue of King Louis's death-sickness. Sublime sickness; during which all Paris wept aloud, in terror and sorrow, like a child that has lost its mother and sees a mastiff coming; wept sublimely, and did the Prayers of Forty-Hours; and called King Louis Le BIEN-AIME (The Well-beloved):—merely some obstruction in the royal bowels, it turned out;—a good cathartic, and the Prayers of Forty-Hours, quite reinstated matters. Nay reinstated even Chateauroux, some time after,—"the Devil being well again," and, as the Proverb says, quitting his monastic view. Reinstated Chateauroux: but this time, poor creature, she continued only about a day:—"Sudden fever, from excitement," said the Doctors: "Fever? Poison, you mean!" whispered others, and looked for changes in the Ministry. Enough, oh, enough!—
Old Marshal Wade did not awaken, though bawled to by his Ligoniers and others, and much shaken about, poor old gentleman. "No artillery to speak of," murmured he; "want baggage-wagons, too!" and lay still. "Here is artillery!" answered the Official people; "With my own money I will buy you baggage-wagons!" answered the high Maria Anna, in her own name and her Prince Karl's, who are Joint-Governors there. Possibly he would have awakened, had they given him time. But time, in War especially, is the thing that is never given. Once Friedrich HAD struck in, the moment was gone by. Poor old Wade! Of him also enough.
Chapter II.—FRIEDRICH MARCHES UPON PRAG, CAPTURES PRAG.
It was on Saturday, "early in the morning," 15th August, 1744, that Friedrich set out, attended by his two eldest Brothers, Prince of Prussia and Prince Henri, from Potsdam, towards this new Adventure, which proved so famous since. Sudden, swift, to the world's astonishment;—actually on march here, in three Columns (two through Saxony by various routes southeastward, one from Silesia through Glatz southwestward), to invade Bohemia: rumor says 100,000 strong, fact itself says upwards of 80,000, on their various routes, converging towards Prag. [—Helden-Geschichte,—ii. 1165. Orlich (ii. 25, 27) enumerates the various regiments.] His Columns, especially his Saxon Columns, are already on the road; he joins one Column, this night, at Wittenberg; and is bent, through Saxony, towards the frontiers of Bohemia, at the utmost military speed he has.
Through Saxony about 60,000 go: he has got the Kaiser's Order to the Government of Saxony, "Our august Ally, requiring on our Imperial business a transit through you;"—and Winterfeld, an excellent soldier and negotiator, has gone forward to present said Order. A Document which flurries the Dresden Officials beyond measure. Their King is in Warsaw; their King, if here, could do little; and indeed has been inclining to Maria Theresa this long while. And Winterfeld insists on such despatch;—and not even the Duke of Weissenfels is in Town, Dresden Officials "send off five couriers and thirteen estafettes" to the poor old Duke; [Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1163.] get him at last; and—The march is already taking effect; they may as well consent to it: what can they do but consent! In the uttermost flurry, they had set to fortifying Dresden; all hands driving palisades, picking, delving, making COUPURES (trenches, or sunk barricades) in the streets;—fatally aware that it can avail nothing. Is not this the Kaiser's Order? Prussians, to the amount of 60,000, are across our Frontiers, rapidly speeding on.
"Friedrich's Manifesto—under the modest Title, 'ANZEIGE DER URSACHEN (Advertisement of the Causes which have induced his Prussian Majesty to send the Romish Kaiser's Majesty some Auxiliary Troops)'—had appeared in the Berlin Newspapers Thursday, 13th, only two days before. An astonishment to all mankind; which gave rise to endless misconceptions of Friedrich: but which, supporting itself on proofs, on punctually excerpted foot-notes, is intrinsically a modest, quiet Piece; and, what is singular in Manifestoes, has nothing, or almost nothing, in it that is not, so far as it goes, a perfect statement of the fact. 'Auxiliary troops, that is our essential character. No war with her Hungarian Majesty, or with any other, on our own score. But her Hungarian Majesty, how has she treated the Romish Kaiser, her and our and the Reich's Sovereign Head, and to what pass reduced him; refusing him Peace on any terms, except those of self-annihilation; denying that he is a Kaiser at all;'—and enumerates the various Imperial injuries, with proof given, quiet footnotes by way of proof; and concludes in these words: 'For himself his Majesty requires nothing. The question here is not of his Majesty's own interest at all [everything his Majesty required, or requires, is by the Treaty of Berlin solemnly his, if the Reich and its Laws endure]: and he has taken up arms simply and solely in the view of restoring to the Reich its freedom, to the Kaiser his Headship of the Reich, and to all Europe the Peace which is so desirable.' [Given in Seyfarth, Beylage, i. 121-136, with date "August, 1744."]
"'Pretences, subterfuges, lies!' exclaimed the Austrian and Allied Public everywhere, or strove to exclaim; especially the English Public, which had no difficulty in so doing;—a Public comfortably blank as to German facts or non-facts; and finding with amazement only this a very certain fact, That hereby is their own Pragmatic thunder checked in mid-volley in a most surprising manner, and the triumphant Cause of Liberty brought to jeopardy again. 'Perfidious, ambitious, capricious!' exclaimed they: 'a Prince without honor, without truth, without constancy;'—and completed, for themselves, in hot rabid humor, that English Theory of Friedrich which has prevailed ever since. Perhaps the most surprising item of which is this latter, very prominent in those old times, That Friedrich has no 'constancy,' but follows his 'caprices,' and accidental whirls of impulse:—item which has dropped away in our times, though the others stand as stable as ever. A monument of several things! Friedrich's suddenness is an essential part of what fighting talent he has: if the Public, thrown into flurry, cannot judge it well, they must even misjudge it: what help is there?
"That the above were actually Friedrich's reasons for venturing into this Big Game again, is not now disputable. And as to the rumor, which rose afterwards (and was denied, and could only be denied diplomatically to the ear, if even to the ear), That Friedrich by Secret Article was 'to have for himself the Three Bohemian Circles, Konigsgratz, Bunzlau, Leitmeritz, which lie between Schlesien and Sachsen,' [Helden-Geschichte, i. 1081; Scholl, ii. 349.]—there is not a doubt but Friedrich had so bargained, 'Very well, if we can get said Circles!' and would right cheerfully have kept and held them, had the big game gone in all points completely well (game, to reinstate the Kaiser BOTH in Bohemia and Bavaria) by Friedrich's fine playing. Not a doubt of all this:—nor of what an extremely hypothetic outlook it then and always was; greatly too weak for enticing such a man."
Friedrich goes in Three Columns. One, on the south or left shore of the Elbe, coming in various branches under Friedrich himself; this alone will touch on Dresden, pass on the south side of Dresden; gather itself about Pirna (in the Saxon Switzerland so called, a notable locality); thence over the Metal Mountains into Bohmen, by Toplitz, by Lowositz, Leitmeritz, and the Highway called the Pascopol, famous in War. The Second Column, under Leopold the Young Dessauer, goes on the other or north side of the Elbe, at a fair distance; marching through the Lausitz (rendezvous or starting-point was Bautzen in the Lausitz) straight south, to meet the King at Leitmeritz, where the grand Magazine is to be; and thence, still south, straight upon Prag, in conjunction with his Majesty or parallel to him. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 1081.] These are the Two Saxon Columns. The Third Column, under Schwerin, collects itself in the interior of Silesia; is issuing, by Glatz Country, through the Giant Mountains, BOHMISCHE KAMME (Bohemian COMBS as they are called, which Tourists know), by the Pass of Braunau,—disturbing the dreams of Rubezahl, if Rubezahl happen to be there. This, say 20,000, will come down upon Prag from the eastern side; and be first on the ground (31st August),—first by one day. In the home parts of Silesia, well eastward of Glatz, there is left another Force of 20,000, which can go across the Austrian Border there, and hang upon the Hills, threatening Olmutz and the Moravian Countries, should need be.
And so, in its Three Columns, from west, from north, from east, the march, with a steady swiftness, proceeds. Important especially those Two Saxon Columns from west and north: 60,000 of them, "with a frightful (ENTSETZLICH) quantity of big guns coming up the Elbe." Much is coming up the Elbe; indispensable Highway for this Enterprise. Three months' provisions, endless artillery and provender, is on the Elbe; 480 big boats, with immense VORSPANN (of trace-horses, dreadful swearing, too, as I have heard), will pass through the middle of Dresden: not landing by any means. "No, be assured of it, ye Dresdeners, all flurried, palisaded, barricaded; no hair of you shall be harmed." After a day or two, the flurry of Saxony subsided; Prussians, under strict discipline, molest no private person; pay their way; keep well aloof, to south and to north, of Dresden (all but the necessary ammunition-escorts do);—and require of the Official people nothing but what the Law of the Reich authorizes to "Imperial Auxiliaries" in such case. "The Saxons themselves," Friedrich observes, "had some 40,000, but scattered about; King in Warsaw:—dreadful terror; making COUPURES and TETES-DE-PONT;—could have made no defence." Had we diligently spent eight days on them! reflects he afterwards. "To seize Saxony [and hobble it with ropes, so that at any time you could pin it motionless, and even, if need were, milk the substance out of it], would not have detained us eight days." [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 53.] Which would have been the true plan, had we known what was getting ready there! Certain it is, Friedrich did no mischief, paid for everything; anxious to keep well with Saxony; hoping always they might join him again, in such a Cause. "Cause dear to every Patriot German Prince," urges Friedrich,—though Bruhl, and the Polish, once "Moravian," Majesty are of a very different opinion:—
"Maria Theresa, her thoughts at hearing of it may be imagined: 'The Evil Genius of my House afoot again! My high projects on Elsass and Lorraine; Husband for Kaiser, Elsass for the Reich and him, Lorraine for myself and him; gone probably to water!' Nevertheless she said (an Official person heard her say), 'My right is known to God; God will protect me, as He has already done.' [ Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1024.] And rose very strong, and magnanimously defiant again; perhaps, at the bottom of her heart, almost glad withal that she would now have a stroke for her dear Silesia again, unhindered by Paladin George and his Treaties and notions. What measures, against this nefarious Prussian outbreak, hateful to gods and men, are possible, she rapidly takes: in Bohemia, in Bavaria and her other Countries, that are threatened or can help. And abates nothing of heart or hope;—praying withal, immensely, she and her People, according to the mode they have. Sending for Prince Karl, we need not say, double-quick, as the very first thing.
"Of Maria Theresa in Hungary,—for she ran to Presburg again with her woes (August 16th, Diet just assembling there),—let us say only that Hungary was again chivalrous; that old Palfy and the general Hungarian Nation answered in the old tone,—VIVAT MARIA; AD ARMA, AD ARMA! with Tolpatches, Pandours, Warasdins;—and, in short, that great and small, in infinite 'Insurrection,' have still a stroke of battle in them PRO REGE NOSTRO. Scarcely above a District or two (as the JASZERS and KAUERS, in their over-cautious way) making the least difficulty. Much enthusiasm and unanimity in all the others; here and there a Hungarian gentleman complaining scornfully that their troops, known as among the best fighters in Nature, are called irregular troops,—irregular, forsooth! In one public consultation [District not important, not very spellable, though doubtless pronounceable by natives to it], a gentleman suggests that 'Winter is near; should not there be some slight provision of tents, of shelter in the frozen sleety Mountains, to our gallant fellows bound thither?' Upon which another starts up, 'When our Ancestors came out of Asia Minor, over the Palus Maeotis bound in winter ice; and, sabre in hand, cut their way into this fine Country which is still ours, what shelter had they? No talk of tents, of barracks or accommodation there; each, wrapt in his sheep skin, found it shelter sufficient. Tents!' [ Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1030.] And the thing was carried by acclamation.
"Wide wail in Bohemia that War is coming back. Nobility all making off, some to Vienna or the intermediate Towns lying thitherward, some to their Country-seats; all out of Prag. Willing mind on the part of the Common People; which the Government strains every nerve to make the most of. Here are fasts, processions, Prayers of Forty-Hours; here, as in Vienna and elsewhere. In Vienna was a Three Days' solemn Fast: the like in Prag, or better; with procession to the shrine of St. Vitus,—little likely to help, I should fear. 'Rise, all fencible men,' exclaims the Government,—'at least we will ballot, and make you rise:'—Militia people enter Prag to the extent of 10,000; like to avail little, one would fear. General Harsch, with reinforcement of real soldiers, is despatched from Vienna; Harsch, one of our ablest soldiers since Khevenhuller died, gets in still in time; and thus increases the Garrison of regulars to 4,000, with a vigorous Captain to guide it. Old Count Ogilvy, the same whom Saxe surprised two years ago in the moonlight, snatching ladders from the gallows,—Ogilvy is again Commandant; but this time nominal mainly, and with better outlooks, Harsch being under him. In relays, 3,000 of the Militia men dig and shovel night and day; repairing, perfecting the ramparts of the place. Then, as to provisions, endless corn is introduced,—farmers forced, the unwilling at the bayonet's point, to deliver in their corn; much of it in sheaf, so that we have to thrash it in the market-place, in the streets that are wide: and thus in Prag is heard the sound of flails, among the Militia-drums and so many other noises. With the great church-organs growling; and the bass and treble MISERERE of the poor superstitious People rising, to St. Vitus and others. In fact, it is a general Dance of St. Vitus,—except that of the flails, and Militia-men working at the ramparts,—mostly not leading any-whither." ["LETTER from a Citizen of Prag," date, 21st Sept. (in Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1168), which gives several curious details.]
Meanwhile Friedrich's march from west, from north, from east, is flowing on; diligent, swift; punctual to its times, its places; and meets no impediment to speak of. At Tetschen on the Saxon-Bohemian Frontier,—a pleasant Schloss perched on its crags, as Tourists know, where the Elbe sweeps into Saxon Switzerland and its long stone labyrinths,—at Tetschen the Austrians had taken post; had tried to block the River, driving piles into it, and tumbling boulders into it, with a view to stop the 480 Prussian Boats. These people needed to be torn out, their piles and they: which was done in two days, the soldier part of it; and occupied the boatmen above a week, before all was clear again. Prosperous, correct to program, all the rest; not needing mention from us;—here are the few sparks from it that dwell in one's memory:—
"AUGUST 15th, 1744, King left Potsdam; joined his First Column that night, at Wittenberg. Through Mieissen, Torgau, Freyberg; is at Peterswalde, eastern slope of the Metal Mountains, August 25th; all the Columns now on Bohemian ground.
"Friedrich had crossed Elbe by the Bridge of Meissen: on the southern shore, politely waiting to receive his Majesty, there stood Feldmarschall the Duke of Weissenfels; to whom the King gave his hand," no doubt in friendly style, "and talked for above half an hour,"—with such success! thinks Friedrich by and by. We have heard of Weissenfels before; the same poor Weissenfels who was Wilhelmina's Wooer in old time, now on the verge of sixty; an extremely polite but weakish old gentleman; accidentally preserved in History. One of those conspicuous "Human Clothes-Horses" (phantasmal all but the digestive part), which abound in that Eighteenth Century and others like it; and distress your Historical studies. Poor old soul; now Feldmarschall and Commander-in-Chief here. Has been in Turk and other Wars; with little profit to himself or others. Used to like his glass, they say; is still very poor, though now Duke in reality as well as title (succeeded two egregious Brothers, some years since, who had been spendthrift): he has still one other beating to get in this world,—from Friedrich next year. Died altogether, two years hence; and Wilhelmina heard no more of him.
"At Meissen Bridge, say some, was this Half-hour's Interview; at Pirna, the Bridge of Pirna, others say; [See Orlich, ii. 25; and Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1166.]—quite indifferent to us which. At Pirna, and hither and thither in Saxon Switzerland, Friedrich certainly was. 'Who ever saw such positions, your Majesty?' For Friedrich is always looking out, were it even from the window of his carriage, and putting military problems to himself in all manner of scenery, 'What would a man do, in that kind of ground, if attacking, if attacked? with that hill, that brook, that bit of bog?' and advises every Officer to be continually doing the like. [MILITARY INSTRUCTIONS? RULES FOR A GOOD COMMANDER OF &c.?—I have, for certain, read this Passage; but the reference is gone again, like a sparrow from the house-top!] That is the value of picturesque or other scenery to Friedrich, and their effect on good Prussian Officers and him.
"... At Tetschen, Colonel Kahlbutz," diligent Prussian Colonel, "plucks out those 100 Austrians from their rock nest there; makes them prisoners of war;—which detained the Leitmeritz branch of us two days. August 28th, junction at Leitmeritz thereupon. Magazine established there. Boats coming on presently. Friedrich himself camped at Lobositz in this part,"—Lobositz, or Lowositz, which he will remember one day.
"AUGUST 29th, March to Budin; that is, southward, across the Eger, arrive within forty miles of Prag. Austrian Bathyani, summoned hastily out of his Bavarian posts, to succor in this pressing emergency, has arrived in these neighborhoods,—some 12,000 regulars under him, preceded by clouds of hussars, whom Ziethen smites a little, by way of handsel;—no other Austrian force to speak of hereabouts; and we are now between Bathyani and Prag.
"SEPTEMBER 1st, To Mickowitz, near Welwarn, twenty miles from Prag. September 2d, Camp on the Weissenberg there." [ Helden-Geschichte, i. 1080.]
And so they are all assembled about Prag, begirdling the poor City,—third Siege it has stood within these three years (since that moonlight November night in 1741);—and are only waiting for their heavy artillery to begin battering. The poor inhabitants, in spite of three sieges; the 10,000 raw militia-men, mostly of Hungarian breed; the 4,000 regulars, and Harsch and old Ogilvy, are all disposed to do their best. Friedrich is naturally in haste to get hold of Prag. But he finds, on taking survey: that the sword-in-hand method is not now, as in 1741, feasible at all; that the place is in good posture of strength; and will need a hot battering to tear it open. Owing to that accident at Tetschen, the siege-cannon are not yet come up: "Build your batteries, your Moldau-bridges, your communications, till the cannon come; and beware of Bathyani meddling with your cannon by the road!"
"Bathyani is within twenty miles of us, at Beraun, a compact little Town to southwest; gathering a Magazine there; and ready for enterprises,—in more force than Friedrich guesses. 'Drive him out, seize that Magazine of his!' orders Friedrich (September 5th); and despatches General Hacke on it, a right man,"—at whose wedding we assisted (wedding to an heiress, long since, in Friedrich Wilhelm's time), if anybody now remembered. "And on the morrow there falls out a pretty little 'Action of Beraun,' about which great noise was made in the Gazettes PRO and CONTRA: which did not dislodge Bathyani by airy means; but which might easily have ruined the impetuous Hacke and his 6,000, getting into masked batteries, Pandour whirlwinds, charges of horses 'from front, from rear, and from both flanks,'—had not he, with masterly promptitude, whirled himself out of it, snatched instantly what best post there was, and defended himself inexpugnably there, for six hours, till relief came." [DIE BEY BERAUN VORGEFALLENE ACTION (in Seyfarth, Beylage, i. 136, 137).] Brilliant little action, well performed on both sides, but leading to nothing; and which shall not concern us farther. Except to say that Bathyani did now, more at his leisure, retire out of harm's way; and begin collecting Magazines at Pilsen far rearward, which may prove useful to Prince Karl, in the route Prince Karl is upon.
Siege-cannon having at last come (September 8th), the batteries are all mounted:—on Wednesday, 9th, late at night, the Artillery, "in enormous quantity," opens its dread throat; poor Prag is startled from its bed by torrents of shot, solid and shell, from three different quarters; and makes haste to stand to its guns. From three different quarters; from Bubenetsch northward; from the Upland of St. Lawrence (famed WEISSENBERG, or White-Hill) westward; and from the Ziscaberg eastward (Hill of Zisca, where iron Zisca posted himself on a grand occasion once),—which latter is a broad long Hill, west end of it falling sheer over Prag; and on another point of it, highest point of all, the Praguers have a strong battery and works. The Prag guns otherwise are not too effectual; planted mostly on low ground. By much the best Prag battery is this of the Ziscaberg. And this, after two days' experience had of it, the Prussians determine to take on the morrow.
SEPTEMBER 12th, Schwerin, who commands on that side, assaults accordingly; with the due steadfastness and stormfulness: throwing shells and balls by way of prelude. Friedrich, with some group of staff-officers and dignitaries, steps out on the Bubenetsch post, to see how this affair of the Ziscaberg will prosper: the Praguers thereabouts, seeing so many dignitaries, turn cannon on them. "Disperse, IHR HERREN; have a care!" cried Friedrich; not himself much minding, so intent upon the Ziscaberg. And could have skipt indifferently over your cannon-balls ploughing the ground,—had not one fateful ball shattered out the life of poor Prince Wilhelm; a good young Cousin of his, shot down here at his hand. Doubtless a sharp moment for the King. Prince Margraf Wilhelm and a poor young page, there they lie dead; indifferent to the Ziscaberg and all coming wars of mankind. Lamentation, naturally, for this young man,—Brother to the one who fell at Mollwitz, youngest Brother of the Margraf Karl, who commands in this Bubenetsch redoubt:—But we must lift our eye-glass again; see how Schwerin is prospering. Schwerin, with due steadfastness and stormfulness, after his prelude of bomb-shells, rushes on double-quick; cannot be withstood; hurls out the Praguers, and seizes their battery; a ruinous loss to them.
Their grand Zisca redoubt is gone, then; and two subsidiary small redoubts behind it withal, which the French had built, and named "the magpie-nests (NIDS A PIE);" these also are ours. And we overhang, from our Zisca Hill, the very roofs, as it were; and there is nothing but a long bare curtain now in this quarter, ready to be battered in breach, and soon holed, if needful. It is not needful,—not quite. In the course of three days more, our Bubenetsch battery, of enormous power, has been so diligent, it has set fire to the Water-mill; burns irretrievably the Water-mill, and still worse, the wooden Sluice of the Moldau; so that the river falls to the everywhere wadable pitch. And Governor Harsch perceives that all this quarter of the Town is open to any comer;—and, in fact, that he will have to get away, the best he can.
White flag accordingly (Tuesday, 15th): "Free withdrawal, to the Wischerad; won't you?" "By no manner of means!" answers Friedrich. Bids Schwerin from his Ziscaberg make a hole or two in that "curtain" opposite him; and gets ready for storm. Upon which Harsch, next morning, has to beat the chamade, and surrender Prisoner of War. And thus, Wednesday, 16th, it is done: a siege of one week, no more,—after all that thrashing of grain, drilling of militia, and other spirited preparation. Harsch could not help it; the Prussian cannonading was so furious. [Orlich, ii. 36-39; Helden-Geschichte, i. 1082, and ii. 1168; OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 56; &c. &c.]
Prag has to swear fealty to the Kaiser; and "pay a ransom of 200,000 pounds." Drilled militia, regulars, Hungarians, about 16,000,—only that many of the Tolpatches contrived to whisk loose,—are marched prisoners to Glatz and other strong places. Prag City, with plenty of provision in it, is ours. A brilliant beginning of a Campaign; the eyes of all Europe turned again, in very various humor, on this young King. If only the French do their duty, and hang well on the skirts of Marshal Traun (or of Prince Karl, the Cloak of Traun), who is hastening hitherward all he can.
Chapter III.—FRIEDRICH, DILIGENT IN HIS BOHEMIAN CONQUESTS, UNEXPECTEDLY COMES UPON PRINCE KARL, WITH NO FRENCH ATTENDING HIM.
This electrically sudden operation on Prag was considered by astonished mankind, whatever else they might think about it, a decidedly brilliant feat of War: falling like a bolt out of the blue,—like three bolts, suddenly coalescing over Prag, and striking it down. Friedrich himself, though there is nothing of boast audible here or anywhere, was evidently very well satisfied; and thought the aspects good. There is Prince Karl whirling instantly back from his Strasburg Prospects; the general St. Vitus Dance of Austrian things rising higher and higher in these home parts:—reasonable hope that "in the course of one Campaign," proud obstinate Austria might feel itself so wrung and screwed as to be glad of Peace with neighbors not wishing War. That was the young King's calculation at this time. And, had France done at all as it promised,—or had the young King himself been considerably wiser than he was,—he had not been disappointed in the way we shall see!
Friedrich admits he did not understand War at this period. His own scheme now was: To move towards the southwest, there to abolish Bathyani and his Tolpatches, who are busy gathering Magazines for Prince Karl's advent; to seize the said Magazines, which will be very useful to us; then advance straight towards the Passes of the Bohemian Mountains. Towns of Furth, Waldmunchen, unfortunate Town of Cham (burnt by Trenck, where masons are now busy); these stand successive in the grand Pass, through which the highway runs; some hundred miles or so from where we are: march, at one's swiftest, thitherward, Bathyani's Magazines to help; and there await Prince Karl? It was Friedrich's own notion; not a bad one, though not the best. The best, he admits, would have been: To stay pretty much where he was; abolish Bathyani's Tolpatch people, seizing their Magazines, and collecting others; in general, well rooting and fencing himself in Prag, and in the Circles that lie thereabouts upon the Elbe,—bounded to southward by the Sazawa (branch of the Moldau), which runs parallel to the Elbe;—but well refusing to stir much farther at such an advanced season of the year.
That second plan would have been the wisest:—then why not, follow it? Too tame a plan for the youthful mind. Besides, we perceive, as indeed is intimated by himself, he dreaded the force of public opinion in France. "Aha, look at your King of Prussia again. Gone to conquer Bohemia; and, except the Three Circles he himself is to have of it, lets Bohemia go to the winds!" This sort of thing, Friedrich admits, he dreaded too much, at that young period; so loud had the criticisms been on him, in the time of the Breslau Treaty: "Out upon your King of Prussia; call you that an honorable Ally!" Undoubtedly a weakness in the young King; inasmuch, says he, as "every General [and every man, add we] should look to the fact, not to the rumor of the fact." Well; but, at least, he will adopt his own other notion; that of making for the Passes of the Bohemian Mountains; to abolish Bathyani at least, and lock the door upon Prince Karl's advent? That was his own plan; and, though second-best, that also would have done well, had there been no third.
But there was, as we hinted, a third plan, ardently favored by Belleisle, whose war-talent Friedrich much respected at this time: plan built on Belleisle's reminiscences of the old Tabor-Budweis businesses, and totally inapplicable now. Belleisle said, "Go southeast, not southwest; right towards the Austrian Frontier itself; that will frighten Austria into a fine tremor. Shut up the roads from Austria: Budweis, Neuhaus; seize those two Highroad Towns, and keep them, if you would hold Bohemia; the want of them was our ruin there." Your ruin, yes: but your enemy was not coming from Alsace and the southwest then. He was coming from Austria; and your own home lay on the southwest: it is all different now! Friedrich might well think himself bewitched not to have gone for Cham and Furth, and the Passes of the Bohmer-Wald, according to his own notion. But so it was; he yielded to the big reputation of Belleisle, and to fear of what the world would say of him in France; a weakness which he will perhaps be taught not to repeat. In fact, he is now about to be taught several things;—and will have to pay his school-wages as he goes.
FRIEDRICH, LEAVING SMALL GARRISON IN PRAG, RUSHES SWIFTLY UP THE MOLDAU VALLEY, UPON THE TABOR-BUDWEIS COUNTRY; TO PLEASE HIS FRENCH FRIENDS.
Friedrich made no delay in Prag; in haste at this late time of year. September 17th, on the very morrow of the Siege, the Prussians get in motion southward; on the 19th, Friedrich, from his post to north of the City, defiles through Prag, on march to Kunraditz,—first stage on that questionable Expedition up the Moldau Valley, right bank; towards Tabor, Budweis, Neuhaus; to threaten Austria, and please Belleisle and the French.
Prag is left under General Einsiedel with a small garrison of 5,000;—Einsiedel, a steady elderly gentleman, favorite of Friedrich Wilhelm's, has brief order, or outline of order to be filled up by his own good sense. Posadowsky follows the march, with as many meal-wagons as possible,—draught-cattle in very ineffectual condition. Our main Magazine is at Leitmeritz (should have been brought on to Prag, thinks Friedrich); Commissariat very ill-managed in comparison to what it ought to be,—to what it shall be, if we ever live to make another Campaign. Heavy artillery is left in Prag (another fault); and from each regiment, one of its baggage-wagons. [ Helden-Geschichte, i. 1083; Orlich, ii. 41 et seqq.; Frederic, iii. 59; &c.] "We rest a day here at Kunraditz: 21st September, get to the Sazawa River;—22d, to Bistritz (rest a day);—26th, to Miltschin; and 27th, to Tabor:"—But the Diary would be tedious.
Friedrich goes in two Columns; one along the great road towards Tabor, under Schwerin this, and Friedrich mainly with him; the other to the right, along the River's bank, under Leopold, Young Dessauer, which has to go by wild country roads, or now and then roads of its own making; and much needs the pioneer (a difficult march in the shortening days). Posadowsky follows with the proviant, drawn by cattle of the horse and ox species, daily falling down starved: great swearing there too, I doubt not! General Nassau is vanguard, and stretches forward successfully at a much lighter pace.
There are two Rivers, considerable branches of the Moldau, coming from eastward; which, and first of them the Sazawa, concern us here. After mounting the southern Uplands from Prag for a day or two, you then begin to drop again, into the hollow of a River called Sazawa, important in Bohemian Wars. It is of winding course, the first considerable branch of the Moldau, rising in Teutschbrod Country, seventy or eighty miles to east of us: in regard to Sazawa, there is, at present, no difficulty about crossing; the Country being all ours. After the Sazawa, mount again, long miles, day after day, through intricate stony desolation, rocks, bogs, untrimmed woods, you will get to Miltschin, thence to Tabor: Miltschin is the crown of that rough moor country; from Prag to Tabor is some sixty miles. After Miltschin the course of those brown mountain-brooks is all towards the Luschnitz, the next considerable branch of the Moldau; branch still longer and more winding than the Sazawa; Tabor towers up near this branch; Budweis, on the Moldau itself, is forty miles farther; and there at last you are out of the stony moors, and in a rich champaign comfortable to man and horse, were you but once there, after plodding through the desolations. But from that Sazawa by the Luschnitz on to Budweis, mounting and falling in such fashion, there must be ninety miles or thereby. Plod along; and keep a sharp eye on the whirling clouds of Pandours, for those too have got across upon us,—added to the other tempests of Autumn.
On the ninth day of their march, the Prussians begin to descry on the horizon ahead the steeples and chimney-tops of Tabor, on its high scarped rock, or "Hill of Zisca,"—for it was Zisca and his Hussites that built themselves this Bit of Inexpugnability, and named it Tabor from their Bibles,—in those waste mountain regions. On the tenth day (27th September), the Prussians without difficulty took Tabor; walls being ruined, garrison small. We lie at Tabor till the 30th, last day of September. Thence, 2d October, part of us to Moldau-Tein rightwards; where cross the Moldau by a Bridge,—"Bridge" one has heard of, in old Broglio times;—cross there, with intent (easily successful) to snatch that "Castle of Frauenberg," darling of Broglio, for which he fought his Pharsalia of a Sahay to no purpose!
Both Columns got united at Tabor; and paused for a day or two, to rest, and gather up their draggled skirts there. The Expedition does not improve in promise, as we advance in it; the march one of the most untowardly; and Posadowsky comes up with only half of his provision-carts,—half of his cattle having fallen down of bad weather, hill-roads and starvation; what could he do? That is an ominous circumstance, not the less.
Three things are against the Prussians on this march; two of them accidental things. FIRST, there is, at this late season too, the intrinsic nature of the Country; which Friedrich with emphasis describes as boggy, stony, precipitous; a waste, hungry and altogether barren Country,—too emphatically so described. But then SECONDLY, what might have been otherwise, the Population, worked upon by Austrian officials, all fly from the sight of us; nothing but fireless deserted hamlets; and the corn, if they ever had any, all thrashed and hidden. No amount of money can purchase any service from them. Poor dark creatures; not loving Austria much, but loving some others even less, it would appear. Of Bigoted Papist Creed, for one thing; that is a great point. We do not meddle with their worship more or less; but we are Heretics, and they hate us as the Night. Which is a dreadful difficulty you always have in Bohemia: nowhere but in the Circle of Konigsgraz, where there are Hussites (far to the rear of us at this time), will you find it otherwise. This is difficulty second.
Then, THIRDLY, what much aggravates it,—we neglected to abolish Bathyani! And here are Bathyani's Pandours come across the Moldau on us. Plenty of Pandours;—to whom "10,000 fresh Hungarians," of a new Insurrection which has been got up there, are daily speeding forward to add themselves:—such a swarm of hornets, as darkens the very daylight for you. Vain to scourge them down, to burn them off by blaze of gunpowder: they fly fast; but are straightway back again. They lurk in these bushy wildernesses, scraggy woods: no foraging possible, unless whole regiments are sent out to do it; you cannot get a letter safely carried for them. They are an unspeakable contemptible grief to the earnest leader of men.—Let us proceed, however; it will serve nothing to complain. Let us hope the French sit well on the skirts of Prince Karl: these sorrowful labors may all turn to good, in that case.
Friedrich pushes on from Tabor; shoots partly (as we have seen) across the Moldau, to the left bank as well; captures romantic Frauenberg on its high rock, where Broglio got into such a fluster once. We could push to Pisek, too, and make a "Bivouac of Pisek," if we lost our wits! Nassau is in Budweis, in Neuhaus; and proper garrisons are gone thither: nothing wanting on our side of the business. But these Pandours, these 10,000 Insurrection Hungarians, with their Trencks spurring them! A continual unblessed swarm of hornets, these; which shut out the very light of day from us. Too literally the light of day: we can get no free messaging from part to part of our own Army even. "As many as six Orderlies have been despatched to an outlying General; and not one of them could get through to him. They have snapt up three Letter-bags destined for the King himself. For four weeks he is absolutely shut out from the rest of Europe;" knows not in the least what the Kaiser, or the Most Christian or any other King, is doing; or whether the French are sitting well on Prince Karl's skirts, or not attempting that at all. This also is a thing to be amended, a thing you had to learn, your Majesty? An Army absolutely shut out from news, from letters, messages to or fro, and groping its way in darkness, owing to these circumambient thunder-clouds of Tolpatches, is not a well-situated Army! And alas, when at last the Letter-bag did get through, and—But let us not anticipate!
At Tabor there arose two opinions; which, in spite of the King's presence, was a new difficulty. South from Tabor a day's march, the Highway splits; direct way for Vienna; left-hand goes to Neuhaus, right-hand, or straightforward rather, goes to Budweis, bearing upon Linz: which of these two? Nassau has already seized Budweis; and it is a habitable champaign country in comparison. Neuhaus, farther from the Moldau and its uses, but more imminent on Austria, would be easy to seize; and would frighten the Enemy more. Leopold the Young Dessauer is for Budweis; rapid Schwerin, a hardy outspoken man, is emphatic for the other place as Head-quarter. So emphatic are both, that the two Generals quarrel there; and Friedrich needs his authority to keep them from outbreaks, from open incompatibility henceforth, which would be destructive to the service. For the rest, Friedrich seizes both places; sends a detachment to Neuhaus as well; but holds by Budweis and the Moldau region with his main Army; which was not quite gratifying to the hardy Schwerin. On the opposite or left bank, holding Frauenberg, the renowned Hill-fortress there, we make inroads at discretion: but the country is woody, favorable to Pandours; and the right bank is our chief scene of action. How we are to maintain ourselves in this country? To winter in these towns between the Sazawa and the Luschnitz? Unless the French sit well on Prince Karl's skirts, it will not be possible.
THE FRENCH ARE LITTLE GRATEFUL FOR THE PLEASURE DONE THEM AT SUCH RUINOUS EXPENSE.
French sitting well on Prince Karl's skirts? They are not molesting Prince Karl in the smallest; never tried such a thing;—are turned away to the Brisgan, to the Upper Rhine Country; gone to besiege Freyburg there, and seize Towns; about the Lake of Constance, as if there were no Friedrich in the game! It must be owned the French do liberally pay off old scores against Friedrich,—if, except in their own imagination, they had old scores against him. No man ever delivered them from a more imminent peril; and they, the rope once cut that was strangling them, magnificently forget who cut it; and celebrate only their own distinguished conduct during and after the operation. To a degree truly wonderful.
It was moonlight, clear as day that night, 23d August, when Prince Karl had to recross the Rhine, close in their neighborhood; [Guerre de Boheme, iii. 196.]—and instead of harassing Prince Karl "to half or to whole ruin," as the bargain was, their distinguished conduct consisted in going quietly to their beds (old Marechal de Noailles even calling back some of his too forward subalterns), and joyfully leaving Prince Karl, then and afterwards, to cross the Rhine, and march for Bohmen, at his own perfect convenience.
"Seckendorf will sit on Karl's skirts," they said: "too late for US, this season; next season, you shall see!" Such was their theory, after Louis got that cathartic, and rose from bed. Schmettau, with his importunities, which at last irritated everybody, could make nothing more of it. "Let the King of France crown his glories by the Siege of Freyburg, the conquest of Brisgau:—for behoof of the poor Kaiser, don't you observe? Hither Austria is the Kaiser's;—and furthermore, were Freyburg gone, there will be no invading of Elsass again" (which is another privately very interesting point)!
And there, at Freyburg, the Most Christian King now is, and his Army up to the knees in mud, conquering Hither Austria; besieging Freyburg, with much difficulty owing to the wet,—besieging there with what energy; a spectacle to the world! And has, for the present, but one wife, no mistress either! With rapturous eyes France looks on; with admiration too big for words. Voltaire, I have heard, made pilgrimage to Freyburg, with rhymed Panegyric in his pocket; saw those miraculous operations of a Most Christian King miraculously awakened; and had the honor to present said Panegyric; and be seen, for the first time, by the royal eyes,—which did not seem to relish him much. [The Panegyric (EPITRE AU ROI DEVANT FRIBOURG) is in OEuvres de Voltaire, xvii. 184.] Since the first days of October, Freyburg had been under constant assault; "amid rains, amid frosts; a siege long and murderous" (to the besieging party);—and was not got till November 5th; not quite entirely, the Citadels of it, till November 25th; Majesty gone home to Paris, to illuminations and triumphal arches, in the interim. [Adelung, iv. 266; Barbier, ii. 414 (13th November, &c.), for the illuminations, grand in the extreme, in spite of wild rains and winds.] It had been a difficult and bloody conquest to him, this of Freyburg and the Brisgau Country; and I never heard that either the Kaiser or he got sensible advantage by it,—though Prince Karl, on the present occasion, might be said to get a great deal.
"Seckendorf will do your Prince Karl," they had cried always: "Seckendorf and his Prussian Majesty! Are not we conquering Hither Austria here, for the Kaiser's behoof?" Seckendorf they did officially appoint to pursue; appoint or allow;—and laid all the blame on Seckendorf; who perhaps deserved his share of it. Very certain it is, Seckendorf did little or nothing to Prince Karl; marched "leisurely behind him through the Ober-Pfalz,"—skirting Baireuth Country, Karl and he, to Wilhelmina's grief; [Her Letters ( OEuvres de Frederic, xxvii. i. 133, &c.).]—"leisurely behind him at a distance of four days," knew better than meddle with Prince Karl. So that Prince Karl, "in twenty-one marches," disturbed only by the elements and bad roads, reached Waldmunchen 26th September, in the Furth-Cham Country; [Ranke, iii. 187.] and was heard to exclaim: "We are let off for the fright, then (NOUS VOILA QUITTES POUR LA PEUR)!"—Seckendorf, finding nothing to live upon in Ober-Pfalz, could not attend Prince Karl farther; but turned leftwards home to Bavaria; made a kind of Second "Reconquest of Bavaria" (on exactly the same terms as the First, Austrian occupants being all called off to assist in Bohmen again);—concerning which, here is an Excerpt:—
"Seckendorf, following at his leisure, and joined by the Hessians and Pfalzers, so as now to exceed 30,000, leaves Prince Karl and the rest of the enterprise to do as it can; and applies himself, for his own share, as the needfulest thing, to getting hold of Bavaria again, that his poor Kaiser may have where to lay his head, and pay old servants their wages. Dreadfully exclaimed against, the old gentleman, especially by the French co-managers: 'Why did not the old traitor stick in the rear of Prince Karl, in the difficult passes, and drive him prone,—while we went besieging Freyburg, and poaching about, trying for a bit of the Brisgau while chance served!' A traitor beyond doubt; probably bought with money down: thinks Valori. But, after all, what could Seckendorf do? He is now of weight for Barenklau and Bavaria, not for much more. He does sweep Barenklau and his Austrians from Bavaria, clear out (in the course of this October), all but Ingolstadt and two or three strong towns,—Passau especially, 'which can be blockaded, and afterwards besieged if needful.' For the rest, he is dreadfully ill-off for provisions, incapable of the least, attempt on Passau (as Friedrich urged, on hearing of him again); and will have to canton himself in home-quarters, and live by his shifts till Spring.
"The noise of French censure rises loud, against not themselves, but against Seckendorf:—Friedrich, before that Tolpatch eclipse of Correspondence [when three of his Letter-bags were seized, and he fell quite dark], had too well foreboded, and contemptuously expressed his astonishment at the blame BOTH were well earning: Passau, said he, cannot you go at least upon Passau; which might alarm the Enemy a little, and drag him homewards? 'Adieu, my dear Seckendorf, your Officer will tell you how we did the Siege of Prag. You and your French are wetted hens (POULES MOUILLEES),'—cowering about like drenched hens in a day of set rain. 'As I hear nothing of either of you, I must try to get out of this business without your help;'"—otherwise it will be ill for me indeed! [Excerpted Fragment of a Letter from Friedrich,—(exact date not given, date of EXCERPT is, Donanworth Country, 23d September, 1744),—which the French Agent in Seckendorf's Army had a reading of (Campagnes de Coigny, iv. 185-187; ib. 216-219: cited in Adelung, iv. 225).] "Which latter expression alarmed the French, and set them upon writing and bustling, but not upon doing anything."
"Prince Karl had crossed the Rhine unmolested, in the clearest moonlight, August 23d-24th; Seckendorf was not wholly got to Heilbronn, September 8th: a pretty way behind Prince Karl! The 6,000 Hessians, formerly in English pay, indignant Landgraf Wilhelm [who never could forgive that Machiavellian conduct of Carteret at Hanau, never till he found out what it really was] has, this year, put into French pay. And they have now joined Seckendorf; [Espagnac, ii. 13; Buchholz, ii. 123.] Prince Friedrich [Britannic Majesty's Son-in-law], not good fat Uncle George, commanding them henceforth:—with extreme lack of profit to Prince Friedrich, to the Hessians, and to the French, as will appear in time. These 6,000, and certain thousands of Pfalzers likewise in French pay, are now with Seckendorf, and have raised him to above 30,000;—it is the one fruit King Friedrich has got by that 'Union of Frankfurt,' and by all his long prospective haggling, and struggling for a 'Union of German Princes in general.' Two pears, after that long shaking of the tree; both pears rotten, or indeed falling into Seckendorf, who is a basket of such quality! 'Seckendorf, increased in this munificent manner, can he still do nothing?' cry the French: 'the old traitor!'—'I have no magazines,' said Seckendorf, 'nothing to live upon, to shoot with; no money!' And it is a mutual crescendo between the 'perfidious Seckendorf' and them; without work done. In the Nurnberg Country, some Hussars of his picked up Lord Holderness, an English Ambassador making for Venice by that bad route. 'Prisoner, are not you?' But they did not use him ill; on consideration, the Heads of Imperial Departments gave him a Pass, and he continued his Venetian Journey (result of it zero) without farther molestation that I heard of. [Adelung, iv. 222.]
"These French-Seckendorf cunctations, recriminations and drenched-hen procedures are an endless sorrow to poor Kaiser Karl; who at length can stand it no longer; but resolves, since at least Bavaria, though moneyless and in ruins, is his, he will in person go thither; confident that there will be victual and equipment discoverable for self and Army were he there. Remonstrances avail not: 'Ask me to die with honor, ask me not to lie rotting here;' [Ib. iv. 241.]—and quits Frankfurt, and the Reich's-Diet and its babble, 17th October, 1744 (small sorrow, were it for the last time),—and enters his Munchen in the course of a week. [17th October, 1744, leaves Frankfurt; arrives in Munchen 23d (Adelung, iv. 241-244).] Munchen is transported with joy to see the Legitimate Sovereign again; and blazes into illuminations,—forgetful who caused its past wretchednesses, hoping only all wretchedness is now ended. Let ruined huts, and Cham and the burnt Towns, rebuild themselves; the wasted hedges make up their gaps again: here is the King come home! Here, sure enough, is an unfortunate Kaiser of the Holy Romish Reich, who can once more hope to pay his milk-scores, being a loved Kurfurst of Bavaria at least. Very dear to the hearts of these poor people;—and to their purses, interests and skins, has not he in another sense been dear? What a price the ambitions and cracked phantasms of that weak brain have cost the seemingly innocent population! Population harried, hungered down, dragged off to perish in Italian Wars; a Country burnt, tribulated, torn to ruin, under the harrow of Fate and ruffian Trenck and Company. Britannic George, rather a dear morsel too, has come much cheaper hitherto. England is not yet burnt; nothing burning there,—except the dull fire of deliriums; Natural Stupidities all set flaming, which (whatever it may BE in the way of loss) is not felt as a loss, but rather as a comfort for the time being;—and in fact there are only, say, a forty or fifty thousand armed Englishmen rotted down, and scarcely a Hundred Millions of money yet spent. Nothing to speak of, in the cause of Human Liberty. Why Populations suffer for their guilty Kings? My friend, it is the Populations too that are guilty in having such Kings. Reverence, sacred Respect for Human Worth, sacred Abhorrence of Human Unworth, have you considered what it means? These poor Populations have it not, or for long generations have had it less and less. Hence, by degrees, this sort of 'Kings' to them, and enormous consequences following!"—
Karl VII. got back to Munchen 23d October, 1744; and the tar-barrels being once burnt, and indispensable sortings effected, he went to the field along with Seckendorf, to encourage his men under Seckendorf, and urge the French by all considerations to come on. And really did what he could, poor man. But the cordage of his life had been so strained and torn, he was not now good for much; alas, it had been but little he was ever good for. A couple of dear Kurfursts, his Father and he; have stood these Bavarian Countries very high, since the Battle of Blenheim and downwards!
Chapter IV.—FRIEDRICH REDUCED TO STRAITS; CANNOT MAINTAIN HIS MOLDAU CONQUESTS AGAINST PRICE KARL.
One may fancy what were Friedrich's reflections when he heard that Prince Karl had, prosperously and unmolested, got across, by those Passes from the Ober-Pfalz, into Bohmen and the Circle of Pilsen, into junction with Bathyani and his magazines; ["At Mirotitz, October 2d" (Ranke, iii. 194); Orlich, ii. 49.] heard, moreover, that the Saxons, 20,000 strong, under Weissenfels, crossing the Metal Mountains, coming on by Eger and Karlsbad regions, were about uniting with him (bound by Treaty to assist the Hungarian Majesty when invaded);—and had finally, what confirms everything, that the said Prince Karl in person (making for Budweis, "just seen his advanced guard," said rumor under mistake) was but few miles off. Few miles off, on the other side of the Moldau;—of unknown strength, hidden in the circumambient clouds of Pandours.
Suppressing all the rages and natural reflections but those needful for the moment, Friedrich (October 4th, by Moldau-Tein) dashes across the Moldau, to seek Prince Karl, at the place indicated, and at once smite him down if possible;—that will be a remedy for all things. Prince Karl is not there, nor was; the indication had been false; Friedrich searches about, for four days, to no purpose. Prince Karl, he then learns for certain, has crossed the Moldau farther down, farther northward, between Prag and us. Means to cut us off from Prag, then, which is our fountain of life in these circumstances? That is his intention:—"Old Traun, who is with him, understands his trade!" thinks Friedrich. Traun, or the Prince, is diligently forming magazines, all the Country carrying to him, in the Town of Beneschau, hither side of the Sazawa, some seventy miles north of us, an important Town where roads meet:—unless we can get hold of Beneschau, it will be ill with us here! Across the River again, at any rate; and let us hasten thither. That is an affair which must be looked to; and speed is necessary!
OCTOBER 8th, After four days' search ending in this manner, Friedrich swiftly crosses towards Tabor again, to Bechin (over on the Luschnitz, one march), there to collect himself for Beneschau and the other intricacies. Towards Tabor again, by his Bridge of Moldau-Tein;—clouds of Pandour people, larger clouds than usual, hanging round; hidden by the woods till Friedrich is gone. Friedrich being gone, there occurs the AFFAIR OF MOLDAU-TEIN, much talked of in Prussian Books. Of which, in extreme condensation, this is the essence:—
"OCTOBER 9th. Friedrich once off to Bechin, the Pandour clouds gather on his rearguard next day at Tein Bridge here, to the number of about 10,000 [rumor counts 14,000]; and with desperate intent, and more regularity than usual, attack the Tein-Bridge Party, which consists of perhaps 2,000 grenadiers and hussars, the whole under Ziethen's charge,—obliged to wait for a cargo of Bread-wagons here. 'Defend your Bridge, with cannon, with case-shot:' that is what the grenadiers do. The Pandour cloud, with horrid lanes cut in it, draws back out of this; then plunges at the River itself, which can be ridden above or below; rides it, furious, by the thousand: 'Off with your infantry; quit the Bridge!' cries Ziethen to his Captain there: 'Retire you, Parthian-like; thrice-steady,' orders Ziethen: 'It is to be hoped our hussars can deal with this mad-doggery!' And they do it; cutting in with iron discipline, with fierceness not undrilled; a wedge of iron hussars, with ditto grenadiers continually wheeling, like so many reapers steady among wind-tossed grain; and gradually give the Pandours enough. Seven hours of it, in all: 'of their sixty cartridges the grenadiers had fired fifty-four,' when it ended, about 7 P.M. The coming Bread-wagons, getting word, had to cast their loaves into the River (sad to think of); and make for Bechin at their swiftest. But the rearguard got off with its guns, in this victorious manner: thanks to Major-General Ziethen, Colonel Reusch and the others concerned. [Feldzuge der Preussen, i. 268; Orlich, ii. 55.]
"Ziethen handsels his Major-Generalcy in this fine way: [Patent given him "3d October, 1744," only a week ago, "and ordered to be dated eight months back" (Rodenbeck, i. 109).] a man who has had promotion, and also has had none, and may again come to have none;—and is able to do either way. Never mind, my excellent tacit friend! Ziethen is five-and-forty gone; has a face which is beautiful to me, though one of the coarsest. Face thrice-honest, intricately ploughed with thoughts which are well kept silent (the thoughts, indeed, being themselves mostly inarticulate; thoughts of a simple-hearted, much-enduring, hot-tempered son of iron and oatmeal);—decidedly rather likable, with its lazily hanging under-lip, and respectable bearskin cylinder atop."
FRIEDRICH TRIES TO HAVE BATTLE FROM PRINCE KARL, IN THE MOLDAU COUNTRIES; CANNOT, OWING TO THE SKILL OF PRINCE KARL OR OF OLD FELDMARSCHALL TRAUN;—HAS TO RETIRE BEHIND THE SAZAWA, AND ULTIMATELY BEHIND THE ELBE, WITH MUCH LABOR IN VAIN.
OCTOBER 14th-18th: RETREAT FROM BECHIN-TABOR COUNTRY TO BENESCHAU. ... "These Pandours give us trouble enough; no Magazine here, no living to be had in this Country beside them. Unfortunate Colonel Jahnus went out from Tabor lately, to look after requisitioned grains: infinite Pandours set upon him [Muhlhausen is the memorable place]; Jahnus was obstinate (too obstinate, thinks Friedrich), and perished on the ground, he and 200 of his. [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 61.] Nay, next, a swarm of them came to Tabor itself, Nadasti at their head; to try whether Tabor, with its small garrison, could not be escaladed, and perhaps Prince Henri, who lies sick there, be taken? Tabor taught them another lesson; sent them home with heads broken;—which Friedrich thinks was an extremely suitable thing. But so it stands: Here by the thousand and the ten thousand they hang round us; and Prince Karl—It is of all things necessary we get hold of that Beneschau, and the Magazine he is gathering there!
"Rapidity is indispensable,—and yet how quit Tabor? We have detachments out at Neuhaus, at Budweis, and in Tabor 300 men in hospital, whom there are no means of carrying. To leave them to the Tolpaches? Friedrich confesses he was weak on this occasion; he could not leave these 300 men, as was his clear duty, in this extremity of War. He ordered in his Neuhaus Detachment; not yet any of the others. He despatched Schmerin towards Beneschau with all his speed; Schwerin was lucky enough to take Beneschau and its provender,—a most blessed fortune,—and fences himself there. Hearing which, Friedrich, having now got the Neuhaus Detachment in hand, orders the other Three, the Budweis, the Tabor here, and the Frauenberg across the River, to maintain themselves; and then, leaving those southern regions to their chance, hastens towards Beneschau and Schwerin; encamps (October 18th) near Beneschau,—'Camp of Konopischt,' unattackable Camp, celebrated in the Prussian Books;—and there, for eight days, still on the south side of Sazawa, tries every shift to mend the bad posture of affairs in that Luschnitz-Sazawa Country. His Three Garrisons (3,000 men in them, besides the 300 sick) he now sees will not be able to maintain themselves; and he sends in succession 'eight messengers,' not one messenger of whom could get through, to bid them come away. His own hope now is for a Battle with Prince Karl; which might remedy all things. [OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 62-64.]"
That is Friedrich's wish; but it is by no means Traun's, who sees that hunger and wet weather will of themselves suffice for Friedrich. There ensues accordingly, for three weeks to come, in that confused Country, a series of swift shufflings, checkings and manoeuvrings between these two, which is gratifying and instructive to the strategic mind, but cannot be inflicted upon common readers. Two considerable chess-players, an old and a young; their chess-board a bushy, rocky, marshy parallelogram, running fifty miles straight east from Prag, and twenty or fewer south, of which Prag is the northwest angle, and Beneschau, or the impregnable Konopischt the southwest: the reader must conceive it; and how Traun will not fight Friedrich, yet makes him skip hither and thither, chiefly by threatening his victuals. Friedrich's main magazine is now at Pardubitz, the extreme northeast angle of the parallelogram. Parallelogram has one river in it, with the innumerable rocks and brooks and quagmires, the river Sazawa; and on the north side, where are Kuttenberg, Czaslau, Chotusitz, places again become important in this business, it is bounded by another river, the Elbe. Intricate manoeuvring there is here, for three weeks following: "old Traun an admirable man!" thinks Friedrich, who ever after recognized Traun as his Schoolmaster in the art of War. We mark here and there a date, and leave it to readers.
"RADICZ, OCTOBER 21st-22d. At Radicz, a march to southwest of us, and on our side of the Moldau, the Saxons, under Weissenfels, 20,000 effective, join Prince Karl; which raises his force to 69,514 men, some 10,000 more than Friedrich is master of. [Orlich, ii. 66.] Prospect of wintering between the Luschnitz and the Sazawa there is now little; unless they will fight us, and be beaten. Friedrich, from his inaccessible Camp of Konopischt, manoeuvres, reconnoitres, in all directions, to produce this result; but to no purpose. An Austrian Detachment did come, to look after Beneschau and the Magazines there; but rapidly drew back again, finding Konopischt on their road, and how matters were. Friedrich will guard the door of this Sazawa-Elbe tract of Country; hope of the Sazawa-Luschnitz tract has, in few days, fallen extinct. Here is news come to Konopischt: our Three poor Garrisons, Budweis, Tabor, Frauenberg, already all lost; guns and men, after defence to the last cartridge,—in Frauenberg their water was cut off, it was eight-and-forty hours of thirst at Frauenberg:—one way or other, they are all Three gone; eight couriers galloping with message, 'Come away,' were all picked up by the Pandours; so they stood, and were lost. 'Three thousand fighting men gone, for the weak chance of saving three hundred who were in hospital!' thinks Friedrich: War is not a school of the weak pities. For the chance of ten, you lose a hundred and the ten too. Sazawa-Elbe tract of country, let us vigilantly keep the door of that!
"SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24th, Friedrich out reconnoitring from Konopischt discovers of a certainty that the whole Austrian-Saxon force is now advaucing towards Beneschau, and will, this night, encamp at Marschowitz, to southwest, only one march from us! On the instant Friedrich hurries back; gets his Army on march thitherward, though the late October sun is now past noon; off instantly; a stroke yonder will perhaps be the cure of all. Such roads we had, says Friedrich, as never Army travelled before: long after nightfall, we arrive near the Austrian camp, bivouac as we can till daylight return. At the first streak of day, Friedrich and his chief generals are on the heights with their spy-glasses: Austrian Army sure enough; and there they have altered their posture overnight (for Traun too has been awake); they lie now opposite our RIGHT flank; 'on a scarped height, at the foot of which, through swamps and quagmires, runs a muddy stream.' Unattackable on this side: their right flank and foot are safe enough. Creep round and see their left:—Nothing but copses, swampy intricacies! We may shoulder arms again, and go back to Konopischt: no fight here! [OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 63, 64; Orlich, ii. 69.] Speaking of defensive Campaigns, says Friedrich didactically, years afterwards, 'If such situations are to answer the purpose intended, the front and flanks must be equally strong, but the rear entirely open. Such, for instance, are those heights which have an extensive front, and whose flanks are covered by morasses:—as was Prince Karl's Camp at Marschowitz in the year 1744, with its front covered by a stream, and the wings by deep hollows; or that which we ourselves then occupied at Konopischt,—as you well remember. [Military Instructions (above cited), p. 44.]
"OCTOBER 26th-NOVEMBER 1st. The Sazawa-Luschnitz tract of Country is quite lost, then; lost with damages: the question now is, Can we keep the Sazawa-Elbe tract? For about three weeks more, Friedrich struggles for that object; cannot compass that either. Want of horse-provender is very great:—country entirely eaten, say the peasants, and not a truss remaining. October 26th, Friedrich has to cross the Sazawa; we must quit the door of that tract (hunger driving us), and fight for the interior in detail. Traun gets to Beneschau in that cheap way; and now, in behalf of Traun, the peasants find forage enough, being zealous for Queen and creed. Pandours spread themselves all over this Sazawa-Elbe country; endanger our subsistences, make our lives miserable. It is the old story: Friedrich, famine and mud and misery of Pandours compelling, has to retire northward, Elbe-ward, inch by inch; whither the Austrians follow at a safe distance, and, in spite of all manoeuvring, cannot be got to fight.
"Brave General Nassau, who much distinguishes himself in these businesses, has (though Friedrich does not yet know it) dexterously seized Kolin, westward in those Elbe parts,—ground that will be notable in years coming. Important little feat of Nassau's; of which anon. On the other hand, our Magazine at Pardubitz, eastward on the Elbe, is not out of danger: Pandours and regulars 2,000 and odd, 'sixty of the Pandour kind disguised as peasants leading hay-carts,' made an attempt there lately; but were detected by the vigilant Colonel, and blown to pieces, in the nick of time, some of them actually within the gate. [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 65.] Nay, a body of Austrian regulars were in full march for Kolin lately, intending to get hold of the Elbe itself at that point (midway between Prag and Pardubitz): but the prompt General Nassau, as we remarked, had struck in before them; and now holds Kolin;—though, for several days, Friedrich could not tell what had become of Nassau, owing to the swarms of Pandours.
"Friedrich, standing with his back to Prag, which is fifty miles from him, and rather in need of his support than able to give him any; and drawing his meal from the uncertain distance, with Pandours hovering round,—is in difficult case. While old Traun is kept luminous as mid-day; the circumambient atmosphere of Pandours is tenebrific to Friedrich, keeps him in perpetual midnight. He has to read his position as with flashes of lightning, for most part. A heavy-laden, sorely exasperated man; and must keep his haggard miseries strictly secret; which I believe he does. Were Valori here, it is very possible he might find the countenance FAROUCHE again; eyes gloomy, on damp November mornings! Schwerin, in a huff, has gone home: Since your Majesty is pleased to prefer his young Durchlaucht of Anhalt's advice, what can an elderly servant (not without rheumatisms) do other?—'Well!' answers Friedrich, not with eyes cheered by the phenomenon. The Elbe-Sazawa tract, even this looks as if it would be hard to keep. A world very dark for Friedrich, enveloped so by the ill chances and the Pandours. But what help?
"From the French Camp far away, there comes, dated 17th October (third week of their Siege of Freyburg), by way of help to Friedrich, magnanimous promise: 'So soon as this Siege is done, which will be speedily, though it is difficult, we propose to send fifty battalions and a hundred squadrons,'"—say only 60,000 horse and foot (not a hoof or toe of which ever got that length, on actually trying it),—"towards Westphalia, to bring the Elector of Koln to reason [poor Kaiser's lanky Brother, who cannot stand the French procedures, and has lately sold himself, that is sold his troops, to England], and keep the King of England and the Dutch in check,"—by way of solacement to your Majesty. Will you indeed, you magnanimous Allies?—This was picked up by the Pandours; and I know not but Friedrich was spared the useless pain of reading it. [Orlich, ii. 73.]
"NOVEMBER 1st-9th: FRIEDRICH LOSES SAZAWA-ELBE COUNTRY TOO. On the first day of November, here is a lightning-flash which reveals strange things to Friedrich. Traun's late manoeuvrings, which have been so enigmatic, to right and to left, upon Prag and other points, issue now in an attempt towards Pardubitz; which reveals to Friedrich the intention Traun has formed, of forcing him to choose one of those two places, and let go the other. Formidable, fatal, thinks Friedrich; and yet admirable on the part of Traun: 'a design beautiful and worthy of admiration.' If we stay near Prag, what becomes of our communication with Silesia; what becomes of Silesia itself? If we go towards Pardubitz, Prag and Bohmen are lost! What to do? 'Despatch reinforcement to Pardubitz; thanks to Nassau, the Kolin-Pardubitz road is ours!' That is done, Pardubitz saved for the moment. Could we now get to Kuttenberg before the old Marshal, his design were overset altogether. Alas, we cannot march at once, have to wait a day for the bread. Forward, nevertheless; and again forward, and again; three heavy marches in November weather: let us make a fourth forced march, start to-morrow before dawn,—Kuttenberg above all things! In vain; to-morrow, 4th November, there is such a fog, dark as London itself, from six in the morning onwards, no starting till noon: and then impossible, with all our efforts, to reach Kuttenberg. We have to halt an eight miles short of it, in front of Kolin; and pitch tents there. On the morrow, 5th November, Traun is found encamped, unattackable, between us and our object; sits there, at his ease in a friendly Country, with Pandour whirlpools flowing out and in; an irreducible case to Friedrich. November 5th, and for three days more, Friedrich, to no purpose, tries his utmost;—finds he will have to give up the Elbe-Sazawa region, like the others. Monday, November 9th, Friedrich gathers himself at Kolin; crosses the Elbe by Kolin Bridge, that day. Point after point of the game going against him."
Kolin was, of course, attacked, that Monday evening, so soon as the main Army crossed: but, so soon as the Army left, General Nassau had taken his measures; and, with his great guns and his small, handled the Pandours in a way that pleased us. [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 68.] Thursday night following, they came back, with regular grenadiers to support; under cloud of night, in great force, ruffian Trenck at the head of them: a frightful phenomenon to weak nerves. But this also Nassau treated in such a fiery fashion that it vanished without return; three hundred dead left on the ground, and ruffian Trenck riding off with his own crown broken,—beautiful indigo face streaking itself into GINGHAM-pattern, for the moment!
Except Pardubitz, where also the due battalions are left, Friedrich now holds no post south of the Elbe in this quarter; Elbe-Sazawa Tract is gone like the others, to all appearance. And we must now say, Silesia or Prag? Prince Leopold, Council-of-War being held on the matter, is for keeping hold of Prag: "Pity to lose all the excellent siege-artillery we brought thither," says he. True, too true; an ill-managed business that of Prag! thinks Friedrich sadly to himself: but what is Prag and artillery, compared to Silesia? Parthian retreat into Silesia; and let Prag and the artillery go: that, to Friedrich, is clearly the sure course. Or perhaps the fatal alternative will not actually arrive? So long as Pardubitz and Kolin hold; and we have the Elbe for barrier? Truth is, Prince Karl has himself written to Court that, having now pushed his Enemy fairly over the Elbe, and winter being come with its sleets and slushes, ruinous to troops that have been so marched about, the Campaign ought to end;—nay, his own young Wife is in perilous interesting circumstances, and the poor Prince wishes to be home. To which, however, it is again understood, Maria Theresa has emphatically answered, "No,—finish first!"
NOVEMBER 9th-19th: WE DEFEND THE ELBE RIVER. Friedrich has posted himself on the north shore of the Elbe, from Pardubitz to the other side of Kolin; means to defend that side of the River, where go the Silesian roads. At Bohdenetz, short way across from Pardubitz, he himself is; Prince Leopold is near Kolin: thirty miles of river-bank to dispute. The controversy lasts ten days; ends in ELBE-TEINITZ, a celebrated "passage," in Books and otherwise. Friedrich is in shaggy, intricate country; no want of dingles, woods and quagmires; now and then pleasant places too,—here is Kladrup for example, where our Father came three hundred miles to dine with the Kaiser once. The grooms and colts are all off at present; Father and Kaiser are off; and much is changed since then. Grim tussle of War now; sleety winter, and the Giant Mountains in the distance getting on their white hoods! Friedrich doubtless has his thoughts as he rides up and down, in sight of Kladrup, among other places, settling many things; but what his thoughts were, he is careful not to say except where necessary. Much is to be looked after, in this River controversy of thirty miles. Detachments lie, at intervals, all the way; and mounted sentries, a sentry every five miles, patrol the River-bank; vigilant, we hope, as lynxes. Nothing can cross but alarm will be given, and by degrees the whole Prussian force be upon it. This is the Circle of Konigsgratz, this that now lies to rear; and happily there are a few Hussites in it, not utterly indisposed to do a little spying for us, and bring a glimmering of intelligence, now and then.
It is now the second week that Frietrich has lain so, with his mounted patrols in motion, with his Hussite spies; guarding Argus-like this thirty miles of River; and the Austrians attempt nothing, or nothing with effect. If the Austrians go home to their winter-quarters, he hopes to issue from Kolin again before Spring, and to sweep the Elbe-Sazawa Tract clear of them, after all. Maria Theresa having answered No, it is likely the Austrians will try to get across: Be vigilant therefore, ye mounted sentries. Or will they perhaps make an attempt on Prag? Einsiedel, who has no garrison of the least adequacy, apprises us That "in all the villages round Prag people are busy making ladders,"—what can that mean? Friedrich has learned, by intercepted letters, that something great is to be done on Wednesday, 18th: he sends Rothenburg with reinforcement to Einsiedel, lest a scalade of Prag should be on the cards. Rothenburg is right welcome in the lines of Prag, though with reinforcement still ineffectual; but it is not Prag that is meant, nor is Wednesday the day. Through Wednesday, Friedrich, all eye and ear, could observe nothing: much marching to and fro on the Austrian side of the River; but apparently it comes to nothing? The mounted patrols had better be vigilant, however.
On the morrow, 5 A.M., what is this that is going on? Audible booming of cannon, of musketry and battle, echoing through the woods, penetrates to Friedrich's quarters at Bohdenetz in the Pardubitz region: Attack upon Kolin, Nassau defending himself there? Out swift scouts, and see! Many scouts gallop out; but none comes back. Friedrich, for hours, has to remain uncertain; can only hope Nassau will defend himself. Boom go the distant volleyings; no scout comes back. And it is not Nassau or Kolin; it is something worse: very glorious for Prussian valor, but ruinous to this Campaign.
The Austrians, at 2 o'clock this morning, Austrians and Saxons, came in great force, in dead silence, to the south brink of the River, opposite a place called Teinitz (Elbe-Teinitz), ten miles east of Kolin; that was the fruit of their marching yesterday. They sat there forbidden to speak, to smoke tobacco or do anything but breathe, till all was ready; till pontoons, cannons had come up, and some gleam of dawn had broken. At the first gleam of dawn, as they are shoving down their pontoon boats, there comes a "WER-DA, Who goes?" from our Prussian patrol across the River. Receiving no answer, he fires; and is himself shot down. One Wedell, Wedell and Ziethen, who keep watch in this part, start instantly at sound of these shots; and make a dreadful day of it for these invasive Saxon and Austrian multitudes. Naturally, too, they send off scouts, galloping for more help, to the right and to the left. But that avails not. Wild doggery of Pandours, it would seem, have already swum or waded the River, above Teinitz and below:—"Want of vigilance!" barks Friedrich impatiently: but such a doggery is difficult to watch with effect. At any rate, to the right and to the left, the woods are already beset with Pandours; every scout sent out is killed: and to east or to west there comes no news but an echoing of musketry, a boom of distant cannon. [Orlich, ii. 82-85.] Saxon-Austrian battalions, four or five, with unlimited artillery going, VERSUS Wedell's one battalion, with musketry and Ziethen's hussars: it is fearful odds. The Prussians stand to it like heroes; doggedly, for four hours, continue the dispute,—till it is fairly desperate; "two bridges of the enemy's now finished;"—whereupon they manoeuvre off, with Parthian or Prussian countenance, into the woods, safe, towards Kolin; "despatching definite news to Friedrich, which does arrive about 11 A.M., and sets him at once on new measures."
This is a great feat in the Prussian military annals; for which, sad as the news was, Wedell got the name of Leonidas attached to him by Friedrich himself. And indeed it is a gallant passage of war; "Forcing of the Elbe at Teinitz;" of which I could give two Narratives, one from the Prussian, and one from the Saxon side; [Seyfarth, Beylage, i. 595-598; Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1175-1181.] didactic, admonitory to the military mind, nay to the civic reader that has sympathy with heroisms, with work done manfully, and terror and danger and difficulty well trampled under foot. Leonidas Wedell has an admirable silence, too; and Ziethen's lazily hanging under-lip is in its old attitude again, now that the spasm is over. "WAS THUTS? They are across, without a doubt. We would have helped it, and could not. Steady!"—
FRIEDRICH'S RETREAT; ESPECIALLY EINSIEDEL'S FROM PRAG.
Seeing, then, that they are fairly over, Friedrich, with a creditable veracity of mind, sees also that the game is done; and that same night he begins manoeuvring towards Silesia, lest far more be lost by continuing the play. One column, under Leopold the Young Dessauer, goes through Glatz, takes the Magazine of Pardubitz along with it: good to go in several columns, the enemy will less know which to chase. Friedrich, with another column, will wait for Nassau about Konigsgratz, then go by the more westerly road, through Nachod and the Pass of Braunau. Nassau, who is to get across from Kolin, and join us northwards, has due rendezvous appointed him in the Konigsgratz region. Einsiedel, in Prag, is to spike his guns, since he cannot carry them; blow up his bastions, and the like; and get away with all discretion and all diligence,—northwestward first, to Leitmeritz, where our magazines are; there to leave his heavier goods, and make eastward towards Friedland, and across the "Silesian Combs" by what Passes he can. Will have a difficult operation; but must stand to it. And speed; steady, simultaneous, regular, unresting velocity; that is the word for all. And so it is done,—though with difficulty, on the part of poor Einsiedel for one. It was Thursday, 19th November, when the Austrians got across the Elbe: on Monday, 23d, the Prussian rendezvousings are completed; and Friedrich's column, and the Glatz one under Leopold, are both on march; infinite baggage-wagons groaning orderly along ("sick-wagons well ahead," and the like precautions and arrangements), on both these highways for Silesia: and before the week ends, Thursday, 26th, even Einsiedel is under way. Let us give something of poor Einsiedel, whose disasters made considerable noise in the world, that Winter and afterwards.
"The two main columns were not much molested; that which went by Glatz, under Leopold, was not pursued at all. On the rear of Friedrich's own column, going towards Braunau, all the way to Nachod or beyond, there hung the usual doggery of Pandours, which required whipping off from time to time; but in the defiles and difficult places due precaution was taken, and they did little real damage. Truchsess von Waldburg [our old friend of the Spartan feat near Austerlitz in the MORAVIAN-FORAY time, whom we have known in London society as Prussian Envoy in bygone years] was in one of the divisions of this column; and one day, at a village where there was a little river to cross (river Mietau, Konigsgratz branch of the Elbe), got provoked injudiciously into fighting with a body of these people. Intent not on whipping them merely, but on whipping them to death, Truchsess had already lost some forty men, and the business with such crowds of them was getting hot; when, all at once a loud squeaking of pigs was heard in the village,"—apprehensive swineherd hastily penning his pigs belike, and some pig refractory;—"at sound of which, the Pandour multitude suddenly pauses, quits fighting, and, struck by a new enthusiasm, rushes wholly into the village; leaving Truchsess, in a tragi-comic humor, victorious, but half ashamed of himself. [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 73.] In the beginning of December, Friedrich's column reached home, by Braunau through the Mountains, the same way part of it had come in August; not quite so brilliant in equipment now as then.
"It was upon Einsiedel's poor Garrison, leaving Prag in such haste, that the real stress of the retreat fell; its difficulties great indeed, and its losses great. Einsiedel did what was possible; but all things are not possible on a week's warning. He spiked great guns, shook endless hundredweights of powder, and 10,000 stand of arms, into the River; he requisitioned horses, oxen, without number; put mines under the bastions, almost none of which went off with effect. He kept Prag accurately shut, the Praguers accurately in the dark; took his measures prudently; and labored night and day. One measure I note of him: stringent Proclamation to the inhabitants of Prag, 'Provision yourselves for three months; nothing but starvation ahead otherwise.' Alas, we are to stand a fourth siege, then? say the Praguers. But where are provisions to be had? At such and such places; from the Royal Magazines only, if you bring a certificate and ready money! Whereby Einsiedel got delivered of his meal-magazine, for one thing. But his difficulties otherwise were immense.
"On the Thursday morning, 26th November, 1744, he marched. His wagons had begun the night before; and went all night, rumbling continuous (Anonymous of Prag [Second "LETTER from a Citizen, &c." (date, 27th November, see supra, p. 348), in Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1181-1188.] hearing them well), through the Karlthor, northwest gate of Prag, across the Moldau Rridge. All night across that bridge,—Leitmeritz road, great road to the northwest:—followed finally by the march of horse and foot. But news had already fled abroad. Five hundred Pandours were in the City, backed by the Butchers' lads and other riotous GESINDEL, before the rear-guard got away. Sad tugging and wriggling in consequence, much firing from windows, and uproarious chaos;—so that Rothenburg had at last to remount a couple of guns, and blow it off with case-shot. A drilled Prussian rear-guard struggling, with stern composure, through a real bit of burning chaos. With effect, though not without difficulty. Here is the scene on the Noldau Bridge, and past that high Hradschin [Old Palace of the Bohemian Kings (pronounce RADsheen); one of the steepest Royal Sites in the world.] mass of buildings; all Prag, not the Hradschin only, struggling to give us fatal farewell if it durst. River is covered with Pandours firing out of boats; Bridge encumbered to impassability by forsaken wagons, the drivers of which had cut traces and run; shot comes overhead from the Hradschin on our left, much shot, infinite tumult all round; thoroughfare impossible for two-wheeled vehicle, or men in rank. 'Halt!' cries Colonel Brandes, who has charge of the thing; divides them in three: 'First one party, deal with these river-boats, that Pandour doggery; second party, pull these stray wagons to right and left, making the way clear; third party, drag our own wagons forward, shoulder to shaft, and yoke them out of shot-range;—you, Captain Carlowitz,' and calls twenty volunteers to go with Carlowitz, and drag their own cannon, 'step you forward, keep the gate of that Hradschin till we all pass!' In this manner, rapid, hard of stroke, clear-headed and with stern regularity, drilled talent gets the burning Nessus'-shirt wriggled off; and tramps successfully forth with its baggages. About 11 A.M., this rearguard of Brandes's did; should have been at seven,—right well that it could be at all.
"Einsiedel, after this, got tolerably well to Leitmeritz; left his heavy baggage there; then turned at an acute angle right eastward, towards the Silesian Combs, as ordered: still a good seventy miles to do, and the weather getting snowy and the days towards their shortest. Worse still; old Weissenfels, now in Prag with his Saxons, is aware that Einsiedel, before ending, will touch on a wild high-lying corner of the Lausitz which is Saxon Country; and thitherward Weissenfels has despatched Chevalier de Saxe (in plenty of time, November 29th), with horse and foot, to waylay Einsiedel, and block the entrance of the Silesian Mountains for him. Whereupon, in the latter end of his long march, and almost within sight of home, ensues the hardest brush of all for Einsiedel. And, in the desolation of that rugged Hill country of the Lausitz, 'HOCHWALD (Upper Weld),' twenty or more miles from Bohemian Friedland, from his entrance on the Mountain Barrier and Silesian Combs, there are scenes—which gave rise to a Court-Martial before long. For unexpectedly, on the winter afternoon (December 9th), Einsiedel, struggling among the snows and pathless Hills, comes upon Chevalier de Saxe and his Saxon Detachment,—intrenched with trees, snow-redoubts, and a hollow bog dividing us; plainly unassailable;—and stands there, without covering, without 'food, fire, or salt,' says one Eye-witness, 'for the space of fourteen hours.' Gazing gloomily into it, exchanging a few shots, uncertain what more to do; the much-dubitating Einsiedel. 'At which the men were so disgusted and enraged, they deserted [the foreign part of them, I fancy] in groups at a time,' says the above Eye-witness. Not to think what became of the equipments, baggage-wagons, sick-wagons:—too evident Einsiedel's loss, in all kinds, was very considerable. Nassau, despatched by Leopold out of Glatz, from the other side of the Combs, is marching to help Einsiedel;—who knows, at this moment, where or whitherward? For the peasants are all against us; our very guides desert, and become spies. 'Push to the left, over the Hochwald top, must not we?' thinks Einsiedel: 'that is Lausitz, a Saxon Country; and Saxony, though the Saxons stand intrenched here, with the knife at our throat, are not at war with us, oh no, only allies of her Majesty of Hungary, and neutral otherwise!' And here, it is too clear, the Chevalier de Saxe stands intrenched behind his trees and snow; and it is the fourteenth hour, men deserting by the hundred, without fire and without salt; and Nassau is coming,—God knows by what road!
"Einsiedel pushes to the left, the Hochwald way; finds, in the Hochwald too, a Saxon Commandant waiting him, with arms strictly shouldered. 'And we cannot pass through this moor skirt of Lausitz, say you, then?' 'Unarmed, yes; your muskets can come in wagons after you,' replies the Saxon Commandant of Lausitz. 'Thousand thanks, Herr Commandant; but we will not give you all that trouble,' answer Einsiedel and his Prussians; 'and march on, overwhelming him with politenesses,' says Friedrich;—the approach of Nassau, above all, being a stringent civility. Of course, despatch is very requisite to Einsiedel; the Chevalier, with his force, being still within hail. The Prussians march all night, with pitch-links flaring,—nights (I think) of the 13th-15th December, 1744, up among the highlands there, rugged buttresses of the Silesian Combs: a sight enough to astonish Rubezahl, if he happened to be out! As good chance would have it, Nassau and Einsiedel, by preconcert, partly by lucky guess of their own, were hurrying by the same road: three heaven-rending cheers (December 16th) when we get sight of Nassau; and find that here is land! December 16th, we are across,—by Ruckersdorf, not far from Friedland (Bohmisch Friedland, not the Silesian town of that name, once Wallenstein's);—and rejoice now to look back on labor done." [ Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1181-1190, 1191-1194;—Feldzuge,—i. 278-280.]
These were intricate strange scenes, much talked of at the time: Rothenburg, ugly Walrave, Hacke, and other known figures, concerned in them. Scenes in which Friedrich is not well informed; who much blames Einsiedel, as he is apt to do the unsuccessful. Accounts exist, both from the Prussian and from the Saxon side, decipherable with industry; not now worth deciphering to English readers. Only that final scene of the pitch-links, the night before meeting with Nassau, dwells voluntarily in one's memory. And is the farewell of Einsiedel withal. Friedrich blames him to the last: though a Court-Martial had sat on his case, some months after, and honorably acquitted him. Good solid, silent Einsiedel;—and in some months more, he went to a still higher court, got still stricter justice: I do not hear expressly that it was the winter marches, or strain of mind; but he died in 1745; and that flare of pitch-links in Rubezahl's country is the last scene of him to us,—and the end of Friedrich's unfortunate First Expedition in the Second Silesian War.
"Foiled, ultimately, then, on every point; a totally ill-ordered game on our part! Evidently we, for our part, have been altogether in the wrong, in various essential particulars. Amendment, that and no other, is the word now. Let us take the scathe and the scorn candidly home to us;—and try to prepare for doing better. The world will crow over us. Well, the world knows little about it; the world, if it did know, would be partly in the right!"—Wise is he who, when beaten, learns the reasons of it, and alters these. This wisdom, it must be owned, is Friedrich's; and much distinguishes him among generals and men. Veracity of mind, as I say, loyal eyesight superior to sophistries; noble incapacity of self-delusion, the root of all good qualities in man. His epilogue to this Campaign is remarkable;—too long for quoting here, except the first word of it and the last:—
"No General committed more faults than did the King in this Campaign.... The conduct of M. de Traun is a model of perfection, which every soldier that loves his business ought to study, and try to imitate, if he have the talent. The king has himself admitted that he regarded this Campaign as his school in the Art of War, and M. de Traun as his teacher." But what shall we say? "Bad is often better for Princes than good;—and instead of intoxicating them with presumption, renders them circumspect and modest." [OEuvres, iii.76, 77.] Let us still hope!—
Chapter V.—FRIEDRICH, UNDER DIFFICULTIES, PREPARES FOR A NEW CAMPAIGN.
To the Court of Vienna, especially to the Hungarian Majesty, this wonderful reconquest of Bohemia, without battle fought,—or any cause assignable but Traun's excellent manoeuvring and Friedrich's imprudences and trust in the French,—was a thing of heavenly miracle; blessed omen that Providence had vouchsafed to her prayers the recovery of Silesia itself. All the world was crowing over Friedrich: but her Majesty of Hungary's views had risen to a clearly higher pitch of exultation and triumphant hope, terrestrial and celestial, than any other living person's. "Silesia back again," that was now the hope and resolution of her Majesty's high heart: "My wicked neighbor shall be driven out, and smart dear for the ill he has done; Heaven so wills it!" "Very little uplifts the Austrians," says Valori; which is true, under such a Queen; "and yet there is nothing that can crush them altogether down," adds he.
No sooner is Bohemia cleared of Friedrich, than Maria, winter as it is, orders that there be, through the Giant-Mountains, vigorous assault upon Silesia. Highland snows and ices, what are these to Pandour people, who, at their first entrance on the scene of History, "crossed the Palus-Maeotis itself [Father of Quagmires, so to speak] in a frozen state," and were sufficiently accommodated each in his own dirty sheepskin? "Prosecute the King of Prussia," ordered she; "take your winter-quarters in Silesia!"—and Traun, in spite of the advanced season, and prior labors and hardships, had to try, from the southwestern Bohemian side, what he could do; while a new Insurrection, coming through the Jablunka, spread itself over the southeast and east. Seriously invasive multitudes; which were an unpleasant surprise to Friedrich; and did, as we shall see, require to be smitten back again, and re-smitten; making a very troublesome winter to the Prussians and themselves; but by no means getting winter-quarters, as they once hoped.
In a like sense, Maria Theresa had already (December 2d) sent forth her Manifesto or Patent, solemnly apprising her ever-faithful Silesian Populations, "That the Treaty of Breslau, not by her fault, is broken; palpably a Treaty no longer. That they, accordingly, are absolved from all oaths and allegiance to the King of Prussia; and shall hold themselves in readiness to swear anew to her Majesty, which will be a great comfort to such faithful creatures; suffering, as her Majesty explains to them that they have done, under Prussian tyranny for these two years past. Immediate dead-lift effort there shall be; that is certain: and 'the Almighty God assisting, who does not leave such injustices unpunished, We have the fixed Christian hope, Omnipotence blessing our arms, of almost immediately (EHESTENS) delivering you from this temporary Bondage (BISHERIGEN JOCH).' You can pray, in the mean while, for the success of her Majesty's arms; good fighting, aided by prayer, in a Cause clearly Heaven's, will now, to appearance, bring matters swiftly round again, to the astonishment and confusion of bad men." [In Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1194-1198; Ib. 1201-1206, is Friedrich's Answer, "19th December, 1744."]
These are her Majesty's views; intensely true, I doubt not, to her devout heart. Robinson and the English seem not to be enthusiastic in that direction; as indeed how can they? They would fain be tender of Silesia, which they have guaranteed; fain, now and afterwards, restrain her Majesty from driving at such a pace down hill: but the declivity is so encouraging, her Majesty is not to be restrained, and goes faster and faster for the time being. And indeed, under less devout forms, the general impression, among Pragmatic people, Saxon, Austrian, British even, was, That Friedrich had pretty much ruined himself, and deserved to do so; that this of his being mere "Auxiliary" to a Kaiser in distress was an untenable pretext, now justly fallen bankrupt upon him. The evident fact, That he had by his "Frankfurt Union," and struggles about "union," reopened the door for French tribulations and rough-ridings in the Reich, was universally distasteful; all chance of a "general union of German Princes, in aid of their Kaiser," was extinct for the present.
Friedrich's rapidity had served him ill with the Public, in this as in some other instances! Friedrich, contemplating his situation, not self-delusively, but with the candor of real remorse, was by no means yet aware how very bad it was. For six months coming, partly as existing facts better disclosed themselves, as France, Saxony and others showed what spirit they were of; partly as new sinister events and facts arrived one after the other,—his outlook continued to darken and darken, till it had become very dark indeed. There is perennially the great comfort, immense if you can manage it, of making front against misfortune; of looking it frankly in the face, and doing with a resolution, hour by hour, your own utmost against it. Friedrich never lacked that comfort; and was not heard complaining. But from December 13th, 1744, when he hastened home to Berlin, under such aspects, till June 4th, 1745, when aspects suddenly changed, are probably the worst six months Friedrich had yet had in the world. During which, his affairs all threatening to break down about him, he himself, behooving to stand firm if the worst was not to realize itself, had to draw largely on what silent courage, or private inexpugnability of mind, was in him,—a larger instalment of that royal quality (as I compute) than the Fates had ever hitherto demanded of him. Ever hitherto; though perhaps nothing like the largest of all, which they had upon their Books for him, at a farther stage! As will be seen. For he was greatly drawn upon in that way, in his time. And he paid always; no man in his Century so well; few men, in any Century, better. As perhaps readers may be led to guess or acknowledge, on surveying and considering. To see, and sympathetically recognize, cannot be expected of modern readers, in the present great distance, and changed conditions of men and things.
Friedrich, after despatching Nassau to cut out Einsiedel, had delivered the Silesian Army to the Old Dessauer, who is to command in chief during Winter; and had then hastened to Berlin,—many things there urgently requiring his presence; preparations, reparations, not to speak of diplomacies, and what was the heaviest item of all, new finance for the coming exertions. In Schweidnitz, on Leopold's appearance, there had been an interview, due consultings, orderings; which done, Friedrich at once took the road; and was at Berlin, Monday, December 14th,—precisely in the time while Nassau and Einsiedel were marching with torchlights in Rubezahl's Country, and near ending their difficult enterprise better or worse.
Friedrich, fastening eagerly on Home business, is astonished and provoked to learn that the Austrians, not content with pushing him out of Bohmen, are themselves pushing into Schlesien,—so Old Leopold reports, with increasing emphasis day by day; to whom Friedrich sends impatient order: Hurl them out again; gather what force you need, ten thousand, or were it twenty or thirty thousand, and be immediate about it; "I will as soon be pitched (HERAUSGESCHMISSEN) out of the Mark of Brandenburg as out of Schlesien:" no delay, I tell you! And as the Old Dessauer still explains that the ten or fifteen thousand he needs are actually assembling, and cannot be got on march quite in a moment, Friedrich dashes away his incipient Berlin Operations; will go himself and do it. Haggle no more, you tedious Old Dessauer:—
BERLIN, "19th DECEMBER," 1744. "On the 21st [Monday, one week after my arriving], I leave Berlin, and mean to be at Neisse on the 24th at latest. Your Serenity will in the interim make out the Order-of-Battle [which is also Order-of-March] for what regiments are come in. For I will, on the 25th, without delay, cross the Neisse, and attack those people, cost what it may,—to chase them out of Schlesien and Glatz, and follow them so far as possible. Your Serenity will therefore take your measures, and provide everything, so far as in this short time you can, that the project may be executable the moment I arrive." [Friedrich to the Old Dessauer (Orlich, ii. 356).]
And rushed off accordingly, in a somewhat flamy humor; but at Schweidnitz, where the Old Dessauer met him again, became convinced that the matter was weightier than he thought; not one of Tolpatchery alone, but had Traun himself in it. Upon which Friedrich candidly drew bridle; hastened back, and, with a loss of four days, was at his Potsdam Affairs again. To which he stuck henceforth, ardently, and I think rather with increase of gloom, though without spurt of impatience farther, for three months to come. Before his return,—nay, had he known, it was the night before he went away,—a strange little thing had happened in the opposite or Western parts: surprising accident to Marechal de Belleisle; which now lies waiting his immediate consideration. But let us finish Silesia first.
OLD DESSAUER REPELS THE SILESIAN INVASION (Winter, 1744-45).
"This Silesian Affair includes due inroad of Pandours; or indeed two inroads, southwest and southeast; and in the southwest, or Traun quarter, regulars are the main element of it. Traun, 20,000 strong, PLUS stormy-enough Pandour ACCOMPANIMENT, is by this time through into Glatz; in three columns;—is master of all Glatz, except the Rock-Fortress itself; and has spread himself, right and left, along the Neisse River, and from the southwest northwards, in a skilful and dangerous manner. In concert with whom, far to the east, are Pandour whirlwinds on their own footing (brand-new 'Insurrection' of them, got thus far) starting from Olmutz and Brunn; scouring that eastern country, as far as Namslau northward [a place we were at the taking of, in old Brieg times]; much more, infesting the Mountains of the South. A rather serious thing; with Traun for general manager of it."
With Traun, we say: poor Prince Karl is off, weeks ago; on the saddest of errands. His beautiful young Wife,—Hungarian Majesty's one Sister, Vice-Regents of the Netherlands he and she, conspicuous among the bright couples of the world,—she had a bad lying-in (child still-born), while those grand Moldau Operations went on; has been ill, poor lady, ever since; and, at Brussels, on December 16th, she herself lies dead, Prince Karl weeping over her and the days that will not return. Prince Karl's felicities, private and public, had been at their zenith lately, which was very high indeed; but go on declining from this day. Never more the Happiest of Husbands (did not wed again at all); still less the Greatest of Captains, equal or superior to Caesar in the Gazetteer judgment, with distracted EULOGIES, BIOGRAPHIES and such like filling the air: before long, a War-Captain of quite moderate renown; which we shall see sink gradually into no renown at all, and even (unjustly) into MINUS quantities, before all end. A mad world, my masters!
"Between Traun on the southwest hand, and his Pandours on the southeast, the small Prussian posts have all been driven in upon Troppau-Jagerndorf region; more and more narrowed there;—and, in fine (two days before this new Interview of Leopold and the impatient King at Schweidnitz), have had to quit the Troppau-Jagerndorf position; to quit the Hills altogether, and are now in full march towards Brieg. Of which march I should say nothing, were it not that Marwitz, Father of Wilhelmina's giggling Marmitzes, commanded;—and came by his death in the course of it; though our Wilhelmina is not now there, pen in hand, to tell us what the effects at Baireuth were. Marwitz had been left for dead on the Field of Mollwitz; lay so all night, but was nursed to some kind of strength again by those giggling young women; and came back to Schlesien, to posts of chief trust, for the last year or two,—was guarding the Mountains, and even invading Mahren, during the late Campaign;—but saw himself reduced latterly to Jagerndorf and Troppau; and had even to retreat out of these. And in the whirlpool of hurries thereupon,—how is not very clear; by apoplexy, say some; by accidental pistol from a servant of his own; in actual skirmish with Pandours,—too certainly, one way or the other, on December 23d (just during that second Interview at Schweidnitz), brave old Marwitz did suddenly sink dead, and is ended. [Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1201.] Even so, ye poor giggling creatures, and your loud weeping will not mend it at all!
"Friedrich, looking candidly into these phenomena, could not but see that: what with Tolpatcheries, what with Traun's 20,000 regulars, and the whole Army at their back, his Silesian Border is girt in by a very considerable inroad of Austrians,—huge Chain of them, in horse-shoe form, 300 miles long, pressing in; from beyond Glatz and Landshut, round by the southern Mountains, and up eastward again as far as Namslau, nothing but war whirlwinds in regular or irregular form, in the centre of them Traun;—and that the Old Dessauer really must have time to gird himself for dealing with Traun and them.
"It was not till January 9th that Old Leopold, 25,000 strong, equipped to his mind, which was a difficult matter, crossed the Neisse River; and marched direct upon Traun, with Ziethen charging ahead. Actually marched; after which the main wrestle was done in a week. January 16th, Old Leopold got to Jagerndorf; found the actual Traun concentrated at Jagerndorf; and drew up, to be ready for assault to-morrow morning,—had not Traun, candidly computing, judged it better to glide wholly away in the night-time, diligently towards Mahren, breaking the bridges behind him. And so, in effect, to give up the Silesian Invasion for this time. After which, though there remained a good deal of rough tussling with Pandour details, and some rugged exploits of fight, there is—except that of Lehwald in clearing of Glatz—nothing farther that we can afford to speak of. Lehwald's exploit, Lehwald VERSUS Wallis (same Wallis who defended Glogau long since), which came to be talked of, and got name and date, 'Action of Habelschwert, February 14th,' something almost like a pitched fight on the small scale, is to the following effect:—
"PLOMNITZ, NEAR HABELSCHWERT, 14th FEBRUARY, 1745. Old General Lehwald, marching in the hollow ground near Habelschwert (hollow of the young Neisse River, twenty miles south of Glatz), with intent to cut that Country free; the Enemy, whom he is in search of, appears in great force,—posted on the uphill ground ahead, half-frozen difficult stream in front of them, cannon on flank, Pandour multitude in woods; all things betokening inexpugnability on the part of the Enemy. So that Lehwald has to take his measures; study well where the vital point is, the root of that extensive Austrian junglery, and cut in upon the same. By considerable fire of effort, the uphill ground, half-frozen stream, sylvan Pandours, cannon-batteries, and what inexpugnabilities there may be, are subdued; Austrian wide junglery, the root of it slit asunder rolls homeward simultaneously, not too fast: nay it halted, and re-ranked itself twice over, finding woods and quaggy runlets to its mind; but was always slit out again, disrooted, and finally tumbled home, having had enough. 'Wenzel Wallis,' Friedrich asserts with due scorn, 'was all this while in a Chapel; praying ardently,' to St. Vitus, or one knows not whom; 'without effect; till they shouted to him, "Beaten, Sir! Off, or you are lost!" upon which he sprang to saddle, and spurred with both heels (PIQUA DES DEUX).' [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 79. 80.] That was the feat of Lehwald, clearing the Glatz Country with one good cut: a skilful Captain; now getting decidedly oldish, close on sixty; whom we shall meet again a dozen years hence, still in harness.
"The old Serene Highness himself, face the color of gun-powder, and bluer in the winter frost, went rushing far and wide in an open vehicle, which he called his 'cart;' pushing out detachments, supervising everything; wheeling hither and thither as needful; sweeping out the Pandour world, and keeping it out: not much of fighting needed, but 'a great deal of marching [murmurs Friedrich], which in winter is as bad, and wears down the force of the battalions.' Of all which we give no detail: sufficient to fancy, in this manner, the Old Dessauer flapping his wide military wings in the faces of the Pandour hordes, with here and there a hard twitch from beak or claws; tolerably keeping down the Pandour interest all Winter. His sons, Leopold and Dietrich, were under him, occasionally beside him; the Junior Leopold so worn down with feverish gout he could hardly sit on horseback at all, while old Papa went tearing about in his cart at that rate." [Unternehmung in Ober-Schlesien, unter dem Fursten Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau, im Januar und Februar, 1745 (Seyfarth, Beylage, i. 141-152); Stenzel, iv. 232; &c.]
There was, on the 21st of February, TE-DEUM sung in the churches of Berlin "for the Deliverance of Silesia from Invasion." Not that even yet the Pandours would be quite quiet, or allow Old Leopold to quit his cart; far from it. And they returned in such increased and tempestuous state, as will again require mention, with the earliest Spring:—precursors to a second, far more serious and deadly "Invasion of Silesia;" for which it hangs yet on the balance whether there will be a TE-DEUM or a MISERERE to sing!
Hungarian Majesty, disappointed of Silesia,—which, it seems, is not to be had "all at once (EHESTENS)," in the form of miracle,—makes amends by a rush upon Seckendorf and Bavaria; attacks Seckendorf furiously ("Bathyani pressing up the Donau Valley, with Browne on one hand, and Barenklau on the other") in midwinter; and makes a terrible hand of him; reducing his "Reconquest of Bavaria" to nothing again, nay to less. Of which in due time.
THE FRENCH FULLY INTEND TO BEHAVE BETTER NEXT SEASON TO FRIEDRICH AND THEIR GERMAN ALLIES;—BUT ARE PREVENTED BY VARIOUS ACCIDENTS (November, 1744-April, 1745; April-August, 1745).
It is not divine miracle, Friedrich knows well, that has lost him his late Bohemian Conquests without battle fought: it was rash choosing of a plan inexecutable without French co-operation,—culpable blindness to the chance that France would break its promises, and not co-operate. Had your Majesty forgotten the Joint-Stock Principle, then? His Majesty has sorrowful cause to remember it, from this time, on a still larger scale!
Reflections, indignant or exculpatory, on the conduct of the French in this Business are useless to Friedrich, and to us. The performance, on their part, has been nearly the worst;—though their intentions, while the Austrian Dragon had them by the throat, were doubtless enthusiastically good! But, the big Austrian Dragon being jerked away from Elsass, by Friedrich's treading on his tail, 500 miles off, they were charmed, quite into new enthusiasm, to be rid of said Dragon: and, instead of chasing HIM according to bargain, took to destroying his DEN, that he might be harmless thenceforth. Freyburg is a captured Town, to the joy and glory of admiring France; and Friedrich's Campaign has gone the road we see! The Freyburg Illuminations having burnt out, there might rise, in the triumphant mind, some thought of Friedrich again,—perhaps almost of a remorseful nature? Certain it is, the French intentions are now again magnanimous, more so than ever; coupled now with some attempts at fulfilment, too; which obliges us to mention them here. They were still a matter of important hope to Friedrich; hope which did not quite go out till August coming. Though, alas, it did then go out, in gusts of indignation on Friedrich's part! And as the whole of these magnanimous French intentions, latter like former, again came to zero, we are interested only in rendering them conceivable to readers for Friedrich's sake,—with the more brevity, the better for everybody. Two grand French Attempts there were; listen, on the threshold, a little:—
... "It is certain the French intend gloriously; regardless of expense. They are dismantling Freyburg, to render it harmless henceforth. But, withal, in answer to the poor Kaiser's shrieks, they have sent Segur [our old Linz friend], with 12,000, to assist Seckendorf; 'the bravest troops in the world,'"—who did bravely take one beating (at Pfaffenhofen, as will be seen), and go home again. ("They have Coigny guarding those fine Brisgau Conquests. And are furthermore diplomatizing diligently, not to say truculently, in the Rhine Countries; bullying poor little fat Kur-Trier, lean Kur-Koln and others, 'To join the Frankfurt Union' not one of whom would, under menace),—though 'it is the clear duty of all Reich's-Princes with a Kaiser under oppression:'—and have marched Maillebois, directly after Freyburg, into the Middle-Rhine Countries, to Koln Country, to Mainz Country, and to and fro, in support of said compulsory diplomacies;—but without the least effect."
To the "Middle-Rhine Countries," observe, and under Maillebois, then under Conti, little matter under whom: only let readers recollect the name of it;—for it is the FIRST of the French Attempts to do something of a joint-stock nature; something for self AND Allies, instead of for self only. It caused great alarm in those months, to Britannic George and others; and brought out poor Duc d'Ahremberg with portions (no English included) of the poor Pragmatic Army, to go marching about in the winter slushes, instead of resting in bed, [Adelung, iv. 276, 420 ("December, 1744-June, 1745").]—and is indeed a very loud business in the old Gazettes and books, till August coming. Business which almost broke poor D'Ahremberg's heart, he says, "till once I got out of it" (was TURNED out, in fact): Business of Pragmatic Army, under D'Ahremberg, VERSUS Middle-Rhine Army under Maillebois, under Conti; Business now wholly of Zero VERSUS Zero to us,—except for a few dates and reflex glimmerings upon King Friedrich. Result otherwise—We shall see the Result!
"Attempt SECOND was still more important to Friedrich; being directed upon the Kaiser and Bavaria. Belleisle is to go thither and take survey; Belleisle thither first: you may judge if the intention is sincere! Valori is quite eloquent upon it. Directly after Freyburg, says he, Sechelles, that first of Commissaries, was sent to Munchen. Sechelles cleared up the chaos of Accounts; which King Louis then instantly paid. 'Your Imperial Majesty shall have Magazines also,' said Louis, regardless of expense; 'and your Army, with auxiliaries (Segur and 25,000 of them French), shall be raised to 60,000.' Belleisle then came: 'We will have Ingolstadt, the first thing, in Spring.' Alas, Belleisle had his Accident in the Harz; and all went aback, from that time." [Valori, i. 322-329.] Aback, too indisputably, all!—"And Belleisle's Accident?" Patience, readers.
"The truth is, Attempt SECOND, and chief, broke down at once [Bathyani beating it to pieces, as will be seen],—the ruins of it painfully reacting on Attempt FIRST; which had the like fate some months later;—and there was no THIRD made. And, in fact, from the date of that latter down-break, August, or end of July, 1745 [and quite especially from "September 13th," by which time several irrevocable things had happened, which we shall hear of], the French withdrew altogether out of German entanglements; and concentrated themselves upon the Netherlands, there to demolish his Britannic Majesty, as the likelier enterprise. This was a course to which, ever since the Exit of Broglio and the Oriflamme, they had been more and more tending and inclining, 'Nothing for us but loss on loss, to be had in Germany!' and so they at last frankly gave up that bad Country. They fought well in the Netherlands, with great splendor of success, under Saxe VERSUS Cumberland and Company. They did also some successful work in Italy;—and left Friedrich to bear the brunt in Germany; too glad if he or another were there to take Germany off their hand! Friedrich's feelings on his arriving at this consummation, and during his gradual advance towards it, which was pretty steady all along from those first 'drenched-hen (POULES MOUILLEES)' procedures, were amply known to Excellency Valori, and may be conceived by readers,"—who are slightly interested in the dates of them at farthest. And now for the Belleisle Accident, with these faint preliminary lights.
STRANGE ACCIDENT TO MARECHAL DE BELLEISLE IN THE HARZ MOUNTAINS (20th December, 1744).
Siege of Freyburg being completed, and the River and most other things (except always the bastions, which we blow up) being let into their old channels there, Marechal de Belleisle, who is to have a chief management henceforth,—the Most Christian King recognizing him again as his ablest man in war or peace,—sets forth on a long tour of supervision, of diplomacy and general arrangement, to prepare matters for the next Campaign. Need enough of a Belleisle: what a business we have made of it, since Friedrich trod on the serpent's tail for us! Nothing but our own Freyburg to show for ourselves; elsewhere, mere down-rush of everything whitherward it liked;—and King Friedrich got into such a humor! Friedrich must be put in tune again; something real and good to be agreed on at Berlin: let that be the last thing, crown of the whole. The first thing is, look into Bavaria a little; and how the Kaiser, poor gentleman, in want of all requisites but good-will, can be put into something of fighting posture.
"In the end of November, Marechal Duc de Belleisle, with his Brother the Chevalier (now properly the Count, there having been promotions), and a great retinue more, alights at Munchen; holds counsel with the poor Kaiser for certain days:—Money wanted; many things wanted; and all things, we need not doubt, much fallen out of square. 'Those Seckendorf troops in their winter-quarters,' say our French Inspectors and Segur people, as usual, 'do but look on it, your Excellency! Scattered, along the valleys, into the very edge of Austria; Austria will swallow them, the first thing, next year; they will never rendezvous again except in the Austrian prisons. Surely, Monseigneur, only a man ignorant of war, or with treasonous intention [or ill-off for victuals],—could post troops in that way? Seckendorf is not ignorant of war!' say they. [Valori, i. 206.] For, in fact, suspicion runs high; and there is no end to the accusations just and unjust; and Seckendorf is as ill treated as any of us could wish. Poor old soul. Probably nobody in all the Earth, but his old Wife in the Schloss of Altenburg, has any pity for him,—if even she, which I hope. He has fought and diplomatized and intrigued in many countries, very much; and in his old days is hard bested. Monseigueur, whose part is rather that of Jove the Cloud-compeller, is studious to be himself noiseless amid this noise; and makes no alteration in the Seckendorf troops; but it is certain he meant to do it, thinks Valori."
And indeed Seckendorf, tired of the Bavarian bed-of-roses, had privately fixed with himself to quit the same;—and does so, inexorable to the very Kaiser, on New-Year arriving. [Seckendorfs Leben, p. 365.] Succeeded by Thorring (our old friend DRUM Thorring), if that be an improvement. Marechal de Belleisle has still a long journey ahead, and infinitely harder problems than these,—assuagement of the King of Prussia, for example. Let us follow his remarkable steps.
"WEDNESDAY, 9th DECEMBER, 1744, the Marechal leaves Munchen, northwards through OEttingen and the Bamberg-Anspach regions towards Cassel;—journey of some three hundred and fifty miles: with a great retinue of his own; with an escort of two hundred horse from the Kaiser; these latter to prevent any outfall or insult in the Ingolstadt quarter, where the Austrians have a garrison, not at all very tightly blocked by the Seckendorf people thereabouts. No insult or outfall occurring, the Marechal dismisses his escort at OEttingen; fares forward in his twenty coaches and fourgons, some score or so of vehicles:—mere neutral Imperial Countries henceforth, where the Kaiser's Agent, as Marechal de Belleisle can style himself, and Titular Prince of the German Empire withal, has only to pay his way. By Donauworth, by OEttingen; over the Donau acclivities, then down the pleasant Valley of the Mayn. [See REVIEW OF THE CASE OF MARSHAL BELLEISLE (or Abstract of it, Gentleman's Magazine, 1745, pp. 366-373); &c. &c.]
"SUNDAY, 13th DECEMBER, Marechal de Belleisle arrives at Hanau [where we have seen Conferences held before now, and Carteret, Prince Karl and great George our King very busy], there to confer with Marshals Coigny, Maillebois and other high men, Commanders in those Rhine parts. Who all come accordingly, except Marechal Maillebois, who is sorry that he absolutely cannot; but will surely do himself the honor as Monseigneur returns." As Monseigneur returns! "And so, on Monday, 14th, Monseigneur starts for Cassel; say a hundred miles right north; where we shall meet Prince Wilhelm of Hessen-Cassel, a zealous Ally; inform him how his Troops, under Seckendorf, are posted [at Vilshofen yonder; hiding how perilous their post is, or promising alterations]; perhaps rest a day or two, consulting as to the common weal: How the King of Prussia takes our treatment of him? How to smooth the King of Prussia, and turn him to harmony again? We are approaching the true nodus of our business, difficulty of difficulties; and Wilhelm, the wise Landgraf, may afford a hint or two. Thus travels magnanimous Belleisle in twenty vehicles, a man loaded with weighty matters, in these deep Winter months; suffering dreadfully from rheumatic neuralgic ailments, a Doctor one of his needfulest equipments; and has the hardest problem yet ahead of him.
"Prince Wilhelm's consultations are happily lost altogether; buried from sight forever, to the last hint,—all except as to what road to Berlin would be the best from Cassel. By Leipzig, through low-lying country, is the great Highway, advisable in winter; but it runs a hundred and thirty miles to right, before ever starting northward; such a roundabout. Not to say that the Saxons are allies of Austria,—if there be anything in that. Enemies, they, to the Most Christian King: though surely, again, we are on Kaiser's business, nay we are titular 'Prince of the Reich,' for that matter, such the Kaiser's grace to us? Well; it is better perhaps to AVOID the Saxon Territory. And, of course, the Hanoverian much more; through which lies the other Great Road! 'Go by the Harz,' advises Landgraf Wilhelm: 'a rugged Hill Country; but it is your hypotenuse towards Berlin; passes at once, or nearly so, from Cassel Territory into Prussian: a rugged road, but a shorter and safer.' That is the road Belleisle resolves upon. Twenty carriages; his Brother the Chevalier and himself occupy one; and always the courier rides before, ordering forty post-horses to be ready harnessed.
"SUNDAY, 20th DECEMBER, 1744. In this way they have climbed the eastern shin of the Harz Range, where the Harz is capable of wheel-carriages; and hope now to descend, this night, to Halberstadt; and thence rapidly by level roads to Berlin. It is sinking towards dark; the courier is forward to Elbingerode, ordering forty horses to be out. Roughish uphill road; winter in the sky and earth, winter vapors and tumbling wind-gusts: westward, in torn storm-cloak, the Bracken, with its witch-dances; highland Goslar, and ghost of Henry the Fowler, on the other side of it. A multifarious wizard Country, much overhung by goblin reminiscences, witch-dances, sorcerers'-sabbaths and the like,—if a rheumatic gentleman cared to look on it, in the cold twilight. Brrh! Waste chasmy uplands, snow-choked torrents; wild people, gloomy firs! Here at last, by one's watch 5 P.M., is Elbingerode, uncomfortable little Town; and it is to be hoped the forty post-horses are ready.
"Behold, while the forty post-horses are getting ready, a thing takes place, most unexpected;—which made the name of Elbingerode famous for eight months to come. Of which let us hastily give the bare facts, Fancy making of them what she can. Was Monseigneur aware that this Elbingerode, with a patch of territory round it, is Hanoverian ground; one of those distracted patches or ragged outskirts frequent in the German map? Prussia is not yet, and Hessen-Cassel has ceased to be. Undoubtedly Hanoverian! Apparently the Landgraf and Monseigneur had not thought of that. But Munchhausen of Hanover, spies informing him, had. The Bailiff (Vogt, AdVOCATus) has gathered twenty JAGER [official Game-keepers] with their guns, and a select idle Sunday population of the place with or without guns: the Vogt steps forward, and inquires for Monseigneur's passport. 'No passport, no need of any!'—'Pardon!' and signifies to Monseigneur, on the part of George Elector of Hanover, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, that Monseigneur is arrested!
"Monseigneur, with compressed or incompressible feelings, indignantly complies,—what could he else, unfortunate rheumatic gentleman?—and is plucked away in such sudden manner, he for one, out of that big German game of his raising. The twenty vehicles are dragged different roads; towards Scharzfels, Osterode, or I know not where,—handiest roads to Hanover;—and Monseigneur himself has travelling treatment which might be complained of, did not one disdain complaint: 'my Brother parted from me, nay my Doctor, and my Interpreter;'"—not even speech possible to me. [Letter of Belleisle next morning, "Neuhof, 21st December, 9 A.M." (in Valori, i. 204), to Munchhausen at Hanover,—by no possibility "to Valori," as the distracted French Editor has given it!] That was the Belleisle Accident in the Harz, Sunday Evening, 20th December, 1744.
"Afflicted indignant Valori, soon enough apprised, runs to Friedrich with the news,—greets Friedrich with it just alighting from that Silesian run of his own. Friedrich, not without several other things to think of, is naturally sorry at such news; sorry for his own sake even; but not overmuch. Friedrich refuses 'to despatch a party of horse,' and cut out Marechal de Belleisle. "That will never do, MON CHER!'—and even gets into FROIDES PLAISANTERIES: 'Perhaps the Marechal did it himself? Tallard, prisoner after Blenheim, made PEACE, you know, in England?'—and the like; which grieved the soul of Valori, and convinced him of Friedrich's inhumanity, in a crying case.
"Belleisle is lugged on to Hanover; his case not doubtful to Munchhausen, or the English Ministry,—though it raised great argument, (was the capture fair, was it unfair? Is he entitled to exchange by cartel, or not entitled?' and produced, in the next eight months, much angry animated pamphleteering and negotiation. For we hear by and by, he is to be forwarded to Stade, on the Hamburg sea-coast, where English Seventy-fours are waiting for him; his case still undecided;—and, in effect, it was not till after eight months that he got dismissal. 'Lodged handsomely in Windsor Palace,' in the interim; free on his parole, people of rank very civil to him, though the Gazetteers were sometimes ill-tongued,—had he understood their PATOIS, or concerned himself about such things
["TUESDAY, 18th FEBRUARY [1st March, 1745], Marshal Belleisle landed at Harwich; lay at Greenwich Palace, having crossed Thames at the Isle of Dogs: next morning, about 10, set out, in a coach-and-six, Colonel Douglas and two troops of horse escorting; arrived 3 P.M.,—by Camberwell, Clapham, Wandsworth, over Kingston and Staines Bridges,—at Windsor Castle, and the apartments ready for him." (Gentleman's Magazine, 1745, p 107.) Was let go 13th (24th) August, again with great pomp and civilities (ib. p. 442). See Adelung, iv. 299, 346; v. 83, 84.]
"It was a current notion among contemporary mankind, this of Friedrich, that Belleisle's capture might be a mere collusion, meant to bring about a Peace in that Tallard fashion,—wide of the truth as such a notion is, far as any Peace was from following. To Britannic George and his Hanoverians it had merely seemed, Here was a chief War-Captain and Diplomatist among the French; the pivot of all these world-wide movements, as Valori defines him; which pivot, a chance offering, it were well to twitch from its socket, and see what would follow. Perhaps nothing will follow; next to nothing? A world, all waltzing in mad war, is not to be stopped by acting on any pivot; your waltzing world will find new pivots, or do without any, and perhaps only waltz the more madly for wanting the principal one."
This withdrawal of Belleisle, the one Frenchman respected by Friedrich, or much interested for his own sake in things German, is reckoned a main cause why the French Alliance turned out so ill for Friedrich; and why French effort took more and more a Netherlands direction thenceforth, and these new French magnanimities on Friedrich's behalf issued in futility again. Probably they never could have issued in very much: but it is certain that, from this point, they also do become zero; and that Friedrich, from his French alliance, reaped from first to last nothing at all, except a great deal of obloquy from German neighbors, and from the French side endless trouble, anger and disappointment in every particular. Which 'might be a joy (though not unmixed) to Britannic Majesty and the subtle followers who had ginned this fine Belleisle bird in its flight over the Harz Range? Though again, had they passively let him wing his way, and he had GOT "to be Commander and Manager," as was in agitation,—he, Belleisle and in Germany, instead of Marechal de Saxe with the Netherlands as chief scene,—what an advantage might that have been to them!
THE KAISER KARL VII. GETS SECURED FROM OPPRESSIONS, IN A TRAGIC WAY. FRIEDRICH PROPOSES PEACE, BUT TO NO PURPOSE.
A still sadder cross for Friedrich, in the current of foreign Accidents and Diplomacies, was the next that befell; exactly a month later,—at Munchen, 20th January, 1745. Hardly was Belleisle's back turned, when her Hungarian Majesty, by her Bathyani and Company, broke furiously in upon the poor Kaiser and his Seckendorf-Segur defences. Belleisle had not reached the Harz, when all was going topsy-turvy there again, and the Donau-Valley fast falling back into Austrian hands. Nor is that the worst, or nearly so.
"MUNCHEN, 20th JANUARY, 1745. This day poor Kaiser Karl laid down his earthly burden here, and at length gave all his enemies the slip. He had been ill of gout for some time; a man of much malady always, with no want of vexations and apprehensions. Too likely the Austrians will drive him out of Munchen again; then nothing but furnished lodgings, and the French to depend upon. He had been much chagrined by some Election, just done, in the Chapter of Salzburg. [Adelung, iv. 249, 276, 313.] The Archbishop there—it was Firmian, he of the SALZBURG EMIGRATION, memorable to readers—had died, some while ago. And now, in flat contradiction to Imperial customs, prerogatives, these people had admitted an Austrian Garrison; and then, in the teeth of our express precept, had elected an Austrian to their benefice: what can one account it but an insult as well as an injury? And the neuralgic maladies press sore, and the gouty twinges; and Belleisle is seized, perhaps with important papers of ours; and the Seckendorf-Segur detachments were ill placed; nay here are the Austrians already on the throat of them, in midwinter! It is said, a babbling valet, or lord-in-waiting, happened to talk of some skirmish that had fallen out (called a battle, in the valet rumor), and how ill the French and Bavarians had fared in it, owing to their ill behavior. And this, add they, proved to be the ounce-weight too much for the so heavy-laden back.
"The Kaiser took to bed, not much complaining; patient, mild, though the saddest of all mortals; and, in a day or two, died. Adieu, adieu, ye loved faithful ones; pity me, and pray for me! He gave his Wife, poor little fat devout creature, and his poor Children (eldest lad, his Heir, only seventeen), a tender blessing; solemnly exhorted them, To eschew ambition, and be warned by his example;—to make their peace with Austria; and never, like him, try COM' E DURO CALLE, and what the charity of Christian Kings amounts to. This counsel, it is thought, the Empress Dowager zealously accedes to, and will impress upon her Son. That is the Austrian and Cause-of-Liberty account: King Friedrich, from the other side, has heard a directly opposite one. How the Kaiser, at the point of death, exhorted his son, 'Never forget the services which the King of France and the King of Prussia have done us, and do not repay them with ingratitude.' [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 92;—and see (PER CONTRA) in Adelung, iv. 314 A; in Coxe, &c.] The reader can choose which he will, or reject both into the region of the uncertain. 'Karl Albert's pious and affectionate demeanor drew tears from all eyes,' say the by-standers: 'the manner in which he took leave of his Empress would have melted a heart of stone.' He was in his forty-eighth year; he had been, of all men in his generation, the most conspicuously unhappy."
What a down-rush of confusion there ensued on this event, not to Bavaria alone, but to all the world, and to King Friedrich more than another, no reader can now take the pains of conceiving. The "Frankfurt Union," then, has gone to air! Here is now no "Kaiser to be delivered from oppression:" here is a new Kaiser to be elected,—"Grand-Duke Franz the man," cry the Pragmatic Potentates with exultation, "no Belleisle to disturb!"—and questions arise innumerable thereupon, Will France go into electioneering again? The new Kur-Baiern, only seventeen, poor child, cannot be set up as candidate. What will France do with HIM; what he with France? Whom can the French try as Candidate against the Grand-Duke? Kur-Sachsen, the Polish Majesty again? Belleisle himself must have paused uncertain over such a welter,—and probably have done, like the others, little or nothing in it, but left it to collapse by natural gravitation.
Hungarian Majesty checked her Bavarian Armaments a little: "If perhaps this young Kur-Baiern will detach himself from France, and on submissive terms come over to us?" Whereupon, at Munchen, and in the cognate quarters, such wriggling, dubitating and diplomatizing, as seldom was,—French, Anti-French (Seckendorf busiest of all), straining every nerve in that way, and for almost three months, nothing coming of it,—till Hungarian Majesty sent her Barenklaus and Bathyanis upon them again; and these rapidly solved the question, in what way we shall see!
Friedrich has still his hopes of Bavaria, so grandiloquent are the French in regard to it; who but would hope? The French diplomatize to all lengths in Munchen, promising seas and mountains; but they perform little; in an effectual manner, nothing. Bavarian "Army raised to 60,000;" counts in fact little above half that number; with no General to it but an imaginary one; Segur's actual French contingent, instead of 25,000, is perhaps 12,000;—and so of other things. Add to all which, Seckendorf is there, not now as War-General, but as extra-official "Adviser;" busier than ever,—"scandalous old traitor!" say the French;—and Friedrich may justly fear that Bavaria will go, by collapse, a bad road for him.
Friedrich, a week or two after the Kaiser's death, seeing Bavarian and French things in such a hypothetic state, instructs his Ambassador at London to declare his, Friedrich's, perfect readiness and wish for Peace: "Old Treaty of Breslau and Berlin made indubitable to me; the rest of the quarrel has, by decease of the Kaiser, gone to air." To which the Britannic Majesty, rather elated at this time, as all Pragmatic people are, answers somewhat in a careless way, "Well, if the others like it!" and promises that he will propose it in the proper quarter. So that henceforth there is always a hope of Peace through England; as well as contrariwise, especially till Bavaria settle itself (in April next), a hope of great assistance from the French. Here are potentialities and counter-potentialities, which make the Bavarian Intricacy very agitating to the young King, while it lasts. And indeed his world is one huge imbroglio of Potentialities and Diplomatic Intricacies, agitating to behold. Concerning which we have again to remark how these huge Spectres of Diplomacy, now filling Friedrich's world, came mostly in result to Nothing;—shaping themselves wholly, for or against, in exact proportion, direct or inverse, to the actual Quantity of Battle and effective Performance that happened to be found in Friedrich himself. Diplomatic Spectralities, wide Fatamorganas of hope, and hideous big Bugbears blotting out the sun: of these, few men ever had more than Friedrich at this time. And he is careful, none carefuler, not to neglect his Diplomacies at any time;—though he knows, better than most, that good fighting of his own is what alone can determine the value of these contingent and aerial quantities,—mere Lapland witchcraft the greater part of them.
A second grand Intricacy and difficulty, still more enigmatic, and pressing the tighter by its close neighborhood, was that with the Saxons. "Are the Saxons enemies; are they friends? Neutrals at lowest; bound by Treaty to lend Austria troops; but to lend for defence merely, not for offence! Could not one, by good methods, make friends with his Polish Majesty?" Friedrich was far from suspecting the rages that lurked in the Polish Majesty, and least of all owing to what. Owing to that old MORAVIAN-FORAY business; and to his, Friedrich's, behavior to the Saxons in it; excellent Saxons, who had behaved so beautifully to Friedrich! That is the sad fact, however. Stupid Polish Majesty has his natural envies, jealousies, of a Brandenburg waxing over his head at this rate. But it appears, the Moravian Foray entered for a great deal into the account, and was the final overwhelming item. Bruhl, by much descanting on that famous Expedition,—with such candid Eye-witnesses to appeal to, such corroborative Staff-officers and appliances, powerful on the idle heart and weak brain of a Polish Majesty,—has brought it so far. Fixed indignation, for intolerable usage, especially in that Moravian-Foray time: fixed; not very malignant, but altogether obstinate (as, I am told, that of the pacific sheep species usually is); which carried Bruhl and his Polish Majesty to extraordinary heights and depths in years coming! But that will deserve a section to itself by and by.
A third difficulty, privately more stringent than any, is that of Finance. The expenses of the late Bohemian Expedition, "Friedrich's Army costing 75,000 pounds a month," have been excessive. For our next Campaign, if it is to be done in the way essential, there are, by rigorous arithmetic, "900,000 pounds" needed. A frugal Prussia raises no new taxes; pays its Wars from "the Treasure," from the Fund saved beforehand for emergencies of that kind; Fund which is running low, threatening to be at the lees if such drain on it continue. To fight with effect being the one sure hope, and salve for all sores, it is not in the Army, in the Fortresses, the Fighting Equipments, that there shall be any flaw left! Friedrich's budget is a sore problem upon him; needing endless shift and ingenuity, now and onwards, through this war:—already, during these months, in the Berlin Schloss, a great deal of those massive Friedrich-Wilhelm plate Sumptuosities, especially that unparalleled Music-Balcony up stairs, all silver, has been, under Fredersdorf's management, quietly taken away; "carried over, in the night-time, to the Mint." [Orlich, ii. 126-128.]
And, in fact, no modern reader, not deeper in that distressing story of the Austrian-Succession War than readers are again like to be, can imagine to himself the difficulties of Friedrich at this time, as they already lay disclosed, and kept gradually disclosing themselves, for months coming; nor will ever know what perspicacity, patience of scanning, sharpness of discernment, dexterity of management, were required at Friedrich's hands;—and under what imminency of peril, too; victorious deliverance, or ruin and annihilation, wavering fearfully in the balance for him, more than once, or rather all along. But it is certain the deeper one goes into that hideous Medea's Caldron of stupidities, once so flamy, now fallen extinct, the more is one sensible of Friedrich's difficulties; and of the talent for all kinds of Captaincy,—by no means in the Field only, or perhaps even chiefly,—that was now required of him. Candid readers shall accept these hints, and do their best:—Friedrich himself made not the least complaint of men's then misunderstanding him; still less will he now! We, keeping henceforth the Diplomacies, the vaporous Foreshadows, and general Dance of Unclean Spirits with their intrigues and spectralities, well underground, so far as possible, will stick to what comes up as practical Performance on Friedrich's part, and try to give intelligible account of that.
Valori says, he is greatly changed, and for the better, by these late reverses of fortune. All the world notices it, says Valori. No longer that brief infallibility of manner; that lofty light air, that politely disdainful view of Valori and mankind: he has now need of men. Complains of nothing, is cheerful, quizzical;—ardently busy to "grind out the notches," as our proverb is; has a mild humane aspect, something of modesty, almost of piety in him. Help me, thou Supreme Power, Maker of men, if my purposes are manlike! Though one does not go upon the Prayers of Forty-Hours, or apply through St. Vitus and such channels, there may be something of authentic petition to Heaven in the thoughts of that young man. He is grown very amiable; the handsomest young bit of Royalty now going. He must fight well next Summer, or it will go hard with him!
Chapter VI.—VALORI GOES ON AN ELECTIONEERING MISSION TO DRESDEN.
Some time in January, a new Frenchman, a "Chevalier de Courten," if the name is known to anybody, was here at Berlin; consulting, settling about mutual interests and operations. Since Belleisle is snatched from us, it is necessary some Courten should come; and produce what he has got: little of settlement, I should fear, of definite program that will hold water; in regard to War operations chiefly a magazine of clouds. [Specimens of it, in Ranke, iii. 219.] For the rest, the Bavarian question; and very specially, Who the new Emperor is to be?"King of Poland, thinks your Majesty?"—"By all means," answers Friedrich, "if you can! Detach him from Austria; that will be well!" Which was reckoned magnanimous, at least public-spirited, in Friedrich; considering what Saxony's behavior to him had already been. "By all means, his Polish Majesty for Kaiser; do our utmost, Excellencies Valori, Courten and Company!" answers Friedrich,—and for his own part, I observe, is intensely busy upon Army matters, looking after the main chance.
And so Valori is to go to Dresden, and manage this cloud or cobwebbery department of the thing; namely, persuade his Polish Majesty to stand for the Kaisership: "Baiern, Pfalz, Koln, Brandenburg, there are four votes, Sire; your own is five: sure of carrying it, your Polish Majesty; backed by the Most Christian King, and his Allies and resources!" And Polish Majesty does, for his own share, very much desire to be Kaiser. But none of us yet knows how he is tied up by Austria, Anti-Friedrich, Anti-French considerations; and can only "accept if it is offered me:" thrice-willing to accept, if it will fall into my mouth; which, on those terms, it has so little chance of doing!—Saxony and its mysterious affairs and intentions having been, to Friedrich, a riddle and trouble and astonishment, during all this Campaign, readers ought to know the fact well;—and no reader could stand the details of such a fact. Here, in condensed form, are some scraps of Excerpt; which enable us to go with Valori on this Dresden Mission, and look for ourselves:—
1. FRIEDRICH'S POSITION TOWARDS SAXONY.
"... By known Treaty, the Polish Majesty is bound to assist the Hungarian with 12,000 men, 'whenever invaded in her own dominions.' Polish Majesty had 20,000 in the field for that object lately,—part of them, 8,000 of them, hired by Britannic subsidy, as he alleges. The question now is, Will Saxony assist Austria in invading Silesia, with or without Britannic subsidy? Friedrich hopes that this is impossible! Friedrich is deeply unaware of the humor he has raised against himself in the Saxon Court-circles; how the Polish Majesty regards that Moravian Foray; with what a perfect hatred little Bruhl regards him, Friedrich; and to what pitch of humor, owing to those Moravian-Foray starvings, marchings about and inhuman treatment of the poor Saxon Army, not to mention other offences and afflictive considerations, Bruhl has raised the simple Polish Majesty against Friedrich. These things, as they gradually unfolded themselves to Friedrich, were very surprising. And proved very disadvantageous at the present juncture and for a long time afterwards. To Friedrich disadvantageous and surprising; and to Saxony, in the end, ruinous; poor Saxony having got its back broken by them, and never stood up in the world since! Ruined by this wretched little Bruhl; and reduced, from the first place in Northern Teutschland, to a second or third, or no real place at all."
2. THERE IS A, "UNION OF WARSAW" (8th January, 1745); AND STILL MORE SPECIALLY A "TREATY OF WARSAW" (8th January-18th May, 1745).
"January 8th, 1745, before the Old Dessauer got ranked in Schlesien against Traun, there had concluded itself at Warsaw, by way of counterpoise to the 'Frankfurt Union,' a 'Union of Warsaw,' called also 'Quadruple Alliance of Warsaw;' the Parties to which were Polish Majesty, Hungarian ditto, Prime-Movers, and the two Sea-Powers as Purseholders; stipulating, to the effect: 'We Four will hold together in affairs of the Reich VERSUS that dangerous Frankfurt Union; we will'—do a variety of salutary things; and as one practical thing, 'There shall be, this Season, 30,000 Saxons conjoined to the Austrian Force, for which we Sea-Powers will furnish subsidy.'—This was the one practical point stipulated, January 8th; and farther than this the Sea-Powers did not go, now or afterwards, in that affair.
"But there was then proposed by the Polish and Hungarian Majesties, in the form of Secret Articles, an ulterior Project; with which the Sea-Powers, expressing mere disbelief and even abhorrence of it, refused to have any concern now or henceforth. Polish Majesty, in hopes it would have been better taken, had given his 30,000 soldiers at a rate of subsidy miraculously low, only 150,000 pounds for the whole: but the Sea-Powers were inexorable, perhaps almost repented of their 150,000 pounds; and would hear nothing farther of secret Articles and delirious Projects.
"So that the 'Union of Warsaw' had to retire to its pigeon-hole, content with producing those 30,000 Saxons for the immediate occasion; and there had to be concocted between the Polish and Hungarian Majesties themselves what is now, in the modern Pamphlets, called a 'TREATY of Warsaw,'—much different from the innocent, 'UNION of Warsaw;' though it is merely the specifying and fixing down of what had been shadowed out as secret codicils in said 'Union,' when the Sea-Power parties obstinately recoiled. Treaty of Warsaw let us continue to call it; though its actual birth-place was Leipzig (in the profoundest secrecy, 18th May, 1745), above four months after it had tried to be born at Warsaw, and failed as aforesaid. Warsaw Union is not worth speaking of; but this other is a Treaty highly remarkable to the reader,—and to Friedrich was almost infinitely so, when he came to get wind of it long after.
"Treaty which, though it proved abortional, and never came to fulfilment in any part of it, is at this day one of the remarkablest bits of sheepskin extant in the world. It was signed 18th May, 1745; [Scholl, ii. 350.] and had cost a great deal of painful contriving, capable still of new altering and retouching, to hit mutual views: Treaty not only for reconquering Silesia (which to the Two Majesties, though it did not to the Sea-Powers, seems infallible, in Friedrich's now ruined circumstances), but for cutting down that bad Neighbor to something like the dimensions proper for a Brandenburg Vassal;—in fact, quite the old 'Detestable Project' of Spring, 1741, only more elaborated into detail (in which Britannic George knows better than to meddle!)—Saxony to have share of the parings, when we get them. 'What share?' asked Saxony, and long keeps asking. 'A road to Warsaw; Strip of Country carrying us from the end of the Lausitz, which is ours, into Poland, which we trust will continue ours, would be very handy! Duchy of Glogau; some small paring of Silesia, won't your Majesty?' 'Of my Silesia not one hand-breadth,' answered the Queen impatiently (though she did at last concede some outlying hand-breadths, famed old 'Circle of Schwiebus,' if I recollect); and they have had to think of other equivalent parings for Saxony's behoof (Magdeburg, Halberstadt, Saale-Circle, or one knows not what); and have had, and will have, their adoes to get it fixed. Excellent bearskin to be slit into straps; only the bear is still on his feet!—Polish Majesty and Hungarian, Polish with especial vigor, Bruhl quite restless upon it, are—little as Valori or any mortal could dream of it—engaged in this partition of the bearskin, when Valori arrives. Of their innocent Union of Warsaw, there was, from the first, no secret made; but the Document now called 'TREATY of Warsaw' needs to lie secret and thrice-secret; and it was not till 1756 that Friedrich, having unearthed it by industries of his own, and studied it with great intensity for some years, made it known to the world." [Adelung, v. 308. 397; Ranke, iii. 231 (who, for some reason of his own, dates "3d May" instead of 18th].
Treaties, vaporous Foreshadows of Events, have oftenest something of the ghost in them; and are importune to human nature, longing for the Events themselves; all the more if they have proved abortional Treaties, and become doubly ghost-like or ghastly. Nevertheless the reader is to note well this Treaty of Warsaw, as important to Friedrich and him; and indeed it is perhaps the remarkablest Treaty, abortional or realized, which got to parchment in that Century. For though it proved abortional, and no part of it, now or afterwards, could be executed, and even the subsidy and 30,000 Saxons (stipulated in the "UNION of Warsaw") became crow's-meat in a manner,—this preternatural "Treaty of Warsaw," trodden down never so much by the heel of Destiny, and by the weight of new Treaties, superseding it or presupposing its impossibility or inconceivability, would by no means die (such the humor of Bruhl, of the Two Majesties and others); but lay alive under the ashes, carefully tended, for Ten or Twenty Years to come;—and had got all Europe kindled again, for destruction of that bad Neighbor, before it would itself consent to go out! And did succeed in getting Saxony's back broken, if not the bad Neighbor's,—in answer to the humor of little Bruhl; unfortunate Saxony to possess such a Bruhl!
In those beautiful Saxon-Austrian developments of the Treaty of Warsaw, Czarina Elizabeth, bobbing about in that unlovely whirlpool of intrigues, amours, devotions and strong liquor, which her History is, took (ask not for what reason) a lively part:—and already in this Spring of 1745, they hope she could, by "a gift of two millions for her pleasures" (gift so easy to you Sea-Powers), be stirred up to anger against Friedrich. And she did, in effect, from this time, hover about in a manner questionable to Friedrich; though not yet in anger, but only with the wish to be important, and to make herself felt in Foreign affairs. Whether the Sea-Powers gave her that trifle of pocket-money ("for her pleasures"), I never knew; but it is certain they spent, first and last, very large amounts that way, upon her and hers; especially the English did, with what result may be considered questionable.
As for Graf von Bruhl, most rising man of Saxony, once a page; now by industry King August III.'s first favorite and factotum; the fact that he cordially hates Friedrich is too evident; but the why is not known to me. Except indeed, That no man—especially no man with three hundred and sixty-five fashionable suits of clothes usually about him, different suit each day of the year—can be comfortable in the evident contempt of another man. Other man of sarcastic bantering turn, too; tongue sharp as needles; whose sayings many birds of the air are busy to carry about. Year after year, Bruhl (doubtless with help enough that way, if there had needed such) hates him more and more; as the too jovial Czarina herself comes to do, wounded by things that birds have carried. And now we will go with Valori,—seeing better into some things than Valori yet can.
3. VALORI'S ACCOUNT OF HIS MISSION (in compressed form). [Valori, i. 211-219.]
"Valori [I could guess about the 10th of February, but there is no date at all] was despatched to Dresden with that fine project, Polish Majesty for Kaiser: is authorized to offer 60,000 men, with money corresponding, and no end of brilliant outlooks;—must keep back his offers, however, if he find the people indisposed. Which he did, to an extreme degree; nothing but vague talk, procrastination, hesitation on the part of Bruhl. This wretched little Bruhl has twelve tailors always sewing for him, and three hundred and sixty-five suits of clothes: so many suits, all pictured in a Book; a valet enters every morning, proposes a suit, which, after deliberation, with perhaps amendments, is acceded to, and worn at dinner. Vainest of human clothes-horses; foolishest coxcomb Valori has seen: it is visibly his notion that it was he, Bruhl, by his Saxon auxiliaries, by his masterly strokes of policy, that checkmated Friedrich, and drove him from Bohemia last Year; and, for the rest, that Friedrich is ruined, and will either shirk out of Silesia, or be cut to ribbons there by the Austrian force this Summer. To which Valori hints dissent; but it is ill received. Valori sees the King; finds him, as expected, the fac-simile of Bruhl in this matter; Jesuit Guarini the like: how otherwise? They have his Majesty in their leash, and lead him as they please.
"At four every morning, this Guarini, Jesuit Confessor to the King and Queen, comes to Bruhl; Bruhl settles with him what his Majesty shall think, in reference to current business, this day; Guarini then goes, confesses both Majesties; confesses, absolves, turns in the due way to secular matters. At nine, Bruhl himself arrives, for Privy Council: 'What is your Majesty pleased to think on these points of current business?' Majesty serenely issues his thoughts, in the form of orders; which are found correct to pattern. This is the process with his Majesty. A poor Majesty, taking deeply into tobacco; this is the way they have him benetted, as in a dark cocoon of cobwebs, rendering the whole world invisible to him. Which cunning arrangement is more and more perfected every year; so that on all roads he travels, be it to mass, to hunt, to dinner, any-whither in his Palace or out of it, there are faithful creatures keeping eye, who admit no unsafe man to the least glimpse of him by night or by day. In this manner he goes on; and before the end of him, twenty years hence, has carried it far. Nothing but disgust to be had out of business;—mutinous Polish Diets too, some forty of them, in his time, not one of which did any business at all, but ended in LIBERUM VETO, and Billingsgate conflagration, perhaps with swords drawn: [See Buchholz, 154; &c.]—business more and more disagreeable to him. What can Valori expect, on this heroic occasion, from such a King?
"The Queen herself, Maria Theresa's Cousin, an ambitious hard-favored Majesty,—who had sense once to dislike Bruhl, but has been quite reconciled to him by her Jesuit Messenger of Heaven (which latter is an oily, rather stupid creature, who really wishes well to her, and loves a peaceable life at any price),—even she will not take the bait. Valori was in Dresden nine days (middle part of February, it is likely); never produced his big bait, his 60,000 men and other brilliancies, at all. He saw old Feldmarschall Konigseck passing from Vienna towards the Netherlands Camp; where he is to dry-nurse (so they irreverently call it, in time coming) his Royal Highness of Cumberland, that magnificent English Babe of War, and do feats with him this Summer." Konigseck, though Valori did not know it, has endless diplomacies to do withal; inspections of troops, advisings, in Hanover, in Holland, in Dresden here; [Anonymous,—Duke of Cumberland,—p. 186.]—and secures the Saxon Electoral-Vote for his Grand-Duke in passing. "The welcome given to Konigseck disgusted Valori; on the ninth day he left; said adieu, seeing them blind to their interest; and took post for Berlin,"—where he finds Friedrich much out of humor at the Saxon reception of his magnanimities. [Valori, i. 211-219; OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 81-85. For details on Bruhl, see Graf von Bruhl, Leben und Charakter (1760, No Place): Anonymous, by one Justi, a noted Pamphleteer of the time: exists in English too, or partly exists; but is unreadable, except on compulsion; and totally unintelligible till after very much inquiry elsewhere.]
This Saxon intricacy, indecipherable, formidable, contemptible, was the plague of Friedrich's life, one considerable plague, all through this Campaign. Perhaps nothing in the Diplomatic sphere of things caused him such perplexity, vexation, indignation. An insoluble riddle to him; extremely contemptible, yet,—with a huge Russia tacked to it, and looming minatory in the distance,—from time to time, formidable enough. Let readers keep it in mind, and try to imagine it. It cost Friedrich such guessing, computing, arranging, rearranging, as would weary the toughest reader to hear of in detail. How Friedrich did at last solve it (in December coming), all readers will see with eyes!—
MIDDLE-RHINE ARMY IN A STAGGERING STATE; THE BAVARIAN INTRICACY SETTLES ITSELF, THE WRONG WAY.
Early in March it becomes surmisable that Maillebois's Middle-Rhine Army will not go a good road. Maillebois has been busy in those countries, working extensive discontent; bullying mankind "to join the Frankfurt Union," to join France at any rate, which nobody would consent to; and exacting merciless contributions, which everybody had to consent to and pay.—And now, on D'Ahremberg's mere advance, with that poor Fraction of Pragmatic Army, roused from its winter sleep, Maillebois, without waiting for D'Ahremberg's attack, rapidly calls in his truculent detachments, and rolls confusedly back into the Frankfurt regions. [Adelung, iv. 276-352 (December, 1744-March, 1745).] Upon which D'Ahremberg—if by no means going upon Maillebois's throat—sets, at least, to coercing Wilhelm of Hessen, our only friend in those parts; who is already a good deal disgusted with the Maillebois procedures, and at a loss what to do on the Kaiser's death, which has killed the Frankfurt Union too. Wise Wilhelm consents, under D'Ahremberg's menaces, to become Neutral; and recall his 6,000 out of Baiern,—wishes he had them home beside him even now!
With an Election in the wind, it is doubly necessary for the French, who have not even a Candidate as yet, to stand supreme and minatory in the Frankfurt Country; and to King Friedrich it is painfully questionable, whether Maillebois can do it. "Do it we will; doubt not that, your Majesty!" answer Valori and the French;—and study to make improvements, reinforcements, in their Rhine Army. And they do, at least, change the General of their Middle-Rhine Army,—that is to say, recall Prince Conti out of Italy, where he has distinguished himself, and send Maillebois thither in his stead,—who likewise distinguishes himself THERE, if that could be a comfort to us! Whether the distinguished Conti will maintain that Frankfurt Country in spite of the Austrians and their Election movements, is still a question with Friedrich, though Valori continued assuring him (always till July came) that, it was beyond question. "Siege of Tournay, vigorous Campaign in the Netherlands (for behoof of Britannic George)!" this is the grand French program for the Year. This good intention was achieved, on the French part; but this, like Aaron's rod among the serpents, proved to have EATEN the others as it wriggled along!—
Those Maillebois-D'Ahremberg affairs throw a damp on the Bavarian Question withal;—in fact, settle the Bavarian Question; her Hungarian Majesty, tired of the delays, having ordered Bathyani to shoulder arms again, and bring a decision. Bathyani, with Barenklau to right of him, and Browne (our old Silesian friend) to left, goes sweeping across those Seckendorf-Segur posts, and without difficulty tumbles everything to ruin, at a grand rate. The traitor Seckendorf had made such a choice of posts,—left unaltered by Drum Thorring;—what could French valor do? Nothing; neither French valor, nor Bavarian want of valor, could do anything but whirl to the right-about, at sight of the Austrian Sweeping-Apparatus; and go off explosively, as in former instances, at a rate almost unique in military annals. Finished within three weeks or so!—We glance only at two points of it. March 21st, Bathyani stood to arms (to BESOMS we might call it), Browne on the left, Barenklau on the right: it was March 21st when Bathyani started from Passau, up the Donau Countries;—and within the week coming, see:—
"VILSHOFEN, 28th MARCH, 1745. Here, at the mouth of the Vils River (between Inn and Iser), is the first considerable Post; garrison some 4,000; Hessians and Prince Friedrich the main part,—who have their share of valor, I dare say; but with such news out of Hessen, not to speak of the prospects in this Country, are probably in poorish spirits for acting. General Browne summons them in Vilshofen, this day; and, on their negative, storms in upon them, bursts them to pieces; upon which they beat chamade. But the Croats, who are foremost, care nothing for chamade: go plundering, slaughtering; burn the poor Town; butcher [in round numbers] 3,000 of the poor Hessians; and wound General Browne himself, while he too vehemently interferes." [Adelung, iv. 356, and the half-intelligible Foot-note in Ranke, iii. 220.] This was the finale of those 6,000 Hessians, and indeed their principal function, while in French pay;—and must have been, we can Judge how surprising to Prince Friedrich, and to his Papa on hearing of it! Note another point.
Precisely about this time twelvemonth, "March 16th, 1746," the same Prince Friedrich, with remainder of those Hessians, now again completed to 6,000, and come back with emphasis to the Britannic side of things, was—marching out of Edinburgh, in much state, with streamers, kettle-drums, Highness's coaches, horses, led-horses, on an unexpected errand. [Henderson (Whig Eye-witness). History of the Rebellion, 1745 and 1746 (London, 1748, reprint from the Edinburgh edition), pp. 104, 106, 107.] Toward Stirling, Perth; towards Killiecrankie, and raising of what is called "the Siege of Blair in Athol" (most minute of "sieges," but subtending a great angle there and then);—much of unexpected, and nearer home than "Tournay and the Netherlands Campaign," having happened to Britannic George in the course of this year, 1746! "Really very fine troops, those Hessians [observes my orthodox Whig friend]: they carry swords as well as guns and bayonets; their uniform is blue turned up with white: the Hussar part of them, about 500, have scimitars of a great length; small horses, mostly black, of Swedish breed; swift durable little creatures, with long tails." Honors, dinners, to his Serene Highness had been numerous, during the three weeks we had him in Edinburgh; "especially that Ball, February 21st (o.s.), eve of his Consort the Princess Mary's Birthday [EVE of birthday, "let us dance the auspicious morning IN] was, for affluence of Nobility and Gentry of both sexes," a sublime thing...."
PFAFFENHOFEN, APRIL 15th. "Unfortunate Segur, the Segur of Linz three years ago,—whose conduct was great, according to Valori, but powerless against traitors and fate!—was again, once more, unfortunate in those parts. Unfortunate Segur drew up at Pfaffenhofen (centre of the Country, many miles from Vilshofen) to defend himself, when fallen upon by Barenklau, in that manner; but could not, though with masterly demeanor; and had to retreat three days, with his face to the enemy, so to speak, fighting and manoeuvring all the way: no shelter for him either but Munchen, and that, a most temporary one. Instead of taking Straubingen, taking Passau, perhaps of pushing on to Vienna itself, this is what we have already come to. No Rhine Army, Middle-Rhine Army, Coigny, Maillebois, Conti, whoever it was, should send us the least reinforcement, when shrieked to. No outlook whatever but rapid withdrawal, retreat to the Rhine Army, since it will not stir to help us." [Adelung, iv. 360.]
"The young Kur-Baiern is still polite, grateful [to us French], overwhelms us with politeness; but flies to Augsburg, as his Father used to do. Notable, however, his poor fat little Mother won't, this time: 'No, I will stay here, I for one, and have done with flying and running; we have had enough of that!' Seckendorf, quite gone from Court in this crisis, reappears, about the middle of April, in questionable capacity; at a place called Fussen, not far off, at the foot of the Tyrol Hills;—where certain Austrian Dignitaries seem also to be enjoying a picturesque Easter! Yes indeed: and, on APRIL 22d, there is signed a 'PEACE OF FUSSEN' there; general amicable AS-YOU-WERE, between Austria and Bavaria ('Renounce your Anti-Pragmatic moonshine forevermore, vote for our Grand-Duke; there is your Bavaria back, poor wretches!')—and Seckendorf, it is presumable, will get his Turkish arrears liquidated.
"The Bavarian Intricacy, which once excelled human power, is settled, then. Carteret and Haslang tried it in vain [dreadful heterodox intentions of secularizing Salzburg, secularizing Passau, Regensburg, and loud tremulous denial of such];—Carteret and Wilhelm of Hesseu [Conferences of Hanau, which ruined Carteret], in vain; King Friedrich, and many Kings, in vain: a thing nobody could settle;—and it has at last settled itself, as the generality of ill-guided and unlucky things do, by collapse. Delirium once out, the law of gravity acts; and there the mad matter lies."
"Bought by Austria, that old villain!" cry the French. Friedrich does not think the Austrians bought Seckendorf, having no money at present; but guesses they may have given him to understand that a certain large arrear of payment due ever since those Turkish Wars,—when Seckendorf, instead of payment, was lodged in the Fortress of Gratz, and almost got his head cut off,—should now be paid down in cash, or authentic Paper-money, if matters become amicable. [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 22; Seckendorfs Leben, pp. 367-376.] As they have done, in Friedrich's despite;—who seems angrier at the old stager for this particular ill-turn than for all the other many; and long remembers it, as will appear.
Chapter VII.—FRIEDRICH IN SILESIA; UNUSUALLY BUSY.
Here, sure enough, are sad new intricacies in the Diplomatic, hypothetic sphere of things; and clouds piling themselves ahead, in a very minatory manner to King Friedrich. Let King Friedrich, all the more, get his Fighting Arrangements made perfect. Diplomacy is clouds; beating of your enemies is sea and land. Austria and the Gazetteer world consider Friedrich to be as good as finished: but that is privately far from being Friedrich's own opinion;—though these occurrences are heavy and dismal to him, as none of us can now fancy.
Herr Ranke has got access, in the Archives, to a series of private utterances by Friedrich,—Letters from him, of a franker nature than usual, and letting us far deeper into his mind;—which must have been well worth reading in the original, in their fully dated and developed condition. From Herr Ranke's Fragmentary Excerpts, let us, thankful for what we have got, select one or two. The Letters are to Minister Podewils at Berlin; written from Silesia (Neisse and neighborhood), where, since the middle of March, Friedrich has been, personally pushing on his Army Preparations, while the above sinister things befell.
KING FRIEDRICH TO PODEWILS, IN BERLIN (under various dates, March-April, 1745).
NEISSE, 29th MARCH.... "We find ourselves in a great crisis. If we don't, by mediation of England, get Peace, our enemies from different sides [Saxony, Austria, who knows if not Russia withal!] will come plunging in against me. Peace I cannot force them to. But if they must have War, we will either beat them, or none of us will see Berlin again." [Ranke, iii. 236 et seqq.]
APRIL (no day given).... "In any case, I have my troops well together. The sicknesses are ceasing; the recruitments are coming in: shortly all will be complete. That does not hinder us from making Peace, if it will only come; but, in the contrary case, nobody can accuse me of neglecting what was necessary."
APRIL 17th (still from Neisse).... "I toil day and night to improve our situation. The soldiers will do their duty. There is none among us who will not rather have his backbone broken than give up one foot-breadth of ground. They must either grant us a good Peace, or we will surpass ourselves by miracles of daring; and force the enemy to accept it from us."
APRIL 20th. "Our situation is disagreeable; constrained, a kind of spasm: but my determination is taken. If we needs must fight, we will do it like men driven desperate. Never was there a greater peril than that I am now in. Time, at its own pleasure, will untie this knot; or Destiny, if there is one, determine the event. The game I play is so high, one cannot contemplate the issue with cold blood. Pray for the return of my good luck."—Two days hence, the poor young Kur-Baiern, deaf to the French seductions and exertions, which were intense, had signed his "Peace of Fussen" (22d April 1745),—a finale to France on the German Field, as may be feared! The other Fragments we will give a little farther on.
Friedrich had left Berlin for Silesia March 15th; rather sooner than he counted on,—Old Leopold pleading to be let home. At Glogau, at Breslau, there had been the due inspecting: Friedrich got to Neisse on the 23d (Bathyani just stirring in that Bavarian Business, Vilshofen and the Hessians close ahead); and on the 27th, had dismissed Old Leopold, with thanks and sympathies,—sent him home, "to recover his health." Leopold's health is probably suffering; but his heart and spirits still more. Poor old man, he has just lost—the other week, "5th February" last—his poor old Wife, at Dessau; and is broken down with grief. The soft silk lining of his hard Existence, in all parts of it, is torn away. Apothecary Fos's Daughter, Reich's Princess, Princess of Dessau, called by whatever name, she had been the truest of Wives; "used to attend him in all his Campaigns, for above fifty years back." "Gone, now, forever gone!"—Old Leopold had wells of strange sorrow in the rugged heart of him,—sorrow, and still better things,—which he does not wear on his sleeve. Here is an incident I never can forget;—dating twelve or thirteen years ago (as is computable), middle of July, 1732.
"Louisa, Leopold's eldest Daughter, Wife of Victor Leopold, reigning Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg, lay dying of a decline." Still only twenty-three, poor Lady, though married seven years ago;—the end now evidently drawing nigh. "A few days before her death,—perhaps some attendant sorrowfully asking, 'Can we do nothing, then?'—she was heard to say, 'If I could see my Father at the head of his Regiment, yet once!'"—Halle, where the Regiment lies, is some thirty or more miles off; and King Friedrioh Wilhelm, I suppose, would have to be written to:—Leopold was ready the soonest possible; and, "at a set hour, marched, in all pomp, with banner flying, music playing, into the SCHLOSS-HOF (Palace Court) of Bernburg; and did the due salutations and manoeuvrings,—his poor Daughter sitting at her window, till they ended;"—figure them, the last glitter of those muskets, the last wail of that band-music!—"The Regiment was then marched to the Waisenhaus (ORPHAN-HOUSE), where the common men were treated with bread and beer; all the Officers dining at the Prince's Table. All the Officers, except Leopold alone, who stole away out of the crowd; sat himself upon the balustrade of the Saale Bridge, and wept into the river." [LEBEN (12mo; not Rannft's, but Anonymous like his), p. 234 n.]—Leopold is now on the edge of seventy; ready to think all is finished with him. Perhaps not quite, my tough old friend; recover yourself a little, and we shall see!
Old Leopold is hardly home at Dessau, when new Pandour Tempests, tides of ravaging War, again come beating against the Giant Mountains, pouring through all passes; from utmost Jablunka, westward by Jagerndorf to Glatz, huge influx of wild riding hordes, each with some support of Austrian grenadiers, cannoniers; threatening to submerge Silesia. Precursors, Friedrich need not doubt, of a strenuous regular attempt that way, Hungarian Majesty's fixed intention, hope and determination is, To expel him straightway from Silesia. Her Patent circulates, these three months; calling on all men to take note of that fixed fact, especially on all Silesian men to note it well, and shift their allegiance accordingly. Silesian men, in great majority,—our friend the Mayor of Landshut, for example?—are believed to have no inclination towards change: and whoever has, had clearly better not show any till he see! [In Ranke (iii. 234), there is vestige of some intended "voluntary subscription by the common people of Glatz," for Friedrich's behoof;—contrariwise, in Orlich (ii. 380, "6th February, 1745," from the Dessau Archives), notice of one individual, suspected of stirring for Austria, whom "you are to put under lock and key;"—but he runs off, and has no successor, that I hear of.]—
Friedrich's thousand-fold preliminary orderings, movements, rearrangings in his Army matters, must not detain us here;—still less his dealings with the Pandour element, which is troublesome, rather than dangerous. Vigilance, wise swift determination, valor drilled to its work, can deal with phenomena of that nature, though never so furious and innumerable. Not a cheering service for drilled valor, but a very needful one. Continual bickerings and skirmishings fell out, sometimes rising to sharp fight on the small scale:—Austrian grenadiers with cannon are on that Height to left, and also on this to right, meaning to cut off our march; the difficult landscape furnished out, far and wide, with Pandour companies in position: you must clash in, my Burschen; seize me that cannon-battery yonder; master such and such a post,—there is the heart of all that network of armed doggery; slit asunder that, the network wholly will tumble over the Hills again. Which is always done, on the part of the Prussian Burschen; though sometimes not, without difficulty.—His Majesty is forming Magazines at Neisse, Brieg, and the principal Fortresses in those parts; driving on all manner of preparations at the rapidest rate of speed, and looking with his own eyes into everything. The regiments are about what we may call complete, arithmetically and otherwise; the cavalry show good perfection in their new mode of manoeuvring;—it is to be hoped the Fighting Apparatus generally will give fair account of itself when the time comes. Our one anchor of hope, as now more and more appears.
On the Pandour element he first tried (under General Hautcharmoi, with Winterfeld as chief active hand) a direct outburst or two, with a view to slash them home at once. But finding that it was of no use, as they always reappeared in new multitudes, he renounced that; took to calling in his remoter outposts; and, except where Magazines or the like remained to be cared for, let the Pandours baffle about, checked only by the fortified Towns, and more and more submerge the Hill Country. Prince Karl, to be expected in the form of lion, mysteriously uncertain on which side coming to invade us,—he, and not the innumerable weasel kind, is our important matter! By the end of April (news of the PEACE OF FUSSEN coming withal), Friedrich had quitted Neisse; lay cantoned, in Neisse Valley (between Frankenstein and Patschkau, "able to assemble in forty-eight hours"); studying, with his whole strength, to be ready for the mysterious Prince Karl, on whatever side he might arrive;—and disregarding the Pandours in comparison.
The points of inrush, the tideways of these Pandour Deluges seem to be mainly three. Direct through the Jablunka, upon Ratibor Country, is the first and chief; less direct (partly supplied by REFLUENCES from Ratibor, when Ratibor is found not to answer), a second disembogues by Jagerndorf; a third, the westernmost, by Landshut. Three main ingresses: at each of which there fall out little Fights; which are still celebrated in the Prussian Books, and indeed well deserve reading by soldiers that would know their trade. In the Ratibor parts, the invasive leader is a General Karoly, with 12,000 under him, who are the wildest horde of all: "Karoly lodges in a wood: for himself there is a tent; his companions sleep under trees, or under the open sky, by the edge of morasses." [Ranke, iii. 244.] It was against this Karoly and his horde that Hautcharmoi's little expedition, or express attacking party to drive them home again, was shot out (8th-2lst April). Which did its work very prettily; Winterfeld, chief hand in it, crowning the matter by a "Fight of Wurbitz," [Orlich, ii. 136 (21st April).]—where Winterfeld, cutting the taproot, in his usual electric way, tumbles Karoly quite INTO the morasses, and clears the country of him for a time. For a time; though for a time only;—Karoly or others returning in a week or two, to a still higher extent of thousands; mischievous as ever in those Ratibor-Namslau countries. Upon which, Friedrich, finding this an endless business, and nothing like the most important, gives it up for the present; calls in his remoter detachments; has his Magazines carted home to the Fortress Towns,—Karoly trying, once or so, to hinder in that operation, but only again getting his crown broken. ["Fight of Mocker," May 4th (Orlich, ii. 141).] Or if carting be too difficult, still do not waste your Magazine:—Margraf Karl, for instance, is ordered to Jagerndorf with his Detachment, "to eat the Magazine;" hungry Pandours looking on, till he finish. On which occasion a renowned little Fight took place (Fight of Neustadt, or of Jagerndorf-Neustadt), as shall be mentioned farther on.
So that, for certain weeks to come, the Tolpatcheries had free course, in those Frontier parts; and were left to rove about, under check only of the Garrison Towns; Friedrich being obliged to look elsewhere after higher perils, which were now coming in view. In which favorable circumstances, Karoly and Consorts did, at last, make one stroke in those Ratibor countries; that of Kosel, which was greatly consolatory. [26th May, 1743 (Orlich, ii. 156-158).] "By treachery of an Ensign who had deserted to them [provoked by rigor of discipline, or some intolerable thing], they glided stealthily, one night, across the ditches, into Kosel" (a half-fortified place, Prussian works only half finished): which, being the Key of the Oder in those parts, they reckoned a glorious conquest; of good omen and worthy of TE-DEUMS at Vienna. And they did eagerly, without the least molestation, labor to complete the Prussian works at Kosel: "One garrison already ours!"—which was not had from them without battering (and I believe, burning), when General von Nassau came to inquire after it; in Autumn next.
Friedrich had always hoped that the Saxons, who are not yet in declared War with him, though bound by Treaty to assist the Queen of Hungary under certain conditions, would not venture on actual Invasion of his Territories; but in this, as readers anticipate, Friedrich finds himself mistaken. Weissenfels is hastening from the Leitmeritz northwestern quarter, where he has wintered, to join Prince Karl, who is gathering himself from Olmutz and his southeastern home region; their full intention is to invade Silesia together, and they hope now at length to make an end of Friedrich and it. These Pandour hordes, supported by the necessary grenadiers and cannoniers, are sent as vanguard; these cannot themselves beat him; but they may induce him (which they do not) to divide his Force; they may, in part, burn him away as by slow fire, after which he will be the easier to beat. Instead of which, Friedrich, leaving the Pandours to their luck, lies concentrated in Neisse Valley; watching, with all his faculties, Prince Karl's own advent (coming on like Fate, indubitable, yet involved in mysteries hitherto); and is perilously sensible that only in giving that a good reception is there any hope left him.
Prince Karl "who arrived in Olmutz April 30th," commands in chief again,—saddened, poor man, by the loss of his young Wife, in December last; willing to still his grief in action for the cause SHE loved;—but old Traun is not with him this year: which is a still more material circumstance. Traun is to go this year, under cloak not of Prince Karl, but of Grand-Duke Franz, to clear those Frankfurt Countries for the KAISERWAHL and him. Prince Conti lies there, with his famous "Middle-Rhine Army" (D'Ahremberg, from the western parts, not nearly so diligent upon him as one could wish); and must, at all rates, be cleared away. Traun, taking command of Bathyani's Army (now that it has finished the Bavarian job), is preparing to push down upon Conti, while Bathyani (who is to supersede the laggard D'Ahremberg) shall push vigorously up;—and before summer is over, we shall hear of Traun again, and Conti will have heard!—
Friedrich's indignation, on learning that the Saxons were actually on march, and gradually that they intended to invade him, was great; and the whole matter is portentously enigmatic to him, as he lies vigilant in Neisse Valley, waiting on the When and the How. Indignation;—and yet there is need of caution withal. To be ready for events, the Old Dessauer has, as one sure measure, been requested to take charge, once more, of a "Camp of Observation" on the Saxon Frontier (as of old, in 1741); and has given his consent: ["April 25th" consents (Orlich, ii. 130).] "Camp of Magdeburg," "Camp of Dieskau;" for it had various names and figures; checkings of your hand, then layings of it on, heavier, lighter and again heavier, according to one's various READINGS of the Saxon Mystery; and we shall hear enough about it, intermittently, till December coming: when it ended in a way we shall not forget!—On which take this Note:—
"The Camp of Observation was to have begun May 1st; did begin somewhat later, 'near Magdeburg,' not too close on the Frontier, nor in too alarming strength; was reinforced to about 30,000; in which state [middle of August] it stept forward to Wieskau, then to Dieskau, close on the Saxon Border; and became,—with a Saxon Camp lying close opposite, and War formally threatened, or almost declared, on Saxony by Friedrich,—an alarmingly serious matter. Friedrich, however, again checked his hand; and did not consummate till November-December. But did then consummate; greatly against his will; and in a way flamingly visible to all men!" [Orlich, ii. 130, 209, 210: Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1224-1226; i. 1117.]
Friedrich's own incidental utterances (what more we have of Fractions from the Podewils Letters), in such portentous aspect of affairs, may now be worth giving. It is not now to Jordan that he writes, gayly unbosoming himself, as in the First War,—poor Jordan lies languishing, these many months; consumptive, too evidently dying:—Not to Jordan, this time; nor is the theme "GLOIRE" now, but a far different!
FRIEDRICH TO PODEWILS (as before, April-May, 1745).
April 20th or so, Orders are come to Berlin (orders, to Podewils's horror at such a thought), Whitherward, should Berlin be assaulted, the Official Boards, the Preciosities and household gods are to betake themselves:—to Magdeburg, all these, which is an impregnable place; to Stettin, the Two Queens and Royal Family, if they like it better. Podewils in horror, "hair standing on end," writes thereupon to Eichel, That he hopes the management, "in a certain contingency," will be given to Minister Boden; he Podewils, with his hair in that posture, being quite unequal to it. Friedrich answers:—
"APRIL 26th.... 'I can understand how you are getting uneasy, you Berliners. I have the most to lose of you all; but I am quiet, and prepared for events. If the Saxons take part,' as they surely will, 'in the Invasion of Silesia, and we beat them, I am determined to plunge into Saxony. For great maladies, there need great remedies. Either I will maintain my all, or else lose my all. [Hear it, friend; and understand it,—with hair lying flat!] It is true, the disaffection of the Russian Court, on such trifling grounds, was not to be expected; and great misfortune can befall us. Well; a year or two sooner, a year or two later,—it is not worth one's while to bother about the very worst. If things take the better turn, our condition will be surer and firmer than it was before. If we have nothing to reproach ourselves with, neither need we fret and plague ourselves about bad events, which can happen to any man.'—'I am causing despatch a secret Order for Boden [on YOU know what], which you will not deliver him till I give sign.'"—On hearing of the Peace of Fussen, perhaps a day or so later, Friedrich again writes:—
"APRIL [no distinct date; Neisse still? QUITS Neisse, April 28th]. ... Peace of Fussen, Bavaria turned against me? 'I can say nothing to it,—except, There has come what had to come. To me remains only to possess myself in patience. If all alliances, resources, and negotiations fail, and all conjunctures go against me, I prefer to perish with honor, rather than lead an inglorious life deprived of all dignity. My ambition whispers me that I have done more than another to the building up of my House, and have played a distinguished part among the crowned heads of Europe. To maintain myself there, has become as it were a personal duty; which I will fulfil at the expense of my happiness and my life. I have no choice left: I will maintain my power, or it may go to ruin, and the Prussian name be buried under it. If the enemy attempt anything upon us, we will either beat him, or we will all be hewed to pieces, for the sake of our Country, and the renown of Brandenburg. No other counsel can I listen to.'"
SAME LETTER, OR ANOTHER? (Herr Ranke having his caprices!)... "You are a good man, my Podewils, and do what can be expected of you" (Podewils has been apologizing for his terrors; and referring hopefully "to Providence"): "Perform faithfully the given work on your side, as I on mine; for the rest, let what you call 'Providence' decide as it likes [UNE PROVIDENCE AVEUGLE? Ranke, who alone knows, gives "BLINDE VORSEHUNG." What an utterance, on the part of this little Titan! Consider it as exceptional with him, unusual, accidental to the hard moment, and perhaps not so impious as it looks!]—Neither our prudence nor our courage shall be liable to blame; but only circumstances that would not favor us....
"I prepare myself for every event. Fortune may be kind or be unkind, it shall neither dishearten me nor uplift me. If I am to perish, let it be with honor, and sword in hand. What the issue is to be—Well, what pleases Heaven, or the Other Party (J'AI JETE LE BONNET PAR DESSUS LES MOULINS)! Adieu, my dear Podewils; become as good a philosopher as you are a politician; and learn from a man who does not go to Elsner's Preaching [fashionable at the time], that one must oppose to ill fortune a brow of iron; and, during this life, renounce all happiness, all acquisitions, possessions and lying shows, none of which will follow us beyond the grave." [Ranke, iii. pp. 238-241.]
"By what points the Austrian-Saxon Armament will come through upon us? Together will it be, or separately? Saxons from the Lausitz, Austrians from Bohmen, enclosing us between two fires?"—were enigmatic questions with Friedrich; and the Saxons especially are an enigma. But that come they will, that these Pandours are their preliminary veiling-apparatus as usual, is evident to him; and that he must not spend himself upon Pandours; but coalesce, and lie ready for the main wrestle. So that from April 28th, as above noticed, Friedrich has gone into cantonments, some way up the Neisse Valley, westward of Neisse Town; and is calling in his outposts, his detachments; emptying his Frontier Magazines;—abandoning his Upper-Silesian Frontier more and more, and in the end altogether, to the Pandour hordes; a small matter they, compared to the grand Invasion which is coming on. Here, with shiftings up the Neisse Valley, he lies till the end of May; watching Argus-like, and scanning with every faculty the Austrian-Saxon motions and intentions, until at length they become clear to him, and we shall see how he deals with them.
His own lodging, or head-quarter, most of this time (4th May-27th May), is in the pleasant Abbey of Camenz (mythic scene of that BAUMGARTEN-SKIRMISH business, in the First Silesian War). He has excellent Tobias Stusche for company in leisure hours; and the outlook of bright Spring all round him, flowering into gorgeous Summer, as he hurries about on his many occasions, not of an idyllic nature. [Orlich, ii. 139; Ranke, iii. 242-249.] But his Army is getting into excellent completeness of number, health, equipment, and altogether such a spirit as he could wish. May 22d, here is another snatch from some Note to Podewils, from this balmy Locality, potential with such explosions of another kind. CAMENZ, MAY 22d.... "The Enemies are making movements; but nothing like enough as yet for our guessing their designs. Till we see, therefore, the thunder lies quiet in us (LA FOUDRE REPOSE EN MES MAINS). Ah, could we but have a Day like that May Eleventh!" [Ranke, iii. 248 n.]
What "that May Eleventh" is or was? Readers are curious to know; especially English readers, who guess FONTENOY. And Historic Art, if she were strict, would decline to inform them at any length; for really the thing is no better than a "Victory on the Scamander, and a Siege of Pekin" (as a certain observer did afterwards define it), in reference to the matter now on hand! Well, Pharsalia, Arbela, the Scamander, Armageddon, and so many Battles and Victories being luminous, by study, to cultivated Englishmen, and one's own Fontenoy such a mystery and riddle,—Art, after consideration, reluctantly consents to be indulgent; will produce from her Paper Imbroglios a slight Piece on the subject, and print instead of burning.
Chapter VIII.—THE MARTIAL BOY AND HIS ENGLISH versus THE LAWS OF NATURE.
"Glorious Campaign in the Netherlands, Siege of Tournay, final ruin of the Dutch Barrier!" this is the French program for Season 1745,—no Belleisle to contradict it; Belleisle secure at Windsor, who might have leant more towards German enterprises. And to this his Britannic Majesty (small gain to him from that adroitness in the Harz, last winter!) has to make front. And is strenuously doing so, by all methods; especially by heroic expenditure of money, and ditto exposure of his Martial Boy. Poor old Wade, last year,—perhaps Wade did suffer, as he alleged, from "want of sufficient authority in that mixed Army"? Well, here is a Prince of the Blood, Royal Highness of Cumberland, to command in chief. With a Konigseck to dry-nurse him, may not Royal Highness, luck favoring, do very well? Luck did not favor; Britannic Majesty, neither in the Netherlands over seas, nor at home (strange new domestic wool, of a tarry HIGHLAND nature, being thrown him to card, on the sudden!), made a good Campaign, but a bad. And again a bad (1746) and again (1747), ever again, till he pleased to cease altogether. Of which distressing objects we propose that the following one glimpse be our last.
BATTLE OF FONTENOY (11th May, 1745).
... "In the end of April, Marechal de Saxe, now become very famous for his sieges in the Netherlands, opened trenches before Tournay; King Louis, with his Dauphin, not to speak of mistresses, play-actors and cookery apparatus (in wagons innumerable), hastens to be there. A fighting Army, say of 70,000, besides the garrisons; and great things, it is expected, will be done; Tournay, in spite of strong works and Dutch garrison of 9,000, to be taken in the first place.
"Of the Siege, which was difficult and ardent, we will remember nothing, except the mischance that befell a certain 'Marquis de Talleyrand' and his men, in the trenches, one night. Night of the 8th-9th May, by carelessness of somebody, a spark got into the Marquis's powder, two powder-barrels that there were; and, with horrible crash, sent eighty men, Marquis Talleyrand and Engineer Du Mazis among them, aloft into the other world; raining down their limbs into the covered way, where the Dutch were very inhuman to them, and provoked us to retaliate. [Espagnac, ii. 27.] Du Mazis I do not know; but Marquis de Talleyrand turns out, on study of the French Peerages, to be Uncle of a lame little Boy, who became Right Reverend Tallyrand under singular conditions, and has made the name very current in after-times!—
"Hearing of this Siege, the Duke of Cumberland hastened over from England, with intent to raise the same. Mustered his 'Allied Army' (once called 'Pragmatic'),—self at the head of it; old Count Konigseck, who was NOT burnt at Chotusitz, commanding the small Austrian quota [Austrians mainly are gone laggarding with D'Ahremberg up the Rhine]; and a Prince of Waldeck the Dutch,—on the plain of Anderlecht near Brussels, May 4th; [Anonymous, Life of Cumberland, p. 180; Espagnac, ii. 26.] and found all things tolerably complete. Upon which, straightway, his Royal Highness, 60,000 strong let us say, set forth; by slowish marches, and a route somewhat leftward of the great Tournay Road [no place on it, except perhaps STEENKERKE, ever heard of by an English reader]; and on Sunday, 9th May, [Espagnac, ii. 27.] precisely on the morrow after poor Talleyrand had gone aloft, reached certain final Villages: Vezon, Maubray, where he encamps, Briffoeil to rear; Camp looking towards Tournay and the setting sun,—with Fontenoy short way ahead, and Antoine to left of it, and Barry with its Woods to right:—small peaceable Villages, which become famous in the Newspapers shortly after. [Patch of Map at p. 440.] Royal Highness, resting here at Vezon, is but some six or seven miles from Tournay; in low undulating Country, woody here and there, not without threads of running water, and with frequent Villages and their adjuncts: the part of it now interesting to us lies all between the Brussels-Tournay Road and the Scheld River,—all in immediate front of his Royal Highness,—to southeastward from beleaguered Tournay, where said Road and River intersect. How shall he make some impression on the Siege of Tournay? That is now the question; and his Royal Highness struggles to manoeuvre accordingly.
"Marechal de Saxe, whose habit is much that of vigilance, forethought, sagacious precaution, singular in so dissolute a man, has neglected nothing on this occasion. He knows every foot of the ground, having sieged here, in his boyhood, once before. Leaving the siege-trenches at Tournay, under charge of a ten or fifteen thousand, he has taken camp here; still with superior force (56,000 as they count, Royal Highness being only 50,000 ranked), barring Royal Highness's way. Tournay, or at least the Marechal's trenches there, are on the right bank of the Scheld; which flows from southeast, securing all on that hand. The broad Brussels Highway comes in to him from the east;—north of that he has nothing to fear, the ground being cut with bogs; no getting through upon him, that way, to Tournay and what he calls the 'Under Scheld.' The 'Upper Scheld' too, avail them nothing. There is only that triangle to the southeast, between Road and River, where the Enemy is now manoeuvring in front of him, from which damage can well come; and he has done his best to be secure there. Four villages or hamlets, close to the Scheld and onwards to the Great Road,—Antoine, Fontenoy, Barry, Ramecroix, with their lanes and boscages,—make a kind of circular base to his triangle; base of some six or eight miles; with hollows in it, brooks, and northward a considerable Wood [BOIS DE BARRY, enveloping Barry and Ramecroix, which do not prove of much interest to us, though the BOIS does of a good deal]. In and before each of those villages are posts and defences; in Antoine and Fontenoy elaborate redoubts, batteries, redans connecting: in the Wood (BOIS DE BARRY), an abattis, or wall of felled trees, as well as cannon; and at the point of the Wood, well within double range of Fontenoy, is a Redoubt, called of Eu (REDOUTE D'EU, from the regiment occupying it), which will much concern his Royal Highness and us. Saxe has a hundred pieces of cannon [say the English, which is correct], consummately disposed along this space; no ingress possible anywhere, except through the cannon's throat; torrents of fire and cross-fire playing on you. He is armed to the teeth, as they say; and has his 56,000 arranged according to the best rules of tactics, behind this murderous line of works. If his Royal Highness think of breaking in, he may count on a very warm reception indeed.
"Saxe is only afraid his Royal Highness will not. Outside of these lines, with a 50,000 dashing fiercely round us, under any kind of leading; pouncing on our convoys; harassing and sieging US,—our siege of Toumay were a sad outlook. And this is old Austrian Konigseck's opinion, too; though, they say, Waldeck and the Dutch (impetuous in theory at least) opined otherwise, and strengthened Royal Highness's view. Two young men against one old: 'Be it so, then!' His Royal Highness, resolute for getting in, manoeuvres and investigates, all Monday 10th; his cannon is not to arrive completely till night; otherwise he would be for breaking in at once: a fearless young man, fearless as ever his poor Father was; certainly a man SANS PEUY, this one too; whether of much AVIS, we shall see anon.
"Tuesday morning early, 11th May, 1745, cannon being up, and dispositions made, his Royal Highness sallies out; sees his men taking their ground: Dutch and Austrians to the left, chiefly opposite Antoine; English, with some Hanoverians, in the centre and to the right; infantry in front, facing Fontenoy, cavalry to rear flanking the Wood of Barry,—Konigseck, Ligonier and others able, assisting to plant them advantageously; cannon going, on both sides, the while; radiant enthusiasm, SANS PEUR ET SANS AVIS, looking from his Royal Highness's face. He has been on horseback since two in the morning; cannon started thundering between five and six,—has killed chivalrous Grammont over yonder (the Grammont of Dettingen), almost at the first volley. And now about the time when ploughers breakfast (eight A.M., no ploughing hereabouts to-day!), begins the attack, simultaneously or in swift succession, on the various batteries which it will be necessary to attack and storm.
"The attacks took place; but none of them succeeded. Dutch and Austrians, on the extreme left, were to have stormed Antoine by the edge of the River; that was their main task; right skirt of them to help US meanwhile with Fontenoy. And they advanced, accordingly; but found the shot from Antoine too fierce: especially when a subsidiary battery opened from across the River, and took them in flank, the Dutch and Austrians felt astonished; and hastily drew aside, under some sheltering mound or earthwork they had found for themselves, or prudently thrown up the night before. There, under their earthwork, stood the Dutch and Austrians; patiently expecting a fitter time,—which indeed never occurred; for always, the instant they drew out, the batteries from Antoine, and from across the River, instantly opened upon them, and they had to draw in again. So that they stood there, in a manner, all day; and so to speak did nothing but patiently expect when it should be time to run. For which they were loudly censured, and deservedly. Antoine is and remains a total failure on the part of the Dutch and Austrians.
"Royal Highness in person, with his English, was to attack Fontenoy;—and is doing so, by battery and storm, at various points; with emphasis, though without result. As preliminary, at an early stage he had sent forward on the right, by the Wood of Barry, a Brigadier Ingoldsby 'with Semple's Highlanders' and other force, to silence 'that redoubt yonder at the point of the Wood,'—redoubt, fort, or whatever it be (famous REDOUTE D'EU, as it turned out!),—which guards Fontenoy to north, and will take us in flank, nay in rear, as we storm the cannon of the Village. Ingoldsby, speed imperative on him, pushed into the Wood; found French light-troops ('God knows how many of them!') prowling about there; found the Redoubt a terribly strong thing, with ditch, drawbridge, what not; spent thirty or forty of his Highlanders, in some frantic attempt on it by rule of thumb;—and found 'He would need artillery' and other things. In short, Ingoldsby, hasten what he might, could not perfect the preparations to his mind, had to wait for this and for that; and did not storm the Redoubt d'Eu at all; but hung fire, in an unaccountable manner. For which he had to answer (to Court-Martial, still more to the Newspapers) afterwards; and prove that it was misfortune merely, or misfortune and stupidity combined. Too evident, the REDOUTE D'EU was not taken, then or thenceforth; which might have proved the saving of the whole affair, could Ingoldsby have managed it. Royal Highness attacked Fontenoy, and re-attacked, furiously, thrice over; and had to desist, and find Fontenoy impossible on those terms.
"Here is a piece of work. Repulsed at all those points; and on the left and on the right, no spirit visible but what deserves repulse! His Royal Highness blazes into resplendent PLATT-DEUTSCH rage, what we may call spiritual white-heat, a man SANS PEUR at any rate, and pretty much SANS AVIS; decides that he must and will be through those lines, if it please God; that he will not be repulsed at his part of the attack, not he for one; but will plunge through, by what gap there is [900 yards Voltaire measures it (OEuvres, xxviii. 150 (SIECLE DE LOUIS QUINZE, c. xv. "BATAILLE DE FONTENOI,"—elaborately exact on all such points).)] between Fontenoy and that Redoubt with its laggard Ingoldsby; and see what the French interior is like! He rallies rapidly, rearranges; forms himself in thin column or columns [three of them, I think,—which gradually got crushed into one, as they advanced, under cannon-shot on both hands),—wheeling his left round, to be rear, his right to be head of said column or columns. In column, the cannon-shot from Fontenoy on the left, and Redoubt d'Eu on our right, will tell less on us; and between these two death-dealing localities, by the hollowest, least shelterless way discoverable, we mean to penetrate: (Forward, my men, steady and swift, till we are through the shot-range, and find men to grapple with, instead of case-shot and projectile iron!' Marechal de Saxe owned afterwards, 'He should have put an additional redoubt in that place, but he did not think any Army would try such a thing' (cannon batteries playing on each hand at 400 yards distance);—nor has any Army since or before!
"These columns advance, however; through bushy hollows, water-courses, through what defiles or hollowest grounds there are; endure the cannon-shot, while they must; trailing their own heavy guns by hand, and occasionally blasting out of them where the ground favors;—and do, with indignant patience, wind themselves through, pretty much beyond direct shot-range of either d'Eu or Fontenoy. And have actually got into the interior mystery of the French Line of Battle,—which is not a little astonished to see them there! It is over a kind of blunt ridge, or rising ground, that they are coming: on the crown of this rising ground, the French regiment fronting it (GARDES FRANCAISES as it chanced to be) notices, with surprise, field-cannon pointed the wrong way; actual British artillery unaccountably showing itself there. Regiment of GARDES rushes up to seize said field-pieces: but, on the summit, perceives with amazement that it cannot; that a heavy volley of musketry blazes into it (killing sixty men); that it will have to rush back again, and report progress: Huge British force, of unknown extent, is readjusting itself into column there, and will be upon us on the instant. Here is news!
"News true enough. The head of the English column comes to sight, over the rising ground, close by: their officers doff their hats, politely saluting ours, who return the civility: was ever such politeness seen before? It is a fact; and among the memorablest of this Battle. Nay a certain English Officer of mark—Lord Charles Hay the name of him, valued surely in the annals of the Hay and Tweeddale House—steps forward from the ranks, as if wishing something. Towards whom [says the accurate Espagnac] Marquis d'Auteroche, grenadier-lieutenant, with air of polite interrogation, not knowing what he meant, made a step or two: 'Monsieur,' said Lord Charles (LORD CHARLES-HAY), 'bid your people fire (FAITES TIRER VOS GENS)!' 'NON, MONSIEUR, NOUS NE TIRONS JAMAIS LES PREMIERS (We never fire first).' [Espagnac, ii. 60 (of the ORIGINAL, Toulouse, 1789); ii. 48 of the German Translation (Leipzig, 1774), our usual reference. Voltaire, endlessly informed upon details this time, is equally express: "MILORD CHARLES HAY, CAPITAINE AUX GARDES ANGLAISES, CRIA: 'MESSIEURS DES GARDES FRANCAISES, TIREZ!' To which Count d'Auteroche with a loud voice answered" &c. (OEuvres, vol. xxviii. p. 155.) See also Souvenirs du Marquis de Valfons (edited by a Grand-Nephew, Paris, 1860), p. 151;—a poor, considerably noisy and unclean little Book; which proves unexpectedly worth looking at, in regard to some of those poor Battles and personages and occurrences: the Bohemian Belleisle-Broglio part, to my regret, if to no other person's, has been omitted, as extinct, or undecipherable by the Grand-Nephew.] After YOU, Sirs! Is not this a bit of modern chivalry? A supreme politeness in that sniffing pococurante kind; probably the highest point (or lowest) it ever went to. Which I have often thought of."
It is almost pity to disturb an elegant Historical Passage of this kind, circulating round the world, in some glory, for a century past: but there has a small irrefragable Document come to me, which modifies it a good deal, and reduces matters to the business form. Lord Charles Hay, "Lieutenant-Colonel," practical Head, "of the First Regiment of Foot-guards," wrote, about three weeks after (or dictated in sad spelling, not himself able to write for wounds), a Letter to his Brother, of which here is an Excerpt at first hand, with only the spelling altered:... "It was our Regiment that attacked the French Guards: and when we came within twenty or thirty paces of them, I advanced before our Regiment; drank to them [to the French, from the pocket-pistol one carries on such occasions], and told them that we were the English Guards, and hoped that they would stand till we came quite up to them, and not swim the Scheld as they did the Mayn at Dettingen [shameful THIRD-BRIDGE, not of wood, though carpeted with blue cloth there]! Upon which I immediately turned about to our own Regiment; speeched them, and made them huzza,"—I hope with a will. "An Officer [d'Auteroche] came out of the ranks, and tried to make his men huzza; however, there were not above three or four in their Brigade that did." ["Ath, May ye 20th, o.s." (to John, Fourth Marquis of Tweeddale, last "Secretary of State for Scotland," and a man of figure in his day): Letter is at Yester House, East Lothian; Excerpt PENES ME.]...
Very poor counter-huzza. And not the least whisper of that sublime "After you, Sirs!" but rather, in confused form, of quite the reverse; Hay having been himself fired into ("fire had begun on my left;" Hay totally ignorant on which side first),—fired into, rather feebly, and wounded by those D'Auteroche people, while he was still advancing with shouldered arms;—upon which, and not till which, he did give it them: in liberal dose; and quite blew them off the ground, for that day. From all which, one has to infer, That the mutual salutation by hat was probably a fact; that, for certain, there was some slight preliminary talk and gesticulation, but in the Homeric style, by no means in the Espagnac-French,—not chivalrous epigram at all, mere rough banter, and what is called "chaffing;"—and in short, that the French Mess-rooms (with their eloquent talent that way) had rounded off the thing into the current epigrammatic redaction; the authentic business-form of it being ruggedly what is now given. Let our Manuscript proceed.
"D'Auteroche declining the first fire,"—or accepting it, if ever offered, nobody can say,—"the three Guards Regiments, Lord Charles's on the right, give it him hot and heavy, 'tremendous rolling fire;' so that D'Auteroche, responding more or less, cannot stand it; but has at once to rustle into discontinuity, he and his, and roll rapidly out of the way. And the British Column advances, steadily, terribly, hurling back all opposition from it; deeper and deeper into the interior mysteries of the French Host; blasting its way with gunpowder;—in a magnificent manner. A compact Column, slowly advancing,—apparently of some 16,000 foot. Pauses, readjusts itself a little, when not meddled with; when meddled with, has cannon, has rolling fire,—delivers from it, in fact, on both hands such a torrent of deadly continuous fire as was rarely seen before or since. 'FEU INFERNAL,' the French call it. The French make vehement resistance. Battalions, squadrons, regiment after regiment, charge madly on this terrible Column; but rush only on destruction thereby. Regiment This storms in from the right, regiment That from the left; have their colonels shot, 'lose the half of their people;' and hastily draw back again, in a wrecked condition. The cavalry-horses cannot stand such smoke and blazing; nor indeed, I think, can the cavaliers. REGIMENT DU ROI rushing on, full gallop, to charge this Column, got one volley from it [says Espagnac] which brought to the ground 460 men. Natural enough that horses take the bit between their teeth; likewise that men take it, and career very madly in such circumstances!
MAP Chap. VIII, Book 15, PAGE 440 GOES ABOUT HERE——
"The terrible Column with slow inflexibility advances; cannon (now in reversed position) from that Redoubt d'Eu ('Shame on you, Ingoldsby!'), and irregular musketry from Fontenoy side, playing upon it; defeated regiments making barriers of their dead men and firing there; Column always closing its gapped ranks, and girdled with insupportable fire. It ought to have taken Fontenoy and Redoubt d'Eu, say military men; it ought to have done several things! It has now cut the French fairly in two;—and Saxe, who is earnestly surveying it a hundred paces ahead, sends word, conjuring the King to retire instantly,—across the Scheld, by Calonne Bridge and the strong rear-guard there,—who, however, will not. King and Dauphin, on horseback both, have stood 'at the Justice (GALLOWS, in fact) of our Lady of the Woods,' not stirring much, occasionally shifting to a windmill which is still higher,—ye Heavens, with what intrepidity, all day!—'a good many country-folk in trees close behind them.' Country-folk, I suppose, have by this time seen enough, and are copiously making off: but the King will not, though things do look dubious.
"In fact, the Battle hangs now upon a hair; the Battle is as good as lost, thinks Marechal de Saxe. His battle-lines torn in two in that manner, hovering in ragged clouds over the field, what hope is there in the Battle? Fontenoy is firing blank, this some time; its cannon-balls done. Officers, in Antoine, are about withdrawing the artillery,—then again (on new order) replacing it awhile. All are looking towards the Scheld Bridge; earnestly entreating his Majesty to withdraw. Had the Dutch, at this point of time, broken heartily in, as Waldeck was urging them to do, upon the redoubts of Antoine; or had his Royal Highness the Duke, for his own behoof, possessed due cavalry or artillery to act upon these ragged clouds, which hang broken there, very fit for being swept, were there an artillery-and-horse besom to do it,—in either of these cases the Battle was the Duke's. And a right fiery victory it would have been; to make his name famous; and confirm the English in their mad method of fighting, like Baresarks or Janizaries rather than strategic human creatures. [See, in Busching's Magazin, xvi. 169 ("Your illustrious 'Column,' at Fontenoy? It was fortuitous, I say; done like janizaries;" and so forth), a Criticism worth reading by soldiers.]
"But neither of these contingencies had befallen. The Dutch-Austrian wing did evince some wish to get possession of Antoine; and drew out a little; but the guns also awoke upon them; whereupon the Dutch-Austrians drew in again, thinking the time not come. As for the Duke, he had taken with him of cannon a good few; but of horse none at all (impossible for horse, unless Fontenoy and the Redoubt d'Eu were ours!)—and his horse have been hanging about, in the Wood of Barry all this while, uncertain what to do; their old Commander being killed withal, and their new a dubitative person, and no orders left. The Duke had left no orders; having indeed broken in here, in what we called a spiritual white-heat, without asking himself much what he would do when in: 'Beat the French, knock them to powder if I can!'—Meanwhile the French clouds are reassembling a little: Royal Highness too is readjusting himself, now got '300 yards ahead of Fontenoy,'—pauses there about half an hour, not seeing his way farther.
"During which pause, Duc de Richelieu, famous blackguard man, gallops up to the Marechal, gallops rapidly from Marechal to King; suggesting, 'were cannon brought AHEAD of this close deep Column, might not they shear it into beautiful destruction; and then a general charge be made?' So counselled Richelieu: it is said, the Jacobite Irishman, Count Lally of the Irish Brigade, was prime author of this notion,—a man of tragic notoriety in time coming. ["Thomas Arthur Lally Comte de Tollendal," patronymically "O'MULALLY of TULLINDALLY" (a place somewhere in Connaught, undiscoverable where, not material where): see our dropsical friend (in one of his wheeziest states), King James's Irish Army-List (Dublin, 1855), pp. 594-600.] Whoever was author of it, Marechal de Saxe adopts it eagerly, King Louis eagerly: swift it becomes a fact. Universal rally, universal simultaneous charge on both flanks of the terrible Column: this it might resist, as it has done these two hours past; but cannon ahead, shearing gaps through it from end to end, this is what no column can resist;—and only perhaps one of Friedrich's columns (if even that) with Friedrich's eye upon it, could make its half-right-about (QUART DE CONVERSION), turn its side to it, and manoeuvre out of it, in such circumstances. The wrathful English column, slit into ribbons, can do nothing at manoeuvring; blazes and rages,—more and more clearly in vain; collapses by degrees, rolls into ribbon-coils, and winds itself out of the field. Not much chased,—its cavalry now seeing a job, and issuing from the Wood of Barry to cover the retreat. Not much chased;—yet with a loss, they say, in all, of 7,000 killed and wounded, and about 2,000 prisoners; French loss being under 5,000.
"The Dutch and Austrians had found that the fit time was now come, or taken time by the forelock,—their part of the loss, they said, was a thousand and odd hundreds. The Battle ended about two o'clock of the day; had begun about eight. Tuesday, 11th May, 1745: one of the hottest half-day's works I have known. A thing much to be meditated by the English mind.—King Louis stept down from the Gallows-Hill of Our Lady; and KISSED Marechal de Saxe. Saxe was nearly dead of dropsy; could not sit on horseback, except for minutes; was carried about in a wicker bed; has had a lead bullet in his mouth, all day, to mitigate the intolerable thirst. Tournay was soon taken; the Dutch garrison, though strong, and in a strong place, making no due debate.
"Royal Highness retired upon Ath and Brussels; hovered about, nothing daunted, he or his: 'Dastard fellows, they would not come out into the open ground, and try us fairly!' snort indignantly the Gazetteers and enlightened Public. [Old Newspapers.] Nothing daunted;—but, as it were, did not do anything farther, this Campaign; except lose Gand, by negligence VERSUS vigilance, and eat his victuals,—till called home by the Rebellion Business, in an unexpected manner! Fontenoy was the nearest approach he ever made to getting victory in a battle; but a miss too, as they all were. He was nothing like so rash, on subsequent occasions; but had no better luck; and was beaten in all his battles—except the immortal Victory of Culloden alone. Which latter indeed, was it not itself (in the Gazetteer mind) a kind of apotheosis, or lifting of a man to the immortal gods,—by endless tar-barrels and beer, for the time being?
"Old Marechal de Noailles was in this Battle; busy about the redans, and proud to see his Saxe do well. Chivalrous Grammont, too, as we saw, was there,—-killed at the first discharge. Prince de Soubise too (not killed); a certain Lord George Sackville (hurt slightly,—perhaps had BETTER have been killed!)—and others known to us, or that will be known. Army-Surgeon La Mettrie, of busy brain, expert with his tourniquets and scalpels, but of wildly blusterous heterodox tongue and ways, is thrice-busy in Hospital this night,—'English and French all one to you, nay, if anything, the English better!' those are the Royal orders:—La Mettrie will turn up, in new capacity, still blusterous, at Berlin, by and by.
"The French made immense explosions of rejoicing over this Victory of Fontenoy; Voltaire (now a man well at Court) celebrating it in prose and verse, to an amazing degree (21,000 copies sold in one day); the whole Nation blazing out over it into illuminations, arcs of triumph and universal three-times-three:—in short, I think, nearly the heartiest National Huzza, loud, deep, long-drawn, that the Nation ever gave in like case. Now rather curious to consider, at this distance of time. Miraculous Anecdotes, true and not true, are many. Not to mention again that surprising offer of the first fire to us, what shall we say of the 'two camp-sutlers whom I noticed,' English females of the lowest degree; 'one of whom was busy slitting the gold-lace from a dead Officer, when a cannon-ball came whistling, and shore her head away. Upon which, without sound uttered, her neighbor snatched the scissors, and deliberately proceeded.' [De Hordt, Memoires, i. 108. A FRENCH OFFICER'S ACCOUNT (translated in Gentleman's Magazine, 1745; where, pp. 246, 250, 291, 313, &c., are many confused details and speculations on this subject).] A deliberate gloomy people;—unconquerable except by French prowess, glory to that same!"
Britannic Majesty is not successful this season; Highland Rebellions rising on him, and much going awry. He is founding his National Debt, poor Majesty; nothing else to speak of. His poor Army, fighting never so well in Foreign quarrels,—and generally itself standing the brunt, with the co-partners looking on till it is time to run (as at Roucoux again next season, and at Lauffeld next),—can win nothing but hard knocks and losses. And is defined by mankind,—in phraseology which we have heard again since then!—as having "the heart of a Lion and the head of an Ass." [Old Pamphlets, SOEPIUS.] Portentous to contemplate!—
Cape Breton was besieged this Summer, in a creditable manner; and taken. The one real stroke done upon France this Year, or indeed (except at sea) throughout the War. "Ruin to their Fisheries, and a clear loss of 1,400,000 pounds a year." Compared with which all these fine "Victories in Flanders" are a bottle of moonshine. This was actually a kind of stroke;—and this, one finds, was accomplished, under presidency of a small squadron of King's ships, by ('New-England Volunteers," on funds raised by subscription, in the way of joint-stock. A shining Colonial feat; said to be very perfectly done, both scrip part of it, and fighting part;) [Adelung, v. 32-35 ("27th June, 1745, after a siege of forty-nine days"): see "Gibson, Journal of the Siege;" "Mr. Prince (of the South Church, Boston), THANKSGIVING SERMON (price fourpence);" &c. &c.: in the Old Newspapers, 1745, 1748, multifarious Notices about it, and then about the "repayment" of those excellent "joint-stock" people.]—and might have yielded, what incalculable dividends in the Fishery way! But had to be given up again, in exchange for the Netherlands, when Peace came. Alas, your Majesty! Would it be quite impossible, then, to go direct upon your own sole errand, the JENKINS'S-EAR one, instead of stumbling about among the Foreign chimney-pots, far and wide, under nightmares, in this terrible manner?—Let us to Silesia again.
Chapter IX.—THE AUSTRIAN-SAXON ARMY INVADES SILESIA, ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS.
Valori, who is to be of Friedrich's Campaign this Year, came posting off directly in rear of the glorious news of Fontenoy; found Friedrich at Camenz, rather in spirits than otherwise; and lodged pleasantly with Abbot Tobias and him, till the Campaign should begin. Two things surprise Valori: first, the great strength, impregnable as it were, to which Neisse has been brought since he saw it last,—superlative condition of that Fortress, and of the Army itself, as it gathers daily more and more about Frankenstein here:—and then secondly, and contrariwise, the strangely neglected posture of mountainous or Upper Silesia, given up to Pandours. Quite submerged, in a manner: Margraf Karl lies quiet among them at Jagerndorf, "eating his magazine;" General Hautcharmoi (Winterfeld's late chief in that Wurben affair), with his small Detachment, still hovers about in those Ratibor parts, "with the Strong Towns to fall-back upon," or has in effect fallen back accordingly; and nothing done to coerce the Pandours at all. While Prince Karl and Weissenfels are daily coming on, in force 100,000, their intention certain; force, say, about 100,000 regular! Very singular to Valori.
"Sire, will not you dispute the Passes, then?" asks Valori, amazed: "Not defend your Mountain rampart, then?" "MON CHER; the Mountain rampart is three or four hundred miles long; there are twelve or twenty practicable roads through it. One is kept in darkness, too; endless Pandour doggery shutting out your daylight:—ill defending such a rampart," answers Friedrich. "But how, then," persists Valori; "but—?" "One day the King answered me," says Valori, "'MON AMI, if you want to get the mouse, don't shut, the trap; leave the trap open (ON LAISSE LA SOURICIERE OUVERTE)!'" Which was a beam of light to the inquiring thought of Valori, a military man of some intelligence. [See VALORI, i. 222, 224, 228.]
That, in fact, is Friedrich's purpose privately formed. He means that the Austrians shall consider him cowed into nothing, as he understands they already do; that they shall enter Silesia in the notion of chasing him; and shall, if need be, have the pleasure of chasing him,—till perhaps a right moment arrive. For he is full of silent finesse, this young King; soon sees into his man, and can lead him strange dances on occasion. In no man is there a plentifuler vein of cunning, nor of a finer kind. Lynx-eyed perspicacity, inexhaustible contrivance, prompt ingenuity,—a man very dangerous to play with at games of skill. And it is cunning regulated always by a noble sense of honor, too; instinctively abhorrent of attorneyism and the swindler element: a cunning, sharp as the vulpine, yet always strictly human, which is rather beautiful to see. This is one of Friedrich's marked endowments. Intellect sun-clear, wholly practical (need not be specially deep), and entirely loyal to the fact before it; this—if you add rapidity and energy, prompt weight of stroke, such as was seldom met with—will render a man very dangerous to his adversary in the game of war.—Here is the last of our Pandour Adventures for the present:—
"From May 12th, Friedrich had been gathering closer and closer about Frankenstein; by the end of the month (28th, as it proved) he intends that all Detachments shall be home, and the Army take Camp there. The most are home; Margraf Karl, at Jagerndorf, has not yet done eating his magazine; but he too must come home. Summon the Margraf home:—it is not doubted he will cut himself through, he and his 12,000; but such is the swarm of Pandours hovering between him and us, no estafette, or cleverest letter-bearer, can hope to get across to him. Ziethen with 500 Hussars, he must take the Letter; there is no other way. Ziethen mounts; fares swiftly forth, towards Neustadt, with his Letter; lodges in woods; dodges the thick-crowding Tolpatcheries (passes himself off for a Tolpatchery, say some, and captures Hungarian Staff-Officers who come to give him orders [Frau van Blumenthal, Life of De Ziethen, pp. 171-181 (extremely romantic; now given up as mythical, for most part): see Orlich (ii. 150); but also Ranke (iii. 245), Preuss, &c.]); is at length found out, and furiously set upon, 'Ziethen, Hah!'—but gets to Jagerndorf, Margraf Karl coming out to the rescue, and delivers his Letter. 'Home, then, all of us to-morrow!' And so, Saturday, 22d May, before we get to Neustadt on the way home, there is an authentic passage of arms, done very brilliantly by Margraf Karl against Pandours and others.
"To right of us, to left, barring our road, the enemy, 20,000 of them, stand ranked on heights, in chosen positions; cannon-batteries, grenadiers, dragoons of Gotha and infinite Pandours: military jungle bristling far and wide. And you must push it heartily, and likewise cut the tap-root of it (seize its big guns), or it will not roll away. Margraf Karl shoots forth his steady infantry ('Silent till you see the whites of their eyes!'),—his cavalry with new manoeuvres; whose behavior is worthy of Ziethen himself:—in brief, the jungle is struck as by a whirlwind, the tap-root of it cut, and rolls simultaneously out of range, leaving only the Regiment of Gotha, Regiment of Ogilvy and some Regulars, who also get torn to shreds, and utterly ruined. Seeing which, the Pandour jungle plunges wholly into the woods, uttering horrible cries (EN POUSSANT DES CRIS TERRIBLES), says Friedrich. [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 106. More specially BERICHTE VON DER AM 22 MAI, 1745 BEY NEUSTADT IN OBER-SCHLESIEN VORGEFALLENER ACTION (Seyfarth, Beylage, i. 159-166).] Our new cavalry-manoeuvres deserve praise. Margraf Karl had the honor to gain his Cousin's approbation this day; and to prove himself, says the Cousin, (worthy of the grandfather he came from,'—my own great-grandfather; Great Elector, Friedrich-Wilhelm; whose style of motion at Fehrbellin, or on the ice of the Frische Haf (soldiers all in sledges, tearing along to be at the Swedes), was probably somewhat of this kind."...
"Some days ago, Winterfeld had been pushed out to Landshut, with Detachment of 2,000, to judge a little for himself which way the Austrians were coming, and to scare off certain Uhlans (the SAXON species of Tolpatchery), who were threatening to be mischievous thereabouts. The Uhlans, at sound of Winterfeld, jingled away at once: but, in a day or two, there came upon him, on the sudden, Pandour outburst in quite other force;—and in the very hours while Ziethen was struggling into Jagerndorf, and still more emphatically next day, while Margraf Karl was handling his Pandours,—Colonel Winterfeld, a hundred miles to westward lapped among the Mountains, chanced to be dealing again with the same article. Very busy with it, from 4 o'clock this morning; likely to give a good account of the job. Steadily defending Landshut and himself, against the grenadier battalions, cannon and furious overplus of Pandours (8,000 or 9,000, it is said, six to one or so in the article of cavalry), which General Nadasti, a scientific leader of men or Pandours, skilfully and furiously hurls upon Landshut and him, in an unexpected manner. Colonel Winterfeld had need of all his heart and energy, in the intricate ground; against the furious overplus well manoeuvred: but in him too there are manoeuvres; if he fall back here, it is to rush on double strong there; hour after hour he inexpugnably defends himself,—till General Stille, Friedrich's old Tutor, our worthy writing friend, whom we occasionally quote, comes up with help; and Nadasti is at once brushed home again, with sore smart of failure, and 'the loss of 600 killed,' among other items. [Bericht von der am 21 Mai, 1745 bey Landshut rorgefallener Action, in Feldzuge, i. 302-305 (or in Seyfarth, Beylage, i. 155-158); OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 105; Stille, pp. 120-124 (who misdates, "23d May" for 22d).] Colonel Winterfeld was made Major-General next day, for this action. Colonel Winterfeld is cutting out a high course for himself, by his conduct in these employments; solidity, brilliant effectuality, shining through all he does; his valor and value, his rapid just insight, fiery energy and nobleness of mind more and more disclosing themselves,—to one who is a judge of men, and greatly needs for his own use the first-rate quality in that article."
Friedrich has left the mouse-trap open;—and latterly has been baiting it with a pleasant spicing of toasted cheese. One of his Spies, reporting from Prince Karl's quarters, Friedrich has at this time discovered to be a Double-Spy, reporting thither as well. Double-Spy, there is an ugly fact;—perhaps not quite convenient to abolish it by hemp and gibbet; perhaps it could be turned to use, as most facts can? "Very good, my expert Herr von Schonfeld [that was the knave's name]; and now of all things, whenever the Prince does get across,—instant word to us of that! Nothing so important to us. If he should get BETWEEN us and Breslau, for example, what would the consequence be!" To this purport Friedrich instructs his Double-Spy; sends him off, unhanged, to Prince Karl's Camp, to blab this fresh bit of knowledge. "We likewise," says Friedrich, "ordered some repairs on the roads leading to Breslau;"—last turn of the hand to our bit of toasted fragrancy. And Prince Karl is actually striding forward, at an eager pace:—and Nadasti VERSUS Winterfeld, the other day, could Winterfeld have guessed it, was the actual vanguard of the march; and will be up again straightway! Whereupon Winterfeld too is called home; and all eyes are bent on the Landshut side.
Prince Karl, under these fine omens, had been urgent on the Saxons to be swift; Saxons under Weissenfels did at last "get their cannon up," and we hear of them for certain, in junction with the Austrians, at Schatzlar, on the Bohemian side of the Giant-Mountains; climbing with diligence those wizard solitudes and highland wastes. In a word, they roll across into Silesia, to Landshut (29th May); nothing doubting but Friedrich has cowered into what retreats he has, as good as desperate of Silesia, and will probably be first heard of in Breslau, when they get thither with their sieging guns. No cautious sagacious old Feldmarschall Traun is in that Host at present; nothing but a Prince Karl, and a poor Duke of Weissenfels; who are too certain of several things;—very capable of certainty, and also of doubt, the wrong way of the facts. Their force is, by strict count, 75,000; and they march from Landshut, detained a little by provender concerns, on the last day of May. [Orlich, ii. 146; Ranke, iii. 247; Stenzel, iv. 245.]
May 28th, Friedrich had encamped at Frankenstein; May 30th, he sets forth northwestward, to be nearer the new scene; encamps at Reichenbach, that night; pushes forward again, next day, for Schweidnitz, for Striegau (in all, a shift northwest of some forty miles);—and from June 1st, lies stretched out between Schweidnitz and Striegau, nine miles long; well hidden in the hollows of the little Rivers thereabouts (Schweidnitz Water, Striegau Water), with their little knolls and hills; watching Prince Karl's probable place of egress from the Mountain Country opposite. His main Camp is from Schweidnitz to Jauernik, some five miles long; but he has his vanguard up as far as Striegau, Dumoulin and Winterfeld as vanguard, in good strength, a little way behind or westward of that Town and Stream; Nassau and his Division are screened in the Wood called Nonnenbusch (NUN'S BUSH), and there are outposts sprinkled all about, and vedettes watching from the hill-tops, from the Stanowitz Foxhill; the Zedlitz "Cowhill," "Winchill:" an Army not courting observation, but intent very much to observe. Nadasti has appeared again; at Freyburg, few miles off, on this side of the Mountains; goes out scouting, reconnoitring; but is "fired at from the growing corn," and otherwise hoodwinked by false symptoms, and makes little of that business. Friedrich's Army we will compute at 70,000. [General-Lieutenant Freiherr Leo von Lutzow, Die Schlacht von Hohenfriedbeg (Potsdam, 1845), pp. 18, 21.] Not quite equal in number to Prince Karl's; and, in other particulars, willing and longing that Prince Karl would arrive, and try its quality.
Friedrich's head-quarter is at Jauernik: he goes daily riding hither, thither; to the top of the Fuchsberg (FOXHILL at Stanowitz) with eager spy-glass; daily many times looks with his spy-glass to the ragged peaks about Bolkenhayn, Kauder, Rohnstock; expecting the throw of the dice from that part. On Thursday, 3d June: Do you notice that cloud of dust rising among the peaks over yonder? Dust-cloud mounting higher and higher. There comes the big crisis, then! There are the combined Weissenfels and Karl with their Austrian Saxons, issuing proudly from their stone labyrinth; guns, equipments, baggages, all perfectly brought through; rich Silesian plain country now fairly at their feet, Breslau itself but a few marches off:—at sight of all which, the Austrian big host bursts forth into universal field-music, and shakes out its banners to the wind. Thursday, 3d June, 1745; a dramatic Entry of something quite considerable on the Stage of History.
Friedrich, with Nassau and generals round, stands upon the Fuchsberg,—his remarks not given, his looks or emotions not described to us, his thought well known,—and looks at it through his TUBUS (or spy-glass): There they are, then, and the big moment is come! Friedrich had seen the dust and the manoeuvring of them, deeper in the Hills, from this same Fuchsberg yesterday, and inferred what was coming; calculated by what roads or hill-tracks they could issue: and how he, in each case, was to deal with them; his march-routes are all settled, plank-bridges repaired, all privately is ready for these proud Austrian musical gentlemen, here in the hollow. Friedrich has been upon this Fuchsberg with his TUBUS daily, many times since Monday last: it is our general observatorium, says Stille, and commands a fine view into the interior of these Hills. A Fuchsberg which has become notable in the Prussian maps: "the Stanowitz Fuchsberg," east side of Striegau Water,—let no tourist mistake himself; for there are two or even three other Fuchsbergs, a mile or so northward on the western side of that Stream, which need to be distinguished by epithets, as the Striegau Fuchsberg, the Graben Fuchsberg, and perhaps still others: comparable to the FOUR Neisse rivers, three besides the one we know, which occur in this piece of Country! Our German cousins, I have often sorrowed to find, have practically a most poor talent for GIVING NAMES; and indeed much, for ages back, is lying in a sad state of confusion among them. Many confused things, rotting far and wide, in contradiction to the plainest laws of Nature; things as well as names! All the welcomer this Prussian Army, this young Friedrich leading it; they, beyond all earthly entities of their epoch, are not in a state of confusion, but of most strict conformity to the laws of Arithmetic and facts of Nature: perhaps a very blessed phenomenon for Germany in the long-run.
Prince Karl with Weissenfels, General Berlichingen and many plumed dignitaries, are dining on the Hill-top near Hohenfriedberg: after having given order about everything, they witness there, over their wine, the issue of their Columns from the Mountains; which goes on all afternoon, with field-music, spread banners; and the oldest General admits he never saw a finer review-manoeuvre, or one better done, if so well. Thus sit they on the Hill-top (GALGENBERG, not far from the gallows of the place, says Friedrich), in the beautiful June afternoon. Silesia lying beautifully azure at their feet; the Zobtenberg, enchanted Mountain, blue and high on one's eastern horizon; Prussians noticeable only in weak hussar parties four or five miles off, which vanish in the hollow grounds again. All intending for Breslau, they, it is like;—and here, red wine and the excellent manoeuvre going on. "The Austrian-and-Saxon Army streamed out all afternoon," says a Country Schoolmaster of those parts, whose Day-book has been preserved, [In Lutzow, pp. 123-132.] "each regiment or division taking the place appointed it; all afternoon, till late in the night, submerging the Country as in a deluge," five miles long of them; taking post at the foot of the Hills there, from Hohenfriedberg round upon Striegau, looking towards the morrow's sunrise. To us poor country-folk not a beautiful sight; their light troops flying ahead, and doing theft and other mischief at a sad rate.
On the other hand, the Austrian and Saxon gentlemen, from their Gallows-Hill at Hohenfriedberg, notice, four or five miles in the distance, opposite them, or a little to the left of opposite, a Body of Prussian horse and foot, visibly wending northward; like a long glittering serpent, the glitter of their muskets flashing back yonder on the afternoon sun and us, as they mount from hollow to height. Ten or twelve thousand of them; making for Striegau, to appearance. Intending to bivouac or billet there, and keep some kind of watch over us; belike with an eye to being rear-guard, on the retreat towards Breslau to-morrow? Or will they retreat without attempting mischief? Serenity of Weissenfels engages to seize the heights and proper posts, over yonder, this night yet; and will take Striegau itself, the first thing, to-morrow morning.
Yes, your Serenities, those are Prussians in movement: Vanguard Corps of Dumoulin, Winterfeld;—Rittmeister Seydlitz rides yonder:—and it is not their notion to retreat without mischief. For there stands, not so far off, on the Stanowitz Fuchsberg, a brisk little Gentleman, if you could notice him; with his eyes fixed on you, and plans in the head of him now getting nearly mature. For certain, he is pushing out that column of men; and all manner of other columns are getting order to push out, and take their ground; and to-morrow morning—you will not find him in retreat! Such are the phenomena in that Striegau-Hohenfriedberg region, while the sun is bending westward, on Thursday, 3d June, 1745.
"From Hohenfriedberg, which leans against the higher Mountains, there may be, across to Striegau northeast, which stands well apart from them, among lower Hills of its own, a distance of about five English miles. The intervening country is of flat, though upland nature: the first broad stage, or STAIR-STEP, so to speak, leading down into the general interior levels of Silesia in those parts. A tract which is now tolerably dried by draining, but was then marshy as well as bushy:—flat to the eye, yet must be imperceptibly convexed a little, for the line of watershed is hereabouts: walk from Hohenfriedberg to Striegau, the water on your left hand flows, though mainly in ditches or imperceptible oozings, to the north and west,—there to fall into an eastern fork of the Roaring Neisse [one of our three new Neisses, which is a very quiet stream here; runs close by the Mountain base, fed by many torrents, and must get its name, WUTHENDE or Roaring, from the suddenness of its floods]: into this, bound northward and westward, run or ooze all waters on your left hand, as you go to Striegau. Right hand, again, or to eastward, you will find all sauntering, or running in visible brooks into Striegau Water [little River notable to us], which comes circling from the Mountains, past Hohenfriedberg, farther south; and has got to some force as a stream before it reaches Striegau, and turns abruptly eastward;—eastward, to join Schweidnitz Water, and form with it the SECOND stair-step downwards to the Plain Country. Has its Fuchsbergs, Kuhbergs and little knolls and heights interspersed, on both sides of it, in the conceivable way.
"So that, looking eastward from the heights of Hohenfriedberg, our broad stage or stair-step has nothing of the nature of a valley, but rather is a kind of insensibly swelling plain between two valleys, or hollows, of small depth; and slopes both ways. Both ways; but MORE towards the Striegau-Water valley or hollow; and thence, in a lazily undulating manner, to other hollows and waters farther down. Friedrich's Camp lies in the next, the Schweidnitz-Water hollow; and is five, or even nine miles long, from Schweidnitz northward;—much hidden from the Austrian-Saxon gentlemen at present. No hills farther, mere flat country, to eastward of that. But to the north, again, about Striegau, the hollow deepens, narrows; and certain Hills," much notable at present, "rise to west of Striegau, definite peaked Hills, with granite quarries in them and basalt blocks atop:—Striegau, it appears, is, in old Czech dialect, TRZIZA, which means TRIPLE HILL, the 'Town of the Three Hills.' [Lutzow, p. 28.] An ancient quaint little Town, of perhaps 2,000 souls: brown-gray, the stones of it venerably weathered; has its wide big market-place, piazza, plain-stones, silent enough except on market-days: nestles itself compactly in the shelter of its Three Hills, which screen it from the northwest; and has a picturesque appearance, its Hills and it, projected against the big Mountain range beyond, as you approach it from the Plain Country.
"Hohenfriedberg, at the other corner of our battle-stage, on the road to Landshut, is a Village of no great compass; but sticks pleasantly together, does not straggle in the usual way; climbs steep against its Gallows-Hill (now called 'SIEGESBERG, Victory Hill,' with some tower or steeple-monument on it, built by subscription); and would look better, if trimmed a little and habitually well swept. The higher Mountain summits, Landshut way, or still more if you look southeastward, Glatz-ward, rise blue and huge, remote on your right; to left, the Roaring Neisse range close at hand, is also picturesque, though less Alpine in type." [Tourist's Note (1858).]... And of all Hills, the notablest, just now to us, are those "Three" at Striegau.
Those Three Hills of Striegau his Serenity of Weissenfels is to lay hold of, this night, with his extreme left, were it once got deployed and bivouacked. Those Hills, if he can: but Prussian Dumoulin is already on march thither; and privately has his eye upon them, on Friedrich's part!—For the rest, this upland platform, insensibly sloping two ways, and as yet undrained, is of scraggy boggy nature in many places; much of it damp ground, or sheer morass; better parts of it covered, at this season, with rank June grass, or greener luxuriance of oats and barley. A humble peaceable scene; peaceable till this afternoon; dotted, too, with six or seven poor Hamlets, with scraggy woods, where they have their fuel; most sleepy littery ploughman Hamlets, sometimes with a SCHLOSS or Mansion for the owner of the soil (who has absconded in the present crisis of things), their evening smoke rising rather fainter than usual; much cookery is not advisable with Uhlans and Tolpatchcs flying about. Northward between Striegau and the higher Mountains there is an extensive TEICHWIRTHSCHAFT, or "Pond-Husbandry" (gleaming visible from Hohenfriedberg Gallows-Hill just now); a combination of stagnant pools and carp-ponds, the ground much occupied hereabouts with what they name Carp-Husbandry. Which is all drained away in our time, yet traceable by the studious:—quaggy congeries of sluices and fish-ponds, no road through them except on intricate dams; have scrubby thickets about the border;—this also is very strong ground, if Weissenfels thought of defence there.
Which Weissenfels does not, but only of attack. He occupies the ground nevertheless, rearward of this Carp-Husbandry, as becomes a strategic man; gradually bivouacking all round there, to end on the Three Hills, were his last regiments got up. The Carp-Husbandry is mainly about Eisdorf Hamlet:—in Pilgramshayn, where Weissenfels once thought of lodging, lives our Writing Schoolmaster. The Mountains lie to westward; flinging longer shadows, as the invasive troops continually deploy, in that beautiful manner; and coil themselves strategically on the ground, a bent rope, cordon, or line (THREE lines in depth), reaching from the front skirts of Hohenfriedberg to the Hills at Striegau again,—terrible to behold.
In front of Hohenfriedberg, we say, is the extremity or right wing of the Austrian-Saxon bivouac, or will be when the process is complete; five miles to northeast, sweeping round upon Striegau region, will be their left, where mainly are the Saxons,—to nestle upon those Three Hills of Striegau: whitherward however, Dumoulin, on Friedrich's behalf, is already on march. Austrian-Saxon bivouac, as is the way in regulated hosts, can at once become Austrian-Saxon order-of-battle: and then, probably, on the Chord of that Arc of five miles, the big Fight will roll to-morrow; Striegau one end of it, Hohenfriedbcrg the other. Flattish, somewhat elliptic upland, stair-step from the Mountains, as we called it; tract considerably cut with ditches, carp-husbandries, and their tufts of wood; line from Striegau to Hohenfriedberg being axis or main diameter of it, and in general the line of watershed: there, probably, will the tug of war be. Friedrich, on his Fuchsberg, knows this; the Austrian-Saxon gentlemen, over their wine on the Gallows-Hill, do not yet know it, but will know.
It was about four in the afternoon, when Valori, with a companion, waiting a good while in the King's Tent at Jauernik, at last saw his Majesty return from the Fuchsberg observatory. Valori and friend have great news: "Tournay fallen; siege done, your Majesty!" Valori's friend is one De Latour; who had brought word of Fontenoy ("important victory on the Scamander," as Friedrich indignantly defined it to himself); and was bid wait here till this Siege-of-Tournay consummation ("as helpful to me as the Siege of Pekin!") should supervene. They hasten to salute his Majesty with the glorious tidings, Hmph! thinks Friedrich: and we are at death-grips here, little to be helped by your taking Pekin! However, he lets wit of nothing. "I make my compliments; mean to fight to-morrow." [Valori, i. 228.] Valori, as old soldier and friend, volunteers to be there and assist:—Good.
Friedrich, I presume, at this late hour of four, may bc snatching a morsel of dinner; his orderlies are silently speeding, plans taken, orders given: To start all, at eight in the evening, for the Bridge of Striegau; there to cross, and spread to the right and to the left. Silent, not a word spoken, not a pipe lighted: silently across the Striegau Water there. A march of three miles for the nearest, who are here at Jauernik; of nine miles for the farthest about Schweidnitz; at Schweidnitz leave all your baggage, safe under the guns there. To the Bridge of Striegau, diligently, silently march along; Bridge of Striegau, there cross Striegau Water, and deploy to right and to left, in the way each of you knows. These are Friedrich's orders.
Late in the dusk, Dumoulin and Winterfeld, whom we saw silently on march some hours ago, have silently glided past Striegau, and got into the Three-Hill region, which is some furlong or so farther north:—to his surprise, Dumoulin finds Saxon parties posting themselves thereabouts. He attacks said Saxon parties; and after some slight tussle, drives them mostly from their Three Hills; mostly, not altogether; one Saxon Hill is precipitous on our hither side of it, and we must leave that till the dawn break. Of the other Heights Dumoulin takes good possession, with cannon too, to be ready against dawn;—and ranks himself out to leftward withal, along the plain ground; for he is to be right wing, had the other troops come up. These are now all under way; astir from Jauernik and Schweidnitz, silently streaming along; and Dumoulin bivouacs here,—very silent he: not so silent the Saxons; who are still marching in, over yonder, to westward of Dumoulin, their rear-guard groping out its posts as it best can in the dark. Elsewhere, miles and miles along the foot of the Mountains, Austrian-Saxon watch-fires flame through the ambrosial night; and it is an impressive sight for Dumoulin,—still more for the poor Schoolmaster at Pilgramshayn and others, less concerned than Dumoulin. "It was beautiful," says Stille, who was there, "to see how the plain about Rohnstock, and all over that way, was ablaze with thousands of watch-fires (TAUSEND UND ABER TAUSEND); by the light of these, we could clearly perceive the enemy's troops continually defile from the Hills the whole night through." [Cited in Seyfarth, i. 630.]
Serenity of Weissenfels, after all, does not lodge at Pilgramshayn; far in the night, he goes to sleep at Rohnstock, a Schloss and Hamlet on that fork of Roaring Neisse, by the foot of the Mountains; three or four miles off, yet handy enough for picking up Striegau the first thing to-morrow. His Highness Prince Karl lies in Hausdorf, tolerable quarters, pretty much in the centre of his long bivouac; day's business well done, and bottle (as one's wont rather is) well enjoyed. Nadasti has been out scouting; but was pricked into by hussar parties, fired into from the growing corn; and could make out little, but the image of his own ideas. Nadasti's ultimate report is, That the Prussians are perfectly quiet in their camp; from Jauernik to Schweidnitz, watch-fires all alight, sentries going their rounds. And so they are, in fact; sentries and watch-fires,—but now nothing else there, a mere shell of a camp; the men of it streaming steadily along, without speech, without tobacco; and many of them are across Striegau Bridge by this time!—
It was past eleven, so close and continuous went this march, before Valori and his Latour, with their carriages and furnitures, could find an interval, and get well into it. Never will Valori forget the discipline of these Prussians, and how they marched. Difficult ways; the hard road is for their artillery; the men march on each side, sometimes to mid-leg in water,—never mind. Wholly in order, wholly silent; Valori followed them three leagues close, and there was not one straggler. Every private man, much more every officer, knows well what grim errand they are on; and they make no remarks. Steady as Time; and, except that their shoes are not of felt, silent as he. The Austrian watch-fires glow silent manifold to leftward yonder; silent overhead are the stars:—the path of all duty, too, is silent (not about Striegau alone) for every well-drilled man. To-morrow;—well, to-morrow?
A grimmish feeling against the Saxons is understood to be prevalent among these men. Bruhl, Weissenfels himself, have been reported talking high,—"Reduce our King to the size of an Elector again," and other foolish things;—indeed, grudges have been accumulating for some time. "KEIN PARDON (No quarter)!" we hear has been a word among the Saxons, as they came along; the Prussians growl to one another, "Very well then, None!" Nay Friedrich's general order is, "No prisoners, you cavalry, in the heat of fight; cavalry, strike at the faces of them: you infantry, keep your fire till within fifty steps; bayonet withal is to be relied on." These were Friedrich's last general orders, given in the hollow of the night, near the foot of that Fuchsberg where he had been so busy all day; a widish plain space hereabouts, Striegau Bridge now near: he had lain snme time in his cloak, waiting till the chief generals, with the heads of their columns, could rendezvous here. He then sprang on horseback; spoke briefly the essential things (one of them the above);—"Had meant to be more minute, in regard to positions and the like; but all is so in darkness, embroiled by the flare of the Austrian watch-fires, we can make nothing farther of localities at present: Striegau for right wing, left wing opposite to Hohenfriedberg,—so, and Striegau Water well to rear of us. Be diligent, exact, all faculties awake: your own sense, and the Order of Battle which you know, must do the rest. Forward; steady: can I doubt but you will acquit yourselves like Prussian men?" And so they march, across the Bridge at Striegau, south outskirt of the Town,—plank Bridge, I am afraid;—and pour themselves, to right and to left, continually the livelong night.
To describe the Battle which ensued, Battle named of Striegau or Hohenfriedberg, excels the power of human talent,—if human talent had leisure for such employment. It is the huge shock and clash of 70,000 against 70,000, placed in the way we said. An enormous furious SIMALTAS (or "both-at-once," as the Latins phrase it), spreading over ten square miles. Rather say, a wide congeries of electric simultaneities; all ELECTRIC, playing madly into one another; most loud, most mad: the aspect of which is smoky, thunderous, abstruse; the true SEQUENCES of which, who shall unravel? There are five accounts of it, all modestly written, each true-looking from its own place: and a thrice-diligent Prussian Officer, stationed on the spot in late years, has striven well to harmonize them all. [Five Accounts: 1. The Prussian Official Account, in Helden-Geschichte, i. 1098-1102. 2. The Saxon, ib. 1103-1108. 3. The Austrian, ib. 1109-1115. 4. Stille's (ii. 125-133, of English Translation). 5. Friedrich's own, OEuvres, iii. 108-118. Lutzow, above cited, is the harmonizer. Besides which, two of value, in Feldzuge, i. 310-323, 328-336; not to mention Cogniazzo, Confessions of an Austrian Veeran (Breslau, 1788-1791: strictly Anonymous at that time, and candid, or almost more, to Prussian merit;—still worth reading, here and throughout), ii. 123-135; &c. &c.] Well worth the study of military men;—who might make tours towards this and the other great battle-field, and read such things, were they wise. For us, a feature or two, in the huge general explosion, to assist the reader's fancy in conceiving it a little, is all that can be pretended to.
Chapter X.—BATTLE OF HOHENFRIEDBERG.
With the first streak of dawn, the dispute renewed itself between those Prussians and Saxons who are on the Heights of Striegau. The two Armies are in contact here; they lie wide apart as yet at the other end. Cannonading rises here, on both sides, in the dim gray of the morning, for the possession of these Heights. The Saxons are out-cannonaded and dislodged, other Saxons start to arms in support: the cry "To arms!" spreads everywhere, rouses Weissenfels to horseback; and by sunrise a furious storm of battle has begun, in this part. Hot and fierce on both sides; charges of horse, shock after shock, bayonet-charges of foot; the great guns going like Jove's thunder, and the continuous tearing storm of small guns, very loud indeed: such a noise, as our poor Schoolmaster, who lives on this spot, thinks he will hear only once again, when the Last Trumpet sounds! It did indeed, he informs us, resemble the dissolution of Nature: "For all fell dark too;" a general element of sulphurous powder-smoke, streaked with dull blazes; and death and destruction very nigh. What will become of poor pacific mortals hereabouts? Rittmeister Seydlitz, Winterfeld his patron ride, with knit brows, in these horse-charges; fiery Rothenburg too; Truchsess von Waldburg, at the head of his Division,—poor Truchsess known in London society, a cannon-ball smites the life out of him, and he ended here.
At the first clash of horse and foot, the Saxons fancied they rather had it; at the second, their horse became distressed; at the third, they rolled into disorderly heaps. The foot also, stubborn as they were, could not stand that swift firing, followed by the bayonet and the sabre; and were forced to give ground. The morning sun shone into their eyes, too, they say; and there had risen a breath of easterly wind, which hurled the smoke upon them, so that they could not see. Decidedly staggering backwards; getting to be taken in flank and ruined, though poor Weissenfels does his best. About five in the morning, Friedrich came galloping hitherward; Valori with him: "MON AMI, this is looking well! This will do, won't it?" The Saxons are fast sinking in the scale; and did nothing thenceforth but sink ever faster; though they made a stiff defence, fierce exasperation on both sides; and disputed every inch. Their position, in these scraggy Woods and Villages, in these Morasses and Carp-Husbandries, is very strong.
It had proved to be farther north, too, than was expected; so that the Prussians had to wheel round a little (right wing as a centre, fighting army as radius) before they could come parallel, and get to work: a delicate manoeuvre, which they executed to Valori's admiration, here in the storm of battle; tramp, tramp, velocity increasing from your centre outwards, till at the end of the radius, the troops are at treble-quick, fairly running forward, and the line straight all the while. Admirable to Valori, in the hot whirlwind of battle here. For the great guns go, in horrid salvos, unabated, and the crackling thunder of the small guns; "terrible tussling about those Carp-ponds, that quaggy Carp-husbandry," says the Schoolmaster, "and the Heavens blotted out in sulphurous fire-streaked smoke. What had become of us pacific? Some had run in time, and they were the wisest; others had squatted, who could find a nook suitable. Most of us had gathered into the Nursery-garden at the foot of our Village; we sat quaking there,—our prayers grown tremulously vocal;—in tears and wail, at least the women part. Enemies made reconcilement with each other," says he, "and dear friends took farewell." [His Narrative, in Lutzow, UBI SUPRA.] One general Alleleu; the Last Day, to all appearance, having come. Friedrich, seeing things in this good posture, gallops to the left again, where much urgently requires attention from him.
On the Austrian side, Prince Karl, through his morning sleep at Hausdorf, had heard the cannonading: "Saxons taking Striegau!" thinks he; a pleasant lullaby enough; and continues to sleep and dream. Agitated messengers rush in, at last; draw his curtains: "Prussians all in rank, this side Striegau Water; Saxons beaten, or nearly so, at Striegau: we must stand to arms, your Highness!"—"To arms, of course," answers Karl; and hurries now, what he can, to get everything in motion. The bivouac itself had been in order of battle; but naturally there is much to adjust, to put in trim; and the Austrians are not distinguished for celerity of movement. All the worse for them just now.
On Friedrich's side, so far as I can gather, there have happened two cross accidents. First, by that wheeling movement, done to Valori's admiration in the Striegau quarter, the Prussian line has hitched itself up towards Striegau, has got curved inward, and covers less ground than was counted on; so that there is like to be some gap in the central part of;—as in fact there was, in spite of Friedrich's efforts, and hitchings of battalions and squadrons: an indisputable gap, though it turned to rich profit for Friedrich; Prince Karl paying no attention to it. Upon such indisputable gap a wakeful enemy might have done Friedrich some perilous freak; but Karl was in his bed, as we say;—in a terrible flurry, too, when out of bed. Nothing was done upon the gap; and Friedrich had his unexpected profit by it before long.
The second accident is almost worse. Striegau Bridge (of planks, as I feared), creaking under such a heavy stream of feet and wheels all night, did at last break, in some degree, and needed to be mended; so that the rearward regiments, who are to form Friedrich's left wing, are in painful retard;—and are becoming frightfully necessary, the Austrians as yet far outflanking us, capable of taking us in flank with that right wing of theirs! The moment was agitating to a General-in-chief: Valori will own this young King's bearing was perfect; not the least flurry, though under such a strain. He has aides-de-camp, dashing out every-whither with orders, with expedients; Prince Henri, his younger Brother: galloping the fastest; nay, at last, he begs Valori himself to gallop, with orders to a certain General Gessler, in whose Brigade are Dragoons. Which Valori does,—happily without effect on Gessler; who knows no Valori for an aide-de-camp, and keeps the ground appointed him; rearward of that gap we talked of.
Happily the Austrian right wing is in no haste to charge. Happily Ziethen, blocked by that incumbrance of the Bridge mending, "finds a ford higher up," the assiduous Ziethen; splashes across, other regiments following; forms in line well leftward; and instead of waiting for the Austrian charge, charges home upon them, fiercely through the difficult grounds, No danger of the Austrians outflanking us now; they are themselves likely to get hard measure on their flank. By the ford and by the Bridge, all regiments, some of them at treble-quick, get to their posts still in time. Accident second has passed without damage. Forward, then; rapid, steady; and reserve your fire till within fifty paces!—Prinoe Ferdinand of Brunswick (Friedrich's Brother-in-law, a bright-eyed steady young man, of great heart for fight) tramps forth with his Division:—steady!—all manner of Divisions tramp forth; and the hot storm, Ziethen and cavalry dashing upon that right wing of theirs, kindles here also far and wide.
The Austrian cavalry on this wing and elsewhere, it is clear, were ill off. "We could not charge the Prussian left wing, say they, partly because of the morasses that lay between us; and partly [which is remarkable] because they rushed across and charged us." [Austrian report, Helden-Geschichte, i. 1113.] Prince Karl is sorry to report such things of his cavalry; but their behavior was bad and not good. The first shock threw them wavering; the second,—nothing would persuade them to dash forth and meet it. High officers commanded, obtested, drew out pistols, Prince Karl himself shot a fugitive or two,—it was to no purpose; they wavered worse at every new shock; and at length a shock came (sixth it was, as the reporter counts) which shook them all into the wind. Decidedly shy of the Prussians with their new manoeuvres, and terrible way of coming on, as if sure of beating. In the Saxon quarter, certain Austrian regiments of horse would not charge at all; merely kept firing from their carbines, and when the time came ran.
As for the Saxons, they have been beaten these two hours; that is to say, hopeless these two hours, and getting beaten worse and worse. The Saxons cannot stand, but neither generally will they run; they dispute every ditch, morass and tuft of wood, especially every village. Wrecks of the muddy desperate business last, hour after hour. "I gave my men a little rest under the garden walls," says one Saxon Gentleman, "or they would have died, in the heat and thirst and extreme fatigue: I would have given 100 gulden [10 pounds Sterling] for a glass of water." [ Helden-Geschichte, ubi supra.] The Prussians push them on, bayonet in back; inexorable, not to be resisted; slit off whole battalions of them (prisoners now, and quarter given); take all their guns, or all that are not sunk in the quagmires;—in fine, drive them, part into the Mountains direct, part by circuit thither, down upon the rear of the Austrian fight: through Hausdorf, Seifersdorf and other Mountain gorges, where we hear no more of them, and shall say no more of them. A sore stroke for poor old Weissenfels; the last public one he has to take, in this world, for the poor man died before long. Nobody's blame, he says; every Saxon man did well; only some Austrian horse-regiments, that we had among us, were too shy. Adieu to poor old Weissenfels. Luck of war, what else,—thereby is he in this pass.
And now new Prussian force, its Saxons being well abolished, is pressing down upon Prince Karl's naked left flank. Yes;—Prince Karl too will have to go. His cavalry is, for most part, shaken into ragged clouds; infantry, steady enough men, cannot stand everything. "I have observed," says Friedrich, "if you step sharply up to an Austrian battalion [within fifty paces or so], and pour in your fire well, in about a quarter of an hour you see the ranks beginning to shake, and jumble towards indistinctness;" [Military Instructions. ] a very hopeful symptom to you!
It was at this moment that Lieutenant-General Gessler, under whom is the Dragoon regiment Baireuth, who had kept his place in spite of Valori's message, determined on a thing,—advised to it by General Schmettau (younger Schmettau), who was near. Gessler, as we saw, stood in the rear line, behind that gap (most likely one of several gaps, or wide spaces, left too wide, as we explained); Gessler, noticing the jumbly condition of those Austrian battalions, heaped now one upon another in this part,—motions to the Prussian Infantry to make what farther room is needful; then dashes through, in two columns (self and the Dragoon-Colonel heading the one, French Chasot, who is Lieutenant-Colonel, heading the other), sabre in hand, with extraordinary impetus and fire, into the belly of these jumbly Austrians; and slashes them to rags, "twenty battalions of them," in an altogether unexampled manner. Takes "several thousand prisoners," and such a haul of standards, kettle-drums and insignia of honor, as was never got before at one charge. Sixty-seven standards by the tale, for the regiment (by most All-Gracious Permission) wears, ever after, "67" upon its cartridge-box, and is allowed to beat the grenadier march; [Orlich, ii. 179 (173 n., 179 n., slightly wrong); Militair-Lexikon, ii. 9, iv. 465, 468. See Preuss, i. 212; OEuvres de Frederic; &c. &c.]—how many kettle-drums memory does not say.
Prince Karl beats retreat, about 8 in the morning; is through Hohenfriedberg about 10 (cannon covering there, and Nadasti as rear-guard): back into the Mountains; a thoroughly well-beaten man. Towards Bolkenhayn, the Saxons and he; their heavy artillery and baggage had been left safe there. Not much pursued, and gradually rearranging himself; with thoughts,—no want of thoughts! Came pouring down, triumphantly invasive, yesterday; returns, on these terms, in about fifteen hours. Not marching with displayed banners and field-music, this time; this is a far other march. The mouse-trap had been left open, and we rashly went in!—Prince Karl's loss, including that of the Saxons (which is almost equal, though their number in the field was but HALF), is 9,000 dead and wounded, 7,000 prisoners, 66 cannon, 73 flags and standards; the Prussian is about 5,000 dead and wounded. [In Orlich (ii. 182) all the details.] Friedrich, at sight of Valori, embraces his GROS VALORI; says, with a pious emotion in voice and look, "My friend, God has helped me wonderfully this day!" Actually there was a kind of devout feeling visible in him, thinks Valori: "A singular mixture, this Prince, of good qualities and of bad; I never know which preponderates." [Valori, SOEPIUS.] As is the way with fat Valoris, when they come into such company.
Friedrich is blamed by some military men, and perhaps himself thought it questionable, that he did not pursue Prince Karl more sharply. He says his troops could not; they were worn out with the night's marching and the day's fighting. He himself may well be worn out. I suppose, for the last four-and-twenty hours he, of all the contemporary sons of Adam, has probably been the busiest. Let us rest this day; rest till to-morrow morning, and be thankful. "So decisive a defeat," writes he to his Mother (hastily, misdating "6th" June for 4th), "has not been since Blenheim" [Letter in OEuvres de Frederic, xxvi. 71.] (which is tolerably true); and "I have made the Princes sign their names," to give the good Mother assurance of her children in these perils of war. Seldom has such a deliverance come to a man.
Chapter XI.—CAMP OF CHLUM: FRIEDRICH CANNOT ACHIEVE PEACE.
Friedrich marched, on the morrow, likewise to Bolkenhayn; which the enemy have just left; our hussars hanging on their rear, and bickering with Nadasti. Then again on the morrow, Sunday,—"twelve hours of continuous rain," writes Valori; but there is no down-pour, or distress, or disturbance that will shake these men from their ranks, writes Valori. And so it goes on, march after march, the Austrians ahead, Dumoulin and our hussars infesting their rear, which skilfully defended itself: through Landshut down into Bohemia; where are new successive marches, the Prussian quarterstaff stuck into the back of defeated Austria, "Home with you; farther home!"—and shogging it on,—without pause, for about a fortnight to come. And then only with temporary pause; that is to say, with intricate manoeuvrings of a month long, which shove it to Konigsgratz, its ultimatum, beyond which there is no getting it. The stages and successive campings, to be found punctually in the old Books and new, can interest only military readers. Here is a small theological thing at Landshut, from first hand:—
JUNE 8th, 1745. "The Army followed Dumoulin's Corps, and marched upon Landshut. On arriving in that neighborhood, the King was surrounded by a troop of 2,000 Peasants,"—of Protestant persuasion very evidently! (which is much the prevailing thereabouts),—"who begged permission of him 'to massacre the Catholics of these parts, and clear the country of them altogether.' This animosity arose from the persecutions which the Protestants had suffered during the Austrian domination, when their churches used to be taken from them and given to the Popish priests,"—churches and almost their children, such was the anxiety to make them orthodox. The patience of these peasants had run over; and now, in the hour of hope, they proposed the above sweeping measure. "The King was very far from granting them so barbarous a permission. He told them, 'They ought rather to conform to the Scripture precept, to bless those that cursed them, and pray for those that despitefully used them; such was the way to gain the Kingdom of Heaven.' The peasants," rolling dubious eyes for a moment, "answered, His Majesty was right; and desisted from their cruel pretension." [OEuvres de Frederic, ii.218.]...—"On Hohenfriedberg Day," says another Witness, "as far as the sound of the cannon was heard, all round, the Protestants fell on their knees, praying for victory to the Prussians;" [In Ranke, iii. 259.] and at Breslau that evening, when the "Thirteen trumpeting Postilions" came tearing in with the news, what an enthusiasm without limit!
Prince Karl has skill in choosing camps and positions: his Austrians are much cowed; that is the grievous loss in his late fight. So, from June 8th, when they quit Silesia,—by two roads to go more readily,—all through that month and the next, Friedrich spread to the due width, duly pricking into the rear of them, drives the beaten hosts onward and onward. They do not think of fighting; their one thought is to get into positions where they can have living conveyed to them, and cannot be attacked; for the former of which objects, the farther homewards they go, it is the better. The main pursuit, as I gather, goes leftward from Landshut, by Friedland,—the Silesian Friedland, once Wallenstein's. Through rough wild country, the southern slope of the Giant Mountains, goes that slow pursuit, or the main stream of it, where Friedrich in person is; intricate savage regions, cut by precipitous rocks and soaking quagmires, shaggy with woods: watershed between the Upper Elbe and Middle Oder; Glatz on our left,—with the rain of its mountains gathering to a Neisse River, eastward, which we know; and on their west or hither side, to a Mietau, Adler, Aupa and other many-branched feeders of the Elbe. Most complex military ground, the manoeuvrings on it endless,—which must be left to the reader's fancy here.
About the end of June, Karl and his Austrians find a place suitable to their objects: Konigsgratz, a compact little Town, in the nook between the Elbe and Adler; covered to west and to south by these two streams; strong enough to east withal; and sure and convenient to the southern roads and victual. Against which Friedrich's manoeuvres avail nothing; so that he at last (20th July) crosses Elbe River; takes, he likewise, an inexpugnable Camp on the opposite shore, at a Village called Chlum; and lies there, making a mutual dead-lock of it, for six weeks or more. Of the prior Camps, with their abundance of strategic shufflings, wheelings, pushings, all issuing in this of Chlum, we say nothing: none of them,—except the immediately preceding one, called of Nahorzan, called also of Drewitz (for it was in parts a shifting entity, and flung the LIMBS of it about, strategically clutching at Konigsgratz),—had any permanency: let us take Chlum (the longest, and essentially the last in those parts) as the general summary of them, and alone rememberable by us. ["Camp of Gross-Parzitz [across the Mietau, to dislodge Prince Karl from his shelter behind that stream], June 14th:" "Camp of Nahorzan, June 18th [and abstruse manoeuvrings, of a month, for Konigsgratz]: 20th July," cross Elbe for Chlum; and lie, yourself also inexpugnable, there. See OEuvres de Frederic, (iii. 120 et seq.); especially see Orlich (ii. pp. 193, 194, 203, &c. &c.),—with an amplitude of inorganic details, sufficient to astonish the robustest memory!]
Friedrich's purposes, at Chlum or previously, are not towards conquests in Bohemia, nor of fighting farther, if he can help it. But, in the mean while, he is eating out these Bohemian vicinages; no invasion of Silesia possible from that quarter soon again. That is one benefit: and he hopes always his enemies, under screw of military pressure with the one hand, and offer of the olive-branch with the other, will be induced to grant him Peace. Britannic Majesty, after Fontenoy and Hohenfriedberg, not to mention the first rumors of a Jacobite Rebellion, with France to rear of it, is getting eager to have Friedrich settled with, and withdrawn from the game again;—the rather, as Friedrich, knowing his man, has ceased latterly to urge him on the subject. Peace with George the Purseholder, does not that mean Peace with all the others? Friedrich knows the high Queen's indignation; but he little guesses, at this time, the humor of Bruhl and the Polish Majesty. He has never yet sent the Old Dessauer in upon them; always only keeps him on the slip, at Magdeburg; still hoping actualities may not be needed. He hopes too, in spite of her indignation, the Hungarian Majesty, with an Election on hand, with the Netherlands at such a pass, not to speak of Italy and the Middle Rhine, will come to moderate views again. On which latter points, his reckoning was far from correct! Within three months, Britannic Majesty and he did get to explicit Agreement (CONVENTION OF HANOVER, 26th August): but in regard to the Polish Majesty and the Hungarian there proved to be no such result attainable, and quite other methods necessary first!
"Of military transactions in this Camp of Chlum, or in all these Bohemian-Silesian Camps, for near four months, there is nothing, or as good as nothing: Chlum has no events; Chlum vigilantly guards itself; and expects, as the really decisive to it, events that will happen far away. We are to conceive this military business as a dead-lock; attended with hussar skirmishes; attacks, defences, of outposts, of provision-wagons from Moravia or Silesia:—Friedrich has his food from Silesia chiefly, by several routes, 'convoys come once in the five days.' His horse-provender he forages; with Tolpatches watching him, and continual scufflings of fight: 'for hay and glory,' writes one Prussian Officer, 'I assure you we fight well!' Endless enterprising, manoeuvring, counter-manoeuvring there at first was; and still is, if either party stir: but here, in their mutually fixed camps, tacit mutual observances establish themselves; and amid the rigorous armed vigilantes, there are traits of human neighborship. As usual in such cases. The guard-parties do not fire on one another, within certain limits: a signal that there are dead to bury, or the like, is strictly respected. On one such occasion it was (June 30th, Camp-of-Nahorzan time) that Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick—Prince Ferdinand, with a young Brother Albert volunteering and learning his business here, who are both Prussian—had a snatch of interview with a third much-loved Brother, Ludwig, who is in the Austrian service. A Prussian officer, venturing beyond the limits, had been shot; Ferdinand's message, 'Grant us burial of him!' found, by chance, Brother Ludwig in command of that Austrian outpost; who answers: 'Surely;—and beg that I may embrace my Brothers!' And they rode out, those three, to the space intermediate; talked there for half an hour, till the burial was done. [Mauvillon, Geschichte Ferdinands von Braunschweig-Luneburg, i. 118.] Fancy such an interview between the poor young fellows, the soul of honor each, and tied in that manner!
"Trenck of the Life-guard was not quite the soul of honor. It was in the Nahorzan time too that Trenck, who had, in spite of express order to the contrary, been writing to his Cousin the indigo Pandour, was put under arrest when found out. 'Wrote merely about horses: purchase of horses, so help me God!' protests the blusterous Life-guardsman, loud as lungs will,—whether with truth in them, nobody can say. 'Arrest for breaking orders!' answers Friedrich, doubting or disbelieving the horses; and loud Trenck is packed over the Hills to Glatz; to Governor Fouquet, or Substitute;—where, by not submitting and repenting, by resisting and rebelling, and ever again doing it, he makes out for himself, with Fouquet and his other Governors, what kind of life we know! 'GARDEZ E'TROITEMENT CE DROLE-LA, IL A VOULU DEVENIR PANDOUR AUPRES DE SON ONCLE (Keep a tight hold of this fine fellow; he wanted to become Pandour beside his Uncle)!' writes Friedrich:—'Uncle' instead of 'Cousin,' all one to Friedrich. This he writes with his own hand, on the margin: 28th June, 1745; the inexorable Records fix that date. [Rodenbeck. iii. 381. Copy of the Warrant, once PENES ME.] Which I should not mention, except for another inexorable date (30th September), that is coming; and the perceptible slight comfort there will be in fixing down a loud-blustering, extensively fabulous blockhead, still fit for the Nurseries, to one undeniable premeditated lie, and tar-marking him therewith, for benefit of more serious readers." As shall be done, were the 30th of September come!
Here is still something,—if it be not rather nothing, by a great hand! Date uncertain; Camp-of-Chlum time, pretty far on:... "There are continual foragings, on both sides; with parties mutually dashing out to hinder the same. The Prussians have a detached post at Smirzitz; which is much harassed by Hungarians lurking about, shooting our sentry and the like. An inventive head contrives this expedient. Stuff a Prussian uniform with straw; fix it up, by aid of ropes and check-strings, to stand with musket shouldered, and even to glide about to right and left, on judicious pulling. So it is done: straw man is made; set upon his ropes, when the Tolpatches approach; and pensively saunters to and fro,—his living comrades crouching in the bushes near by. Tolpatches fire on the walking straw sentry; straw sentry falls flat; Tolpatches rush in, esurient, triumphant; are exploded in a sharp blast of musketry from the bushes all round, every wounded man made prisoner;—and come no more back to that post." Friedrich himself records this little fact: "slight pleasantry to relieve the reader's mind," says he, in narrating it. [OEuvres, iii. 123.]—Enough of those small matters, while so many large are waiting.
June 26th, a month before Chlum, General Nassau had been detached, with some 8 or 10,000, across Glatz Country, into Upper Silesia, to sweep that clear again. Hautcharmoi, quitting the Frontier Towns, has joined, raising him to 15,000; and Nassau is giving excellent account of the multitudinous Pandour doggeries there; and will retake Kosel, and have Upper Silesia swept before very long. [Kosel, "September 5th:" Excellent, lucid and even entertaining Account of Nassau's Expedition, in the form of DIARY (a model, of its kind), in Feldzuge, iv. 257, 371, 532.] On the other hand, the Election matter (KAISERWAHL, a most important point) is obviously in threatening, or even in desperate state! That famed Middle-Rhine Army has gone to the—what shall we say?
JULY 5th-19th, MIDDLE-RHINE COUNTRY. "The first Election-news that reaches Friedrich is from the Middle-Rhine Country, and of very bad complexion. Readers remember Traun, and his Bathyanis, and his intentions upon Conti there. In the end of May, old Traun, things being all completed in Bavaria, had got on march with his Bavarian Army, say 40,000, to look into Prince Conti down in those parts; a fact very interesting to the Prince. Traun held leftward, westward, as if for the Neckar Valley,—'Perhaps intending to be through upon Elsass, in those southern undefended portions of the Rhine?' Conti, and his Segur, and Middle-Rhine Army stood diligently on their guard; got their forces, defences, apparatuses, hurried southward, from Frankfurt quarter where they lay on watch, into those Neckar regions. Which seen to be done, Traun whirled rapidly to rightward, to northward; crossed the Mayn at Wertheim, wholly leaving the Neckar and its Conti; having weighty business quite in the other direction,—on the north side of the Mayn, namely; on the Kinzig River, where Bathyani (who has taken D'Ahremberg's command below Frankfurt, and means to bestir himself in another than the D'Ahremberg fashion) is to meet him on a set day. Traun having thus, by strategic suction, pulled the Middle-Rhine Army out of his and Bathyani's way, hopes they two will manage a junction on the Kinzig; after junction they will be a little stronger than Conti, though decidedly weaker taken one by one. Traun, in the long June days, had such a march, through the Spessart Forest (Mayn River to his left, with our old friends Dettingen, Aschaffenburg, far down in the plain), as was hardly ever known before: pathless wildernesses, rocky steeps and chasms; the sweltering June sun sending down the upper snows upon him in the form of muddy slush; so that 'the infantry had to wade haunch-deep in many of the hollow parts, and nearly all the cavalry lost its horse-shoes.' A strenuous march; and a well-schemed. For at the Kinzig River (Conti still far off in the Neckar country), Bathyani punctually appeared, on the opposite shore; and Traun and he took camp together; July 5th, at Langen-Selbord (few miles north of Hanau, which we know);—and rest there; calculating that Conti is now a manageable quantity;—and comfortably wait till the Grand-Duke arrives. [Adelung, iv. 421; v. 36.] For this is, theoretically, HIS Army; Grand-Duke Franz being the Commander's Cloak, this season; as Karl was last,—a right lucky Cloak he, while Traun lurked under him, not so lucky since! July 13th, Franz arrived; and Traun, under Franz, instantly went into Conti (now again in those Frankfurt parts); clutched at Conti, Briareus-like, in a multiform alarming manner: so that Conti lost head; took to mere retreating, rushing about, burning bridges;—and in fine, July 19th, had flung himself bodily across the Rhine (clouds of Tolpatches sticking to him), and left old Traun and his Grand-Duke supreme lord in those parts. Who did NOT invade Elsass, as was now expected; but lay at Heidelberg, intending to play pacifically a surer card. All French are out of Teutschland again; and the game given up. In what a premature and shameful manner! thinks Friedrich.
"Nominally it was the Grand-Duke that flung Conti over the Rhine; and delivered Teutschland from its plagues. After which fine feat, salvatory to the Cause of Liberty, and destructive to French influence, what is to prevent his election to the Kaisership? Friedrich complains aloud: 'Conti has given it up; you drafted 15,000 from him (for imaginary uses in the Netherlands),—you have given it up, then! Was that our bargain?' 'We have given it up,' answers D'Argenson the War-minister, writing to Valori; 'but,'—And supplies, instead of performance according to the laws of fact, eloquent logic; very superfluous to Friedrich and the said laws!—Valori, and the French Minister at Dresden, had again been trying to stir up the Polish Majesty to stand for Kaiser; but of course that enterprise, eager as the Polish Majesty might be for such a dignity, had now to collapse, and become totally hopeless. A new offer of Friedrich's to co-operate had been refused by Bruhl, with a brevity, a decisiveness—'Thinks me finished (AUX ABOIS),' says Friedrich; 'and not worth giving terms to, on surrendering!' The foolish little creature; insolent in the wrong quarter!" [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 128.]
'The German Burden, then,—which surely was mutual, at lowest, and lately was French altogether,—the French have thrown it off; the French have dropped their end of the BEARING-POLES (so to speak), and left Friedrich by himself, to stand or stagger, under the beweltered broken harness-gear and intolerable weight! That is one's payment for cutting the rope from their neck last year!—Long since, while the present Campaign was being prepared for, under such financial pressures, Friedrich had bethought him, "The French might, at least give me money, if they can nothing else?"—and he had one day penned a Letter with that object; but had thrown it into his desk again, "No; not till the very last extremity, that!" Friedrich did at last despatch the unpleasant missive: "Service done you in Elsass, let us say little of it; but the repayment has been zero hitherto: your Bavarian expenses (poor Kaiser gone, and Peace of Fussen come!) are now ended:—A round sum, say of 600,000 pounds, is becoming indispensable here, if we are to keep on our feet at all!" Herr Ranke, who has seen the Most Christian King's response (though in a capricious way), finds "three or four successive redactions" of the difficult passage; all painfully meaning, "Impossible, alas!"—painfully adding, "We will try, however!" And, after due cunctations, Friedrich waiting silent the while,—Louis, Most Christian King, who had failed in so many things towards Friedrich, does empower Valori To offer him a subsidy of 600,000 livres a month, till we see farther. Twenty thousand pounds a month; he hopes this will suffice, being himself run terribly low. Friedrich's feeling is to be guessed: "Such a dole might answer to a Landgraf of Hessen-Darmstadt; but to me is not in the least suitable;"—and flatly refuses it; FIEREMENT, says Valori. [Ranke, iii. 235, 299 n. (not the least of DATE allowed us in either case); Valori. i. 240.]
MON GROS VALORI, who could not himself help all this, poor soul, "falls now into complete disgrace;" waits daily upon Friedrich at the giving out of the parole, "but frequently his Majesty does not speak to me at all." Hardly looks at me, or only looks as if I had suddenly become Zero Incarnate. It is now in these days, I suppose, that Friedrich writes about the "Scamander Battle" (of Fontenoy), and "Capture of Pekin," by way of helping one to fight the Austrians according to Treaty. And has a touch of bitter sarcasm in uttering his complaints against, such treatment,—the heart of him, I suppose, bitter enough. Most Christian King has felt this of the Scamander, Friedrich perceives; Louis's next letter testifies pique;—and of course we are farther from help, on that side, than ever. "From the STANDE of the Kur-Mark [Brandenburg] Friedrich was offered a considerable subsidy instead; and joyfully accepted the same, 'as a loan:'"—paid it punctually back, too; and never, all his days, forgot it of those STANDE. [Stenzel, iv. 255; Ranke, &c.]
CAMP OF DIESKAU: BRITANNIC MAJESTY MAKES PEACE, FOR HIMSELF, WITH FRIEDRICH; BUT CANNOT FOR AUSTRIA OR SAXONY.
About the middle of August, there are certain Saxon phenomena which awaken dread expectation in the world. Friedrich, watching, Argus-like, near and far, in his Chlum observatory, has noticed that Prince Karl is getting reinforced in Konigsgratz; 10,000 lately, 7,000 more coming;—and contrariwise that the Saxons seem to be straggling off from him; ebbing away, corps after corps,—towards Saxony, can it be? There are whispers of "Bavarian auxiliaries" being hired for them, too. And little Bruhl's late insolence; Bruhl's evident belief that "we are finished (AUX ABOIS)"? Putting all this together, Friedrich judges—with an indignation very natural—that there is again some insidious Saxon mischief, most likely an attack on Brandenburg, in the wind. Friedrich orders the Old Dessauer, "March into them, delay no longer!" and publishes a clangorously indignant Manifesto (evidently his own writing, and coming from the heart): [In Adelung, v. 64-71 (no date; "middle of August," say the Books).] "How they have, not bound by their Austrian Treaty, wantonly invaded our Silesia; have, since and before, in spite of our forbearance, done so many things:—and, in fact, have finally exhausted our patience; and are forcing us to seek redress and safety by the natural methods," which they will see how they like!—
Old Leopold advances straightway, as bidden, direct for the Saxon frontier. To whom Friedrich shoots off detachments,—Prince Dietrich, with so many thousands, to reinforce Papa; then General Gessler with so many,—till Papa is 30,000 odd; and could eat Saxony at a mouthful; nothing whatever being yet ready there on Bruhl's part, though he has such immense things in the wind!—Nevertheless Friedrich again paused; did not yet strike. The Saxon question has Russian bug-bears, no end of complications. His Britannic Majesty, now at Hanover, and his prudent Harrington with him, are in the act of laboring, with all earnestness, for a general Agreement with Friedrich. Without farther bitterness, embroilment and bloodshed: how much preferable for Friedrich! Old Dessauer, therefore, pauses: "Camp of Dieskau," which we have often heard of, close on the Saxon Border; stands there, looking over, as with sword drawn, 30,000 good swords,—but no stroke, not for almost three months more. In three months, wretched Bruhl had not repented; but, on the contrary, had completed his preparations, and gone to work;—and the stroke did fall, as will be seen. That is Bruhl's posture in the matter. [Ranke, iii. 231, 314.]
To Britannic George, for a good while past, it has been manifest that the Pragmatic Sanction, in its original form, is an extinct object; that reconquest of Silesia, and such like, is melancholy moonshine; and that, in fact, towards fighting the French with effect, it is highly necessary to make peace with Friedrich of Prussia again. This once more is George's and his Harrington's fixed view. Friedrich's own wishes are known, or used to be, ever since the late Kaiser's death,—though latterly he has fallen silent, and even avoids the topic when offered (knowing his man)! Herrington has to apply formally to Friedrich's Minister at Hanover. "Very well, if they are in earnest this time," so Friedrich instructs his Minister: "My terms are known to you; no change admissible in the terms;—do not speak with me on it farther: and, observe, within four weeks, the thing finished, or else broken off!" [Ranke, iii. 277-281.] And in this sense they are laboring incessantly, with Austria, with Saxony,—without the least success;—and Excellency Robinson has again a panting uncomfortable time. Here is a scene Robinson transacts at Vienna, which gives us a curious face-to-face glimpse of her Hungarian Majesty, while Friedrich is in his Camp at Chlum.
SCHONBRUNN, 2d AUGUST, 1745, ROBINSON HAS AUDIENCE OF HER HUNGARIAN MAJESTY.
Robinson, in a copious sonorous speech (rather apt to be copious, and to fall into the Parliamentary CANTO-FERMO), sets forth how extremely ill we Allies are faring on the French hand; nothing done upon Silesia either; a hopeless matter that,—is it not, your Majesty? And your Majesty's forces all lying there, in mere dead-lock; and we in such need of them! "Peace with Prussia is indispensable."—To which her Majesty listened, in statuesque silence mostly; "never saw her so reserved before, my Lord."...
ROBINSON.... "'Madam, the Dutch will be obliged to accept Neutrality' [and plump down again, after such hoisting]!
QUEEN. "'Well, and if they did, they? It would be easier to accommodate with France itself, and so finish the whole matter, than with Prussia." My Army could not get to the Netherlands this season. No General of mine would undertake conducting it at this day of the year. Peace with Prussia, what good could it do at present?'
ROBINSON. "'England has already found, for subsidies, this year, 1,178,753 pounds. Cannot go on at that rate. Peace with Prussia is one of the returns the English Nation expects for all it has done.'
QUEEN. "'I must have Silesia again: without Silesia the Kaiserhood were an empty title. "Or would you have us administer it under the guardiancy of Prussia!"'...
ROBINSON. "'In Bohemia itself things don't look well; nothing done on Friedrich: your Saxons seem to be qnarrelling with you, and going home.'
QUEEN. "'Prince Karl is himself capable of fighting the Prussians again. Till that, do not speak to me of Peace! Grant me only till October!'
ROBINSON. "'Prussia will help the Grand-Duke to Kaisership.'
QUEEN. "'The Grand-Duke is not so ambitions of an empty honor as to engage in it under the tutelage of Prussia. Consider farther: the Imperial dignity, is it compatible with the fatal deprivation of Silesia? "One other battle, I say! Good God, give me only till the month of October!"'
ROBINSON. "'A battle, Madam, if won, won't reconquer Silesia; if lost, your Majesty is ruined at home.'
QUEEN. "'DUSSE'JE CONCLURE AVEC LUI LE LENDEMAIN, JE LUI LIVRERAIS BATAILLE CE SOIR (Had I to agree with him to-morrow, I would try him in a battle this evening)!'" [Robinson's Despatch, 4th August, 1745. Ranke, iii. 287; Raumer, pp. 161, 162.]
Her Majesty is not to be hindered; deaf to Robinson, to her Britannic George who pays the money. "Cruel man, is that what you call keeping the Pragmatic Sanction; dismembering me of Province after Province, now in Germany, then in Italy, on pretext of necessity? Has not England money, then? Does not England love the Cause of Liberty? Give me till October!" Her Majesty did take till October, and later, as we shall see; poor George not able to hinder, by power of the purse or otherwise: who can hinder high females, or low, when they get into their humors? Much of this Austrian obstinacy, think impartial persons, was of female nature. We shall see what profit her Majesty made by taking till October.
As for George, the time being run, and her Majesty and Saxony unpersuadable, he determined to accept Friedrich's terms himself, in hope of gradually bringing the others to do it. August 26th, at Hanover, there is signed a CONVENTION OF HANOVER between Friedrich and him: "Peace on the old Breslau-Berlin terms,—precisely the same terms, but Britannic Majesty to have them guaranteed by All the Powers, on the General Peace coming,—so that there be no snake-procedure henceforth." Silesia Friedrich's without fail, dear Hanover unmolested even by a thought of Friedrich's;—and her Hungarian Majesty to be invited, nay urged by every feasible method, to accede. [Adelung, v. 75; is "in Rousset, xix. 441;" in &c. &c.] Which done, Britannic Majesty—for there has hung itself out, in the Scotch Highlands, the other day ("Glenfinlas, August 12th"), a certain Standard "TANDEM TRIUMPHANS," and unpleasant things are imminent!—hurries home at his best pace, and has his hands full there, for some time. On Austria, on Saxony, he could not prevail: "By no manner of means!" answered they; and went their own road,—jingling his Britannic subsidies in their pocket; regardless of the once Supreme Jove, who is sunk now to a very different figure on the German boards.
Friedrich's outlook is very bad: such a War to go on, and not even finance to do it with. His intimates, his Rothenburg one time, have "found him sunk in gloomy thought." But he wears a bright face usually. No wavering or doubting in him, his mind made up; which is a great help that way. Friedrich indicates, and has indicated everywhere, for many months, that Peace, precisely on the old footing, is all he wants: "The Kaiser being dead, whom I took up arms to defend, what farther object is there?" says he. "Renounce Silesia, more honestly than last time; engage to have it guaranteed by everybody at the General Peace (or perhaps Hohenfriedberg will help to guarantee it),—and I march home!" My money is running down, privately thinks he; guarantee Silesia, and I shall be glad to go. If not, I must raise money somehow; melt the big silver balustrades at Berlin, borrow from the STANDE, or do something; and, in fact, must stand here, unless Silesia is guaranteed, and struggle till I die.
That latter withal is still privately Friedrich's thought. Under his light air, he carries unspoken that grimly clear determination, at all times, now and henceforth; and it is an immense help to the guidance of him. An indispensable, indeed. No king or man, attempting anything considerable in this world, need expect to achieve it except, tacitly, on those same terms, "I will achieve it or die!" For the world, in spite of rumors to the contrary, is always much of a bedlam to the sanity (so far as he may have any) of every individual man. A strict place, moreover; its very bedlamisms flowing by law, as do alike the sudden mud-deluges, and the steady Atlantic tides, and all things whatsoever: a world inexorable, truly, as gravitation itself;—and it will behoove you to front it in a similar humor, as the tacit basis for whatever wise plans you lay. In Friedrich, from the first entrance of him on the stage of things, we have had to recognize this prime quality, in a fine tacit form, to a complete degree; and till his last exit, we shall never find it wanting. Tacit enough, unconscious almost, not given to articulate itself at all;—and if there be less of piety than we could wish in the silence of it, there is at least no play-actor mendacity, or cant of devoutness, to poison the high worth of it. No braver little figure stands on the Earth at that epoch. Ready, at the due season, with his mind silently made up;—able to answer diplomatic Robinsons, Bartensteins and the very Destinies when they apply. If you will withdraw your snakish notions, will guarantee Silesia, will give him back his old Treaty of Berlin in an irrefragable shape, he will march home; if not, he will never march home, but be carried thither dead rather. That is his intention, if the gods permit.
GRAND-DUKE FRANZ IS ELECTED KAISER (13TH SEPTEMBER, 1745); FRIEDRICH, THE SEASON AND FORAGE BEING DONE, MAKES FOR SILESIA.
There occurred at Frankfurt—the clear majority, seven of the nine Electors, Bavaria itself (nay Bohemia this time, "distaff" or not), and all the others but Friedrich and Kur-Pfalz, being so disposed or so disposable, Traun being master of the ground—no difficulty about electing Grand-Duke Franz Stephan of Tuscany? Joint-King of Bohemia, to be Kaiser of the Holy Romish Reich. Friedrich's envoy protested;—as did Kur-Pfalz's, with still more vehemence, and then withdrew to Hanau: the other Seven voted September 13th 1745: and it was done. A new Kaiser, Franz Stephan, or Franz I.,—with our blessing on him, if that can avail much. But I fear it cannot. Upon such mendacious Empty-Case of Kaiserhood, without even money to feed itself, not to speak of governing, of defending and coercing; upon such entities the blessings of man avail little; the gods, having warned them to go, do not bless them for staying!—However, tar-barrels burn, the fountains play (wine in some of them, I hope); Franz is to be crowned in a fortnight hence, with extraordinary magnificence. At this last part of it Maria Theresa will, in her own high person, attend; and proceeds accordingly towards Frankfurt, in the end of September (say the old Books), so soon as the Election is over.
Hungarian Majesty's bearing was not popular there, according to Friedrich,—who always admires her after a sort, and always speaks of her like a king and gentleman:—but the High Lady, it is intimated, felt somewhat too well that she was high. Not sorry to have it known, under the due veils, that her Kaiser-Husband is but of a mimetic nature; that it is she who has the real power; and that indeed she is in a victorious posture at present. Very high in her carriage towards the Princes of the Reich, and their privileges:—poor Kur-Pfalz's notary, or herald, coming to protest (I think, it was the second time) about something, she quite disregarded his tabards, pasteboards, or whatever they were, and clapt him in prison. The thing was commented upon; but Kur-Pfalz got no redress. Need we repeat,—lazy readers having so often met him, and forgotten him again,—this is a new younger Kur-Pfalz: Karl Theodor, this one; not Friedrich Wilhelm's old Friend, but his Successor, of the Sulzbach line; of whom, after thirty years or so, we may again hear. He can complain about his violated tabard; will get his notary out of jail again, but no redress.
Highish even towards her friends, this "Empress-Queen" (KAISERIN-KONIGIN, such her new title), and has a kind of "Thank-you-for-Nothing" air towards them. Prussian Majesty, she said, had unquestionable talents; but, oh, what a character! Too much levity, she said, by far; heterodox too, in the extreme; a BOSER MANN;—and what a neighbor has he been! As to Silesia, she was heard to say, she would as soon part with her petticoat as part with it. [OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 126, 128.]—So that there is not the least prospect of peace here? "None," answer Friedrich's emissaries, whom he had empowered to hint the thing. Which is heavy news to Friedrich.
Early in August, not long after that Audience of Robinson's, her Majesty, after repeated written messages to Prince Karl, urging him to go into fight again or attempt something, had sent two high messengers: Prince Lobkowitz, Duke d'Ahremberg, high dignitaries from Court, have come to Konigsgratz with the latest urgencies, the newest ideas; and would fain help Prince Karl to attempt something. Daily they used to come out upon a little height, in view of Friedrich's tent, and gaze in upon him, and round all Nature, "with big tubes," he says, "as if they had been astronomers;" but never attempted anything. We remember D'Ahremberg, and what part he has played, from the Dettingen times and onward. "A debauched old fellow," says Friedrich; "gone all to hebetude by his labors in that line; agrees always with the last speaker." Prince Karl seems to have little stomach himself; and does not see his way into (or across) another Battle. Lobkowitz, again, is always saying: "Try something! We are now stronger than they, by their detachings, by our reinforcings" (indeed, about twice their number, regular and irregular), though most of the Saxons are gone home. After much gazing through their tubes, the Austrians (August 23d) do make a small shift of place, insignificant otherwise; the Prussians, next day, do the like, in consequence; quit Chlum, burning their huts; post themselves a little farther up the Elbe,—their left at a place called Jaromirz, embouchure of the Aupa into Elbe, [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 129.]—and are again unattackable.
The worst fact is the multitude of Pandours, more and more infesting our provision-roads; and that horse-forage itself is, at last, running low. Detachments lie all duly round to right and left, to secure our communications with Silesia, especially to left, out of Glatz, where runs one of the chief roads we have. But the service is becoming daily more difficult. For example:—
"NEUSTADT, 8th SEPTEMBER. In that left-hand quarter, coming out of Glatz at a little Bohemian Town called Neustadt, the Prussian Commander, Tauenzien by name, was repeatedly assaulted; and from September 8th, had to stand actual siege, gallantly repulsing a full 10,000 with their big artillery, though his walls were all breached, for about a week, till Friedrich sent him relief. Prince Lobkowitz, our old anti-Belleisle friend, who is always of forward fiery humor, had set them on this enterprise; which has turned out fruitless. The King is much satisfied with Tauenzien; [Ib. 132.] of whom we shall hear again. Who indeed becomes notable to us, were it only for getting one Lessing as secretary, by and by: Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, whose fame has since gone into all countries; the man having been appointed a 'Secretary' to the very Destinies, in some sort; that is to say, a Writer of Books which have turned out to have truth in them! Tauenzien, a grimmish aquiline kind of man, of no superfluous words, has distinguished himself for the present by defending Neustadt, which the Austrians fully counted to get hold of."
Let us give another little scene; preparatory to quitting this Country, as it is evident the King and we will soon have to do; Country being quite eaten out, Pandours getting ever rifer, and the Season done:—
JAROMIRZ, "EARLY IN SEPTEMBER," 1745. "Jaromirz is a little Bohemian Town on the Aupa, or between the Aupa and Metau branches of the Upper Elbe; four or five miles north of Semonitz, where Friedrich's quarter now is. Valori, so seldom spoken to, is lodged in a suburb there: 'Had not you better go into the town itself?' his Majesty did once say; but Valori, dreading nothing, lodged on,—'Landlord a Burgher whom I thought respectable.' Respectable, yes he; but his son had been dealing with Franquini the Pandour, and had sold Valori,—night appointed, measures all taken; a miracle if Valori escape. Franquini, chief of 30,000 Pandours, has come in person to superintend this important capture; and lies hidden, with a strong party, in the woods to rearward. Prussians about 200, scattered in posts, occupy the hedges in front, for guard of the ovens; to rear, Jaromirz being wholly ours, there is no suspicion.
"In the dead of the night, Franquini emerges from the woods; sends forward a party of sixty, under the young Judas; who, by methods suitable, gets them stealthily conducted into Papa's Barn, which looks across a courtyard into Valori's very windows. From the Barn it is easy, on paws of velvet, to get into the House, if you have a Judas to open it. Which you have:—bolts all drawn for you, and even beams ready for barricading if you be meddled with. 'Upstairs is his Excellency asleep; Excellency's room is—to right, do you remember; or to left'—'Pshaw, we shall find it!' The Pandours mount; find a bedroom, break it open,—some fifteen or sixteen of them, and one who knows a little French;—come crowding forward: to the horror and terror of the poor inhabitant.' 'QUE VOULEZ-VOUS DONC?' 'His Excellency Valori!' 'Well, no violence; I am your prisoner: let me dress!' answers the supposed Excellency,—and contrives to secrete portfolios, and tear or make away with papers. And is marched off, under a select guard, who leave the rest to do the pillage. And was not Valori at all; was Valori's Secretary, one D'Arget, who had called himself Valori on this dangerous occasion! Valori sat quaking behind his partition; not till the Pandours began plundering the stables did the Prussian sentry catch sound of them, and plunge in."
Friedrich had his amusement out of this adventure; liked D'Arget, the clever Secretary; got D'Arget to himself before long, as will be seen;—and, in quieter times, dashed off a considerable Explosion of Rhyme, called LE PALLADION (Valori as Prussia's "Palladium," with Devils attempting to steal him, and the like), which was once thought an exquisite Burlesque,—Kings coveting a sight of it, in vain,—but is now wearisome enough to every reader. [Valori, i. 242; OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 130: for the Fact. Exquisite Burlesque, PALLADION itself, is in OEuvres, xi. 192-271 (see IB. 139): a bad copy of that very bad Original, JEANNE D'ARC,—the only thing now good in it, Friedrich's polite yet positive refusal to gratify King Louis and his Pompdour with a sight of it (see IB. PREFACE, x-xiv, Friedrich's Letter to Louis; date of request and of refusal, March, 1750).]—Let us attend his Majesty's exit from Bohemia.
Chapter XII.—BATTLE OF SOHR.
The famed beautiful Elbe River rises in romantic chasms, terrible to the picturesque beholder, at the roots of the Riesengebirge; overlooked by the Hohe-Kamms, and highest summits of that chain. "Out of eleven wells," says gentle Dulness, "EILF or ELF QUELLEN, whence its name, Elbe for ELF." Sure enough, it starts out of various wells; [Description, in Zollner, Briefe uber Schlesien, ii. 305; in &c. &c.] rushes out, like a great peacock's or pasha's tail, from the roots of the Giant Mountains thereabouts; and hurries southward,—or even rather eastward, at first; for (except the Iser to westward, which does not fall in for a great while) its chief branches come from the eastern side: Aupa, Metau, Adler, the drainings of Glatz, and of that rugged Country where Friedrich has been camping and manoeuvring all summer. On the whole, its course is southward for the first seventy or eighty miles, washing Jaromirz, Konigshof, Konigsgratz, down to Pardubitz: at Pardubitz it turns abruptly westward, and holds on so, bending even northward, by hill and plain, through the rest of its five or six hundred miles.
Its first considerable branch, on that eastern or left bank, is the Aupa, which rises in the Pass of Schatzlar (great struggling there, for convoys, just now); goes next by Trautenau, which has lately been burnt; and joins the Elbe at Jaromirz, where Valori was stolen, or nearly so, from under the Prussian left wing. The Aupa runs nearly straight south; the Elbe, till meeting it, has run rather southeast; but after joining they go south together, augmented by the Metau, by the Adler, down to Pardubitz, where the final turn to west occurs. Jaromirz, which lies in the very angle of Elbe and Aupa, is the left wing of Friedrich's Camp; main body of the Camp lies on the other side of the Elbe, but of course has bridges (as at Smirzitz, where that straw sentry did his pranks lately); bridges are indispensable, part of our provision coming always by that BOHEMIAN Neustadt, from the northeast quarter out of Silesia; though the main course of our meal (and much fighting for it) is direct from the north, by the Pass of Schatzlar,—"Chaslard," as poor Valori calls it.
Thus Friedrich lay, when Valori escaped being stolen; when Tauenzien was assailed by the 10,000 Pandours with siege artillery, and stood inexpugnable in the breach till Friedrich relieved him. Those Pandours "had cut away his water, for the last two days;" so that, except for speedy relief, all valor had been in vain. Water being gone, not recoverable without difficulties, Neustadt was abandoned (September 16th, as I guess);—one of our main Silesian roads for meal has ceased. We have now only Schatzlar to depend on; where Franquini—lying westward among the glens of the Upper Elbe, and possessed of abundant talent in the Tolpatch way (witness Valori's narrow miss lately)—gives us trouble enough. Friedrich determines to move towards Schatzlar. Homewards, in fact; eating the Country well as he goes.
Saturday, 18th September, Friedrich crosses the Elbe at Jaromirz. Entirely unopposed; the Austrians were all busy firing FEU-DE-JOIE for the Election of their Grand-Duke: Election done five days ago at Frankfurt, and the news just come. So they crackle about, and deliver rolling fire, at a great rate; proud to be "IMPERIAL Army" henceforth, as if that could do much for them. There was also vast dining, for three days, among the high heads, and a great deal of wine spent. That probably would have been the chance to undertake something upon them, better than crossing the Elbe, says Friedrich looking back. But he did not think of it in time; took second-best in place of best.
He is now, therefore, over into that Triangular piece of Country between Elbe and Aupa (if readers will consult their Map); in that triangle, his subsequent notable operations all lie. He here proposes to move northward, by degrees,—through Trautenau, Schatzlar, and home; well eating this bit of Country too, the last uneaten bit, as he goes. This well eaten, there will be no harbor anywhere for Invasion, through the Winter coming. One of my old Notes says of it, in the topographic point of view:—
"It is a triangular patch of Country, which has lain asleep since the Creation of the World; traversed only by Boii (BOI-HEIM-ERS, Bohemians), Czechs and other such populations, in Human History; but which Friedrich has been fated to make rather notable to the Moderns henceforth. Let me recommend it to the picturesque tourist, especially to the military one. Lovers of rocky precipices, quagmires, brawling torrents and the unadulterated ruggedness of Nature, will find scope there; and it was the scene of a distinguished passage of arms, with notable display of human dexterity and swift presence of mind. For the rest, one of the wildest, and perhaps (except to the picturesque tourist) most unpleasant regions in the world. Wild stony upland; topmost Upland, we may say, of Europe in general, or portion of such Upland; for the rainstorms hereabouts run several roads,—into the German Ocean and Atlantic by the Elbe, into the Baltic by the Oder, into the Black Sea by the Donau;—and it is the waste Outfield whither you rise, by long weeks-journeys, from many sides.
"Much of it, towards the angle of Elbe and Aupa, is occupied by a huge waste Wood, called 'Kingdom Forest' (KONIGREICH SYLVA or WALD, peculium of Old Czech Majesties, I fancy); may be sixty square miles in area, the longer side of which lies along the Elbe. A Country of rocky defiles; lowish hills chaotically shoved together, not wanting their brooks and quagmires, straight labyrinthic passages; shaggy with wild wood. Some poor Hamlets here and there, probably the sleepiest in Nature, are scattered about; there may be patches ploughable for rye [modern Tourist says snappishly, There are many such; whole region now drained; reminded me of Yorkshire Highlands, with the Western Sun gilding it, that fine afternoon!]—ploughable for rye, buckwheat; boggy grass to be gathered in summer; charcoaling to do; pigs at least are presumable, among these straggling outposts of humanity in their obscure Hamlets: poor ploughing, moiling creatures, they little thought of becoming notable so soon! None of the Books (all intent on mere soldiering) take the least notice of them; not at the pains to spell their Hamlets right: no more notice than if they also had been stocks and moss-grown stones. Nevertheless, there they did evidently live, for thousands of years past, in a dim manner;—and are much terrified to have become the seat of war, all on a sudden. Their poor Hamlets, Sohr, Staudentz, Prausnitz, Burgersdorf and others still send up a faint smoke; and have in them, languidly, the live-coal of mysterious human existence, in those woods,—to judge by the last maps that have come out. A thing worth considering by the passing tourist, military or other."
It is in this Kingdom Forest (which he calls ROYAUME DE SILVA, instead of SYLVA DE ROYAUME) that Friedrich now marches; keeping the body of the Forest well on his left, and skirting the southern and eastern sides of it. Rough marching for his Majesty; painfully infested by Nadastian Tolpatches; who run out on him from ambushes, and need to be scourged; one ambush in particular, at a place called Liebenthal (second day's march, and near the end of it),—where our Prussian Hussars, winding like fiery dragons on the dangerous precipices, gave them better than they brought, and completely quenched their appetite for that day. After Liebenthal, the march soon ends; three miles farther on, at the dim wold-hamlet of Staudentz: here a camp is pitched; here, till the Country is well eaten out, or till something else occur, we propose to tarry for a time.
Horse-forage abounds here; but there is no getting of it without disturbance from those dogs; you must fight for every truss of grass: if a meal-train is coming, as there does every five days, you have to detach 8,000 foot and 3,000 horse to help it safe in. A fretting fatiguing time for regular troops. Our bakery is at Trautenau,—where Valori is now lodging. The Tolpatchery, unable to take Trautenau, set fire to it, though it is their own town, their own Queen's town; thatchy Trautenau, wooden too in the upper stories of it, takes greedily to the fire; goes all aloft in flame, and then lies black. A scandalous transaction, thinks Friedrich. The Prussian corn lay nearly all in cellars; little got, even of the Prussians, by such an atrocity: and your own poor fellow-subjects, where are they? Valori was burnt out here; again exploded from his quarters, poor man;—seems to have thought it a mere fire in his own lodging, and that he was an unfortunate diplomatist. Happily he got notice (PRIVATISSIME, for no officer dare whisper in such cases) that there is an armed party setting out for Silesia, to guard meal that is coming: Valori yokes himself to this armed party, and gets safe over the Hills with it,—then swift, by extra post, to Breslau and to civilized (partially civilized) accommodation, for a little rest after these hustlings and tossings.
Friedrich had lain at Staudentz, in this manner, bickering continually for his forage, and eating the Country, for about ten days: and now, as the latter process is well on, and the season drawing to a close: he determines on a shift northward. Thursday, 30th September next, let there be one other grand forage, the final one in this eaten tract, then northward to fresh grounds. That, it appears, was the design. But, on Wednesday, there came in an Austrian deserter; who informs us that Prince Karl is not now in Konigsgratz, but in motion up the Elbe; already some fifty miles up; past Jaromirz: his rear at Konigshof, his van at Arnau,—on a level with burnt Trautenau, and farther north than we ourselves are. This is important news. "Intending to block us out from Schatzlar? Hmh!" Single scouts, or small parties, cannot live in this Kingdom Wood, swarming with Pandours: Friedrich sends out a Colonel Katzler, with 500 light horse, to investigate a little. Katzler pushes forward, on such lane or forest road-track as there is, towards Konigshof; beats back small hussar parties;—comes, in about an hour's space, not upon hussars merely, but upon dense masses of heavy horse winding through the forest lanes; and, with that imperfect intelligence, is obliged to return. The deserter spake truth, apparently; and that is all we can know. Forage scheme is given up; the order is, "Baggage packed, and MARCH to-morrow morning at ten." Long before ten, there had great things befallen on the morrow!—Try to understand this Note a little:—
"The Camp of Staudentz-which two persons (the King, and General Stille, a more careful reporter, who also was an eye-witness) have done their best to describe—will, after all efforts, and an Ordnance Map to help, remain considerably unintelligible to the reader; as is too usual in such cases. A block of high-lying ground; Friedrich's Camp on it, perhaps two miles long, looks to the south; small Village of Staudentz in front; hollow beyond that, and second small Village, Deutsch Prausnitz, hanging on the opposite slope, with shaggy heights beyond, and the Kingdom Forest there beginning: on the left, defiles, brooks and strait country, leading towards the small town of Eypel: that is our left and front aspect, a hollow well isolating us on those sides. Hollow continues all along the front; hollow definite on our side of it, and forming a tolerable defence:—though again, I perceive, to rightward at no great distance, there rise High Grounds which considerably overhang us." A thing to be marked! "These we could not occupy, for want of men; but only maintain vedettes upon them. Over these Heights, a mile or two westward of this hollow of ours, runs the big winding hollow called Georgengrund (GEORGE'S BOTTOM), which winds up and down in that Kingdom Forest, and offers a road from Konigshof to Trautenau, among other courses it takes.
"From the crown of those Heights on our right flank here, looking to the west, you might discern (perhaps three miles off, from one of the sheltering nooks in the hither side of that Georgengrund), rising faintly visible over knolls and dingles, the smoke of a little Forest Village. That Village is Sohr; notable ever since, beyond others, in the Kingdom Wood. Sohr, like the other Villages, has its lane-roads; its road to Trautenau, to Konigshof, no doubt; but much nearer you, on our eastern slope of the Heights, and far hitherward of Sohr, which is on the western, goes the great road [what is now the great road], from Konigshof to Trautenau, well visible from Friedrich's Camp, though still at some distance from it. Could these Heights between us and Sohr, which lie beyond the great road, be occupied, we were well secured; isolated on the right too, as on the other sides, from Kingdom Forest and its ambushes. 'Should have been done,' admits Friedrich; 'but then, as it is, there are not troops enough:' with 18,000 men you cannot do everything!"
Here, however, is the important point. In Sohr, this night, 29th September, in a most private manner, the Austrians, 30,000 of them and more, have come gliding through the woods, without even their pipe lit, and with thick veil of hussars ahead! Outposts of theirs lie squatted in the bushes behind Deutsch Prausnitz, hardly 500 yards from Friedrich's Camp. And eastward, leftward of him, in the defiles about Eypel, lie Nadasti and Ruffian Trenck, with ten or twelve thousand, who are to take him in rear. His "Camp of Staudentz" will be at a fine pass to-morrow morning. The Austrian Gentlemen had found, last week, a certain bare Height in the Forest (Height still known), from which they could use their astronomer tubes day after day; [Orlich, ii. 225.] and now they are about attempting something!
Thursday morning, very early, 30th September, 1745, Friedrich was in his tent, busy with generals and march-routes,—when a rapid orderly comes in, from that Vedette, or strong Piquet, on the Heights to our right: "Austrians visibly moving, in quantity, near by!" and before he has done answering, the officer himself arrives: "Regular Cavalry in great force; long dust-cloud in Kingdom Forest, in the gray dawn; and, so far as we can judge, it is their Army coming on." Here is news for a poor man, in the raw of a September morning, by way of breakfast to him! "To arms!" is, of course, Friedrich's instant order; and he himself gallops to the Piquet on the Heights, glass in hand. "Austrian Army sure enough, thirty to thirty-five thousand of them, we only eighteen. [OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 139.] Coming to take us on the right flank here; to attack our Camp by surprise: will crush us northward through the defiles, and trample us down in detail? Hmh! To run for it, will never do. We must fight for it, and even attack THEM, as our way is, though on such terms. Quick, a plan!" The head of Friedrich is a bank you cannot easily break by coming on it for plans: such a creature for impromptu plans, and unexpected dashes swift as the panther's, I have hardly known,—especially when you squeeze him into a corner, and fancy he is over with it! Friedrich gallops down, with his plan clear enough; and already the Austrians, horse and foot, are deploying upon those Heights he has quitted; Fifty Squadrons of Horse for left wing to them, and a battery of Twenty-eight big Guns is establishing itself where Friedrich's Piquet lately stood.
Friedrich's right flank has to become his front, and face those formidable Austrian Heights and Batteries; and this with more than Prussian velocity, and under the play of those twenty-eight big guns, throwing case-shot (GRENADES ROYALES) and so forth, all the while. To Valori, when he heard of the thing, it is inconceivable how mortal troops could accomplish such a movement; Friedrich himself praises it, as a thing honorably well done. Took about half an hour; case-shot raining all the while; soldier honorably never-minding: no flurry, though a speed like that of spinning-tops. And here we at length are, Staudentz now to rear of us, behind our centre a good space; Burgersdorf in front of us to right, our left reaching to Prausnitz: Austrian lines, three deep of them, on the opposite Height; we one line only, which matches them in length.
They, that left wing of horse, should have thundered down on us, attacking us, not waiting our attack, thinks Friedrich; but they have not done it. They stand on their height there, will perhaps fire carbines, as their wont is. "You, Buddenbrock, go into them with your Cuirassiers!" Buddenbrock and the Cuirassiers, though it is uphill, go into them at a furious rate; meet no countercharge, mere sputter of carbines;—tumble them to mad wreck, back upon their second line, back upon their third: absurdly crowded there on their narrow height, no room to manoeuvre; so that they plunge, fifty squadrons of them, wholly into the Georgengrund rearward, into the Kingdom Wood, and never come on again at all. Buddenbrock has done his job right well.
Seeing which, our Infantry of the right wing, which stood next to Buddenbrock, made impetuous charge uphill, emulous to capture that Battery of Twenty-eight; but found it, for some time, a terrible attempt. These Heights are not to be called "hills," still less "mountains" (as in some careless Books); but it is a stiff climb at double-quick, with twenty-eight big guns playing in the face of you. Storms of case-shot shear away this Infantry, are quenching its noble fury in despair; Infantry visibly recoiling, when our sole Three Regiments of Reserve hurry up to support. Round these all rallies; rushes desperately on, and takes the Battery,—of course, sending the Austrian left wing rapidly adrift, on loss of the same.
This, I consider, is the crisis of the Fight; the back of the Austrian enterprise is already broken, by this sad winging of it on the left. But it resists still; comes down again,—the reserve of their left wing seen rapidly making for Burgersdorf, intending an attack there; which we oppose with vigor, setting Burgersdorf on fire for temporary screen; and drive the Austrian reserve rapidly to rearward again. But there is rally after rally of them. They rank again on every new height, and dispute there; loath to be driven into Kingdom Wood, after such a flourish of arms. One height, "bushy steep height," the light-limbed valiant Prince, little Ferdinand of Brunswick, had the charge of attacking; and he did it with his usual impetus and irresistibility:—and, strangely enough, the defender of it chanced to be that Brother of his, Prince Ludwig, with whom he had the little Interview lately. Prince Ludwig got a wound, as well as lost his height. The third Brother, poor Prince Albrecht, who is also here, as volunteer apprentice, on the Prussian side, gets killed. There will never be another Interview, for all three, between the Camps! Strange times for those poor Princes, who have to seek soldiering for their existence.
Meanwhile the Cavalry of Buddenbrock, that is to say of the right wing, having now no work in that quarter, is despatched to reinforce the left wing, which has stood hitherto apart on its own ground; not attacked or attacking,—a left wing REFUSED, as the soldiers style it. Reinforced by Buddenbrock, this left wing of horse does now also storm forward;—"near the Village of Prausnitz" (Prausnitz a little way to rear of it), thereabouts, is the scene of its feat. Feat done in such fashion that the Austrians opposite will not stand the charge at all; but gurgle about in a chaotic manner; then gallop fairly into Kingdom Wood, without stroke struck; and disappear, as their fellows had done. Whereupon the Prussian horse breaks in upon the adjoining Infantry of that flank (Austrian right flank, left bare in this manner); champs it also into chaotic whirlpools; cuts away an outskirt of near 2,000 prisoners, and sets the rest running. This seems to have been pretty much the COUP-DE-GRACE of the Fight; and to have brought the Austrian dispute to finis. From the first, they had rallied on the heights; had struggled and disputed. Two general rallies they made, and various partial, but none had any success. They were driven on, bayonet in back, as the phrase is: with this sad slap on their right, added to that old one on their left, what can they now do but ebb rapidly; pour in cataracts into Kingdom Wood, and disappear there? [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 135-143; Stille, pp. 144-163; Orlich, ii. 227-243; Feldzuge, i. 357, 363, 374.]
Prince Karl's scheme was good, says Friedrich; but it was ill executed. He never should have let us form; his first grand fault was that he waited to be attacked, instead of attacking. Parts of his scheme were never executed at all. Duke d'Ahremberg, for instance, it is said, had so dim a notion of the ground, that he drew up some miles off, with his back to the Prussians. Such is the rumor,—perhaps only a rumor, in mockery of the hebetated old gentleman fallen unlucky? On the other hand, that Nadasti made a failure which proved important, is indubitable. Nadasti, with some thousands of Tolpatchery, was at Liebenthal, four miles to southeast of the action; Ruffian Trenck lay behind Eypel, perhaps as far to east, of it: Trenck and Nadasti were to rendezvous, to unite, and attack the Prussian Camp on its rear,—"Camp," so ran the order, for it was understood the Prussians would all be there, we others attacking it in front and both flanks;—which turned out otherwise, not for Nadasti alone!
Nadasti came to his rendezvous in time; Ruffian Trenck did not: Nadasti grew tired of waiting for Trenck, and attacked the Camp by himself:—Camp, but not any men; Camp being now empty, and the men all fighting, ranked at right angles to it, furlongs and miles away. Nadasti made a rare hand of the Camp; plundered everything, took all the King's Camp-furniture, ready money, favorite dog Biche,—likewise poor Eichel his Secretary, who, however, tore the papers first. Tolpatchery exultingly gutted the Camp; and at last set fire to it,—burnt even some eight or ten poor Prussian sick, and also "some women whom they caught. We found the limbs of these poor men and women lying about," reports old General Lehwald; who knew about it. A doggery well worthy of the gallows, think Lehwald and I. "Could n't help it; ferocity of wild men," says Nadasti. "Well; but why not attack, then, with your ferocity?" Confused Court-martial put these questions, at Vienna subsequently; and Ruffian Trenck, some say, got injustice, Nadasti shuffling things upon him; for which one cares almost nothing. Lehwald, lying at Trautenau, had heard the firing at sunrise; and instantly marched to help: he only arrived to give Nadasti a slash or two, and was too late for the Fight. One Schlichtling, on guard with a weak party, saved what was in the right wing of the Camp,—small thanks to him, the Main Fight being so near: Friedrich's opinion is, an Officer, in Schlichtling's place, ought to have done more, and not have been so helpless.
This was the Battle of Sohr; so called because the Austrians had begun there, and the Prussians ended there. The Prussian pursuit drew bridle at that Village; unsafe to prosecute Austrians farther, now in the deeps of Kingdom Forest. The Battle has lasted five hours. It must be now getting towards noon; and time for breakfast, if indeed any were to be had; but that is next to impossible, Nadasti having been so busy. Not without extreme difficulty is a manchet of bread, with or without a drop of wine, procured for the King's Majesty this day. Many a tired hero will have nothing but tobacco, with spring-water, to fall back upon. Never mind! says the King, says everybody. After all, it is a cheap price to pay for missing an attack from Pandours in the rear, while such crisis went on ahead.
Lying COUSIN Trenck, of the Life-guard, who is now in Glatz, gives vivid eye-witness particulars of these things, time of the morning and so on; says expressly he was there, and what he did there, [Frederic Baron de Trenck, Memoires, traduits par lui-meme (Strasburg and Paris, 1789), i. 74-78, 79.]—though in Glatz under lock and key, three good months before. "How could I help mistakes," said he afterwards, when people objected to this and that in his blusterous mendacity of a Book: "I had nothing but my poor agitated memory to trust to!" A man's memory, when it gets the length of remembering that he was in the Battle of Sohr while bodily absent, ought it not to—in fact, to strike work; to still its agitations altogether, and call halt? Trenck, some months after, got clambered out of Glatz, by sewers, or I forget how; and leaped, or dropped, from some parapet into the River Neisse,—sinking to the loins in tough mud, so that he could not stir.
MAP TO GO HERE——BOOK 15—page 499——
"Fouquet let me stand there half a day, before he would pick me out again." Rigorous Bouquet, human mercy forbidding, could not let him stand there in permanence,—as we, better circumstanced, may with advantage try to do, in time coming!
Friedrich lay at Sohr five days; partly for the honor of the thing, partly to eat out the Country to perfection. Prince Karl, from Konigshof, soon fell back to Konigsgratz; and lay motionless there, nothing but his Tolpatcheries astir, Sohr Country all eaten, Friedrich, in the due Divisions, marched northward. Through Trautenau, Schatzlar, his own Division, which was the main one;—and, fencing off the Tolpatches successfully with trouble, brings all his men into Silesia again. A good job of work behind them, surely! Cantons them to right and left of Landshut, about Rohnstock and Hohenfriedberg, hamlets known so well; and leaving the Young Dessauer to command, drives for Berlin (30th October),—rapidly, as his wont is. Prince Karl has split up his force at Konigsgratz; means, one cannot doubt, to go into winter-quarters. If he think of invading, across that eaten Country and those bad Mountains,—well, our troops can all be got together in six hours' time.
At Trautenau, a week after Sohr, Friedrich had at last received the English ratification of that Convention of Hanover, signed 26th August, almost a month ago; not ratified till September 22d. About which there had latterly been some anxiety, lest his Britannic Majesty himself might have broken off from it. With Austria, with Saxony, Britannic Majesty has been entirely unsuccessful:—"May not Sohr, perhaps, be a fresh persuasive?" hopes Friedrich;—but as to Britannic Majesty's breaking off, his thoughts are far from that, if we knew! Poor Majesty: not long since, Supreme Jove of Germany; and now—is like to be swallowed in ragamuffin street-riots; not a thunder-bolt within clutch of him (thunder-bolts all sticking in the mud of the Netherlands, far off), and not a constable's staff of the least efficacy! Consider these dates in combination. Battle of Sohr was on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30th:—
"SUNDAY preceding, SEPTEMBER 26th, was such a Lord's-Day in the City of Edinburgh, as had not been seen there,—not since Jenny Geddes's stool went flying at the Bishop's head, above a hundred years before. Big alarm-bell bursting out in the middle of divine service; emptying all the Churches ('Highland rebels just at hand!')—into General Meeting of the Inhabitants, into Chaos come again, for the next forty hours. Till, in the gaunt midnight, Tuesday, 2 A.M., Lochiel with about 1,000 Camerons, waiting slight opportunity, crushed in through the Netherbow Port; and"—And, about noon of that day, a poor friend of ours, loitering expectant in the road that leads by St. Anthony's Well, saw making entry into paternal Holyrood,—the Young Pretender, in person, who is just being proclaimed Prince of Wales, up in the High-street yonder! "A tall slender young man, about five feet ten inches high; of a ruddy complexion, high-nosed, large rolling brown eyes; long-visaged, red-haired, but at that time wore a pale periwig. He was in a Highland habit [coat]; over the shoulder a blue sash wrought with gold; red velvet breeches; a green velvet bonnet, with white cockade on it and a gold lace. His speech seemed very like that of an Irishman; very sly [how did you know, my poor friend?];—spoke often to O'Sullivan [thought to be a person of some counsel; had been Tutor to Maillebois's Boys, had even tried some irregular fighting under Maillebois]—to O'Sullivan and" [Henderson, Highland Rebellion, p. 14.]... And on Saturday, in short, came PRESTONPANS. Enough of such a Supreme Jove; good for us here as a timetable chiefly, or marker of dates!
Sunday, 3d October, King's Adjutant, Captain Mollendorf, a young Officer deservedly in favor, arrives at Berlin with the joyful tidings of this Sohr business ("Prausnitz" we then called it): to the joy of all Prussians, especially of a Queen Mother, for whom there is a Letter in pencil. After brief congratulation, Mollendorf rushes on; having next to give the Old Dessauer notice of it in his Camp at Dieskau, in the Halle neighborhood. Mollendorf appears in Halle suddenly next morning, Monday, about ten o'clock, sixteen postilions trumpeting, and at their swiftest trot, in front of him;—shooting, like a melodious morning-star, across the rusty old city, in this manner,—to Dieskau Camp, where he gives the Old Dessauer his good news. Excellent Victory indeed; sharp striking, swift self-help on our part. Halle and the Camp have enough to think of, for this day and the next. Whither Mollendorf went next, we will not ask: perhaps to Brunswick and other consanguineous places?—Certain it is,
"On Wednesday, the 6th, about two in the afternoon, the Old Dessauer has his whole Army drawn out there, with green sprigs in their hats, at Dieskau, close upon the Saxon Frontier; and, after swashing and manoeuvring about in the highest military style of art, ranks them all in line, or two suitable lines, 30,000 of them; and then, with clangorous outburst of trumpet, kettle-drum and all manner of field-music, fires off his united artillery a first time; almost shaking the very hills by such a thunderous peal, in the still afternoon. And mark, close fitted into the artillery peal, commences a rolling fire, like a peal spread out in threads, sparkling strangely to eye and ear; from right to left, long spears of fire and sharp strokes of sound, darting aloft, successive simultaneous, winding for the space of miles, then back by the rear line, and home to the starting-point: very grand indeed. Again, and also again, the artillery peal, and rolling small-arms fitted into it, is repeated; a second and a third time, kettle-drums and trumpets doing what they can. That was the Old Dessauer's bonfiring (what is called FEU-DE-JOIE), for the Victory of Sohr; audible almost at Leipzig, if the wind were westerly. Overpowering to the human mind; at least, to the old Newspaper reporter of that day. But what was strangest in the business," continues he "(DAS CURIEUSESTE DABEY), was that the Saxon Uhlans, lying about in the villages across the Border, were out in the fields, watching the sight, hardly 300 yards off, from beginning to end; and little dreamed that his High Princely Serenity," blue of face and dreadful in war, "was quite close to them, on the Height called Bornhock; condescending to 'take all this into High-Serene Eye-shine there; and, by having a white flag waved, deigning to give signal for the discharges of the artillery.'" [Helden-Geschichte, i. 1124.]
By this the reader may know that the Old Dessauer is alive, ready for action if called on; and Bruhl ought to comprehend better how riskish his game with edge-tools is. Bruhl is not now in an unprepared state:—here are Uhlans at one's elbow looking on. Rutowski's Uhlans; who lies encamped, not far off, in good force, posted among morasses; strongly entrenched, and with schemes in his head, and in Bruhl's, of an aggressive, thrice-secret and very surprising nature! I remark only that, in Heidelberg Country, victorious old Traun is putting his people into winter-quarters; himself about to vanish from this History, [Went to SIEBENBURGEN (Transylvania) as Governor; died there February, 1748, age seventy-one (Maria Theresiens Leben, p. 56 n.).]—and has detached General Grune with 10,000 men; who left Heidelberg October 9th, on a mysterious errand, heeded by nobody; and will turn up in the next Chapter.
Chapter XIII.—SAXONY AND AUSTRIA MAKE A SURPRISING LAST ATTEMPT.
After this strenuous and victorious Campaign, which has astonished all public men, especially all Pragmatic Gazetteers, and with which all Europe is disharmoniously ringing, Friedrich is hopeful there will be Peace, through England;—cannot doubt, at least, but the Austrians have had enough for one year;—and looks forward to certain months, if not of rest, yet of another kind of activity. Negotiation, Peace through England, if possible; that is the high prize: and in the other case, or in any case, readiness for next Campaign;—which with the treasury exhausted, and no honorable subsidy from France, is a difficult problem.
That was Friedrich's, and everybody's, program of affairs for the months coming: but in that Friedrich and everybody found themselves greatly mistaken. Bruhl and the Austrians had decided otherwise. "Open mouse-trap," at Striegau; claws of the sleeping cat, at Sohr: these were sad experiences; ill to bear, with the Sea-Powers grumbling on you, and the world sniffing its pity on you;—but are not conclusive, are only provoking and even maddening, to the sanguine mind. Two sad failures; but let us try another time. "A tricky man; cunning enough, your King of Prussia!" thinks Bruhl, with a fellness of humor against Friedrich which is little conceivable to us now: "Cunning enough. But it is possible cunning may be surpassed by deeper cunning!"—and decides, Bartenstein and an indignant Empress-Queen assenting eagerly, That there shall, in the profoundest secrecy till it break out, be a third, and much fiercer trial, this Winter yet. The Bruhl-Bartenstein plan (owing mainly to the Russian Bugbear which hung over it, protective, but with whims of its own) underwent changes, successive redactions or editions; which the reader would grudge to hear explained to him. [Account of them in Orlich, ii. 273-278 (from various RUTOWSKI Papers; and from the contemporary satirical Pamphlet, "MONDSCHEINWURFE, Mirror-castings of Moonshine, by ZEBEDAUS Cuckoo,) beaten Captain of a beaten Army."] Of the final or acted edition, some loose notion, sufficient for our purpose, may be collected from the following fractions of Notes:—
NOVEMBER 17th (INTERIOR OF GERMANY).... "Feldmarschall-Lieutenant von Grune, a General of mark, detached by Traun not long since, from the Rhine Country, with a force of 10,000 men, why is he marching about: first to Baireuth Country, 'at Hof, November 9th,' as if for Bohemia; then north, to Gera ('lies at Gera till the 17th'), as if for Saxony Proper? Prince Karl, you would certainly say, has gone into winter-quarters; about Konigsgratz, and farther on? Gone or going, sure enough, is Prince Karl, into the convenient Bohemian districts,—uncertain which particular districts; at least the Young Dessauer, watching him from the Silesian side, is uncertain which. Better be vigilant, Prince Leopold!—Grune, lying at Gera yonder, is not intending for Prince Karl, then? No, not thither. Then perhaps towards Saxony, to reinforce the Saxons? Or some-whither to find fat winter-quarters: who knows? Indeed, who cares particularly, for such inconsiderable Grune and his 10,000!—
"The Saxons quitted their inexpugnable Camp towards Halle, some time ago; went into cantonments farther inland;—the Old Dessauer (middle of October) having done the like, and gone home: his force lies rather scattered, for convenience of food and forage. From the Silesian side, again, Prince Leopold, whose head-quarters are about Striegau, intimates, That he cannot yet say, with certainty, what districts Prince Karl will occupy for winter-quarters in Bohemia. Prince Karl is vaguely roving about; detaching Pandours to the Silesian Mountains, as if for checking our victorious Nassau there;—always rather creeping northward; skirting Western Silesia with his main force; 30,000 or better, with Lobkowitz and Nadasti ahead. Meaning what? Be vigilant, my young friend.
"The private fact is, Prince Karl does not mean to go into winter-quarters at all. In private fact, Prince Karl is one of Three mysterious Elements or Currents, sent on a far errand: Grune is another: Rutowski's Saxon Camp (now become Cantonment) is a third. Three Currents instinct with fire and destruction, but as yet quite opaque; which have been launched,—whitherward thinks the reader? On Berlin itself, and the Mark of Brandenburg; there to collide, and ignite in a marvellous manner. There is their meeting-point: there shall they, on a sudden, smite one another into flame; and the destruction blaze, fiery enough, round Friedrich and his own Brandenburg homesteads there!—
"It is a grand scheme; scheme at least on a grand scale. For the LEGS of it, Grune's march and Prince Karl's, are about 600 miles long! Plan due chiefly, they say, to the yellow rage of Bruhl; aided by the contrivance of Rutowski, and the counsel of Austrian military men. For there is much consulting about it, and redacting of it; Polish Majesty himself very busy. To Bruhl's yellow rage it is highly solacing and hopeful. 'Rutowski, lying close in his Cantonments, and then suddenly springing out, will overwhelm the Old Dessauer, who lies wide;—can do it, surely; and Grune is there to help if necessary. Dessauer blown to pieces, Grune, with Rutowski combined, push in upon Brandenburg,—Grune himself upon Berlin,—from the west and south, nobody expecting him. Prince Karl, not taking into winter-quarters in Bohemia, as they idly think; but falling down the Valley of the Bober, or Bober and Queiss, into the Lausitz (to Gorlitz, Guben, where we have Magazines for him), comes upon it from the southeast,—nobody expecting any of them. Three simultaneous Armies hurled on the head of your Friedrich; combustible deluges flowing towards him, as from the ends of Germany; so opaque, silent, yet of fire wholly: will not that surprise him!' thinks Bruhl. These are the schemes of the little man."
Bruhl, having constituted himself rival to Friedrich, and fallen into pale or yellow rage by the course things took, this Plan is naturally his chief joy, or crown of joys; a bubbling well of solace to him in his parched condition. He should, obviously, have kept it secret; thrice-secret, the little fool;—but a poor parched man is not always master of his private bubbling wells in that kind! Wolfstierna is Swedish Envoy at Dresden; Rudenskjold, Swedish Envoy at Berlin, has run over to see him in the dim November days. Swedes, since Ulrique's marriage, are friendly to Prussia. Bruhl has these two men to dinner; talks with them, over his wine, about Friedrich's insulting usage of him, among other topics. "Insulting; how, your Excellency?" asks Rudenskjold, privately a friend of Friedrich. Bruhl explains, with voice quivering, those cuts in the Friedrich manifesto of August last, and other griefs suffered; the two Swedes soothing him with what oil they have ready. "No matter!" hints Bruhl; and proceeds from hint to hint, till the two Swedes are fully aware of the grand scheme: Grune, Prince Karl; and how Destruction, with legs 500 miles long, is steadily advancing to assuage one with just revenge. "Right, your Excellency!"—only that Rudenskjold proceeds to Berlin; and there straightway ("8th November") punctually makes Friedrich also aware. [Stenzel, iv. 262; Ranke, iii. 317-323; Friedrich's own narrative of it, OEuvres, iii. 148.] Foolish Bruhl: a man that has a secret should not only hide it, but hide that he has it to hide.
FRIEDRICH GOES OUT TO MEET HIS THREE-LEGGED MONSTER; CUTS ONE LEG OF IT IN TWO (Fight of Hennersdorf, 23d November, 1745).
Friedrich, having heard the secret, gazes into it with horror and astonishment: "What a time I have! This is not living; this is being killed a thousand times a day!" [Ranke (iii. 321 n.): TO whom said, we are not told.]—with horror and astonishment; but also with what most luminous flash of eyesight is in him; compares it with Prince Karl's enigmatic motions, Grune's open ones and the other phenomena;—perceives that it is an indisputable fact, and a thrice-formidable; requiring to be instantly dealt with by the party interested! Whereupon, after hearty thanks to Rudenskjold, there occur these rapidly successive phases of activity, which we study to take up in a curt form.
FIRST (probably 9th or 10th November), there is Council held with Minister Podewils and the Old Dessauer; Council from which comes little benefit, or none. Podewils and Old Leopold stare incredulous; cannot be made to believe such a thing. "Impossible any Saxon minister or man would voluntarily bring the theatre of war into his own Country, in this manner!" thinks the Old Dessauer, and persists to think,—on what obstinate ground Friedrich never knew. To which Podewils, "who has properties in the Lausitz, and would so fain think them safe," obstinately, though more covertly, adheres. "Impossible!" urge both these Councillors; and Friedrich cannot even make them believe it. Believe it; and, alas, believing it is not the whole problem!
Happily Friedrich has the privilege of ordering, with or without their belief. "You, Podewils, announce the matter to foreign Courts. You, Serene Highness of Anhalt, at your swiftest, collect yonder, and encamp again. Your eye well on Grune and Rutowski; and the instant I give you signal—! I am for Silesia, to look after Prince Karl, the other long leg of this Business." Old Leopold, according to Friedrich's account, is visibly glad of such opportunity to fight again before he die: and yet, for no reason except some senile jealousy, is not content with these arrangements; perversely objects to this and that. At length the King says,—think of this hard word, and of the eyes that accompany it!—"When your Highness gets Armies of your own, you will order them according to your mind; at present, it must be according to mine." On, then; and not a moment lost: for of all things we must be swift!
Old Leopold goes accordingly. Friedrich himself goes in a week hence. Orders, correspondences from Podewils and the rest, are flying right and left;—to Young Leopold in Silesia, first of all. Young Leopold draws out his forces towards the Silesian-Lausitz border, where Prince Karl's intentions are now becoming visible. And,—here is the second phase notable,—
"On Monday, 15th, ["18th," Feldzuge, i. 402 (see Rodenbeck, i. 122).] at 7 A.M.," Friedrich rushes off, by Crossen, full speed for Liegnitz; "with Rothenburg, with the Prince of Prussia and Ferdinand of Brunswick accompanying." With what thoughts,—though, in his face, you can read nothing; all Berlin being already in such tremor! Friedrich is in Liegnitz next day; and after needful preliminaries there, does, on the Thursday following, "at Nieder-Adelsdorf," not far off, take actual command of Prince Leopold's Army, which had lain encamped for some days, waiting him. And now with such force in hand,—35,000, soldiers every man of them, and freshened by a month's rest,—one will endeavor to do some good upon Prince Karl. Probably sooner than Prince Karl supposes. For there is great velocity in this young King; a panther-like suddenness of spring in him: cunning, too, as any Felis of them; and with claws like the Felis Leo on occasion. Here follows the brief Campaign that ensued, which I strive greatly to abridge.
Prince Karl's intentions towards Frankfurt-on-Oder Country, through the Lausitz, are now becoming practically manifest. There is a Magazine for him at Guben, within thirty miles of Frankfurt; arrangements getting ready all the way. A winter march of 150 miles;—but what, say the spies, is to hinder? Prince Karl dreams not that Friedrich is on the ground, or that anybody is aware. Which notion Friedrich finds that it will be extremely suitable to maintain in Prince Karl. Friedrich is now at Adelsdorf, some thirty miles eastward of the Lausitz Border, perhaps forty or more from the route Prince Karl will follow through that Province.
"It is a high-lying irregularly hilly Country; hilly, not mountainous. Various streams rise out of it that have a long course,—among others, the Spree, which washes Berlin;—especially three Valleys cross it, three Rivers with their Valleys: Bober, Queiss, Neisse (the THIRD Neisse we have come upon); all running northward, pretty much parallel, though all are branches of the Oder. This is Neisse THIRD, we say; not the Neisse of Neisse City, which we used to know at the north base of the Giant Mountains, nor the Roaring Neisse, which we have seen at Hohenfriedberg; but a third [and the FOURTH and last, "Black Neisse," thank Heaven, is an upper branch of this, and we have, and shall have, nothing to do with it!]—third Neisse, which we may call the Lausitz Neisse. On which, near the head of it, there is a fine old spinning, linen-weaving Town called Zittau,—where, to make it memorable, one Tourist has read, on the Town-house, an Inscription worth repeating: 'BENE FACERE ET MALE AUDIRE REGIUM EST, To do good and have evil said of you, is a kingly thing.' Other Towns, as Gorlitz, and seventy miles farther the above-said Guben, lie on this same Neisse,—shall we add that Herrnhuth stands near the head of it? The wondrous Town of Herrnhuth (LORD'S-KEEPING), founded by Count Zinzendorf, twenty years before those dates; ["In 1722, the first tree felled" (LIVES of Zinzendorf).] where are a kind of German Methodist-Quakers to this day, who have become very celebrated in the interim. An opulent enough, most silent, strictly regular, strange little Town. The women are in uniform; wives, maids, widows, each their form of dress. Missionaries, speaking flabby English, who have been in the West Indies or are going thither, seem to abound in the place; male population otherwise, I should think, must be mainly doing trade elsewhere; nothing but prayers, preachings, charitable boarding-schooling and the like, appeared to be going on. Herrnhuth is 'a Sabbath Petrified; Calvinistic Sabbath done into Stone,' as one of my companions called it." [Tourist's Note (Autumn, 1852).]
Herrnhuth, of which all Englishmen have heard, stands near the head of this our third Neisse; as does Zittau, a few miles higher up. I can do nothing more to give it mark for them. Bober Valley, then Queiss Valley, which run parallel though they join at last, and become Bober wholly before getting into the Oder,—these two Valleys and Rivers lie in Friedrich's own Territory; and are between him and the Lausitz, Queiss River being the boundary of Silesia and the Lausitz here. It is down the Neisse that Prince Karl means to march. There are Saxons already gathering about Zittau; and down as far as Guben they are making Magazines and arrangements,—for it is all their own Country in those years, though most of it is Prussia's now. Prince Karl's march will go parallel to the Bober and the Queiss; separated from the Queiss in this part by an undulating Hill-tract of twenty miles or more.
Friedrich has had somewhat to settle for the Southern Frontier of Silesia withal, which new doggeries of Pandours are invading,—to lie ready for Prince Karl on his return thither, whose grand meaning all this while (as Friedrich well knows), is "Silesia in the lump" again, had he once cut us off from Brandenburg and our supplies! General Nassau, far eastward, who is doing exploits in Moravia itself,—him Friedrich has ordered homeward, westward to his own side of the Mountains, to attend these new Pandour gentlemen; Winterfeld he has called home, out of those Southern mountains, as likely to be usefuler here on this Western frontier. Winterfeld arrived in Camp the same day with Friedrich; and is sent forward with a body of 3,000 light troops, to keep watch about the Lausitz Frontier and the River Queiss; "careful not to quit our own side of that stream,"—as we mean to hoodwink Prince Karl, if we can!
Friedrich lies strictly within his own borders, for a day or two; till Prince Karl march, till his own arrangements are complete. Friedrich himself keeps the Bober, Winterfeld the Queiss; "all pass freely out of the Lausitz; none are allowed to cross into it: thereby we hear notice of Prince Karl, he none of us." Perfectly quiescent, we, poor creatures, and aware of nothing! Thus, too, Friedrich—in spite of his warlike Manifesto, which the Saxons are on the eve of answering with a formal Declaration of War—affects great rigor in considering the Saxons as not yet at war with him: respects their frontier, Winterfeld even punishes hussars "for trespassing on Lausitz ground." Friedrich also affects to have roads repaired, which he by no means intends to travel:—the whole with a view of lulling Prince Karl; of keeping the mouse-trap open, as he had done in the Striegau case. It succeeded again, quite as conspicuously, and at less expense.
Prince Karl—whose Tolpatch doggery Winterfeld will not allow to pass the Queiss, and to whom no traveller or tidings can come from beyond that River—discerns only, on the farther shore of it, Winterfeld with his 3,000 light troops. Behind these, he discerns either nothing, or nothing immediately momentous; but contentedly supposes that this, the superficies of things, is all the solid-content they have. Prince Karl gets under way, therefore, nothing doubting; with his Saxons as vanguard. Down the Neisse Valley, on the right or Queiss-ward side of it: Saturday, 20th November, is his first march in Lusatian territory. He lies that night spread out in three Villages, Schonberg, Schonbrunn, Kieslingswalde; [Feldzuge, i. 407 (Bericht von der Action bey Katholisch-Hennersdorf, &c.).] some ten miles long; parallel to the Neisse River, and about four miles from it, east or Queiss-ward of it. Karl himself is rear, at Schonberg; fierce Lobkowitz is centre; the Saxons are vanguard, 6,000 in all, posted in Villages, which again are some ten or twelve miles ahead of Prince Karl's forces; the Queiss on their right hand, and the Naumburg Bridge of Queiss, where Winterfeld now is, about fifteen miles to east. Their Uhlans circulate through the intervening space (were much patrolling needed, in such quiet circumstances), and maintain the due communication. There lies Prince Karl, on Saturday night, 20th November, 1745; an Army of perhaps 40,000, dnngerously straggling out above twenty miles long; and appears to see no difficulty ahead. The Saxons, I think, are to continue where they are; guarding the flank, while the Prince and Lobkowitz push forward, closer by Neisse River. In four marches more, they can be in Brandenburg, with Guben and their Magazines at hand.
Seeing which state of matters, Winterfeld gives Friedrich notice of it; and that he, Winterfeld, thinks the moment is come. "Pontoons to Naumburg, then!" orders Friedrich. Winterfeld, at the proper moment, is to form a Bridge there. One permanent Bridge there already is; and two fords, one above it, one below: with a second Bridge, there will be roadway for four columns, and a swift transit when needful. Sunday, 21st, Friedrich quits the Bober, diligently towards Naumburg; marches Sunday, Monday; Tuesday, 23d, about eleven A.M., begins to arrive there; Winterfeld and passages all ready. Forward, then, and let us drive in upon Prince Karl; and either cut him in two, or force him to fight us; he little thinks where or on what terms. Sure enough, in the worst place we can choose for him! Friedrich begins crossing in four columns at one P.M.; crosses continuously for four hours; unopposed, except some skirmishing of Uhlans, while his Cavalry is riding the Fords to right and left; Uhlans were driven back swiftly, so soon as the Cavalry got over. At five in the evening, he has got entirely across, 35,000 horse and foot: Ziethen is chasing the Uhlans at full speed; who at least will show us the way,—for by this time a mist has begun falling, and the brief daylight is done.
Friedrich himself, without waiting for the rear of his force, and some while before this mist fell (as I judge), is pushing forward, "a miller lad for his guide," across to Hennersdorf,—Katholisch-Hennersdorf, a long straggling Village, eight or ten miles off, and itself two miles long,—where he understands the Saxons are. Miller lad guides us, over height and hollow, with his best skill, at a brisk pace;—through one hollow, where he has known the cattle pasture in summer time; but which proves impassable, and mere quagmire, at this season. No getting through it, you unfortunate miller lad (GARCON DE MEUNIER). Nevertheless, we did find passage through the skirts of it: nay this quagmire proved the luck of us; for the enemy, trusting to it, had no outguard there, never expecting us on that side. So that the vanguard, Ziethen and rapid Hussars, made an excellent thing of it. Ziethen sends us word, That he has got into the body of Hennersdorf,—"found the Saxon Quartermaster quietly paying his men;"—that he, Ziethen, is tolerably master of Hennersdorf, and will amuse the enemy till the other force come up.
Of course Friedrich now pushes on, double speed; detaches other force, horse and foot: which was lucky, says my informant; for the Ziethen Hussars, getting good plunder, had by no means demolished the Saxons; but had left them time to draw up in firm order, with a hedge in front, a little west of the Village;—from which post, unassailable by Ziethen, they would have got safe off to the main body, with little but an affront and some loss of goods. The new force—a rapid Katzler with light horse in the van, cuirassiers and foot rapidly following him—sweeps past the long Village, "through a thin wood and a defile;" finds the enemy firmly ranked as above said; cavalry their left, infantry on right, flanked by an impenetrable hedge; and at once strikes in. At once, Katzler does, on order given; but is far too weak. Charges, he; but is counter-charged, tumbled back; the Saxons, horse and foot, showing excellent fight. At length, more Prussian force coming up, cuirassiers charge them in front, dragoons in flank, hussars in rear; all attacking at once, and with a will; and the poor Saxon Cavalry is entirely cut to shreds.
And now there remains only the Infantry, perhaps about 1,000 men (if one must guess); who form a square; ply vigorously their field-pieces and their fire-arms; and cannot be broken by horse-charges. In fact, these Saxons made a fierce resistance;—till, before long, Prussian Infantry came up; and, with counter field-pieces and musketries, blasted gaps in them; upon which the Cavalry got admittance, and reduced the gallant fellows nearly wholly to annihilation either by death or capture. There are 914 Prisoners in this Action, 4 big guns, and I know not how many kettle-drums, standards and the like,—all that were there, I suppose. The number of dead not given. [Orlich, ii. 291; Feldzuge,i. 400-413.] But, in brief, this Saxon Force is utterly cut to pieces; and only scattered twos and threes of it rush through the dark mist; scattering terror to this hand and that. The Prussians take their post at and round Hennersdorf that night;—bivouacking, though only in sack trousers, a blanket each man:—"We work hard, my men, and suffer all things for a day or two, that it may save much work afterwards," said the King to them; and they cheerfully bivouacked.
This was the Action of Katholisch-Hennersdorf, fought on Tuesday, 23d November, 1745; and still celebrated in the Prussian Annals, and reckoned a brilliant passage of war. KATHOLISCH-Hennersdorf, some ten miles southwest of Naumburg ON THE QUEISS (for there are, to my knowledge, Twenty-five other Villages called Hennersdorf, and Three several Towns of Naumburg, and many Castles and Hamlets so named in dear Germany of the Nomenclatures):—Katholisch-Hennersdorf is the place, and Tuesday about dusk the time. A sharp brush of fighting; not great in quantity, but laid in at the right moment, in the right place. Like the prick of a needle, duly sharp, into the spinal marrow of a gigantic object; totally ruinous to such object. Never, or rarely, in the Annals of War, was as much good got of so little fighting. You may, with labor and peril, plunge a hundred dirks into your boaconstrictor; hack him with axes, bray him with sledge-hammers; that is not uncommon: but the one true prick in the spinal marrow, and the Artist that can guide you well to that, he and it are the notable and beneficent phenomena.
PRINCE KARL, CUT IN TWO, TUMBLES HOME AGAIN DOUBLE-QUICK.
Next morning, Wednesday, 24th, the Prussians are early astir again; groping, on all manner of roads, to find what Prince Karl is doing, in a world all covered in thick mist. They can find nothing of him, but broken tumbrils, left baggage-wagons, rumor of universal marching hither and marching thither;—evidences of an Army fallen into universal St. Vitus's-Dance; distractedly hurrying to and fro, not knowing whitherward for the moment, except that it must be homewards, homewards with velocity.
Prince Karl's farther movements are not worth particularizing. Ordering and cross-ordering; march this way; no, back again: such a scene in that mist. Prince Karl is flowing homeward; confusedly deluging and gurgling southward, the best he can. Next afternoon, near Gorlitz, and again one other time, he appears drawn up, as if for fighting; but has himself no such thought; flies again, without a shot; leaves Gorlitz to capitulate, that afternoon; all places to capitulate, or be evacuated. We hear he is for Zittau; Winterfeld with light horse hastens after him, gets sight of him on the Heights at Zittau yonder, [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 157; Orlich, ii. 296.] "about two in the morning:" but the Prince has not the least notion to fight. Prince leaves Zittau to capitulate,—quits silently the Heights of Zittau at two A.M. (Winterfeld, very lively in the rear of him, cutting off his baggage);—and so tumbles, pell-mell, through the Passes of Gabel, home to Bohemia again. Let us save this poor Note from the fire:
"On Saturday night, November 27th, the Prussians, pursuing Prince Karl, were cantoned in the Herrnhuth neighborhood,—my informant's regiment in the Town of Herrnhuth itself. [Feldzuge, i. ubi supra.] Yes, there lay the Prussians over Sunday; and might hear some weighty expounder, if they liked. Considerably theological, many of these poor Prussian soldiers; carrying a Bible in their knapsack, and devout Psalms in the heart of them. Two-thirds of every regiment are LANDESKINDER, native Prussians; each regiment from a special canton,—generally rather religious men. The other third are recruits, gathered in the Free Towns of the Reich, or where they can be got; not distinguished by devotion these, we may fancy, only trained to the uttermost by Spartan drill."
Before the week is done, that "first leg" of the grand Enterprise (the Prince-Karl leg) is such a leg as we see. "Silesia in the lump,"—fond dream again, what a dream! Old Dessauer getting signal, where now, too probably, is Saxony itself?—Ranking again at Aussig in Bohemia, Prince Karl—5,000 of his men lost, and all impetus and fire gone—falls gently down the Elbe, to join Rutowski at least; and will reappear within four weeks, out of Saxon Switzerland, still rather in dismal humor.
The Prussian Troops, in four great Divisions, are cantoned in that Lausitz Country, now so quiet; in and about Bautzen and three other Towns of the neighborhood; to rest and be ready for the old Dessauer, when we hear of him. The "Magazine at Guben in 138 wagons," the Gorlitz and other Magazines of Prince Karl in the due number of wagons, supply them with comfortable unexpected provender. Thus they lie cantoned; and have with despatch effectually settled their part of the problem. Question now is, How will it stand with the Old Dessauer and his part? Or, better still, Would not perhaps the Saxons, in this humiliated state, accept Peace, and finish the matter?
Chapter XIV.—BATTLE OF KESSELSDORF.
A "Correspondence" of a certain Excellency Villiers, English Minister at Dresden,—Sir Thomas Villiers, Grandfather of the present Earl of Clarendon,—was very famous in those weeks; and is still worth mention, as a trait of Friedrich's procedure in this crisis. Friedrich, not intoxicated with his swift triumph over Prince Karl, but calculating the perils and the chances still ahead,—miserably off for money too,—admits to himself that not revenge or triumph, that Peace is the one thing needful to him. November 29th, Old Leopold is entering Saxony; and in the same hours, Podewils at Berlin, by order of Friedrich, writes to Villiers who is in Dresden, about Peace, about mediating for Peace: "My King ready and desirous, now as at all times, for Peace; the terms of it known; terms not altered, not alterable, no bargaining or higgling needed or allowable. CONVENTION OF HANOVER, let his Polish Majesty accede honestly to that, and all these miseries are ended." ["CORRESPONDANCE DU ROI AVEC SIR THOMAS VILLIERS;" commences, on Podewils's part, 28th November; on Friedrich's, 4th December; ends, on Villier's, 18th December; fourteen Pieces in all, four of them Friedrich's: Given in OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 183-216 (see IB, 158), and in many other Books.]
Villiers starts instantly on this beneficent business; "goes to Court, on it, that very night;" Villiers shows himself really diligent, reasonable, loyal; doing his very best now and afterwards; but has no success at all. Polish Majesty is obstinate,—I always think, in the way sheep are, when they feel themselves too much put upon;—and is deaf to everybody but Bruhl. Bruhl answers: "Let his Prussian Majesty retire from our Territory;—what is he doing in the Lausitz just now! Retire from our Territory; THEN we will treat!" Bruhl still refuses to be desperate of his bad game;—at any rate, Bruhl's rage is yellower than ever. That, very evening, while talking to Villiers, he has had preparations going on;—and next morning takes his Master, Polish Majesty August III., with some comfortable minimum of apparatus (cigar-boxes not forgotten), off to Prag, where they can be out of danger till the thing decide itself. Villiers follows to Prag; desists not from his eloquent Letters, and earnest persuasions at Prag; but begins to perceive that the means of persuading Bruhl will be a much heavier kind of artillery.
On the whole, negotiations have yet done little. Britannic George, though Purseholder, what is his success here? As little is the Russian Bugbear persuasive on Friedrich himself. The Czarina of the Russias, a luxurious lady, of far more weight than insight, has just notified to him, with more emphasis than ever, That he shall not attack Saxony; that if he do, she with considerable vigor will attack him! That has always been a formidable puzzle for Friedrich: however, he reflects that the Russians never could draw sword, or be ready with their Army, in less than six months, probably not in twelve; and has answered, translating it into polite official terms: "Fee-faw-fum, your Czarish Majesty! Question is not now of attacking, but of being myself attacked!"—and so is now running his risks with the Czarina.
Still worse was the result he got from Louis XV. Lately, "for form's sake," as he tells us, "and not expecting anything," he had (November 15th) made a new appeal to France: "Ruin menacing your Most Christian Majesty's Ally, in this huge sudden crisis of invasive Austrian-Saxons; and for your Majesty's sake, may I not in some measure say?" To which Louis's Answer is also given. A very sickly, unpleasant Document; testifying to considerable pique against Friedrich;—Ranke says, it was a joint production, all the Ministers gradually contributing each his little pinch of irony to make it spicier, and Louis signing when it was enough;—very considerable pique against Friedrich; and something of the stupid sulkiness as of a fat bad boy, almost glad that the house is on fire, because it will burn his nimble younger brother, whom everybody calls so clever: "Sorry indeed, Sir my Brother, most sorry:—and so you have actually signed that HANOVER CONVENTION with our worst Enemy? France is far from having done so; France has done, and will do, great things. Our Royal heart grieves much at your situation; but is not alarmed; no, Your Majesty has such invention, vigor and ability, superior to any crisis, our clever younger Brother! And herewith we pray God to have you in his holy keeping." This is the purport of King Louis's Letter;—which Friedrich folds together again, looking up from perusal of it, we may fancy with what a glance of those eyes. [Louis's Original, in OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 173, 174 (with a much more satirical paraphrase than the above), and Friedrich's Answer adjoined,—after the events had come.]
He is getting instructed, this young King, as to alliances, grand combinations, French and other. His third Note to Villiers intimates, "It being evident that his Polish Majesty will have nothing from us but fighting, we must try to give it him of the best kind we have." ["Bautzen, 11th December, 1745" (UBI SUPRA).] Yes truly; it is the ULTIMATE persuasive, that. Here, in condensed form, are the essential details of the course it went, in this instance:—General Grune, on the road to Berlin, hearing of the rout at Hennersdorf, halted instantly,—hastened back to Saxony, to join Rutowski there, and stand on the defensive. Not now in that Halle-Frontier region (Rutowski has quitted that, and all the intrenchments and marshy impregnabilities there); not on that Halle-Frontier, but hovering about in the interior, Rutowski and Grune are in junction; gravitating towards Dresden;—expecting Prince Karl's advent; who ought to emerge from the Saxon Switzerland in few days, were he sharp; and again enable us to make a formidable figure. Be speedy, Old Dessauer: you must settle the Grune-Rutowski account before that junction, not after it!
The Old Dessauer has been tolerably successful, and by no means thinks he has been losing time. November 29th, "at three in the morning," he stept over into Saxony with its impregnable camps; drove Rutowski's rear-guard, or remnant, out of the quagmires, canals and intrenchments, before daylight; drove it, that same evening, or before dawn of the morrow, out of Leipzig: has seized that Town,—lays heavy contribution on it, nearly 50,000 pounds (such our strait for finance), "and be sure you take only substantial men as sureties!" [Orlich, ii. 308.]—and will, and does after a two days' rest, advance with decent celerity inwards; though "One must first know exactly whither; one must have bread, and preparations and precautions; do all things solidly and in order," thinks the Old Dessauer. Friedrich well knows the whither; and that Dresden itself is, or may be made, the place for falling in with Rutowski. Friedrich is now himself ready to join, from the Bautzen region; the days and hours precious to him; and spurs the Old Dessauer with the sharpest remonstrances. "All solidly and in order, your Majesty!" answers the Old Dessauer: solid strong-boned old coach-horse, who has his own modes of trotting, having done many a heavy mile of it in his time; and whose skin, one hopes, is of the due thickness against undue spurring.
Old Dessauer wishes two things: bread to live upon; and a sure Bridge over the Elbe whereby Friedrich may join him. Old Dessauer makes for Torgau, far north, where is both an Elbe Bridge and a Magazine; which he takes; Torgau and pertinents now his. But it is far down the Elbe, far off from Bautzen and Friedrich: "A nearer Bridge and rendezvous, your Highness! Meissen [where they make the china, only fifty miles from me, and twenty from Dresden], let that be the Bridge, now that you have got victual. And speedy; for Heaven's sake, speedy!" Friedrich pushes out General Lehwald from Bautzen, with 4,000 men, towards Meissen Bridge; Lehwald does not himself meddle with the Bridge, only fires shot across upon the Saxon party, till the Old Dessauer, on the other bank, come up;—and the Old Dessauer, impatience thinks, will never come. "Three days in Torgau, yes, Your Majesty: I had bread to bake, and the very ovens had to be built." A solid old roadster, with his own modes of trotting; needs thickness of skin. [Friedrich's Letters to Leopold, in Orlich, ii. 431, 435 (6th-10th December, 1745).]
At long last, on Sunday, 12th December, about two P.M., the Old Dessauer does appear; or General Gessler, his vanguard, does appear,—Gessler of the sixty-seven standards,—"always about an hour ahead." Gessler has summoned Meissen; has not got it, is haggling with it about terms, when, towards sunset of the short day, Old Dessauer himself arrives. Whereupon the Saxon Commandant quits the Bridge (not much breaking it); and glides off in the dark, clear out of Meissen, towards Dresden,—chased, but successfully defending himself. [See Plan, p. 10.] "Had he but stood out for two days!" say the Saxons,—"Prince Karl had then been up, and much might have been different." Well, Friedrich too would have been up, and it had most likely been the same on a larger scale. But the Saxon Commandant did not stand out; he glided off, safe; joined Rutowski and Grune, who are lying about Wilsdruf, six or seven miles on the hither side of Dresden, and eagerly waiting for Prince Karl. "Bridge and Town of Meissen are your Majesty's," reports the Old Dessauer that night: upon which Friedrich instantly rises, hastening thitherward. Lehwald comes across Meissen Bridge, effects the desired junction; and all Monday the Old Dessauer defiles through Meissen town and territory; continually advances towards Dresden, the Saxons harassing the flanks of him a little,—nay in one defile, being sharp strenuous fellows, they threw his rear into some confusion; cut off certain carts and prisoners, and the life of one brave General, Lieutenant-General Roel, who had charge there. "Spurring one's trot into a gallop! This comes of your fast marching, of your spurring beyond the rules of war!" thinks Old Leopold; and Friedrich, who knows otherwise, is very angry for a moment.
But indeed the crisis is pressing. Prince Karl is across the Metal Mountains, nearing Dresden from the east; Friedrich strikes into march for the same point by Meissen, so soon as the Bridge is his. Old Leopold is advancing thither from the westward,—steadily hour by hour; Dresden City the fateful goal. There,—in these middle days of December, 1745 (Highland Rebellion just whirling back from Derby again, "the London shops shut for one day"),—it is clear there will be a big and bloody game played before we are much older. Very sad indeed: but Count Bruhl is not persuadable otherwise. By slumbering and sluggarding, over their money-tills and flesh-pots; trying to take evil for good, and to say, "It will do," when it will not do, respectable Nations come at last to be governed by Bruhls; cannot help themselves;—and get their backs broken in consequence. Why not? Would you have a Nation live forever that is content to be governed by Bruhls? The gods are wiser!—It is now the 13th; Old Dessauer tramping forward, hour by hour, towards Dresden and some field of Fate.
On Tuesday, 14th, by break of day, Old Dessauer gets on march again; in four columns, in battle order; steady all day,—hard winter weather, ground crisp, and flecked with snow. The Pass at Neustadt, "his cavalry went into it at full gallop;" but found nobody there. That night he encamps at a place called Rohrsdorf; which may be eight miles west-by-north from Dresden, as the crow flies; and ten or more, if you follow the highway round by Wilsdruf on your right. The real direct Highway from Meissen to Dresden is on the other side of the Elbe, and keeps by the River-bank, a fine level road; but on this western side, where Leopold now is, the road is inland, and goes with a bend. Leopold, of course, keeps command of this road; his columns are on both sides of it, River on their left at some miles distance; and incessantly expect to find Rutowski, drawn out on favorable ground somewhere. The country is of fertile, but very broken character; intersected by many brooks, making obliquely towards the Elbe (obliquely, with a leaning Meissen-wards); country always mounting, till here about Rohrsdorf we seem to have almost reached the watershed, and the brooks make for the Elbe, leaning Dresden way. Good posts abound in such broken country, with its villages and brooks, with its thickets, hedges and patches of swamp. But Rutowski has not appeared anywhere, during this Tuesday.
Our four columns, therefore, lie all night, under arms, about Rohrsdorf: and again by morrow's dawn are astir in the old order, crunching far and wide the frozen ground; and advance, charged to the muzzle with potential battle. Slightly upwards always, to the actual watershed of the country; leaving Wilsdruf a little to their right. Wilsdruf is hardly past, when see, from this broad table-land, top of the country: "Yonder is Rutowski, at last;—and this new Wednesday will be a day!" Yonder, sure enough: drawn out three or four miles long; with his right to the Elbe, his left to that intricate Village of Kesselsdorf; bristling with cannon; deep gullet and swampy brook in front of him: the strongest post a man could have chosen in those parts.
The Village of Kesselsdorf itself lies rather in a hollow; in the slight beginning, or uppermost extremity, of a little Valley or Dell, called the Tschonengrund,—which, with its quaggy brook of a Tschone, wends northeastward into the Elbe, a course of four or five miles: a little Valley very deep for its length, and getting altogether chasmy and precipitous towards the Elbe-ward or lower end. Kesselsdorf itself, as we said, is mainly in a kind of hollow: between Old Leopold and Kesselsdorf the ground rather mounts; and there is perceptibly a flat knoll or rise at the head of it, where the Village begins. Some trees there, and abundance of cannon and grenadiers at this moment. It is the southwestern or left-most point of Rutowski's line; impregnable with its cannon-batteries and grenadiers. Rightward Rutowski extends in long lines, with the quaggy-dell of Tschonengrund in front of him, parallel to him; Dell ever deepening as it goes. Northeastward, at the extreme right, or Elbe point of it, where Grune and the Austrians stand, it has grown so chasmy, we judge that Grune can neither advance nor be
MAP/PLAN GOES HERE—book 15 continuation —page 10—
advanced upon:e,—which he did all day, in a purely meditative posture. Rutowski numbers 35,000, now on this ground, with immensity of cannon; 32,000 we, with only the usual field-artillery, and such a Tschonengrund, with its half-frozen quagmires ahead. A ticklish case for the old man, as he grimly reconnoitres it, in the winter morning.
Grim Old Dessauer having reconnoitred, and rapidly considered, decides to try it,—what else?—will range himself on the west side of that Tschonengrund, horse and foot; two lines, wide as Rutowski opposite him; but means to direct his main and prime effort against Kesselsdorf, which is clearly the key of the position, if it can be taken. For which end the Old Dessauer lengthens himself out to rightward, so as to outflank Kesselsdorf;—neglecting Grune (refusing Grune, as the soldiers say):—"our horse of the right wing reached from the Wood called Lerchenbusoh (LARCH-BUSH) rightward as far as Freyberg road; foot all between that Lerchenbusch and the big Birch-tree on the road to Wilsdruf; horse of the left wing, from there to Roitsch." [Stille (p. 181), who was present. See Plan.] It was about two P.M. before the old man got all his deployments completed; what corps of his, deploying this way or that, came within wind of Kesselsdorf, were saluted with cannon, thirty pieces or more, which are in battery, in three batteries, on the knoll there; but otherwise no fighting as yet. At two, the Old Dessauer is complete; he reverently doffs his hat, as had always been his wont, in prayer to God, before going in. A grim fervor of prayer is in his heart, doubtless; though the words as reported are not very regular or orthodox: "O HERR GOTT, help me yet this once; let me not be disgraced in my old days! Or if thou wilt not help me, don't help those HUNDSVOGTE [damned Scoundrels, so to speak], but leave us to try it ourselves!" That is the Old Scandinavian of a Dessauer's prayer; a kind of GODUR he too, Priest as well as Captain: Prayer mythically true as given; mythically, not otherwise. [Ranke, iii. 334 n.] Which done, he waves his hat once, "On, in God's name!" and the storm is loose. Prussian right wing pushing grandly forward, bent in that manner, to take Kesselsdorf and its fire-throats in flank.
The Prussians tramp on with the usual grim-browed resolution, foot in front, horse in rear; but they have a terrible problem at that Kesselsdorf, with its retrenched batteries, and numerous grenadiers fighting under cover. The very ground is sore against them; uphill, and the trampled snow wearing into a slide, so that you sprawl and stagger sadly. Thirty-one big guns, and about 9,000 small, pouring out mere death on you, from that knoll-head. The Prussians stagger; cannot stand it; bend to rightwards, and get out of shot-range; cannot manage it this bout. Rally, reinforce; try it again. Again, with a will; but again there is not a way. The Prussians are again repulsed; fall back, down this slippery course, in more disorder than the first time. Had the Saxons stood still, steadily handling arms, how, on such terms, could the Prussians ever have managed it?
But at sight of this second repulse, the Saxon grenadiers, and especially one battalion of Austrians who were there (the only Austrians who fought this day), gave a shout "Victory!"—and in the height of their enthusiasm, rushed out, this Austrian battalion first and the Saxons after them, to charge these Prussians, and sweep the world clear of them. It was the ruin of their battle; a fatal hollaing before you are out of the woods. Old Leopold, quick as thought, noticing the thing, hurls cavalry on these victorious down-plunging grenadiers; slashes them asunder, into mere recoiling whirlpools of ruin; so that "few of them got back unwounded;" and the Prussians storming in along with them,—aided by ever new Prussians, from beyond the Tschonengrund even,—the place was at length carried; and the Saxon battle became hopeless.
For, their right being in such hurricane, the Prussians from the centre, as we hint, storm forward withal; will not be held back by the Tschonengrund. They find the Tschonengrund quaggy in the extreme, "brook frozen at the sides, but waist-deep of liquid mud in the centre;" cross it, nevertheless, towards the upper part of it,—young Moritz of Dessau leading the way, to help his old Father in extremity. They climb the opposite side,—quite slippery in places, but "helping one another up;"—no Saxons there till you get fairly atop, which was an oversight on the Saxon part. Fairly atop, Moritz is saluted by the Saxons with diligent musket-volleys; but Moritz also has musket-volleys in him, bayonet-charges in him; eager to help his old Papa at this hard pinch. Old Papa has the Saxons in flank; sends more and ever more other cavalry in on them; and in fact, the right wing altogether storms violently through Kesselsdorf, and sweeps it clean. Whole regiments of the Saxons are made prisoners; Roel's Light Horse we see there, taking standards; cutting violently in to avenge Roel's death, and the affront they had at Meissen lately. Furious Moritz on their front, from across the Tschonengrund; furious Roel (GHOST of Roel) and others in their flank, through Kesselsdorf: no standing for the Saxons longer.
About nightfall,—their horse having made poorish fight, though the foot had stood to it like men,—they roll universally away. The Prussian left wing of horse are summoned through the Tschonengrund to chase: had there remained another hour of daylight, the Saxon Army had been one wide ruin. Hidden in darkness, the Saxon Army ebbed confusedly towards Dresden: with the loss of 6,000 prisoners and 3,000 killed and wounded: a completely beaten Army. It is the last battle the Saxons fought as a Nation,—or probably will fight. Battle called of Kesselsdorf: Wednesday, 15th December, 1745.
Prince Karl had arrived at Dresden the night before; heard all this volleying and cannonading, from the distance; but did not see good to interfere at all. Too wide apart, some say; quartered at unreasonably distant villages, by some irrefragable ignorant War-clerk of Bruhl's appointing,—fatal Bruhl. Others say, his Highness had himself no mind; and made excuses that his troops were tired, disheartened by the two beatings lately,—what will become of us in case of a third or fourth! It is certain, Prince Karl did nothing. Nor has Grime's corps, the right wing, done anything except meditate:—it stood there unattacked, unattacking; till deep in the dark night, when Rutowski remembered it, and sent it order to come home. One Austrian battalion, that of grenadiers on the knoll at Kesselsdorf, did actually fight;—and did begin that fatal outbreak, and quitting of the post there; "which lost the Battle to us!" say the Saxons.
Had those grenadiers stood in their place, there is no Prussian but admits that it would have been a terrible business to take Kesselsdorf and its batteries. But they did not stand; they rushed out, shouting "Victory;" and lost us the battle. And that is the good we have got of the sublime Austrian Alliance; and that is the pass our grand scheme of Partitioning Prussia has come to? Fatal little Bruhl of the three hundred and sixty-five clothes-suits; Valet fatally become divine in Valet-hood,—are not you costing your Country dear!
Old Dessauer, glorious in the last of his fields, lay on his arms all night in the posts about; three bullets through his roquelaure, no scratch of wound upon the old man. Young Moritz too "had a bullet through his coat-skirt, and three horses shot under him; but no hurt, the Almighty's grace preserving him." [Feldzuge,i. 434.] This Moritz is the Third of the Brothers, age now thirty-three; and we shall hear considerably about him in times coming. A lean, tall, austere man; and, "of all the Brothers, most resembled his Father in his ways." Prince Dietrich is in Leipzig at present; looking to that contribution of 50,000 pounds; to that, and to other contributions and necessary matters;—and has done all his fighting (as it chanced), though he survived his Brothers many years. Old Papa will now get his discharge before long (quite suddenly, one morning, by paralytic stroke, 7th April, 1747); and rest honorably with the Sons of Thor. [Young Leopold, the successor, died 16th December, 1751, age fifty-two; Dietrich (who had thereupon quitted soldiering, to take charge of his Nephew left minor, and did not resume it), died 2d December, 1769; Moritz (soldier to the last), 11th April, 1760. See Militair-Lexikon,i. 43, 34, 38,47.]
Chapter XV.—PEACE OF DRESDEN: FRIEDRICH DOES MARCH HOME.
Friedrich himself had got to Meissen, Tuesday, 14th; no enemy on his road, or none to speak of: Friedrich was there, or not yet far across, all Wednesday; collecting himself, waiting, on the slip, for a signal from Old Leopold. Sound of cannon, up the Elbe Dresden-ward, is reported there to Friedrich, that afternoon: cannon, sure enough, notes Friedrich; and deep dim-rolling peals, as of volleying small-arms; "the sky all on fire over there," as the hoar-frosty evening fell. Old Leopold busy at it, seemingly. That is the glare of the Old Dessauer's countenance; who is giving voice, in that manner, to the earthly and the heavenly powers; conquering Peace for us, let us hope!
Friedrich, as may be supposed, made his best speed next morning: "All well!" say the messengers; all well, says Old Leopold, whom he meets at Wilsdruf, and welcomes with a joyful embrace; "dismounting from his horse, at sight of Leopold, and advancing to meet him with doffed hat and open arms,"—and such words and treatments, that day, as made the old man's face visibly shine. "Your Highness shall conduct me!" And the two made survey together of the actual Field of Kesselsdorf; strewn with the ghastly wrecks of battle,—many citizens of Dresden strolling about, or sorrowfully seeking for their lost ones among the wounded and dead. No hurt to these poor citizens, who dread none; help to them rather: such is Friedrich's mind,—concerning which, in the Anecdote-Books, there are Narratives (not worth giving) of a vapidly romantic character, credible though inexact. [For the indisputable pa so we leave him standing therrt, see Orlich, ii. 343, 344; and OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 170.] Friedrich, who may well be profuse of thanks and praises, charms the Old Dessauer while they walk together; brave old man with his holed roquelaure. For certain, he has done the work there,—a great deal of work in his time! Joy looks through his old rough face, of gunpowder color: the Herr Gott has not delivered him to those damned Scoundrels in the end of his days.—On the morrow, Friday, Leopold rolled grandly forward upon Dresden; Rutowski and Prince Karl vanishing into the Metal Mountains, by Pirna, for Bohemia, at sound of him,—as he had scarcely hoped they would.
On the Saturday evening, Dresden, capable of not the least defence, has opened all its gates, and Friedrich and the Prussians are in Dresden; Austrians and wrecked Saxons falling back diligently towards the Metal Mountains for Bohemia, diligent to clear the road for him. Queen and Junior Princes are here; to whom, as to all men, Friedrich is courtesy itself; making personal visit to the Royalties, appointing guards of honor, sacred respect to the Royal Houses; himself will lodge at the Princess Lubomirski's, a private mansion.
"That ferocious, false, ambitious King of Prussia"—Well, he is not to be ruined in open fight, on the contrary is ruinous there; nor by the cunningest ambuscades, and secret combinations, in field or cabinet: our overwhelming Winter Invasion of him—see where it has ended! Bruhl and Polish Majesty—the nocturnal sky all on fire in those parts, and loud general doomsday come—are a much-illuminated pair of gentlemen.
From the time Meissen Bridge was lost, Prince Karl too showing himself so languid, even Bruhl had discerned that the case was desperate. On the very day of Kesselsdorf,—not the day BEFORE, which would have been such a thrift to Bruhl and others!—Friedrich had a Note from Villiers, signifying joyfully that his Polish Majesty would accept Peace. Thanks to his Polish Majesty:—and after Kesselsdorf, perhaps the Empress-Queen too will! Friedrich's offers are precisely what they were, what they have always been: "Convention of Hanover; that, in all its parts; old treaty of Breslau, to be guaranteed, to be actually kept. To me Silesia sure;—from you, Polish Majesty, one million crowns as damages for the trouble and cost this Triple Ambuscade of yours has given me; one million crowns, 150,000 pounds we will say; and all other requisitions to cease on the day of signature. These are my terms: accept these; then wholly, As you were, Empress-Queen and you, and all surviving creatures: and I march home within a week." Villiers speeds rapidly from Prag, with the due olive-branch; with Count Harrach, experienced Austrian, and full powers. Harrach cannot believe his senses: "Such the terms to be still granted, after all these beatings and rebeatings!"—then at last does believe, with stiff thankfulness and Austrian bows. The Negotiation need not occupy many hours.
"His Majesty of Prussia was far too hasty with this Peace," says Valori: "he had taken a threap that he would have it finished before the Year was done:"—in fact, he knows his own mind, MON GROS VALORI, and that is what few do. You shear through no end of cobwebs with that fine implement, a wisely fixed resolution of your own. A Peace slow enough for Valori and the French: where could that be looked for?—Valori is at Berlin, in complete disgrace; his Most Christian King having behaved so like a Turk of late. Valori, horror-struck at such Peace, what shall he do to prevent it, to retard it? One effort at least. D'Arget his Secretary, stolen at Jaromirz, is safe back to him; ingenious, ingenuous D'Arget was always a favorite with Friedrich: despatch D'Arget to him. D'Arget is despatched; with reasons, with remonstrances, with considerations. D'Arget's Narrative is given: an ingenuous off-hand Piece;—poor little crevice, through which there is still to be had, singularly clear, and credible in every point, a direct glimpse of Friedrich's own thoughts, in that many-sounding Dresden,—so loud, that week, with dinner-parties, with operas, balls, Prussian war-drums, grand-parades and Peace-negotiations.
THE SIEUR D'ARGET TO EXCELLENCY VALORI (at Berlin).
"DRESDEN, 1745" (dateless otherwise, must be December, between 18th and 25th).
"MONSEIGNEUR,—I arrived yesterday at 7 P.M.; as I had the honor of forewarning you, by the word I wrote to the Abbe [never mind what Abbe; another Valori-Clerk] from Sonnenwalde [my half-way house between Berlin and this City]. I went, first of all, to M. de Vaugrenand," our Envoy here; "who had the goodness to open himself to me on the Business now on hand. In my opinion, nothing can be added to the excellent considerations he has been urging on the King of Prussia and the Count de Podewils.
"At half-past 8, I went to his Prussian Majesty's; I found he was engaged with his Concert,"—lodges in the Lubomirski Palace, has his snatch of melody in the evening of such discordant days,—"and I could not see him till after half-past 9. I announced myself to M. Eichel; he was too overwhelmed with affairs to give me audience. I asked for Count Rothenburg; he was at cards with the Princess Lubomirski. At last, I did get to the King: who received me in the most agreeable way; but was just going to Supper; said he must put off answering till to-morrow morning, morning of this day. M. de Vaugrenand had been so good as prepare me on the rumors of a Peace with Saxony and the Queen of Hungary. I went to M. Podewils; who said a great many kind things to me for you. I could only sketch out the matter, at that time; and represented to Podewils the brilliant position of his Master, who had become Arbiter of the Peace of Europe; that the moment was come for making this Peace a General One, and that perhaps there would be room for repentance afterwards, if the opportunity were slighted. He said, his Master's object was that same; and thus closed the conversation by general questions.
"This morning, I again presented myself at the King of Prussia's. I had to wait, and wait; in fine, it was not till half-past 5 in the evening that he returned, or gave me admittance; and I stayed with him till after 7,"—when Concert-time was at hand again. Listen to a remarkable Dialogue, of the Conquering Hero with a humble Friend whom he likes. "His Majesty condescended (A DAIGNE) to enter with me into all manner of details; and began by telling me,
"That M. de Valori had done admirably not to come, himself, with that Letter from the King [Most Christian, OUR King; Letter, the sickly Document above spoken of]; that there could not have been an Answer expected,—the Letter being almost of ironical strain; his Majesty [Most Christian] not giving him the least hope, but merely talking of his fine genius, and how that would extricate him from the perilous entanglement, and inspire him with a wise resolution in the matter! That he had, in effect, taken a resolution the wisest he could; and was making his Peace with Saxony and the Queen of Hungary. That he had felt all the dangers of the difficult situations he had been in,"—sheer destruction yawning all round him, in huge imminency, more than once, and no friend heeding;—"that, weary of playing always double-or-quits, he had determined to end it, and get into a state of tranquillity, which both himself and his People had such need of. That France could not, without difficulty, have remedied his mishaps; and that he saw by the King's Letter, there was not even the wish to do it. That his, Friedrich's, military career was completed,"—so far as HE could foresee or decide! "That he would not again expose his Country to the Caprices of Fortune, whose past constancy to him was sufficiently astonishing to raise fears of a reverse (HEAR!). That his ambitions were fulfilled, in having compelled his Enemies to ask Peace from him in their own Capital, with the Chancellor of Bohemia [Harrach, typifying fallen Austrian pride] obliged to co-operate.
"That he would always be attached to our King's interests, and set all the value in the world on his friendship; but that he had not been sufficiently assisted to be content. That, observing henceforth an exact neutrality, he might be enabled to do offices of mediation; and to carry, to the one side and to the other, words of peace. That he offered himself for that object, and would be charmed to help in it; but that he was fixed to stop there. That in regard to the basis of General Peace, he had Two Ideas [which the reader can attend to, and see where they differed from the Event, and where not]:—One was, That France should keep Ypres, Furnes, Tournay [which France did not], giving up the Netherlands otherwise, with Ostend, to the English [to the English!] in exchange for Cape Breton. The other was, To give up more of our Conquests [we gave them all up, and got only the glory, and our Cod-fishery, Cape Breton, back, the English being equally generous], and bargain for liberty to re-establish Dunkirk in its old condition [not a word of your Dunkirk; there is your Cape Breton, and we also will go home with what glory there is,—not difficult to carry!]. But that it was by England we must make the overtures, without addressing ourselves to the Court of Vienna; and put it in his, Friedrich's, power to propose a receivable Project of Peace. That he well conceived the great point was the Queen of Spain [Termagant and Jenkins's Ear; Termagant's Husband, still living, is a lappet of Termagant's self]: but that she must content herself with Parma and Piacenza for the Infant, Don Philip [which the Termagant did]; and give back her hold of Savoy [partial hold, of no use to her without the Passes] to the King of Sardinia." And of the JENKINS'S-EAR question, generous England will say nothing? Next to nothing; hopes a modicum of putty and diplomatic varnish may close that troublesome question,—which springs, meanwhile, in the centre of the world!—
"These kind condescensions of his Majesty emboldened me to represent to him the brilliant position he now held; and how noble it would be, after having been the Hero of Germany, to become, instead of one's own pacificator, the Pacificator of Europe. 'I grant you,' said he, (MON CHER D'Arget; but it is too dangerous a part for playing. A reverse brings me to the edge of ruin: I know too well the mood of mind I was in, last time I left Berlin with that Three-legged Immensity of Atropos, NOT yet mown down at Hennersdorf by a lucky cut), ever to expose myself to it again! If luck had been against me there, I saw myself a Monarch without throne; and my subjects in the cruelest oppression. A bad game that: always, mere CHECK TO YOUR KING; no other move;—I refer it to you, friend D'Arget:—in fine, I wish to be at peace.'
"I represented to him that the House of Austria would never, with a tranquil eye, see his House in possession of Silesia. 'Those that come after me,' said he, 'will do as they like; the Future is beyond man's reach. Those that come after will do as they can. I have acquired; it is theirs to preserve. I am not in alarm about the Austrians;—and this is my answer to what you have been saying about the weakness of my guarantees. They dread my Army; the luck that I have. I am sure of their sitting quiet for the dozen years or so which may remain to me of life;—quiet till I have, most likely, done with it. What! Are we never to have any good of our life, then (NE DOIS-JE DONC JAMAIS JOUIR)? There is more for me in the true greatness of laboring for the happiness of my subjects, than in the repose of Europe. I have put Saxony out of a condition to do hurt. She owes 14,775,000 crowns of debt [two millions and a quarter sterling]; and by the Defensive Alliance which I form with her, I provide myself [but ask Bruhl withal!] a help against Austria. I would not henceforth attack a cat, except to defend myself.' ["These are his very words," adds D'Arget;—and well worth noting.] (Ambition (GLOIRE) and my interests were the occasion of my first Campaigns. The late Kaiser's situation, and my zeal for France [not to mention interests again], gave rise to these second: and I have been fighting always since for my own hearths,—for my very existence, I might say! Once more, I know the state I had got into:—if I saw Prince Karl at the gates of Paris, I would not stir.'—'And us at the gates of Vienna,' answered I promptly, 'with the same indifference?'—'Yes; and I swear it to you, D'Arget. In a word, I want to have some good of my life (VEUX JOUIR). What are we, poor human atoms, to get up projects that cost so much blood? Let us live, and help to live.'
"The rest of the conversation passed in general talk, about Literature, Theatres and such objects. My reasonings and objectings, on the great matter, I need not farther detail: by the frank discourse his Prussian Majesty was kind enough to go into, you may gather perhaps that my arguments were various, and not ill-chosen;—and it is too evident they have all been in vain."—Your Excellency's (really in a very faithful way)— D'ARGET. [Valori, i. 290-294 (no date, except "Dresden, 1745,"—sleepy Editor feeling no want of any).]
D'Arget, about a month after this, was taken into Friedrich's service; Valori consenting, whose occupation was now gone;—and we shall hear of D'Arget again. Take this small Note, as summary of him: "D'Arget (18th January, 1746) had some title, 'Secretary at Orders (SECRETAIRE DES COMMANDEMENTS),' bit of pension; and continued in the character of reader, or miscellaneous literary attendant and agent, very much liked by his Master, for six years coming. A man much heard of, during those years of office. March, 1752, having lost his dear little Prussian Wife, and got into ill health and spirits, he retired on leave to Paris; and next year had to give up the thought of returning;—though he still, and to the end, continued loyally attached to his old Master, and more or less in correspondence with him. Had got, before long, not through Friedrich's influence at Paris, some small Appointment in the ECOLE MILITAIRE there. He is, of all the Frenchmen Friedrich had about him, with the exception of D'Argens alone, the most honest-hearted. The above Letter, lucid, innocent, modest, altogether rational and practical, is a fair specimen of D'Arget: add to it the prompt self-sacrifice (and in that fine silent way) at Jaromirz for Valori, and readers may conceive the man. He lived at Paris, in meagre but contented fashion, RUE DE L'ECOLE MILITAIRE, till 1778; and seems, of all the Ex-Prussian Frenchmen, to have known most about Friedrich; and to have never spoken any falsity against him. Duvernet, the 'M——' Biographer of VOLTAIRE, frequented him a good deal; and any true notions, or glimmerings of such, that he has about Prussia, are probably ascribable to D'Arget." [See OEuvres de Frederic, xx. (p. xii of PREFACE to the D'ARGET CORRESPONDENCE there).]
The Treaty of Dresden can be read in Scholl, Flassan, Rousset, Adelung; but, except on compulsion, no creature will now read it,—nor did this Editor, even he, find it pay. Peace is made. Peace of Dresden is signed, Christmas Day, 1745: "To me Silesia, without farther treachery or trick; you, wholly as you were." Europe at large, as Friedrich had done, sees "the sky all on fire about Dresden." The fierce big battles done against this man have, one and all of them, become big defeats. The strenuous machinations, high-built plans cunningly devised,—the utmost sum-total of what the Imperial and Royal Potencies can, for the life of them, do: behold, it has all tumbled down here, in loud crash; the final peal of it at Kesselsdorf; and the consummation is flame and smoke, conspicuous over all the Nations. You will let him keep his own henceforth, then, will you? Silesia, which was NOT yours nor ever shall be? Silesia and no afterthought? The Saxons sign, the high Plenipotentiaries all; in the eyes of Villiers, I am told, were seen sublimely pious tears. Harrach, bowing with stiff, almost incredulous, gratitude, swears and signs;—hurries home to his Sovereign Lady, with Peace, and such a smile on his face; and on her Imperial Majesty's such a smile!—readers shall conceive it.
There are but Two new points in the Treaty of Dresden,—nay properly there is but One point, about which posterity can have the least care or interest; for that other, concerning "The Toll of Schidlo," and settlement of haggles on the Navigation of the Elbe there, was not kept by the Saxons, but continued a haggle still: this One point is the Eleventh Article. Inconceivably small; but liable to turn up on us again, in a memorable manner. That let us translate,—for M. de Voltaire's sake, and time coming! STEUER means Land-Tax; OBER-STEUER-EINNAHME will be something like Royal Exchequer, therefore; and STEUER-SCHEIN will be approximately equivalent to Exchequer Bill. Article Eleventh stipulates:
"All subjects and servants of his Majesty the King of Prussia who hold bonds of the Saxon OBER-STEUER-EINNAHME shall be paid in full, capital and interest, at the times, and to the amount, specified in said STEUER-SCHEINE or Bonds." That is Article Eleventh.—"The Saxon Exchequer," says an old Note on it, "thanks to Bruhl's extravagance, has been as good as bankrupt, paying with inconvertible paper, with SCHEINE (Things to be SHOWN), for some time past; which paper has accordingly sunk, let us say, 25 per cent below its nominal amount in gold. All Prussian subjects, who hold these Bonds, are to be paid in gold; Saxons, and others, will have to be content with paper till things come round again, if things ever do." Yes;—and, by ill chance, the matter will attract M. de Voltaire's keen eye in the interim!
Friedrich stayed eight days in Dresden, the loud theme of Gazetteers and rumors; the admired of two classes, in all Countries: of the many who admire success, and also of the few who can understand what it is to deserve success. Among his own Countrymen, this last Winter has kindled all their admirations to the flaming pitch. Saved by him from imminent destruction; their enemies swept home as if by one invincible; nay, sent home in a kind of noble shame, conquered by generosity. These feelings, though not encouraged to speak, run very high. The Dresdeners in private society found him delightful; the high ladies especially: "Could you have thought it; terrific Mars to become radiant Apollo in this manner!" From considerable Collections of Anecdotes illustrating this fact, in a way now fallen vapid to us,—I select only the Introduction:—
"Do readers recollect Friedrich's first visit to Dresden [in 1728], seventeen years ago; and a certain charming young Countess Flemming, at that time only fourteen; who, like a Hebe as she was, contrived beautiful surprises for him, and among other things presented him, so gracefully, on the part of August the Strong, with his first flute?"—No reader of this History can recollect it; nor indeed, except in a mythic sense, believe it! A young Countess Flemming (daughter of old Feldmarschall Flemming) doubtless there might be, who presented him a flute; but as to HIS FIRST flute—? "That same charming young Countess Flemming is still here, age now thirty-one; charming, more than ever, though now under a changed name; having wedded a Von Racknitz (Supreme Gentleman-Usher, or some such thing) a few years ago, and brought him children and the usual felicities. How much is changed! August the Strong, where is he; and his famous Three Hundred and Fifty-four, Enchantress Orzelska and the others, where are they? Enchantress Orzelska wedded, quarrelled, and is in a convent: her charming destiny concluded. Rutowski is not now in the Prussian Army: he got beaten, Wednesday last, at Kesselsdorf, fighting against that Army. And the Chevalier de Saxe, he too was beaten there;—clambering now across the Metal Mountains, ask not of him. And the Marechal de Saxe, he takes Cities, fights Battles of Fontenoy, 'mumbling a lead bullet all day;' being dropsical, nearly dead of debaucheries; the most dissolute (or probably so) of all the Sons of Adam in his day. August the Physically Strong is dead. August the Spiritually Weak is fled to Prag with his Bruhl. And we do not come, this time, to get a flute; but to settle the account of Victories, and give Peace to Nations. Strange, here as always, to look back,—to look round or forward,—in the mad huge whirl of that loud-roaring Loom of Time!—One of Countess Racknitz's Sons happened to leave MANUSCRIPT DIARIES [rather feeble, not too exact-looking], and gives us, from Mamma's reminiscences"... Not a word more. [Rodenbeck, Beitrage, i. 440, et seq.]
The Peace, we said, was signed on Christmas-day. Next day, Sunday, Friedrich attended Sermon in the Kreuzkirche (Protestant High-Church of Dresden), attended Opera withal; and on Monday morning had vanished out of Dresden, as all his people had done, or were diligently doing. Tuesday, he dined briefly at Wusterhausen (a place we once knew well), with the Prince of Prussia, whose it now is; got into his open carriage again, with the said Prince and his other Brother Ferdinand; and drove swiftly homeward. Berlin, drunk with joy, was all out on the streets, waiting. On the Heath of Britz, four or five miles hitherward of Berlin, a body of young gentlemen ("Merchants mostly, who had ridden out so far") saluted him with "VIVAT FRIEDRICH DER GROSSE (Long live Friedrich THE GREAT)!" thrice over;—as did, in a less articulate manner, Berlin with one voice, on his arrival there; Burgher Companies lining the streets; Population vigorously shouting; Pupils of the Koln Gymnasium, with Clerical and School Functionaries in mass, breaking out into Latin Song:—
"VIVAT, VIVAT FRIDERICUS REX; VIVAT AUGUSTUS, MAGNUS, FELIX, PATER, PATRI-AE—!"
—and what not. [Preuss, i. 220; who cites Beschreibung ("Description of his Majesty's Triumphant Entry, on the" &c.) and other Contemporary Pamphlets. Rodenbeck, i. 124.] On reaching the Portal of the Palace, his Majesty stept down; and, glancing round the Schloss-Platz and the crowded windows and simmering multitudes, saluted, taking off his hat; which produced such a shout,—naturally the loudest of all. And so EXIT King, into his interior. Tuesday, 2-3 P.M., 28th December, 1745: a King new-christened in the above manner, so far as people could.
Illuminated Berlin shone like noon, all that night (the beginning of a GAUDEAMUS which lasted miscellaneously for weeks):—but the King stole away to see a friend who was dying; that poor Duhan de Jaudun, his early Schoolmaster, who had suffered much for him, and whom he always much loved. Duhan died, in a day or two. Poor Jordan, poor Keyserling (the "Cesarion" of young days): them also he has lost; and often laments, in this otherwise bright time. (In OEuvres, xvii. 288; xviii. 141; IB. 142—painfully tender Letters to Frau von Camas and others, on these events).