The ill-informed world, entirely unaware of what Friedrich had been studying and ascertaining, to his bitter sorrow, for four years past, was extremely astonished at the part he took in those French-English troubles; extremely provoked at his breaking out again into a Third Silesian War, greater than all the others, and kindling all Europe in such a way. The ill-informed world rang violently, then and long after, with a Controversy, "Was it of his beginning, or Not of his beginning?" Controversy, which may in our day be considered as settled by unanimous mankind; finished forever; and can now have no interest for any creature.
Omitting that, our problem is (were it possible in brief compass), To set forth, by what authentic traits there are,—not the "ambitious," "audacious," voracious and highly condemnable Friedrich of the Gazetteers,—but the thrice-intricately situated Friedrich of Fact. What the Facts privately known to Friedrich were, in what manner known; and how, in a more complex crisis than had yet been, Friedrich demeaned himself: upon which latter point, and those cognate to it, readers ought not to be ignorant, if now fallen indifferent on so many other points of the Affair. What a loud-roaring, loose and empty matter is this tornado of vociferation which men call "Public Opinion"! Tragically howling round a man; who has to stand silent the while; and scan, wisely under pain of death, the altogether inarticulate, dumb and inexorable matter which the gods call Fact! Friedrich did read his terrible Sphinx-riddle; the Gazetteer tornado did pipe and blow. King Friedrich, in contrast with his Environment at that time, will most likely never be portrayed to modern men in his real proportions, real aspect and attitude then and there,—which are silently not a little heroic and even pathetic, when well seen into;—and, for certain, he is not portrayable at present, on our side of the Sea. But what hints and fractions of feature we authentically have, ought to be given with exactitude, especially with brevity, and left to the ingenuous imagination of readers.
The secret sources of the Third Silesian War, since called "Seven-Years War," go back to 1745; nay, we may say, to the First Invasion of Silesia in 1740. For it was in Maria Theresa's incurable sorrow at loss of Silesia, and her inextinguishable hope to reconquer it, that this and all Friedrich's other Wars had their origin. Twice she had signed Peace with Friedrich, and solemnly ceded Silesia to him: but that too, with the Imperial Lady, was by no means a finis to the business. Not that she meant to break her Treaties; far from her such a thought,—in the conscious form. Though, alas, in the unconscious, again, it was always rather near! practically, she reckoned to herself, these Treaties would come to be broken, as Treaties do not endure forever; and then, at the good moment, she did purpose to be ready. "Silesia back to us; Pragmatic Sanction complete in every point! Was not that our dear Father's will, monition of all our Fathers and their Patriotisms and Traditionary Heroisms; and in fact, the behest of gods and men?" Ten years ago, this notion had been cut down to apparent death, in a disastrous manner, for the second time. But it did not die in the least: it never thinks of dying; starts always anew, passionate to produce itself again as action valid at last; and lives in the Imperial Heart with a tenacity that is strange to observe. Still stranger, in the envious Valet-Heart,—in that of Bruhl, who had far less cause!
The Peace of Dresden, Christmas, 1745, seemed to be an act of considerable magnanimity on Friedrich's part. It was, at the first blush of it, "incredible" to Harrach, the Austrian Plenipotentiary; whose embarrassed, astonished bow we remember on that occasion, with English Villiers shedding pious tears. But what is very remarkable withal is a thing since discovered: [INFRA, next Note (p. 276).] That Harrach, magnanimous signature hardly yet dry, did then straightway, by order of his Court, very privately inquire of Bruhl, "There is Peace, you see; what they call Peace:—but our TREATY OF WARSAW, for Partition of this magnanimous man, stands all the same; does n't it?" To which, according to the Documents, Bruhl, hardly escaped from the pangs of death, and still in a very pale-yellow condition, had answered in effect, "Hah, say you so? One's hatred is eternal;—but that man's iron heel! Wait a little; get Russia to join in the scheme!"—and hung back; the willing mind, but the too terrified! And in this way, like a famishing dog in sight of a too dangerous leg of mutton, Bruhl has ever since rather held back; would not re-engage at all, for almost two years, even on the Czarina's engaging; and then only in a cautious, conditional and hypothetic manner,—though with famine increasing day by day in sight of the desired viands. His hatred is fell; but he would fain escape with back unbroken.
Friedrich has been aware of this mystery, at least wide awake to it and becoming ever more instructed, for almost four years. Traitor Menzel the Saxon Kanzellist—we, who have prophetically read what he had to confess when laid hold of, are aware, though as yet, and on to 1757, it is a dead secret to all mortals but himself and "three others"—has been busy for Prussia ever since "the end of 1752." Got admittance to the Presses; sent his first Excerpt "about the time of Easter-Fair, 1753,"—time of Voltaire's taking wing. And has been at work ever since. Copying Despatches from the most secret Saxon Repositories; ready always on Excellency Mahlzahn's indicating the Piece wanted; and of late, I should think, is busier than ever, as the Saxon Mystery, which is also an Austrian and Russian one, gets more light thrown into it, and seems to be fast ripening towards action of a perilous nature. The first Excerpts furnished by Menzel, readers can judge how enigmatic they were. These Menzel Papers, copies mainly of Petersburg or Vienna DESPATCHES to Bruhl, with Bruhl's ANSWERS,—the principal of which were subsequently printed in their best arrangement and liveliest point of vision [In Friedrich's Manifestoes, chiefly in MEMOIRE RAISONNE SUR LA CONDUITE DES COURS DE VIENNE ET DE SAXE (compiled from the MENZEL ORIGINALS, so soon as these were got hold of: Berlin, Autumn, 1756). A solid and able Paper; rapidly done, by one Count Herzberg, who rose high in after times. Reprinted, with many other "Pieces" and "Passages," in Gesammelte Nachrichten und Urkunden,—which is a "Collection" of such (2 vols., 113 Nos. small 8vo, no Place, 1757, my Copy of it).]—are by no means a luminous set of Documents to readers at this day. Think what a study they were at Potsdam in 1753, while still in the chaotic state; fished out, more or less at random, as Menzel could lay hold of them, or be directed to them; the enigma clearing itself only by intense inspection, and capability of seeing in the dark!
It appears,—if you are curious on the anecdotic part,—
"Winterfeld was the first that got eye on this dangerous Saxon Mystery; some Ex-Saxon, about to settle in Berlin, giving hint of it to Winterfeld; who needed only a hint. So soon as Winterfeld convinced himself that there was weight in the affair, he imparted it to Friedrich: 'Scheme of partitioning, your Majesty, of picking quarrel, then overwhelming and partitioning; most serious scheme, Austrian-Russian as well as Saxon; going on steadily for years past, and very lively at this time!' If true, Friedrich cannot but admit that this is serious enough: important, thrice over, to discover whether it is true;—and gives Winterfeld authority to prosecute it to the bottom, in Dresden or wherever the secret may lie. Who thereupon charged Mahlzahn, the Prussian Minister at Dresden, to find some proper Menzel, and bestir himself. How Mahlzahn has found his Menzel, and has bestirred himself, we saw. Thief-keys were made to pattern in Berlin; first set did not fit, second did; and stealthy Menzel gains admittance to that Chamber of the Archives, can steal thither on shoes of felt when occasion serves, and copy what you wish,—for a consideration. Intermittently, since about Easter-Fair, 1753. Three persons are cognizant of it, Winterfeld, Mahlzahn, Friedrich; three, and no more. Probably the abstrusest study; and the most intense, going on in the world at that epoch. [Rotzow, Charakteristik des Siebenjahrigen Krieges (Berlin, 1802), i. 23.]
"At a very early stage of the Menzel Excerpts it became manifest that certain synchronous Austrian Ditto would prove highly elucidative; that, in fact, it would be indispensable to get hold of these as well. Which also Winterfeld has managed to do. A deep-headed man, who has his eyes about him; and is very apt to manage what he undertakes. One Weingarten Junior, a Secretary in the Austrian Embassy at Berlin (Excellency Peubla's second Secretary), has his acquaintanceships in Berlin Society; and for one thing, as Winterfeld discovers, is 'madly in love' with some Chambermaid or quasi-chambermaid (let us call her Chambermaid), 'Daughter of the Castellan at Charlottenburg.' Winterfeld, through the due channels, applied to this Chambermaid, 'Get me a small secret Copy of such and such Despatches, out of your Weingarten; it will be well for you and him; otherwise perhaps not well!' Chambermaid, hope urging, or perhaps hope and fear, did her best; Weingarten had to yield the required product and products, as required. By this Weingarten, from some date not long after Menzel's first mysterious Dresden Excerpts, the necessary Austrian glosses, so far as possible to Weingarten on the indications given him, have been regularly had, for the two or three years past.
"Weingarten first came to be seriously suspected June, 1756 (Weingarten Junior, let us still say, for there was a Senior of unstained fidelity); 'June 15th,' Excellency Peubla pointedly demands him from Friedrich and the Berlin Police: 'Weingarten Junior, my SECOND Secretar, fugitive and traitor; hidden somewhere!' ["BERLIN, 22d JUNE: Every research making for Mr. Weingatten,—in vain hitherto" (Gentleman's Magazine, xxvi., i. e. for 1756, p. 363).] Excellency Peubla is answered, 24th June: 'We would so fain catch him, if we could! We have tried at Stendal,—not there: tried his Mother-in-law; knows nothing: have forborne laying up his poor Wife and Children; and hope her Imperial Majesty will have pity on that poor creature, who is fallen so miserable.' [Helden-Geschichte, iii. 713.] So that Excellency Peubla had nothing for it but to compose himself; to honor the unstainable fidelity of Weingarten Senior by a public piece of promotion, which soon ensued; and let the Junior run. Weingarten Junior, on the first suspicion, had vanished with due promptitude,—was not to be unearthed again. We perceive he has married his Charlottenburg Beauty, and there are helpless babies. It seems, he lived long years after, in the Altmark, as a Herr von Weiss,'—his reflections manifold, but unknown. [Retzow, i. 37.] What is much notabler, Cogniazzo, the Austrian Veteran, heard Weingarten's MASTER, Graf von Peubla, talk of the 'GRAND MYSTERE,' soon after, and how Friedrich had heard of it, not from Weingarten alone, but from Gross-Furst PETER, Russian Heir-Apparent! [Cogniazzo, i. 225.]
"As to Menzel, he did not get away. Menzel, as we saw, lasted in free activity till 1757; and was then put under lock and key. Was not hanged; sat prisoner for twenty-seven years after; overgrown with hair, legs and arms chained together, heavy iron bar uniting both ankles; diet bread-and-water;—for the rest, healthy; and died, not very miserable it is said, in 1784. Shocking traitors, Weingarten and he."
Yes, a diabolical pair, they, sure enough:—and the thing they betrayed against their Masters, was that a celestial thing? Servants of the Devil do fall out; and Servants not of the Devil are fain, sometimes, to raise a quarrel of that kind!—
The then world, as we said, was one loud uproar of logic on the right reading and the wrong of those Sibylline Documents: "Did your King of Prussia interpret them aright, or even try it? Did not he use them as a cloak for highway robbery, and swallowing of a peaceable Saxony, bad man that he surely is?" For Friedrich's demeanor, this time again, when it came to the acting point, was of eminent rapidity; almost a swifter lion-spring than ever; and it brought on him, in the aerial or vocal way, its usual result: huge clamor of rage and logic from uninformed mankind. Clamorous rage and logic, which has now sunk irresuscitably dead;—nothing of it much worth mentioning to modern readers, scarcely even its HIC JACET (in Footnotes, for the benefit of the curious!),—and it is, at last, a thing not doubtful to anybody that Friedrich, in that matter did read aright. So that now the loud uproar is reduced to one small question with us, What did he read in those Menzel Documents? What Fact lying in them was it that Friedrich had to read? Here, smelted down by repeated roastings, is succinct answer;—for the ultimate fragment of incombustible here as elsewhere, will go into a nutshell, once the continents of Diplomatist-Gazetteer logic and disorderly stable-litter, threatening to heap themselves over the very stars, have been faithfully burnt away.
Readers heard of a "Union of Warsaw," early in 1745, concluded by the Sea-Powers and the Saxon-Polish and Hungarian Majesties: very harmless UNION of Warsaw, public to all the world,—but with a certain thrice-secret "TREATY of Warsaw" (between Polish and Hungarian Majesty themselves two, the Sea-Powers being horror-struck by mention of it) which had followed thereupon, in an eager and wonderful manner. Thrice-secret Treaty, for Partitioning Friedrich, and settling the respective shares of his skin. Treaty which, to denote its origin, we called of Warsaw; though it was not finished there (shares of skin so difficult to settle), and "Treaty of LEIPZIG, 18th May, 1745," is its ALIAS in Books:—of which Treaty, as the Sea-Powers had recoiled horror-struck, there was no whisper farther, to them or to the rest of exoteric mankind;—though it has been one of the busiest Entities ever since. From the Menzel Documents, I know not after what circuitous gropings and searchings, Friedrich first got notice of that Treaty: [Now printed in OEuvres de Frederic, iv. 40-42.] figure his look on discovering it!
We said it was the remarkablest bit of sheepskin in its Century. Readers have heard too, That it was proposed to Bruhl, by a grateful Austria, directly on signing the Peace of Dresden: "Our Partition-Treaty stands all the same, does it not?"—and in what humor Bruhl answered: "Hah? Get Russia to join!" Both these facts, That there is a Treaty of Warsaw and that this is the Austrian-Saxon temper and intention towards him and it, Friedrich learned from the Menzel Documents. And if the reader will possess himself of these two facts, and understand that they are of a germinative, most vital quality, indestructible by the times and the chances; and have been growing and developing themselves, day and night ever since, in a truly wonderful manner,—the reader knows in substance what Menzel had to reveal.
Russia was got to join;—there are methods of operating on Russia, and kindling a poor fat Czarina into strange suspicions and indignations. In May, 1746, within six months of the Peace of Dresden, a Treaty of Petersburg, new version of the Warsaw one, was brought to parchment; Czarina and Empress-Queen signing,—Bruhl dying to sign, but not daring. How Russia has been got to join, and more and more vigorously bear a hand; how Bruhl's rabidities of appetite, and terrors of heart, have continued ever since; how Austria and Russia,—Bruhl aiding with hysterical alacrity, haunted by terror (and at last mercifully EXCUSED from signing),—have, year after year, especially in this last year, 1755, brought the matter nearer and nearer perfection; and the Two Imperial Majesties, with Bruhl to rear, wait only till they are fully ready, and the world gives opportunity, to pick a quarrel with Friedrich, and overwhelm and partition him, according to covenant: This, wandering through endless mazes of detail, is in sum what the Menzel Documents disclose to Friedrich and us. How, in a space of ten years, the small seed-grain of a Treaty of Warsaw, or Treaty of Petersburg, planted and nourished in that manner, in the Satan's Invisible World, has grown into a mighty Tree there,—prophetic of Facts near at hand; which were extremely sanguinary to the Human Race for the next Seven Years.
This is the sum-total: but for Friedrich's sake, and to illustrate the situation, let us take a few glances more, into the then Satan's Invisible World, which had become so ominously busy round Friedrich and others. The Czarina, we say, was got to engage; 22d May, 1746, there came a Treaty of Petersburg duly valid, which is that of Warsaw under a new name: and still Bruhl durst not, for above a year coming,—not till August 15th, 1747; [MEMOIRE RAISONNE (in Gesammelte Nachrichten ), i. 459.] and then, only in a hypothetic half-and-half way, with fear and trembling, though with hunger unspeakable, in sight of the viands. A very wretched Bruhl, as seen in these Menzel Documents. On poor Polish Majesty Bruhl has played the sorcerer, this long while, and ridden him as he would an enchanted quadruped, in a shameful manner: but how, in turn (as we study Menzel), is Bruhl himself hagridden, hunted by his own devils, and leads such a ghastly phantasmal existence yonder, in the Valley of the Shadow of CLOTHES,—mere Clothes, metaphorical and literal! ["MONTREZ-MOI DES VERTUS, PAS DES CULOTTES (Have you no virtues then to show me; nothing but pain of breeches)!" exclaimed an impatient French Traveller, led about in Bruhl's Palace one day: Archenholtz, Geschichte des Siebenjahrigen Krieges, i. 63.] Wretched Bruhl, agitated with hatreds of a rather infernal nature, and with terrors of a not celestial, comes out on our sympathies, as a dog almost pitiable,—were that possible, with twelve tailors sewing for him, and a Saxony getting shoved over the precipices by him.
A famishing dog in the most singular situation. What he dare do, he does, and with such a will. But there is almost only one thing safe to him: that of egging on the Czarina against Friedrich; of coining lies to kindle Czarish Majesty; of wafting on every wind rumors to that end, and continually besieging with them the empty Czarish mind. Bruhl has many Conduits, "the Sieur de Funck," "the Sieur Gross" plenty of Legationary Sieurs and Conduits;—which issue from all quarters on Petersburg, and which find there a Reservoir, and due Russian SERVICE-PIPES, prepared for them;—and Bruhl is busy. "Commerce of Dantzig to be ruined," suggests he, "that is plain: look at his Asiatic Companies, his Port of Embden. Poland is to be stirred up;—has not your Czarish Majesty heard of his intrigues there? Courland, which is almost become your Majesty's—cunningly snatched by your Majesty's address, like a valuable moribund whale adrift among the shallows,—this bad man will have it out to sea again, with the harpoons in it; fairly afloat amid the Polish Anarchies again!" These are but specimens of Bruhl. Or we can give such in Bruhl's own words, if the reader had rather. Here are Two, which have the advantage of brevity:—
1.... The Sieur de Funck, Saxon Minister at Petersburg, wrote to Count Bruhl, 9th July, 1755 (says an inexorable Record), "That the Sieur Gross [now Minister of Russia at Dresden, who vanished out of Berlin like an angry sky-rocket some years ago] would do a good service to the Common Cause, if he wrote to his Court, 'That the King of Prussia had found a channel in Courland, by which he learned all the secrets of the Russian Court;'" and Sieur Funck added, "that it was expected good use could be made of such a story with her Czarish Majesty."—To which Count Bruhl replies, 23d July, "That he has instructed the Sieur Gross, who will not fail to act in consequence."
2. Sieur Prasse, same Funck's Secretary of Legation, at Petersburg, writes to Count Bruhl, 12th April, 1756:—
"I am bidden signify to your Excellency that it is greatly wished, in order to favor certain views, you would have the goodness to cause arrive in Petersburg, by different channels, the following intelligence: 'That the King of Prussia, on pretext of Commerce, is sending officers and engineers into the Ukraine, to reconnoitre the Country and excite a rebellion there.' And this advice, be pleased to observe, is not to come direct from the Saxon Court, nor by the Envoy Gross, but by some third party,—to the end there may be no concert noticed;—as they [L'ON, the "service-pipes," and managing Excellencies, Russian and Austrian] have given the same commission to other Ministers, so that the news shall come from more places than one.
"They [the said managing Excellencies] have also required me to write to the Baron de Sack," our Saxon Minister in Sweden, "upon it, which I will not fail to do; and they assured me that our Court's advantage was not less concerned in it than that of their own; adding these words [comfortable to one's soul], 'The King of Prussia [in 1745] gave Saxony a blow which it will feel for fifty years; but we will give him one which he will feel for a hundred.'"
To which beautiful suggestion Excellency Bruhl answers, 2d June, 1756: "As to the Secret Commission of conveying to Petersburg, by concealed channels, Intelligence of Prussian machinations in the Ukraine, we are still busy finding out a right channel; and they [L'ON, the managing Excellencies] shall very soon, one way or the other, see the effect of my personal inclination to second what is so good an intention, though a little artful (UN PEU ARTIFICIEUSE,"—UN PEU, nothing to speak of)! [MEMOIRE RAISONNE (in Gesammelte Nachrichten ), i. 424-425; and ib. 472.]
Fancy a poor fat Czarina, of many appetites, of little judgment, continually beaten upon in this manner by these Saxon-Austrian artists and their Russian service-pipes. Bombarded with cunningly devised fabrications, every wind freighted for her with phantasmal rumors, no ray of direct daylight visiting the poor Sovereign Woman; who is lazy, not malignant if she could avoid it: mainly a mass of esurient oil, with alkali on the back of alkali poured in, at this rate, for ten years past; till, by pouring and by stirring, they get her to the state of SOAP and froth! Is it so wonderful that she does, by degrees, rise into eminent suspicion, anger, fear, violence and vehemence against her bad neighbor? One at last begins to conceive those insane whirls, continual mad suspicions, mad procedures, which have given Friedrich such vexation, surprise and provocation in the years past.
Friedrich is always specially eager to avoid ill-will from Russia; but it has come, in spite of all he could do and try. And these procedures of the Czarish Majesty have been so capricious, unintelligible, perverse, and his feeling is often enough irritation, temporary indignation,—which we know makes Verses withal! I can nowhere learn from those Prussian imbroglios of Books, what the Friedrich Sayings or Satirical Verses properly were: Retzow speaks of a PRODUKT, one at least, known in interior Circles. [Retzow, i. 34.] PRODUKT which decidedly requires publication, beyond anything Friedrich ever wrote;—though one can do without it too, and invoke Fancy in defect of Print. The sharpness of Friedrich's tongue we know; and the diligence of birds of the air. To all her other griefs against the bad man, this has given the finish in the tender Czarish bosom;—and like an envenomed drop has set the saponaceous oils (already dosed with alkali, and well in solution) foaming deliriously over the brim, in never-imagined deluges of a hatred that is unappeasable;—very costly to Friedrich and mankind. Rising ever higher, year by year; and now risen, to what height judge by the following:—
AT PETERSBURG, 14th-15th MAY, 1753, "There was Meeting of the Russian Senate, with deliberation held for these two days; and for issue this conclusion come to:—
"That it should be, and hereby is, settled as a fundamental maxim of the Russia Empire, Not only to oppose any farther aggrandizement of the King of Prussia, but to seize the first convenient opportunity for overwhelming (ECRASER), by superior force, the House of Brandenburg [Hear, hear!], and reducing it to its former state of mediocrity." [MEMOIRE RAISONNE (in Gesammelte Nachrichten ), i. 421.] Leg of mutton to be actually gone into. With what an enthusiasm of "Hear, hear!" from Bruhl and kindred parties; especially from Bruhl,—who, however, dare not yet bite, except hypothetically, such his terrors and tremors. Or, look again (same Senate),
AT PETERSBURG, (OCTOBER, 1755): "To which Fundamental Maxim, articulately fixed ever since those Maydays of 1753, the august Russian Sanhedrim, deliberating farther in October, 1755, adds this remarkable extension,
"That it is our resolution to attack the King of Prussia without farther discussion, whensoever the said King shall attack any Ally of Russia's, or shall himself be attacked by any of them." Hailed by Bruhl, as natural, with his liveliest approval. "A glorious Deliberation, that, indeed!" writes he: "It clears the way of action for Russia's Allies in this matter; and for us too; though nobody can blame us, if we proceed with the extremest caution,"—and rather wait till the Bear is nearly killed. [MEMOIRE RAISONNE (in Gesammelte Nachrichten ), i. 422.]
Many marvels Friedrich had deciphered out of this Weingarten-Menzel Apocalypse of Satan's Invisible World; and one often fancies Friedrich's tone of mind, in his intense inspecting of that fateful continent of darkness, and his labyrinthic stepping by degrees to the oracular points, which have a light in them when flung open. But in respect of practical interest, this of October, 1755 (which would get to Potsdam probably in few weeks after) must have surpassed all the others. Marvels many, one after the other: [For example, or in recapitulation: a Treaty of Warsaw or Leipzig, to partition him (18th May, 1745); Treaty of Petersburg (22d May, 1746, new form of Warsaw Treaty, with Czarina superadded); tremulous Quasi-Accession thereto of his Polish Majesty (most tremulous, hypothetic Quasi-Accession, "Yes-AND-No," 15th August, 1747, and often afterwards); first Deliberation of the Russian Senate, 15th May, 1753; &c. &c. For example, or in recapitulation: a Treaty of Warsaw or Leipzig, to partition him (18th May, 1745); Treaty of Petersburg (22d May, 1746, new form of Warsaw Treaty, with Czarina superadded); tremulous Quasi-Accession thereto of his Polish Majesty (most tremulous, hypothetic Quasi-Accession, "Yes-AND-No," 15th August, 1747, and often afterwards); first Deliberation of the Russian Senate, 15th May, 1753; &c. &c.] no doubt left, long since, of the constant disposition, preparation and fixed intention to partition him. But here, in this last indication by the Russian Senate,—which kindles into dismal evidence so many other enigmatic tokens,—there has an ulterior oracular point disclosed itself to Friedrich; in vaguer condition, but not less indubitable, and much more perilous: namely, That now, at last (end of 1755), the Two Imperial Majesties, very eager both, consider that the time is come. And are—as Friedrich looks abroad on the Austrian-Russian marchings of troops, campings, and unusual military symptoms and combinations—visibly preparing to that end.
"They have agreed to attack me next Year (1756), if they can; and next again (1757), without IF:" so Friedrich, putting written word and public occurrence together, gradually reads; and so, all readers will see, the fact was,—though Imperial Majesty at Schonbrunn, as we shall find, strove to deny it when applied to; and scouted, as mere fiction and imagination, the notion of such an "Agreement." Which I infer, therefore, NOT to have existed in parchment; not in parchment, but only in reality, and as a mutual Bond registered in—shall we say "in Heaven", as some are wont?—registered, perhaps, in TWO Places, very separate indeed! No truer "Agreement" ever did exist;—though a devout Imperial Majesty denies it, who would shudder at the lie direct.
Poor Imperial Majesty: who can tell her troubles and straits in this abstruse time! Heaven itself ordering her to get back the Silesia of her Fathers, if she could;—yet Heaven always looking dubious, surely, upon this method of doing it. By solemn Public Treaties signed in sight of all mankind; and contrariwise, in the very same moments, by Secret Treaties, of a fell nature, concocted underground, to destroy the life of these! Imperial Majesty flatters herself it may be fair: "Treaty of Dresden, Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle; Treaties wrung from me by force, the tyrannic Sea-Powers screwing us; Kaunitz can tell! A consummate Kaunitz; who has provided remedies. Treaties do get broken. Besides, I will not go to War, unless HE the Bad One of Prussia do!"—Alas, your noble Majesty, plain it at least is, your love of Silesia is very strong. And consummate Kaunitz and it have led you into strange predicaments. The Pompadour, for instance: who was it that answered, "JE NE LA CONNAIS PAS; I don't know her!"? How gladly would the Imperial Maria Theresa, soul of Propriety, have made that answer! But she did not; she had to answer differently. For Kaunitz was imperative: "A kind little Note to the Pompadour; one, and then another and another; it is indispensable, your Imperial Majesty!" And Imperial Majesty always had to do it. And there exist in writing, at this hour, various flattering little Notes from Imperial Majesty to that Address; which begin, "MA COUSINE," "PRINCESSE ET COUSINE," say many witnesses; nay "MADAME MA TRES CHERE SOEUR," says one good witness: [Hormayr (cited in Preuss, i. 433 n.),—as are Duclos; Montgaillard; MEMOIRES DE RICHELIEU; &c.]—Notes which ought to have been printed, before this, or given at least to the Museums. "My Cousin," "Princess and Cousin," "Madame my dearest Sister:" Oh, high Imperial Soul, with what strange bed-fellows does Misery of various kinds bring us acquainted!
Friedrich was blamably imprudent in regard to Pompadour, thinks Valori: "A little complaisance might have—what might it not have done!—" But his Prussian Majesty would not. And while the Ministers of all the other Powers allied with France "went assiduously to pay their court to Madame, the Baron von Knyphausen alone, by his Master's order, never once went." ["Don't! JE NE LA CONNAIS PAS"],—while the Empress-Queen was writing her the most flattering letters. The Prince of Prussia, King's eldest Brother, wished ardently to obtain her Portrait, and had applied to me for it; as had Prince Henri to my Predecessor. The King, who has such gallant and seductive ways when he likes, could certainly have reconciled this "celebrated Lady",—a highly important Improper Female to him and others. [Valori, i. 320.]
Yes; but he quite declined, not counting the costs. Costs may be immediate; profits are remote,—remote, but sure. Costs did indeed prove considerable, perhaps far beyond his expectation; though, I flatter myself, they never awoke much remorse in him, on that score!—
Friedrich's Enigma, towards the end of 1755 and onwards, is becoming frightfully stringent; and the solution, "What practically will be the wise course for me?" does not lessen in abstruse intricacy, but the reverse, as it grows more pressing. A very stormy and dubious Future, truly! Two circumstances in it will be highly determinative: one of them evident to Friedrich; the other unknown to him, and to all mortals, except two or three. FIRST,
That there will be an English-French War straightway; and that, as usual, the French, weaker at sea, will probably attack Hanover;— that is to say, bring the War home to one's own door, and ripen into fulfilment those Austrian-Russian Plots. This is the evident circumstance, fast coming on; visible to Friedrich and to everybody. But that, in such event, Austria will join, not with England, but with France: this is a SECOND circumstance, guessable by nobody; known only to Kaunitz and a select one or two; but which also will greatly complicate Friedrich's position, and render his Enigma indeed astonishingly intricate, as well as stringent for solution!
Britannic Majesty, I know not at what date, but before the launching of that poor Braddock thunder-bolt, much more after the tragic explosion it made, had felt that French War was nearly inevitable, and also that the French method would be, as heretofore, to attack Hanover, and wound him in that tender part. There goes on, accordingly, a lively Foreign Diplomatizing, on his Majesty's part, at present,—in defect, almost total, of Domestic Preparation, military and other;—Majesty and Ministers expecting salvation from abroad, as usual. Military preparation does lag at a shameful rate: but, on the other hand, there is a great deal of pondering, really industrious considering and contriving, about Foreign Allies, and their subsidies and engagements. That step, for example, the questionable Seizure of the French Ships WITHOUT Declaration of War, was a contrivance by diplomatic Heads (of bad quality): "Seize their ships," said some bad Head, after meditating; "put their ships in SEQUESTRATION, till they do us justice. If they won't, and go to War,—then THEY are the Aggressors, not we; and our Allies have to send their auxiliary quotas, as per contract!" So the Ships were seized; held in sequestration, "till many of the cargoes (being perishable goods, some even fish) rotted." [Smollett's History of England; &c. &c.] And in return, as will be seen, not one auxiliary came to hand: so that the diplomatic Head had his rotted cargoes, and much public obloquy, for his pains. Not a fortunate stroke of business, that!—
Britannic Majesty, on applying at Vienna (through Keith, Sir or Mr. Robert Keith, the FIRST Excellency of that name, for there are two, a father and a son, both Vienna Excellencies), was astonished to learn That, in such event of an Aggression, even on Hanover, there was no co-operation to be looked for here. Altogether cold on that subject, her Imperial Majesty seems; regardless of Excellency Keith's remonstrances and urgencies; and, in the end, is flatly negatory: "Cannot do it, your Excellency; times so perilous, bad King of Prussia so minatory,"—not to mention, SOTTO VOCE that we have turned on our axis, and the wind (thanks to Kaunitz) no longer hits us on the same cheek as formerly!
"Cannot? Will not?" Britannic Majesty may well stare, wide-eyed; remembering such gigantic Subsidizings and Alcides Labors, Dettingens, Fontenoys, on the per-contra side. But so stands the fact: "No help from an ungrateful Vienna;—quick, then, seek elsewhere!" And Hanbury and the Continental British Excellencies have to bestir themselves as they never did. Especially Hanbury; who is directed upon Russia,—whom alone of these Excellencies it is worth while to follow for a moment. Russia, on fair subsidy, yielded us a 35,000 last War (willingly granted, most useful, though we had no fighting out of them, mere terror of them being enough): beyond all things, let Hanbury do his best in Russia!
Hanbury, cheerfully confident, provides himself with the requisites, store of bribe-money as the chief;—at Warsaw withal, he picks up one Poniatowski (airy sentimental coxcomb, rather of dissolute habits, handsomest and windiest of young Polacks): "Good for a Lover to the Grand-Duchess, this one!" thinks Hanbury. Which proved true, and had its uses for Hanbury;—Grand-Duchess and Grand-Duke (Catherine and Peter, whom we saw wedded twelve years ago, Heirs-Apparent of this Russian Chaos) being an abstrusely situated pair of Spouses; well capable of something political, in private ways, in such a scene of affairs; and Catherine, who is an extremely clever creature, being out of a lover just now. A fine scene for the Diplomatist, this Russia at present. Nowhere in the world can you do so much with bribery; quite a standing item, and financial necessary-of-life to Officials of the highest rank there, as Hanbury well knows. [His Letters (in Raumer), PASSIM.] That of Poniatowski proved, otherwise too, a notable stroke of Hanbury's; and shot the poor Polish Coxcomb aloft into tragic altitudes, on the sudden, as we all know!
Hanbury's immense dexterities, and incessant labors at Petersburg, shall lie hidden in the slop-pails: it is enough to say, his guineas, his dexterities and auxiliary Poniatowskis did prevail; and he triumphantly signed his Treaty (Petersburg, 30th September) "Subsidy-Treaty for 55,000 men, 15,000 of them cavalry," not to speak of "40 to 50 galleys" and the like; "to attack whomsoever Britannic Majesty bids: annual cost a mere 500,000 pounds while on service; 100,000 pounds while waiting." [In Adelung, vii. 609.] And, what is more, and what our readers are to mark, the 55,000 begin on the instant to assemble,—along the Livonian Frontier or Lithuanian, looking direct into Preussen. Diligently rendezvousing there; 55,000 of them, nay gradually 70,000; no stinginess in the Czarina to her Ally of England. A most triumphant thing, thinks Hanbury: Could another of you have done it? Signed, ready for ratifying, 30th September, 1755 (bad Braddock news not hindering);—and before it is ratified (this also let readers mark), the actual Troops getting on march.
Hanbury's masterpiece, surely; a glorious triumph in the circumstances, and a difficult, thinks Hanbury. Had Hanbury seen the inside of the cards, as readers have, he would not have thought it so triumphant. For years past,—especially since that "Fundamental maxim, May 14th-15th, 1753," which we heard of,—the Czarina's longings had been fixed. And here now—scattering money from both hands of it, and wooing us with diplomatic finessings—is the Fulfilment come! "Opportunity" upon Preussen; behold it here.
The Russian Senate again holds deliberation; declares (on the heel of this Hanbury Treaty), "in October, 1755," what we read above, That its Anti-Prussian intentions are—truculent indeed. And it is the common talk in Petersburg society, through Winter, what a dose the ambitious King of Prussia has got brewed for him, [MEMOIRE RAISONNE (in Gesammelte Nachrichten ), i. 429, &c.] out of Russian indignation and resources, miraculously set afloat by English guineas. A triumphant Hanbury, for the time being,—though a tragical enough by and by!
King Friedrich's outlooks, on this consummation, may well seem to him critical. The sore longing of an infuriated Czarina is now let loose, and in a condition to fulfil itself! To Friedrich these Petersburg news are no secret; nor to him are the Petersburg private intentions a thing that can be doubted. Apart from the Menzel-Weingarten revelations, as we noticed once, it appears the Grand-Duke Peter (a great admirer of Friedrich, poor confused soul) had himself thrice-secretly warned Friedrich, That the mysterious Combination, Russia in the van, would attack him next Spring;—"not Weingarten that betrayed our GRAND MYSTERE; from first hand, that was done!" said Excellency Peubla, on quitting Berlin not long after. [Cogniazzo, Gestandnisse eines OEsterreichischen Veterans (as cited above), i. 225. "September 16th, 1756," Peubla left Berlin (Rodenbeck, i. 298),—three months after Weingarten's disappearance.] The Grand Mystery is not uncertain to Friedrich; and it may well be very formidable,—coupled with those Braddock explosions, Seizures of French ships, and English-French War imminent, and likely to become a general European one; which are the closing prospects of 1755. The French King he reckons not to be well disposed to him; their old Treaty of "twelve years" (since 1744) is just about running out. Not friendly, the French King, owing to little rubs that have been; still less the Pompadour;—though who could guess how implacable she was at "not being known (NE LA CONNAIS PAS)"! At Vienna, he is well aware, the humor towards him is mere cannibalism in refined forms. But most perilous of all, most immediately perilous, is the implacable Czarina, set afloat upon English guineas!
With a hope, as is credibly surmised, that the English might soothe or muzzle this implacable Czarina, Friedrich, directly after Hanbury's feat in Petersburg, applied at London, with an Offer which was very tempting there: "Suppose your Britannic Majesty would make, with me, an express 'NEUTRALITY CONVENTION;' mutual Covenant to keep the German Reich entirely free of this War now threatening to break out? To attack jointly, and sweep home again with vigor, any and every Armed Non-German setting foot on the German soil!" An offer most welcome to the Heads of Opposition, the Pitts and others of that Country; who wish dear Hanover safe enough (safe in Davy-Jones's locker, if that would do); but are tired of subsidizing, and fighting and tumulting, all the world over, for that high end. So that Friedrich's Proposal is grasped at; and after a little manipulation, the thing is actually concluded.
By no means much manipulation, both parties being willing. There was uncommonly rapid surgery of any little difficulties and discrepancies; rapid closure, instant salutary stitching together of that long unhealable Privateer Controversy, as the main item: "20,000 pounds allowed to Prussia for Prussian damages; and to England, from the other side, the remainder of Silesiau Debt, painfully outstanding for two or three years back, is to be paid off at once;"—and in this way such "NEUTRALITY CONVENTION OF PRUSSIA WITH ENGLAND" comes forth as a Practical Fact upon mankind. Done at Westminster, 16th January, 1756. The stepping-stone, as it proved, to a closer Treaty of the same date next Year; of which we shall hear a great deal. The stepping-stone, in fact, to many large things;—and to the ruin of our late "Russian-Subsidy Treaty" (Hanbury's masterpiece), for one small thing. "That is a Treaty signed, sure enough," answer they of St. James's; "and we will be handsome about it to her Czarish Majesty; but as to RATIFYING it, in its present form,—of course, never!"
What a clap of thunder to Excellency Hanbury; his masterpiece found suddenly a superfluity, an incommodity! The Orthodox English course now is, "No foreign soldiers at all to be allowed in Germany;" and there are the 55,000 tramping on with such alacrity. "We cannot ratify that Treaty, Excellency Hanbury," writes the Majesty's Ministry, in a tone not of gratitude: "you must turn it some other way!" A terrible blow to Hanbury, who had been expecting gratitude without end. And now, try how he might, there was no turning it another way; this, privately, and this only, being the Czarina's own way. A Czarina obstinate to a degree; would not consent, even when they made her the liberal offer, "Keep your 55,000 at home; don't attack the King of Prussia with them; you shall have your Subsidy all the same!" "No, I won't!" answered she,—to Hanbury's amazement. Hanbury had not read the Weingarten-Menzel Documents;—what double double of toil and trouble might Hanbury have saved himself and others, could he have read them!
Hanbury could not, still less could the Majesty's Ministry, surmise the Czarina's secret at all, now or for a good while coming. And in fact, poor Hanbury, busy as a Diplomatic bee, never did more good in Russia, or out of it. By direction of the Majesty's Ministry, Hanbury still tried industriously, cash in both hands; tried various things: "Assuage the Czarina's mind; reconcile her to King Friedrich;"—all in vain. "Unite Austria, Russia and England, can't you, then?—in a Treaty against the Designs of France:" how very vain! Then, at a later stage, "Get us the Czarina to mediate between Prussia and Austria" (so very possible to sleek them down into peace, thought Majesty's Ministry):—and unwearied Hanbury, cunning eloquence on his lips, and money in both hands, tries again, and ever again, for many months. And in the way of making ropes from sand, it must be owned there never was such twisting and untwisting, as that appointed Hanbury. Who in fact broke his heart by it;—and died mad, by his own hand, before long. [Hanbury's "Life" (in Works, vol. iii.) gives sad account.] Poor soul, after all!—Here are some Russian Notices from him (and he has many curious, not pertinent here), which are still worth gleaning.
PETERSBURG, 2d OCTOBER, 1755.... "The health of the Empress [Czarina Elizabeth, CATIN DU NORD, age now forty-five] is bad. She is affected with spitting of blood, shortness of breath, constant coughing, swelled legs and water on the chest; yet she danced a minuet with me," lucky Hanbury. "There is great fermentation at Court. Peter [Grand-Duke Peter] does not conceal his enmity to the Schuwalofs [paramours of CATIN, old and new]; Catherine [Grand-Duchess, who at length has an Heir, unbeautiful Czar Paul that will be, and "miscarriages" not a few] is on good terms with Bestuchef" (corruptiblest brute of a Chancellor ever known, friend to England by England's giving him 10,000 pounds, and the like trifles, pretty frequently; Friedrich's enemy, chiefly from defect of that operation)—she is "on good terms with Bestuchef. I think it my duty to inform the King [great George, who will draw his prognostics from it] of my observations upon her; which I can the better do, as I often have conversations with her for hours together, as at supper my rank places me always next to her," twice-lucky Hanbury.
"Since her coming to this Country, she has, by every method in her power, endeavored to gain the affections of the Nation: she applied herself with diligence to study their language; and speaks it at present, as the Russians tell me, in the greatest perfection. She has also succeeded in her other aim; for she is esteemed and beloved here in a high degree. Her person is very advantageous, and her manners very captivating. She has great knowledge of this Empire; and makes it her only study. She has parts; and Great-Chancellor [brute Bestuchef] tells me that nobody has more steadiness and resolution. She has, of late, openly declared herself to me in respect of the King of Prussia;"—hates him a good deal, "natural and formidable enemy of Russia;" "heart certainly the worst in the world [and so on; but will see better by and by, having eyes of her own]:—she never mentions the King of England but with the utmost respect and highest regard; is thoroughly sensible of the utility of the union between England and Russia; always calls his Majesty the Empress's best and greatest Ally [so much of nourishment in him withal, as in a certain web-footed Chief of Birds, reckoned chief by some]; and hopes he will also give his friendship and protection to the Grand-Duke and herself.—As for the Grand-Duke, he is weak and violent; but his confidence in the Grand-Duchess is so great, that sometimes he tells people, that though he does not understand things himself, his Wife understands everything. Should the Empress, as I fear, soon die, the Government will quietly devolve on them." [Hanbury's Despatch, "October 2d, 1755" (Raumer, pp. 223-225); Subsidy Treaty still at its floweriest.]
Catherine's age is twenty-six gone; her Peter's twenty-seven: one of the cleverest young Ladies in the world, and of the stoutest-hearted, clearest-eyed;—yoked to a young Gentleman much the reverse. Thank Hanbury for this glimpse of them, most intricately situated Pair; who may concern us a little in the sequel.—And, in justice to poor Hanover, the sad subject-matter of Excellency Hanbury's Problems and Futilities in Russia and elsewhere, let us save this other Fraction by a very different hand; and close that Hanbury scene:—
"Friedrich himself was so dangerous," says the Constitutional Historian once: "Friedrich, in alliance with France, how easy for him to catch Hanover by the throat at a week's notice, throw a death-noose round the throat of poor Hanover, and hand the same to France for tightening at discretion! Poor Hanover indeed; she reaps little profit from her English honors: what has she had to do with these Transatlantic Colonies of England? An unfortunate Country, if the English would but think; liable to be strangled at any time, for England's quarrels: the Achilles'-heel to invulnerable England; a sad function for Hanover, if it be a proud one, and amazingly lucrative to some Hanoverians. The Country is very dear to his Britannic Majesty in one sense, very dear to Britain in another! Nay Germany itself, through Hanover, is to be torn up by War for Transatlantic interests,—out of which she does not even get good Virginia tobacco, but grows bad of her own. No more concern than the Ring of Saturn with these over-sea quarrels; and can, through Hanover, be torn to pieces by War about them. Such honor to give a King to the British Nation, in a strait for one; and such profit coming of it:—we hope all sides are grateful for the blessings received!"
To expectant mankind, especially to Vienna and Versailles, this Britannic-Prussian Treaty was a great surprise. And indeed it proved the signal of a general System of New Treaties all round. The first signal, in fact,—though by no means the first cause,—of a total circumgyration, summerset, or tumble heels-over-head in the Political relations of Europe altogether, which ensued thereupon; miraculous, almost as the Earthquake at Lisbon, to the Gazetteer, and Diplomatic mind, and incomprehensible for long years after. First signal we say, by no means that it was the first cause, or indeed that it was a cause at all,—the thing being determined elsewhere long before; ever since 1753, when Kaunitz left it ready, waiting only its time.
Kaiser Franz, they say, when (probably during those Keith urgencies) the joining with France and turning against poor Britannic Majesty was proposed in Council at Vienna, opened his usually silent lips; and opined with emphasis against such a course, no Kaunitz or creature able to persuade Kaiser Franz that good would come of it;—though, finding Sovereign Lady and everybody against him, he held his peace again. And returned to his private banking operations, which were more extensive than ever, from the new troubles rising. "Lent the Empress-Queen, always on solid securities," says Friedrich, "large sums, from time to time, in those Wars; dealt in Commissariat stores to right and left; we ourselves had most of our meal from him this year." [OEuvres de Frederic, iv. 8.] Kaiser Franz was, and continued, of the old way of thinking; but consummate Kaunitz, and the High Lady's fixed passion for her Schlesien, had changed everybody else. The ulterior facts are as follows, abbreviated to the utmost.
September 22d, 1755, a few days before Hanbury's Subsidy-feat at Petersburg, which took such a whirl for Hanbury, there had met for the first time at Versailles, more especially at Babiole, Pleasure-House of the Pompadour, a most Select Committee of Three Persons: Graf von Stahremberg, Austrian Ambassador; Pompadour herself; and a certain infinitely elegant Count and Reverence de Bernis (beautiful Clerico-Mundane Gentleman, without right Benefice hitherto, but much in esteem with the Pompadour);—for deepest practical consideration in regard to closure of a French-Austrian Alliance. Reverend Count (subsequently Cardinal) de Bernis has sense in Diplomacy; has his experiences in Secular Diplomatic matters; a soft-going cautious man, not yet official, but tending that way: whom the Pompadour has brought with her as henchman, or unghostly counsellor, in this intricate Adventure.
Stahremberg, instructed from home, has no hesitation; nor has Pompadour herself, remembering that insolent "JE NE LA CONNAIS PAS," and the per-contra "MA COUSINE," "PRINCESSE ET SOEUR:"—but Bernis, I suppose, looks into the practical difficulties; which are probably very considerable, to the Official French eye, in the present state of Europe and of the public mind. From September 22d, or autumnal equinox, 1755, onward to this Britannic-Prussian phenomenon of January, 1756, the Pompadour Conclave has been sitting,—difficulties, no doubt, considerable. I will give only the dates, having myself no interest in such a Committee at Babiole; but the dates sufficiently betoken that there were intricacies, conflicts between the new and the old. Hitherto the axiom always was, "Prussia the Adjunct and Satellite of France:" now to be entirely reversed, you say?
JULY, 1755, that is two months before this Babiole Committee met, a Duc de Nivernois, respectable intelligent dilettante French Nobleman, had been named as Ambassador to Friedrich, "Go, you respectable wise Nivernois, Nobleman of Letters so called; try and retain Friedrich for us, as usual!" And now, on meeting of the Babiole Committee, Nivernois does not go; lingers, saddled and bridled, till the very end of the Year; arrives in Berlin January 12th, 1756. Has his First Audience January 14th; a man highly amiable to Friedrich; but with proposals,—wonderful indeed.
The French, this good while back, are in no doubt about War with England, a right hearty War; and have always expected to retain Prussia as formerly,—though rather on singular terms. Some time ago, for instance, M. de Rouille, War-Minister, requested Knyphausen, Prussian Envoy at Paris: "Suggest to your King's Majesty what plunder there is at Hanover. Perfectly at liberty to keep it all, if he will plunder Hanover for us!" [OEuvres de Frederic, iv. 29.] Pleasant message to the proud King; who answered with the due brevity, to the purport, "Silence, Sir!"—with didactic effects on the surprised Rouille. Who now mends his proposal; though again in a remarkable way. Instructs Nivernois, namely, "To offer King Friedrich the Island of Tobago, if he will renew Treaty, and take arms for us. Island of Tobago (a deserted, litigated, but pretty Island, were it ever ours), will not that entice this King, intent on Commerce?" Friedrich, who likes Nivernois and his polite ways, answers quizzingly: "Island of Tobago? Island of Barataria your Lordship must be meaning; Island of which I cannot be the Sancho Panza!" [Ib. 31.] And Nivernois found he must not mention Tobago again.
For the rest, Friedrich made no secret of his English Treaty; showed it with all frankness to Nivernois, in all points: "Is there, can the most captious allege that there is, anything against France in it. My one wish and aim, that of Peace for myself: judge!" Nivernois stayed till March; but seems to have had, of definite, only Tobago and good words; so that nothing farther came of him, and there was no Renewal of Treaty then or after. Thus, in his third month (March, 1756), practical Nivernois was recalled, without result;—instead of whom fat Valori was sent; privately intending "to do nothing but observe, in Berlin." From all which, we infer that the Babiole Committee now saw land; and that Bernis himself had decided in the affirmative: "Austria, not Prussia; yes, Madame!" To the joy of Madame and everybody. For, it is incredible, say all witnesses, what indignation broke out in Paris when Friedrich made this new "defection," so they termed it; revolt from his Liege Lord (who had been so exemplary to him on former occasions!), and would not bite at Tobago when offered. So that the Babiole Committee went on, henceforth, with flowing sea; and by Mayday (1st MAY, 1756) brought out its French-Austrian Treaty in a completed state. "To stand by one another," like Castor and Pollux, in a manner; "24,000, reciprocally, to be ready on demand;" nay I think something of "subsidies" withal,—TO Austria, of course. But the particulars are not worth giving; the Performance, thanks to a zealous Pompadour, having quite outrun the Stipulation, and left it practically out of sight, when the push came. Our Constitutional Historian may shadow the rest:—
"France and England going to War in these sad circumstances, and France and Austria being privately prepared [by Kaunitz and others] to swear everlasting friendship on the occasion, instead of everlasting enmity as heretofore; unexpected changes, miraculous to the Gazetteers, became inevitable;—nothing less, in short, than explosion or topsy-turvying of the old Diplomatic-Political Scheme of Europe. Old dance of the Constellations flung heels-over-head on the sudden; and much pirouetting, jigging, setting, before they could change partners, and continue their august dance again, whether in War or Peace. No end to the industrious wonder of the Gazetteer mind, to the dark difficulties of the Diplomatic. What bafflings, agonistic shufflings, impotent gazings into the dark; what seductive fiddling, and being fiddled to! A most sad function of Humanity, if sometimes an inevitable one; which ought surely at all times to be got over as briefly as possible. To be written of, especially, with a maximum of brevity; human nature being justly impatient of talk about it, beyond the strictly needful."
Most true it is, and was most miraculous, though now quite forgotten again, Political Europe had to make a complete whirl-round on that occasion. And not in a day, and merely saying to itself, "Let me do summerset!" as idle readers suppose,—but with long months of agonistic shuffle and struggle in all places, and such Diplomatic fiddling and being fiddled to, as seldom was before. Of which, these two instances, the Bernis and the Hanbury, are to serve as specimen; two and no more: a universe of extinct fiddling compressed into two nutshells, if readers have an ear.
The French, in reality a good deal astonished at the Prussian-Britannic Treaty, affected to take it easy: "Treaty for Neutrality of Germany?" said they: "Very good indeed. Perhaps there are places nearer us, where our troops can be employed to more advantage!" [Their "Declaration" on it (Adelung, vii. 613.)]—hinting vocally, as henceforth their silent procedures, their diligence in the dockyards, moving of troops coastward and the like, still more clearly did, That an Invasion of England itself was the thing next to be expected.
England and France are, by this time, alike fiercely determined on War; but their states of preparation are very different. The French have War-ships again, not to mention Armies which they always have; some skilful Admirals withal,—La Gallisonniere, our old Canada friend, is one, very busy at present;—and mean to try seriously the Question of Sea-Supremacy once more. If an Invasion did chance to land, the state of England would be found handy beyond hope! How many fighting regiments England has, I need not inquire, nor with what strategic virtue they would go to work;—enough to mention the singular fact (recently true, and still, I perceive, too like the truth), That of all their regiments, "only Three are in this Country", or have Colonels even nominated. Incredible; but certain. And the interesting point is, his Grace of Newcastle dare not have Colonels, still less higher Officers nominated; because Royal Highness of Cumberland would have the naming of them, and they would be enemies to his Grace. [Walpole, George the Second, ii. 19 (date, "March 25th, 1755;" and how long after, is not said: but see Pitt's Speeches, ib., all through 1756, and farther).] In such posture stands the Envy of surrounding Nations at this moment.
"Hire Hessians," cry they; "hire Hanoverians; if France land on us, we are undone!"—and continue their Parliamentary Eloquences in a most distressful manner. "Apply to the Dutch, at any rate, for their 6,000 as per Treaty", cries everybody. Which is done. But the Dutch piteously wring their hands: "Dare not, your Majesty; how dare we, for France and our neglected Barrier! Oh, generous Majesty, excuse us!"—and the generous Majesty has to do it; and leave the Dutch in peace, this time. Hessians, Hanoverians, after eloquence enough, are at last got sent for, to guard us against this terrible Invasion: about 10,000 of each kind; and do land,—the native populations very sulky on them ("We won't billet you, not we; build huts, and be—!"), with much Parliamentary and Newspaper Commentary going on, of a distressful nature. "Saturday, 15th May, 1756, Hessians disembark at Southampton; obliged to pitch Camp in the neighborhood: Friday, 21st May, the Hanoverians, at Chatham, who hut themselves Canterbury way;"—and have (what is the sum-total of their achievements in this Country) a case of shoplifting, "pocket-handkerchief, across the counter, in open day;" one case (or what seemed to be one, but was not); ["At Maidstone, 13th Septemher, 1756;" Hanoverian soldier, purchasing a handkerchief, imagines he has purchased two (not yet clipt asunder), haberdasher and he having no language in common: Gentleman's Magazine, for 1756, pp. 259, 448, &c.; Walpole, SAEPIUS.] "and the fellow not to be tried by us for it!" which enrages the constitutional heart. Alas, my heavy-laden constitutional heart; but what can we do? These drilled louts will guard us, should this terrible Invasion land. And indeed, about three weeks BEFORE these louts arrived, the terrible Invasion had declared itself to have been altogether a feint; and had lifted anchor, quite in the opposite direction, on an errand we shall hear of soon!
About the same date, I observe, "the first regiment of Footguards practising the Prussian drill-exercise in Hyde Park;" and hope his Grace of Newcastle and the Hero of Culloden (immortal Hero, and aiming high in Politics at this time) will, at least, have fallen upon some method of getting Colonels nominated. But the wide-weltering chaos of platitudes, agitated by hysterical imbecilities, regulating England in this great crisis, fills the constitutional mind with sorrow; and indeed is definable, once more, as amazing! England is a stubborn Country; but it was not by procedures of the Cumberland-Newcastle kind that England, and her Colonies, and Sea-and-Land Kingdoms, was built together; nor by these, except miracle intervene, that she can stand long against stress! Looking at the dismal matter from this distance, there is visible to me in the foggy heart of it one lucent element, and pretty much one only; the individual named William Pitt, as I have read him: if by miracle that royal soul could, even for a time, get to something of Kingship there? Courage; miracles do happen, let us hope!—This is whitherward the grand Invasion had gone:—
TOULON, 10th APRIL, 1756. La Gallisonniere, our old Canadian friend, a crooked little man of great faculty, who has been busy in the dockyards lately, weighs anchor from Toulon; "12 sail of the line, 5 frigates and above 100 transport-ships;" with the grand Invasion-of-England Armament on board: 16,000 picked troops, complete in all points, Marechal Duc de Richelieu commanding. [Adelung, viii. 70.] Weighs anchor; and, singular to see, steers, not for England, and the Hessian-Hanover Defenders (who would have been in such excellent time); but direct for Minorca, as the surer thing! Will seize Minorca; a so-called inexpugnable Possession of the English,—Key of their Mediterranean Supremacies;—really inexpugnable enough; but which lies in the usual dilapidated state, though by chance with a courageous old Governor in it, who will not surrender quite at once.
APRIL 18th, La Gallisonniere disembarks his Richelieu with a Sixteen Thousand, unopposed at Port-Mahon, or Fort St. Philip, in Minorca; who instantly commences Siege there. To the astonishment of England and his Grace of Newcastle who, except old Governor Blakeney, much in dilapidation ("wooden platforms rotten," "batteries out of repair," and so on), have nothing ready for Richelieu in that quarter. The story of Minorca; and the furious humors and tragic consummations that arose on it, being still well known, we will give the dates only.
FORT ST. PHILIP, APRIL 18th-MAY 20th. For a month, Richelieu, skilful in tickling the French troops, has been besieging, in a high and grandiose way; La Gallisonniere vigilantly cruising; old Blakeney, in spite of the rotten platforms, vigorously holding out; when—May 19th, La Gallisonniere descries an English fleet in the distance; indisputably an English fleet; and clears his decks for a serious Affair just coming. THURSDAY, 20th MAY, Admiral Byng accordingly (for it is he, son of that old seaworthy Byng, who once "blew out" a minatory Spanish Fleet and "an absurd Flame of War" in the Straits of Messina, and was made Lord Torrington in consequence,—happily now dead)—Admiral Byng does come on; and gains himself a name badly memorable ever since. Attacks La Gallisonniere, in a wide-lying, languid, hovering, uncertain manner:—"Far too weak" he says; "much disprovided, destitute, by blame of Ministry and of everybody" (though about the strength of La Gallisonniere, after all);—is almost rather beaten by La Gallisonniere; does not in the least, beat him to the right degree:—and sheers off: in the night-time, straight for Gibraltar again. To La Gallisonniere's surprise, it is said; no doubt to old Blakeney and his poor Garrison's, left so, to their rotten platforms and their own shifts.
Blakeney and Garrison stood to their guns in a manful manner, for above a month longer; day after day, week after week, looking over the horizon for some Byng or some relief appearing, to no purpose! JUNE 14th, there are three available breaches; the walls, however, are very sheer (a Fortress hewn in the rock): Richelieu scanning them dubiously, and battering his best, for about a fortnight more, is ineffectual on Blakeney.
JUNE 27th, Richelieu, taking his measures well, tickling French honor well, has determined on storm. Richelieu, giving order of the day, "Whosoever of you is found drunk shall NOT be of the storm-party" (which produced such a teetotalism as nothing else had done),—storms, that night, with extreme audacity. The Place has to capitulate: glorious victory; honorable defence: and Minorca gone.
And England is risen to a mere smoky whirlwind, of rage, sorrow and darkness, against Byng and others. Smoky darkness, getting streaked with dangerous fire. "Tried?" said his Grace of Newcastle to the City Deputation: "Oh indeed he shall be tried immediately; he shall be hanged directly!"—assure yourselves of that. [Walpole, ii. 231: Details of the Siege, ib. 218-225; in Gentleman's Magazine, xxvi. 256, 312-313, 358; in Adelung, vii.; &c. &c.] And Byng's effigy was burnt all over England. And mobs attempt to burn his Seat and Park; and satires and caricatures and firebrands are coming out: and the poor Constitutional Country is bent on applying surgery, if it but know how. Surgery to such indisputable abominations was certainly desirable. The new Relief Squadron, which had been despatched by Majesty's Ministry, was too late for Blakeney, but did bring home a superseded Byng.
SPITHEAD, TUESDAY, 27th JULY, The superseded Byng arrives; is punctually arrested, on arriving: "Him we will hang directly:—is there anything else we can try [except, perhaps, it were hanging of ourselves, and our fine methods of procedure], by way of remedying you?"—War against France, now a pretty plain thing, had been "declared," 17th May (French counter-declaring, 9th June): and, under a Duke of Newcastle and a Hero of Culloden, not even pulling one way, but two ways; and a Talking-Apparatus full of discords at this time, and pulling who shall say how many ways,—the prospects of carrying on said War are none of the best. Lord Loudon, a General without skill, and commanding, as Pitt declares, "a scroll of Paper hitherto" (a good few thousands marked on it, and perhaps their Colonels even named), is about going for America; by no means yet gone, a long way from gone: and, if the Laws of Nature be suspended—Enough of all that!
Friedrich's situation, in those fatefully questionable months and for many past (especially from January 16th to July),—readers must imagine it, for there is no description possible. In many intricacies Friedrich has been; but never, I reckon, in any equal to this. Himself certain what the Two Imperial Women have vowed against him; self and Winterfeld certain of that sad truth; and all other mortals ready to deny it, and fly delirious on hint of it, should he venture to act in consequence! Friedrich's situation is not unimaginable, when (as can now be done by candid inquirers who will take trouble enough) the one or two internal facts of it are disengaged from the roaring ocean of clamorous delusions which then enveloped them to everybody, and are held steadily in view, said ocean being well run off to the home of it very deep underground. Lies do fall silent; truth waits to be recognized, not always in vain. No reader ever will conceive the strangling perplexity of that situation, now so remote and extinct to us. All I can do is, to set down what features of it have become indisputable; and leave them as detached traceries, as fractions of an outline, to coalesce into something of image where they can.
Winterfeld's opinion was, for some time past, distinct: "Attack them; since it is certain they only wait to attack us!" But Friedrich would by no means listen to that. "We must not be the aggressor, my friend; that would spoil all. Perhaps the English will pacify the Russian CATIN for me; tie her, with packthreads, bribes and intrigues, from stirring? Wait, watch!" Fiery Winterfeld, who hates the French, who despises the Austrians, and thinks the Prussian Army a considerable Fact in Politics, has great schemes: far too great for a practical Friedrich. "Plunge into the Austrians with a will: Prussian Soldiery,—can Austrians resist it? Ruin them, since they are bent on ruining us. Stir up the Hungarian Protestants; try all things. Home upon our implacable enemies, sword drawn, scabbard flung away! And the French,—what are the French? Our King should be Kaiser of Teutschland; and he can, and he may:—the French would then be quieter!" These things Winterfeld carried in his head; and comrades have heard them from him over wine. [Retzow, i. 43, &c.] To all which Friedrich, if any whisper of them ever got to Friedrich, would answer one can guess how.
It is evident, Friedrich had not given up his hope (indeed, for above a year more, he never did) that England might, by profuse bribery,—"such the power of bribery in that mad court!"—assuage, overnet with backstairs packthreads, or in some way compesce the Russian delirium for him. And England, his sole Ally in the world, still tender of Austria, and unable to believe what the full intentions of Austria are; England demands much wariness in his procedures towards Austria; reiterating always, "Wait, your Majesty! Oh, beware!"—
His own Army, we need not say, is in perfect preparation. The Army—let us guess, 150,000 regular, or near 200,000 of all arms and kinds [Archenholtz (i, 8) counts vaguely "160,000" at this date.]—
never was so perfect before or since. Old Captains in it, whom we used to know, are grayer and wiser; young, whom we heard less of, are grown veterans of trust. Schwerin, much a Cincinnatus since we last saw him, has laid down his plough again, a fervid "little Marlborough" of seventy-two;—and will never see that beautiful Schwerinsburg, and its thriving woods and farm-fields, any more. Ugly Walrave is not now chief Engineer; one Balbi, a much prettier man, is. Ugly Walrave (Winterfeld suspecting and watching him) was found out; convicted of "falsified accounts," of "sending plans to the Enemy," of who knows all what;—and sits in Magdeburg (in a thrice-safe prison-cell of his own contriving), prisoner for life. ["Arrested at Potsdam 12th February, 1748, and after trial put into the STERN at Magdeburg; sat there till he died, 16th January, 1773" (Militalr-Lexikon, iv. 150-151).] The Old Dessauer is away, long since; and not the Old alone. Dietrich of Dessau is now "Guardian to his Nephew," who is a Child left Heir there. Death has been busy with the Dessauers:—but here is Prince Moritz, "the youngest, more like his Father than any of them." Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, Moritz of Dessau, Keith, Duke of Brunswick-Bevern: no one of these people has been idle, in the ten years past. Least of all, has the Chief Captain of them,—whose diligence and vigilance in that sphere, latterly, were not likely to decline!
Friedrich's Army is in the perfection of order. Ready at the hour, for many months back; but the least motion he makes with it is a subject of jealousy. Last year, on those Russian advancings and alacrities, he had marched some Regiments into Pommern, within reach of Preussen, should the Russians actually try a stroke there: "See!" cried all the world: "See!" cried the enlightened Russian Public. This year 1756, from June onwards and earlier, there are still more fatal symptoms, on the Austrian side: great and evident War-preparations; Magazines forming; Camps in Bohemia, Moravia; Camp at Konigsgratz, Camp at Prag,—handy for the Silesian Border. Friedrich knows they have deliberated on their Pretext for a War, and have fixed on what will do,—some new small Prussian-Mecklenburg brabble, which there has lately been; paltry enough recruiting-quarrel, such as often are (and has been settled mutually some time ago, this one, but is capable of being ripped up again);—and that, on this cobweb of a pretext, they mean to draw sword when they like. Russia too has its Pretext ready. And if Friedrich hint of stirring, England whispers hoarse, England and other friends, "Wait, your Majesty! Oh, beware!" To keep one's sword at its sharpest, and, with an easy patient air, one's eyes vigilantly open: this is nearly all that Friedrich can do, in neighborhood of such portentous imminencies. He has many critics, near and far;—for instance:—
BERLIN, 31st JULY, 1756, Excellency Valori writes to Versailles: ... "to give you account of a Conversation I have had, a day or two ago, with the Prince of Prussia [August Wilhelm, Heir-Apparent], who honors me with a particular confidence,"—and who appears to be, privately, like some others, very strong in the Opposition view. "He talked to me of the present condition of the King his Brother, of his Brother's apprehensions, of his military arrangements, of the little trust placed in him by neighbors, of their hostile humor towards him, and of many other things which this good Prince [little understanding them, as would appear, or the dangerous secret that lay under them] did not approve of. The Prince then said,"—listen to what the Prince of Prussia said to Valori, one of the last days of July, 1756,—
"'There is an Anecdote which continually recurs to me, in the passes we are got to at present. Putting the case we might be attacked by Russia, and perhaps by Austria, the late Rothenburg was sent [as readers know], on the King's part, to Milord Tyrconnel, to know of him what, in such case, were the helps he might reckon on from France. Milord enumerated the various helps; and then added [being a blusterous Irishman, sent hither for his ill tongue]: "Helps enough, you observe, Monsieur; but, MORBLEU, if you deceive us, you will be squelched (VOUS SEREZ ECRASES)!" The King my 'Brother was angry enough at hearing such a speech: but, my dear Marquis,' and the Prince turned full upon me with a face of inquiry, 'Can the thing actually come true? And do you think it can be the interest of your Master [and his Scarlet Woman] to abandon us to the fury of our enemies? Ah, that cursed Convention [Neutrality-Convention with England]! I would give a finger from my hand that it had never been concluded. I never approved of it; ask the Duc de Nivernois, he knows what we said of it together. But how return on our steps? Who would now trust us?'" This Prince appeared "to be much affected by the King his Brother's situation [of which he understood as good as nothing], and agreed that he," the King his Brother, "had well deserved it." [Valori, ii, 129-131.]
This is not the first example, nor the last, of August Wilhelm's owning a heedless, good-natured tongue; considerably prone to take the Opposition side, on light grounds. For which if he found a kind of solacement and fame in some circles, it was surely at a dear rate! To his Brother, that bad habit would, most likely, be known; and his Brother, I suppose, did not speak of it at all; such his Brother's custom in cases of the kind.—Judicious Valori, by way of answer, dilated on the peculiar esteem of his Majesty Louis XV. for the Prussian Majesty,—"so as my Instructions direct me to do;" and we hear no more of the Prince of Prussia's talk, at this time; but shall in future; and may conjecture a great deal about the atmosphere Friedrich had now to live in. A Friedrich undergoing, privately, a great deal of criticism: "Mad tendency to war; lust of conquest; contempt for his neighbors, for the opinion of the world;—no end of irrational tendencies:" [Ib. ii. 124-151 ("July 27th-August 21st").] from persons to whom the secret of his Problem is deeply unknown.
One wise thing the English have done: sent an Excellency Mitchell, a man of loyalty, of sense and honesty, to be their Resident at Berlin. This is the noteworthy, not yet much noted, Sir Andrew Mitchell; by far the best Excellency England ever had in that Court. An Aberdeen Scotchman, creditable to his Country: hard-headed, sagacious; sceptical of shows; but capable of recognizing substances withal, and of standing loyal to them, stubbornly if needful; who grew to a great mutual regard with Friedrich, and well deserved to do so; constantly about him, during the next seven years; and whose Letters are among the perennially valuable Documents on Friedrich's History. [Happily secured in the British Museum; and now in the most perfect order for consulting (thanks to Sir F. Madden "and three years' labor" well invested);—should certainly, and will one day, be read to the bottom, and cleared of their darknesses, extrinsic and intrinsic (which are considerable) by somebody competent.]
Mitchell is in Berlin since June 10th. Mitchell, who is on the scene itself, and looking into Friedrich with his own eyes, finds the reiterating of that "Beware, your Majesty!" which had been his chief task hitherto, a more and more questionable thing; and suggests to him at last: "Plainly ask her Hungarian Majesty, What is your meaning by those Bohemian Campings?" "Pshaw," answers Friedrich: "Nothing but some ambiguous answer, perhaps with insult in it!"—nevertheless thinks better; and determines to do so. [Mitchell Papers.]
July 18th, 1756, Friedrich despatches an Express to Graf von Klinggraf, his Resident at Vienna (an experienced man, whom we have seen before in old Carteret, "Conference-of-Hanau" times), To demand audience of the Empress; and, in the fittest terms, friendly and courteous, brief and clear, to put that question of Mitchell's suggesting. "Those unwonted Armaments, Camps in Bohmen, Camps in Mahren, and military movements and preparations," Klinggraf is to say, "have caused anxiety in her Majesty's peaceable Neighbor of Prussia; who desires always to continue in peace; and who requests hereby a word of assurance from her Majesty, that these his anxieties are groundless." Friedrich himself hopes little or nothing from this; but he has done it to satisfy people about him, and put an end to all scruples in himself and others. The Answer may be expected in ten or twelve days.
And, about the same time,—likely enough, directly after, though there is no date given, to a fact which is curious and authentic,—
Friedrich sent for two of his chief Generals, to Potsdam, for a secret Conference with Winterfeld and him. The Generals are, old Schwerin and General Retzow Senior,—Major-General Retzow, whom we used to hear of in the Silesian Wars,—and whose Son reports on this occasion. Conference is on this Imminency of War, and as to what shall be done in it. Friedrich explains in general terms his dangers from Austria and Russia, his certainty that Austria will attack him; and asks, Were it, or were it not, better to attack Austria, as is our Prussian principle in such case? Schwerin and Retzow—Schwerin first, as the eldest; and after him Retzow, "who privately has charge from the Prussian Princes to do it"—opine strongly: That indications are uncertain, that much seems inevitable which does not come; that in a time of such tumultuous whirlings and unexpected changes, the true rule is, Watch well, and wait.
After enough of this, with Winterfeld looking dissent but saying almost nothing, Friedrich gives sign to Winterfeld;—who spreads out, in their lucidest prearranged order, the principal Menzel-Weingarten Documents; and bids the two Military Gentlemen read. They read; with astonishment, are forced to believe; stand gazing at one another;—and do now take a changed tone. Schwerin, "after a silence of everybody for some minutes,"—"bursts out like one inspired; 'If War is to be and must be, let us start to-morrow; seize Saxony at once; and in that rich corny Country form Magazines for our Operations on Bohemia!'" [Retzow, i. 39.]
That is privately Friedrich's own full intention. Saxony, with its Elbe River as Highway, is his indispensable preliminary for Bohemia: and he will not, a second time, as he did in 1744 with such results, leave it in an unsecured condition. Adieu then, Messieurs; silent: AU REVOIR, which may be soon! Retzow Junior, a rational, sincere, but rather pipe-clayed man, who is wholly to be trusted on this Conference, with his Father for authority, has some touches of commentary on it, which indicate (date being 1802) that till the end of his life, or of Prince Henri his Patron's, there remained always in some heads a doubt as to Friedrich's wisdom in regard to starting the Seven-Years War, and to Schwerin's entire sincerity in that inspired speech. And still more curious, that there was always, at Potsdam as elsewhere, a Majesty's Opposition Party; privately intent to look at the wrong side; and doing it diligently,—though with lips strictly closed for most part; without words, except well-weighed and to the wise: which is an excellent arrangement, for a Majesty and Majesty's Opposition, where feasible in the world!—
From Retzow I learn farther, that Winterfeld, directly on the back of this Conference, took a Tour to the Bohemian Baths, "To Karlsbad, or Toplitz, for one's health;" and wandered about a good deal in those Frontier Mountains of Bohemia, taking notes, taking sketches (not with a picturesque view); and returned by the Saxon Pirna Country, a strange stony labyrinth, which he guessed might possibly be interesting soon. The Saxon Commandant of the Konigstein, lofty Fortress of those parts, strongest in Saxony, was of Winterfeld's acquaintance: Winterfeld called on this Commandant; found his Konigstein too high for cannonading those neighborhoods, but that there was at the base of it a new Work going on; and that the Saxons were, though languidly, endeavoring to bestir themselves in matters military. Their entire Army at present is under 20,000; but, in the course of next Winter, they expect to have it 40,000. Shall be of that force, against Season 1757. No doubt Winterfeld's gatherings and communications had their uses at Potsdam, on his getting home from this Tour to Toplitz.
Meanwhile, Klinggraf has had his Audience at Vienna; and has sped as ill as could have been expected. The Answer given was of supercilious brevity; evasive, in effect null, and as good as answering, That there is no answer. Two Accounts we have, as Friedrich successively had them, of this famed passage: FIRST, Klinggraf's own, which is clear, rapid, and stands by the essential; SECOND, an account from the other side of the scenes, furnished by Menzel of Dresden, for Friedrich's behoof and ours; which curiously illustrates the foregoing, and confirms the interpretation Friedrich at once made of it. This is Menzel's account; in other words, the Saxon Envoy at Vienna's, stolen by Menzel.
July 26th, it appears, Klinggraf—having applied to Kaunitz the day before, who noticed a certain flurry in him, and had answered carelessly, "Audience? Yes, of course; nay I am this moment going to the Empress: only you must tell me about what?"—was admitted to the Imperial Presence, he first of many that were waiting. Imperial Presence held in its hand a snip of Paper, carefully composed by Kaunitz from the data, and read these words: "DIE BEDENKLICHEN UMSTANDE, The questionable circumstances of the Time have moved me to consider as indispensably necessary those measures which, for my own security and for defence of my Allies, I am taking, and which otherwise do not tend the least towards injury of anybody whatsoever;"—and adding no syllable more, gave a sign with her hand, intimating to Klinggraf that the Interview was done. Klinggraf strode through the Antechamber, "visibly astonished," say on-lookers, at such an Answer had. Answer, in fact, "That there is no answer," and the door flung in your face! [Helden-Geschichte, iii. 772. In Valori, ii. 128, Friedrich's little Paper of INSTRUCTIONS to Klinggraf; this Vienna ANSWER to it, ib. 138:—see ib. 138, 162; and Gesammelte Nachrichten, ii. 214-221.]
Friedrich, on arrival of report from Klinggraf, and without waiting for the Menzel side of the scenes, sees that the thing is settled. Writes again, however (August 2d, probably the day after, or the same day, Klinggraf's Despatch reached him); instructing Klinggraf To request "a less oracular response;" and specially, "If her Imperial Majesty (Austria and Russia being, as is understood, in active League against, him) will say, That Austria will not attack him this year or the next?" Draw up memorial of that, Monsieur Klinggraf; and send us the supercilious No-Answer: till which arrive we do not cross the Frontier,—but are already everywhere on march to it, in an industrious, cunningly devised, evident and yet impenetrably mysterious manner.
Excellency Valori never saw such activity of military preparation: such Artillery, "2,000 big pieces in the Park here;" Regiments, Wagon-trains, getting under way everywhere, no man can guess whitherward; "drawn up in the Square here, they know not by what Gate they are to march." By three different Gates, I should think;—mysteriously, in Three Directions, known only to King Friedrich and his Adjutant-General, all these Regiments in Berlin and elsewhere are on march. Towards Halle (Leipzig way); towards Brietzen (Wittenberg and Torgau way); towards Bautzen neighborhood,—towards Three settled Points of the Saxon Frontier; will step across the instant the supercilious No-Answer comes to hand. Are to converge about Dresden and the Saxon Switzerland;—about 65,000 strong, equipped as no Army before or since has been;—and take what luck there may be.
Bruhl and Polish Majesty's Army, still only about 18,000, have their apprehensions of such visit: but what can they do? The Saxon Army draws out into Camp, at sight of this mysterious marching; strong Camp "in the angle of Elbe and Mulde Rivers;"—then draws in again; being too weak for use. And is thinking, Menzel informs us, to take post in the stony labyrinthic Pirna Country: such the advice an Excellency Broglio has given;—French Excellency, now in Dresden; Marechal de Broglio's Son, and of little less explosive nature than his Father was. Bruhl and Polish Majesty, guessing that the hour is come, are infinitely interested. Interested, not flurried. "Austrian-Russian Anti-Prussian Covenant!" say Bruhl and Majesty, rather comfortably to themselves: "We never signed it. WE never would sign anything; what have we to do with it? Courage; steady; To Pirna, if they come! Are not Excellency Broglio, and France, and Austria, and the whole world at our back?"
It was full three weeks before Klinggraf's Message of Answer could arrive at Berlin. Of Friedrich in the interim, launching such a world-adventure, himself silent, in the midst of a buzzing Berlin, take these indications, which are luminous enough. Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick is to head one of the Three "Columns." Duke Ferdinand, Governor of Magdeburg, is now collecting his Column in that neighborhood, chiefly at Halle; whitherward, or on what errand, is profoundly unknown. Unknown even to Ferdinand, except that it is for actual Service in the Field. Here are two Friedrich Letters (ruggedly Official, the first of them, and not quite peculiar to Ferdinand), which are worth reading:—
THE KING TO DUKE FERDINAND OF BRUNSWICK.
"POTSDAM, 15th August, 1756.
"For time of Field-Service I have made the arrangement, That for the Subaltern Officers of your regiment, over and above their ordinary Equipage-moneys, there shall, to each Subaltern Officer, and once for all, be Eight Thalers [twenty-four shillings sterling] advanced. That sum [eight thalers per subaltern] shall be paid to the Captain of every Company; and besides this there shall, monthly, Two Thalers be deducted from the Subaltern's Pay, and be likewise paid over to the Captain:—in return for which, He is to furnish Free Table for the Subalterns throughout the Campaign, and so long as the regiment is in the field.
"Of the Two Baggage-carts per Company, the regiment shall take only One, and leave the other at home. No Officer, let him be who or of what title he will, Generals not excepted, shall take with him the least of Silver Plate, not even a silver spoon. Whoever wants, therefore, to keep table, great or small (TAFEL ODER TISCH), must manage the same with tin utensils;—without exception, be he who he will.
"Each Captain shall take with him a little Cask of Vinegar; of which, as soon as the regiments get to Camp, he must give me reckoning, and I will then have him repaid. This Vinegar shall solely and exclusively be employed for this purpose, That in places where the water is bad, there be poured into it, for the soldiers, a few drops of the vinegar, to correct the water, and thereby preserve them from illnesses.
"So soon as the regiment gets on march, the Women who have permission to follow are put under command of the Profoss; that thereby all plunderings and disorders may the more be guarded against. If the Captains and Officers take Grooms (JAGER) or the like Domestics, there can muskets be given to these, that use may be had of them, in case of an attack in quarters, or on march, when a WAGENBURG (wagon-fortress) is to be formed.... FRIEDRICH." [Preuss, ii. 6, 7.]
SAME TO SAME (Confidential, this one).
"POTSDAM, 24th August.
... "Make as if you were meaning to go into Camp at Halle. The reason why I stop you is, that the Courier from Vienna has not yet come. We must therefore reassure the Saxon neighborhood. ... I have been expecting answer from hour to hour; cannot suitably begin a War-Expedition till it come; do therefore apprise Your Dilection, though under the deepest secrecy.
"And it is necessary, and my Will is, That, till farther order, you keep all the regiments and corps belonging to your Column in the places where they are when this arrives. And shall, meanwhile, with your best skill mask all this, both from the Town of Halle, and from the regiments themselves; making, in conformity with what I said yesterday, as if you were a Corps of Observation come to encamp here, and were waiting the last orders to go into camp."
"FRIEDRICH." [Ib. ii. 7, 8.]
And in regard to the Vienna Courier, and Friedrich's attitude towards that Phenomenon, read only these Two Notes:—
1. FRIEDRICH TO THE PRINCE OF PRUSSIA AND THE PRINCESS AMELIA (at Berlin)
POTSDAM, "25th August," 1756.
"MY DEAR BROTHER, MY DEAR SISTER,—I write to you both at once, for want of time. I will follow the advice you are so good as give me; and will take leave of the Queen [our dear Mamma] by Letter. And that the reading of my Letter may not frighten her, I will send it by my Sister, to be presented in a favorable moment.
"I have yet got no Answer from Vienna; by Klinggraf's account, I shall not receive it till to-morrow [came this night], But I count myself surer of War than ever; as the Austrians have named Generals, and their Army is ordered to march, from Kolin to Konigsgratz"—Schlesien way. "So that, expecting nothing but a haughty Answer, or a very uncertain one, on which there will be no reliance possible, I have arranged everything for setting out on Saturday next. To-morrow, so soon as the news comes, I will not fail to let you know. Assuring you that I am, with a perfect affection, my dear Brother and my dear Sister,—Yours,—F." [OEuvres de Frederic, xxvi. 155.]
Answer comes from Klinggraf that same night. Once more, an Answer almost worse than could have been expected. "The 'League with Russia against you' is nonextant, a thing of your imagination: Have not we already answered?" [In Gesammelte Urkunden, i. 217: Klinggraf's second question (done by Letter this time), "18th August;" Maria Theresa's Answer, "21st August,"] Whereupon,
2. FRIEDRICH TO THE PRINCE OF PRUSSIA.
POTSDAM, "26th August," 1756.
"MY DEAR BROTHER,—I have already written to the Queen; softening things as much as I could [Letter lost]. My Sister, to whom I address the Letter, will deliver it.
"You have seen the Paper I sent to Klinggraf. Their Answer is 'That they have not made an Offensive Alliance with Russia against me.' The Answer is impertinent, high and contemptuous; and of the Assurance that I required [as to This Year and next], not one word. So that the sword alone can cut this Gordian Knot. I am innocent of this War; I have done what I could to avoid it; but whatever be one's love of peace, one cannot and must not sacrifice to that, one's safety and one's honor. Such, I believe, will be your opinion too, from the sentiments I know in you. At present, our one thought must be, To do War in such a way as may cure our Enemies of their wish to break Peace again too soon. I embrace you with all my heart. I have had no end of business (TERRIBLEMENT A FAIRE)."—F. [OEuvres, xxvi. 116.]
THE MARCH INTO SAXONY, IN THREE COLUMNS.
Ahead of that last Note, from an earlier hour of the same day, Thursday, 26th August, there is speeding forth, to all Three Generals of Division, this Order (take Duke Ferdinand's copy):—[not in original]—
"I hereby order that Your Dilection (EW. LIEBDEN), with all the regiments and corps in the Column standing under your command, Shall now, without more delay, get on march, on the 29th inst.; and proceed, according to the March-Tables and Instructions already given, to execute what Your Dilection has got in charge."—F.
The same Thursday, 26th, Excellency Mitchell, informed by Podewils of the King's wish to see him at Potsdam, gets under way from Berlin; arrives "just time enough to speak with the King before he sat down to supper." Very many things to be consulted of, and deliberatively touched upon, with Mitchell and England; no end of things and considerations, for England and King Friedrich, in this that is now about to burst forth on an astonished world!—Over in London, we observe, just in the hours when Mitchell was harnessing for Potsdam, and so many Orders and Letters were speeding their swiftest in that quarter, there is going forward, on Tower-Hill yonder, the following Operation:—
"LONDON, THURSDAY, 26th AUGUST, 1756. About five in the afternoon, a noted Admiral [only in Effigy as yet; but who has been held in miserable durance, and too actual question of death or life, ever since his return: "Oh, yes indeed! Hang HIM at once",—if that can be a remedy!] was, after having been privately shown to many ladies and gentlemen, brought—in an open sedan, guarded by a number of young gentlemen under arms, with drums beating, colors flying—to Tower-Hill, where a Gallows had been erected for him at six the same morning. He was richly dressed, in a blue and gold coat, buff waistcoat, trimmed, &c. in full uniform. When brought under the Gallows, he stayed a small space, till his clergyman (a chimney-sweeper) had given him some admonitions: that done, he was drawn, by pulleys, to the top of the Gallows, which was twenty feet high; every person expressing as much satisfaction as if it had been the real man.
"He remained there, guarded by the above volunteers, without any molestation, two hours; when, upon a supposition of being obstructed by the Governor of the Tower, some sailors appeared, who wanted to pull him down, in order to drag him along the streets. But a fire being kindled, which consisted of tar-barrels, fagots, tables, tubs, &c., he was consumed in about half an hour." [Old Newspapers (Gentleman's Magazine, xxvi. 409).]
That is their employment on Tower-Hill, over yonder, while Mitchell is getting under way to see Friedrich.
Mitchell continued at Potsdam over Friday; and was still in eager consultation that night, when the King said to him, with a certain expressiveness of glance: "BON SOIR, then;—To-morrow morning about four!" And on the morrow, Saturday, 28th, Mitchell reports hurriedly:—
"... Am just returned to Berlin, in time to write to your Lordship. This morning, between four and five, I took leave of the King of Prussia. He went immediately upon the Parade; mounted on horseback; and, after a very short exercise of his Troops, put himself at their head; and marched directly for Belitz [half-way to Brietzen, TREUENbrietzen as they call it]; where, To-morrow, he will enter the Saxon Territory,"—as, at their respective points, his two other Columns will;—and begin, who shall say what terrible game; incalculable to your Lordship and me, with such Operations afoot on Tower-Hill! [Mitchell Papers, vi. 804 ("To Lord Holderness, 28th August, 1756").]—
Seven Hussar Regiments of Duke Ferdinand's Column got the length of Leipzig that Sunday Evening, 29th; and took possession of the place. [In Helden-Geschichte, iii. 731, his "Proclamation" there, 29th August, 1756.] Duke Ferdinand to right of the King, Duke of Brunswick-Bevern to left,—the Three Columns cross the Border, at points, say 80 miles from one another; occasionally, on the march, bending to rightwards and leftwards, to take in the principal Towns, and make settlements there, the two might be above a hundred miles from Friedrich on each hand. The length of march for each Column,—Ferdinand "from Leipzig, by Chemnitz, Freyberg, Dippoldiswalde, to the Village of Cotta" (Pirna neighborhood, south of Elbe); Bevern, "through the Lausitz, by Bautzen, to Lohmen" (same neighborhood, north of Elbe); King Friedrich, to Dresden, by the course of the Elbe itself, was not far from equal, and may be called about 150 miles. They marched with diligence, not with hurry; had their pauses, rest-days, when business required. They got to their ground, with the simultaneousness appointed, on the eleventh or twelfth day.
The middle Column, under the King, where Marshal Keith is second in command, goes by Torgau (detaching Moritz of Dessau to pick up Wittenberg, and ruin the slight works there); crosses the Elbe at Torgau, September 2d; marches, cantoning itself day after day, along the southern bank of the River; leaves Meissen to the left, I perceive, does not pass through Meissen; comes first at Wilsdruf on ground where we have been,—and portions of it, I doubt not, were billeted in Kesselsdorf; and would take a glance at the old Field, if they had time. There is strict discipline in all the Columns; the authorities complying on summons, and arranging what is needful. Nobody resists; town-guards at once ground arms, and there is no soldier visible; soldiers all ebbing away, whitherward we guess. [Helden-Geschichte, iii. 732, 733; OEuvres de Frederic, iv. 81.]
At Wilsdruf, Friedrich first learns for certain, that the Saxon Army, with King, with Bruhl and other chief personages, are withdrawn to Pirna, to the inexpugnable Konigstein and Rock-Country. The Saxon Army had begun assembling there, September 1st, directly on the news that Friedrich was across the Border; September 9th, on Friedrich's approach, the King and Dignitaries move off thither, from Dresden, out of his way. Excellency Broglio has put them on that plan. Which may have its complexities for Friedrich, hopes Broglio,—though perhaps its still greater for some other parties concerned! For Bruhl and Polish Majesty, as will appear by and by, nothing could have turned out worse.
Meanwhile Friedrich pushes on: "Forward, all the same." Polish Majesty, dating from Struppen, in the Pirna Country, has begun a Correspondence with Friedrich, very polite on both hands; and his Adjutant-General, the Chevalier Meagher ("Chevalier de MARRE," as Valori calls him,—MA'AR, as he calls himself in Irish), has just had, at Wilsdruf, an interview with Friedrich; but is far from having got settlement on the terms he wished. Polish Majesty magnanimously assenting to "a Road through his Country for military purposes;" offers "the strictest Neutrality, strictest friendship even; has done, and will do, no injury whatever to his Prussian Majesty—["Did we ever SIGN anything?" whisper comfortably Bruhl and he to one another];—expects, therefore, that his Prussian Majesty will march on, whither he is bound; and leave him unmolested here." [Helden-Geschichte, iii. 774.]
That was Meagher's message; that is the purport of all his Polish Majesty's Eleven Letters to Friedrich, which precede or follow,— reiterating with a certain bovine obstinacy, insensible to time or change, That such is Polish Majesty's fixed notion: "Strict neutrality, friendship even; and leave me unmolested here." [In OEuvres de Frederic, iv. 235-260 ("29th August-10th September-18th September," 1756), are collected now, the Eleven Letters, with their Answers.] "Strict neutrality, yes: but disperse your Army, then," answers Friedrich; send your Army back to its cantonments: I must myself have the keeping of my Highway, lest I lose it, as in 1744." This is Friedrich's answer; this at first, and for some time coming; though, as the aspects change, and the dangerous elements heap themselves higher, Friedrich's answer will rise with them, and his terms, like the Sibyl's, become worse and worse. This is the utmost that Meagher, at Wilsdruf, can make of it; and this, in conceivable circumstances, will grow less and less.
Next day, September 9th, Friedrich, with some Battalions, entered Dresden, most of his Column taking Camp near by; General Wylich had entered yesterday, and is already Commandant there. Friedrich sends, by Feldmarschall Keith, highest Officer of his Column, his homages to her Polish Majesty:—nothing given us of Keith's Interview; except by a side-wind, "That Majesty complained of those Prussian Sentries walking about in certain of her corridors" (with an eye to Something, it may be feared!)—of which, doubtless, Keith undertook to make report. Friedrich himself waits upon the Junior Princes, who are left here: is polite and gracious as ever, though strict, and with business enough; lodges, for his own part, "in the Garden-House of Princess Moczinska;"—and next morning leads off his Column, a short march eastward, to the Pirna Country; where, on the right and on the left, Ferdinand at Cotta, Bevern at Lohmen (if readers will look on their Map), he finds the other Two in their due positions. Head-quarter is Gross-Sedlitz (westernmost skirt of the Rock-region); and will have to continue so, much longer than had been expected.
The Diplomatic world in Dresden is in great emotion; more especially just at present. This morning, before leaving, Friedrich had to do an exceedingly strict thing: secure the Originals of those Menzel Documents. Originals indispensable to him, for justifying his new procedures upon Saxony. So that there has been, at the Palace, a Scene this morning of a very high and dissonant nature,—"Marshal Keith" in it, "Marshal Keith making a second visit" (say some loose and false Accounts);—the facts being strictly as follows.
Far from removing those Prussian sentries complained of last night, here seems to be a double strength of them this morning. And her Polish Majesty, a severe, hard-featured old Lady, has been filled with indignant amazement by a Prussian Officer—Major von Wangenheim, I believe it is—requiring, in the King of Prussia's name, the Keys of that Archive-room; Prussian Majesty absolutely needing sight, for a little while, of certain Papers there. "Enter that room? Archives of a crowned Head? Let me see the living mortal that will dare to do it!"—one fancies the indignant Polish Majesty's answer; and how, calling for materials, she "openly sealed the door in question," in Wangenheim's presence. As this is a celebrated Passage, which has been reported in several loose ways, let us take it from the primary source, Chancery style and all. Graf von Sternberg, Austrian Excellency, writing from the spot and at the hour, informs his own Court, and through that all Courts, in these solemnly Official terms:—
"DRESDEN, 10th SEPTEMBER, 1756. The Queen's Majesty, this forenoon, has called to her all the Foreign Ministers now at Dresden; and in Highest Own Person has signified to us, How, the Prussian intrusions and hostilities being already known, Highest said Queen's Majesty would now simply state what had farther taken place this morning:—
"Highest said Queen's Majesty, to wit, had, in her own name, requested the King of Prussia, in conformity with his assurances [by Keith, yesternight] of paying every regard for Her and the Royal Family; To remove the Prussian Sentries pacing about in those Corridors,"—Corridors which lead to the Secret Archives, important to some of us!—"Instead of which, the said King had not only doubled his Sentries there; but also, by an Officer, demanded the Keys of the Archive-apartment [just alluded to]! And as the Queen's Majesty, for security of all writings there, offered to seal the Door of it herself, and did so, there and then,—the said Officer had so little respect, that he clapped his own seal thereon too.
"Nor was he content therewith,"—not by any means!—"but the same Officer [having been with Wylich, Commandant here] came back, a short time after, and made for opening of the Door himself. Which being announced to the Queen's Majesty, she in her own person (HOCHSTDIESELBE, Highest-the-Same) went out again; and standing before the Door, informed him, 'How Highest-the-Same had too much regard to his Prussian Majesty's given assurance, to believe that such order could proceed from the King.' As the Officer, however, replied, 'That he was sorry to have such an order to execute; but that the order was serious and precise; and that he, by not executing it, would expose himself to the greatest responsibility," Her Majesty continued standing before the Door; and said to the Officer, 'If he meant to use force, he might upon Her make his beginning.'" There is for you, Herr Wangenheim!—
"Upon which said Officer had gone away, to report anew to the King [I think, only to Wylich the Commandant; King now a dozen miles off, not so easily reported to, and his mind known]; and in the mean while Her Majesty had called to her the Prussian and English Ambassadors [Mahlzahn and Stormont; sorry both of them, but how entirely resourceless,—especially Mahlzahn!], and had represented and repeated to them the above; beseeching that by their remonstrances and persuasions they would induce the King of Prussia, conformably with his given assurance, to forbear. Instead, however, of any fruit from such remonstrances and urgencies, final Order came, 'That, Queen's Majesty's own Highest Person notwithstanding, force must be used.'
"Whereupon her Majesty, to avoid actual mistreatment, had been obliged to"—to become passive, and, no Keys being procurable from her, see a smith with his picklocks give these Prussians admission. Legation-Secretary Plessmann was there (Menzel one fancies sitting, rather pale, in an adjacent room [Supra, p. 266.]); and they knew what to do. Their smith opens the required Box for them (one of several "all lying packed for Warsaw," says Friedrich); from which soon taking what they needed, Wangenheim and Wylich withdrew with their booty, and readers have the fruit of it to this day. "Which unheard-of procedure, be pleased, your Excellencies, to report to your respective Courts." [Gesammelte Nachrichten, i. 222 (or "No. 26" of that Collection); OEuvres de Frederic, iv. 83.]
Poor old Lady, what a situation! And I believe she never saw her poor old Husband again. The day he went to Pirna (morning of yesterday, September 9th, Friedrich entering in the evening), these poor Spouses had, little dreaming of it, taken leave of one another forevermore. Such profit lies in your Bruhl. Kings and Queens that will be governed by a Jesuit Guarini, and a Bruhl of the Twelve Tailors, sometimes pay dear for it. They, or their representatives, are sure to do so. Kings and Queens,—yes, and if that were all: but their poor Countries too? Their Countries;—well, their Countries did not hate Beelzebub, in his various shapes, ENOUGH. Their Countries should have been in watch against Beelzebub in the shape of Bruhls;—watching, and also "praying" in a heroic manner, now fallen obsolete in these impious times!
Friedrich reckons himself to have 65,000 men in Saxony. Schwerin is issuing from Silesia, through the Glatz Mountains, for Bohemia, at the head of 40,000. The Austrian force is inferior in quantity, and far from ready:—Two "Camps" in Bohemia they have; the chief one under Browne (looking, or intending, this Saxon way), and a smaller under Piccolomini, in the Konigshof-Kolin region:—if well run into from front and rear, both Browne and Piccolomini might be beautifully handled; and a gash be cut in Austria, which might incline her to be at peace again! Nothing hinders but this paltry Camp of the Saxons; itself only 18,000 strong, but in a Country of such strength. And this does hinder, effectually while it continues: "How march to Bohemia, and leave the road blocked in our rear?"
The Saxon Camp did continue,—unmanageable by any method, for five weeks to come; the season of war-operations gone, by that time:—and Friedrich's First Campaign, rendered mostly fruitless in this manner, will by no means check the Austrian truculencies, as by his velocity he hoped to do. No; but, on the contrary, will rouse the Austrians, French and all Enemies, to a tenfold pitch of temper. And bring upon himself, from an astonished and misunderstanding Public, such tempests and world- tornadoes of loud-roaring obloquy, as even he, Friedrich, had never endured before.
To readers of a touring habit this Saxon Country is perhaps well known. For the last half-century it has been growing more and more famous, under the name of "Saxon Switzerland (SACHSISCHE SCHWEITZ)," instead of "Misnian Highlands (MEISSNISCHE HOCHLAND)," which it used to be called. A beautiful enough and extremely rugged Country; interesting to the picturesque mind. Begins rising, in soft Hills, on both sides of the Elbe, a few miles east of Dresden, as you ascend the River; till it rises into Hills of wild character, getting ever wilder, and riven into wondrous chasms and precipices. Extends, say almost twenty miles up the River, to Tetschen and beyond, in this eastern direction; and with perhaps ten miles of breadth on each side of the River: area of the Rock-region, therefore, is perhaps some four hundred square miles. The Falkenberg (what we should call HAWKSCRAG) northeastward in the Lausitz, the Schneeberg (SNOW MOUNTAIN), southeastward on the Bohemian border, are about thirty-five miles apart: these two are both reckoned to be in it,—its last outposts on that eastern side. But the limits of it are fixed by custom only, and depend on no natural condition.
We might define it as the Sandstone NECK of the Metal Mountains: a rather lower block, of Sandstone, intercalated into the Metal-Mountain range, which otherwise, on both hands, is higher, and of harder rocks. Southward (as SHOULDER to this sandstone NECK) lies, continuous, broad and high, the "Metal-Mountain range" specially so called: northward and northeastward there rise, beyond that Falkenberg, many mountains, solitary or in groups,—"the Metal Mountains" fading out here into "the Lausitz Hills," still in fine picturesque fashion, which are Northern Border to the great Bohemian "Basin of the Elba," after you emerge from this Sandstone Country.
Saxon Switzerland is not very high anywhere; 2,000 feet is a notable degree of height: but it is torn and tumbled into stone labyrinths, chasms and winding rock-walls, as few regions are. Grows pinewood, to the topmost height; pine-trees far aloft look quietly down upon you, over sheer precipices, on your intricate path. On the slopes of the Hills is grass enough; in the intervals are Villages and husbandries, are corn and milk for the laborious natives,—who depend mainly on quarrying, and pine-forest work: pines and free-stone, rafts of long slim pines, and big stone barges, are what one sees upon the River there. A Note, not very geological, says of it:—
"Elbe sweeps freely through this Country, for ages and aeons past; curling himself a little into snake-figure, and with increased velocity, but silent mostly, and trim to the edge, a fine flint-colored river;—though in aeons long anterior, it must have been a very different matter for torrents and water-power. The Country is one huge Block of Sandstone, so many square miles of that material; ribbed, channelled, torn and quarried, in this manner, by the ever-busy elements, for a million of Ages past! Chiefly by the Elbe himself, since he got to be a River, and became cosmic and personal; ceasing to be a mere watery chaos of Lakes and Deluges hereabouts. For the Sandstone was of various degrees of hardness; tenacious as marble some parts of it, soft almost as sand other parts. And the primordial diluviums and world-old torrents, great and small, rushing down from the Bohemian Highlands, from the Saxon Metal Mountains, with such storming, gurgling and swashing, have swept away the soft parts, and left the hard standing in this chaotic manner, and bequeathed it all to the Elbe, and the common frosts and rains of these human ages.
"Elbe has now a trim course; but Elbe too is busy quarrying and mining, where not artificially held in;—and you notice at every outlet of a Brook from the interior, north side and south side, how busy the Brook has been. Boring, grinding, undermining; much helped by the frosts, by the rains. AEons ago, the Brook was a lake, in the interior; but was every moment laboring to get out; till it has cut for itself that mountain gullet, or sheer-down chasm, and brought out with it an Alluvium or Delta,—on which, since Adam's time, human creatures have built a Hamlet. That is the origin, or unwritten history, of most hamlets and cultivated spots you fall in with here: they are the waste shavings of the Brook, working millions of years, for its own object of getting into the Elbe in level circumstances. Ploughed fields, not without fertility, are in the interior, if you ascend that Brook; the Hamlet, at the delta or mouth of it, is as if built upon its TONGUE and into its GULLET: think how picturesque, in the November rains, for example!
"The road" one road, "from Dresden to Aussig, to Lobositz, Budin, Prag, runs up the river-brink (south brink); or, in our day, as Prag-Dresden Railway, thunders through those solitudes; strangely awakening their echoes; and inviting even the bewildered Tourist to reflect, if he could. The bewildered Tourist sees rock-walls heaven-high on both hands of him; River and he rushing on between, by law of gravitation, law of ennui (which are laws of Nature both), with a narrow strip of sky in full gallop overhead; and has little encouragement to reflect, except upon his own sorrows, and delirious circumstances, physical and moral. 'How much happier, were I lying in my bed!' thinks the bewildered Tourist;—does strive withal to admire the Picturesque, but with little success; notices the 'BASTEI (Bastion),' and other rigorously prescribed points of the Sublime and Beautiful, which are to be 'done.' That you will have to DO, my friend: step out, you will have to go on that Pinnacle, with indifferent Hotel attached; on that iron balcony, aloft among the clouds yonder; and shudder to project over Elbe-flood from such altitudes, admiring the Picturesque in prescribed manner.
"This Country has for its permanent uses, timber, free-stone, modicum of milk and haver, serviceable to the generality;—and to his Polish Majesty, at present, it is as the very Ark of Noah: priceless at this juncture; being the strongest military country in the world. Excellent strength in it; express Fortresses; especially one Fortress called the Konigstein, not far from Schandau, of a towering precipitous nature, with 'a well 900 feet deep' in it, and pleasant Village outside at the base;—Fortress which is still, in our day, reckoned a safe place for the Saxon Archives and preciosities. Impregnable to gunpowder artillery; not to be had except by hunger. And then, farther down the River, close by Pirna, presiding over Pirna, as that Konigstein in some sort does over Schandau, is the Sonnenstein: Sonnenstein too was a Fortress in those days of Friedrich, but not impregnable, if judged worth taking. The Austrians took it, a year or two hence; Friedrich retook it, dismantled it: 'the Sonnenstein is now a Madhouse,' say the Guide-books.
"Sonnenstein stands close east or up-stream of Pirna, which is a town of 5,000 souls, by much the largest in those parts; Konigstein a little down-stream of Schandau, which latter is on the opposite or north side of the River. These are the two chief Towns, which do all the trade of this region; picturesque places both:—the Tourist remembers Pirna? Standing on its sleek table or stair-step, by the River's edge; well above floodmark; green, shaggy or fringy mountains looking down on it to rearward; in front, beyond the River, nothing visible but mile-long cream-colored rock-wall, with bushes at bottom and top, wall quarried by Elbe, as you can see. Pirna is near the beginning [properly END, but we start from Dresden] or western extremity of Saxon Schweitz. Schandau, almost at the opposite or eastern extremity, is still more picturesque; standing on the delta of a little Brook, with high rock-cliffs, with garden-shrubberies, sanded walks, tufts of forest-umbrage; a bright- painted, almost OPERATIC-looking place,—with spa-waters, if I recollect: "yes truly, and the "Bath Season" making its packages in great haste, breaking up prematurely, this Year (1756)!—
Directly on arriving at Gross-Sedlitz, Friedrich takes ocular survey of this Country, which is already not unknown to him. He finds that the Saxons have secured themselves within the Mountains; a rocky streamlet, Brook of Gottleube, which issues into Elbe just between Gross-Sedlitz and them, "through a dell of eighty or a hundred feet deep," serving as their first defence; well in front of the mere rocky Heights and precipices behind it, which stretch continuously along to southward, six miles or more, from Pirna and the south brink of Elbe. At Langen-Hennersdorf, which is the southernmost part, these Heights make an elbow inwards, by Leopoldshayn, towards the Konigstein, which is but four miles off; here too the Saxons are defended by a Brook (running straight towards Konigstein, this one) in front of their Heights; and stand defensive, in this way, along a rock-bulwark of ten miles long: the passes all secured by batteries, by abatis, palisades, mile after mile, as Friedrich rides observant leftward: behind them, Elbe rushing swifter through his rock-walls yonder, with chasms and intricate gorges; defending them inexpugnably to rear. Six miles long of natural bulwark (six to Hennersdorf), where the gross of the Saxons lie; then to Konigstein four other miles, sufficiently, if more sparsely, beset by them. "No stronger position in the world," Friedrich thinks; [OEuvres de Frederic, iv. 83, 84 (not a very distinct Account; and far from accurate in the details,—which are left without effectual correction even in the best Editions).]—and that it is impossible to force this place, without a loss of life disproportionate even to its importance at present. Not to say that the Saxons will make terms all the easier, BEFORE bloodshed rise between us;—and furthermore that Hunger (for we hear they have provision only for two weeks) may itself soon do it. "Wedge them in, therefore; block every outgate, every entrance; nothing to get in, except gradually Hunger. Hunger, and on our part rational Offers, will suffice." That is Friedrich's plan; good in itself,—though the ovine obstinacy, and other circumstances, retarded the execution of it to an unexpected extent, lamentable to Friedrich and to some others.
The Prussian-Saxon military operations for the next five weeks need not detain us. Their respective positions on the Heights behind that Brook Gottleube, and on the plainer Country in front of it,—
How the Prussians lie, first Division of them, from Gross-Sedlitz to Zehist, under the King; then second Division from Zehist to Cotta, and onward by "the Rothschenke" (RED-HOUSE Tavern), by Markersbach, and sparsely as far as Hellendorf on the Prag Highway; in brief, where all the Divisions of them lie, and under whom; and where the Prussians, watching Elbe itself, have Batteries and Posts on the north side of it: all this is marked on the Map;—to satisfy ingenuous curiosity, should it make tour in those parts. To which add only these straggles of Note, as farther elucidative:—
"The Saxons, between Elbe and their Lines, possess about thirty square miles of country. From Pirna or Sonnenstein to Konigstein, as the crow flies, may be five miles east to west; but by Langen-Hennersdorf, and the elbow there, it will be ten: at Konigstein, moreover, Elbe makes an abrupt turn northward for a couple of miles, instead of westward as heretofore, turning abruptly westward again after that: so that the Saxon 'Camp' or Occupancy here, is an irregular Trapezium, with Pirna and Konigstein for vertices, and with area estimable as above,—ploughable, a fair portion of it, and not without corn of its own. So that the 'two weeks' provision' spun themselves out (short allowance aiding) to two months, before actual famine came.
... "The High-road from the Lausitz parts crosses Elbe at Pirna; falls into the Dresden-Prag High-road there; and from Pirna towards Toplitz, for the first few miles, this latter runs through the Prussian Posts; but we may guess it is not much travelled at present. North of Elbe, too, the Prussians have batteries on the fit points; detachments of due force, from Gross-Sedlitz Bridge-of-Pontoons all round to Schandau, or beyond; could fire upon the Konigstein, across the River: they have plugged up the Saxon position everywhere. They have a Battery especially, and strong post, to cannonade the Bridge at Pirna, should the Saxons think of trying there. It is now the one Saxon or even Half-Saxon Bridge; Sonnenstein and Pirna command the Saxon end of it, a strong battery the Prussian end: a Bridge lying mainly idle, like the general Highway to Toplitz at this time. Beyond the Konigstein, again, at a place called Wendisch-Fahre (WENDS'-FERRY), the Prussians have, by means of boats swinging wide at anchor on the swift current, what is called a Flying-bridge, with which the north side can communicate with the south. They have a post at Nieder-Raden (OBER Raden, railway station in our time, is on the south side): Nether Raden is an interesting little Hamlet, mostly invisible to mankind (built in the THROAT of the stone chasms there), from which you begin mounting to the BASTEI far aloft. A Raden to be noted, by the Tourist and us."
Little, or even nothing, of fighting there is: why should there be? The military operations are a dead-lock, and require no word. Thirty thousand, half of the Prussian Force, lie, vigilant as lynxes, blockading here; other half, 32,000, under Marshal Keith, have marched forward to Aussig, to Nollendorf on the Bohemian frontier, to clear the ways, and look into any Austrian motion thereabouts,—with whom, with some Pandour detachment of whom, Duke Ferdinand, leading the vanguard, has had a little brush among the Hills; smiting them home again, in his usual creditable way (September 13th); and taking Camp at Peterswalde, he and others of the Force, that night. [OEuvres de Frederic, iv. 85; ANONYMOUS OF HAMBURG, i. 19.] It is with this Keith Army, with this if with any, that adventures are to be looked for at present.
Polish Majesty's Head-quarters are at Struppen, well in the centre of the Saxon lines; "goes always to the Konigstein to sleep." Polish Majesty's own table is, by Friedrich's permission for that special object, supplied AD LIBITUM: but the common men were at once put on short allowance, which grows always the shorter. Polish Majesty corresponds with Friedrich, as we saw; and above all, sends burning Messages to Austria, to France, to every European Court, charged with mere shrieks: "Help me; a robber has me!" In which sense, Excellencies of all kinds, especially one Lord Stormont, the English Excellency, daily running out from Dresden to Gross-Sedlitz, are passionately industrious with Friedrich; who is eager enough to comply, were there any safe means possible. But there are none. Unfortunately, too, it appears the Austrians are astir; Feldmarschall Browne actually furbishing himself at Prag yonder with an eye hitherward, and extraordinary haste and spirit shown: which obliges Friedrich to rise in his demands; ovine obstinacy, on the other side, naturally increasing from the same cause.
"Polish Majesty, we say, has liberty to bring in proviant for self and suite, rigorously for no mortal more; and he lives well, in the culinary sense,—surely for most part 'in his dressing-gown,' too, poor loose collapsed soul! Bruhl and he have plenty of formal business: but their one real business is that of crying, by estafettes and every conceivable method, to Austria, 'Get us out of this!' To which Austria has answered, 'Yes; only patience, and be steady!'—Friedrich's head-quarters are at Sedlitz; and the negotiating and responding which he has, transcends imagination. His first hope was, Polish Majesty might be persuaded to join with him;—on the back of that, certainty, gradually coming, that Polish Majesty never would; and that the Austrians would endeavor a rescue, were they once ready. Starvation, or the Austrians, which will be first here? is the question; and Friedrich studies to think it will be the former. At all events, having settled on the starvation method, and seen that all his posts are right, we perceive he does not stick close by Sedlitz; but runs now hither now thither; is at Torgau, where an important establishment, kind of New Government for Saxony, on the Finance side, is organizing itself. What his work with Ambassadors was, and how delicate the handling needed, think!"—Here is another Clipping:—
... "Polish Majesty passes the day at Struppen, amid many vain noises of Soldiering, of Diplomatizing; the night always at Konigstein, and finally both day and night,—quite luxuriously accommodated, Bruhl and he, to the very end of this Affair. Towards Struppen [this is weeks farther on, but we give it here],—Comte de Broglio [Old Broglio's elder Son, younger is in the Military line], who is Ambassador to his Saxon-Polish Majesty, sets out from Dresden for an interview with said Majesty. At the Prussian lines, he is informed, 'Yes, you can go; but, without our King's Order, you cannot return.' 'What? The Most Christian Majesty's Ambassador, and treated in this way? I will go to where the Polish King is, and I will return to my own King, so often as I find business: stop me at your peril!' and threatened and argued, and made a deal of blusterous noise;—far too much, thinks Valori; think the Prussian Officers, who are sorry, but inflexible. Margraf Karl, Commandant of the place, in absence of King Friedrich (who is gone lately, on a Business we shall hear of), earnestly dissuaded Excellency Broglio; but it was to no purpose. Next day Broglio appeared in his state-carriage, formally demanding entrance, free thoroughfare: 'Do you dare refuse me?' 'Yes,' answered Margraf Karl; 'we do and must.' Indignant Broglio reappeared, next day, on foot; Lieutenant-General Prince Friedrich Eugen of Wurtemberg the chief man in charge: 'Do you dare?' 'Indubitably, Yes;'—and Broglio still pushing on incredulous, Eugen actually raised his arm,—elbow and fore-arm across the breast of Most Christian Majesty's Ambassador,—who recoiled, to Dresden, in mere whirlwinds of fire; and made the most of it [unwisely, thinks Valori] in writing to Court. [Valori, ii. 349, 209, 353 ("Wednesday, 6th October," the day of it, seemingly); ib. i. 312, &c.] Court, in high dudgeon, commanded Valori to quit Berlin without taking leave. Valori, in his private capacity, wrote an Adieu; [Friedrich's kind Letter in answer to it, "2d November, 1756," in Valori, i. 313.] and in his public, as the fact stood, That he was gone without Adieu."
And the Dauphiness, daughter of those injured Polish Majesties, fell on her knees (Pompadour permitting and encouraging) at the feet of Most Christian Majesty; on her knees, all in passion of tears; craved help and protection to her loved old Mother, in the name of Nature and of all Kings: could any King resist? And his Pompadour was busy: "Think of that noble Empress, who calls me COUSIN AND DEAR PRINCESS; think of that insolent Prussian Robber: Ah, your Majesty:"-and King Louis, though not a hating man, did privately dislike Friedrich; and evil speeches of Friedrich's had been reported to him. And, in short, the upshot was: King Louis, bound only to 24,000 for help of Austria, determined to send, and did send, above 100,000 across the Rhine, next Year, for that object; as will be seen. And all Frenchmen—all except Belleisle, who is old—are charmed with these new energetic measures, and beautiful new Austrian connections.
Certain it is, the Austrians are coming, her Imperial Majesty bent with all her might on relief of those Saxon martyrs; which indeed is relief of herself, as she well perceives: "Courage, my friends; endure yet a little!" Messengers smuggle themselves through the Mountain paths, and go and return, though with difficulty.
Since September 19th, the Correspondence with Polish Majesty has ceased: no persuading of the Polish Majesty. Winterfeld went twice to him; conferred at large, Bruhl forbidden to be there, on the actual stringencies and urgencies of Fact between the Two Countries; but it was with no result at all. Polish Majesty has not the least intention that Saxony shall be even a Highway for Friedrich, if at any time Polish Majesty can hinder it: "Neutrality," therefore, will not do for Friedrich; he demands Alliance, practical Partnership; and to that his Polish Majesty is completely abhorrent. Diplomatizing may cease; nothing but wrestle of fight will settle this matter.
Friedrich, able to get nothing from the Sovereign of Saxony, is reduced to grasp Saxony itself: and we can observe him doing it; always the closer, always the more carefully, as the complicacy deepens, and the obstinacy becomes more dangerous and provoking. What alternative is there? On first entering Saxony, Friedrich had made no secret that he was not a mere bird of passage there. At Torgau, there was at once a "Field-Commissariat" established, with Prussian Officials of eminence to administer, the Military Chest to be deposited there, and Torgau to be put in a state of defence. Torgau, our Saxon Metropolis of War-Finance, is becoming more and more the Metropolis of Saxon Finance in general. Saxon Officials were liable, from the first, to be suspended, on Friedrich's order. Saxon Finance-Officials, of all kinds, were from the first instructed, that till farther notice there must be no disbursements without King Friedrich's sanction. And, in fact, King Friedrich fully intends that Saxony is to help him all it can; and that it either will or else shall, in this dire pressure of perplexity, which is due in such a degree to the conduct of the Saxon Government for twelve years past. Would Saxony go with him in any form of consent, how much more convenient to Friedrich! But Saxony will not; Polish Majesty, not himself suffering hunger, is obstinate as the decrees of Fate (or as sheep, when too much put upon), regardless of considerations;—and, in fine, here is Browne actually afoot; coming to relieve Polish Majesty!—The Austrians had uncommonly bestirred themselves:—
The activity, the zeal of all ranks, ever since this expedition into Saxony, and clutching of Saxony by the throat, contemporary witnesses declare to have been extraordinary. "Horses for Piccolomini's Cavalry,—they had scarcely got their horses, not to speak of training them, not to speak of cannon and the heavier requisites, when Schwerin began marching out of Glatz on Piccolomini. As to the cannon for Browne and him, draught-cattle seem absolutely unprocurable. Whereupon Maria Theresa flings open her own Imperial Studs: 'There, yoke these to our cannon; let them go their swiftest;'—which awoke such an enthusiasm, that noblemen and peasants crowded forward with their coach-horses and their cart-horses, to relay Browne, all through Bohemia, at different stages; and the cannon and equipments move to their places at the gallop, in a manner," [Archenholtz, i. 24.]—and even Browne, at the base of the Metal Mountains, has got most of his equipments. And is astir towards Pirna (Army of 60,000, rumor says), for relief of the Saxon martyrs. Friedrich's complexities are getting day by day more stringent.
From the middle of September, Marshal Keith, as was observed, with Half of the Prussians, Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick under him, has been on the Bohemian slope of the Metal Mountains; securing the roads, towns and passes thereabouts, and looking out for the advance of Marshal Browne from the interior parts. Town of Aussig, and the River-road (castle of Tetschen, on its high rock known to Tourists, which always needs to be taken on such occasions), these Keith has secured. Lies encamped from Peterswalde to Aussig, the middle or main strength of him being in the Hamlet of Johnsdorf (discoverable, if readers like): there lies Keith, fifteen miles in length; like a strap, or bar, thrown across the back of that Metal-Mountain Range,—or part of its back; for the range is very broad, and there is much inequality, and many troughs, big and little, partial and general, in the crossing of it. A tract which my readers and I have crossed before now, by the "Pascopol" or Post-road and otherwise; and shall often have to cross!
Browne, vigorously astir in the interior (cannon and equipments coming by relays at such a pace), is daily advancing, with his best speed: in the last days of September, Browne is encamped at Budin; may cross the Eger River any day, and will then be within two marches of Keith. His intentions towards Pirna Country are fixed and sure; but the plan or route he will take is unknown to everybody, and indeed to Browne himself, till he see near at hand and consider. Browne's problem, he himself knows, is abundantly abstruse,—bordering on the impossible; but he will try his best. To get within reach of the Saxons is almost impossible to Browne, even were there no Keith there. As good as impossible altogether, by any line of march, while Keith is afoot in those parts. By Aussig, down the River, straight for the interior of their Camp, it is flatly impossible: by the south or southeast corner of their Camp (Gottleube way), or by the northeast (by Schandau way, right bank of Elbe), it is virtually so,—at least without beating Keith. Could one beat Keith indeed;—but that will not be easy! And that, unluckily, is the preliminary to everything.
"By the Hellendorf-Hennersdorf side, in the wastes where Gottleube Brook gathers itself, Browne might have a chance. There, on that southeast corner of their Camp, were he once there to attack the Prussians from without, while the Saxons burst up from within,—there," thinks a good judge, "is much the favorablest place. But unless Browne's Army had wings, how is it ever to get there? Across those Metal-Mountain ranges, barred by Keith:—by Aussig, with the rocks overhanging Elbe River and him, he cannot go in any case. Were there no Keith, indeed (but there always is, standing ready on the spring), one might hold to leftward, and by stolen marches, swift, far round about—!
"By Schandau region, north side of the Elbe, is Browne's easiest, and indeed one feasible, point of approach,—no Prussians at present between him and that; the road open, though a far circuit northward for Browne,—were he to cross the Elbe in Leitmeritz circle, and march with velocity? That too will be difficult,—nearly impossible in sight of Keith. And were that even done, the egress for the Saxons, by Schandau side, is through strait mountain gorges, intricate steep passes, crossings of the Elbe: what force of Saxons or of Austrians will drive the Prussians from their redoubts and batteries there?" [OEuvres de Frederic, iv. 86, 93, 96.]
Browne's problem is none of the feasiblest: but his orders are strict, "Relieve the Saxons, at all risks." And Browne, one of the ablest soldiers living ("Your Imperial Majesty's best general," said the dying Khevenhuller long since), will do his utmost upon it. Friedrich does not think the enterprise very dangerous,—beating of Keith the indispensable preliminary to it; but will naturally himself go and look into it.
Tuesday, September 28th, Friedrich quits Pirna Country by the Prag Highway; making due inspection of his Posts as he goes along; and, the outmost of these once past, drives rapidly up the Mountains; gets, with small escort, through Peterswalde on to Johnsdorf that night. Does not think this Keith position good; breaks up this "Camp of Johnsdorf" bodily next morning; and marches down the Mountains, direct towards Browne; who, we hear, is about crossing the Eger (his Pontoons now come at last), and will himself be on the advance. From Turmitz, a poor mountain hamlet in the hollow of the Hills, which is head-quarters that night, the march proceeds again; Friedrich with the vanguard; Army, I think, on various country-roads, on both hands; till all get upon the Great Road again,—Prag-Toplitz-Dresden Post-road; which is called, specially in this part of it, and loosely in whole, "The Pascopol," and leads down direct to Budin and Browne.
"A 'Pascopol' famed in military annals," says our Tourist. "It is a road with many windings, many precipitous sweeps of up and down; road precipitous in structure;—offers views to the lover of wild Nature: huge lonesome Hills scattered in the distance; waste expanses nearer hand, and futile attempts at moorish agriculture; but little else that is comfortable. In times of Peace, you will meet, at long intervals, some post-vehicle struggling forward under melancholy circumstances; some cart, or dilapidated mongrel between cart and basket, with a lean ox harnessed to it, and scarecrow driver, laden with pit-coal,—which you wish safe home, and that the scarecrow were getting warmed by it. But in War-time the steep road is livelier; the common Invasion road between Saxony and Bohemia; whole Armies sweeping over it, and their thousand-fold wagons and noises making clangor enough. ... One of those Hollows, on the Pascopol, is Joachimsthal, with its old Silver Mines; yielding coins which were in request with traders, the silver being fine. 'Let my ducat be a Joachimsthal one, then!' the old trader would say: 'a JOACHIMSTHAL-ER;' or, for brevity, a 'THAL-ER;' whence THALER, and at last DOLLAR (almighty and otherwise),—now going round the world! [Busching, Erdbeschreibung,v. 178.] Pascopol finishes in Welmina Township. From the last hamlet in Welmina, at the neck of the last Hill, step downward one mile, holding rather to the left, you will come on the innocent Village of Lobositz, its poor corn-mills and huckster-shops all peaceably unknown as yet, which is soon to become very famous."
The Country-roads where Friedrich's Army is on march, I should think, are mostly on the mounting hand. For here, from Turmitz, is a trough again; though the last considerable one; and on the crest of that, we shall look down upon the Bohemian Plains and the grand Basin of the Elbe,—through various scrubby villages which are not nameworthy; through one called Kletschen, which for a certain reason is. Crossing the shoulder of Kletschenberg (HILL of this Kletschen), which abuts upon the Pascopol,—yonder in bright sunshine is your beautiful expansive Basin of the Elbe, and the green Bohemian Plains, revealed for a moment. Friedrich snatches his glass, not with picturesque object: "See, yonder is Feldmarschall Browne, then! In camp yonder, down by Lobositz, not ten miles from us,—[it is most true; Browne marched this morning, long before the Sun; crossed Eger, and pitched camp at noon]—Good!" thinks Friedrich. And pushes down into the Pascopol, into the hollows and minor troughs, which hide Browne henceforth, till we are quite near.
Quite near, through Welmina and a certain final gap of the Hills, Friedrich with the vanguard does emerge, "an hour before sunset;" overhanging Browne; not above a mile from the Camp of Browne. A very large Camp, that of Browne's, flanked to right by the Elbe; goes from Sulowitz, through Lobositz, to Welhoten close on Elbe;—and has properties extremely well worth studying just now! "Friedrich" the Books say, "bivouacs by a fire of sticks," short way down on the southern slope of the Hill; and till sunset and after, has eye-glass, brain, and faculties and activities sufficiently occupied for the rest of the night;—his Divisions gradually taking post behind him, under arms; "not till midnight, the very rearmost of them." ["Tuesday, 28th September, left the Camp at Sedlitz, with 8 battalions 20 squadrons, to Johnsdorf: 29th, to Turmitz,—Browne is to pass the Eger tomorrow. From the tops of the Pascopol (30th), SEE an Austrian Camp in the Plain of Lobositz. Vanguard bivouacs in the 'neck' of the two Hills or a little beyond." PRUSSIAN ACCOUNT OF CAMPAIGN 1756 (in Gesammelte Nachrichten, i. 844-845, 840-858); Anonymous of Hamburg; &c. &c.]
Welmina,—or Reschni-Aujest, last pertinent of Welmina (but we will take Friedrich's name for it), offers to the scrutinizing eye nothing, in our day, but some bewildered memory of "Alte Fritz" clinging obstinately even to the Peasant mind thereabouts. A sleepy littery place; some biggish haggard untrimmed trees, some broken-backed sleepy-looking thatched houses, not in contact, and each as far as might be with its back turned on the other, and cloaked in its own litter and privacy. Probably no human creature will be visible, as you pass through. Much straw lying about, chiefly where the few gaunt trees look down on it (cattle glad of any shelter): in fact, it is mainly an extinct tumult of straw; nothing alive, as you pass, but a few poor oxen languidly sauntering up and down, finding much to trample, little to eat. The Czech Populations (were it not for that "Question of the Nationalities") are not very beautiful!
Close south of this poor Hamlet is a big Hill, conspicuous with three peaks; quite at the other base of which, a good way down, lies Lobositz, the main Village in those parts; a place now of assiduous corn-mill and fruit trade; and one of the stations on the Dresden-Prag Railway. This Hill is what Lloyd calls the Lobosch; [Major-General Lloyd, History of the late War in Germany, 1756-1759 (3 vols. 4to, London, 1781), i. 2-11.] twin to which, only flatter, is Lloyd's "Homolka Hill" (Hill of RADOSTITZ in more modern Plans and Books). Conspicuous Heights, and important to us here,—though I did not find the Peasants much know them under those names. By the southern shoulder of this Lobosch Hill runs the road from Welmina to Lobositz, with branches towards many other villages. To your right or southern hand, short way southward, rises the other Hill, which Lloyd calls Homolka Hill; the gap or interval between Homolka and Lobosch, perhaps a furlong in extent, is essentially the PASS through those uplands. This pass, Friedrich, at the first moment, made sure of; filling the same with battalions, there to bivouac. He likewise promptly laid hold of the two Hills, high Lobosch to his left, and lower Homolka to right; which precautionary measure it is reckoned a fault in Browne to have neglected, that night; fault for which he smarted on the morrow.
From this upland pass, or neck between the two Mountains, Friedrich's battalions would have had a fine view, had the morning shone for them: Lobositz, Leitmeritz, Melnick; a great fertile Valley, or expanse of fruitful country, many miles in breadth and length; Elbe, like a silver stripe, winding grandly through the finest of all his countries, before ducking himself into the rock-tumults of that Pirna district. The mountain gorges of Prag and Moldau River, south of Melnick, lie hidden under the horizon, or visible only as peaks, thirty miles and more to southeastward; a bright country intervening, sprinkled with steepled towns. To northwestward, far away, are the Lausitz Mountains, ranked in loose order, but massive, making a kind of range: and as outposts to them in their scattered state, Hills of good height and aspect are scattered all about, and break the uniformity of the Plain. Nowhere in North Germany could the Prussian battalions have a finer view,—if the morning were fine, and if views were their object.
The morning, first in October, was not fine; and it was far other than scenery that the Prussian battalions had in hand!—Friday, 1st October, 1756, Day should have broken: but where is day? At seven in the morning (and on till eleven), thick mist lay over the plain; thin fog to the very hill-tops; so that you cannot see a hundred yards ahead. Lobositz is visible only as through a crape; farther on, nothing but gray sea; under which, what the Austrians are doing, or whether there are any Austrians, who can say? Leftward on the Lobosch-Hill side, as we reconnoitre, some Pandours are noticeable, nestled in the vineyards there:—that sunward side of the Lobosch is all vineyards, belonging to the different Lobositzers: scrubby vineyards, all in a brown plucked state at this season. Vineyards parted by low stone walls, say three or four feet high (parted by hurdles, or by tiny trenches, in our day, and the stone walls mere stone facings): there are the Pandours crouched, and give fire in a kneeling posture when you approach. Lower down, near Lobositz itself, flickerings as of Horse squadrons, probably Hussar parties, twinkle dubious in the wavering mist. Problem wrapt in mist; nothing to be seen; and all depends on judging it with accuracy! Seven by the clock: Deploy, at any rate; let us cover our post; and be in readiness for events.
Friedrich's vanguard of itself nearly fills that neck, or space between the Lobosch and Homolka Hills. He spreads his Infantry and "hundred field-pieces," in part, rightwards along the Homolka Hill; but chiefly leftwards along the Lobosch, where their nearest duty is to drive off those Pandours. Always as a new battalion, pushing farther leftward, comes upon its ground, the Pandours give fire on it;—and it on the Pandours; till the Left Wing is complete, and all the Lobosch is, in this manner, a crackling of Pandour musketry, and anti-musketry. Right Wing, steady to its guns on the Homolka, has as yet nothing to do. Those wings of Infantry are two lines deep; the Cavalry, in three lines, is between them in the centre; no room for Cavalry elsewhere, except on the outskirts some fringing of light horse, to be ready for emergencies.
The Pandour firing, except for the noise of it, does not amount to much; they can take no aim, says Lloyd, crouching behind their stone fences; and the Prussian Battalions, steadily pushing downwards, trample out their sputtering, and clear the Lobosch of them to a safe distance. But the ground is intricate, so wrapt in mist for the present. That crackling lasts for hours; decisive of nothing; and the mist also, and one's anxious guessings and scrutinizings, lasts in a wavering fitful manner.
Once, for some time, in the wavering of the mist, there was seen, down in the plain opposite our centre, a body of Cavalry. Horse for certain: say ten squadrons of them, or 1,500 Horse; continually manoeuvring, changing shape; now in more ranks, now in fewer; sometimes "checkerwise," formed like a draught-board; shooting out wings: they career about, one sees not whither, or vanish again into the mist behind. "Browne's rear-guard this, that we are come upon," thinks Friedrich; "these squatted Pandours, backed by Horse, must be his rear-guard, that are amusing us: Browne and the Army are off; crossing the Elbe, hastening towards the Schandau, the Pirna quarter, while we stand bickering and idly sputtering here!"—Weary of such idle business, Friedrich orders forward Twenty of his Squadrons from the centre station: "Charge me those Austrian Horse, and let us finish this." The Twenty Squadrons, preceded by a pair of field-pieces, move down hill; storm in upon the Austrian party, storm it furiously into the mist; are furiously chasing it,—when unexpected cannon-batteries, destructive case-shot, awaken on their left flank (batteries from Lobositz, one may guess); and force them to draw back. To draw back, with some loss; and rank again, in an indignantly blown condition, at the foot of their Hill. Indignant; after brief breathing, they try it once more.
"Don't try it!" Friedrich had sent out to tell them: for the mist was clearing; and Friedrich, on the higher ground, saw new important phenomena: but it was too late. For the Twenty Squadrons are again dashing forward; sweeping down whatever is before them: in spite of cannon-volleys, they plunge deeper and deeper into the mist; come upon "a ditch twelve feet broad" (big swampy drain, such as are still found there, grass-green in summer-time); clear said ditch; forward still deeper into the mist: and after three hundred yards, come upon a second far worse "ditch;" plainly impassable this one,—"ditch" they call it, though it is in fact a vile sedgy Brook, oozing along there (the MORELL BACH, considerable Brook, lazily wandering towards Lobositz, where it disembogues in rather swifter fashion);—and are saluted with cannon, from the farther side; and see serried ranks under the gauze of mist: Browne's Army, in fact! The Twenty Squadrons have to recoil out of shot-range, the faster, the better; with a loss of a good many men, in those two charges. Friedrich orders them up Hill again; much regretful of this second charge, which he wished to hinder; and posts them to rearward,—where they stand silent, the unconscious stoic-philosophers in buff, and have little farther service through the rest of the day.
It is now 11 o'clock; the mist all clearing off; and Friedrich, before that second charge, had a growing view of the Plain and its condition. Beyond question, there is Browne; not in retreat, by any means; but in full array; numerous, and his position very strong. Ranked, unattackable mostly, behind that oozy Brook, or BACH of Morell; which has only two narrow Bridges, cannon plenty on both: one Bridge from the south parts to Sulowitz (OUR road to Sulowitz and it would be by Radostitz and the Homolka); and then one other Bridge, connecting Sulowitz with Lobositz,—which latter is Browne's own Bridge, uniting right wing and left of Browne, so to speak; and is still more unattackable, in the circumstances. What will Friedrich decide on attempting?
That oozy Morell Brook issues on Browne's side of Lobositz, cutting Browne in two; but is otherwise all in Browne's favor. Browne extends through Lobositz; and beyond it, curves up to Welhoten on the River-brink; at Lobositz are visible considerable redoubts, cannon-batteries and much regular infantry. Browne will be difficult to force yonder, in the Lobositz part; but yonder alone can he be tried. He is pushing up more Infantry that way; conscious probably of that fact,—and that the Lobosch Hill is not his, but another's. What would not Browne now give for the Lobosch Hill! Yesternight he might have had it gratis, in a manner; and indeed did try slightly, with his Pandour people (durst not at greater expense),—who have now ceased sputtering, and cower extinct in the lower vineyards there. Browne, at any rate, is rapidly strengthening his right wing, which has hold of Lobositz; pushing forward in that quarter,—where the Brook withal is of firmer bottom and more wadable. Thither too is Friedrich bent. So that Lobositz is now the key of the Battle; there will the tug of war now be.
Friedrich's cavalry is gone all to rearward. His right wing holds the Homolka Hill,—that too would now be valuable to Browne; and cannot be had gratis, as yesternight! Friedrich's left wing is on the Lobosch; Pandours pretty well extinct before it, but now from Welhoten quarter new Regulars coming on thither,—as if Browne would still take the Lobosch? Which would be victory to him; but is not now possible to Browne. Nor will long seem so;—Friedrich having other work in view for him;—meaning now to take Lobositz, instead of losing the Lobosch to him! Friedrich pushes out his Left Wing still farther leftward, leftward and downward withal, to clear those vineyard-fences completely of their occupants, Pandour or Regular, old or new. This is done; the vineyard-fences swept;—and the sweepings driven, in a more and more stormy fashion, towards Welhoten and Lobositz; the Lobosch falling quite desperate for Browne.
Henceforth Friedrich directs all his industry to taking Lobositz; Browne, to the defending of it, which he does with great vigor and fire; his batteries, redoubts, doing their uttermost, and his battalions rushing on, mass of them after mass, at quick march, obstinate, fierce to a degree, in the height of temper; and showing such fight as we never had of them before. Friedrich's Left Wing and Browne's Right now have it to decide between them;—any attempt Browne makes with his Left through Sulowitz (as he once did, and once only) is instantly repressed by cannon from the Homolka Hill. And the rest of the Battle, or rather the Battle itself,—for all hitherto has been pickeering and groping in the mist,—may be made conceivable in few words.
Friedrich orders the second line of his Left Wing to march up and join with the first; Right Wing, shoving ITS two lines into one, is now to cover the Lobosch as well. Left Wing, in condensed condition, shall fall down on Lobositz, and do its best. They are now clear of the vineyard-works; the ground is leveller, though still sloping,—a three furlongs from the Village, and somewhat towards the Elbe, when Browne's battalions first came extensively to close grips; fierce enough (as was said); the toughest wrestle yet had with those Austrians,—coming on with steady fury, under such force of cannon; with iron ramrods too, and improved ways, like our own. But nothing could avail them; the counter-fury being so great. They had to go at the Welhoten part, and even to run,—plunging into Elbe, a good few of them, and drowning there, in the vain hope to swim. "Never have my troops," says Friedrich, "done such miracles of valor, cavalry as well as infantry, since I had the honor to command them. By this dead-lift achievement (TOUR DE FORCE) I have seen what they can do." [Letter to Schwerin, "Lobositz, 2d August, 1756" (Retzow, i. 64); RELATION DE LA CAMPAGNE, 1756, that is, PRUSSIAN ACCOUNT (in Gesammelte Nachrichten), i. 848. Lloyd, UT SUPRA, i. 2-11 (who has solid information at first hand, having been an actor in these Wars. A man of great natural sagacity and insight; decidedly luminous and original, though of somewhat crabbed temper now and then; a man well worth hearing on this and on whatever else he handles). Tempelhof, GESCHICHTE DES SIEBENJAHRIGEN KRIEGES (which is at first a mere Translation of Lloyd, nothing new in it but certain notes and criticisms on Lloyd; when Lloyd ends, Tempelhof, Prussian Major and Professor, a learned, intelligent, but diffuse man, of far inferior talent to Lloyd, continues and completes on his own footing: six very thin 4tos, Berlin, 1794), i. 38 (Battle, with FOOTNOTES), and ib. 51 (CRITICISM of Lloyd). Prussian and Austrian Accounts in Helden-Geschichte, iii. 800 et seq. Many Narratives in FELDZUGE, and the BEYLAGE to Seyfarth; &c. &c.]
In fine, after some three hours more of desperate tugging and struggling, cannon on both sides going at a great rate, and infinite musketry ("ninety cartridges a man on our Prussian side, and ammunition falling done"), not without bayonet-pushings, and smitings with the butt of your musket, the Austrians are driven into Lobositz; are furiously pushed there, and, in spite of new battalions coming to the rescue, are fairly pushed through. These Village-streets are too narrow for new battalions from Browne; "much of the Village should have been burnt beforehand," say cool judges. And now, sure enough, it does get burnt; Lobositz is now all on fire, by Prussian industry. So that the Austrians have to quit it instantly; and rush off in great disorder; key of the Battle, or Battle itself, quite lost to them.
The Prussian infantry, led by the Duke of Brunswick-Bevern ("Governor of Stettin," one of the Duke-Ferdinand cousinry, frugal and valiant), gave the highest satisfaction; seldom was such firing, such furious pushing; they had spent ninety cartridges a man; were at last quite out of cartridges; so that Bevern had to say, "Strike in with bayonets, MEINE KINDER; butt-ends, or what we have; HERAN!" Our Grenadiers were mainly they that burnt Lobositz. "How salutary now would it have been," says Epimetheus Lloyd, "had Browne had a small battery on the other side of the Elbe;" whereby he might have taken them in flank, and shorn them into the wind! Epimetheus marks this battery on his Plan; and is wise behindhand, at a cheap rate.
Browne's Right Wing, and probably his Army with it, would have gone much to perdition, now that Lobositz was become Prussian,—had not Browne, in the nick of the moment, made a masterly movement: pushed forward his Centre and Left Wing, numerous battalions still fresh, to interpose between the chasing Prussians and those fugitives. The Prussians, infantry only, cannot chase on such terms; the Prussian cavalry, we know, is far rearward on the high ground. Browne retires a mile or two,—southward, Budin-ward,—not chased; and there halts, and rearranges himself; thinking what farther he will do. His aim in fighting had only been to defend himself; and in that humble aim he has failed. Chase of the Prussians over that Homolka-Lobosch country, with the high grounds rearward and the Metal Mountains in their hands, he could in no event have attempted.
The question now is: Will he go back to Budin; or will he try farther towards Schandau? Nature points to the former course, in such circumstances; Friedrich, by way of assisting, does a thing much admired by Lloyd;—detaches Bevern with a strong party southward, out of Lobositz, which is now his, to lay hold of Tschirskowitz, lying Budin-ward, but beyond the Budin Road. Which feat, when Browne hears of it, means to him, "Going to cut me off from Budin, then? From my ammunition-stores, from my very bread-cupboard!" And he marches that same midnight, silently, in good order, back to Budin. He is not much ruined; nay the Prussian loss is numerically greater: "3,308 killed and wounded, on the Prussian side; on the Austrian, 2,984, with three cannon taken and two standards." Not ruined at all; but foiled, frustrated; and has to devise earnestly, "What next?" Once rearranged, he may still try.
The Battle lasted seven hours; the last four of it very hot, till Lobositz was won and lost. It was about 5 P.M. when Browne fired his retreat-cannon:—cannon happened to be loaded (say the Anecdote-Books, mythically given now and then); Friedrich, wearied enough, had flung himself into his carriage for a moment's rest, or thankful reflection; and of all places, the ball of the retreat-cannon lighted THERE. Between Friedrich's feet, as he lay reclining,—say the Anecdote-Books, whom nobody is bound to believe.
On the strength of those two Prussian charges, which had retired from case-shot on their flank, and had not wings, for getting over sedge and ooze, Austria pretended to claim the victory. "Two charges repelled by our gallant horse; Lobositz, indeed, was got on fire, and we had nothing for it but to withdraw; but we took a new position, and only left that for want of water;"—with the like excuses. "Essentially a clear victory," said the Austrians; and sang TE-DEUM about it;—but profited nothing by that piece of melody. The fact, considerable or not, was, from the first, too undeniable: Browne beaten from the field. And beaten from his attempt too (the Saxons not relievable by this method); and lies quiet in Budin again,—with his water sure to him; but what other advantages gained?
Here are two Letters, brief both, which we may as well read:—
1. FRIEDRICH TO WILHELMINA (at Baireuth).
"LOBOSITZ, 4th October, 1756.
"MY DEAR SISTER,—Your will is accomplished. Tired out by these Saxon delays, I put myself at the head of my Army of Bohemia [Keith's hitherto]; and marched from Aussig to—a Name which seemed to me of good augury, being yours,—to the Village of Welmina [Battle was called OF WELMINA, by the Prussians at first]. I found the Austrians here, near Lobositz; and, after a Fight of seven hours, forced them to run. Nobody of your acquaintance is killed, except Generals Luderitz and OErzen [who are not of ours].
"I return you a thousand thanks for the tender part you take in my lot. Would to Heaven the valor of my Army might procure us a stable Peace! That ought to be the aim of War. Adieu, my dear Sister; I embrace you tenderly, assuring you of the lively affection with which I am—F." [OEuvres, xxvii. i. 291.]
2. PRINCE OF PRUSSIA TO VALORI (who is still at Berlin, but soon going as it proves,—Broglio's explosion at the Lines of Gross-Sedlitz being on hand, during the King's absence, in these very hours) ["5th-6th October" (Valori, ii. 353).]
"CAMP OF LOBOSITZ, 5th October, 1756.
"You will know the news of the day; and I am persuaded you take part in it. All you say to me betokens the conspiracy there is for the destruction of our Country. If that is determined in the Book of Fate, we cannot escape it.
"Had my advice been asked, a year ago, I should have voted to preserve the Alliance [with YOU] which we had been used to for sixteen years [strictly for twelve, though in substance ever since 1740], and which was by nature advantageous to us. But if my advice were asked just now, I should answer, That the said method being now impossible, we are in the case of a ship's captain who defends himself the best he can, and when all resources are exhausted, has, rather than surrender on shameful conditions, to fire the powder-magazine, and blow up his ship. You remember that of your Francois I."—FORS L'HONNEUR; ah yes, very well!—"Perhaps it will be my poor Children who will be the victims of these past errors,"—for such I still think them, I for my part.
"The Gazettes enumerate the French troops that are to besiege Wesel, Geldern [Wesel they will get gratis, poor Geldern will almost break their heart first], and take possession of Ost-Friesland; the Russian Declaration [Manifesto not worth reading] tells us Russia's intentions for the next year [most truculent intentions]: we will defend ourselves to the last drop of our blood, and perish with honor. If you have any counsel farther, I pray you give it me.
MAP GOES HERE—BETWEEN P. 350 AND 351 Chap VII book 17
"Remain always my friend; and believe that in all situations I will remain yours; and trying to do what my duty is, will not forfeit the sentiments on your part which have been so precious to me. Your servant, GUILLAUME." [Valori, ii. 204-206.]
"Pity this good Prince contemplating the downfall of his House," suggests Valori: "He deserved a better fate! He would be in despair to think I had sent this Letter to your Excellency; but I thought perhaps you would show it to the King,"—and that it might do good one day. [Valori (to the French Minister, "12th October, 1756"), ii. 204.] The Prussians lay in their "Camp of Lobositz," posted up and down in that neighborhood, for a couple of weeks more; waiting whether Browne would attempt anything farther in the fighting way; and, in fine, whether the solution of the crisis would fall out hereabouts, or on the other side of the Hills.
The disaster of October 1st—for which they were trying to sing TE-DEUMS at Vienna—fell heavier on the poor Saxons, in their cage at Pirna: "Alas, where is our deliverance now?" Friedrich's people, in their lines here, gave them such a "joy-firing" for Lobositz as Retzow has seldom heard; huge volleyings, salvoings, running-fires, starting out, artistically timed and stationed, thunderous, high; and borne by the echoes, gloomily reverberative, into every dell and labyrinth of the Pirna Country;—intended to strike a deeper damp into them, thinks he. [Retzow, i. 67.] But Imperial Majesty was mindful, too; and straightway sent Browne positive order, "Deliver me these poor Saxons at any price!" And in the course of not quite a week from Lobositz, there arrives a confidential Messenger from Browne: "Courage still, ye caged Saxons; I will try it another way! Only you must hold out till the 11th; on the 11th stand to your tools, and it shall be done."
Browne is to take a succinct Detachment, 8,000 picked men, horse and foot; to make a wider sweep with these, well eastward by the foot of Lausitz Hills, and far enough from all Prussian parties and scouts; to march, with all speed and silence, "through Bohm-Leipa, Kamnitz, Rumburg, Schluckenau; and come in upon the Schandau region, quite from the northeast side; say, at Lichtenhayn; an eligible Village, which is but seven miles or so from the Konigstein, with the chasmy country and the river intervening. Monday, October 11th, Browne will arrive at Lichtenhayn (sixty miles of circling march from Budin); privately post himself near Lichtenhayn; Prussian posts, of no great strength, lying ahead of him there. You, indignant extenuated Saxons, are to get yourselves across,—near the Konigstein it will have to be, under cover of the Konigstein's cannon,—on the front or riverward side of those same Prussian posts: crossing-place (Browne's Messenger settles) can be Thurmsdorf Hamlet, opposite the Lilienstein, opposite the Hamlets of Ebenheit and Halbstadt there. Konigstein fire will cover your bridge and your building of it.
"Monday night next, I say, post yourselves there, with hearts resolute, with powder dry; there, about the eastern roots of the Lilienstein [beautiful Show Mountain, with stair-steps cut on it for Tourist people, by August the Strong], and avoid the Prussian battery and abatis which is on it just now! You at Ebenheit, I at Lichtenhayn, trimmed and braced for action, through that Monday night. Tuesday morning, the Konigstein, at your beckoning, shall fire two cannon-shots; which shall mean, 'All ready here!' Then forward, you, on those Prussian posts by the front; I will attack them by the rear. With right fury, both of us! I am told, they are but weak in those posts; surely, by double impetus, and dead-lift effort from us both, they CAN be forced? Only force them,—you are in the open field again; and you march away with me, colors flying; your hunger-cage and all your tribulations left behind you!"—
This is Browne's plan. The poor Saxons accept,—what choice have they?—though the question of crossing and bridge-building has its intricacies; and that inevitable item of "postponement till the 11th" is a sore clause to them; for not only are there short and ever shorter rations, but grim famine itself is advancing with large strides. The "daily twenty ounces of meal" has sunk to half that quantity; the "ounce or so of butcher's-meat once a week" has vanished, or become HORSE of extreme leanness. The cavalry horses have not tasted oats, nothing but hay or straw (not even water always); the artillery horses had to live by grazing, brown leaves their main diet latterly. Not horses any longer; but walking trestles, poor animals! And the men,—well, they are fallen pale; but they are resolute as ever. The nine corn-mills, which they have in this circuit of theirs, grind now night and day; and all the cavalry are set to thresh whatever grain can be found about; no hind or husbandman shall retain one sheaf: in this way, they hope, utter hunger may be staved off, and the great attempt made. [PRECIS DE LA RETRAITE DE L'ARMEE SAXONNE DE SON CAMP DE PIRNA (in Gesammelte Nachrichten, i. 482-494).]
Browne skilfully and perfectly did his part of the Adventure. Browne arrives punctually at Lichtenhayn, evening of the 11th; bivouacs, hidden in the Woods thereabouts, in cold damp weather; stealthily reconnoitres the Prussian Villages ahead, and trims himself for assault, at sound of the two cannons to-morrow. But there came no cannon-signal on the morrow; far other signallings and messagings to-morrow, and next day, and next, from the Konigstein and neighborhood! "Wait, Excellency Feldmarschall [writes Bruhl to him, Note after Note, instead of signalling from the Konigstein]: do wait a very little! You run no risk in waiting; we, even if we MUST yield, will make that our first stipulation!" "YOU will?" grumbles Browne; and waits, naturally, with extreme impatience. But the truth is, the Adventure, on the Saxon side of it, has already altogether misgone; and becomes, from this point onwards, a mere series of failures, futilities and disastrous miseries, tragical to think of. Worth some record here, since there are Documents abundant;—especially as Feldmarschall Rutowski (who is General-in-Chief, an old, not esteemed, friend of ours) has produced, or caused to be produced, a Narrative, which illuminates the Business from within as well. [PRECIS, &c. (just cited); compare TAGEBUCH DER EINSCHLIESSUNG DES SACHSISCHEN LAGERS BEY PIRNA ("Diary," &c., which is the Prussian Account: in Seyfarth, BEYLAGEN), ii. 22-48.] The latter is our main Document here:—
I know not how much of the blame was General Rutowski's: one could surmise some laxity of effort, and a rather slovenly-survey of facts, in that quarter. The Enterprise, from the first, was flatly impossible, say judges; and it is certain, poor Rutowski's execution was not first-rate. "How get across the Elbe?" Rutowski had said to himself, perhaps not quite with the due rigor of candor proportionate to the rigorous fact: "How get across the Elbe? We have copper pontoons at Pirna; but they will be difficult to cart. Or we might have a boat-bridge; boats planked together two and two. At Pirna are plenty of boats; and by oar and track-rope, the River itself might be a road for them? Boats or pontoons to Konigstein, by water or land, they must be got. Eight miles of abysmal roads, our horses all extenuated? Impossible to cart these pontoons!" said Rutowski to himself.—Pity he had not tried it. He had a week to do those eight bad miles in; and 2,000 lean horses, picking grass or brown leaves, while their riders threshed. "We will drag our pontoons by water, by the Elbe tow-path," thought Rutowski, "that will be easier;"—and forthwith sets about preparing for it, secretly collecting boats at Pirna, steersmen, towing-men, bridge-tackle and what else will be necessary.
Rutowski made, at least, no delay. Browne's messenger, we find, had come to him, "Thursday, 7th:" and on Friday night Rutowski has a squad of boatmen, steersmen and twoscore of towing peasants ready; and actually gets under way. They are escorted by the due battalions with field-pieces;—who are to fire upon the Prussian batteries, and keep up such a blaze of musketry and heavier shot, as will screen the boats in passing. Surely a ticklish operation, this;—arguing a sanguine temper in General Rutowski! The south bank of the River is ours; but there are various Prussian batteries, three of them very strong, along the north bank, which will not fail to pelt us terribly as we pass. No help for it;—we must trust in luck! Here is the sequel, with dates adjusted.
ELBE RIVER, NIGHT OF OCTOBER 8th-9th. Friday night, accordingly, so soon as Darkness (unusually dark this night) has dropt her veil on the business, Rutowski sets forth. The Prussian battery, or bridge-head (TETE-DE-PONT), at Pirna, has not noticed him, so silent was he. But, alas, the other batteries do not fail to notice; to give fire; and, in fact, on being answered, and finding it a serious thing, to burst out into horrible explosion; unanswerable by the Saxon field-pieces; and surely perilous to human nature steering and towing those big River-Boats. "Loyal to our King, and full of pity for him; that are we;"—but towing at a rate, say of two shillings per head! Before long, the forty towing peasants fling down their ropes, first one, then more, then all, in spite of efforts, promises, menaces; and vanish among the thickets,—forfeiting the two shillings, on view of imminent death. Soldiers take the towing-ropes; try to continue it a little; but now the steersmen also manage to call halt: "We won't! Let us out, let us out! We will steer you aground on the Prussian shore if you don't!" making night hideous. And the towing enterprise breaks down for that bout; double barges mooring on the Saxon shore, I know not precisely at what point, nor is it material.
SATURDAY NIGHT, OCTOBER 9th-10th) New boatmen, forty new towmen have been hired at immense increase of wages; say four shillings for the night: but have you much good probability, my General, that even for that high guerdon imminence of death can be made indifferent to towmen? No, you have n't. The matter goes this night precisely as it did last: towmen vanishing in the horrible cannon tumult; steersmen shrieking, "We will ground you on the Prussian shore;" very soldiers obliged to give it up; and General Rutowski himself obliged to wash his hands of it, as a thing that cannot be done. In fact, a thing which need not have been tried, had Rutowski been rigorously candid with himself and his hopes, as the facts now prove to be. "Twenty-four hours lost by this bad business" (says he; "thirty-six," as I count, or, to take it rigorously, "forty-eight" even): and now, Sunday morning instead of Friday, at what, in sad truth, is metaphorically "the eleventh hour," Rutowski has to bethink him of his copper pontoons; and make the impossible carting method possible in a day's time, or do worse.
SUNDAY, MONDAY, OCTOBER 10th-11th, By unheard-of exertions, all hands and all spent-horses now at a dead-lift effort night and day, Rutowski does get his pontoons carted out of the Pirna storehouse; lands them at Thurmsdorf,—opposite the Lilienstein,—a mile or so short of Konigstein, where his Bridge shall be. It is now the 11th, at night. And our pontoons are got to the ground, nothing more. Every man of us, at this hour, should have been across, and trimming himself to climb, with bayonet fixed! Browne is ready, expecting our signal-shot to storm in on his side. And our bridge is not built, only the pontoons here. "All things went perverse," adds Rutowski, for farther comfort: "we [Saxon Home-Army] had with us, except Officers, only Four Pontoniers, or trained Bridge-builders; all the rest are at Warsaw:" sad thought, but too late to think it!
TUESDAY, TILL WEDNESDAY EARLY (12th-13th), Bridge, the Four Pontoniers, with Officers and numb soldiers doing their best, is got built;—Browne waiting for us, on thorns, all day; Prussians extensively beginning to strengthen their posts, about the Lilienstein, about Lichtenhayn, or where risk is; and in fact pouring across to that northern side, quite aware of Rutowski and Browne.
That same night, 12th-13th, while the Bridge was struggling to complete itself,—rain now falling, and tempests broken out,—the Saxon Army, from Pirna down to Hennersdorf, had lifted itself from its Lines, and got under way towards Thurmsdorf, and the crossing-place. Dark night, plunging rain; all the elements in uproar. The worst roads in Nature; now champed doubly; "such roads as never any Army marched on before." Most of their cannon are left standing; a few they had tried to yoke, broke down, "and choked up the narrow road altogether; so that the cavalry had to dismount, and lead their horses by side-paths,"—figure what side-paths! Distance to Thurmsdorf, from any point of the Saxon Lines, cannot be above six miles: but it takes them all that night and all next day. Such a march as might fill the heart with pity. Oh, ye Rutowskis, Bruhls, though never so decorated by twelve tailors, what a sight ye are at the head of men! Dark night, wild raging weather, labyrinthic roads worn knee-deep. It is broad daylight, Wednesday, 13th, and only the vanguard is yet got across, trailing a couple of cannons; and splashes about, endeavoring to take rank there, in spite of wet and hunger; rain still pouring, wind very high.
Nothing of Browne comes, this Wednesday; but from the opposite Gross-Sedlitz and Gottleube side, the Prussians are coming. This morning, at daylight, struck by symptoms, "the Prussians mounted our empty redoubts:" they are now in full chase of us, Ziethen with Hussars as vanguard. A difficult bit of marching, even Ziethen and his light people find it; sprawling forward, at their cheeriest, with daylight to help, and in chase, not chased, through such intricacies of rock and mud. Ziethen's company did not assist the Saxons! They wheel round, show fight, and there is volleying and bickering all day; the Saxon march getting ever more perturbed. Nearly all the baggage has to be left. Ziethen takes into the woods near Thurmsdorf; giving fire as the poor wet Saxons, now much in a pell-mell condition, pass to their Bridge. [PRUSSIAN ACCOUNT (in Gesammelte Nachrichten), i. 852.] Heavier Prussians are striding on to rear; these, from some final hill-top, do at last belch out two cannon-shots: figure the confusion at that Bridge, the speed now becoming delirious there! Towards evening, rain still violent, the Saxons, baggageless, and rushing quite pell-mell the latter part of them, are mostly across, still countable to 14,000 or so;—upon which they cut their Bridge adrift, and let the river take it. At Raden, a few miles lower, the Prussians fished it out; rebuilt it more deliberately,—and we shall find it there anon. This day Friedrich, hearing what is afoot, has returned in person from the Lobositz Country; takes Struppen as his head-quarter, which was lately the Polish Majesty's.
From Browne there has nothing come this Wednesday; but to-morrow morning at seven there comes a Letter from him, written this night at ten; to the effect:—
"HEAD-QUARTER, LICHTENHAYN, Wednesday, October 13th, 10 P.M.
"EXCELLENZ,—Have [omitting the I] waited here at Lichtenhayn since Tuesday, expecting your signal-cannon; hearing nothing of it, conclude you have by misfortune not been able to get across; and that the Enterprise is up. My own position being dangerous [Prussians of double my strength intrenched within few miles of me], I turn homewards to-morrow at nine A.M.: ready for whatever occurs TILL then; and sorrowfully say adieu," [PRECIS (ut supra), p. 493; Helden-Geschichte, iii. 940; &c.]
Dreadful weather for Browne in his bivouac, and wearisome waiting, with Prussians and perils accumulating on him! Browne was ill of lungs; coughing much; lodging, in these violent tempests, on the cold ground. A right valiant soldier and man, as does appear; the flower of all the Irish Brownes (though they have quite forgotten him in our time), and of all those Irish Exiles then tragically spending themselves in Austrian quarrels! "You saw the great man," says one who seems to have been present, "how he sacrificed himself to this Enterprise. What Austrian Field-marshal but himself would ever have lowered his loftiness to lead, in person, so insignificant a Detachment, merely for the public good! I have seen staff-officers, distinguished only by their sasheries and insignia, who would not have stirred to inspect a vedette without 250 men. Our Field-marshal was of another turn. Sharing with his troops all the hardships, none excepted, of these critical days; and in spite of a violent cough, which often brought the visible blood from his lungs, and had quite worn him down; exposing himself, like the meanest of the Army, to the tempests of rainy weather. Think what a sight it was, going to your very heart, and summoning you to endurance of every hardship,—that evening [not said which], when the Field-marshal, worn out with his fatigues and his disorder, sank out of fainting-fits into a sleep! The ground was his bed, and the storm of clouds his coverlid. In crowds his brave war-comrades gathered round; stripped their cloaks, their coats, and strove in noble rivalry which of them should have the happiness to screen the Father of the Army at their own cost of exposure, and by any device keep the pelting of the weather from that loved head!" [Cogniazzo, Gestandnisse eines OEsterreichischen Veterans, ii. 251.] There is a picture for you, in the heights of Lichtenhayn, as you steam past Schandau, in contemplative mood; and perhaps think of "Justice to Ireland!" among other sad thoughts that rise.
From Thurmsdorf to the Pontoon-Bridge there was a kind of road; down which the Saxons scrambled yesterday; and, by painful degrees, got wriggled across. But, on the other shore, forward to the Hamlets of Halbstadt and Ebenheit, there is nothing but a steep slippery footpath: figure what a problem for the 14,000 in such weather! Then at Ebenheit, close behind, Browne-wards, were Browne now there, rises the Lilienstein, abrupt rocky mountain, its slopes on both hands washed by the River (River making its first elbow here, closely girdling this Lilienstein): on both these slopes are Prussian batteries, each with its abatis; needing to be stormed:—that will be your first operation. Abatis and slopes of the Lilienstein once stormed, you fall into a valley or hollow, raked again by Prussian batteries; and will have to mount, still storming, out of the valley, sky-high across the Ziegenruck (GOAT'S-BACK) ridge: that is your second preliminary operation. After which you come upon the work itself; namely, the Prussian redoubts at Lichtenhayn, and 12,000 men on them by this time! A modern Tourist says, reminding or informing:
"From the Konigstein to Pirna, Elbe, if serpentine, is like a serpent rushing at full speed. Just past the Konigstein, the Elbe, from westward, as its general course is, turns suddenly to northward; runs so for a mile and a half; then, just before getting to the BASTEI at Raden, turns suddenly to westward again, and so continues. Tourists know Raden,"—where the Prussians have just fished out a Bridge for themselves,—"with the BASTEI high aloft to west of it. The Old Inn, hospitable though sleepless, stands pleasantly upon the River-brink, overhung by high cliffs: close on its left side, or in the intricacies to rear of it, are huts and houses, sprinkled about, as if burrowed in the sandstone; more comfortably than you could expect. The site is a narrow dell, narrow chasm, with labyrinthic chasms branching off from it; narrow and gloomy as seen from the River, but opening out even into cornfields as you advance inwards: work of a small Brook, which is still industriously tinkling and gushing there, and has in Pre-Adamite times been a lake, and we know not what. Nieder-Raden, this, on the north side of the River; of Ober-Raden, on the south side, there is nothing visible from your Inn windows,"—nor have we anything to do with it farther. An older Guide of Tourists yields us this second Fraction (capable of condensation):—
... "To Halbstadt, thence to Ebenheit, your path is steeper and steeper; from Ebenheit to the Lilienstein you take a guide. The Mountain is conical; coarse RED sandstone; steps cut for you where needed: August the Strong's Hunting-Lodge (JAGDHUTTE) is here (August went thither in a grand way, 1708, with his Wife); Lodge still extant, by the side of a wood;—Lilienstein towering huge and sheer, solitary, grand, like some colossal Pillar of the Cyclops, from this round Pediment of Country which you have been climbing; tops of Lilienstein plumed everywhere with fir and birch, Pediment also very green and woody. August the Strong, grandly visiting here, 1708, on finish of those stair-steps cut for you, set up an Ebenezer, or Column of Memorial at this Hunting-Hut, with Inscription which can still be read, though now with difficulty in its time-worn state:—
"FRIEDERICUS AUGUSTUS, REX [of what? Dare not say of POLAND just now, for fear of Charles XII.], ET ELECTOR SAX., UT FORTUNAEM VIRTUTE, ITA ASPERAM HANC RUPEM PRIMUS [PRIMUS not of men, but of Saxon Electors] SUPERAVIT, ADITUMQUE FACILIOREM REDDI CURAVIT. ANNO 1708."—"UT FORTUNAM VIRTUTE, As his fortune by valor, SO he conquered this rugged rock by"—Poor devil, only hear him:—and think how good Nature is (for the time being) to poor devils and their 354 bastards! [M.(agister) Wilhelm Lebrecht Gotzinger, Schandau und seine Umgebungen, oder Beschreibung der Sachsischen Schweitz (Dresden, 1812), pp. 145-148. Gotzinger, who designates himself as "Pastor at Neustadt near Stolpen" (northwest border of the Pirna Country), has made of this (which would now be called a TOURIST'S GUIDE, and has something geological in it) a modest, good little Book, put together with industry, clearness, brevity. Gives interesting Narrative of our present Business too, as gathered from his "Father" and other good sources and testimonies.]
Bruhl and the Polish Majesty, safe enough they, and snug in the Konigstein, are clear for advancing: "Die like soldiers, for your King and Country!" writes Polish Majesty, "Thursday, two in the morning:" that also Rutowski reads; and I think still other Royal Autographs, sent as Postscripts to that. From the Konigstein they duly fire off the two Cannon-shot, as signal that we are coming; signal which Browne, just in the act of departing, never heard, owing to the piping of the winds and rattling of the rain. "Advance, my heroes!" counsel they: "You cannot drag your ammunitions, say you; your poor couple of big guns? Here are his Majesty's own royal horses for that service!"—and, in effect, the royal stud is heroically flung open in this pressure; and a splashing column of sleek quadrupeds, "150 royal draught-horses, early in the forenoon," [Gotzinger, p. 156.] swim across to Ebenheit accordingly, if that could encourage. And, "about noon, there is strong cannonading from the Konigstein, as signal to Browne," who is off. Polish Majesty looking with his spy-glass in an astonished manner. In Vain! Rutowski and his Council of War—sitting wet in a hut of Ebenheit, with 14,000 starved men outside, who have stood seventy-two hours of rain, for one item—see nothing for it but "surrender on such terms as we can get."
"In fact," independently of weather and circumstances, "the Enterprise," says Friedrich, "was radically impossible; nobody that had known the ground could have judged it other." Rutowski had not known it, then? Browne never pretended to know it. Rutowski was not candid with the conditions; the conditions never known nor candidly looked at; and THEY are now replying to him with candor enough. From the first his Enterprise was a final flicker of false hope; going out, as here, by spasm, in the rigors of impossibility and flat despair.
That column of royal horses sent splashing across the River,—that was the utmost of self-sacrifice which I find recorded of his Polish Majesty in this matter. He was very obstinate; his Bruhl and he were. But his conduct was not very heroic. That royal Autograph, "General Rutowski, and ye true Saxons, attack these Prussian lines, then; sell your lives like men" (not like Bruhl and me), must have fallen cold on the heart, after seventy-two hours of rain! Rutowski's wet Council of War, in the hut at Ebenheit, rain still pouring, answers unanimously, "That it were a leading of men to the butchery;" that there is nothing for it but surrender. Bruhl and Majesty can only answer: "Well-a-day; it must be so, then!"—
Winterfeld, Prussian Commander hereabouts, grants Armistice, grants liberal "wagon-loads of bread" first of all; terms of Capitulation to be settled at Struppen to-morrow.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 15th, Rutowski goes across to Struppen, the late Saxon head-quarter, now Friedrich's;—Friday gone a fortnight was the day of Lobositz. Winterfeld and he are the negotiators there; Friedrich ratifying or refusing by marginal remarks. The terms granted are hard enough: but they must be accepted. First preliminary of all terms has already been accepted: a gift of bread to these poor Saxons; their haversacks are empty, their cartridge-boxes drowned; it has rained on them three days and nights. Last upshot of all terms is still well known to everybody: That the 14,000 Saxons are compelled to become Prussian, and "forced to volunteer"!
That had been Friedrich's determination, and reading of his rights in the matter, now that hard had come to hard. "You refused all terms; you have resisted to death (or death's-DOOR); and are now at discretion!" Of the question, What is to be done with those Saxons? Friedrich had thought a great deal, first and last; and had found it very intricate,—as readers too will, if they think of it. "Prisoners of War,—to keep them locked up, with trouble and expense, in that fashion? They can never be exchanged: Saxony has now nothing to exchange them with; and Austria will not. Their obstinacy has had costs to me; who of us can count what costs! In short, they shall volunteer!"
"Never did I, for my poor part, authorize such a thing," loudly asseverated Rutowski afterwards. And indeed the Capitulation is not precise on that interesting point. A lengthy Document, and not worth the least perusal otherwise; we condense it into three Articles, all grounding on this general Basis, not deniable by Rutowski: "The Saxon Army, being at such a pass, ready to die of hunger, if we did NOT lift our finger, has, so to speak, become our property; and we grant it the following terms:"—
"1. Kettle-drums, standards and the like insignia and matters of honor,—carry these to the Konigstein, with my regretful respects to his Polish Majesty. Konigstein to be a neutral Fortress during this War. Polish Majesty at perfect liberty to go to Warsaw [as he on the instant now did, and never returned].
"2. Officers to depart on giving their parole, Not to serve against us during this War [Parole given, nothing like too well kept].
"3. Rest of the Army, with all its equipments, munitions, soul and body (so to speak), is to surrender utterly, and be ours, as all Saxony shall for the present be." [In Helden-Geschichte, iii. 920-928, at full length—with Briedrich's MARGINALIA noticeably brief.]
That is, in sum, the Capitulation of Struppen. Nothing articulate in it about the one now interesting point,—and in regard to that, I can only fancy Rutowski might interject, interrogatively, perhaps at some length: "Our soldiers to be Prisoners of War, then?" "Prisoners; yes, clearly,—unless they choose to volunteer, and have a better fate! Prisoners can volunteer. They are at discretion; they would die, if we did NOT lift our finger!" thus I suppose Winterfeld would rejoin, if necessary;—and that, in the Winterfeld-Rutowski Conferences, the thing had probably been kept in a kind of CHIAROSCURO by both parties.
Very certain it is, Sunday, 17th October, 1756, Capitulation being signed the night before, Friedrich goes across at Nieder-Raden (where the Pilgrim of the Picturesque now climbs to see the BASTEI; where the Prussians have, by this time, a Bridge thrown together out of those Pontoons),—goes across at Nieder-Raden, up that chasmy Pass; rides to the Heights of Waltersdorf, in the opener country behind; and pauses there, while the captive Saxon Army defiles past him, laying down its arms at his feet. Unarmed, and now under Prussian word of command, these Ex-Saxon soldiers go on defiling; march through by that Chasm of Nieder-Raden; cross to Ober-Raden; and, in the plainer country thereabouts, are—in I know not what length of hours, but in an incredibly short length, so swift is the management—changed wholly into Prussian soldiers: "obliged to volunteer," every one of them!
That is the fact; fact loudly censured; fact surely questionable,—to what intrinsic degree I at this moment do not know. Fact much blamable before the loose public of mankind; upon which I leave men to their verdict. It is not a fact which invites imitation, as we shall see! Fact how accomplished; by what methods? that would be the question with me; but even that is left dark. "The horse regiments, three of heavy horse, he broke; and distributed about, a good few in his own Garde-du-Corps." Three other horse regiments were in Poland, the sole Saxon Army now left,—of whom, at least of one man among whom, we may happen to hear. "Ten foot regiments [what was reckoned a fault] he left together; in Prussian uniform, with Prussian Officers. They were scattered up and down; put in garrisons; not easy handling them: they deserted by whole companies at a time in the course of this War." [Preuss, ii. 22, 135; in Stenzel (v. 16-20) more precise details.] Not a measure for imitation, as we said!—How Friedrich defended such hard conduct to the Saxons? Reader, I know only that Destiny and Necessity, urged on by Saxons and others, was hard as adamant upon Friedrich at this time; and that Friedrich did not the least dream of making any defence;—and will have to take your verdict, such as it may be.
Moritz of Dessau had a terrible Winter of it, organizing and breaking in these Saxon people,—got by press-gang in this way. Polish Majesty, "with 500 of suite," had driven instantly for Warsaw; post-horses most politely furnished him, and all the Prussian posts and soldiers well kept out of his road,—road chosen for him to that end. Poor soul, he never came back. For six years coming, he saw, from Warsaw in the distance (amid anarchy and NIE-POZWALAM, which he never lacked there), the wide War raging, in Saxony especially; and died soon after it was done. Nor did Bruhl return, except broken by that event, and to die in few months after. Let us pity the poor fat-goose of a Majesty (not ill-natured at all, only stupid and idle): some pity even to the doomed-phantasm Bruhl, if you can;—and thank Heaven to have got done with such a pair!—
Friedrich's treatment of the Saxon Troops, Saxon Majesty and Country: who shall say that it was wise in all points? It would be singular treatment, if it were! In all things, AFTER is so different from BEFORE and DURING. The truth is, Friedrich hoped long to have made some agreement with the Saxons. And readers now, in the universal silence, have no notion of Friedrich's complexities from fact, and of the loud howl of hostile rumor, which was piping through all journals, diplomacies and foreign human throats, against him at that time.
"The essential passages of War and Peace," says a certain Commentator, "during those Five weeks of Pirna, can be made intelligible in small compass. But how the world argued of them then and afterwards, and rang with hot Gazetteer and Diplomatic logic from side to side, no reader will now ever know. A world-tornado extinct, gone:—think of the sounds uttered from human windpipes, shrill with rage some of them, hoarse others with ditto; of the vituperations, execrations, printed and vocal,—grating harsh thunder upon Friedrich and this new course of his. Huge melody of Discords, shrieking, droning, grinding on that topic, through the afflicted Universe in general, for certain years. The very Pamphlets printed on it,—cannot Dryasdust give me the number of tons weight, then? Dead now every Pamphlet of them; a thing fallen horrible to human nature; extinct forever, as is the wont in such cases."
I will give only this of Voltaire; a mild Epigram, done at The DELICES, in pleasant view of Ferney and good things coming. A bolt shot into the storm-tost Sea and its wreckages, by a Mariner now cheerily drying his clothes on the shore there;—in fact, an indifferent Epigram, on Kings Friedrich and George, which is now flying about in select circles:—
"Rivaux du Vainqueur de l'Euphrate, L'Oncle et le Neveu, L'un fait la guerre en pirate, L'autre en parti bleu."
"Rivals of Alexander the Great, this Uncle and Nephew make war, the one as a Pirate [seizure of those French ships], the other [Saxony stolen] as Captain of an Accidental Thieving-squad,"—PARTI BLEU, as the French soldiers call it. [Walpole's LETTERS, "To Sir Horace Mann, 8th December; 1756."]
MAP facing page 365, Chap VII, Book 17——
Pirna was no sooner done than Friedrich returned to the "Camp at Lobositz," where his victorious Keith-Army has been lying all this while. The Camp of Lobositz, and all Camps Prussian and Austrian, are about to strike their tents, and proceed to Winter-quarters, to prepare against next Spring. Friedrich set off thither October 18th (the very day after that of Waltersdorf); with intent to bring home Keith's Army, and see if Browne meant anything farther (which Browne did not, or does only in the small Tolpatch way); also to meet, Schwerin, whom he had summoned over from Silesia for a little conference there. Schwerin, after eating Konigsgratz Country well,—which was all he could do, as Piccolomini would not come out, and we know how strong the ground is,—had retired to Silesia again, in due season (snapping up, in a sharply conclusive manner, any Tolpatcheries that attempted chase of him); taken Winter cantonments in Silesia, headquarter Schweidnitz; and is now getting his Instructions, here personally, in the Metal Mountains, for a day or two. [Helden-Geschichte, iii. 946, 948.]
Friedrich brought his Keith-Army home to Gross-Sedlitz, to join the other Force there; and distributed the whole into their Winter-quarters. Cantoned far and wide, spreading out from Pirna on both hands: on the left or western hand, by Zwickau, Freyberg, Chemnitz, up to Leipzig, Torgau; and on the right or northeast hand, by Zittau, Gorlitz, Bautzen, to protect the Lausitz against Austrian inroads,—while a remote Detachment, under Winterfeld, watches the Bober River with similar views. [In Helden-Geschichte, iii. 948 et seq., a minute List by Place and Regiment.] All which done, or settled to be done, Friedrich quits Gross-Sedlitz, November 14th; and takes up his abode at Dresden for this Winter.
The Saxon Army is incorporated, then; its King gone under the horizon; the Saxon Country has a Prussian Board set over it, to administer all things of Government, especially to draw taxes and recruits from Saxony. Torgau, seat of this new Board, has got fortified; "1,500 inhabitants were requisitioned as spademen for that end, at first with wages,"—latterly, I almost fear, without!
The Saxon Ministers are getting drilled, cashiered if necessary; and on all hands, rigorous methods going forward;—till Saxony is completely under grasp; in which state it was held very tight indeed, for the six years coming. There is no detailing of all that; details, were they even known to an Editor at such distance, would weary every reader. Enough to understand that Friedrich has not on this occasion, as he did in 1744, omitted to disarm Saxony, to hobble it in every limb, and have it, at discretion, tied as with ropes to his interests and him. [Helden-Geschichte, iii. 945-956.] His management was never accounted cruel; and it was studiously the reverse of violent or irregular: but it had to be rigorous as the facts were;—nor was it the worst, or reckoned the worst, of Saxony's miseries in this time.
Poor Country, suffering for its Bruhl! In the Country, except for its Bruhl, there was no sin against Prussia; the reverse rather. The Saxon population, as Protestants, have no good-will to Austria and its aims of aggrandizement. In Austrian spy-letters, now and afterwards, they are described to us as "GUT PREUSSISCH;" "strong for Prussia, the most of them, even in Dresden itself."
Whether Friedrich could have had much real hope to end the War this Year, or scare it off from beginning, may be a question. If he had, it is totally disappointed. The Saxon Government has brought ruin on itself and Country, but it has been of great damage to Friedrich. Would Polish Majesty have consented to disband his soldiers, and receive Friedrich with a BONA-FIDE "Neutrality," Friedrich could have passed the Mountains still in time for a heavy stroke on Bohemia, which was totally unprepared for such a visit, And he might—from the Towers of Prag, for instance—have, far more persuasively, held out the olive-branch to an astonished Empress-Queen: "Leave me alone, Madam; will you, then! Security for that; I wanted and want nothing more!" But Polish Majesty, taking on him the character of Austrian martyr, and flinging himself into the gulf, has prevented all that; has turned all that the other way.
Austria, it appears, is quite ungrateful: "Was n't he bound?" thinks Austria,—as its wont rather is. Forgetful of the great deliverance wrought for it by poor Polish Majesty; whom it could not deliver-except into bottomless wreck! Austria, grateful or not, stands unscathed; has time to prepare its Armaments, its vocal Arguments: Austria is in higher provocation than ever; and its very Arguments, highly vocal to the Reich and the world, "Is not this man a robber, and enemy of mankind?" do Friedrich a great deal of ill. Friedrich's sudden Campaign, instead of landing him in the heart of the Austrian States, there to propose Peace, has kindled nearly all Europe into flames of rage against him,—which will not consist in words merely! Never was misunderstanding of a man at a higher pitch: "Such treatment of a peaceable Neighbor and Crowned Head,—witness it, ye Heavens and thou Earth!" Dauphiness falling on her knees to Most Christian Majesty; "Princess and dearest Sister" to Most Christian Majesty's Pompadour; especially no end of Pleading to the German Reich, in a furious, Delphic-Pythoness or quasi-inspired tone: all this goes on.
From the time when Pirna was blockaded, Kaiser Franz, his high Consort and sense of duty urging him, has been busy in the Reich's-Hofrath (kind of Privy-Council or Supreme Court of the Reich, which sits at Vienna); busy there, and in the Reich's Diet at Regensburg; busy everywhere, with utmost diligence over Teutschland,—forging Reich thunder. Manifestoes, HOF-DECRETS, DEHORTATORIUMS, EXCITATORIUMS; so goes it, exploding like Vesuvius, shock on the back of shock:—20th September it began; and lasts, CRESCENDO, through Winter and onwards, at an extraordinary rate. [In Helden-Geschichte(iv. 163-174; iii. 956; and indeed PASSIM through those Volumes), the Originals in frightful superabundance.] Of all which, leaving readers to imagine it, we will say nothing,—except that it points towards "Armed Interference by the Reich," "Reich's Execution Army;" nay towards "Ban of the Reich" (total excommunication of this Enemy of Mankind, and giving of him up to Satan, by bell, book and candle), which is a kind of thunder-bolt not heard of for a good few ages past! Thunder-bolt thought to be gone mainly to rust by the judicious;—
which, however, the poor old Reich did grasp again, and attempt to launch. As perhaps we shall have to notice by and by, among the miracles going.
France too, urged by the noblest concern, feels itself called upon. France magnanimously intimates to the Reich's Diet, once and again, "That Most Christian Majesty is guarantee of the Treaty of Westphalia; Most Christian Majesty cannot stand such procedures;" and then the second time, "That Most Christian Majesty will interfere practically,"—by 100,000 men and odd. [Helden-Geschichte, iv. 340 ("26th March, 1757").] In short, the sleeping world-whirlwinds are awakened against this man. General Dance of the Furies; there go they, in the dusky element, those Eumenides, "giant-limbed, serpent-haired, slow-pacing, circling, torch in hand" (according to Schiller),— scattering terror and madness. At least, in the Diplomatic Circles of mankind;—if haply the Populations will follow suit!—
Friedrich, abundantly contemptuous of Reich's-thunder in the rusted kind, and well able to distinguish sound from substance in the Reich or elsewhere, recognizes in all this sufficiently portentous prophecies of fact withal; and understands, none better, what a perilous position he has got into. But he cannot mend it;—can only, as usual, do his own utmost in it. As readers will believe he does; and that his vigilance and diligence are very great. Continual, ubiquitous and at the top of his bent, one fancies his effort must have been,—though he makes no noise on the subject. Considerable work he has with Hanover, this Winter; with the poor English Government, and their "Army of Observation," which is to appear in the Hanover parts, VERSUS those 100,000 French, next Spring. To Hanover he has sent Schmettau (the Younger Schmettau, Elder is now dead) in regard to said Army; has made a new and closer Treaty with England (impossible to be fulfilled on poor England's part);—and laments, as Mitchell often does, the tragically embroiled condition of that Country, struggling so vehemently, to no purpose, to get out of bed, and not unlike strangling or smothering itself in its own blankets, at present! With and in regard to Saxony, his work is of course extremely considerable; and in regard to his own Army, and its coming Business, considerablest of all. Counter-Manifesto work, to state his case in a distinct manner, and leave it with the Populations if the Diplomacies are deaf: this too, is copiously proceeding; under Artists who probably do not require much supervision. In fact, no King living has such servants, in the Civil or the Military part, to execute his will. And no King so little wastes himself in noises; a King who has good command of himself, first of all; not to be thrown off his balance by any terror, any provocation even, though his temper is very sharp.
Friedrich in person is mainly at Dresden, lodged in the Bruhl Palace;—endless wardrobes and magnificences there; three hundred and sixty-FOUR Pairs of Breeches hanging melancholy, in a widowed manner: C'EST ASSEZ DE CULOTTES; MONTREZ-MOI DES VERTUS! Bruhl is far away, in Poland; Madam Bruhl has still her Apartments in this Palace,—a frugal King needs only the necessary spaces. Madam Bruhl is very busy here; and not to good purpose, being well seen into. "She had a cask of wine sent her from Warsaw," says Friedrich; "orders were given to decant for her every drop of the wine, but to be sure and bring us the cask." Cask was found to have two bottoms, intermediate space filled with spy-correspondence. Madam Bruhl protests and pleads, Friedrich not unpolite in reply; his last Letter to her says, "Madam, it is better that you go and join your Husband."
Another high Dame gets sausages from Bohemia;—some of Friedrich's light troops have an appetite, beyond strict law for sausages; break in, find Letters along with the other stuffing. [OEuvres de Frederic, iv. 108; Mitchell, "27th March, 1757" (Raumer p. 321).] Friedrich has a good deal of watching and coercing to do in that kind,—some arresting, conveyance even to Custrin for a time, though nothing crueler proved needful. To the poor Queen he keeps up civilities, but is obliged to be strict as Argus;—she made him a Gift too, the NIGHT of Correggio, admired NOTTE of Correggio; having heard that he sat before it silent for half an hour, on entering that fine Gallery,—which is due to our Sovereign Lord and his Bruhl, alas! On the other hand, Friedrich had to take from her Majesty's Royal Abode those Hundred Swiss of Body-guard; to discharge the same, and put Prussians in their stead. Nay, at one time, on loud outcry from her Majesty, and great private cause of complaint against her, there was talk of sending the poor Royal lady to Warsaw, after her Husband; but her objection being violent, nothing came of that: Winter following, her poor Majesty died, [27th November, 1757.] and gave nobody any farther trouble.
Friedrich's outposts, especially in the Lausitz, are a good deal disturbed by Austrian Tolpatcheries; and do feats, heroic in the small way, in smiting down that rabble. A valuable Officer or two is lost in such poor service, poor but indispensable; [Funeral Discourses (of a very curious, ponderous and serious tone), in Gesammelte Nachrichten, ii. 458, 464, &c.] and the troops have not always the repose which is intended them. Lieutenant-Colonel Loudon (Scotch by kindred, and famous enough before long) is the soul of these Croat enterprises,—and gets his Colonelcy by them, in a month or two; Browne recommending. Loudon had arrived too late for Lobositz, but had been with Browne to Schandau; and, on the march homewards, did a bright feat of the Croat kind:—surprisal, very complete, of that Hill-Castle of Tetschen and considerable Hussar Party there; done in a style which caught the eye of Browne; and was the beginning of great things to poor Loudon, after his twenty years of painful eclipse under the Indigo Trencks, and miscellaneous Doggeries, Austrian and Russian. [LA VIE DU FELDMARECHAL BARON DE LOUDON (Translation of one Pezzl's German: a Vienne et a Paris, 1792), i. 1-32.]
Tetschen, therefore, will again need capture by the Prussians, if they again intend that way. And in the mean while, Friedrich, to counterpoise those mischievous Croat people, has bethought him of organizing a similar Force of his own;—Foot chiefly, for, on hint of former experience, he already has Hussars in quantity. And, this Winter, there are accordingly, in different Saxon Towns, three Irregular Regiments getting ready for him; three "Volunteer Colonels" busily enlisting each his "Free Corps," such the title chosen;—chief Colonel of them one Mayer, now in Zwickau neighborhood with 6 or 700 loose handy fellows round him, getting formed into strict battalion there: [Pauli (our old diffuse friend), Leben grosser Helden des gegenwartigen Krieges (9 vols., Halle, 1759-1764), iii. 159,? Mayr.] of whom, and of whose soldiering, we shall hear farther. For the plan was found to answer; and extended itself year after year; and the "Prussian Free Corps," one way and another, made considerable noise in the world.
Outwardly Friedrich's Life is quiet; busy, none can be more so; but to the on-looker, placid, polite especially. He hears sermon once or twice in the Kreuz-Kirche (Protestant High Church); then next day will hear good music, devotional if you call it so, in the Catholic Church, where her Polish Majesty is. Daily at the old hour he has his own Concert, now and then assisting with his own flute. Makes donations to the Poor, and such like, due from Saxon Sovereignty while held by him; on the other hand, reduces salaries at a sad rate Guarini, Queen's Confessor, from near 2,000 pounds to little more than 300 pounds, for one instance;—cuts off about 25,000 pounds in all under this head. [Helden-Geschichte, iv. 306 ("December, 1756").] And is heavy with billeting, as new Prussians arrive. Billets at length in the very Ambassadors' Hotels,—and by way of apology to the Excellencies, signifies to them in a body: "Sorry for the necessity, your Excellencies: but ought not you to go to Warsaw rather? Your credentials are to his Polish Majesty. He is not here; nor coming hither, for some time!" Which hint, I suppose, the Excellencies mostly took. From his own Forests there came by the Elbe great rafts of firewood, to warm his soldiers in their quarters. Once or twice he makes excursions, of a day of two days; to the Lausitz, to Leipzig (through Freyberg, where he has a post of importance);—very gracious to the University people: "Students be troubled with soldiering? Far from it ye learned Gentlemen, servants of the Muses! Recruitment, a lamentable necessity, is to go on under your own Official people, and wholly by the old methods." [Helden-Geschichte, iv. 303-313; UNIVERSITATSANSCHLAG ZU LEIPZIG, WEGEN DER WERBUNG ("University-Placard about Enlisting:" in Gesammelte Nachrichten, i. 811).]
Once, and once only, he made a run to Berlin, January 4th-18th, 1757: the last for six years and more. Came with great despatch, Brother Henri with him, whole journey in one day; got, "to his Mother's about 11 at night." [Ib. iv. 308.] A joyful meeting, for the kindred: cheerful light-gleam in the dark time, so suddenly eclipsed to them and others by those hurricanes that have risen. His Majesty seems to be in perfect health; and wears no look of gloom. At Berlin is no Carnival this year; all are grave, sunk in sad contemplations of the future. Of his businesses in this interval, which were many, I will say nothing; only of one little Act he did, the day before his departure: the writing of this SECRET LETTER OF INSTRUCTIONS to Graf Finck von Finkenstein, his chief Home Minister, one of his old boy-comrades, as readers may recollect. The Letter was read by Count Finck with profound attention, 11th January, 1757, and conned over till he knew every point of it; after which he sealed it up, inscribing on the Cover: "HOCHSTEIGENHANDIGE UND GANX GEHEIME"—that is, "Highest-Autographic and altogether Secret Instructions, by the King, which, with the Appendixes, were delivered to me, Graf von Finkenstein, the 12th of January, 1757." In this docketing it lay, sealed for many years (none knows how many), then unsealed, still in strict keeping, in the Private Royal Archives" [Preuss, i. 449.]—till on Friedrich's Birthday, 24th January, 1854, it was, with some solemnity, lithographed at Berlin, and distributed to a select public,—as readers shall see.
"SECRET INSTRUCTION FOR THE GRAF VON FINCK.
"BERLIN, 10th January, 1757.
"In the critical situation our affairs are in, I ought to give you my orders, so that in all the disastrous cases which are in the possibility of events, you be authorized for taking the necessary steps.
"1. If it chanced (which Heaven forbid) that one of my Armies in Saxony were totally beaten; or that the French should drive the Hanoverians from their Country [which they failed not to do], and establish themselves there, and threaten us with an invasion into the Altmark; or that the Russians should get through by the Neumark,—you are to save the Royal Family, the principal DICASTERIA [Land-Schedules, Lists of Tax-dues], the Ministries and the Directorium [which is the central Ministry of all]. If it is in Saxony on the Leipzig side that we are beaten, the fittest place for the removal of the Royal Family, and of the Treasure, is to Custrin: in such case the Royal Family and all above named must go, escorted by the whole Garrison" of Berlin, "to Custrin. If the Russians entered by the Neumark, or if a misfortune befell us in the Lausitz, it would be to Magdeburg that all would have to go: in fine, the last refuge is Stettin,—but you must not go till the last extremity. The Garrison, the Royal Family and the Treasure are inseparable, and go always together: to this must be added the Crown Diamonds, the Silver Plate in the Grand Apartments,—which, in such case, as well as the Gold Plate, must be at once coined into money.
"If it happened that I were killed, the Public Affairs must go on without the smallest alteration, or its being noticeable that they are in other hands: and, in this case, you must hasten forward the Oaths and Homagings, as well here as in Preussen; and, above all, in Silesia. If I should have the fatality to be taken prisoner by the Enemy, I prohibit all of you from paying the least regard to my person, or taking the least heed of what I might write from my place of detention. Should such misfortune happen me, I wish to sacrifice myself for the State; and you must obey my Brother,—who, as well as all my Ministers and Generals, shall answer to me with their heads, Not to offer any Province or any Ransom for me, but to continue the War, pushing their advantages, as if I never had existed in the world.
"I hope, and have ground to believe, that you, Count Finck, will not need to make use of this Instruction: but in case of misfortune, I authorize you to employ it; and, as mark that it is, after a mature and sound deliberation, my firm and constant will, I sign it with my Hand and confirm it with my Seal."
Or, in Friedrich's own spelling &c., so far as our possibilities permit:—
"INSTRUCTION SECRETE POUR LE CONTE DE FINE.
"BERLIN, ce 10 de Janv. 1757.
"Dans La Situation Critique ou se trouvent nos affaires je dois Vous donner mes Ordres pour que dans tout Les Cas Malheureux qui sont dans la possibilite des Evenemens vous Soyez autorisse aux partis quil faut prendre. 1)[Yes; but there follows no "2)" anywhere, such the haste!] Sil arivoit (de quoi le Ciel preserve) qu'une de mes Armees en Saxse fut totallement battue, oubien que Les francais chassassent Les Hanovryeins de Leur pais et si etablissent et nous menassassent d'un Invassion dans la Vieille Marche, ou que les Russes penetrassent par La Nouvelle Marche, il faut Sauver la famille Royale, les principeaux Dicasteres les Ministres et le Directoire. Si nous somes battus en Saxse du Cote de leipssic Le Lieu Le plus propre pour Le transport de La famille et du Tressor est a Custrin, il faut en ce Cas que la famille Royalle et touts cidesus nomez aillent esCortez de toute La Guarnisson a Custrin. Si les Russes entroient par la Nouvele Marche ou quil nous arivat un Malheur en Lusace, il faudroit que tout Se transportat a Magdebourg, enfin Le Derni& refuge est a Stetein, mais il ne hut y all&r qu'a La Derniere exstremite La Guarnisson la famille Royalle et le Tressort sent Inseparables et vont toujours ensemble il faut y ajouter les Diamans de la Couronne, et L'argenterie des Grands Apartements qui en pareil cas ainsi que la Veselle d'or doit etre incontinant Monoyee. Sil arivoit que je fus tue, il faut que Les affaires Continuent Leur train sans la Moindre allteration et Sans qu'on s'apersoive qu'elles sont en d'autre Mains, et en ce Cas il faut hater Sermens et homages tant ici qu'en prusse et surtout en Silesie. Si j'avois la fatalite d'etre pris prissonier par L'Enemy, je Defend qu'on Aye le Moindre egard pour ma perssonne ni qu'on fasse La Moindre reflextion sur ce que je pourois ecrire de Ma Detention, Si pareil Malheur m'arivoit je Veux me Sacriffier pour L'Etat et il faut qu'on obeisse a Mon frere le quel ainsi que tout Mes Ministres et Generaux me reponderont de leur Tette qu'on offrira ni province ni ransson pour moy et que lon Continuera la Guerre en poussant Ses avantages tout Come si je n'avais jamais exsiste dans le Monde. J'espere et je dois Croire que Vous Conte finc n'aurez pas bessoin de faire usage de Cette Instruction mais en cas de Malheur je Vous autorisse a L'Employer, et Marque que C'est apres Une Mure et saine Deliberation Ma ferme et Constante Volonte je le Signe de Ma Main et la Muni de mon Cachet,
[Fac simile of Autograph (Berlin, 24th January, 1854), where is some indistinct History of the Document. Printed also in OEuvres, xxv. 319-323.]
These, privately made law in this manner, are Friedrich's fixed feelings and resolutions;—how fixed is now farther apparent by a fact which was then still more private, guessable long afterwards only by one or two, and never clearly known so long as Friedrich lived: the fact that he had (now most probably, though the date is not known) provided poison for himself, and constantly wore it about his person through this War. "Five or six small pills, in a small glass tube, with a bit of ribbon to it:" that stern relic lay, in a worn condition, in some drawer of Friedrich's, after Friedrich was gone. [Preuss, ii. 175, 315 n.] For the Facts are peremptory; and a man that will deal with them must be equally so.
Two days after this Finck missive, Friday, 12th, Friedrich took farewell at Berlin, drove to Potsdam that night with his Brother, to Dresden next day. Adieu, Madam; Adieu, O Mother! said the King, in royal terms, but with a heart altogether human. "May God above bless you, my Son!" the old Lady would reply:—and the Two had seen one another for the last time; Mother and Son were to meet no more in this world.