For the painful exactitude of Duke Wilhelm and his Lawyers has profited little; and there are claimants on claimants rising for that valuable Cleve Country. As indeed Johann Sigismund had anticipated, and been warned from all quarters, to expect. For months past, he has had his faculties bent, with lynx-eyed attention, on that scene of things; doubly and trebly impatient to get Preussen soldered up, ever since this other matter came to the bursting-point. What could be done by the utmost vigilance of his Deputies, he had done. It was the 25th of March when the mad Duke died: on the 4th of April, Johann Sigismund's Deputy, attended by a Notary to record the act, "fixed up the Brandenburg Arms on the Government-House of Cleve;" [Pauli, vi. 566.] on the 5th, they did the same at Dusseldorf; on the following days, at Julich and the other Towns. But already on the 5th, they had hardly got done at Dusseldorf, when there appeared—young Wolfgang Wilhelm, Heir-Apparent of that eminent Pfalz-Neuburg, he in person, to put up the Pfalz-Neuburg Arms! Pfalz-Neuburg, who married the Second Daughter, he is actually claiming, then;—the whole, or part? Both are sensible that possession is nine points in law.
Pfalz-Neuburg's claim was for the whole Duchy. "All my serene Mother's!" cried the young Heir of Pfalz-Neuburg: "Properly all mine!" cried he. "Is not she NEAREST of kin? Second Daughter, true; but the Daughter; not Daughter OF a Daughter, as you are (as your Serene Electress is), O DURCHLAUCHT of Brandenburg:—consider, besides, you are female, I am male!" That was Pfalz-Neuburg's logic: none of the best, I think, in forensic genealogy. His tenth point was perhaps rather weak; but he had possession, co-possession, and the nine points good. The other Two Sisters, by their Sons or Husbands, claimed likewise; but not the whole: "Divide it," said they: "that surely is the real meaning of Karl V.'s Deed of Privilege to make such a Testament. Divide it among the Four Daughters or their representatives, and let us all have shares!"
Nor were these four claimants by any means all. The Saxon Princes next claimed; two sets of Saxon Princes. First the minor set, Gotha-Weimar and the rest, the Ernestine Line so called; representatives of Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous, who lost the Electorate for religion's sake at Muhlberg in the past century, and from MAJOR became MINOR in Saxon Genealogy. "Magnanimous Johann Friedrich," said they, "had to wife an Aunt of the now deceased Duke of Cleve; Wife Sibylla (sister of the Flanders Mare), of famous memory, our lineal Ancestress. In favor of whom HER Father, the then reigning Duke of Cleve, made a marriage-contract of precisely similar import to this your Prussian one: he, and barred all his descendants, if contracts are to be valid." This is the claim of the Ernestine Line of Saxon Princes; not like to go for much, in their present disintegrated condition.
But the Albertine Line, the present Elector of Saxony, also claims: "Here is a Deed," said he, "executed by Kaiser Friedrich III. in the year 1483, [Pauli, ubi supra; Hubner, t. 286.] generations before your Kaiser Karl; Deed solemnly granting to Albert, junior of Sachsen, and to his heirs, the reversion of those same Duchies, should the Male Line happen to fail, as it was then likely to do. How could Kaiser Max revoke his Father's deed, or Kaiser Karl his Great-grandfather's? Little Albert, the Albert of the PRINZENRAUB, he who grew big, and fought lion-like for his Kaiser in the Netherlands and Western Countries; he and his have clearly the heirship of Cleve by right; and we, now grown Electors, and Seniors of Saxony, demand it of a grateful House of Hapsburg,—and will study to make ourselves convenient in return."—
"Nay, if that is your rule, that old Laws and Deeds are to come in bar of new, we," cry a multitude of persons,—French Dukes of Nevers, and all manner of remote, exotic figures among them,—"we are the real heirs! Ravensburg, Mark, Berg, Ravenstein, this patch and the other of that large Duchy of yours, were they not from primeval time expressly limited to heirs-male? Heirs-male; and we now are the nearest heirs-male of said patches and portions; and will prove it!"—In short, there never was such a Lawsuit,—so fat an affair for the attorney species, if that had been the way of managing it,—as this of Cleve was likely to prove.
THE KAISER'S THOUGHTS ABOUT IT, AND THE WORLD'S.
What greatly complicated the affair, too, was the interest the Kaiser took in it. The Kaiser could not well brook a powerful Protestant in that country; still less could his Cousin the Spaniard. Spaniards, worn to the ground, coercing that world-famous Dutch Revolt, and astonished to find that they could not coerce it at all, had resolved at this time to take breath before trying farther. Spaniards and Dutch, after Fifty years of such fighting as we know, have made a Twelve-years' Truce (1609): but the battled Spaniard, panting, pale in his futile rage and sweat, has not given up the matter; he is only taking breath, and will try it again. Now Cleve is his road into Holland, in such adventure; no success possible if Cleve be not in good hands. Brandenburg is Protestant, powerful; Brandenburg will not do for a neighbor there.
Nor will Pfalz-Neuburg. A Protestant of Protestants, this Palatine Neuburg too,—junior branch, possible heir in time coming, of KUR-PFALZ (Elector Palatine) himself, in the Rhine Countries; of Kur-Pfalz, who is acknowledged Chief Protestant: official "President" of the "Evangelical Union" they have lately made among them in these menacing times;—Pfalz-Neuburg too, this young Wolfgang Wilhelm, if he do not break off kind, might be very awkward to the Kaiser in Cleve-Julich. Nay Saxony itself; for they are all Protestants:—unless perhaps Saxony might become pliant, and try to make itself useful to a munificent Imperial House?
Evidently what would best suit the Kaiser and Spaniards, were this, That no strong Power whatever got footing in Cleve, to grow stronger by the possession of such a country:—BETTER than best it would suit, if he, the Kaiser, could himself get it smuggled into his hands, and there hold it fast! Which privately was the course resolved upon at headquarters.—In this way the "Succession Controversy of the Cleve Duchies" is coming to be a very high matter; mixing itself, up with the grand Protestant-Papal Controversy, the general armed-lawsuit of mankind in that generation. Kaiser, Spaniard, Dutch, English, French Henri IV. and all mortals, are getting concerned in the decision of it.
Chapter XIV. — SYMPTOMS OF A GREAT WAR COMING.
Meanwhile Brandenburg and Neuburg both hold grip of Cleve in that manner, with a mutually menacing inquiring expression of countenance; each grasps it (so to speak) convulsively with the one hand, and has with the other hand his sword by the hilt, ready to fly out. But to understand this Brandenburg-Neuburg phenomenon and the then significance of the Cleve-Julich Controversy, we must take the following bits of Chronology along with us. For the German Empire, with Protestant complaints, and Papist usurpations and severities, was at this time all a continent of sour thick smoke, already breaking out into dull-red flashes here and there,—symptoms of the universal conflagration of a Thirty-Years War, which followed. SYMPTON FIRST is that of Donauworth, and dates above a year back.
FIRST SYMPTOM; DONAUWORTH, 1608.
Donauworth, a Protestant Imperial Free-town, in the Bavarian regions, had been, for some fault on the part of the populace against a flaring Mass-procession which had no business to be there, put under Ban of the Empire; had been seized accordingly (December, 1607), and much cuffed, and shaken about, by Duke Maximilian of Bavaria, as executor of the said Ban; [Michaeelis, ii. 216; Buddaei LEXICON, i. 853.]—who, what was still worse, would by no means give up the Town when he had done with it; Town being handy to him, and the man being stout and violently Papist. Hence the "Evangelical Union" which we saw,—which has not taken Donauworth yet. Nor ever will! Donauworth never was retaken; but is Bavarian at this hour, A Town namable in History ever since. Not to say withal, that it is where Marlborough, did "the Lines of Schellenberg" long after: Schellenberg ("Jingle-Hill," so to render it) looks down across the Danube or Donau River, upon Donauworth,—its "Lines," and other histories, now much abolished, and quiet under grass.
But now all Protestantism sounding everywhere, in angry mournful tone, "Donauwarth! Give up Donauworth!"—and an "Evangelical Union," with moneys, with theoretic contingents of force, being on foot for that and the like objects;—we can fancy what a scramble this of Cleve-Julich was like to be; and especially what effect this duelling attitude of Brandenburg and Neuburg had on the Protestant mind. Protestant neighbors, Landgraf Moritz of Hessen-Cassel at their head, intervene in tremulous haste, in the Cleve-Julich affair: "Peace, O friends! Some bargain; peaceable joint-possession; any temporary bargain, till we see! Can two Protestants fall to slashing one another, in such an aspect of the Reich and its Jesuitries?"—And they did agree (Dortmund, 10th May, 1609) the first of their innumerable "agreements," to some temporary joint-possession;—the thrice-thankful Country doing homage to both, "with oath to the one that SHALL be found genuine." And they did endeavor to govern jointly, and to keep the peace on those terms, though it was not easy.
For the Kaiser had already said (or his Aulic Council and Spanish Cousin, poor Kaiser Rodolf caring too little about these things, [Rodolf II. (Kepler's too insolvent "Patron"), 1576-1612; then Matthias, Rodolf's Brother, 1612-1619, rather tolerant to Protestants;—then Ferdinand II. his Uncle's Son, 1619-1637, much the reverse of tolerant, by whom mainly came the Thirty-Years War,—were the Kaisers of this Period. Ferdinand III., Son of II: (1637-1657), who finished out the Thirty-Years War, partly by fighting of his own in young days (Battle of Nordlingen his grandest feat), was Father of Kaiser Leopold (1658- 1705),—whose Two Sons were Kaiser Joseph (1705-1711) and Kaiser Karl VI. (1711-1740), Maria Theresa's Father.] had already said), Cleve must absolutely not go into wrong hands. For which what safe method is there, but that the Kaiser himself become proprietor? A Letter is yet extant, from the Aulic Council to their Vice-Chancellor, who had been sent to negotiate this matter with the parties; Letter to the effect, That such result was the only good one; that it must be achieved; "that he must devise all manner of quirks (alle Spitzfindigkeiten auffordern sollte)," and achieve it. [Pauli, iii. 5055.] This curious Letter of a sublime Aulic Council, or Imperial HOF-RATH, to its VICE-KANZLER, still exists.
And accordingly quirks did not prove undevisable on behalf of the Kaiser. "Since you cannot agree," said the Kaiser, "and there are so many of you who claim (we having privately stirred up several of you to the feat), there will be nothing for it, but the Kaiser must put the Country under sequestration, and take possession of it with his own troops, till a decision be arrived at,—which probably will not be soon!"
SECOND SYMPTOM; SEIZURE OF JULICH BY THE KAISER, AND SIEGE AND RECAPTURE OF IT BY THE PROTESTANT PARTIES, 1610. WHEREUPON WHEREUPON "CATHOLIC LEAGUE," TO BALANCEE "EVANGELICAL UNION."
And the Kaiser forthwith did as he had said; sent Archduke Leopold with troops, who forcibly took the Castle of Julich; commanding all other castles and places to surrender and sequestrate themselves, in like fashion; threatening Brandenburg and Neuburg, in a dreadful manner, with REICHS-ACHT (Ban of the Empire), if they presumed to show contumacy. Upon which Brandenburg and Neuburg, ranking themselves together, showed decided contumacy; "tore down the Kaiser's Proclamation," [Ib. iii. 524. Emperor's Proclamation, in Dusseldorf, 23d July, 1609,—taken down solemnly, 1st August, 1609,] having good help at their back.
And accordingly, "on the 4th of September, 1610," after a two-months' siege, they, or the Dutch, French, and Evangelical Union Troops bombarding along with them, and "many English volunteers" to help, retook Julich, and packed Leopold away again. [Ib. iii. 527.] The Dutch and the French were especially anxious about this Cleve business,—poor Henri IV. was just putting those French troops in motion towards Julich, when Ravaillac, the distracted Devil's-Jesuit, did his stroke upon him; so that another than Henri had to lead in that expedition. The actual Captain at the Siege was Prince Christian of Anhalt, by repute the first soldier of Germany at that period: he had a horse shot under him, the business being very hot and furious;—he had still worse fortune in the course of years. There were "many English volunteers" at this Siege; English nation hugely interested in it, though their King would not act except diplomatically. It was the talk of all the then world,—the evening song and the morning prayer of Protestants especially,—till it was got ended in this manner. It deserves to rank as SYMPTON SECOND in this business; far bigger flare of dull red in the universal smoke-continent, than that of Donauworth had been. Are there no memorials left of those "English volunteers," then? [In Carlyle's Miscellanies (vi.? "Two Hundred and Fifty Years ago: a Fragment about Duels") is one small scene belonging to them.] Alas, they might get edited as Bromley's Royal Letters are;—and had better lie quiet!
"Evangelical Union," formed some two years before, with what cause we saw, has Kur-Pfalz [Winter-King's Father; died 9th September, 1610, few days after this recapture of Julich.] at the head of it: but its troops or operations were never of a very forcible character. Kur-Brandenburg now joined it formally, as did many more; Kur-Sachsen, anxious to make himself convenient in other quarters, never would. Add to these phenomena, the now decisive appearance of a "Catholic LIGA" (League of Catholic Princes), which, by way of counterpoise to the "Union," had been got up by Duke Maximilian of Bavaria several months ago; and which now, under the same guidance, in these bad circumstances, took a great expansion of figure. Duke Maximilian, "DONAUWORTH Max," finding the Evangelical Union go so very high, and his own Kaiser like to be good for little in such business (poor hypochondriac Kaiser Rodolf II., more taken up with turning-looms and blow-pipes than with matters political, who accordingly is swept out of Julich in such summary way),—Donauworth Max has seen this a necessary institution in the present aspect.—Both "Union" and "League" rapidly waxed under the sound of the Julich cannon, as was natural.
Kur-Sachsen, for standing so well aloof from the Union, got from the thankful Kaiser written Titles for these Duchies of Cleve and Julich; Imperial parchments and infestments of due extent; but never any Territory in those parts. He never offered fight for his pretensions; and Brandenburg and Neuburg—Neuburg especially—always answered him, "No!" with sword half-drawn. So Kur-Sachsen faded out again, and took only parchments by the adventure. Practically there was no private Competitor of moment to Brandenburg, except this Wolfgang Wilhelm of Pfalz-Neuburg; he alone having clutched hold.—But we hasten to SYMPTOM THIRD, which particularly concerns us, and will be intelligible now at last.
SYMPTOM THIRD: A DINNER-SCENE AT DUSSELDORF, 1613: SPANIARDS AND DUTCH SHOULDER ARMS IN CLEVE.
Brandenburg and Neuburg stood together against third parties; but their joint-government was apt to fall in two, when left to itself, and the pressure of danger withdrawn. "They governed by the RATHS and STANDE of the Country;" old methods and old official men: each of the two had his own Vice-Regent (STATTHALTER) present on the ground, who jointly presided as they could. Jarrings were unavoidable; but how mend it? Settle the litigated Territory itself, and end their big lawsuit, they could not; often as they tried it, with the whole world encouraging and urging them. [Old Sir Henry Wotton, Provost of Eton in his old days, remembers how he went Ambassador on this errand,—as on many others equally bootless;—and writes himself "Legatus," not only "thrice to Venice, twice to" &c. &c., but also "once to Holland in the Juliers matter (semel in Juliacensi negotio):" see Reliquiae Wottonianae (London, 1672), Preface. It was "in 1614," say the Biographies vaguely. His Despatches, are they in the Paper-Office still? His good old Book deserves new editing, his good old genially pious life a proper elucidation, by some faithful man.] The meetings they had, and the treaties and temporary bargains they made, and kept, and could not keep, in these and in the following years and generations, pass our power of recording.
In 1613 the Brandenburg STATTHALTER was Ernst, the Elector's younger Brother, Wolfgang Wilhelm in person, for his Father, or rather for himself as heir of his Mother, represented Pfalz-Neuburg. Ernst of Brandenburg had adopted Calvinism as his creed; a thing hateful and horrible to the Lutheran mind (of which sort was Wolfgang Wilhelm), to a degree now altogether inconceivable. Discord arose in consequence between the STATTHALTERS, as to official appointments, sacred and secular: "You are for promoting Calvinists!"—"And you, I see, are for promoting Lutherans!"—Johann Sigismund himself had to intervene: Wolfgang Wilhelm and he had their meetings, friendly colloquies:—the final celloquy of which is still memorable; and issues in SYMPTOM THIRD.
We said, a strong flame of choler burnt in all these Hohenzollerns, though they held it well down. Johann Sigismund, an excellent man of business, knew how essential a mild tone is: nevertheless he found, as this colloquy went on, that human patience might at length get too much. The scene, after some examination, is conceivable in this wise: Place Dusseldorf, Elector's apartment in the Schloss there; time late in the Year 1613, Day not discoverable by me. The two sat at dinner, after much colloquy all morning: Johann Sigismund, a middle-aged, big-headed, stern-faced, honest-looking man; hair cropped, I observe; and eyelids slightly contracted, as if for sharper vision into matters: Wolfgang Wilhelm, of features fallen dim to me; an airy gentleman, well out of his teens, but, I doubt, not of wisdom sufficient; evidently very high and stiff in his ways.
His proposal, by way of final settlement, and end to all these brabbles, was this, and he insisted on it: "Give me your eldest Princess to wife; let her dowry be your whole claim on Cleve-Julich; I will marry her on that condition, and we shall be friends!" Here evidently is a gentleman that does not want for conceit in himself:—consider too, in Johann Sigismund's opinion, he had no right to a square inch of these Territories, though for peace' sake a joint share had been allowed him for the time! "On that condition, jackanapes?" thought Johann Sigismund: "My girl is not a monster; nor at a loss for husbands fully better than you, I should hope!" This he thought, and could not help thinking; but endeavored to say nothing of it. The young jackanapes went on, insisting. Nature at last prevailed; Johann Sigismund lifted his hand (princely etiquettes melting all into smoke on the sudden), and gave the young jackanapes a slap over the face. Veritable slap; which opened in a dreadful manner the eyes of young Pfalz-Neuburg to his real situation; and sent him off high-flaming, vowing never-imagined vengeance. A remarkable slap; well testified to,—though the old Histories, struck blank with terror, reverence and astonishment, can for most part only symbol it in dumb-show; [Pufendorf (Rer. Brandenb. lib. iv.? 16, p. 213), and many others, are in this case. Tobias Pfanner (Historia Pacis Westphalicae, lib. i.? 9, p. 26) is explicit: "Neque, ut infida regnandi societas est, Brandenburgio et Neoburgio diu conveniebat; eorumque jurgia, cum matrimonii faedere pacari posse propinqui ipsorum credidissent, acrius ezarsere; inter epulas, quibus futurum generum Septemvir (the "Sevensman," or Elector, "One of The Seven") excipiebat, hujus enim filia Wolfgango sperabatur, ob nescio quos sermones eo inter utrumque altercalione provecta, ut Elector irae impotestior, nulla dignitatis, hospitii, cognationis, affinitatisve verecundia cohibitus, intenderit Neoburgio manus, et contra tendentis os verberaverit. Ita, quae apud concordes vincula caritatis, incitamenta irarum apud infensos erant." (Cited in Kohler, Munzbelustiqungen, xxi. 341; who refers also to Levassor, Histoire de Louis XII.)—Pauli (iii. 542) bedomes qnite vaporous.] a slap that had important consequences in this world.
For now Wolfgang Wilhelm, flaming off in never-imagined vengeance, posted straight to Munchen, to Max of Bavaria there; declared himself convinced, or nearly so, of the Roman-Catholic Religion; wooed, and in a few weeks (10th November, 1613) wedded Max's younger Sister; and soon after, at Dusseldorf, pompously professed such his blessed change of Belief,—with immense flourish of trumpeting, and jubilant pamphleteering, from Holy Church. [Kohler, ubi supra.] His poor old Father, the devoutest of Protestants, wailed aloud his "Ichabod! the glory is departed!"—holding "weekly fast and humiliation" ever after,—and died in few months of a broken heart. The Catholic League has now a new Member on those terms.
And on the other hand, Johann Sigismund, nearly with the like haste (25th December, 1613), declared himself convinced of Calvinism, his younger Brother's creed; [Pauli, iii. 546.]—which continues ever since the Brandenburg Court-creed, that of the People being mostly Lutheran. Men said, it was to please the Dutch, to please the Julichers, most of whom are Calvinist. Apologetic Pauli is elaborate, but inconclusive. It was very ill taken at Berlin, where even popular riot arose on the matter. In Prussia too it had its drawbacks. [Ib. iii. 544; Michaelis, i. 349.]
And now, all being full of mutation, rearrangement and infinite rumor, there marched next year (1614), on slight pretext, resting on great suspicions, Spanish troops into the Julich-Cleve country, and, countenanced by Neuburg, began seizing garrisons there. Whereupon Dutch troops likewise marched, countenanced by Brandenburg, and occupied other fortresses and garrisons: and so, in every strong-place, these were either Papist-Spaniards or Calvinist-Dutch; who stood there, fronting one another, and could not by treatying be got out again;—like clouds positively electric VERSUS clouds negatively. As indeed was getting to be the case of Germany in general; case fatally visible in every Province, Principality and Parish there: till a thunder-storm, and succession of thunder-storms, of Thirty Years' continuance, broke out. Of which these huge rumors and mutations, and menacings of war, springing out of that final colloquy and slap in the face, are to be taken as the THIRD premonitory Symptom. Spaniards and Dutch stand electrically fronting one another in Cleve for seven years, till their Truce is out, before they clash together; Germany does not wait so long by a couple of years.
SYMPTOM FOURTH, AND CATASTROPHE UPON THE HEELS OF IT.
Five years more (1618), and there will have come a FOURTH Symptom, biggest of all, rapidly consummating the process;—Symptom still famed, of the following external figure: Three Official Gentlemen descending from a window in the Castle of Prag: hurled out by impatient Bohemian Protestantism, a depth of seventy feet,—happily only into dung, and without loss of life. From which follows a "King of Bohemia" elected there, King not unknown to us;—"thunder-clouds" all in one huge clash, and the "continent of sour smoke" blazing all into a continent of thunderous fire: THIRTY-YEARS WAR, as they now call it! Such a conflagration as poor Germany never saw before or since.
These were the FOUR preliminary SYMPTOMS of that dismal business. "As to the primary CAUSES of it," says one of my Authorities, "these lie deep, deep almost as those of Original Sin. But the proximate causes seem to me to have been these two: FIRST, That the Jesuit-Priests and Principalities had vowed and resolved to have, by God's help and by the Devil's (this was the peculiarity of it), Europe made Orthodox again: and then SECONDLY, The fact that a Max of Bavaria existed at that time, whose fiery character, cunning but rash head, and fanatically Papist heart disposed him to attempt that enterprise, him with such resources and capacities, under their bad guidance."
Johann Sigismund did many swift decisive strokes of business in his time, businesses of extensive and important nature; but this of the slap to Neuburg has stuck best in the idle memory of mankind. Dusseldorf, Year 1613: it was precisely in the time when that same Friedrioh, not yet by any means "King of Bohemia," but already Kur-Pfalz (Cousin of this Neuburg, and head man of the Protestants), was over here in England, on a fine errand;—namely, had married the fair Elizabeth (14th February, 1613), James the First's Princess; "Goody Palsgrave," as her Mother floutingly called her, not liking the connection. What kind of a "King of Bohemia" this Friedrich made, five or six years after, and what sea of troubles he and his entered into, we know; the "WINTER-KONIG" (Winter-King, fallen in times of FROST, or built of mere frost, a SNOW-king altogether soluble again) is the name he gets in German Histories. But here is another hook to hang Chronology upon.
This brief Bohemian Kingship had not yet exploded on the Weissenberg of Prag, [Battle there, Sunday 8th November, 1620.] when old Sir Henry Wotton being sent as Ambassador "to LIE abroad" (as he wittily called it, to his cost) in that Business, saw, in the City of Lintz in the picturesque green country by the shores of the Donau there, an ingenious person, who is now recognizable as one of the remarkablest of mankind, Mr. John Kepler, namely: Keplar as Wotton writes him; addressing the great Lord Bacon (unhappily without strict date of any kind) on that among other subjects. Mr. John's now ever-memorable watching of those Motions of the Star Mars, [De Motibus Stellae Martis; Prag, 1609.] with "calculations repeated seventy times," and also with Discovery of the Planetary Laws of this Universe, some, ten years ago, appears to be unknown to Wotton and Bacon; but there is something else of Mr. John's devising [It seems, Baptista Porta (of Naples, dead some years before) must have given him the essential hint,—of whom, or whose hint, Mr. John does not happen to inform his Excellency at present.] which deserves attention from an Instaurator of Philosophy:—
"He hath a little black Tent (of what stuff is not much importing)," says the Ambassador, "which he can suddenly set up where he will in a Field; and it is convertible (like a windmill) to all quarters at pleasure; capable of not much more than one man, as I conceive, and perhaps at no great ease; exactly close and dark,—save at one hole, about an inch and a half in the diameter, to which he applies a long perspective Trunk, with the convex glass fitted to the said hole, and the concave taken out at the other end, which extendeth to about the middle of this erected Tent: through which the visible radiations of all the Objects without are intromitted, falling upon a Paper, which is accommodated to receive them; and so he traceth them with his pen in their natural appearance; turning his little Tent round by degrees, till he hath designed the whole Aspect of the Field." [Reliqui Wottonianae, (london 1672), p. 300.]—In fact he hath a CAMERA OBSCURA, and is exhibiting the same for the delectation of Imperial gentlemen lounging that way. Mr. John invents such toys, writes almanacs, practises medicine, for good reasons; his encouragement from the Holy Roman Empire and mankind being only a pension of 18 pounds a year, and that hardly ever paid. An ingenious person, truly, if there ever was one among Adam's Posterity. Just turned of fifty and ill off for cash. This glimpse of him, in his little black tent with perspective glasses, while the Thirty-Years War blazes out, is welcome as a date.
WHAT BECAME OF THE CLEVE-JULICH HERITAGE, AND OF THE PREUSSEN ONE.
In the Cleve Duchies joint government had now become more difficult than ever: but it had to be persisted in,—under mutual offences, suspicions and outbreaks hardly repressed;—no final Bargain of Settlement proving by any method possible. Treaties enough, and conferences and pleadings, manifestoings:—Could not some painful German collector of Statistics try to give us the approximate quantity of impracticable treaties, futile conferences, manifestoes correspondences; in brief, some authentical cipher (say in round millions) of idle Words spoken by official human creatures and approximately (in square miles) the extent of Law Stationery and other Paper written, first and last, about this Controversy of the Cleve Duchies? In that form it might have a momentary interest.
When the Winter-King's explosion took place, [Crowned at Prag, 4th November N.S. 1619; beaten to ruin there, and obliged to gallop (almost before dinner done), Sunday, 8th November, 1620.] and his own unfortunate Pfalz (Palatinate) became the theatre of war (Tilly, Spinola, VERSUS Pfalzers, English, Dutch), involving all the neighboring regions, Cleve-Julich did not escape its fate. The Spaniards and the Dutch, who had long sat in gloomy armed-truce, occupying with obstinate precaution the main Fortresses of these Julich-Cleve countries, did now straightway, their Twelve-Years' truce being out (1621), [Pauli, vi. 578-580.] fall to fighting and besieging one another there; the huge War, which proved of Thirty Years, being now all ablaze. What the country suffered in the interim may be imagined.
In 1624, in pity to all parties, some attempt at practical Division of the Territory was again made: Neuburg to have Berg and Julich, Brandenburg to have Cleve, Mark, Ravensburg and the minor appurtenances: and Treaty to that effect was got signed (11th May, 1624). But it was not well kept, nor could be; and the statistic cipher of new treaties, manifestoes, conferences, and approximate written area of Law-Paper goes on increasing.
It was not till forty-two years after, in 1666, as will be more minutely noticeable by and by, that an effective partition could be practically brought about. Nor in this state was the Lawsuit by any means ended,—as we shall wearisomely see, in times long following that. In fact there never was, in the German Chanceries or out of them, such a Lawsuit, Armed or Wigged, as this of the Cleve Duchies first and last. And the sentence was not practically given, till the Congress of Vienna (1815) in our own day gave it; and the thing Johann Sigismund had claimed legally in 1609 was actually handed over to Johann Sigismund's Descendant in the seventh generation, after two hundred and six years. Handed over to him then,—and a liberal rate of interest allowed. These litigated Duchies are now the Prussian Province Julich-Berg-Cleve, and the nucleus of Prussia's possessions in the Rhine country.
A year before Johann Sigismund's death, Albert Friedrich, the poor eclipsed Duke of Prussia, died (8th August, 1618): upon which our swift Kurfurst, not without need of his dexterities there too, got peaceable possession of Prussia;—nor has his Family lost hold of that, up to the present time. Next year (23d December, 1619), he himself closed a swift busy life (labor enough in it for him perhaps, though only an age of forty-nine); and sank to his long rest, his works following him,—unalterable thenceforth, not unfruitful some of them.
Chapter XV. — TENTH KURFURST, GEORGE WILHELM.
By far the unluckiest of these Electors, whether the most unworthy of them or not, was George Wilhelm, Tenth Elector, who now succeeded Johann Sigismund his Father. The Father's eyes had closed when this great flame was breaking out; and the Son's days were all spent amid the hot ashes and fierce blazings of it.
The position of Brandenburg during this sad Thirty-Years War was passive rather than active; distinguished only in the former way, and as far as possible from being glorious or victorious. Never since the Hohenzollerns came to that Country had Brandenburg such a time. Difficult to have mended it; impossible to have quite avoided it;—and Kurfurst George Wilhelm was not a man so superior to all his neighbors, that he could clearly see his way in such an element. The perfect or ideal course was clear: To have frankly drawn sword for his Religion and his Rights, so soon as the battle fairly opened; and to have fought for these same, till he got either them or died. Alas, that is easily said and written; but it is, for a George Wilhelm especially, difficult to do! His capability in all kinds was limited; his connections, with this side and that, were very intricate. Gustavus and the Winter-King were his Brothers-in-law; Gustavus wedded to his Sister, he to Winter-King's. His relations to Poland, feudal superior of Preussen, were delicate; and Gustavus was in deadly quarrel with Poland. And then Gustavus's sudden laying-hold of Pommern, which had just escaped from Wallenstein and the Kaiser? It must be granted, poor George Wilhelm's case demanded circumspectness.
One can forgive him for declining the Bohemian-King speculation, though his Uncle of Jagerndorf and his Cousins of Liegnitz were so hearty and forward in it. Pardonable in him to decline the Bohemian speculation;—though surely it is very sad that he found himself so short of "butter and firewood" when the poor Ex-King, and his young Wife, then in a specially interesting state, came to take shelter with him! [Solltl (Geschichte des Dreissigjahrigen Krieges,—a trivial modern Book) gives a notable memorial from the Brandenburg RATHS, concerning these their difficulties of housekeeping. Their real object, we perceive, was to get rid of a Guest so dangerous as the Ex-King, under Ban of the Empire, had now become.] But when Gustavus landed, and flung out upon the winds such a banner as that of his,—truly it was required of a Protestant Governor of men to be able to read said banner in a certain degree. A Governor, not too IMperfect, would have recognized this Gustavus, what his purposes and likelihoods were; the feeling would have been, checked by due circumspectness: "Up, my men, let us follow this man; let us live and die in the Cause this man goes for! Live otherwise with honor, or die otherwise with honor, we cannot, in the pass things have come to!"—And thus, at the very worst, Brandenburg would have had only one class of enemies to ravage it; and might have escaped with, arithmetically speaking, HALF the harrying it got in that long Business.
But Protestant Germany—sad shame to it, which proved lasting sorrow as well—was all alike torpid; Brandenburg not an exceptional case. No Prince stood up as beseemed: or only one, and he not a great one; Landgraf Wilhelm of Hessen, who, and his brave Widow after him, seemed always to know what hour it was. Wilhelm of Hessen all along;—and a few wild hands, Christian of Brunswick, Christian of Anhalt, Johann George of Jagerndorf, who stormed out tumultuously at first, but were soon blown away by the Tilly-Wallenstein TRADE-WINDS and regulated armaments:—the rest sat still, and tried all they could to keep out of harm's way. The "Evangelical Union" did a great deal of manifestoing, pathetic, indignant and other; held solemn Meetings at Heilbronn, old Sir Henry Wotton going as Ambassador to them; but never got any redress. Had the Evangelical Union shut up its inkhorns sooner; girt on its fighting-tools when the time came, and done some little execution with them then, instead of none at all,—we may fancy the Evangelical Union would have better discharged its function. It might have saved immense wretchedness to Germany. But its course went not that way.
In fact, had there been no better Protestantism than that of Germany, all was over with Protestantism; and Max of Bavaria, with fanatical Ferdinand II. as Kaiser over him, and Father Lammerlein at his right hand and Father Hyacinth at his left, had got their own sweet way in this world. But Protestant Germany was not Protestant Europe, after all. Over seas there dwelt and reigned a certain King in Sweden; there farmed, and walked musing by the shores of the Ouse in Huntingdonshire, a certain man;—there was a Gustav Adolf over seas, an Oliver Cromwell over seas; and "a company of poor men" were found capable of taking Lucifer by the beard,—who accordingly, with his Lammerleins, Hyacinths, Habernfeldts and others, was forced to withdraw, after a tough struggle!—
Chapter XVI. — THIRTY-YEARS WAR.
The enormous Thirty-Years War, most intricate of modern Occurrences in the domain of Dryasdust, divides itself, after some unravelling, into Three principal Acts or Epochs; in all of which, one after the other, our Kurfurst had an interest mounting progressively, but continuing to be a passive interest.
Act FIRST goes from 1620 to 1624; and might be entitled "The Bohemian King Made and Demolished." Personally the Bohemian King was soon demolished. His Kingship may be said to have gone off by explosion; by one Fight, namely, done on the Weissenberg near Prag (Sunday, 8th November, 1620), while he sat at dinner in the City, the boom of the cannon coming in with interest upon his high guests and him. He had to run, in hot haste, that night, leaving many of his important papers,—and becomes a Winter-King. Winter-King's account was soon settled. But the extirpating of his Adherents, and capturing of his Hereditary Lands, Palatinate and Upper-Palatinate, took three years more. Hard fighting for the Palatinate; Tilly and Company against the "Evangelical-Union Troops, and the English under Sir Horace Vere." Evangelical-Union Troops, though marching about there, under an Uncle of our Kurfurst (Margraf Joachim Ernst, that lucky Anspach Uncle, founder of "the Line"), who professed some skill in soldiering, were a mere Picture of an Army; would only "observe," and would not fight at all. So that the whole fighting fell to Sir Horace and his poor handful of English; of whose grim posture "in Frankendale" [Frankenthal, a little Town in the Palatinate, N.W. from Mannheim a short way.] and other Strongholds, for months long, there is talk enough in the old English History-Books.
Then there were certain stern War-Captains, who rallied from the Weissenberg Defeat:—Christian of Brunswick, the chief of them, titular Bishop of Halberstadt, a high-flown, fiery young fellow, of terrible fighting gifts; he flamed up considerably, with "the Queen of Bohemia's glove stuck in his Hat:" "Bright Lady, it shall stick there, till I get you your own again, or die!" [1621-1623, age not yet twenty-five; died (by poison), 1626, having again become supremely important just then. "Gottes Freund, der Pfaffen Feind (God's Friend, Priests' Foe);" "Alles fur Ruhm und Ihr (All for Glory and Her,"—the bright Elizabeth, become Ex-Queen), were mottoes of his.—Buddaus IN VOCE (i. 649); Michaelis, i. 110.] Christian of Brunswick, George of Jagerndorf (our Kurfurst's Uncle), Count Mansfeldt and others, made stormy fight once and again, hanging upon this central "Frankendale" Business, till they and it became hopeless. For the Kaiser and his Jesuits were not in doubt; a Kaiser very proud, unscrupulous; now clearly superior in force,—and all along of great superiority in fraud.
Christian of Brunswick, Johann George and Mansfeldt were got rid of: Christian by poison; Johann George and Mansfeldt by other methods,—chiefly by playing upon poor King James of England, and leading him by the long nose he was found to have. The Palatinate became the Kaiser's for the time being; Upper Palatinate (OBER-PFALZ) Duke Max of Bavaria, lying contiguous to it, had easily taken. "Incorporate the Ober-Pfalz with your Bavaria," said the Kaiser, "you, illustrious, thrice-serviceable Max! And let Lammerlein and Hyacinth, with their Gospel of Ignatius, loose upon it. Nay, as a still richer reward, be yours the forfeited KUR (Electorship) of this mad Kur-Pfalz, or Winter-King. I will hold his Rhine-Lands, his UNTER-PFALZ: his Electorship and OBER-PFALZ, I say, are yours, Duke, henceforth KURFURST Maximilian!" [Kohler, Reichs-Historie, p. 520.] Which was a hard saying in the ears of Brandenburg, Saxony and the other Five, and of the Reich in general; but they had all to comply, after wincing. For the Kaiser proceeded with a high hand. He had put the Ex-King under Ban of the Empire (never asking "the Empire" about it); put his Three principal Adherents, Johann George of Jagerndorf one of them, Prince Christian of Anhalt (once captain at the Siege of Juliers) another, likewise under Ban of the Empire; [22d Jan. 1621 (ibid. p. 518).] and in short had flung about, and was flinging, his thunder-bolts in a very Olympian manner. Under all which, what could Brandenburg and the others do; but whimper some trembling protest, "Clear against Law!"—and sit obedient? The Evangelical Union did not now any more than formerly draw out its fighting-tools. In fact, the Evangelical Union now fairly dissolved itself; melted into a deliquium of terror under these thunder-bolts that were flying, and was no more heard of in the world.—
SECOND ACT, OR EPOCH, 1624-1629. A SECOND UNCLE PUT TO THE BAN, AND POMMERN SNATCHED AWAY.
Except in the "NETHER-SAXON CIRCLE" (distant Northwest region, with its Hanover, Mecklenburg, with its rich Hamburgs, Lubecks, Magdeburgs, all Protestant, and abutting on the Protestant North), trembling Germany lay ridden over as the Kaiser willed. Foreign League got up by France, King James, Christian IV. of Denmark (James's Brother-in-law, with whom he had such "drinking" in Somerset House, long ago, on Christian's visit hither [Old Histories of James I. (Wilson, &c.)]), went to water, or worse. Only the "Nether-Saxon Circle" showed some life; was levying an army; and had appointed Christian of Brunswick its Captain, till he was got poisoned;—upon which the drinking King of Denmark took the command.
Act SECOND goes from 1624 to 1627 or even 1629; and contains drunken Christian's Exploits. Which were unfortunate, almost to the ruin of Denmark itself, as well as of the Nether-Saxon Circle;—till in the latter of these years he slightly rallied, and got a supportable Peace granted him (Peace of Lubeck, 1629); after which he sits quiet, contemplative, with an evil eye upon Sweden now and then. The beatings he got, in quite regular succession, from Tilly and Consorts, are not worth mentioning: the only thing one now remembers of him is his alarming accident on the ramparts of Hameln, just at the opening of these Campaigns. At Hameln, which was to be a strong post, drunken Christian rode out once, on a summer afternoon (1624), to see that the ramparts were all right, or getting all right;—and tumbled, horse and self (self in liquor, it is thought), in an ominous alarming manner. Taken up for dead;—nay some of the vague Histories seem to think he was really dead:—but he lived to be often beaten after that, and had many moist years more.
Our Kurfurst had another Uncle put to the Ban in this Second Act,—Christian Wilhelm Archbishop of Magdeburg, "for assisting the Danish King;" nor was Ban all the ruin that fell on this poor Archbishop. What could an unfortunate Kurfurst do, but tremble and obey? There was still a worse smart got by our poor Kurfurst out of Act Second; the glaring injustice done him in Pommern.
Does the reader remember that scene in the High Church of Stettin a hundred and fifty years ago? How the Burgermeister threw sword and helmet into the grave of the last Duke of Pommern-Stettin there; and a forward Citizen picked them out again in favor of a Collateral Branch? Never since, any more than then, could Brandenburg get Pommern according to claim. Collateral Branch, in spite of Friedrich Ironteeth, in spite even of Albert Achilles and some fighting of his; contrived, by pleading at the Diets and stirring up noise, to maintain its pretensions: and Treaties without end ensued, as usual; Treaties refreshed and new-signed by every Successor of Albert, to a wearisome degree. The sum of which always was: "Pommern does actual homage to Brandenburg; vassal of Brandenburg;—and falls home to it, if the now Extant Line go extinct." Nay there is an ERBVERBRUDERUNG (Heritage-Fraternity) over and above, established this long time, and wearisomely renewed at every new Accession. Hundreds of Treaties, oppressive to think of:—and now the last Duke, old Bogislaus, is here, without hope of children; and the fruit of all that haggling, actual Pommern to wit, will at last fall home? Alas, no; far otherwise.
For the Kaiser having so triumphantly swept off the Winter-King, and Christian IV. in the rear of him, and got Germany ready for converting to Orthodoxy,—wished now to have some hold of the Seaboard, thereby to punish Denmark; nay thereby, as is hoped, to extend the blessings of Orthodoxy into England, Sweden, Holland, and the other Heretic States, in due time. For our plans go far! This is the Kaiser's fixed wish, rising to the rank of hope now and then: all Europe shall become Papist again by the help of God and the Devil. So the Kaiser, on hardly any pretext, seized Mecklenburg from the Proprietors,—"Traitors, how durst you join Danish Christian?"—and made Wallenstein Duke of it. Duke of Mecklenburg, "Admiral of the EAST SEA (Baltic);" and set to "building ships of war in Rostock,"—his plans going far. [Kohler, Reichs-Historie, pp, 524, 525.] This done, he seized Pommern, which also is a fine Sea-country,—stirring up Max of Bavaria to make some idle pretence to Pommern, that so the Kaiser might seize it "in sequestration till decided on." Under which hard treatment, George Wilhelm had to sit sad and silent,—though the Stralsunders would not. Hence the world-famous Siege of Stralsund (1628); fierce Wallenstein declaring, "I will have the Town, if it hung by a chain from Heaven;" but finding he could not get it; owing to the Swedish succor, to the stubborn temper prevalent among the Townsfolk, and also greatly to the rains and peat-bogs.
A second Uncle of George Wilhelm's, that unlucky Archbishop of Magdeburg above mentioned, the Kaiser, once more by his own arbitrary will, put under Ban of the Empire, in this Second Act: "Traitor, how durst you join with the Danes?" The result of which was Tilly's Sack of Magdeburg (10-12th May, 1631), a transaction never forgettable by mankind.—As for Pommern, Gustav Adolf, on his intervening in these matters, landed there: Pommern was now seized by Gustav Adolf, as a landing-place and place-of-arms, indispensable for Sweden in the present emergency; and was so held thenceforth. Pommern will not fall to George Wilhelm at this time.
THIRD ACT, AND WHAT THE KURFURST SUFFERED IN IT.
And now we are at Act THIRD:—Landing of Gustav Adolf "in the Isle of Usedom, 24th June, 1630," and onward for Eighteen Years till the Peace of Westphalia, in 1648;—on which, as probably better known to the reader, we will not here go into details. In this Third Act too, George Wilhelm followed his old scheme, peace at any price;—as shy of Gustav as he had been of other Champions of the Cause; and except complaining, petitioning and manifestoing, studiously did nothing.
Poor man, it was his fate to stand in the range of these huge collisions,—Bridge of Dessau, Siege of Stralsund, Sack of Magdeburg, Battle of Leipzig,—where the Titans were bowling rocks at one another; and he hoped, by dexterous skipping, to escape share of the game. To keep well with his Kaiser,—and such a Kaiser to Germany and to him,—this, for George Wilhelm, was always the first commandment. If the Kaiser confiscate your Uncles, against law; seize your Pommern; rob you on the public highways,—George Wilhelm, even in such case, is full of dubitations. Nay his Prime-Minister, one Schwartzenberg, a Catholic, an Austrian Official at one time,—Progenitor of the Austrian Schwartzenbergs that now are,—was secretly in the Kaiser's interest, and is even thought to have been in the Kaiser's pay, all along.
Gustav, at his first landing, had seized Pommern, and swept it clear of Austrians, for himself and for his own wants; not too regardful of George Wilhelm's claims on it. He cleared out Frankfurt-on-Oder, Custrin and other Brandenburg Towns, in a similar manner,—by cannon and storm, when needful;—drove the Imperialists and Tilly forth of these countries. Advancing, next year, to save Magdeburg, now shrieking under Tilly's bombardment, Gustav insisted on having, if not some bond of union from his Brother-in-law of Brandenburg, at least the temporary cession of two Places of War for himself, Spandau and Custrin, indispensable in any farther operation. Which cession Kurfurst George Wilhelm, though giving all his prayers to the Good Cause, could by no means grant. Gustav had to insist, with more and more emphasis; advancing at last, with military menace, upon Berlin itself. He was met by George Wilhelm and his Council, "in the woods of Copenick," short way to the east of that City: there George Wilhelm and his Council wandered about, sending messages, hopelessly consulting; saying among each other, "Que faire; ils ont des canons, what can one do; they have got cannon?" [OEvres de Frederic le Grand (Berlin, 1846-1856 et seqq.: Memoires de Brandebourg), i. 38. For the rest, Friedrich's Account of the Transaction is very loose and scanty: see Pauli (iv. 568) and his minute details.] For many hours so; round the inflexible Gustav,—who was there like a fixed milestone, and to all questions and comers had only one answer!—"Que faire; ils ont des canons?" This was the 3d May, 1631. This probably is about the nadir-point of the Brandenburg-Hohenzollern History. The little Friedrich, who became Frederick the Great, in writing of it, has a certain grim banter in his tone; and looks rather with mockery on the perplexities of his poor Ancestor, so fatally ignorant of the time of day it had now become.
On the whole, George Wilhelm did what is to be called nothing, in the Thirty-Years War; his function was only that of suffering. He followed always the bad lead of Johann George, Elector of Saxony; a man of no strength, devoutness or adequate human worth; who proved, on these negative grounds, and without flagrancy of positive badness, an unspeakable curse to Germany. Not till the Kaiser fulminated forth his Restitution-Edict, and showed he was in earnest about it (1629-1631), "Restore to our Holy Church what you have taken from her since the Peace of Passau!"—could this Johann George prevail upon himself to join Sweden, or even to do other than hate it for reasons he saw. Seized by the throat in this manner, and ordered to DELIVER, Kur-Sachsen did, and Brandenburg along with him, make Treaty with the Swede. [8th February, 1631 (Kohler, Reichs-Historie, pp. 526-531.) in consequence of which they two, some months after, by way of co-operating with Gustav on his great march Vienna-ward, sent an invading force into Bohemia, Brandenburg contributing some poor 3,000 to it; who took Prag, and some other open Towns; but "did almost nothing there," say the Histories, "except dine and drink." It is clear enough they were instantly scattered home [October, 1633 (Stenzel, i. 503).) at the first glimpse of Wallenstein dawning on the horizon again in those parts.
Gustav having vanished (Field of Lutzen, 6th November, 1632 [Pauli, iv. 576.]), Oxenstiern, with his high attitude, and "Presidency" of the "Union of Heilbronn," was rather an offence to Kur-Sachsen, who used to be foremost man on such occasions. Kur-Sachsen broke away again; made his Peace of Prag, [1635, 20th May (Stenzel, i. 513).] whom Brandenburg again followed; Brandenburg and gradually all the others, except the noble Wilhelm of Hessen-Cassel alone. Miserable Peace; bit of Chaos clouted up, and done over with Official varnish;—which proved to be the signal for continuing the War beyond visible limits, and rendering peace impossible.
After this, George Wilhelm retires from the scene; lives in Custrin mainly; mere miserable days, which shall be invisible to us. He died in 1640; and, except producing an active brave Son very unlike himself, did nothing considerable in the world. "Que faire; ils ont des canons!"
Among the innumerable sanguinary tusslings of this War are counted Three great Battles, Leipzig, Lutzen, Nordlingen. Under one great Captain, Swedish Gustav, and the two or three other considerable Captains, who appeared in it, high passages of furious valor, of fine strategy and tactic, are on record. But on the whole, the grand weapon in it, and towards the latter times the exclusive one, was Hunger. The opposing Armies tried to starve one another; at lowest, tried each not to starve. Each trying to eat the country, or at any rate to leave nothing eatable in it: what that will mean for the country, we may consider. As the Armies too frequently, and the Kaiser's Armies habitually, lived without commissariat, often enough without pay, all horrors of war and of being a seat of war, that have been since heard of, are poor to those then practised. The detail of which is still horrible to read. Germany, in all eatable quarters of it, had to undergo the process;—tortured, torn to pieces, wrecked, and brayed as in a mortar under the iron mace of war. [Curious incidental details of the state it was reduced to, in the Rhine and Danube Countries, turn up in the Earl of Arundel and Surrey's TRAVELS ("Arundel of the Marbles") as Ambassador Extraordinary to the Emperor Ferdinando II. in 1636 (a small Volume, or Pamphlet, London, 1637).] Brandenburg saw its towns sieged and sacked, its country populations driven to despair, by the one party and the other. Three times,—first in the Wallenstein Mecklenburg period, while fire and sword were the weapons, and again, twice over, in the ultimate stages of the struggle, when starvation had become the method—Brandenburg fell to be the principal theatre of conflict, where all forms of the dismal were at their height. In 1638, three years after that precious "Peace of Prag," the Swedes (Banier VERSUS Gallas) starving out the Imperialists in those Northwestern parts, the ravages of the starving Gallas and his Imperialists excelled all precedent; and the "famine about Tangermunde had risen so high that men ate human flesh, nay human creatures ate their own children." [1638: Pauli, iv. 604.] "Que faire; ils ont des canons!"
Chapter XVII. — DUCHY OF JAGERNDORF.
This unfortunate George Wilhelm failed in getting Pommern when due; Pommern, firmly held by the Swedes, was far from him. But that was not the only loss of territory he had. Jagerndorf,—we have heard of Johann George of Jagerndorf, Uncle of this George Wilhelm, how old Joachim Friedrich put him into Jagerndorf, long since, when it fell home to the Electoral House. Jagerndorf is now lost; Johann George is under REICHS-ACHT (Ban of Empire), ever since the Winter-King's explosion, and the thunder-bolts that followed; and wanders landless;—nay he is long since dead, and has six feet of earth for a territory, far away in Transylvania, or the RIESEN-GEBIRGE (Giant Mountains) somewhere. Concerning whom a word now.
DUKE OF JAGERNDORF, ELECTOR'S UNCLE, IS PUT UNDER BAN.
Johann George, a frank-hearted valiant man, concerning whom only good actions, and no bad one, are on record, had notable troubles in the world; bad troubles to begin with, and worse to end in. He was second Son of Kurfurst Joachim Friedrich, who had meant him for the Church. [1577-1624: Rentsch, p. 486.] The young fellow was Coadjutor of Strasburg, almost from the time of getting into short-clothes. He was then, still very young, elected Bishop there (1592); Bishop of Strasburg,—but only by the Protestant part of the Canons; the Catholic part, unable to submit longer, and thinking it a good time for revolt against a Protestant population and obstinately heterodox majority, elected another Bishop,—one "Karl of the House of Lorraine;" and there came to be dispute, and came even to be fighting needed. Fighting; which prudent Papa would not enter into, except faintly at second-hand, through the Anspach Cousins, or others that were in the humor. Troublesome times for the young man; which lasted a dozen years or more. At last a Bargain was made (1604); Protestant and Catholic Canons splitting the difference in some way; and the House of Lorraine paying Johann George a great deal of money to go home again. [OEuvres completes de Voltaire, 97 vols. (Paris, 1825-1832), xxxiii. 284.—Kohler (Reichs-Historie, p. 487) gives the authentic particulars.] Poor Johann George came out of it in that way; not second-best, think several.
He was then (1606) put into Jagerndorf, which had just fallen vacant; our excellent fat friend, George Friedrich of Anspach, Administrator of Preussen, having lately died, and left it vacant, as we saw. George Friedrich's death yielded fine apanages, three of them in all: FIRST Anspach, SECOND, Baireuth, and this THIRD of Jagerndorf for a still younger Brother. There was still a fourth younger Brother, Uncle of George Wilhelm; Archbishop of Magdeburg this one; who also, as we have seen, got into REICHS-ACHT, into deep trouble in the Thirty-Years War. He was in Tilly's thrice-murderous Storm of Magdeburg (10th May, 1631); was captured, tumbled about by the wild soldiery, and nearly killed there. Poor man, with his mitre and rochets left in such a state! In the end he even became CATHOLIC,—from conviction, as was evident, and bewilderment of mind;—and lived in Austria on a pension; occasionally publishing polemical pamphlets. [1587; 1628; 1665 (Rentsch, pp. 905-910).]—
As to Johann George, he much repaired and beautified the Castle of Jagerndorf, says Rentsch: but he unfortunately went ahead into the Winter-King's adventure; which, in that sad battle of the Weissenberg, made total shipwreck of itself, drawing Johann George and much else along with it. Johann George was straightway tyrannously put to the Ban, forfeited of life and lands: [22d January, 1621 (Kohler, Reichs-Historie, p. 518: and rectify Hubner, t. 178).] Johann George disowned the said Ban; stood out fiercely for self and Winter-King; and did good fighting in the Silesian strongholds and mountain-passes: but was forced to seek temporary shelter in SIEBENBURGEN (Transylvania); and died far away, in a year or two (1624), while returning to try it again. Sleeps, I think, in the "Jablunka Pass;" the dumb Giant-Mountains (RIESEN-GEBIRGE) shrouding up his sad shipwreck and him.
Jagerndorf was thus seized by Ferdinand II. of the House of Hapsburg; and though it was contrary to all law that the Kaiser should keep it,—poor Johann George having left Sons very innocent of treason, and Brothers, and an Electoral. Nephew, very innocent,—to whom, by old compacts and new, the Heritage in defect of him was to fall,—neither Kaiser Ferdinand II. nor Kaiser Ferdinand III. nor any Kaiser would let go the hold; but kept Jagerndorf fast clenched, deaf to all pleadings, and monitions of gods or men. Till at length, in the fourth generation afterwards, one "Friedrich the Second," not unknown to us,—a sharp little man, little in stature, but large in faculty and renown, who is now called "Frederick the Great,"—clutched hold of the Imperial fist (so to speak), seizing his opportunity in 1740; and so wrenched and twisted said close fist, that not only Jagerndorf dropped out of it, but the whole of Silesia along with Jagerndorf, there being other claims withal. And the account was at last settled, with compound interest,—as in fact such accounts are sure to be, one way or other. And so we leave Johann George among the dumb Giant-Mountains again.
Chapter XVIII. — FRIEDRICH WILHELM, THE GREAT KURFURST, ELEVENTH OF THE SERIES.
Brandenburg had again sunk very low under the Tenth Elector, in the unutterable troubles of the times. But it was gloriously raised up again by his Son Friedrich Wilhelm, who succeeded in 1640. This is he whom they call the "Great Elector (GROSSE KURFURST);" of whom there is much writing and celebrating in Prussian Books. As for the epithet, it is not uncommon among petty German populations, and many times does not mean too much: thus Max of Bavaria, with his Jesuit Lambkins and Hyacinths, is, by Bavarians, called "Maximilian the Great." Friedrich Wilhelm, both by his intrinsic qualities and the success he met with, deserves it better than most. His success, if we look where he started and where he ended, was beyond that of any other man in his day. He found Brandenburg annihilated, and he left Brandenburg sound and flourishing; a great country, or already on the way towards greatness. Undoubtedly a most rapid, clear-eyed, active man. There was a stroke in him swift as lightning, well-aimed mostly, and of a respectable weight, withal; which shattered asunder a whole world of impediments for him, by assiduous repetition of it for fifty years. [1620; 1640; 1688.]
There hardly ever came to sovereign power a young man of twenty under more distressing, hopeless-looking circumstances. Political significance Brandenburg had none; a mere Protestant appendage dragged about by a Papist Kaiser. His Father's Prime-Minister, as we have seen, was in the interest of his enemies; not Brandenburg's servant, but Austria's. The very Commandants of his Fortresses, Commandant of Spandau more especially, refused to obey Friedrich Wilhelm, on his accession; "were bound to obey the Kaiser in the first place." He had to proceed softly as well as swiftly; with the most delicate hand to get him of Spandau by the collar, and put him under lock-and-key, him as a warning to others.
For twenty years past, Brandenburg had been scoured by hostile armies, which, especially the Kaiser's part of which, committed outrages new in human history. In a year or two hence, Brandenburg became again the theatre of business; Austrian Gallas advancing thither again (1644), with intent "to shut up Torstenson and his Swedes in Jutland," where they had been chastising old Christian IV., now meddlesome again, for the last time, and never a good neighbor to Sweden. Gallas could by no means do what he intended: on the contrary, he had to run from Torstenson, what feet could do; was hunted, he and his MERODE-BRUDER (beautiful inventors of the "Marauding" Art), "till they pretty much all died (CREPERTIN)," says Kohler. [Reichs-Historie, p. 556; Pauli, v. 24.] No great loss to society, the death of these Artists: but we can fancy what their life, and especially what the process of their dying, may have cost poor Brandenburg again!—
Friedrich Wilhelm's aim, in this as in other emergencies, was sun-clear to himself, but for most part dim to everybody else. He had to walk very warily, Sweden on one hand of him, suspicious Kaiser on the other; he had to wear semblances, to be ready with evasive words; and advance noiselessly by many circuits. More delicate operation could not be imagined. But advance he did: advance and arrive. With extraordinary talent, diligence and felicity the young man wound himself out of this first fatal position: got those foreign Armies pushed out of his Country, and kept them out. His first concern had been to find some vestige of revenue, to put that upon a clear footing; and by loans or otherwise to scrape a little ready money together. On the strength of which a small body of soldiers could be collected about him, and drilled into real ability to fight and obey. This as a basis: on this followed all manner of things: freedom from Swedish-Austrian invasions, as the first thing.
He was himself, as appeared by and by, a fighter of the first quality, when it came to that: but never was willing to fight if he could help it. Preferred rather to shift, manoeuvre and negotiate; which he did in a most vigilant, adroit and masterly manner. But by degrees he had grown to have, and could maintain it, an Army of 24,000 men: among the best troops then in being. With or without his will, he was in all the great Wars of his time,—the time of Louis XIV., who kindled Europe four times over, thrice in our Kurfurst's day. The Kurfurst's Dominions, a long straggling country, reaching from Memel to Wesel, could hardly keep out of the way of any war that might rise. He made himself available, never against the good cause of Protestantism and German Freedom, yet always in the place and way where his own best advantage was to be had. Louis XIV. had often much need of him: still oftener, and more pressingly, had Kaiser Leopold, the little Gentleman "in scarlet stockings, with a red feather in his hat," whom Mr. Savage used to see majestically walking about, with Austrian lip that said nothing at all. [A Compleat History of Germany, by Mr. Savage (8vo, London, 1702), p. 553. Who this Mr. Savage was, we have no trace. Prefixed to the volume is the Portrait of a solid Gentleman of forty: gloomily polite, with ample wig and cravat,—in all likelihood some studious subaltern Diplomatist in the Succession War. His little Book is very lean and barren: but faithfully compiled,—and might have some illumination in it, where utter darkness is so prevalent. Most likely, Addison picked his story of the Siege of Weinsberg ("Women carrying out their Husbands on their back,"—one of his best SPECTATORS) out of this poor Book.] His 24,000 excellent fighting-men, thrown in at the right time, were often a thing that could turn the balance in great questions. They required to be allowed for at a high rate,—which he well knew how to adjust himself for exacting and securing always.
WHAT BECAME OF POMMERN AT THE PEACE; FINAL GLANCE INTO CLEVE-JULICH.
When the Peace of Westphalia (1648) concluded that Thirty-Years Conflagration, and swept the ashes of it into order again, Friedrich Wilhelm's right to Pommern was admitted by everybody: and well insisted on by himself: but right had to yield to reason of state, and he could not get it. The Swedes insisted on their expenses: the Swedes held Pommern, had all along held it,—in pawn, they said, for their expenses. Nothing for it but to give the Swedes the better half of Pommern. FORE-Pommern (so they call it, "Swedish Pomerania" thenceforth), which lies next the Sea: this, with some Towns and cuttings over and above, was Sweden's share: Friedrich Wilhelm had to put up with HINDER-Pommern, docked furthermore of the Town of Stettin, and of other valuable cuttings, in favor of Sweden. Much to Friedrich Wilhelm's grief and just anger, could he have helped it.
They gave him Three secularized Bishoprics, Magdeburg, Halberstadt, Minden, with other small remnants, for compensation; and he had to be content with these for the present. But he never gave up the idea of Pommern: much of the effort of his life was spent upon recovering Fore-Pommern: thrice-eager upon that, whenever lawful opportunity offered. To no purpose then: he never could recover Swedish Pommern; only his late descendants, and that by slowish degrees, could recover it all. Readers remember that Burgermeister of Stettin, with the helmet and sword flung into the grave and picked out again:—and can judge whether Brandenburg got its good luck quite by lying in bed!—
Once, and once only, he had a voluntary purpose towards War, and it remained a purpose only. Soon after the Peace of Westphalia, old Pfalz-Neuburg, the same who got the slap on the face, went into tyrannous proceedings against the Protestant part of his subjects in Julich-Cleve: who called to Friedrich Wilhelm for help. Friedrich Wilhelm, a zealous Protestant, made remonstrances, retaliations: ere long the thought struck him, "Suppose, backed by the Dutch, we threw out this fantastic old gentleman, his Papistries, and pretended claims and self, clear out of it?" This was Friedrich Wilhelm's thought; and he suddenly marched troops into the Territory, with that view. But Europe was in alarm, the Dutch grew faint: Friedrich Wilhelm saw it would not do. He had a conference with old Pfalz-Neuburg: "Young gentleman, we remember how your Grandfather made free with us and our august countenance! Nevertheless we—" In fine, the "statistic of Treaties" was increased by One: and there the matter rested till calmer times.
In 1666, as already said, an effective Partition of these litigated Territories was accomplished: Prussia to have the Duchy of Cleve-Proper, the Counties of Mark and Ravensburg, with other Patches and Pertinents: Neuburg, what was the better share, to have Julich Duchy and Berg Duchy. Furthermore, if either of the Lines failed, in no sort was a collateral to be admitted: but Brandenburg was to inherit Neuburg, or Neuburg Brandenburg, as the case might be. [Pauli, v. 120-129.] A clear Bargain this at last: and in the times that had come, it proved executable so far. But if the reader fancies the Lawsuit was at last out in this way, he will be a simple reader! In the days of our little Fritz, the Line of Pfalz-Neuburg was evidently ending: but that Brandenburg and not a collateral should succeed it, there lay the quarrel,—open still, as if it had never been shut: and we shall hear enough about it!—
THE GREAT KURFURST'S WARS: WHAT HE ACHIEVED IN WAR AND PEACE.
Friedrich Wilhelm's first actual appearance in War, Polish-Swedish War (1655-1660), was involuntary in the highest degree: forced upon him for the sake of his Preussen, which bade fair to be lost or ruined, without blame of his or its. Nevertheless, here too he made his benefit of the affair. The big King of Sweden had a standing quarrel with his big Cousin of Poland, which broke out into hot War; little Preussen lay between them, and was like to be crushed in the collision. Swedish King was Karl Gustav, Christina's Cousin, Charles Twelfth's Grandfather; a great and mighty man, lion of the North in his time: Polish King was one John Casimir; chivalrous enough, and with clouds of forward Polish chivalry about him, glittering with barbaric gold. Frederick III., Danish King for the time being, he also was much involved in the thing. Fain would Friedrich Wilhelm have kept out of it, but he could not. Karl Gustav as good as forced him to join: he joined; fought along with Karl Gustav an illustrious Battle; "Battle of Warsaw," three days long (28-30th July, 1656), on the skirts of Warsaw,—crowds "looking from the upper windows" there; Polish chivalry, broken at last, going like chaff upon the winds, and John Casimir nearly ruined.
Shortly after which, Friedrich Wilhelm, who had shone much in the Battle, changed sides. An inconsistent, treacherous man? Perhaps not, O reader; perhaps a man advancing "in circuits," the only way he has; spirally, face now to east, now to west, with his own reasonable private aim sun-clear to him all the while?
John Casimir agreed to give up the "Homage of Preussen" for this service; a grand prize for Friedrich Wilhelm. [Treaty of Labiau, 10th November, 1656 (Pauli, v. 73-75); 20th November (Stenzel, iv. 128,—who always uses NEW STYLE).] What the Teutsch Ritters strove for in vain, and lost their existence in striving for, the shifty Kurfurst has now got: Ducal Prussia, which is also called East Prussia, is now a free sovereignty,—and will become as "Royal" as the other Polish part. Or perhaps even more so, in the course of time!—Karl Gustav, in a high frame of mind, informs the Kurfurst, that he has him on his books, and will pay the debt one day!
A dangerous debtor in such matters, this Karl Gustav. In these same months, busy with the Danish part of the Controversy, he was doing a feat of war, which set all Europe in astonishment. In January, 1658, Karl Gustav marches his Army, horse, foot and artillery, to the extent of twenty thousand, across the Baltic ice, and takes an Island without shipping,—Island of Funen, across the Little Belt; three miles of ice; and a part of the sea open, which has to be crossed on planks. Nay, forward from Funen, when once there, he achieves ten whole miles more of ice; and takes Zealand itself, [Holberg's Danemarkische Reichs-Historie, pp. 406-409.]—to the wonder of all mankind. An imperious, stern-browed, swift-striking man; who had dreamed of a new Goth Empire: The mean Hypocrites and Fribbles of the South to be coerced again by noble Norse valor, and taught a new lesson. Has been known to lay his hand on his sword while apprising an Ambassador (Dutch High-Mightiness) what his royal intentions were: "Not the sale or purchase of groceries, observe you, Sir! My aims go higher!"—Charles Twelfth's Grandfather, and somewhat the same type of man.
But Karl Gustav died, short while after; [13th February, 1660, age 38.] left his big wide-raging Northern Controversy to collapse in what way it could. Sweden and the fighting-parties made their "Peace of Oliva" (Abbey of Oliva, near Dantzig, 1st May, 1660); and this of Preussen was ratified, in all form, among the other points. No homage more; nothing now above Ducal Prussia but the Heavens; and great times coming for it. This was one of the successfulest strokes of business ever done by Friedrich Wilhelm; who had been forced, by sheer compulsion, to embark in that big game.—"Royal Prussia," the Western or POLISH Prussia: this too, as all Newspapers know, has, in our times, gone the same road as the other. Which probably, after all, it may have had, in Nature, some tendency to do? Cut away, for reasons, by the Polish sword, in that Battle of Tannenberg, long since; and then, also for reasons, cut back again! That is the fact;—not unexampled in human History.
Old Johann Casimir, not long after that Peace of Oliva, getting tired of his unruly Polish chivalry and their ways, abdicated;—retired to Paris; and "lived much with Ninon de l'Enclos and her circle," for the rest of his life. He used to complain of his Polish chivalry, that there was no solidity in them; nothing but outside glitter, with tumult and anarchic noise; fatal want of one essential talent, the talent of Obeying; and has been heard to prophesy that a glorious Republic, persisting in such courses, would arrive at results which would surprise it.
Onward from this time, Friedrich Wilhelm figures in the world; public men watching his procedure; Kings anxious to secure him,—Dutch printsellers sticking up his Portraits for a hero-worshipping Public. Fighting hero, had the Public known it, was not his essential character, though he had to fight a great deal. He was essentially an Industrial man; great in organizing, regulating, in constraining chaotic heaps to become cosmic for him. He drains bogs, settles colonies in the waste-places of his Dominions, cuts canals; unweariedly encourages trade and work. The FRIEDRICH-WILHELM'S CANAL, which still carries tonnage from the Oder to the Spree, [Executed, 1662-1668; fifteen English miles long (Busching, ERDBESCHREIBUNG, vi, 2193).] is a monument of his zeal in this way; creditable, with the means he had. To the poor French Protestants, in the Edict-of-Nantes Affair, he was like an express Benefit of Heaven: one Helper appointed, to whom the help itself was profitable. He munificently welcomed them to Brandenburg; showed really a noble piety and human pity, as well as judgment; nor did Brandenburg and he want their reward. Some 20,000 nimble French souls, evidently of the best French quality, found a home there;—made "waste sands about Berlin into potherb gardens;" and in the spiritual Brandenburg, too, did something of horticulture, which is still noticeable. [Erman (weak Biographer of Queen Sophie-Charlotte, already cited), Memoires pour sevir a l'Histoire den Refugies Francais dans les Etats du Roi de Prusse (Berlin, 1782-1794), 8 tt. 8vo.]
Certainly this Elector was one of the shiftiest of men. Not an unjust man either. A pious, God-fearing man rather, stanch to his Protestantism and his Bible; not unjust by any means,—nor, on the other hand, by any means thick-skinned in his interpretings of justice: Fair-play to myself always; or occasionally even the Height of Fair-play! On the whole, by constant energy, vigilance, adroit activity, by an ever-ready insight and audacity to seize the passing fact by its right handle, he fought his way well in the world; left Brandenburg a flourishing and greatly increased Country, and his own name famous enough.
A thick-set stalwart figure; with brisk eyes, and high strong irregularly Roman nose. Good bronze Statue of him, by Schluter, once a famed man, still rides on the LANGE-BRUCKE (Long-Bridge) at Berlin; and his Portrait, in huge frizzled Louis-Quatorze wig, is frequently met with in German Galleries. Collectors of Dutch Prints, too, know him: here a gallant, eagle-featured little gentleman, brisk in the smiles of youth, with plumes, with truncheon, caprioling on his war-charger, view of tents in the distance;—there a sedate, ponderous, wrinkly old man, eyes slightly puckered (eyes BUSIER than mouth); a face well-ploughed by Time, and not found unfruitful; one of the largest, most laborious, potent faces (in an ocean of circumambient periwig) to be met with in that Century. [Both Prints are Dutch; the Younger, my copy of the Younger, has lost the Engraver's Name (Kurfurst's age is twenty-seven); the Elder is by MASSON, 1633, when Friedrich Wilhelm was sixty-three.] There are many Histories about him, too; but they are not comfortable to read. [G. D. Geyler, Leben und Thaten Friedrich Wihelms des Grossen (Frankfort and Leipzig, 1703), folio. Franz Horn, Das Leben Friedrich Wilhelms des Grossen (Berlin, 1814). Pauli, Staats-Geschichte, Band v. (Halle, 1764). Pufendorf, De rebus gestis Friderici Wilhelmi Magni Electoris Brandenburgensis Commentaria (Lips. et Berol. 1733, fol.)] He also has wanted a sacred Poet; and found only a bewildering Dryasdust.
His Two grand Feats that dwell in the Prussian memory are perhaps none of his greatest, but were of a kind to strike the imagination. They both relate to what was the central problem of his life,—the recovery of Pommern from the Swedes. Exploit First is the famed "Battle of FEHRBELLIN (Ferry of BellEEN)," fought on the 18th June, 1675. Fehrbellin is an inconsiderable Town still standing in those peaty regions, some five-and-thirty miles northwest of Berlin; and had for ages plied its poor Ferry over the oily-looking, brown, sluggish stream called Rhin, or Rhein in those parts, without the least notice from mankind, till this fell out. It is a place of pilgrimage to patriotic Prussians, ever since Friedrich Wilhelm's exploit there. The matter went thus:—
Friedrich Wilhelm was fighting, far south in Alsace, on Kaiser Leopold's side, in the Louis-Fourteenth War; that second one, which ended in the treaty of Nimwegen. Doing his best there,—when the Swedes, egged on by Louis XIV., made war upon him; crossed the Pomeranian marches, troop after troop, and invaded his Brandenburg Territory with a force which at length amounted to some 16,000 men. No help for the moment: Friedrich Wilhelm could not be spared from his post. The Swedes, who had at first professed well, gradually went into plunder, roving, harrying, at their own will; and a melancholy time they made of it for Friedrich Wilhelm and his People. Lucky if temporary harm were all the ill they were likely to do; lucky if—! He stood steady, however; in his solid manner, finishing the thing in hand first, since that was feasible. He then even retired into winter-quarters, to rest his men; and seemed to have left the Swedish 16,000 autocrats of the situation; who accordingly went storming about at a great rate.
Not so, however; very far indeed from so. Having rested his men for certain months, Friedrich Wilhelm silently in the first days of June (1675) gets them under march again; marches, his Cavalry and he as first instalment, with best speed from Schweinfurt, [Stenzel, ii. 347.] which is on the river Main, to Magdeburg; a distance of two hundred miles. At Magdeburg, where he rests three days, waiting for the first handful of foot and a field-piece or two, he learns that the Swedes are in three parties wide asunder; the middle party of them within forty miles of him. Probably stronger, even this middle one, than his small body (of "six thousand Horse, twelve hundred Foot and three guns");—stronger, but capable perhaps of being surprised, of being cut in pieces, before the others can come up? Rathenau is the nearest skirt of this middle party: thither goes the Kurfurst, softly, swiftly, in the June night (16-17th June, 1675); gets into Rathenau, by brisk stratagem; tumbles out the Swedish Horse-regiment there, drives it back towards Fehrbellin.
He himself follows hard;—swift riding enough, in the summer night, through those damp Havel lands, in the old Hohenzollern fashion: and indeed old Freisack Castle, as it chances,—Freisack, scene of Dietrich von Quitzow and LAZY PEG long since,—is close by! Follows hard, we say: strikes in upon this midmost party (nearly twice his number, but Infantry for the most part); and after fierce fight, done with good talent on both sides, cuts it into utter ruin, as proposed. Thereby he has left the Swedish Army as a mere head and tail WITHOUT body; has entirely demolished the Swedish Army. [Stenzel, ii. 350-357.] Same feat intrinsically as that done by Cromwell, on Hamilton and the Scots, in 1648. It was, so to speak, the last visit Sweden paid to Brandenburg, or the last of any consequence; and ended the domination of the Swedes in those quarters. A thing justly to be forever remembered by Brandenburg;—on a smallish modern scale, the Bannockburn, Sempach, Marathon, of Brandenburg. [See Pauli, v. 161-169; Stenzel, ii. 335, 340-347, 354; Kausler, Atlas des plus memorables Batailles, Combats et Sieges, or Atlas der merkwurdigsten Schlachten, Treffen und Belagerungen (German and French, Carlsruhe and Freiburg, 1831), p. 417, Blatt 62.]
Exploit Second was four years later; in some sort a corollary to this; and a winding-up of the Swedish business. The Swedes, in farther prosecution of their Louis-Fourteenth speculation, had invaded Preussen this time, and were doing sad havoc there. It was in the dead of winter, Christmas, 1678, more than four hundred miles off; and the Swedes, to say nothing of their other havoc, were in a case to take Konigsberg, and ruin Prussia altogether, if not prevented. Friedrich Wilhelm starts from Berlin, with the opening Year, on his long march; the Horse-troops first, Foot to follow at their swiftest; he himself (his Wife, his ever-true "Louisa," accompanying, as her wont was) travels, towards the end, at the rate of "sixty miles a day." He gets in still in time, finds Konigsberg unscathed. Nay it is even said, the Swedes are extensively falling sick; having, after a long famine, found infinite "pigs, near Insterburg," in those remote regions, and indulged in the fresh pork overmuch.
I will not describe the subsequent manoeuvres, which would interest nobody: enough if I say that on the 16th of January, 1679, it had become of the highest moment for Friedrich Wilhelm to get from Carwe (Village near Elbing) on the shore of the FRISCHE HAF, where he was, through Konigsberg, to Gilge on the CURISCHE HAF, where the Swedes are,—in a minimum of time. Distance, as the crow flies, is about a hundred miles; road, which skirts the two HAFS [Pauli, v. 215-222; Stenzel, ii. 392-397.] (wide shallow WASHES, as we should name them), is of rough quality, and naturally circuitous. It is ringing frost to-day, and for days back:—Friedrich Wilhelm hastily gathers all the sledges, all the horses of the district; mounts some four thousand men in sledges; starts, with the speed of light, in that fashion. Scours along all day, and after the intervening bit of land, again along; awakening the ice-bound silences. Gloomy Frische Haf, wrapt in its Winter cloud-coverlids, with its wastes of tumbled sand, its poor frost-bound fishing-hamlets, pine-hillocks,—desolate-looking, stern as Greenland or more so, says Busching, who travelled there in winter-time, [Busching's Beitrage (Halle, 1789), vi. 160.]—hears unexpected human noises, and huge grinding and trampling; the four thousand, in long fleet of sledges, scouring across it, in that manner. All day they rush along,—out of the rimy hazes of morning into the olive-colored clouds of evening again,—with huge loud-grinding rumble;—and do arrive in time at Gilge. A notable streak of things, shooting across those frozen solitudes, in the New-Year, 1679;—little short of Karl Gustav's feat, which we heard of, in the other or Danish end of the Baltic, twenty years ago, when he took Islands without ships.
This Second Exploit—suggested or not by that prior one of Karl Gustav on the ice—is still a thing to be remembered by Hohenzollerns and Prussians. The Swedes were beaten here, on Friedrich Wilhelm's rapid arrival; were driven into disastrous rapid retreat Northward; which they executed, in hunger and cold; fighting continually, like Northern bears, under the grim sky; Friedrich Wilhelm sticking to their skirts,—holding by their tail, like an angry bear-ward with steel whip in his hand. A thing which, on the small scale, reminds one of Napoleon's experiences. Not till Napoleon's huge fighting-flight, a hundred and thirty-four years after, did I read of such a transaction in those parts. The Swedish invasion of Preussen has gone utterly to ruin.
And this, then, is the end of Sweden, and its bad neighborhood on these shores, where it has tyrannously sat on our skirts so long? Swedish Pommern the Elector already had: last year, coming towards it ever since the Exploit of Fehrbellin, he had invaded Swedish Pommern; had besieged and taken Stettin, nay Stralsund too, where Wallenstein had failed;—cleared Pommern altogether of its Swedish guests. Who had tried next in Preussen, with what luck we see. Of Swedish Pommern the Elector might now say: "Surely it is mine; again mine, as it long was; well won a second time, since the first would not do!" But no:—Louis XIV. proved a gentleman to his Swedes. Louis, now that the Peace of Nimwegen had come, and only the Elector of Brandenburg was still in harness, said steadily, though anxious enough to keep well with the Elector: "They are my allies, these Swedes; it was on my bidding they invaded you: can I leave them in such a pass? It must not be!" So Pommern had to be given back. A miss which was infinitely grievous to Friedrich Wilhelm. The most victorious Elector cannot hit always, were his right never so good.
Another miss which he had to put up with, in spite of his rights, and his good services, was that of the Silesian Duchies. The Heritage-Fraternity with Liegnitz had at length, in 1675, come to fruit. The last Duke of Liegnitz was dead: Duchies of Liegnitz, of Brieg, Wohlau, are Brandenburg's, if there were right done! But Kaiser Leopold in the scarlet stockings will not hear of Heritage-Fraternity. "Nonsense!" answers Kaiser Leopold: "A thing suppressed at once, ages ago; by Imperial power: flat ZERO of a thing at this time;—and you, I again bid you, return me your Papers upon it!" This latter act of duty Friedrich Wilhelm would not do; but continued insisting. [Pauli, v. 321.] "Jagerndorf at least, O Kaiser of the world," said he; "Jagerndorf, there is no color for your keeping that!" To which the Kaiser again answers, "Nonsense!"—and even falls upon astonishing schemes about it, as we shall see;—but gives nothing. Ducal Preussen is sovereign, Cleve is at Peace, Hinter-Pommern ours;—this Elector has conquered much: but the Silesian Heritages and Vor-Pommern, and some other things, he will have to do without. Louis XIV., it is thought, once offered to get him made King; [Ib. vii. 215.] but that he declined for the present.
His married and domestic life is very fine and human; especially with that Oranien-Nassau Princess, who was his first Wife (1646-1667); Princess Louisa of Nassau-Orange; Aunt to our own Dutch William, King William III., in time coming. An excellent wise Princess; from whom came the Orange Heritages, which afterwards proved difficult to settle:—Orange was at last exchanged for the small Principality of Neufchatel in Switzerland, which is Prussia's ever since. "Oranienburg (ORANGE-BURG)," a Royal Country-house, still standing, some twenty miles northwards from Berlin, was this Louisa's place: she had trimmed it up into a little jewel, of the Dutch type,—potherb gardens, training-schools for young girls, and the like;—a favorite abode of hers, when she was at liberty for recreation. But her life was busy and earnest: she was helpmate, not in name only, to an ever-busy man. They were married young; a marriage of love withal. Young Friedrich Wilhelm's courtship, wedding in Holland; the honest trustful walk and conversation of the two Sovereign Spouses, their journeyings together, their mutual hopes, fears and manifold vicissitudes; till Death, with stern beauty, shut it in:—all is human, true and wholesome in it; interesting to look upon, and rare among sovereign persons.
Not but that he had his troubles with his womankind. Even with this his first Wife, whom he loved truly, and who truly loved him, there were scenes; the Lady having a judgment of her own about everything that passed, and the Man being choleric withal. Sometimes, I have heard, "he would dash his hat at her feet," saying symbolically, "Govern you, then, Madam! Not the Kurfurst-Hat; a Coif is my wear, it seems!" [Forster, Friedrich Wilhelm I. Konig von Preussen (Potsdam, 1834), i. 177.] Yet her judgment was good; and he liked to have it on the weightiest things, though her powers of silence might halt now and then. He has been known, on occasion, to run from his Privy-Council to her apartment, while a complex matter was debating, to ask her opinion, hers too, before it was decided. Excellent Louisa; Princess full of beautiful piety, good-sense and affection; a touch of the Nassau-Heroic in her. At the moment of her death, it is said, when speech had fled, he felt, from her hand which lay in his, three slight, slight pressures: "Farewell!" thrice mutely spoken in that manner,—not easy to forget in this world. [Wegfuhrer, Leben der Kurfurstin Luise (Leipzig, 1838), p. 175.]
His second Wife, Dorothea,—who planted the Lindens in Berlin, and did other husbandries, of whom we have heard, fell far short of Louisa in many things; but not in tendency to advise, to remonstrate, and plaintively reflect on the finished and unalterable. Dreadfully thrifty lady, moreover; did much in dairy produce, farming of town-rates, provision-taxes: not to speak again of that Tavern she was thought to have in Berlin, and to draw custom to in an oblique manner! What scenes she had with Friedrich her stepson, we have seen. "Ah, I have not my Louisa now; to whom now shall I run for advice or help!" would the poor Kurfurst at times exclaim.