The King says to this Peasant, "Thou shalt ride with me to-day!" And Scholzke, Ploschke others call him,—heavy-footed rational biped knowing the ground there practically, every yard of it,—did, as appears, attend the King all morning; and do service, that was recognizable long years afterwards. "For always," say the Books, "when the King held review here, Ploschke failed not to make appearance on the field of Pogarell, and get recognition and a gift from his Majesty."
At break of day the ranking and arranging began. Pogarell clock is near striking ten, when the last squadron or battalion quits Pogarell; and the Four Columns, punctiliously correct, are all under way. Two on each side of Ohlau Highway; steadily advancing, with pioneers ahead to clear any obstacle there may be. Few obstacles; here and there a little ditch (where Ploschke's advice may be good, under the sleek of the snow), no fences, smooth wide Plain, nothing you would even call a knoll in it for many miles ahead and around. Mollwitz is some seven miles north from Pogarell; intermediate lie dusty fractions of Villages more than one; two miles or more from Mollwitz we come to Pampitz on our left, the next considerable, if any of them can be counted considerable.
"All these Dorfs, and indeed most German ones," says my Tourist, "are made on one type; an agglomerate of dusty farmyards, with their stalls and barns; all the farmyards huddled together in two rows; a broad negligent road between, seldom mended, never swept except by the elements. Generally there is nothing to be seen, on each hand, but thatched roofs, dead clay walls and rude wooden gates; sometimes a poor public-house, with probable beer in it; never any shop, nowhere any patch of swept pavement, or trim gathering-place for natives of a social gossipy turn: the road lies sleepy, littery, good only for utilitarian purposes. In the middle of the Village stands Church and Churchyard, with probably some gnarled trees around it: Church often larger than you expected; the Churchyard, always fenced with high stone-and-mortar wall, is usually the principal military post of the place. Mollwitz, at the present day, has something of whitewash here and there; one of the farmer people, or more, wearing a civilized prosperous look. The belfry offers you a pleasant view: the roofs and steeples of Brieg, pleasantly visible to eastward; villages dotted about, Laugwitz, Barzdorf, Hermsdorf, clear to your inquiring: and to westward, and to southward, tops of Hill-country in the distance. Westward, twenty miles off, are pleasant Hills; and among them, if you look well, shadowy Town-spires, which you are assured are Strehlen, a place also of interest in Friedrich's History.—Your belfry itself, in Mollwitz, is old, but not unsound; and the big iron clock grunts heavily at your ear, or perhaps bursts out in a too deafening manner, while you study the topographies. Pampitz, too, seems prosperous, in its littery way; the Church is bigger and newer,"—owing to an accident we shall hear of soon;—"Country all about seems farmed with some industry, but with shallow ploughing; liable to drought. It is very sandy in quality; shorn of umbrage; painfully naked to an English eye." That is the big champaign, coated with two feet of snow, where a great Action is now to go forward.
Neipperg, all this while, is much at his ease on this white resting-day, He is just sitting down to dinner at the Dorfschulze's (Village Provost, or miniature Mayor of Mollwitz), a composed man; when—rockets or projectiles, and successive anxious sputterings from the steeple-tops of Brieg, are hastily reported: what can it mean? Means little perhaps;—Neipperg sends out a Hussar party to ascertain, and composedly sets himself to dine. In a little while his Hussar party will come galloping back, faster than it went; faster and fewer;—and there will be news for Neipperg during dinner! Better here looking out, though it was a rest-day?—
The truth is, the Prussian advance goes on with punctilious exactitude, by no means rapidly. Colonel Count van Rothenburg,—the same whom we lately heard of in Paris as a miracle of gambling,—he now here, in a new capacity, is warily leading the Vanguard of Dragoons; warily, with the Four Columns well to rear of him: the Austrian Hussar party came upon Rothenburg, not two miles from Mollwitz; and suddenly drew bridle. Them Rothenburg tumbles to the right-about, and chases;—finds, on advancing, the Austrian Army totally unaware. It is thought, had Rothenburg dashed forward, and sent word to the rearward to dash forward at their swiftest, the Austrian Army might have been cut in pieces here, and never have got together to try battle at all. But Rothenburg had no orders; nay, had orders Not to get into fighting;—nor had Friedrich himself, in this his first Battle, learned that feline or leonine promptitude of spring which he subsequently manifested. Far from it! Indeed this punctilious deliberation, and slow exactitude as on the review-ground, is wonderful and noteworthy at the first start of Friedrich;—the faithful apprentice-hand still rigorous to the rules of the old shop. Ten years hence, twenty years hence, had Friedrich found Neipperg in this condition, Neipperg's account had been soon settled!— Rothenburg drove back the Hussars, all manner of successive Hussar parties, and kept steadily ahead of the main battle, as he had been bidden.
Pampitz Village being now passed, and in rear of them to left, the Prussian Columns halt for some instants; burst into field-music; take to deploying themselves into line. There is solemn wheeling, shooting out to right and left, done with spotless precision: once in line,—in two lines, "each three men deep," lines many yards apart,—they will advance on Mollwitz; still solemnly, field-music guiding, and banners spread. Which will be a work of time. That the King's frugal field-dinner was shot away, from its camp-table near Pampitz (as Fuchs has heard), is evidently mythical; and even impossible, the Austrians having yet no cannon within miles of him; and being intent on dining comfortably themselves, not on firing at other people's dinners.
Fancy Neipperg's state of mind, busy beginning dinner in the little Schulze's, or Town-Provost's house, when the Hussars dashed in at full gallop, shouting "DER FEIND, The Enemy! All in march there; vanguard this side of Pampitz; killed forty of us!"—Quick, your Plan of Battle, then? Whitherward; How; What? answer or perish! Neipperg was infinitely struck; dropt knife and fork: "Send for Romer, General of the Horse!" Romer did the indispensable: a swift man, not apt to lose head. Romer's battle-plan, I should hope, is already made; or it will fare ill with Neipperg and him. But beat, ye drummers; gallop, ye aides-de-camp as for life! The first thing is to get our Force together; and it lies scattered about in three other Villages besides Mollwitz, miles apart. Neipperg's trumpets clangor, his aides-de-camp gallop: he has his left wing formed, and the other parts in a state of rapid genesis, Horse and Foot pouring in from Laugwitz, Barzdorf, Gruningen, before the Prussians have quite done deploying themselves, and got well within shot of him. Romer, by birth a Saxon gentleman, by all accounts a superior soldier and excellent General of Horse, commands this Austrian left wing, General Goldlein, [(Anonymous) MARIA THERESA (already cited), p. 8 n.] a Swiss veteran of good parts, presiding over the Infantry in that quarter. Neipperg himself, were he once complete, will command the right wing.
Neipperg is to be in two lines, as the Prussians are, with horse on each wing, which is orthodox military order. His length of front, I should guess, must have been something better than two English miles: a sluggish Brook, called of Laugwitz, from the Village of that name which lies some way across, is on his right hand; sluggish, boggy; stagnating towards the Oder in those parts:—improved farming has, in our time, mostly dried the strip of bog, and made it into coarse meadow, which is rather a relief amid the dry sandy element. Neipperg's right is covered by that. His left rests on the Hamlet of Gruningen, a mile-and-half northeast of Mollwitz;—meant to have rested on Hermsdorf nearly east, but the Prussians have already taken that up. The sun coming more and more round to west of south (for it is now past noon) shines right in Neipperg's face, and is against him: how the wind is, nobody mentions,—probably there was no wind. His regular Cavalry, 8,600, outnumbers twice or more that of the Prussians, not to mention their quality; and he has fewer Infantry, somewhat in proportion;—the entire force on each side is scarcely above 20,000, the Prussians slightly in majority by count. In field-pieces Neipperg is greatly outnumbered; the Prussians having about threescore, he only eighteen. [Kausler, Atlas der merkwurdigsten Schlachten, p. 232.] And now here ARE the Prussians, close upon our left wing, not yet in contact with the right,—which in fact is not yet got into existence;—thank Heaven they have not come before our left got into existence, as our right (if you knew it) has not yet quite finished doing!—
The Prussians, though so ready for deploying, have had their own difficulties and delays. Between the boggy Brook of Laugwitz on their left, and the Village of Hermsdorf, two miles distant, on which their right wing is to lean, there proves not to be room enough; [OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 73.] and then, owing to mistake of Schulenburg (our old pipe-clay friend, who commands the right wing of Horse here, and is not up in time), there is too much room. Not room enough, for all the Infantry, we say: the last three Battalions of the front line therefore, the three on the utmost right, wheel round, and stand athwart; EN POTENCE (as soldiers say), or at right angles to the first line; hanging to it like a kind of lid in that part,—between Schulenburg and them,—had Schulenburg come up. Thus are the three battalions got rid of at least; "they cap the First Prussian line rectangularly, like a lid," says my authority,—lid which does not reach to the Second Line by a good way. This accidental arrangement had material effects on the right wing. Unfortunate Schulenburg did at last come up:—had he miscalculated the distances, then? Once on the ground, he will find he does not reach to Hermsdorf after all, and that there is now too much room! What his degree of fault was I know not; Friedrich has long been dissatisfied with these Dragoons of Schulenburg; "good for nothing, I always told you" (at that Skirmish of Baumgarten): and now here is the General himself fallen blundering!—In respect of Horse, the Austrians are more than two to one; to make out our deficiency, the King, imitating something he had read about Gustavus Adolphus, intercalates the Horse-Squadrons, on each wing, with two Battalions of Grenadiers, and SO lengthens them;—"a manoeuvre not likely to be again imitated," he admits.
All these movements and arrangements are effected above a mile from Mollwitz, no enemy yet visible. Once effected, we advance again with music sounding, sixty pieces of artillery well in front,—steady, steady!—across the floor of snow which is soon beaten smooth enough, the stage, this day, of a great adventure. And now there is the Enemy's left wing, Romer and his Horse; their right wing wider away, and not yet, by a good space, within cannon-range of us. It is towards Two of the afternoon; Schulenburg now on his ground, laments that he will not reach to Hermsdorf;—but it may be dangerous now to attempt repairing that error? At Two of the clock, being now fairly within distance, we salute Romer and the Austrian left, with all our sixty cannon; and the sound of drums and clarinets is drowned in universal artillery thunder. Incessant, for they take (by order) to "swift-shooting," which is almost of the swiftness of musketry in our Prussian practice; and from sixty cannon, going at that rate, we may fancy some effect. The Austrian Horse of the left wing do not like it; all the less as the Austrians, rather short of artillery, have nothing yet to reply with.
No Cavalry can stand long there, getting shivered in that way; in such a noise, were there nothing more. "Are we to stand here like milestones, then, and be all shot without a stroke struck?" "Steady!" answers Romer. But nothing can keep them steady: "To be shot like dogs (WIE HUNDE)! For God's sake (URN GOTTES WILLEN), lead us forward, then, to have a stroke at them!"—in tones ever more plangent, plaintively indignant; growing ungovernable. And Romer can get no orders; Neipperg is on the extreme right, many things still to settle there; and here is the cannon-thunder going, and soon their very musketry will open. And—and there is Schulenburg, for one thing, stretching himself out eastwards (rightwards) to get hold of Hermsdorf; thinking this an opportunity for the manoeuvre. "Forward!" cries Romer; and his thirty Squadrons, like bottled whirlwind now at last let loose, dash upon Schulenburg's poor ten (five of them of Schulenburg's own regiment),—who are turned sideways too, trotting towards Hermsdorf, at the wrong moment,—and dash them into wild ruin. That must have been a charge! That was the beginning of hours of chaos, seemingly irretrievable, in that Prussian right wing.
For the Prussian Horse fly wildly; and it is in vain to rally. The King is among them; has come in hot haste, conjuring and commanding: poor Schulenburg addresses his own regiment, "Oh, shame, shame! shall it be told, then?" rallies his own regiment, and some others; charges fiercely in with them again; gets a sabre-slash across the face,—does not mind the sabre-slash, small bandaging will do;—gets a bullet through the head (or through the heart, it is not said which); [Helden-Geschichte, i. 899.] and falls down dead; his regiment going to the winds again, and HIS care of it and of other things concluding in this honorable manner. Nothing can rally that right wing; or the more you rally, the worse it fares: they are clearly no match for Romer, these Prussian Horse. They fly along the front of their own First Line of Infantry, they fly between the two Lines; Romer chasing,—till the fire of the Infantry (intolerable to our enemies, and hitting some even of our fugitive friends) repels him. For the notable point in all this was the conduct of the Infantry; and how it stood in these wild vortexes of ruin; impregnable, immovable, as if every man of it were stone; and steadily poured out deluges of fire,—"five Prussian shots for two Austrian:"—such is perfect discipline against imperfect; and the iron ramrod against the wooden.
The intolerable fire repels Romer, when he trenches on the Infantry: however, he captures nine of the Prussian sixty guns; has scattered their Horse to the winds; and charges again and again, hoping to break the Infantry too,—till a bullet kills him, the gallant Romer; and some other has to charge and try. It was thought, had Goldlein with his Austrian Infantry advanced to support Romer at this juncture, the Battle had been gained. Five times, before Romer fell and after, the Austrians charged here; tried the Second Line too; tried once to take Prince Leopold in rear there. But Prince Leopold faced round, gave intolerable fire; on one face as on the other, he, or the Prussian Infantry anywhere, is not to be broken. "Prince Friedrich", one of the Margraves of Schwedt, King's Cousin, whom we did not know before, fell in these wild rallyings and wrestlings; "by a cannon-ball, at the King's hand," not said otherwise where. He had come as Volunteer, few weeks ago, out of Holland, where he was a rising General: he has met his fate here,—and Margraf Karl, his Brother, who also gets wounded, will be a mournful man to-night.
The Prussian Horse, this right wing of it, is a ruined body; boiling in wild disorder, flooding rapidly away to rearward,—which is the safest direction to retreat upon. They "sweep away the King's person with them," say some cautious people; others say, what is the fact, that Schwerin entreated, and as it were commanded, the King to go; the Battle being, to all appearance, irretrievable. Go he did, with small escort, and on a long ride,—to Oppeln, a Prussian post, thirty-five miles rearward, where there is a Bridge over the Oder and a safe country beyond. So much is indubitable; and that he despatched an Aide-de-camp to gallop into Brandenburg, and tell the Old Dessauer, "Bestir yourself! Here all seems lost!"—and vanished from the Field, doubtless in very desperate humor. Upon which the extraneous world has babbled a good deal, "Cowardice! Wanted courage: Haha!" in its usual foolish way; not worth answer from him or from us. Friedrich's demeanor, in that disaster of his right wing, was furious despair rather; and neither Schulenburg nor Margraf Friedrich, nor any of the captains, killed or left living, was supposed to have sinned by "cowardice" in a visible degree!—
Indisputable it is, though there is deep mystery upon it, the King vanishes from Mollwitz Field at this point for sixteen hours, into the regions of Myth, "into Fairyland," as would once have been said; but reappears unharmed in to-morrow's daylight: at which time, not sooner, readers shall hear what little is to be said of this obscure and much-disfigured small affair. For the present we hasten back to Mollwitz,—where the murderous thunder rages unabated all this while; the very noise of it alarming mankind for thirty miles round. At Breslau, which is thirty good miles off, horrible dull grumble was heard from the southern quarter ("still better, if you put a staff in the ground, and set your ear to it"); and from the steeple-tops, there was dim cloudland of powder-smoke discernible in the horizon there. "At Liegnitz," which is twice the distance, "the earth sensibly shook," [Helden-Geschichte; and Jordan's Letter, infra.]—at least the air did, and the nerves of men.
"Had Goldlein but advanced with his Foot, in support of gallant Romer!" say the Austrian Books. But Goldlein did not advance; nor is it certain he would have found advantage in so doing: Goldlein, where he stands, has difficulty enough to hold his own. For the notable circumstance, miraculous to military men, still is, How the Prussian Foot (men who had never been in fire, but whom Friedrich Wilhelm had drilled for twenty years) stand their ground, in this distraction of the Horse. Not even the two outlying Grenadier Battalions will give way: those poor intercalated Grenadiers, when their Horse fled on the right and on the left, they stand there, like a fixed stone-dam in that wild whirlpool of ruin. They fix bayonets, "bring their two field-pieces to flank" (Winterfeld was Captain there), and, from small arms and big, deliver such a fire as was very unexpected. Nothing to be made of Winterfeld and them. They invincibly hurl back charge after charge; and, with dogged steadiness, manoeuvre themselves into the general Line again; or into contact with the three superfluous Battalions, arranged EN POTENCE, whom we heard of. Those three, ranked athwart in this right wing ("like a lid," between First Line and second), maintained themselves in like impregnable fashion,—Winterfeld commanding;—and proved unexpectedly, thinks Friedrich, the saving of the whole. For they also stood their ground immovable, like rocks; steadily spouting fire-torrents. Five successive charges storm upon them, fruitless: "Steady, MEINE KINDER; fix bayonets, handle ramrods! There is the Horse-deluge thundering in upon you; reserve your fire, till you see the whites of their eyes, and get the word; then give it them, and again give it them: see whether any man or any horse can stand it!"
Neipperg, soon after Romer fell, had ordered Goldlein forward: Goldlein with his Infantry did advance, gallantly enough; but to no purpose. Goldlein was soon shot dead; and his Infantry had to fall back again, ineffectual or worse. Iron ramrods against wooden; five shots to two: what is there but falling back? Neipperg sent fresh Horse from his right wing, with Berlichingen, a new famed General of Horse; Neipperg is furiously bent to improve his advantage, to break those Prussians, who are mere musketeers left bare, and thinks that will settle the account: but it could in no wise be done. The Austrian Horse, after their fifth trial, renounce charging; fairly refuse to charge any more; and withdraw dispirited out of ball-range, or in search of things not impracticable. The Hussar part of them did something of plunder to rearward;—and, besides poor Maupertuis's adventure (of which by and by), and an attempt on the Prussian baggage and knapsacks, which proved to be "too well guarded,"—"burnt the Church of Pampitz," as some small consolation. The Prussians had stript their knapsacks, and left them in Pampitz: the Austrians, it was noticed, stript theirs in the Field; built walls of them, and fired behind, the same, in a kneeling, more or less protected posture,—which did not avail them much.
In fact, the Austrian Infantry too, all Austrians, hour after hour, are getting wearier of it: neither Infantry nor Cavalry can stand being riddled by swift shot in that manner. In spite of their knapsack walls, various regiments have shrunk out of ball-range; and several cannot, by any persuasion, be got to come into it again. Others, who do reluctantly advance,—see what a figure they make; man after man edging away as he can, so that the regiment "stands forty to eighty men deep, with lanes through it every two or three yards;" permeable everywhere to Cavalry, if we had them; and turning nothing to the Enemy but color-sergeants and bare poles of a regiment! And Romer is dead, and Goldlein of the Infantry is dead. And on their right wing, skirted by that marshy Brook of Laugwitz,—Austrian right wing had been weakened by detachments, when Berlichingen rode off to succeed Romer,—the Austrians are suffering: Posadowsky's Horse (among whom is Rothenburg, once vanguard), strengthened by remnants who have rallied here, are at last prospering, after reverses. And the Prussian fire of small arms, at such rate, has lasted now for five hours. The Austrian Army, becoming instead of a web a mere series of flying tatters, forming into stripes or lanes in the way we see, appears to have had about enough.
These symptoms are not hidden from Schwerin. His own ammunition, too, he knows is running scarce, and fighters here and there are searching the slain for cartridges:—Schwerin closes his ranks, trims and tightens himself a little; breaks forth into universal field-music, and with banners spread, starts in mass wholly, "Forwards!" Forwards towards these Austrians and the setting sun.
An intelligent Austrian Officer, writing next week from Neisse, [Feldzuge der Preussen (above cited), i. 38.]' confesses he never saw anything more beautiful. "I can well say, I never in my life saw anything more beautiful. They marched with the greatest steadiness, arrow-straight, and their front like a line (SCHNURGLEICH), as if they had been upon parade. The glitter of their clear arms shone strangely in the setting sun, and the fire from them went on no otherwise than a continued peal of thunder." Grand picture indeed; but not to be enjoyed as a Work of Art, for it is coming upon us! "The spirits of our Army sank altogether", continues he; "the Foot plainly giving way, Horse refusing to come forward, all things wavering towards dissolution:"—so that Neipperg, to avoid worse, gives the word to go;—and they roll off at double-quick time, through Mollwitz, over Laugwitz Bridge and Brook, towards Grotkau by what routes they can. The sun is just sunk; a quarter to eight, says the intelligent Austrian Officer,—while the Austrian Army, much to its amazement, tumbles forth in this bad fashion.
They had lost nine of their own cannon, and all of those Prussian nine which they once had, except one: eight cannon MINUS, in all. Prisoners of them were few, and none of much mark: two Field-marshals, Romer and Goldlein, lie among the dead; four more of that rank are wounded. Four standards too are gone; certain kettle-drums and the like trophies, not in great number. Lieutenant-General Browne was of these retreating Austrians; a little fact worth noting: of his actions this day, or of his thoughts (which latter surely must have been considerable), no hint anywhere. The Austrians were not much chased; though they might have been,—fresh Cavalry (two Ohlau regiments, drawn hither by the sound [Interesting correct account of their movements and adventures this day and some previous days, in Nicolai, Anekdoten, ii. 142-148.]) having hung about to rear of them, for some time past; unable to get into the Fight, or to do any good till now. Schwerin, they say, though he had two wounds, was for pursuing vigorously: but Leopold of Anhalt over-persuaded him; urged the darkness, the uncertainty. Berlichingen, with their own Horse, still partly covered their rear; and the Prussians, Ohlauers included, were but weak in that branch of the service. Pursuit lasted little more than two miles, and was never hot. The loss of men, on both sides, was not far from equal, and rather in favor of the Austrian side:—Austrians counted in killed, wounded and missing, 4,410 men; Prussians 4,613; [Orlich, i. 108; Kansler, p. 235, correct; Helden-Geschichte, i. 895, incorrect.]—but the Prussians bivouacked on the ground, or quartered in these Villages, with victory to crown them, and the thought that their hard day's work had been well done. Besides Margraf Friedrich, Volunteer from Holland, there lay among the slain Colonel Count von Finkenstein (Old Tutor's Son), King's friend from boyhood, and much loved. He was of the six whom we saw consulting at the door at Reinsberg, during a certain ague-fit; and he now rests silent here, while the matter has only come thus far.
Such was Mollwitz, the first Battle for Silesia; which had to cost many Battles first and last. Silesia will be gained, we can expect, by fighting of this kind in an honest cause. But here is something already gained, which is considerable, and about which there is no doubt. A new Military Power, it would appear, has come upon the scene; the Gazetteer-and-Diplomatic world will have to make itself familiar with a name not much heard of hitherto among the Nations. "A Nation which can fight," think the Gazetteers; "fight almost as the very Swedes did; and is led on by its King too,—who may prove, in his way, a very Charles XII., or small Macedonia's Madman, for aught one knows?" In which latter branch of their prognostic the Gazetteers were much out.—
The Fame of this Battle, which is now so sunk out of memory, was great in Europe; and struck, like a huge war-gong, with long resonance, through the general ear. M. de Voltaire had run across to Lille in those Spring days: there is a good Troop of Players in Lille; a Niece, Madame Denis, wife of some Military Commissariat Denis, important in those parts, can lodge the divine Emilie and me;—and one could at last see MAHOMET, after five years of struggling, get upon the boards, if not yet in Paris by a great way, yet in Lille, which is something. MAHOMET is getting upon the boards on those terms; and has proceeded, not amiss, through an Act or two, when a Note from the King of Prussia was handed to Voltaire, announcing the victory of Mollwitz. Which delightful Note Voltaire stopt the performance till he read to the Audience: "Bravissimo!" answered the Audience. "You will see," said M. de Voltaire to the friends about him, "this Piece at Mollwitz will make mine succeed:" which proved to be the fact. [Voltaire, OEuvres (Vie Privee), ii. 74.] For the French are Anti-Austrian; and smell great things in the wind. "That man is mad, your Most Christian Majesty?" "Not quite; or at any rate not mad only!" think Louis and his Belleisles now.
Dimly poring in those old Books, and squeezing one's way into face-to-face view of the extinct Time, we begin to notice what a clangorous rumor was in Mollwitz to the then generation of mankind;—betokening many things; universal European War, as the first thing. Which duly came to pass; as did, at a slower rate, the ulterior thing, not yet so apparent, that indeed a new hour had struck on the Time Horologe, that a New Epoch had risen. Yes, my friends. New Charles XII. or not, here truly has a new Man and King come upon the scene: capable perhaps of doing something? Slumberous Europe, rotting amid its blind pedantries, its lazy hypocrisies, conscious and unconscious: this man is capable of shaking it a little out of its stupid refuges of lies, and ignominious wrappages and bed-clothes, which will be its grave-clothes otherwise; and of intimating to it, afar off, that there is still a Veracity in Things, and a Mendacity in Sham-Things, and that the difference of the two is infinitely more considerable than was supposed.
This Mollwitz is a most deliberate, regulated, ponderously impressive (GRAVITATISCH) Feat of Arms, as the reader sees; done all by Regulation methods, with orthodox exactitude; in a slow, weighty, almost pedantic, but highly irrefragable manner. It is the triumph of Prussian Discipline; of military orthodoxy well put in practice: the honest outcome of good natural stuff in those Brandenburgers, and of the supreme virtues of Drill. Neipperg and his Austrians had much despised Prussian soldiering: "Keep our soup hot," cried they, on running out this day to rank themselves; "hot a little, till we drive these fellows to the Devil!" That was their opinion, about noon this day: but that is an opinion they have renounced for all remaining days and years.—It is a Victory due properly to Friedrich Wilhelm and the Old Dessauer, who are far away from it. Friedrich Wilhelm, though dead, fights here, and the others only do his bidding on this occasion. His Son, as yet, adds nothing of his own; though he will ever henceforth begin largely adding,—right careful withal to lose nothing, for the Friedrich Wilhelm contribution is invaluable, and the basis of everything;—but it is curious to see in what contrast this first Battle of Friedrich's is with his latter and last ones.
Considering the Battle of Mollwitz, and then, in contrast, the intricate Pragmatic Sanction, and what their consequences were and their antecedents, it is curious once more! This, then, is what the Pragmatic Sanction has come to? Twenty years of world-wide diplomacy, cunningly devised spider-threads overnetting all the world, have issued here. Your Congresses of Cambray, of Soissons, your Grumkow-Seckendorf Machiavelisms, all these might as well have lain in their bed. Real Pragmatic Sanction would have been, A well-trained Army and your Treasury full. Your Treasury is empty (nothing in it but those foolish 200,000 English guineas, and the passionate cry for more): and your Army is not trained as this Prussian one; cannot keep its ground against this one. Of all those long-headed Potentates, simple Friedrich Wilhelm, son of Nature, who had the honesty to do what Nature taught him, has come out, gainer. You all laughed at him as a fool: do you begin to see now who was wise, who fool? He has an Army that "advances on you with glittering musketry, steady as on the parade-ground, and pours out fire like one continuous thunder-peal;" so that, strange as it seems, you find there will actually be nothing for you but—taking to your heels, shall we say?—rolling off with despatch, as second-best! These things are of singular omen. Here stands one that will avenge Friedrich Wilhelm,—if Friedrich Wilhelm were not already sufficiently avenged by the mere verdict of facts, which is palpably coming out, as Time peels the wiggeries away from them more and more. Mollwitz and such places are full of veracity; and no head is so thick as to resist conviction in that kind.
OF FRIEDRICH'S DISAPPEARANCE INTO FAIRYLAND, IN THE INTERIM; AND OF MAUPERTUIS'S SIMILAR ADVENTURE.
Of the King's Flight, or sudden disappearance into Fairyland, during this first Battle, the King himself, who alone could have told us fully, maintained always rigorous silence, and nowhere drops the least hint. So that the small fact has come down to us involved in a great bulk of fabulous cobwebs, mostly of an ill-natured character, set agoing by Voltaire, Valori and others (which fabulous process, in the good-natured form, still continues itself); and, except for Nicolai's good industry (in his ANEKDOTEN-Book), we should have difficulty even in guessing, not to say understanding, as is now partly possible. The few real particulars—and those do verify themselves, and hang perfectly together, when the big globe of fable is burnt off from them—are to the following effect.
"Battle lost," said Schwerin: "but what is the loss of a Battle to that of your Majesty's own Person? For Heaven's sake, go; get across the Oder; be you safe, till this decide itself!" That was reasonable counsel. If defeated, Schwerin can hope to retreat upon Ohlau, upon Breslau, and save the Magazines. This side the Oder, all will be movements, a whirlpool of Hussars; but beyond the Oder, all is quiet, open. To Ohlau, to Glogau, nay home to Brandenburg and the Old Dessauer with his Camp at Gottin, the road is free, by the other side of the Oder.—Schwerin and Prince Leopold urging him, the King did ride away; at what hour, with what suite, or with what adventures (not mostly fabulous) is not known:—but it was towards Lowen, fifteen miles off (where he crossed Neisse River, the other day); and thence towards Oppeln, on the Oder, eighteen miles farther; and the pace was swift. Leopold, on reflection, ordered off a Squadron of Gens-d'Armes to overtake his Majesty, at Lowen or sooner; which they never did. Passing Pampitz, the King threw Fredersdorf a word, who was among the baggage there: "To Oppeln; bring the Purse, the Privy Writings!" Which Fredersdorf, and the Clerks (and another Herr, who became Nicolai's Father-in-law in after years) did; and joined the King at Lowen; but I hope stopped there.
The King's suite was small, names not given; but by the time he got to Lowen, being joined by cavalry fugitives and the like, it had got to be seventy persons: too many for the King. He selected what was his of them; ordered the gates to be shut behind him on all others, and again rode away. The Leopold Squadron of Gens-d'Armes did not arrive till after his departure; and having here lost trace of him, called halt, and billeted for the night. The King speeds silently to Oppeln on his excellent bay horse, the worse-mounted gradually giving in. At Oppeln is a Bridge over the Oder, a free Country beyond: Regiment La Motte lay, and as the King thinks, still lies in Oppeln;—but in that he is mistaken. Regiment La Motte is with the baggage at Pampitz, all this day; and a wandering Hussar Party, some sixty Austrians, have taken possession of Oppeln. The King, and the few who had not yet broken down, arrive at the Gate of Oppeln, late, under cloud of night: "Who goes?" cried the sentry from within. "Prussians! A Prussian Courier!" answer they;—and are fired upon through the gratings; and immediately draw back, and vanish unhurt into Night again. "Had those Hussars only let him in!" said Austria afterwards: but they had not such luck. It was at this point, according to Valori, that the King burst forth into audible ejaculations of a lamentable nature. There is no getting over, then, even to Brandenburg, and in an insolvent condition. Not open insolvency and bankrupt disgrace; no, ruin, and an Austrian jail, is the one outlook. "O MON DIEU, O God, it is too much (C'EN EST TROP)!" with other the like snatches of lamentation; [Valori, i. 104.] which are not inconceivable in a young man, sleepless for the third night, in these circumstances; but which Valori knows nothing of, except by malicious rumor from the valet class,—who have misinformed Valori about several other points.
The King riding diligently, with or without ejaculations, back towards Lowen, comes at an early hour to the Mill of Hilbersdorf, within a mile-and-half of that place. He alights at the Mill; sends one of his attendants, almost the only one now left, to inquire what is in Lowen. The answer, we know, is: "A squadron of Gens-d'Armes there; furthermore, a Prussian Adjutant come to say, Victory at Mollwitz!" Upon which the King mounts again;—issues into daylight, and concludes these mythical adventures. That "in Lowen, in the shop at the corner of the Market-place, Widow Panzern, subsequently Wife Something-else, made his Majesty a cup of coffee, and served a roast fowl along with it," cannot but be welcome news, if true; and that his Majesty got to Mollwitz again before dark that same "day," [Fuchs, p. 11.] is liable to no controversy.
In this way was Friedrich snatched by Morgante into Fairyland, carried by Diana to the top of Pindus (or even by Proserpine to Tartarus, through a bad sixteen hours), till the Battle whirlwind subsided. Friendly imaginative spirits would, in the antique time, have so construed it: but these moderns were malicious-valetish, not friendly; and wrapped the matter in mere stupid worlds of cobweb, which require burning. Friedrich himself was stone-silent on this matter, all his life after; but is understood never quite to have pardoned Schwerin for the ill-luck of giving him such advice. [Nicolai, ii. 180-195 (the one true account); Laveaux, i. 194; Valori, i. 104; &c., &c. (the myth in various stages). Most distractedly mythical of all, with the truth clear before it, is the latest version, just come out, in Was sich die Schlesier vom alten Fritz erzahlen (Brieg, 1860), pp. 113-125.]
Friedrich's adventure is not the only one of that kind at Mollwitz; there is another equally indubitable,—which will remain obscure, half-mythical to the end of the world. The truth is, that Right Wing of the Prussian Army was fallen chaotic, ruined; and no man, not even one who had seen it, can give account of what went on there. The sage Maupertuis, for example, had climbed some tree or place of impregnability ("tree" Voltaire calls it, though that is hardly probable), hoping to see the Battle there. And he did see it, much too clearly at last! In such a tide of charging and chasing, on that Right Wing and round all the Field in the Prussian rear; in such wide bickering and boiling of Horse-currents,—which fling out, round all the Prussian rear quarters, such a spray of Austrian Hussars for one element,—Maupertuis, I have no doubt, wishes much he were at home, doing his sines and tangents. An Austrian Hussar-party gets sight of him, on his tree or other standpoint (Voltaire says elsewhere he was mounted on an ass, the malicious spirit!)—too certain, the Austrian Hussars got sight of him: his purse, gold watch, all he has of movable is given frankly; all will not do. There are frills about the man, fine laces, cloth; a goodish yellow wig on him, for one thing:—their Slavonic dialect, too fatally intelligible by the pantomime accompanying it, forces sage Maupertuis from his tree or standpoint; the big red face flurried into scarlet, I can fancy; or scarlet and ashy-white mixed; and—Let us draw a veil over it! He is next seen shirtless, the once very haughty, blustery, and now much-humiliated man; still conscious of supreme acumen, insight and pure science; and, though an Austrian prisoner and a monster of rags, struggling to believe that he is a genius and the Trismegistus of mankind. What a pickle! The sage Maupertuis, as was natural, keeps passionately asking, of gods and men, for an Officer with some tincture of philosophy, or even who could speak French. Such Officer is at last found; humanely advances him money, a shirt and suit of clothes; but can in nowise dispense with his going to Vienna as prisoner. Thither he went accordingly; still in a mythical condition. Of Voltaire's laughing, there is no end; and he changes the myth from time to time, on new rumors coming; and there is no truth to be had from him. [Voltaire, OEuvres (Vie Prive), ii. 33-34; and see his LETTERS for some were after the event.]
This much is certain: at Vienna, Maupertuis, prisoner on parole, glided about for some time in deep eclipse, till the Newspapers began babbling of him. He confessed then that he was Maupertuis, Flattener of the Earth; but for the rest, "told rather a blind story about himself," says Robinson; spoke as if he had been of the King's suite, "riding with the King," when that Hussar accident befell;—rather a blind story, true story being too sad. The Vienna Sovereignties, in the turn things had taken, were extremely kind; Grand-Duke Franz handsomely pulled out his own watch, hearing what road the Maupertuis one had gone; dismissed the Maupertuis, with that and other gifts, home:—to Brittany (not to Prussia), till times calmed for engrafting the Sciences. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 902; Robinson's Despatch (Vienna, 22d April, 1741, n.s.); Voltaire, ubi supra.]
On Wednesday, Friedrich writes this Note to his Sister; the first utterance we have from him since those wild roamings about Oppeln and Hilbersdorf Mill:—
KING TO WILHELMINA (at Baireuth; two days after Mollwitz).
"OHLAU, 12th April, 1741.
"MY DEAREST SISTER,—I have the satisfaction to inform you that we have yesterday [day before yesterday; but some of us have only had one sleep!] totally beaten the Austrians. They have lost more than 5,000 men, killed, wounded and prisoners. We have lost Prince Friedrich, Brother of Margraf Karl; General Schulenburg, Wartensleben of the Carabineers, and many other Officers. Our troops did miracles; and the result shows as much. It was one of the rudest Battles fought within memory of man.
"I am sure you will take part in this happiness; and that you will not doubt of the tenderness with which I am, my dearest Sister,—Yours wholly, FEDERIC." [OEuvres, xxvii. i. 101.]
And on the same day there comes, from Breslau, Jordan's Answer to the late anxious little Note from Pogarell; anxieties now gone, and smoky misery changed into splendor of flame:
JORDAN TO THE KING (finds him at Ohlau).
"BRESLAU, 11th April, 1741. "SIRE,—Yesterday I was in terrible alarms. The sound of the cannon heard, the smoke of powder visible from the steeple-tops here; all led us to suspect that there was a Battle going on. Glorious confirmation of it this morning! Nothing but rejoicing among all the Protestant inhabitants; who had begun to be in apprehension, from the rumors which the other party took pleasure in spreading. Persons who were in the Battle cannot enough celebrate the coolness and bravery of your Majesty. For myself, I am at the overflowing point. I have run about all day, announcing this glorious news to the Berliners who are here. In my life I have never felt a more perfect satisfaction.
"M. de Camas is here, very ill for the last two days; attack of fever—the Doctor hopes to bring him through,"—which proved beyond the Doctor: the good Camas died here three days hence (age sixty-three); an excellent German-Frenchman, of much sense, dignity and honesty; familiar to Friedrich from infancy onwards, and no doubt regretted by him as deserved. The Widow Camas, a fine old Lady, German by birth, will again come in view. Jordan continues:—
"One finds, at the corner of every street, an orator of the Plebs celebrating the warlike feats of your Majesty's troops. I have often, in my idleness, assisted at these discourses: not artistic eloquence, it must be owned, but spurting rude from the heart...."
Jordan adds in his next Note: "This morning (14th) I quitted M. de Camas; who, it is thought, cannot last the day. I have hardly left him during his illness:" [OEuvres de Frederic, xvii. 99.]—and so let that scene close.
Neipperg, meanwhile, had fallen back on Neisse; taken up a strong encampment in that neighborhood; he lies thereabouts all summer; stretched out, as it were, in a kind of vigilant dog-sleep on the threshold, keeping watch over Neisse, and tries fighting no more at this time, or indeed ever after, to speak of. And always, I think, with disadvantage, when he does try a little. He had been Grand-Duke Franz's Tutor in War-matters; had got into trouble at Belgrade once before, and was almost hanged by the Turks. George II. had occasionally the benefit of him, in coming years. Be not too severe on the poor man, as the Vienna public was; he had some faculty, though not enough. "Governor of Luxemburg," before long: there, for most part, let him peacefully drill, and spend the remainder of his poor life. Friedrich says, neither Neipperg nor himself, at this time, knew the least of War; and that it would be hard to settle which of them made the more blunders in their Silesian tussle.
Friedrich, in about three weeks hence, was fully ready for opening trenches upon Brieg; did open trenches, accordingly, by moonlight, in a grand nocturnal manner (as readers shall see anon); and, by vigorous cannonading,—Marechal de Belleisle having come, by this time, to enjoy the fine spectacle,—soon got possession of Brieg, and held it thenceforth. Neisse now alone remained, with Neipperg vigilantly stretched upon the threshold of it. But the Marechal de Belleisle, we say, had come; that was the weighty circumstance. And before Neisse can be thought of, there is a whole Europe, bickering aloft into conflict; embattling itself from end to end, in sequel of Mollwitz Battle; and such a preliminary sea of negotiating, diplomatic finessing, pulse-feeling, projecting and palavering, with Friedrich for centre all summer, as—as I wish readers could imagine without my speaking of it farther! But they cannot.
[MAP ON PAGE 75 GOES HEREABOUTS—missing]
Chapter XI. — THE BURSTING FORTH OF BEDLAMS: BELLEISLE AND THE BREAKERS OF PRAGMATIC SANCTION.
The Battle of Mollwitz went off like a signal-shot among the Nations; intimating that they were, one and all, to go battling. Which they did, with a witness; making a terrible thing of it, over all the world, for above seven years to come. Foolish Nations; doomed to settle their jarring accounts in that terrible manner! Nay, the fewest of them had any accounts, except imaginary ones, to settle there at all; and they went into the adventure GRATIS, spurred on by spectralities of the sick brain, by phantasms of hope, phantasms of terror; and had, strictly speaking, no actual business in it whatever.
Not that Mollwitz kindled Europe; Europe was already kindled for some two years past;—especially since the late Kaiser died, and his Pragmatic Sanction was superadded to the other troubles afoot. But ever since that Image of JENKINS'S EAR had at last blazed up in the slow English brain, like a fiery constellation or Sign in the Heavens, symbolic of such injustices and unendurabilities, and had lighted the Spanish-English War, Europe was slowly but pretty surely taking fire. France "could not see Spain humbled," she said: England (in its own dim feeling, and also in the fact of things) could not do at all without considerably humbling Spain. France, endlessly interested in that Spanish-English matter, was already sending out fleets, firing shots,—almost, or altogether, putting forth her hand in it. "In which case, will not, must not, Austria help us?" thought England,—and was asking, daily, at Vienna (with intense earnestness, but without the least result), through Excellency Robinson there, when the late Kaiser died. Died, poor gentleman;—and left his big Austrian Heritages lying, as it were, in the open market-place; elaborately tied by diplomatic packthread and Pragmatic Sanction; but not otherwise protected against the assembled cupidities of mankind! Independently of Mollwitz, or of Silesia altogether, it was next to impossible that Europe could long avoid blazing out; especially unless the Spanish-English quarrel got quenched, of which there was no likelihood.
But if not as cause, then as signal, or as signal and cause together (which it properly was), the Battle of Mollwitz gave the finishing stroke, and set all in motion. This was "the little stone broken loose from the mountain;" this, rather than the late Kaiser's Death, which Friedrich defined in that manner. Or at least, this was the first LEAP it took; hitting other stones big and little, which again hit others with their leaping and rolling,—till the whole mountain-side is in motion under law of gravity, and you behold one wide stone-torrent thundering towards the valleys; shivering woods, farms, habitations clean away with it: fatal to any Image of composite Clay and Brass which it may meet!
There is, accordingly, from this point, a change in Friedrich's Silesian Adventure; which becomes infinitely more complicated for him,—and for those that write of him, no less! Friedrich's business henceforth is not to be done by direct fighting, but rather by waiting to see how, and on what side, others will fight: nor can we describe or understand Friedrich's business, except as in connection with the immense, obsolete, and indeed delirious Phenomenon called Austrian-Succession War, upon which it is difficult to say any human word. If History, driven upon Dismal Swamp with its horrors and perils, can get across unsunk, she will be lucky!
For, directly on the back of Mollwitz, there ensued, first, an explosion of Diplomatic activity such as was never seen before; Excellencies from the four winds taking wing towards Friedrich; and talking and insinuating, and fencing and fugling, after their sort, in that Silesian Camp of his, the centre being there. A universal rookery of Diplomatists;—whose loud cackle and cawing is now as if gone mad to us; their work wholly fallen putrescent and avoidable, dead to all creatures. And secondly, in the train of that, there ensued a universal European War, the French and the English being chief parties in it; which abounds in battles and feats of arms, spirited but delirious, and cannot be got stilled for seven or eight years to come; and in which Friedrich and his War swim only as an intermittent Episode henceforth. What to do with such a War; how extricate the Episode, and leave the War lying? The War was at first a good deal mad; and is now, to men's imagination, fallen wholly so; who indeed have managed mostly to forget it; only the Episode (reduced thereby to an UNintelligible state) retaining still some claims on them.
It is singular into what oblivion the huge Phenomenon called Austrian-Succession War has fallen; which, within a hundred years ago or little more, filled all mortal hearts! The English were principals on one side; did themselves fight in it, with their customary fire, and their customary guidance ("courageous Wooden Pole with Cocked Hat," as our friend called it); and paid all the expenses, which were extremely considerable, and are felt in men's pockets to this day: but the English have more completely forgotten it than any other People. "Battle of Dettingen, Battle of Fontenay,—what, in the Devil's name, were we ever doing there?" the impatient Englishman asks; and can give no answer, except the general one: "Fit of insanity; DELIRIUM TREMENS, perhaps FURENS;—don't think of it!" Of Philippi and Arbela educated Englishmen can render account; and I am told young gentlemen entering the Army are pointedly required to say who commanded at Aigos-Potamos and wrecked the Peloponnesian War: but of Dettingen and Fontenoy, where is the living Englishman that has the least notion, or seeks for any? The Austrian-Succession War did veritably rage for eight years, at a terrific rate, deforming the face of Earth and Heaven; the English paying the piper always, and founding their National Debt thereby:—but not even that could prove mnemonic to them; and they have dropped the Austrian-Succession War, with one accord, into the general dustbin, and are content it should lie there. They have not, in their language, the least approach to an intelligible account of it: How it went on, whitherward, whence; why it was there at all,—are points dark to the English, and on which they do not wish to be informed. They have quitted the matter, as an unintelligible huge English-and-Foreign Delirium (which in good part it was); Delirium unintelligible to them; tedious, not to say in parts, as those of the Austrian Subsidies, hideous and disgusting to them; happily now fallen extinct; and capable of being skipped, in one's inquiries into the wonders of this England and this World. Which, in fact, is a practical conclusion not so unwise as it looks.
"Wars are not memorable," says Sauerteig, "however big they may have been, whatever rages and miseries they may have occasioned, or however many hundreds of thousands they may have been the death of,—except when they have something of World-History in them withal. If they are found to have been the travail-throes of great or considerable changes, which continue permanent in the world, men of some curiosity cannot but inquire into them, keep memory of them. But if they were travail-throes that had no birth, who of mortals would remember them? Unless perhaps the feats of prowess, virtue, valor and endurance, they might accidentally give rise to, were very great indeed. Much greater than the most were, which came out in that Austrian-Succession case! Wars otherwise are mere futile transitory dust-whirlwinds stilled in blood; extensive fits of human insanity, such as we know are too apt to break out;—such as it rather beseems a faithful Son of the House of Adam NOT to speak about again; as in houses where the grandfather was hanged, the topic of ropes is fitly avoided.
"Never again will that War, with its deliriums, mad outlays of blood, treasure, and of hope and terror, and far-spread human destruction, rise into visual life in any imagination of living man. In vain shall Dryasdust strive: things mad, chaotic and without ascertainable purpose or result, cannot be fixed into human memories. Fix them there by never so many Documentary Histories, elaborate long-eared Pedantries, and cunning threads, the poor human memory has an alchemy against such ill usage;—it forgets them again; grows to know them as a mere torpor, a stupidity and horror, and instinctively flies from Dryasdust and them."
Alive to any considerable degree, in the poor human imagination, this Editor does not expect or even wish the Austrian-Succession War to be. Enough for him if it could be understood sufficiently to render his poor History of Friedrich intelligible. For it enwraps Friedrich like a world-vortex henceforth; modifies every step of his existence henceforth; and apart from it, there is no understanding of his business or him. "So much as sticks to Friedrich:" that was our original bargain! Assist loyally, O reader, and we will try to make the indispensable a minimum for you.
WHO WAS TO BLAME FOR THE AUSTRIAN-SUCCESSION WAR?
The first point to be noted is, Where did it originate? To which the answer mainly is, With that lean Gentleman whom we saw with Papers in the OEil-de-Boeuf on New-year's day last. With Monseigneur the Marechal de Belleisle principally; with the ambitious cupidities and baseless vanities of the French Court and Nation, as represented by Belleisle. George II.'s Spanish War, if you will examine, had a real necessity in it. Jenkins's Ear was the ridiculous outside figure this matter had: Jenkins's Ear was one final item of it; but the poor English People, in their wrath and bellowings about that small item, were intrinsically meaning: "Settle the account; let us have that account cleared up and liquidated; it has lain too long!" And seldom were a People more in the right, as readers shall yet see.
The English-Spanish War had a basis to stand on in this Universe. The like had the Prussian-Austrian one; so all men now admit. If Friedrich had not business there, what man ever had in an enterprise he ventured on? Friedrich, after such trial and proof as has seldom been, got his claims on Schlesien allowed by the Destinies. His claims on Schlesien;—and on infinitely higher things; which were found to be his and his Nation's, though he had not been consciously thinking of them in making that adventure. For, as my poor Friend insists, there ARE Laws valid in Earth and in Heaven; and the great soul of the world is just. Friedrich had business in this War; and Maria Theresa VERSUS Friedrich had likewise cause to appear in court, and do her utmost pleading against him.
But if we ask, What Belleisle or France and Louis XV. had to do there? the answer is rigorously, Nothing. Their own windy vanities, ambitions, sanctioned not by fact and the Almighty Powers, but by phantasm and the babble of Versailles; transcendent self-conceit, intrinsically insane; pretensions over their fellow-creatures which were without basis anywhere in Nature, except in the French brain alone: it was this that brought Belleisle and France into a German War. And Belleisle and France having gone into an Anti-Pragmatic War, the unlucky George and his England were dragged into a Pragmatic one,—quitting their own business, on the Spanish Main, and hurrying to Germany,—in terror as at Doomsday, and zeal to save the Keystone of Nature these. That is the notable point in regard to this War: That France is to be called the author of it, who, alone of all the parties, had no business there whatever. And the wages due to France for such a piece of industry,—the reader will yet see what wages France and the other parties got, at the tail of the affair. For that too is apparent in our day.
We have often said, the Spanish-English War was itself likely to have kindled Europe; and again Friedrich's Silesian War was itself likely,—France being nearly sure to interfere. But if both these Wars were necessary ones, and if France interfered in either of them on the wrong side, the blame will be to France, not to the necessary Wars. France could, in no way, have interfered in a more barefacedly unjust and gratuitous manner than she now did; nor, on any terms, have so palpably made herself the author of the conflagration of deliriums that ensued for above Seven years henceforth. Nay for above Twenty years,—the settlement of this Silesian Pragmatic-Antipragmatic matter (and of Jenkins's Ear, incidentally, ALONG with this!) not having fairly completed itself till 1763.
HOW BELLEISLE MADE VISIT TO TEUTSCHLAND; AND THERE WAS NO FIT HENRY THE FOWLER TO WELCOME HIM.
It is very wrong to keep Enchanted Wiggeries sitting in this world, as if they were things still alive! By a species of "conservatism," which gets praised in our Time, but which is only a slothful cowardice, base indifference to truth, and hatred to trouble in comparison with lies that sit quiet, men now extensively practise this method of procedure;—little dreaming how bad and fatal it at all times is. When the brains are out, things really ought to die;—no matter what lovely things they were, and still affect to be, the brains being out, they actually ought in all cases to die, and with their best speed get buried. Men had noses, at one time; and smelt the horror of a deceased reality fallen putrid, of a once dear verity become mendacious, phantasmal; but they have, to an immense degree, lost that organ since, and are now living comfortably cheek-by-jowl with lies. Lies of that sad "conservative" kind,—and indeed of all kinds whatsoever: for that kind is a general mother; and BREEDS, with a fecundity that is appalling, did you heed it much!—
It was pity that the "Holy Romish Reich, Teutsch by Nation," had not got itself buried some ages before. Once it had brains and life, but now they were out. Under the sway of Barbarossa, under our old anti-chaotic friend Henry the Fowler, how different had it been! No field for a Belleisle to come and sow tares in; no rotten thatch for a French Sun-god to go sailing about in the middle of, and set fire to! Henry, when the Hungarian Pan-Slavonic Savagery came upon him, had got ready in the interim; and a mangy dog was the "tribute" he gave them; followed by the due extent of broken crowns, since they would not be content with that. That was the due of Belleisle too,—had there been a Henry to meet him with it, on his crossing the marches, in Trier Country, in Spring, 1741: "There, you anarchic Upholstery-Belus, fancying yourself God of the Sun; there is what Teutschland owes you. Go home with that; and mind your own business, which I am told is plentiful, if you had eye for it!"
But the sad truth is, for above Four Centuries now,—and especially for Three, since little Kaiser Karl IV. "gave away all the moneys of it," in his pressing occasions, this Holy Romish Reich, Teutsch by Nation, has been more and ever more becoming an imaginary quantity; the Kaisership of it not capable of being worn by anybody, except a Hapsburger who had resources otherwise his own. The fact is palpable. And Austria, and Anti-Reformation Entity, "conservative" in that bad sense, of slothfully abhorring trouble in comparison with lies, had not found the poison more mal-odorous in this particular than in many others. And had cherished its "Holy Romish Reich" grown UNholy, phantasmal, like so much else in Austrian things; and had held firm grip of it, these Three Hundred years; and found it a furthersome and suitable thing, though sensible it was more and more becoming an Enchanted Wiggery pure and simple. Nor have the consequences failed; they never do. Belleisle, Louis XIV., Henri II., Francois I.: it is long since the French have known this state of matters; and been in the habit of breaking in upon it, fomenting internal discontents, getting up unjust Wars,—with or without advantage to France, but with endless disadvantage to Germany. Schmalkaldic War; Thirty-Years War; Louis XIV.'s Wars, which brought Alsace and the other fine cuttings; late Polish-Election War, and its Lorraine; Austrian-Succession War: many are the wars kindled on poor Teutschland by neighbor France; and large is the sum of woes to Europe and to it, chargeable to that score. Which appears even yet not to be completed?—Perhaps not, even yet. For it is the penalty of being loyal to Enchanted Wiggeries; of living cheek-by-jowl with lies of a peaceable quality, and stuffing your nostrils, and searing your soul, against the accursed odor they all have!—For I can assure you the curse of Heaven does dwell in one and all of them; and the son of Adam cannot too soon get quit of their bad partnership, cost him what it may.
Belleisle's Journey as Sun-god began in March,—"end of March, 1741," no date of a day to be had for that memorable thing:—and he went gyrating about, through the German Courts, for almost a year afterwards; his course rather erratic, but always in a splendor as of Belus, with those hundred and thirty French Lords and Valets, and the glory of Most Christian King irradiating him. Very diligent for the first six months, till September or October next, which we may call his SEED-TIME; and by no means resting after nine or twelve months, while the harrowing and hoeing went on. In January, 1742, he had the great satisfaction to see a Bavarian Kaiser got, instead of an Austrian; and everywhere the fruit of his diligent husbandry begin to BEARD fairly above ground, into a crop of facts (like armed men from dragon's teeth), and "the pleasure of the"—WHOM was it the pleasure of?—"prosper in his hands." Belleisle was a pretty man; but I doubt it was not "the Lord" he was doing the pleasure of, on this occasion, but a very Different Personage, disguised to resemble him in poor Belleisle's eyes!—
Austria was not dangerous to France in late times, and now least of all; how far from it,—humbled by the loss of Lorraine; and now as it were bankrupt, itself in danger from all the world. And France, so far as express Treaties could bind a Nation, was bound to maintain Austria in its present possessions. The bitter loss of Lorraine had been sweetened to the late Kaiser by that solitary drop of consolation;—as his Failure of a Life had been, poor man: "Failure the most of me has been; but I have got Pragmatic Sanction, thanks to Heaven, and even France has signed it!" Loss of Lorraine, loss of Elsass, loss of the Three Bishoprics; since Karl V.'s times, not to speak of earlier, there has been mere loss on loss:—and now is the time to consummate it, think Belleisle and France, in spite of Treaties.
Towards humbling or extinguishing Austria, Belleisle has two preliminary things to do: FIRST, Break the Pragmatic Sanction, and get everybody to break it; SECOND, Guide the KAISERWAHL (Election of a Kaiser), so that it issue, not in Grand-Duke Franz, Maria Theresa's Husband, as all expect it will, but in another party friendly to France:—say in Karl Albert of Bavaria, whose Family have long been good clients of ours, dependent on us for a living in the Political World. Belleisle, there is little doubt, had from the first cast his eye on this unlucky Karl Albert for Kaiser; but is uncertain as to carrying him. Belleisle will take another if he must; Kur-Sachsen, for example;—any other, and all others, only not the Grand-Duke: that is a point already fixed with Belleisle, though he keeps it well in the background, and is careful not to hint it till the time come.
In regard to Pragmatic Sanction, Belleisle and France found no difficulty,—or the difficulty only (which we hope must have been considerable) of eating their own Covenant in behalf of Pragmatic Sanction; and declaring, which they did without visible blush, That it was a Covenant including, if not expressly, then tacitly, as all human covenants do, this clause, "SALVO JURE TERTII (Saving the rights of Third Parties),"—that is, of Electors of Bavaria, and others who may object, against it! O soul of honor, O first Nation of the Universe, was there ever such a subterfuge? Here is a field of flowering corn, the biggest in the world, begirt with elaborate ring-fence, many miles of firm oak-paling pitched and buttressed;—the poor gentleman now dead gave you his Lorraine, and almost his life, for swearing to keep up said paling. And you do keep it up,—all except six yards; through which the biggest team on the highway can drive freely, and the paltriest cadger's ass can step in for a bellyful!
It appears, the first Nation of the Universe had, at an early period of their consultations, hit upon this of SALVO JURE TERTII, as the method of eating their Covenant, before an enlightened public. [20th January, 1741, in their Note of Ceremony, recognizing Maria Theresa as Queen of Hungary, Note which had been due so very long (ADELUNG, ii. 206), there is ominous silence on Pragmatic Sanction; "beginning of March," there is virtual avowal of SALVO JURE (ib. 279);—open avowal on Belleisle's advent (ib. 305).] And they persisted in it, there being no other for them. An enlightened public grinned sardonically, and was not taken in; but, as so many others were eating their Covenants, under equally poor subterfuges, the enlightened public could not grin long on any individual,—could only gape mutely, with astonishment, on all. A glorious example of veracity and human nobleness, set by the gods of this lower world to their gazing populations, who could read in the Gazettes! What is truth, falsity, human Kingship, human Swindlership? Are the Ten Commandments only a figure of speech, then? And it was some beggarly Attorney-Devil that built this sublunary world and us? Questions might rise; had long been rising;—but now there was about enough, and the response to them was falling due; and Belleisle himself, what is very notable, had been appointed to get ready the response. Belleisle (little as Belleisle dreamt of it, in these high Enterprises) was ushering in, by way of response, a RAGNAROK, or Twilight of the Gods, which, as "French Revolution, or Apotheosis of SANSCULOTTISM," is now well known;—and that is something to consider of!
DOWNBREAK OF PRAGMATIC SANCTION; MANNER OF THE CHIEF ARTISTS IN HANDLING THEIR COVENANTS.
The operation once accomplished on its own Pragmatic Covenant, France found no difficulty with the others. Everybody was disposed to eat his Covenant, who could see advantage in so doing, after that admirable example. The difficulty of France and Belleisle rather was, to keep the hungry parties back: "Don't eat your Covenant TILL the proper time; patience, we say!" A most sad Miscellany of Royalties, coming all to the point, "Will you eat your Covenant, Will you keep it?"—and eating, nearly all; in fact, wholly all that needed to eat.
On the first Invasion of Silesia, Maria Theresa had indignantly complained in every Court; and pointing to Pragmatic Sanction, had demanded that such Law of Nature be complied with, according to covenant. What Maria Theresa got by this circuit of the Courts, everybody still knows. Except England, which was willing, and Holland, which was unwilling, all Courts had answered, more or less uneasily: "Law of Nature,—humph: yes!"—and, far from doing anything, not one of them would with certainty promise to do anything. From England alone and her little King (to whom Pragmatic Sanction is the Palladium of Human Freedoms and the Keystone of Nature) could she get the least help. The rest hung back; would not open heart or pocket; waited till they saw. They do now see; now that Belleisle has done his feat of Covenant-eating!—
Eleven great Powers, some count Thirteen, some Twelve, [Scholl, ii. 286; Adelung, LIST, ii. 127.]—but no two agree, and hardly one agrees with himself;—enough, the Powers of Europe, from Naples and Madrid to Russia and Sweden, have all signed it, let us say a Dozen or a Baker's-Dozen of them. And except our little English Paladin alone, whose interest and indeed salvation seemed to him to lie that way, and who needed no Pragmatic Covenant to guide him, nobody whatever distinguished himself by keeping it. Between December, 1740, when Maria Theresa set up her cries in all Courts, on to April, 1741, England, painfully dragging Holland with her, had alone of the Baker's-Dozen spoken word of disapproval; much less done act of hindrance. Two especially (France and Bavaria, not to mention Spain) had done the reverse, and disowned, and declared against, Pragmatic Sanction. And after the Battle of Mollwitz, when the "little stone" took its first leap, and set all thundering, then came, like the inrush of a fashion, throughout that high Miscellany or Baker's-Dozen, the general eating of Covenants (which was again quickened in August, for a reason we shall see): and before November of that Year, there was no Covenant left to eat. Of the Baker's-Dozen nobody remained but little George the Paladin, dragging Holland painfully along with him;—and Pragmatic Sanction had gone to water, like ice in a June day, and its beautiful crystalline qualities and prismatic colors were forever vanished from the world. Will the reader note a point or two, a personage or two, in this sordid process,—not for the process's sake, which is very sordid and smells badly, but for his own sake, to elucidate his own course a little in the intricacies now coming or come upon him and me?
1. ELECTOR OF BAVARIA.—Karl Albert of Baiern is by some counted as a Signer of the Pragmatic Sanction, and by others not; which occasions that discrepancy of sum-total in the Books. And he did once, in a sense, sign it, he and his Brother of Koln; but, before the late Kaiser's death, he had openly drawn back from it again; and counted himself a Non-signer. Signer or not, he, for his part, lost no moment (but rather the contrary) in openly protesting against it, and signifying that he never would acknowledge it. Of this the reader saw something, at the time of her Hungarian Majesty's Accession. Date and circumstances of it, which deserve remembering, are more precisely these: October 20th, 1740, Karl Albert's Ambassador, Perusa by name, wrote to Karl from Vienna, announcing that the Kaiser was just dead. From Munchen, on the 21st, Karl Albert, anticipating such an event, but not yet knowing it, orders Perusa, in CASE of the Kaiser's decease, which was considered probable at Munchen, to demand instant audience of the proper party (Kanzler Sinzendorf), and there openly lodge his Protest. Which Perusa did, punctually in all points,—no moment LOST, but rather the contrary, as we said! Let poor Karl Albert have what benefit there is in that fact. He was, of all the Anti-Pragmatic Covenant-Breakers (if he ever fairly were such), the only one that proceeded honorably, openly and at once, in the matter; and he was, of them all, by far the most unfortunate.
This is the poor gentleman whom Belleisle had settled on for being Kaiser. And Kaiser he became; to his frightful sorrow, as it proved: his crown like a crown of burning iron, or little better! There is little of him in the Books, nor does one desire much: a tall aquiline type of man; much the gentleman in aspect; and in reality, of decorous serious deportment, and the wish to be high and dignified. He had a kind of right, too, in the Anti-Pragmatic sense; and was come of Imperial kindred,—Kaiser Ludwig the Bavarian, and Kaiser Rupert of the Pfalz, called Rupert KLEMM, or Rupert Smith's-vice, if any reader now remember him, were both of his ancestors. He might fairly pretend to Kaisership and to Austrian ownership,—had he otherwise been equal to such enterprises. But, in all ambitions and attempts, howsoever grounded otherwise, there is this strict question on the threshold: "Are you of weight for the adventure; are not you far too light for it?" Ambitious persons often slur this question; and get squelched to pieces, by bringing the Twelve Labors of Hercules on Unherculean backs! Not every one is so lucky as our Friedrich in that particular,—whose back, though with difficulty, held out. Which poor Karl Albert's never had much likelihood to do. Few mortals in any age have offered such an example of the tragedies which Ambition has in store for her votaries; and what a matter Hope FULFILLED may be to the unreflecting Son of Adam.
We said, he had a kind of right to Austria, withal. He descended by the female line from Kaiser Ferdinand I. (as did Kur-Sachsen, though by a younger Daughter than Karl Albert's Ancestress); and he appealed to Kaiser Ferdinand's Settlement of the Succession, as a higher than any subsequent Pragmatic could be. Upon which there hangs an incident; still famous to German readers. Karl Albert, getting into Public Argument in this way, naturally instructed Perusa to demand sight of Kaiser Ferdinand's Last Will, the tenor of which was known by authentic Copy in Munchen, if not elsewhere among the kindred. After some delay, Perusa (4th November, 1740), summoning the other excellencies to witness, got sight of the Will: to his horror, there stood, in the cardinal passage, instead of "MUNNLICHE" (male descendants), "EHELICHE" (lawfully begotten descendants),—fatal to Karl Albert's claim! Nor could he PROVE that the Parchment had been scraped or altered, though he kept trying and examining for some days. He withdrew thereupon, by order, straightway from Vienna; testifying in dumb-show what he thought. "It is your Copy that is false," cried the Vienna people: "it has been foisted on you, with this wrong word in it; done by somebody (your friend, the Excellency Herr von Hartmann, shall we guess?), wishing to curry favor with ambitious foolish persons!" Such was the Austrian story. Perhaps in Munchen itself their Copyist was not known;—for aught I learn, the Copy was made long since, and the Copyist dead. Hartmann, named as Copyist by the Vienna people, made emphatic public answer: "Never did I copy it, or see it!" And there rose great argument, which is not yet quite ended, as to the question, "Original falsified, or Copy falsified?"—and the modern vote, I believe, rather clearly is, That the Austrian Officials had done it—in a case of necessity. [Adelung, ii. 150-154 (14th-20th November, 1740), gives the public facts, without commentary. Hormayr (Anemonen aus dem Tagebuch eines alten Pilgersmannes, Jena, 1845, i. 162-169,—our old Hormayr of the AUSTRIAN PLUTARCH, but now Anonymous, and in Opposition humor) considers the case nearly proved against Austria, and that Bartenstein and one Bessel, a pillar of the Church, were concerned in it.] Possible? "But you will lose your soul!" said the Parson once to a poor old Gentlewoman, English by Nation, who refused, in dying, to contradict some domestic fiction, to give up some domestic secret: "But you will lose your soul, Madam!"—"Tush, what signifies my poor silly soul compared with the honor of the family?"—
2. KING FRIEDRICH;—King Friedrich may be taken as the Anti-Pragmatic next in order of time. He too lost not a moment, and proceeded openly; no quirking to be charged upon him. His account of himself in this matter always was: "By the Treaty of Wusterhausen, 1726, unquestionably Prussia undertook to guarantee Pragmatic Sanction; the late Kaiser undertaking in return, by the same Treaty, to secure Berg and Julich to Prussia, and to have some progress made in it within six months from signing. And unquestionably also, the late Kaiser did thereupon, or even had already done, precisely the reverse; namely, secured, so far as in him was possible, Berg and Julich to Kur-Pfalz. Such Treaty, having in this way done suicide, is dead and become zero: and I am free, in respect of Pragmatic Sanction, to do whatever shall seem good to me. My wish was, and would still be, To maintain Pragmatic Sanction, and even to support it by 100,000 men, and secure the Election of the Grand-Duke to the Kaisership,—were my claims on Silesia once liquidated. But these have no concern with Pragmatic Sanction, for or against: these are good against whoever may fall Heir to the House of Austria, or to Silesia: and my intention is, that the strong hand, so long clenched upon my rights, shall open itself by this favorable opportunity, and give them out." That is Friedrich's case. And in truth the jury everywhere has to find,—so soon as instructed, which is a long process in some sections of it (in England, for example),—That Pragmatic Sanction has not, except helpless lamentations, "Alas that YOU should be here to insist upon your rights, and to open fists long closed!"—the least, word to say to Friedrich.
3. TERMAGANT OF SPAIN.—Perhaps the most distracted of the Anti-Pragmatic subterfuges was that used by Spain, when the She-dragon or Termagant saw good to eat her Covenant; which was at a very early stage. The Termagant's poor Husband is a Bourbon, not a Hapsburg at all: "But has not he fallen heir to the Spanish Hapsburgs; become all one as they, an ALTER-EGO of the Spanish Hapsburgs?" asks she. "And the Austrian Hapsburgs being out, do not the Spanish Hapsburgs come in? He, I say, this BOURBON-Hapsburg, he is the real Hapsburg, now that the Austrian Branch is gone; President he of the Golden Fleece [which a certain "Archduchess," Maria Theresa, had been meddling with]; Proprietor, he, of Austrian Italy, and of all or most things Austrian!"—and produces Documentary Covenants of Philip II. with his Austrian Cousins; "to which Philip," said the Termagant, "we Bourbons surely, if you consider it, are Heir and Alter-Ego!" Is not, this a curious case of testamentary right; human greed obliterating personal identity itself?
Belleisle had a great deal of difficulty, keeping the Termagant back till things were ripe. Her hope practically was, Baby Carlos being prosperous King of Naples this long while, to get the Milanese for another Baby she has,—Baby Philip, whom she once thought of making Pope;—and she is eager beyond measure to have a stroke at the Milanese. "Wait!" hoarsely whispers Belleisle to her; and she can scarcely wait. Maria Theresa's Note of Announcement "New Queen of Hungary, may it please you!" the French, as we saw, were very long in answering. The Termagant did not answer it at all; complained on the contrary, "What is this, Madam! Golden Fleece, you?"—and, early in March, informed mankind that she was Spanish Hapsburg, the genuine article; and sent off Excellency Montijos, a little man of great expense, to assist at the Election of a proper Kaiser, and be useful to Belleisle in the great things now ahead. [Spain's Golden-Fleece pretensions, 17th January, 1741 (Adelung, ii. 233, 234); "Publishes at Paris," in March (ib. 293); and on the 23d March accredits Montijos (ib. 293): Italian War, held back by Belleisle and the English Fleets, cannot get begun till October following.]
4. KING OF POLAND.—The most ticklish card in Belleisle's game, and probably the greatest fool of these Anti-Pragmatic Dozen, was Kur-Sachsen, King of Poland. He, like Karl Albert Kur-Baiern, derives from Kaiser Ferdinand, though by a YOUNGER Daughter, and has a like claim on the Austrian Succession; claim nullified, however, by that small circumstance itself, but which he would fain mend by one makeshift or another; and thinks always it must surely be good for something. This is August III., this King of Poland, as readers know; son of August the Strong: Papa made him change to the Catholic religion so called,—for the sake of getting Poland, which proves a very poor possession to him. Who knows what damage the poor creature may have got by that sad operation;—which all Saxony sighed to the heart on hearing of; for it was always hoped he had some real religion, and would deliver them from that Babylonish Captivity again! He married Kaiser Joseph I.'s Daughter,—Maria Theresa's Cousin, and by an Elder Brother;—this, too, ought surely to be something in the Anti-Pragmatic line? It is true, Kur-Baiern has to Wife another Daughter of Kaiser Joseph's; but she is the younger: "I am senior THERE, at least!" thinks the foolish man.
Too true, he had finally, in past years, to sign Pragmatic Sanction; no help for it, no hope without it, in that Polish-Election time. He will have to eat his Covenant, therefore, as the first step in Anti-Pragmatism; and he is extremely in doubt as to the How, sometimes as to the Whether. And shifts and whirls, accordingly, at a great rate, in these months and years; now on Maria Theresa's side, deluded by shadows from Vienna, and getting into Russian Partition-Treaties; anon tickled by Belleisle into the reverse posture; then again reversing. An idle, easy-tempered, yet greedy creature, who, what with religious apostasy in early manhood, what with flaccid ambitions since, and idle gapings after shadows, has lost helm in this world; and will make a very bad voyage for self and country.
His Palinurus and chief Counsellor, at present and afterwards, is a Count von Bruhl, once page to August the Strong; now risen to such height: Bruhl of the three hundred and sixty-five suits of clothes; whom it has grown wearisome even to laugh at. A cunning little wretch, they say, and of deft tongue; but surely among the unwisest of all the Sons of Adam in that day, and such a Palinurus as seldom steered before. Kur-Sachsen, being Reichs-Vicar in the Northern Parts,—(Kur-Baiern and Kur-Pfalz, as friends and good Wittelsbacher Cousins surely ought, in a crisis like this, have agreed to be JOINT-Vicars in the Southern Parts, and no longer quarrel upon it),—Kur-Sachsen has a good deal to do in the Election preludings, formalities and prearrangements; and is capable, as Kur-Pfalz and Cousin always are, of serving as chisel to Belleisle's mallet, in such points, which will plentifully turn up.
5. KING OF SARDINIA.—Reichs-Vicar in the Italian Parts is Charles Amadeus King of Sardinia (tough old Victor's Son, whom we have heard of): an office mostly honorary; suitable to the important individual who keeps the Door of the Alps. Charles Amadeus had signed the Pragmatic Sanction; but eats his Covenant, like the others, on example of France;—having, as he now bethinks himself, claims on the Milanese. There are two claimants on the Milanese, then; the Spanish Termagant, and he? Yes; and they will have their difficulties, their extensive tusslings in Italian War and otherwise, to make an adjustment of it; and will give Belleisle (at least the Doorkeeper will) an immensity of trouble, in years coming.
In this way do the Pragmatic people eat their own Covenant, one after the other, and are not ashamed;—till all have eaten, or as good as eaten; and, almost within year and day, Pragmatic Sanction is a vanished quantity; and poor Kaiser Karl's life-labor is not worth the sheepskin and stationery it cost him. History reports in sum, That "nobody kept the Pragmatic Sanction; that the few [strictly speaking, the one] who acted by it, would have done precisely the same, though there had never been such a Document in existence." To George II., it is, was and will be, the Keystone of Nature, the true Anti-French palladium of mankind; and he, dragging the unwilling Dutch after him, will do great things for it: but nobody else does anything at all. Might we hope to bid adieu to it, in this manner, and never to mention it again!—
Document more futile there had not been in Nature, nor will be. Friedrich had not yet fought at Mollwitz in assertion of his Silesian claim, when the poor Pope—poor soul, who had no Covenant to eat, but took pattern by others—claimed, in solemn Allocution, Parma and Piacenza for the Holy See. [Adelung, ii. 376 (5th April, 1741)] All the world is claiming. Of the Court of Wurtemberg and its Protestings, and "extensive Deduction" about nothing at all, we do not speak; [Ib. ii. 195, 403.] nor of Montmorency claiming Luxemburg, of which he is Titular "Duke;" nor of Monsignore di Guastalla claiming Mantua; nor of—In brief, the fences are now down; a broad French gap in those miles of elaborate paling, which are good only as firewood henceforth, and any ass may rush in and claim a bellyful. Great are the works of Belleisle!—
CONCERNING THE IMPERIAL ELECTION (Kaiserwahl) THAT IS TO BE: CANDIDATES FOR KAISERSHIP.
At equal step with the ruining of Pragmatic Sanction goes on that spoiling of Grand-Duke Franz's Election to the Kaisership: these two operations run parallel; or rather, under different forms, they are one and the same operation. "To assist, as a Most Christian neighbor ought, in picking out the fit Kaiser," was Belleisle's ostensible mission; and indeed this does include virtually his whole errand. Till three months after Belleisle's appearance in the business, Grand-Duke Franz never doubted but he should be Kaiser; Friedrich's offers to, help him in it he had scorned, as the offer of a fifth wheel to his chariot, already rushing on with four. "Here is Kur-Bohmen, Austria's own vote," counts the Grand-Duke; "Kur-Sachsen, doing Prussian-Partition Treaties for us; Kur-Trier, our fat little Schonborn, Austrian to the bone; Kur-Mainz, important chairman, regulator of the Conclave; here are Four Electors for us: then also Kur-Pfalz, he surely, in return for the Berg-Julich service; finally, and liable to no question Kur-Hanover, little George of England with his endless guineas and resources, a little Jack-the-Giantkiller, greater than all Giants, Paladin of the Pragmatic and us: here are Six Electors of the Nine. Let Brandenburg and the Bavarian Couple, Kur-Baiern and Kur-Koln, do their pleasure!" This was Grand-Duke Franz's calculation.
By the time Belleisle had been three months in Germany, the Grand-Duke's notion had changed; and he began "applying to the Sea-Powers," "to Russia," and all round. In Belleisle's sixth month, the Grand-Duke, after such demolition of Pragmatic, and such disasters and contradictions as had been, saw his case to be desperate; though he still stuck to it, Austrian-like,—or rather, Austria for him stuck to it, the Grand-Duke being careless of such things;—and indeed, privately, never did give in, even AFTER the Election, as we shall have to note.