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History of Friedrich II of Prussia — Volume 10 By Thomas Carlyle Characters: 39537

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Thursday, 27th October, two days after the Expresses went for them, Schwerin and Podewils punctually arrived at Reinsberg. They were carried into the interior privacies, "to long conferences with his Majesty that day, and for the next four days; Majesty and they even dining privately together;" grave business of state, none guesses how grave, evidently going on. The resolution Friedrich laid before them, fruit of these two days since the news from Vienna, was probably the most important ever formed in Prussia, or in Europe during that Century: Resolution to make good our Rights on Silesia, by this great opportunity, the best that will ever offer. Resolution which had sprung, I find, and got to sudden fixity in the head of the young King himself; and which met with little save opposition from all the other sons of Adam, at the first blush and for long afterwards. And, indeed, the making of it good (of it, and of the immense results that hung by it) was the main business of this young King's Life henceforth; and cost him Labors like those of Hercules, and was in the highest degree momentous to existing and not yet existing millions of mankind,-to the readers of this History especially.

It is almost touching to reflect how unexpectedly, like a bolt out of the blue, all this had come upon Friedrich; and how it overset his fine program for the winter at Reinsberg, and for his Life generally. Not the Peaceable magnanimities, but the Warlike, are the thing appointed Friedrich this winter, and mainly henceforth. Those "GOLDEN or soft radiances" which we saw in him, admirable to Voltaire and to Friedrich, and to an esurient philanthropic world,-it is not those, it is "the STEEL-BRIGHT or stellar kind," that are to become predominant in Friedrich's existence: grim hail-storms, thunders and tornado for an existence to him, instead of the opulent genialities and halcyon weather, anticipated by himself and others! Indisputably enough to us, if not yet to Friedrich, "Reinsberg and Life to the Muses" are done. On a sudden, from the opposite side of the horizon, see, miraculous Opportunity, rushing hitherward,-swift, terrible, clothed with lightning like a courser of the gods: dare you clutch HIM by the thundermane, and fling yourself upon him, and make for the Empyrean by that course rather? Be immediate about it, then; the time is now, or else never!-No fair judge can blame the young man that he laid hold of the flaming Opportunity in this manner, and obeyed the new omen. To seize such an opportunity, and perilously mount upon it, was the part of a young magnanimous King, less sensible to the perils, and more to the other considerations, than one older would have been.

Schwerin and Podewils were, no doubt, astonished to learn what the Royal purpose was; and could not want for commonplace objections many and strong, had this been the scene for dwelling on them, or dressing them out at eloquent length. But they knew well this was not the scene for doing more than, with eloquent modesty, hint them; that the Resolution, being already taken, would not alter for commonplace; and that the question now lying for honorable members was, How to execute it? It is on this, as I collect, that Schwerin and Podewils in the King's company did, with extreme intensity, consult during those four days; and were, most probably, of considerable use to the King, though some of their modifications adopted by him turned out, not as they had predicted, but as he. On all the Military details and outlines, and on all the Diplomacies of this business, here are two Oracles extremely worth consulting by the young King.

To seize Silesia is easy: a Country open on all but the south side; open especially on our side, where a battalion of foot might force it; the three or four fortresses, of which only two, Glogau and Neisse, can be reckoned strong, are provided with nothing as they ought to be; not above 3,000 fighting men in the whole Province, and these little expecting fight. Silesia can be seized: but the maintaining of it?-We must try to maintain it, thinks Friedrich.

At Reinsberg it is not yet known that Kur-Baiern has protested; but it is well guessed he means to do so, and that France is at his back in some sort. Kur-Baiern, probably Kur-Sachsen, and plenty more, France being secretly at their back. What low condition Austria stands in, all its ready resources run to the lees, is known; and that France, getting lively at present with its Belleisles and adventurous spirits not restrainable by Fleury, is always on the watch to bring Austria lower; capable, in spite of Pragmatic Sanction, to snatch the golden moment, and spring hunter-like on a moribund Austria, were the hunting-dogs once out and in cry. To Friedrich it seems unlikely the Pragmatic Sanction will be a Law of Nature to mankind, in these circumstances. His opinion is, "the old political system has expired with the Kaiser." Here is Europe, burning in one corner of it by Jenkins's Ear, and such a smoulder of combustible material awakening nearer hand: will not Europe, probably, blaze into general War; Pragmatic Sanction going to waste sheepskin, and universal scramble ensuing? In which he who has 100,000 good soldiers, and can handle them, may be an important figure in urging claims, and keeping what he has got hold of!-

Friedrich's mind, as to the fact, is fixed: seize Silesia we will: but as to the manner of doing it, Schwerin and Podewils modify him. Their counsel is: "Do not step out in hostile attitude at the very first, saying, 'These Duchies, Liegnitz, Brieg, Wohlau, Jagerndorf, are mine, and I will fight for them;' say only, 'Having, as is well known, interests of various kinds in this Silesia, I venture to take charge of it in the perilous times now come, and will keep it safe for the real owner.' Silesia seized in this fashion," continue they, "negotiate with the Queen of Hungary; offer her help, large help in men and money, against her other enemies; perhaps she will consent to do us right?"-"She never will consent," is Friedrich's opinion. "But it is worth trying?" urge the Ministers.-"Well," answers Friedrich, "be it in that form; that is the soft-spoken cautious form: any form will do, if the fact be there." That is understood to have been the figure of the deliberation in this conclave at Reinsberg, during the four days. [Stenzel (from what sources he does not clearly say, no doubt from sources of some authenticity) gives this as summary of it, iv. 61-65.] And now it remains only to fix the Military details, to be ready in a minimum of time; and to keep our preparations and intentions in impenetrable darkness from all men, in the interim. Adieu, Messieurs.

And so, on the 1st of November, fifth morning since they came, Schwerin and Podewils, a world of new business silently ahead of them, return to Berlin, intent to begin the same. All the Kings will have to take their resolution on this matter; wisely, or else unwisely. King Friedrich's, let it prove the wisest or not, is notably the rapidest,-complete, and fairly entering upon action, on November 1st. At London the news of the Kaiser's death had arrived the day before; Britannic Majesty and Ministry, thrown much into the dumps by it, much into the vague, are nothing like so prompt with their resolution on it. Somewhat sorrowfully in the vague. In fact, they will go jumbling hither and thither for about three years to come, before making up their minds to a resolution: so intricate is the affair to the English Nation and them! Intricate indeed; and even imaginary,-definable mainly as a bottomless abyss of nightmare dreams to the English Nation and them! Productive of strong somnambulisms, as my friend has it!-


Podewils and Schwerin gone, King Friedrich, though still very busy in working-hours, returns to his society and its gayeties and brilliancies; apparently with increased appetite after these four days of abstinence. Still busy in his working-hours, as a King must be; couriers coming and going, hundreds of businesses despatched each day; and in the evening what a relish for society,-Praetorius is quite astonished at it. Music, dancing, play-acting, suppers of the gods, "not done till four in the morning sometimes," these are the accounts Praetorius hears at Berlin. "From all persons who return from Reinsberg," writes he, "the unanimous report is, That the King works, the whole day through, with an assiduity that is unique; and then, in the evening, gives himself to the pleasures of society, with a vivacity of mirth and sprightly humor which makes those Evening-Parties charming." [Excerpt, in Preuss, Thronbesteigung, p. 418.] So it had to last, with frequent short journeys on Friedrich's part, and at last with change to Berlin as head-quarters, for about seven weeks to come,-till the beginning of December, and the day of action, namely. A notable little Interim in Friedrich's History and that of Europe.

Friedrich's secret, till almost the very end, remained impenetrable; though, by degrees, his movements excited much guessing in the Gazetteer and Diplomatic world everywhere. Military matters do seem to be getting brisk in Prussia; arsenals much astir; troops are seen mustering, marching, plainly to a singular degree. Marching towards the Austrian side, towards Silesia, some note. Yes; but also towards Cleve, certain detachments of troops are marching,-do not men see? And the Intrenchment at Buderich in those parts, that is getting forward withal,-though privately there is not the least prospect of using it, in these altered circumstances. Friedrich already guesses that if he could get Silesia, so invaluable on the one skirt of him, he mill probably have to give up his Berg-Julich claims on the other; I fancy he is getting ready to do so, should the time come for such alternative. But he labors at Buderich, all the same, and "improves the roads in that quarter,"-which at least may help to keep an inquisitive public at bay. These are seven busy weeks on Friedrich's part, and on the world's: constant realities of preparation, on the one part, industriously veiled; on the other part, such shadows, guessings, spyings, spectral movements above ground and below; Diplomatic shadows fencing, Gazetteer shadows rumoring;-dreams of a world as if near awakening to something great! "All Officers on furlough have been ordered to their posts," writes Bielfeld, on those vague terms of his: "On arriving at Berlin, you notice a great agitation in all departments of the State. The regiments are ordered to prepare their equipages, and to hold themselves in readiness for marching. There are magazines being formed at Frankfurt-on-Oder and at Crossen,"-handy for Silesia, you would say? "There are considerable trains of Artillery getting ready, and the King has frequent conferences with his Generals." [Bielfeld, i. 165 (Berlin, 30th November, is the date he puts to it).] The authentic fact is: "By the middle of November, Troops, to the extent of 30,000 and more, had got orders to be ready for marching in three weeks hence; their public motions very visible ever since, their actual purpose a mystery to all mortals except three."

Towards the end of November, it becomes the prevailing guess that the business is immediate, not prospective; that Silesia may be in the wind, not Julich and Berg. Which infinitely quickens the shadowy rumorings and Diplomatic fencings of mankind. The French have their special Ambassador here; a Marquis de Beauvau, observant military gentleman, who came with the Accession Compliment some time ago, and keeps his eyes well open, but cannot see through mill-stones. Fleury is intensely desirous to know Friedrich's secret; but would fain keep his own (if he yet have one), and is himself quite tacit and reserved. To Fleury's Marquis de Beauvau Friedrich is very gracious; but in regard to secrets, is for a reciprocal procedure. Could not Voltaire go and try? It is thought Fleury had let fall some hint to that effect, carried by a bird of the air. Sure enough Voltaire does go; is actually on visit to his royal Friend; "six days with him at Reinsberg;" perhaps near a fortnight in all (20 November-2 December or so), hanging about those Berlin regions, on the survey. Here is an unexpected pleasure to the parties;-but in regard to penetrating of secrets, an unproductive one!

Voltaire's ostensible errand was, To report progress about the ANTI-MACHIAVEL, the Van Duren nonsense; and, at any rate, to settle the Money-accounts on these and other scores; and to discourse Philosophies, for a day or two, with the First of Men. The real errand, it is pretty clear, was as above. Voltaire has always a wistful eye towards political employment, and would fain make himself useful in high quarters. Fleury and he have their touches of direct Correspondence now and then; and obliquely there are always intermediates and channels. Small hint, the slightest twinkle of Fleury's eyelashes, would be duly speeded to Voltaire, and set him going. We shall see him expressly missioned hither, on similar errand, by and by; though with as bad success as at present.

Of this his First Visit to Berlin, his Second to Friedrich, Voltaire in the VIE PRIVEE says nothing. But in his SIECLE DE LOUIS XV. he drops, with proud modesty, a little foot-note upon it: "The Author was with the King of Prussia at that time; and can affirm that Cardinal de Fleury was totally astray in regard to the Prince he had now to do with." To which a DATE slightly wrong is added; the rest being perfectly correct. [OEuvres (Siecle de Louis XV., c. 6), xxviii. 74.] No other details are to be got anywhere, if they were of importance; the very dates of it in the best Prussian Books are all slightly awry. Here, by accident, are two poor flint-sparks caught from the dust whirlwind, which yield a certain sufficing twilight, when put in their place; and show us both sides of the matter, the smooth side and the seamy:-

1. FRIEDRICH TO ALGAROTTI, AT BERLIN. From "Reinsberg, 21st Nov.," showing the smooth side.

"MY DEAR SWAN OF PADUA,-Voltaire has arrived; all sparkling with new beauties, and far more sociable than at Cleve. He is in very good humor; and makes less complaining about his ailments than usual. Nothing can be more frivolous than our occupations here:" mere verse-making, dancing, philosophizing, then card-playing, dining, flirting; merry as birds on the bough (and Silesia invisible, except to oneself and two others). [OEuvres de Frederic, xviii. 25.]

2. FRIEDRICH TO JORDAN, AT BERLIN. "RUPPIN, 28th November."... Thy Miser [Voltaire, now gone to Berlin, of whom Jordan is to send news, as of all things else], thy Miser shall drink to the lees of his insatiable desire (SIC) to enrich himself: he shall have the 3,000 thalers (450 pounds). He was with me six days: that will be at the rate of 500 thalers (75 pounds) a day. That is paying dear for one's merry-andrew (C'EST BIEN PAYER UN FOU); never had court-fool such wages before." [Ib. xvii. 72. Particulars of the money-payment (travelling expenses chiefly, rather exorbitant, and THIS journey added to the list; and no whisper of the considerable Van-Duren moneys, and copyright of ANTI-MACHIAVEL, in abatement) are in Rodenbeck, i. 27. Exact sum paid is 3,300 thalers; 2,000 a good while ago, 1,300 at this time, which settles the greedy bill.]

Which latter, also at first hand, shows us the seamy side. And here, finally, with date happily appended, is a poetic snatch, in Voltaire's exquisite style, which with the response gives us the medium view:-

VOLTAIRE'S ADIEU ("Billet de Conge, 2 December, 1740").

"Non, malgre vos vertus, non, malgre vos appas,

Mon ame n'est point satisfaite;

Non, vous n'etes qu'une coquette,

Qui subjuguez les coeurs, et ne rous donnez pas."


"Mon ame sent le prix de vos divins appas;

Mais ne presumez point qu'elle soit satisfaite.

Traitre, vous me quittez pour suivre une coquette;

Moi je ne vous quitterais pas."

[OEuvres de Frederic (xiv. 167); OEuvres de Voltaire; &c. &c.]

-Meaning, perhaps, in brief English: V. "Ah, you are but a beautiful coquette; you charm away our hearts, and do not give your own [won't tell me your secret at all]!" F. "Treacherous Lothario, it is you that quit me for a coquette [your divine Emilie; and won't stay here, and be of my Academy]; but however-!" Friedrich looked hopingly on the French, but could not give his secret except by degrees and with reciprocity. Some days hence he said to Marquis de Beauvau, in the Audience of leave, a word which was remembered.


As to Friedrich himself, since about the middle of November his plans seem to have been definitely shaped out in all points; Troops so many, when to be on march, and how; no important detail uncertain since then. November 17th, he jots down a little Note, which is to go to Vienna, were the due hour come, by a special Ambassador, one Count Gotter, acquainted with the ground there; and explain to her Hungarian Majesty, what his exact demands are, and what the exact services he will render. Of which important little Paper readers shall hear again. Gotter's demands are at first to be high: Our Four Duchies, due by law so long; these and even more, considering the important services we propose; this is to be his first word;-but, it appears, he is privately prepared to put up with Two Duchies, if he can have them peaceably: Duchies of Sagan and Glogau, which are not of the Four at all, but which lie nearest us, and are far below the value of the Four, to Austria especially. This intricate point Friedrich has already settled in his mind. And indeed it is notably the habit of this young King to settle matters with himself in good time: and in regard to all manner of points, he will be found, on the day of bargaining about them, to have his own resolution formed and definitely fixed;-much to his advantage over conflicting parties, who have theirs still flying loose.

Another thing of much concernment is, To secure himself from danger of Russian interference. To this end he despatches Major Winterfeld to Russia, a man well known to him;-day of Winterfeld's departure is not given; day of his arrival in Petersburg is "19th December" just coming. Russia, at present, is rather in a staggering condition; hopeful for Winterfeld's object. On the 28th of October last, only eight days after the Kaiser, Czarina Anne of Russia, she with the big cheek, once of Courland, had died; "audacious Death," as our poor friend had it, "venturing upon another Crowned Head" there. Bieren her dear Courlander, once little better than a Horse-groom, now Duke of Courland, Quasi-Husband to the late Big Cheek, and thereby sovereign of Russia, this long while past, is left Official Head in Russia. Poor little Anton Ulrich and his august Spouse, well enough known to us, have indeed produced a Czar Iwan, some months ago, to the joy of mankind: but Czar Iwan is in his cradle: Father and Mother's function is little other than to rock the cradle of Iwan; Bieren to be Regent and Autocrat over him and them in the interim. To their chagrin, to that of Feldmarschall Munnich and many others: the upshot of which will be visible before long. Czarina Anne's death had seemed to Friedrich the opportune removal of a dangerous neighbor, known to be in the pay of Austria: here now are new mutually hostile parties springing up; chance, surely, of a bargain with some of them? He despatches Winterfeld on this errand;-pr

obably the fittest man in Prussia for it. How soon and perfectly Winterfeld succeeded, and what Winterfeld was, and something of what a Russia he found it, we propose to mention by and by.

These, and all points of importance, Friedrich has settled with himself some time ago. What his own private thoughts on the Silesian Adventure are, readers will wish to know, since they can at first hand. Hear Friedrich himself, whose veracity is unquestionable to such as know anything of him:-

"This Silesian Project fulfilled all his (the King's) political views,"-summed them all well up into one head. "It was a means of acquiriug reputation; of increasing the power of the State; and of terminating what concerned that long-litigated question of the Berg-Julich Succession;"-can be sure of getting that, at lowest; intends to give that up, if necessary.

"Meanwhile, before entirely determining, the King weighed the risks there were in undertaking such a War, and the advantages that were to be hoped from it. On one side, presented itself the potent House of Austria, not likely to want resources with so many vast Provinces under it; an Emperor's Daughter attacked, who would naturally find allies in the King of England, in the Dutch Republic, and so many Princes of the Empire who had signed the Pragmatic Sanction." Russia was-or had been, and might again be-in the pay of Vienna. Saxony might have some clippings from Bohemia thrown to it, and so be gained over. Scanty Harvest, 1740, threatened difficulties as to provisioning of troops. "The risks were great. One had to apprehend the vicissitudes of war. A single battle lost might be decisive. The King had no allies; and his troops, hitherto without experience, would have to front old Austrian soldiers, grown gray in harness, and trained to war by so many campaigns.

"On the other side were hopeful considerations,"-four in number: FIRST, Weak condition of the Austrian Court, Treasury empty, War-Apparatus broken in pieces; inexperienced young Princess to defend a disputed succession, on those terms. SECOND, There WILL be allies; France and England always in rivalry, both meddling in these matters, King is sure to get either the one or the other.-THIRD, Silesian War lies handy to us, and is the only kind of Offensive War that does; Country bordering on our frontier, and with the Oder running through it as a sure high-road for everything. FOURTH, "What suddenly turned the balance," or at least what kept it steady in that posture,-"news of the Czarina's death arrives:" Russia has ceased to count against us; and become a manageable quantity. On, therefore!-

"Add to these reasons," says the King, with a candor which has not been well treated in the History Books, "Add to these reasons, an Army ready for acting; Funds, Supplies all found [lying barrelled in the Schloss at Berlin];-and perhaps the desire of making oneself a name," from which few of mortals able to achieve it are exempt in their young time: "all this was cause of the War which the King now entered upon." [OEuvres de Frederic (Histoire de mon Temps), i. 128.]

"Desire to make himself a name; how shocking!" exclaim several Historians. "Candor of confession that he may have had some such desire; how honest!" is what they do not exclaim. As to the justice of his Silesian Claims, or even to his own belief about their justice, Friedrich affords not the least light which can be new to readers here. He speaks, when business requires it, of "those known rights" of his, and with the air of a man who expects to be believed on his word; but it is cursorily, and in the business way only; and there is not here or elsewhere the least pleading:-a man, you would say, considerably indifferent to our belief on that head; his eyes set on the practical merely. "Just Rights? What are rights, never so just, which you cannot make valid? The world is full of such. If you have rights and can assert them into facts, do it; that is worth doing!"-

We must add two Notes, two small absinthine drops, bitter but wholesome, administered by him to the Old Dessauer, whose gloomy wonder over all this military whirl of Prussian things, and discontent that he, lately the head authority, has never once been spoken to on it, have been great. Guessing, at last, that it was meant for Austria, a Power rather dear to Leopold, he can suppress himself no longer; but breaks out into Cassandra prophesyings, which have piqued the young King, and provoke this return:-

1. "REINSBERG, 24th November, 1740.-I have received your Letter, and seen with what inquietude you view the approaching march of my Troops. I hope you will set your mind at ease on that score; and wait with patience what I intend with them and you. I have made all my dispositions; and Your Serenity will learn, time enough, what my orders are, without disquieting yourself about them, as nothing has been forgotten or delayed."-FRIEDRICH.

Old Dessauer, cut to the bone, perceives he will have to quit that method and never resume it; writes next how painful it is to an old General to see himself neglected, as if good for nothing, while his scholars are allowed to gather laurels. Friedrich's answer is of soothing character:-

2. "BERLIN, 2d DECEMBER, 1740.-You may be assured I honor your merits and capacity as a young Officer ought to honor an old one, who has given the world so many proofs of his talent (DEXTERITAT); nor will I neglect Your Serenity on any occasion when you can help me by your good Counsel and co-operation." But it is a mere "bagatelle" this that I am now upon; though, next year, it may become serious.

For the rest, Saxony being a neighbor whose intentions one does not know, I have privately purposed Your Serenity should keep an outlook that way, in my absence. Plenty of employment coming for Your Serenity. "But as to this present Expedition, I reserve it for myself alone; that the world may not think the King of Prussia marches with a Tutor to the Field."-FRIEDRICH. [Orlich, Geschichte der Schlesischen Kriege (Berlin, 1841), i. 38, 39.]

And therewith Leopold, eagerly complying, has to rest satisfied; and beware of too much freedom with this young King again.

"Berlin, December 2d," is the date of that last Note to the Dessauer; date also of Voltaire's ADIEU with the RESPONSE;-on which same day, "Friday, December 2d," as I find from the Old Books, his Majesty, quitting the Reinsberg sojourn, "had arrived in Berlin about 2 P.M.; accompanied by Prince August Wilhelm [betrothed at Brunswick lately]; such a crowd on the streets as if they had never seen him before." He continued at Berlin or in the neighborhood thenceforth. Busy days these; and Berlin a much whispering City, as Regiment after Regiment marches away. King soon to follow, as is thought,-"who himself sometimes deigns to take the Regiments into highest own eyeshine, HOCHST-EIGENEN AUGENSCHEIN" (that is, to review them), say the reverential Editors. December 6th-But let us follow the strict sequence of Phenomena at Berlin.


Of course her Hungarian Majesty, and her Bartensteins and Ministries, heard enough of those Prussian rumors, interior Military activities, and enigmatic movements; but they seem strangely supine on the matter; indeed, they seem strangely supine on such matters; and lean at ease upon the Sea-Powers, upon Pragmatic Sanction and other Laws of Nature. But at length even they become painfully interested as to Friedrich's intentions; and despatch an Envoy to sift him a little: an expert Marchese di Botta, Genoese by birth, skilful in the Russian and other intricacies; who was here at Berlin lately, doing the Accession Compliment (rather ill received at that time), and is fit for the job. Perhaps Botta will penetrate him? That is becoming desirable, in spite of the gay Private Theatricals at Reinsberg, and the Berlin Carnival Balls he is so occupied with.

England is not less interested, and the diligent Sir Guy is doing his best; but can make out nothing satisfactory;-much the reverse indeed; and falls into angry black anticipations. "Nobody here, great or small," says his Excellency, "dares make any representation to this young Prince against the measures he is pursuing; though all are sensible of the confusion which must follow. A Prince who had the least regard to honor, truth and justice, could not act the part he is going to do." Alas, no, Excellency Dickens! "But it is plain his only view was, to deceive us all, and conceal for a while his ambitious and mischievous designs." [Despatch, 29th November-3d December, 1740: Raumer, p. 58.] "Never was such dissimulation!" exclaims the Diplomatic world everywhere, being angered at it, as if it were a vice on the part of a King about to invade Silesia. Dissimulation, if that mean mendacity, is not the name of the thing; it is the art of wearing a polite cloak of darkness, and the King is little disturbed what name they call it.

Botta did not get to Berlin till December 1st, had no Audience till the 5th;-by which time it is becoming evident to Excellency Dickens, and to everybody, that Silesia is the thing meant. Botta hints as much in that first Audience, December 5th: "Terrible roads, those Silesian ones, your Majesty!" says Botta, as if historically merely, but with a glance of the eye. "Hm," answers his Majesty in the same tone, "the worst that comes of them is a little mud!"-Next day, Dickens had express Audience, "Berlin, Tuesday 6th:" a smartish, somewhat flurried Colloquy with the King; which, well abridged, may stand as follows:-

DICKENS.... "Indivisibility of the Austrian Monarchy, Sire!"-KING. "Indivisibility? What do you mean?"-DICKENS. "The maintenance of the Pragmatic Sanction."-KING. "Do you intend to support it? I hope not; for such is not my intention." (There is for you!)...

DICKENS. "England and Holland will much wonder at the measures your Majesty was taking, at the moment when your Majesty proposed to join with them, and were making friendly proposals!" (Has been a deceitful man, Sir Guy, at least an impenetrable;-but this latter is rather strong on your part!) "What shall I write to England?" ("When I mentioned this," says Dickens, "the King grew red in the face," eyes considerably flashing, I should think.)

KING. "You can have no instructions to ask that question! And if you had, I have an answer ready for you. England has no right to inquire into my designs. Your great Sea-Armaments, did I ask you any questions about them? No; I was and am silent on that head; only wishing you good luck, and that you may not get beaten by the Spaniards." (Dickens hastily draws in his rash horns again; after a pass or two, King's natural color returns.)...

KING. "Austria as a Power is necessary against the Turks. But in Germany, what need of Austria being so superlative? Why should not, say, Three Electors united be able to oppose her?... Monsieur, I find it is your notion in England, as well as theirs in France, to bring other Sovereigns under your tutorage, and lead them about. Understand that I will not be led by either.... Tush, YOU are like the Athenians, who, when Philip of Macedon was ready to invade them, spent their time in haranguing!"

DICKENS.... "Berg and Julich, if we were to guarantee them?"-KING. "Hm. Don't so much mind that Rhine Country: difficulties there,-Dutch always jealous of one. But, on the other Frontier, neither England nor Holland could take umbrage,"-points clearly to Silesia, then, your Excellency Dickens? [Raumer, (from State-Paper Office), pp. 63, 64.]

Alas, yes! Troops and military equipments are, for days past, evidently wending towards Frankfurt, towards Crossen, and even the Newspapers now hint that something is on hand in that quarter. Nay, this same day, TUESDAY, 6th DECEMBER, there has come out brief Official Announcement, to all the Foreign Ministers at Berlin, Excellency Dickens among them, "That his Royal Majesty, our most all-gracious Herr, has taken the resolution to advance a Body of Troops into Schlesien,"-rather out of friendly views towards Austria (much business lying between us about Schlesien), not out of hostile views by any means, as all Excellencies shall assure their respective Courts. [Copy of the Paper in Helden-Geschichte, i. 447.] Announcement which had thrown the Excellency Dickens into such a frame of mind, before he got his Audience to-day!-

SATURDAY following, which was December 10th, Marquis de Beauvau had his Audience of leave; intending for Paris shortly: Audience very gracious; covertly hinting, on both sides, more than it said; ending in these words, on the King's side, which have become famous: "Adieu, then, M. le Marquis. I believe I am going to play your game; if the aces fall to me, we will share (Je vais, je crois, jouer votre jeu: si les as me viennent, nous partagerons)!" [Voltaire, OEuvres (Siecle de Louis XV., c. 6), xxviii. 74.]

To Botta, all this while, Friedrich strove to be specially civil; took him out to Charlottenburg, that same Saturday, with the Queen and other guests; but Botta, and all the world, being now certain about Silesia, and that no amount of mud, or other terror on the roads, would be regarded, Botta's thoughts in this evening party are not of cheerful nature. Next day, Sunday, December 11th, he too gets his Audience of leave; and cannot help bursting out, when the King plainly tells him what is now afoot, and that the Prussian Ambassador has got instructions what to offer upon it at Vienna. "Sire, you are going to ruin the House of Austria," cried Botta, "and to plunge yourself into destruction (VOUS ABIMER) at the same time!"-"Depends on the Queen," said Friedrich, "to accept the Offers I have made her." Botta sank silent, seemed to reflect, but gathering himself again, added with an ironical air and tone of voice, "They are fine Troops, those of yours, Sire. Ours have not the same splendor of appearance; but they have looked the wolf in the face. Think, I conjure you, what you are getting into!" Friedrich answered with vivacity, a little nettled at the ironical tone of Botta, and his mixed sympathy and menace: "You find my troops are beautiful; perhaps I shall convince you they are good too." Yes, Excellency Botta, goodish troops; and very capable "to look the wolf in the face,"-or perhaps in the tail too, before all end! "Botta urged and entreated that at least there should be some delay in executing this project. But the King gave him to understand that it was now too late, and that the Rubicon was passed." [Friedrich's own Account (OEuvres, ii. 57).]

The secret is now out, therefore; Invasion of Silesia certain and close at hand. "A day or two before marching," may have been this very day when Botta got his audience, the King assembled his Chief Generals, all things ready out in the Frankfurt-Crossen region yonder; and spoke to them as follows; briefly and to the point:-

"Gentlemen, I am undertaking a War, in which I have no allies but your valor and your good-will. My cause is just; my resources are what we ourselves can do; and the issue lies in Fortune. Remember continually the glory which your Ancestors acquired in the plains of Warsaw, at Fehrbellin, and in the Expedition to Preussen [across the Frische Haf on ice, that time]. Your lot is in your own hands: distinctions and rewards wait upon your fine actions which shall merit them.

"But what need have I to excite you to glory? It is the one thing you keep before your eyes; the sole object worthy of your labors. We are going to front troops who, under Prince Eugene, had the highest reputation. Though Prince Eugene is gone, we shall have to measure our strength against brave soldiers: the greater will be the honor if we can conquer. Adieu, go forth. I will follow you straightway to the rendezvous of glory which awaits us." [OEuvres de Frederic, ii.58.]


On the evening of Monday, 12th, there was, as usual, Masked (or Half-Masked) Ball, at the Palace. As usual; but this time it has become mentionable in World-History. Bielfeld, personally interested, gives us a vivid glance into it;-which, though pretending to be real and contemporaneous, is unfortunately MYTHICAL only, and done at a great interval of years (dates, and even slight circumstances of fact, refusing to conform);-which, however, for the truth there is in it, we will give, as better than nothing. Bielfeld's pretended date is, "Berlin, 15th December;" should have been 14th,-wrong by a day, after one's best effort!

"BERLIN, 15th DECEMBER, 1740. As for me, dear Sister, I am like a shuttlecock whom the Kings of Prussia and of England hit with their rackets, and knock to and fro. The night before last, I was at the Palace Evening Party (ASSEMBLEE); which is a sort of Ball, where you go in domino, but without mask on the face. The Queen was there, and all the Court. About eight o'clock the King also made his appearance. His Majesty, noticing M. de G--[that is DE GUIDIKEN, or Guy Dickens], English Minister, addressed him; led him into the embrasure of a window, and talked alone with him for more than an hour [uncertain, probably apocryphal this]. I threw, from time to time, a stolen glance at this dialogue, which appeared to me to be very lively. A moment after, being just dancing with Madame the Countess de-THREE ASTERISKS,-I felt myself twitched by the domino; and turning, was much surprised to see that it was the King; who took me aside, and said, 'Are your boots oiled (VOS BOTTES SONT-ELLES GRAISSIES, Are you ready for a journey)?' I replied, 'Sire, they will always be so for your Majesty's service.'-'Well, then, Truchsess and you are for England; the day after to-morrow you go. Speak to M. de Podewils!'-This was said like a flash of lightning. His Majesty passed into another apartment; and I, I went to finish my minuet with the Lady; who had been not less astonished to see me disappear from her eyes, in the middle of the dance, than I was at what the King said to me." [Bielfeld, i. 167, 168.] Next morning, I-

The fact is, next morning, Truchsess and I began preparation for the Court of London,-and we did there, for many months afterwards, strive our best to keep the Britannic Majesty in some kind of tune, amid the prevailing discord of events;-fact interesting to some. And the other fact, interesting to everybody, though Bielfeld has not mentioned it, is, That King Friedrich, the same next morning, punctually "at the stroke of 9," rolled away Frankfurt-ward,-into the First Silesian War! Tuesday, "13th December, this morning, the King, privately quitting the Ball, has gone [after some little snatch of sleep, we will hope] for Frankfurt, to put himself at the head of his Troops." [Dickens (in State-Paper Office), 13th December, 1740; see also Helden-Geschichte, i. 452; &c. &c.] Bellona his companion for long years henceforth, instead of Minerva and the Muses, as he had been anticipating.

Hereby is like to be fulfilled (except that Friedrich himself is perhaps this "little stone") what Friedrich prophesied to his Voltaire, the day after hearing of the Kaiser's death: "I believe there will, by June next, be more talk of cannon, soldiers, trenches, than of actresses, and dancers for the ballet. This small Event changes the entire system of Europe. It is the little stone which Nebuchadnezzar saw, in his dream, loosening itself, and rolling down on the Image made of Four Metals, which it shivers to ruin." [Friedrich to Voltaire, busy gathering actors at that time, 26th October, 1740 (OEuvres de Frederic, xxii. 49).]

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