FIRST SILESIAN WAR, AWAKENING A GENERAL EUROPEAN ONE, BEGINS
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.] Possi-ble? "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.
The Reich itself being mainly a Phantasm or Enchanted Wiggery, its "Kaiser-Choosing" (KAISERWAHL),--now getting under way at Frankfurt, with preliminary outskirts at Regensburg, and in the Chancery of Mainz--is very phantasmal, not to say ghastly; and forbidding, not inviting, to the human eye. Nine Kurfursts, Choosers of Teutschland`s real Captain, in none of whom is there much thought for Teutschland or its interests,--and indeed in hardly more than One of whom (Prussian Friedrich, if readers will know it) is there the least thought that way; but, in general, much indifference to things divine or diabolic, and thought for one`s own paltry profits and losses only! So it has long been; and so it now is, more than usual.--Consider again, are Enchanted Wiggeries a beautiful thing, in this extremely earnest World?--
The Kaiserwahl is an affair depending much on processions, proclamations, on delusions optical, acoustic; on palaverings, manoeuvrings, holdings back, then hasty pushings forward; and indeed is mainly, in more senses than one, under guidance of the Prince of the Power of the Air. Unbeautiful, like a World- Parliament of Nightmares (if the reader could conceive such a thing); huge formless, tongueless monsters of that species, doing their "three readings,"--under Presidency or chief-pipership as above! Belleisle, for his part, is consummately skilful, and manages as only himself could. Keeps his game well hidden, not a hint or whisper of it except in studied proportions; spreads out his lines, his birdlime; tickles, entices, astonishes; goes his rounds, like a subtle Fowler, taking captive the minds of men; a Phoebus-Apollo, god of melody and of the sun, filling his net with birds.
I believe, old Kur-Pfalz, for the sake of French neighborhood, and Berg-and-Julich, were there nothing more, was very helpful to him; --in March past, when the Election was to have been, when it would have gone at once in favor of the Grand-Duke, Kur-Pfalz got the Election "postponed a little." Postponing, procrastinating; then again pushing violently on, when things are ripe: Belleisle has only to give signal to a fit Kur-Pfalz. In all Kurfurst Courts, the French Ambassadors sing diligently to the tune Belleisle sets them; and Courts give ear, or will do, when the charmer himself arrives.
Kur-Sachsen, as above hinted, was his most delicate operation, in the charming or trout-tickling way. And Kur-Sachsen--and poor Saxony, ever since--knows if he did not do it well! "Deduct this Kur-Sachsen from the Austrian side," calculates Belleisle; "add him to ours, it is almost an equality of votes. Kur-Baiern, our own Imperial Candidate; Kur-Koln, his Brother; Kur-Pfalz, by genealogy his Cousin (not to mention Berg-Julich matters); here are three Wittelsbachers, knit together; three sure votes; King Friedrich, Kur-Brandenburg, there is a fourth; and if Kur-Sachsen would join?" But who knows if Kur-Sachsen will! The poor soul has himself thoughts of being Kaiser; then no thoughts, and again some: thoughts which Belleisle knows how to handle. "Yes, Kaiser you, your Majesty; excellent!" And sets to consider the methods: "Hm, ha, hm! Think, your Majesty: ought not that Bohemian Vote to be excluded, for one thing? Kur-Bohmen is fallen into the distaff, Maria Theresa herself cannot vote. Surely question will rise, Whether distaff can, validly, hand it over to distaff`s husband, as they are about doing? Whether, in fact, Kur-Bohmen is not in abeyance for this time?" "So!" answered Kur-Sachsen, Reichs- Vicarius. And thereupon meetings were summoned; Nightmare Committees sat on this matter under the Reichs-Vicar, slowly hatching it; and at length brought out, "Kur-Bohmen NOT transferable by the distaff; Kur-Bohmen in abeyance for this time." Greatly to the joy of Belleisle; infinitely to the chagrin of her Hungarian Majesty,--who declared it a crying injustice (though I believe legally done in every point); and by and by, even made it a plea of Nullity, destructive to the Election altogether, when her Hungarian Majesty`s affairs looked up again, and the world would listen to Austrian sophistries and obstinacies. This was an essential service from Kur-Sachsen. [Began, indistinctly, "in March" (1741); languid "for some months" (Adelung, ii. 292); "November 4th," was settled in the negative, "Kur-Bohmen not to have a vote" ( Maria Theresiens Leben, p. 47 n.).
After which Kur-Sachsen`s own poor Kaisership died away into "Hm, ha, hm!" again, with a grateful Belleisle. Who nevertheless dexterously retained Kur-Sachsen as ally; tickling the poor wretch with other baits. Of the Kaiser he had really meant all along, there was dead silence, except between the parties; no whisper heard, for six months after it had been agreed upon; none, for two or near three months after formal settlement, and signing and sealing. Karl Albert`s Treaty with Belleisle was 18th May, 1741; and he did not declare himself a Candidate till 1st-4th July following. [Adelung, ii. 357, 421.] Belleisle understands the Nightmare Parliaments, the electioneering art, and how to deal with Enchanted Wiggeries. More perfect master, in that sad art, has not turned up on record to one`s afflicted mind. Such a Sun-god, and doing such a Scavengerism! Belleisle, in the sixth month (end of August, 1741), feels sure of a majority. How Belleisle managed, after that, to checkmate George of England, and make even George vote for him, and the Kaiserwahl to be unanimous against Grand- Duke Franz, will be seen. Great are Belleisle`s doings in this world, if they were useful either to God or man, or to Belleisle himself first of all!--
TEUTSCHLAND TO BE CARVED INTO SOMETHING OF SYMMETRY, SHOULD THE BELLEISLE ENTERPRISES SUCCEED.
Belleisle`s schemes, in the rear of all this labor, are grandiose to a degree. Men wonder at the First Napoleon`s mad notions in that kind. But no Napoleon, in the fire of the revolutionary element; no Sham-Napoleon, in the ashes of it: hardly a Parisian Journalist of imaginative turn, speculating on the First Nation of the Universe and what its place is,--could go higher than did this grandiose Belleisle; a man with clear thoughts in his head, under a torpid Louis XV. Let me see, thinks Belleisle. Germany with our Bavarian for Kaiser; Germany to be cut into, say, Four little Kingdoms: 1. Bavaria with the lean Kaiserhood; 2. Saxony, fattened by its share of Austria; 3. Prussia the like; 4. Austria itself, shorn down as above, and shoved out to the remote Hungarian parts: VOILA. These, not reckoning Hanover, which perhaps we cannot get just yet, are Four pretty Sovereignties. Three, or Two, of these hireable by gold, it is to be hoped. And will not France have a glorious time of it; playing master of the revels there, egging one against the other! Yes, Germany is then, what Nature designed it, a Province of France: little George of Hanover himself, and who knows but England after him, may one day find their fate inevitable, like the others. O Louis, O my King, is not this an outlook? Louis le Grand was great; but you are likely to be Louis the Grandest; and here is a World shaped, at last, after the real pattern!
Such are, in sad truth, Belleisle`s schemes; not yet entirely hatched into daylight or articulation; bnt becoming articulate, to himself and others, more and more. Reader, keep them well in mind: I had rather not speak of them again. They are essential to our Story; but they are afflictively vain, contrary to the Laws of Fact; and can, now or henceforth, in nowise be. My friend, it was not Beelzebub, nor Mephistopheles, nor Autolyeus-Apollo that built this world and us; it was Another. And you will get your crown well rapped, M. le Marechal, for so forgetting that fact! France is an extremely pretty creature; but this of making France the supreme Governor and God`s-Vicegerent of Nations, is, was, and remains, one of the maddest notions. France at its ideal BEST, and with a demi- god for King over it, were by no means fit for such function; nay of many Nations is eminently the unfittest for it. And France at its WORST or nearly so, with a Louis XV. over it by way of demi-god --O Belleisle, what kind of France is this; shining in your grandiose imagination, in such contrast to the stingy fact: like a creature consisting of two enormous wings, five hundred yards in potential extent, and no body bigger than that of a common cock, weighing three pounds avoirdupois. Cock with his own gizzard much out of sorts, too!
It was "early in March" [Adelung, ii. 305.] when Belleisle, the Artificial Sun-god, quitted Paris on this errand. He came by the Moselle road; called on the Rhine Kurfursts, Koln, Trier, Mainz; dazzling them, so far as possible, with his splendor for the mind and for the eye. He proceeded next to Dresden, which is a main card: and where there is immense manipulation needed, and the most delicate trout-tickling; this being a skittish fish, and an important, though a foolish. Belleisle was at Dresden when the Battle of Mollwitz fell out: what a windfall into Belleisle`s game! He ran across to Friedrich at Mollwitz, to congratulate, to consult,--as we shall see anon.
Belleisle, I am informed, in this preliminary Tour of his, speaks only, or hints only (except in the proper quarters), of Election Business; of the need there perhaps is, on the part of an Age growing in liberal ideas, to exclude the Austrian Grand-Duke; to curb that ponderous, harsh, ungenerous House of Austria, too long lording it over generous Germany; and to set up some better House,--Bavaria, for example; Saxony, for example? Of his plans in the rear of this he is silent; speaks only by hints, by innuendoes, to the proper parties. But ripening or ripe, plans do lie to rear; far-stretching, high-soaring; in part, dark even at Versailles; darkly fermenting, not yet developed, in Belleisle`s own head; only the Future Kaiser a luminous fixed point, shooting beams across the grandiose Creation-Process going on there.
By the end of August, 1741, Belleisle had become certain of his game; 24th January, 1742, he saw himself as if winner. Before August, 1741, he had got his Electors manipulated, tickled to his purpose, by the witchery of a Phoebus-Autolycus or Diplomatic Sun-god; majority secured for a Bavarian Kaiser, and against an Austrian one. And in the course of that month,--what was still more considerable!--he was getting, under mild pretexts, about a hundred thousand armed Frenchmen gently wafted over upon the soil of Germany. Two complete French Armies, 40,000 each (PLUS their Reserves), one over the Upper Rhine, one over the Lower; about which we shall hear a great deal in time coming! Under mild pretexts: "Peaceable as lambs, don`t you observe? Merely to protect Freedom of Election, in this fine neighbor country; and as allies to our Friend of Bavaria, should he chance to be new Kaiser, and to persist in his modest claims otherwise." This was his crowning stroke. Which finished straightway the remnants of Pragmatic Sanction and of every obstacle; and in a shining manner swept the roads clear. And so, on January 24th following, the Election, long held back by Belleisle`s manoeuvrings, actually takes effect,--in favor of Karl Albert, our invaluable Bavarian Friend. Austria is left solitary in the Reich; Pragmatic Sanction, Keystone of Nature, which Belleisle and France had sworn to keep in, is openly torn out by Belleisle and by France and the majority of mankind; and Belleisle sees himself, to all appearance, winner.
This was the harvest reaped by Belleisle, within year and day; after endless manoeuvring, such as only a Belleisle in the character of Diplomatic Sun-god could do. Beyond question, the distracted ambitions of several German Princes have been kindled by Belleisle; what we called the rotten thatch of Germany is well on fire. This diligent sowing in the Reich--to judge by the 100,000, armed men here, and the counter hundreds of thousands arming-- has been a pretty stroke of dragon`s-teeth husbandry on Belleisle`s part.
BELLEISLE ON VISIT TO FRIEDRICH; SEES FRIEDRICH BESIEGE BRIEG, WITH EFFECT.
It was April 26th when Marechal de Belleisle, with his Brother the Chevalier, with Valori and other bright accompaniment, arrived in Friedrich`s Camp. "Camp of Mollwitz" so named; between Mollwitz and Brieg; where Friedrich is still resting, in a vigilant expectant condition; and, except it be the taking of Brieg, has nothing military on hand. Wednesday, 26th April, the distinguished Excellency--escorted for the last three miles by 120 Horse, and the other customary ceremonies--makes his appearance: no doubt an interesting one to Friedrich, for this and the days next following. Their talk is not reported anywhere: nor is it said with exactitude how far, whether wholly now, or only in part now, Belleisle expounded his sublime ideas to Friedrich; or what precise reception they got. Friedrich himself writes long afterwards of the event; but, as usual, without precision, except in general effect. Now, or some time after, Friedrich says he found Belleisle, one morning, with brow clouded, knit into intense meditation: "Have you had bad news, M. le Marechal?" asks Friedrich. "No, oh no! I am considering what we shall make of that Moravia?"--"Moravia; Hm!" Friedrich suppresses the glance that is rising to his eyes: "Can`t you give it to Saxony, then? Buy Saxony into the Plan with it!" "Excellent," answers Belleisle, and unpuckers his stern brow again.
Friedrich thinks highly, and about this time often says so, of the man Belleisle: but as to the man`s effulgencies, and wide-winged Plans, none is less seduced by them than Friedrich: "Your chickens are not hatched, M. le Marechal; some of us hope they never will be,--though the incubation-process may have uses for some of us!" Friedrich knows that the Kaisership given to any other than Grand- Duke Franz will be mostly an imaginary quantity. "A grand Symbolic Cloak in the eyes of the vulgar; but empty of all things, empty even of cash, for the last Two Hundred Years: Austria can wear it to advantage; no other mortal. Hang it on Austria, which is a solid human figure,--so." And Friedrich wishes, and hopes always, Maria Theresa will agree with him, and get it for her Husband. "But to haug it on Bavaria, which is a lean bare pole? Oh, M. le Marechal! --And those Four Kingdoms of yours: what a brood of poultry, those! Chickens happily yet UNhatched;--eggs addle, I should venture to hope:--only do go on incubating, M. le Marechal!" That is Friedrich`s notion of the thing. Belleisle stayed with Friedrich "a few days," say the Books. After which, Friedrich, finding Belleisle too winged a creature, corresponded, in preference, with Fleury and the Head Sources;--who are always intensely enough concerned about those "aces" falling to him, and how the same are to be "shared." [Details in Helden-Geschichte, i. 912, 962, 916; in OEuvres de Frederic, ii. 79, 80; &c.]
Instead of parade or review in honor of Belleisle, there happened to be a far grander military show, of the practical kind. The Siege of Brieg, the Opening of the Trenches before Brieg, chanced to be just ready, on Belleisle`s arrival:--and would have taken effect, we find, that very night, April 26th, had not a sudden wintry outburst, or "tempest of extraordinary violence," prevented. Next night, night of the 27th-28th, under shine of the full Moon, in the open champaign country, on both sides of the River, it did take effect. An uncommonly fine thing of its sort; as one can still see by reading Friedrich`s strict Program for it,--a most minute, precise and all-anticipating Program, which still interests military men, as Friedrich`s first Piece in that kind,--and comparing therewith the Narratives of the performance which ensued. [ Ordre und Dispositiones (SIC), wornach sich der General- Lieutenant von Kalckstein bei Eroffnung der Trancheen, &c. (Oeuvres de Frederic, xxx. 39-44): the Program. Helden-Geschichte, i. 916-928: the Narrative.]
Kalkstein, Friedrich`s old Tutor, is Captain of the Siege; under him Jeetz, long used to blockading about Brieg. The silvery Oder has its due bridges for communication; all is in readiness, and waiting manifold as in the slip,--and there is Engineer Walrave, our Glogau Dutch friend, who shall, at the right instant, "with his straw-rope (STROHSEIL) mark out the first parallel," and be swift about it! There are 2,000 diggers, with the due implements, fascines, equipments; duly divided, into Twelve equal Parties, and "always two spademen to one pickman " (which indicates soft sandy ground): these, with the escorting or covering battalions, Twelve Parties they also, on both sides of the River, are to be in their several stations at the fixed moments; man, musket, mattock, strictly exact. They are to advance at Midnight; the covering battalions so many yards ahead: no speaking is permissible, nor the least tobacco-smoking; no drum to be allowed for fear of accident; no firing, unless you are fired on. The covering battalions are all to "lie flat, so soon as they get to their ground, all but the Officers and sentries." To rear of these stand Walrave and assistants, silent, with their straw-rope; --silent, then anon swift, and in whisper or almost by dumb-show, "Now, then!" After whom the diggers, fascine-men, workers, each in his kind, shall fall to, silently, and dig and work as for life.
All which is done; exact as clock-work: beautiful to see, or half see, and speak of to your Belleisle, in the serene moonlight! Half an hour`s marching, half an hour`s swift digging: the Town-clock of Brieg was hardly striking One, when "they had dug themselves in." And, before daybreak, they had, in two batteries, fifty cannon in position, with a proper set of mortars (other side the River),-- ready to astonish Piccolomini and his Austrians; who had not had the least whisper of them, all night, though it was full moon. Graf von Piccolomini, an active gallant person, had refused terms, some time before; and was hopefully intent on doing his best. And now, suddenly, there rose round Piccolomini such a tornado of cannonading and bombardment, day after day, always "three guns of ours playing against one of theirs," that his guns got ruined; that "his hay-magazines took fire,"--and the Schloss itself, which was adjacent to them, took fire (a sad thing to Friedrich, who commanded pause, that they might try quenching, but in vain):--and that, in short, Piccolomini could not stand it; but on the 4th of May, precisely after one week`s experience, hung out the white flag, and "beat chamade at 3 of the afternoon." He was allowed to march out next morning, with escort to Neisse; parole pledged, Not to serve against us for two years coming.
Friedrich in person (I rather guess, Belleisle not now at his side) saw the Garrison march out;--kept Piccolomini to dinner; a gallant Piccolomini, who had hoped to do better, but could not. This was a pretty enough piece of Siege-practice. Torstenson, with his Swedes, had furiously besieged Brieg in 1642, a hundred years ago; and could do nothing to it. Nothing, but withdraw again, futile; leaving 1,400 of his people dead. Friedrich, the Austrian Garrison once out, set instantly about repairing the works, and improving them into impregnability,--our ugly friend Walrave presiding over that operation too.
Belleisle, we may believe, so long as he continued, was full of polite wonder over these things; perhaps had critical advices here and there, which would be politely received. It is certain he came out extremely brilliant, gifted and agreeable, in the eyes of Friedrich; who often afterwards, not in the very strictest language, calls him a great man, great soldier, and by far the considerablest person you French have. It is no less certain, Belleisle displayed, so far as displayable, his magnificent Diplomatic Ware to the best advantage. To which, we perceive, the young King answered, "Magnificent, indeed!" but would not bite all at once; and rather preferred corresponding with Fleury, on business points, keeping the matter dexterously hanging, in an illuminated element of hope and contingency, for the present.
Belleisle, after we know not how many days, returned to Dresden; perfected his work at Dresden, or shoved it well forward, with "that Moravia" as bait. "Yes, King of Moravia, you, your Polish Majesty, shall be!"--and it is said the simple creature did so style himself, by and by, in certain rare Manifestoes, which still exist in the cabinets of the curious. Belleisle next, after only a few days, went to Munchen; to operate on Karl Albert Kur-Baiern, a willing subject. And, in short, Belleisle whirled along incessantly, torch in hand; making his "circuit of the German Courts,"--details of said circuit not to be followed by us farther. One small thing only I have found rememberable; probably true, though vague. At Munchen, still more out at Nymphenburg, the fine Country-Palace not far off, there was of course long conferencing, long consulting, secret and intense, between Belleisle with his people and Karl Albert with his. Karl Albert, as we know, was himself willing. But a certain Baron von Unertl--heavy-built Bavarian of the old type, an old stager in the Bavarian Ministries --was of far other disposition. One day, out at Nymphenburg, Unertl got to the Council-room, while Belleisle and Company were there: Unertl found the apartment locked, absolutely no admittance; and heard voices, the Kurfurst`s and French voices, eagerly at work inside. "Admit me, Gracious Herr; UM GOTTES WILLEN, me!" No admission. Unertl, in despair, rushed round to the garden side of the Apartment; desperately snatched a ladder, set it up to the window, and conjured the Gracious Highness: "For the love of Heaven, my ALLERGNADIGSTER, don`t! Have no trade with those French! Remember your illustrious Father, Kurfurst Max, in the Eugene- Marlborough time, what a job he made of it, building actual architecture on THEIR big promises, which proved mere acres of gilt balloon!" [Hormayr, Anemonen (cited above), ii. 152.] Words terribly prophetic; but they were without effect on Karl Albert.
The rest of Belleisle`s inflammatory circuitings and extensive travellings, for he had many first and last in this matter, shall be left to the fancy of the reader. May 18th, he made formal Treaty with Karl Albert: Treaty of Nymphenburg, "Karl Albert to be Kaiser; Bavaria, with Austria Proper added to it, a Kingdom; French armies, French moneys, and other fine items." [Given in Adelung, ii. 359.] Treaty to be kept dead secret; King Friedrich, for the present, would not accede. [Given in Adelung, ii. 421.] June 25th, after some preliminary survey of the place, Belleisle made his Entry into Frankfurt: magnificent in the extreme. And still did not rest there; but had to rush about, back to Versailles, to Dresden, hither, thither: it was not till the last day of July that he fairly took up his abode in Frankfurt; and--the Election eggs, so to speak, being now all laid--set himself to hatch the same. A process which lasted him six months longer, with curious phenomena to mankind. Not till the middle of August did he bring those 80,000 Armed Frenchmen across the Rhine, "to secure peace in those parts, and freedom of voting." Not till November 4th had Kur-Sachsen, with the Nightmares, finished that important problem of the Bohemian Vote, "Bohemian Vote EXCLUDED for this time;"-- after which all was ready, though still not in the least hurry. November 20th, came the first actual "Election-Conference (WAHL- CONFERENZ)" in the Romer at Frankfurt; to which succeeded Two Months more of conferrings (upon almost nothing at all): and finally, 24th January, 1742, came the Election itself, Karl Albert the man; poor wretch, who never saw another good day in this world.
Belleisle during those six months was rather high and airy, extremely magnificent; but did not want discretion: "more like a Kurfurst than an Ambassador;" capable of "visiting Kur-Mainz, with servants purposely in OLD liveries,"--where the case needed old, where Kur-Mainz needed snubbing; not otherwise. [Buchholz, ii. 57 n.] "The Marechal de Belleisle," says an Eye-witness, of some fame in those days, "comes out in a variety of parts, among us here; plays now the General, now the Philosopher, now the Minister of State, now the French Marquis;--and does them all to perfection. Surely a master in his art. His Brother the Chevalier is one of the sensiblest and best-trained persons you can see. He has a penetrating intellect; is always occupied, and full of great schemes; and has nevertheless a staid kind of manner. He is one of the most important Personages here; and in all things his Brother`s right hand." [Von Loen, Kleine Schriften (cited in Adelung, ii. 400).] In Frankfurt, both Belleisle and his Brother were much respected, the Brother especially, as men of dignified behavior and shining qualities; but as to their hundred and thirty French Lords and other Valetry, these by their extravagances and excesses (AUSSCHWEIFUNGEN) made themselves extremely detestable, it would appear. [Buchholz, ii. 54; in Adelung, ii. 398 n., a French BROCARD on the subject, of sufficient emphasis.]