ページの画像
PDF
ePub

1763. bullion and arsenals and warehouses, are no strength. None, I should say ;—and are oftenest even the reverse.

Nations who have lost this quality, or who never had it, what Friedrich can they hope to be possible among them? Age after age, they grind down their Friedrichs, contentedly under the hoofs of cattle on their highways; and even find it an excellent practice, and pride themselves on Liberty and Equality. Most certain it is, there will no Friedrich come to rule there; by and by, there will none be born there. Such Nations cannot have a King to command them; can only have this or the other scandalous swindling Copper Captain, constitutional Gilt Mountebank, or other the like unsalutary entity by way of King; and the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children in a frightful and tragical manner, little noticed in the Penny Newspapers and Periodical Literatures of this generation. Oh my friends—! -But there is plain Business waiting us at hand.

CHAPTER II.

REPAIRING OF A RUINED PRUSSIA.

That of Friedrich's sitting wrapt in a cloud of reflexions Olympian-Abysmal, in the music-chapel at Charlottenburg, while he had the Ambrosian Song executed for him there, as the preliminary step, was a loose myth; but the fact lying under it is abundantly certain. Few Sons of Adam had more reason for a piously-thankful feeling towards the Past, a piously-valiant towards the Future. What king or man had seen himself delivered from such strangling imbroglios of destruction, such devouring rages of a hostile world? And the ruin worked by them lay monstrous and appalling all round. Friedrich is now Fifty-one gone; unusually old for his age; feels himself an old man, broken with years and toils; and here lies his Kingdom in haggard slashed condition, worn to skin and bone: How is the King, resourceless, to remedy it? That is now the seemingly impossible problem. “Begin it,—thereby alone will it ever cease to be impossible!” Friedrich begins, we may say, on the first morrow morning. Labours at his

problem, as he did in the march to Leuthen; finds it to become more possible, day after day, month after month, the farther he strives with it.

“Why not leave it to Nature?" think many, with the Dismal Science at their elbow. Well; that was the easiest plan, but it was not Friedrich's. His remain1763-1766. ing moneys, 25 million thalers ready for a Campaign which has not come, he distributes to the most necessitous: all his artillery-horses' are parted into ploughteams, and given to those who can otherwise get none: think what a fine figure of rye and barley, instead of mere windlestraws, beggary and desolation, was realised by that act alone. Nature is ready to do much; will of herself cover, with some veil of grass and lichen, the nakedness of ruin: but her victorious act, when she can accomplish it, is that of getting you to go with her handsomely, and change disaster itself into new wealth. Into new wisdom and valour, which are wealth in all kinds; California mere zero to them, zero, or even a frightful minus quantity! Friedrich’s procedures in this matter I believe to be little less didactic than those other, which are so celebrated in War: but no Dryasdust, not even a Dryasdust of the Dismal Science, has gone into them, rendered men familiar with them in their details and results. His Silesian Land-Bank (jointstock Moneys, lent on security of Land) was of itself, had I room to explain it, an immense furtherance. I Friedrich, many tell us, was as great in Peace as in War: and truly, in the economic and material provinces, my own impression, gathered painfully in darkness, and contradiction of the Dismal-Science Doctors, is much to that effect. A first-rate Husbandman (as his Father had been); who not only defended his Nation, but made it rich beyond what seemed possible; and diligently sowed annuals into it, and perennials which flourish aloft at this day.

Mirabeau's Monarchie Prussienne, in 8 thick Volumes 8vo, - composed, or hastily cobbled together, some Twenty years after this period,—contains the best tabu

· Preuss, iii. 75; Cuvres de Frédéric, vi. 81.

1763-1766. lar view one anywhere gets of Friedrich's economics, military and other practical methods and resources :solid exact Tables these are, and intelligent intelligible descriptions, done by Mauvillon Fils, the same punctual Major Mauvillon who used to attend us in Duke Ferdinand's War;—and so far as Mirabeau is concerned, the Work consists farther of a certain small Essay done in big type, shoved into the belly of each Volume, and eloquently recommending, with respectful censures and regrets over Friedrich, the Gospel of Free Trade, dear to Papa Mirabeau. The Son is himself a convert; far above lying, even to please Papa : but one can see, the thought of Papa gives him new fire of expression. They are eloquent, ruggedly strong Essays, those of Mirabeau Junior upon Free Trade :--they contain, in condensed shape, everything we were privileged to hear, seventy years later, from all organs, coach-horns, jews-harps and scrannel-pipes, pro and contra, on the same sublime subject: "God is great, and Plugson of Undershot is his • Prophet. Thus saith the Lord, Buy in the cheapest ' market, sell in the dearest!' To which the afflicted human mind listens what it can;—and after seventy years, mournfully asks itself and Mirabeau, “ M. le Comte, would there have been in Prussia, for example, any Trade at all; any Nation at all, had it always been left Free'? There would have been mere sand and quagmire, and a community of wolves and bisons, M. le Comte. Have the goodness to terminate that Litany, and take

up

another!”—

We said, Friedrich began his problem on the first morrow morning; and that is literally true, that or even more.

Here is how Friedrich takes his stand amid the wreck, speedy enough to begin: this view of our old 1763-1766. friend Nüssler and him is one of the Pieces we can give, —thanks to Herr Büsching and his Beyträge for the last time! Nüssler is now something of a Country Gentleman, so to speak; has a pleasant place out to east of Berlin; is Landrath (County Chairman) there, “ Landrath of Nether-Barnim Circle;" where we heard of the Cossacks spoiling him: he, as who not, has suffered dreadfully in these tumults. Here is Büsching's welcome Account.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Landrath Nüssler and the King (30th March,

3d April 1763). March 30th, 1763, Friedrich, on his return to Berlin, came by the route of Tassdorf,'—Tassdorf, in NetherBarnim Circle (40 odd miles from Frankfurt, and above 15 from Berlin);- and changed horses there. During

this little pause, among a crowd assembled to see him, ' he was addressed by Nüssler, Landrath of the Circle, who had a very piteous story to tell. Nüssler wished the King joy of his noble victories, and of the glorious Peace at last achieved: “May your Majesty reign in ' health and happiness over us many years, to the bless‘ing of us all!”—and recommended to his gracious care the extremely ruined, and, especially by the · Russians, uncommonly devastated Circle, for which' (continues Büsching) "this industrious Landrath had not hitherto been able to extract any effective help.' Generally for the Provinces wasted by the Russians there had already some poor 300,000 thalers (45,0001.) been allowed by a helpful Majesty, not over-rich himself at the moment; and of this, Nether-Barnim no doubt gets its share: but what is this to such ruin as there is? A mere preliminary drop, instead of the bucket

« 前へ次へ »