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Jan, 1771. “who stood beside the Empress, and was so grave and so solemn, that he would have performed his part most admirably in the
shape of an owl. The Parrot observed him; was determined "to have revenge; and having said as many good things as he 6 could to her Majesty, he was hopping away; but just as he was going out of the circle, seeming to recollect himself, he stopped, looked over his shoulder at the formal Prince, and quite in the parrot tone and French accent, he addressed him most emphatically with “ Henri! Henri! Henri !” and then • diving into the crowd, disappeared. His Royal Highness was disconcerted; he was forced to smile
he was forced to smile in his own defence, and • the company were not a little amused.
* At midnight, a spacious hall, of a circular form, capable of containing a vast number of people, and illuminated in the ‘most magnificent manner, was suddenly opened. Twelve tables • were placed in alcoves around the sides of the room, where the • Empress, Prince Henri, and a hundred and fifty of the chief
nobility and foreign ministers sat down to supper. The rest of 'the company went up, by stairs on the outside of the room, into “the lofty galleries placed all around on the inside. Such a row of masked visages, many of them with grotesque features and bushy beards, nodding from the side of the wall, appeared very ludicrous to those below. The entertainment was enlivened with a concert of music; and at different intervals persons in various habits entered the hall, and exhibited Cossack, Chinese, Polish, Swedish, and Tartar dances. The whole was so gorgeous, and at the same time so fantastic, that I could not help thinking myself present at some of the magnificent festivals described in the old-fashioned romances :
" The marshal'd feast Served up in hall with sewers and seneschals." • The rest of the company, on returning to the rooms adjoining, found prepared for them also a sumptuous banquet. The masquerade began at 6 in the evening, and continued till 5 next morning.
* Besides the masquerade, and other festivities, in honour of, 6 and to divert Prince Henri, we had lately a most magnificent show of fireworks. They were exhibited in a wide space before
Jan. 1771. the Winter Palace; and, in truth, “beggared description." They displayed, by a variety of emblematical figures, the reduction of Moldavia, Wallachia, Bessarabia, and the various conquests and victories achieved since the commencement of the ' present War. The various colours, the bright green, and the snowy white, exhibited in these fireworks, were truly astonish' ing. For the space of twenty minutes, a tree, adorned with the loveliest and most verdant foliage, seemed to be waving as with a gentle breeze. It was entirely of fire; and during the whole of this stupendous scene, an arch of fire, by the continued
throwing of rockets and fireballs in one direction, formed as it 6 were a suitable canopy.
“On this occasion a prodigious multitude of people was assembled; and the Empress, it was surmised, seemed uneasy. She was afraid, it was apprehended, lest any accident, like what hap'pened at Paris at the marriage of the Dauphin, should befal her " beloved people. I hope I have amused you; and ever am’—34
The masquerades and galas in honour of Prince Henri, from a grandiose Hostess, who had played with him in childhood, were many; but it is not with these that we have to do. One day, the Czarina, talking to him of the Austrian procedures at Zips, said with pique, “ It seems, in Poland you have only to stoop, and pick
up what you like of it. If the Court of Vienna have
the notion to dismember that Kingdom, its neighbours “ will have right to do as much.”35 This is supposed, in all Books, to be the punctum saliens, or first mention, of the astonishing Partition, which was settled, agreed upon, within about a year hence, and has made so much noise ever since. And in effect it was so; the idea rising practically in that high head was the real beginning. But this was not the first head it had been in; far
34 W. Richardson, Anecdotes of the Russian Empire, pp. 325-331 : 'Petersburg, 4th January 1771.'
35 Rulhière, iv. 210; Trois Démembremens, i. 142; above all, Henri himself, in Euvres de Frédéric, xxvi. 345, Petersburg, 8th January 1771.'
18th Feb. 1771.
from that. Above a year ago, as Friedrich himself informed us, it had been in Friedrich's own head, -though at the time it went for absolutely nothing, nobody even bestowing a sneer on it (as Friedrich intimates), and disappeared through the Horn-Gate of Dreams.
Friedrich himself appears to have quite forgotten the Count-Lynar idea ; and, on Henri's report from Russia, was totally incredulous; and even suspected that there might be trickery and danger in this Russian Proposal. Not till Henri's return (February 18th, 1771) could he entirely believe that the Czarina was serious; —and then, sure enough, he did, with his whole heart, go into it: the Eureka out of all these difficulties, which had so long seemed insuperable. Prince Henri ‘had an Interview with the Austrian Minister next day' (February 19th), who immediately communicated with his Kaunitz,--and got discouraging response from Kaunitz; discouraging, or almost negatory; which did not discourage Friedrich. “A way out,” thinks Friedrich : “ the one way to save my Prussia and the world from incalculable conflagration.” And entered on it without loss of a moment. And laboured at it with such continual industry, rapidity, and faculty for guiding and pushing, as all readers have known in him, on dangerous emergencies; at no moment lifting his hand from it till it was complete.
His difficulties were enormous: what a team to drive; and on such a road, untrodden before by hoof or wheel! Two Empresses that cordially hate one another, and that disagree on this very subject. Kaunitz and his Empress are extremely skittish in the matter, and as if quite refuse it at first: “ Zips will be better," thinks Kaunitz to himself; “Cannot we have, all to ourselves, a beautiful little cutting out of Poland in that part;
Feb.—June 1771. and then perhaps, in league with the Turk, who has money, beat the Russians home altogether, and rule Poland in their stead, or share it with the Sultan,' as Reis-Effendi suggests?” And the dismal truth is, though it was not known for years afterward, Kaunitz does about this time, in profoundest secret, actually make Treaty of Alliance with the Turk (“ so many million Piastres to us, ready money, year by year, and you shall, if not by our mediating, then by our fighting, be a contented Turk”); and all along at the different Russian-Turk “ Peace-Congresses,” Kaunitz, while pretending to sit and mediate along with Prussia, sat on that far other basis, privately thwarting everything; and span out the Turk pacification in a wretched manner for years coming 36 A dangerous, hard-mouthed, high-stalking, ill-given old coach-horse of a Kaunitz: fancy what the driving of him might be, on a road he did not like! But he had a driver too, who, in delicate adroitness, in patience, and in sharpness of whip, was consummate: “You shall know it is your one road, my ill-given friend!" (I ostentatiously increase my Cavalry by 8,000; meaning, “A new SevenYears War, if you force me, and Russia by my side this time!") So that Kaunitz had to quit his Turk courses (never paid the Piastres back), and go into what really was the one way out.
But Friedrich's difficulties on this course are not the thing that can interest readers; and all readers know his faculty for overcoming difficulties. Readers ask rather: “And had Friedrich no feeling about Poland itself, then, and this atrocious Partitioning of the poor
36 ' Peace of Kainardschi,' not till "21st July 1774,—after four or five abortive attempts, two of them “ Congresses," Kaunitz so industrious (Hermann, v. 664 et antea).
14th June 1771. Country?” Apparently none whatever ;-unless it might be, that Deliverance from Anarchy, Pestilence, Famine, and Pigs eating your dead bodies, would be a manifest advantage for Poland, while it was the one way of saving Europe from War. Nobody seems more contented in conscience, or radiant with heartfelt satisfaction, and certainty of thanks from all wise and impartial men, than the King of Prussia, now and afterwards, in regard to this Polish atrocity! A psychological fact, which readers can notice. Scrupulous regard to Polish considerations, magnanimity to Poland, or the least respect or pity for her as a dying Anarchy, is what nobody will claim for him; consummate talent in executing the Partition of Poland (inevitable some day, as he may have thought, but is nowhere at the pains to say),---great talent, great patience too, and meritorious self-denial and endurance, in executing that Partition, and in saving it from catching fire instead of being the means to quench fire, no well-informed
will deny him. Of his difficulties in the operation (which truly are unspeakable) I will say nothing more; readers are prepared to believe that he, beyond others, should conquer difficulties when the object is vital to him. I will mark only the successive dates of his progress, and have done with this wearisome subject:
June 14th, 1771. Within four months of the arrival of Prince Henri and that first certainty from Russia, diligent Friedrich, upon whom the whole burden had been laid of drawing up a Plan, and bringing Austria to consent, is able to report to Petersburg, That Austria has dubieties, reluctancies, which it is to be foreseen she will gradually get over; and that here meanwhile (June 14th, 1771) is my Plan of Partition,—the simplest conceivable: “That each choose (subject to future adjustments) what will best suit him; I, for my own part, will say, West-Preussen; —what Province will Czarish Majesty please to say ?” Czarish