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17th Feb.—5th Aug. 1772. Majesty, in answer, is exorbitantly liberal to herself; claims, not a Province, but four or five; will have Friedrich, if the Austrians attack her in consequence, to assist by declaring War on Austria; Czarish Majesty, in the reciprocal case, not to assist Friedrich at all, till her Turk War is done! “ Impossible,” thinks Friedrich;
surprisingly so, high Madam! But, to the delicate bridle-hand, you are a manageable entity."
It was with Kaunitz that Friedrich's real difficulties lay. Privately, in the course of this Summer, Kaunitz, by way of preparation for “mediating a Turk-Russian Peace,” had concluded his “Subsidy Treaty” with the Turk,37—Treaty never ratified, but the Piastres duly paid ;—Treaty rendering Peace impossible, so long as Kaunitz had to do with mediating it. And indeed Kaunitz's tricks in that function of mediator, and also after it, were of the kind which Friedrich has some reason to call 'infamous.” “Your Majesty, as co-mediator, will join us, should the Russians make War?” said Kaunitz's Ambassador, one day, to Friedrich. “For certain, no !” answered Friedrich; and, on the contrary, remounted his Cavalry, to signify, “I will fight the other way, if needed!” which did at once bring Kaunitz to give up his mysterious Turk projects, and come into the Polish. After which his exorbitant greed of territory there; his attempts to get Russia into a partitioning of Turkey as well,—“A slice of Turkey too, your Czarish Majesty and we?” hints he more than once),-gave Friedrich no end of trouble; and are singular to look at by the light there now is. Not for about a twelvemonth did Friedrich get his hard-mouthed Kaunitz brought into step at all; and to the last, perpetual vigilance and, by whip and bit, the adroitest charioteering was needed on him.
February 17th, 1772, Russia and Prussia, for their own part, -Friedrich, in the circumstances, submitting to many things from his Czarina,-get their particular “ Convention” (Bargain in regard to Poland) completed in all parts, “will take possession, 4th June instant :” sign said Convention (February 17th); —and invite Austria to join, and state her claims. Which, in three weeks after, March 4th, Austria does ;-exorbitant abundantly; and not to be got very much reduced, though we try, for a series of months. Till at last :
37 6th July 1771' (Preuss, iv. 31 ; Hermann ; &c. &c.).
13th Sept. 1772.
August 5th, 1772, Final Agreement between the Three Partitioning Powers: “ These are our respective shares; we take possession on the 1st of September instant:"—and actual possession for Friedrich's share did, on the 13th of that month,
A right glad Friedrich, as everybody, friend or enemy, may imagine him! Glad to have done with such a business, — had there been no other profit in it; which was far from being the case. One's clear belief, on studying these Books, is of two things: First, that, as everybody admits, Friedrich had no real hand in starting the notion of Partitioning Poland ;-but that he grasped at it with eagerness, as the one way of saving Europe from War: Second, what has been much less noticed, that, under any other hand, it would have led Europe to War;--and that to Friedrich is due the fact that it got effected without such accompaniment. Friedrich's share of Territory is counted to be in all, 9,465 English square miles; Austria's, 62,500; Russia's, 87,500,38 between nine and ten times the amount of Friedrich's, —which latter, however, as an anciently Teutonic Country, and as filling up the always dangerous gap between his Ost-Preussen and him, has, under Prussian administration, proved much the most valuable of the Three; and, next to Silesia, is Friedrich's most important acquisition. September 13th, 1772, it was at last entered upon,—through such waste-weltering confusions, and on terms never yet unquestionable.
Consent of Polish Diet was not had for a year more; but that is worth little record. Diet, for that object, got together, 19th April 1773; recalcitrant enough, had not Russia understood the methods: 'a common fund was raised' (on se cotisa, says Friedrich) “for bribing;' the Three Powers had each a representative General in Warsaw (Lentulus the Prussian personage), all three with forces to rear: Diet came down by degrees, and, in the course of five months (September 18th, 1773), acquiesced in everything.
And so the matter is ended; and various men will long have various opinions upon it. I add only this one small Document from Maria Theresa's hand, which all hearts, and I suppose even Friedrich's had he ever read
39 Preuss, iv. 45.
13th Sept. 1772. it, will pronounce to be very beautiful; homely, faithful, wholesome, well-becoming in a high and true Sovereign Woman.
· The Empress-Queen to Prince Kaunitz (Undated : date must be
Vienna, February 1772). “When all my lands were invaded, and I knew not where in “ the world I should find a place to be brought to bed in, I relied
on my good right and the help of God. But in this thing, “ where not only public law cries to Heaven against us, but also “ all natural justice and sound reason, I must confess never in my “ life to have been in such trouble, and am ashamed to show my “ face. Let the Prince" (Kaunitz) “consider what an example
we are giving to all the world, if, for a miserable piece of Po“ land, or of Moldavia or Wallachia, we throw our honour and “ reputation to the winds. I see well that I am alone, and no
more in vigour; therefore I must, though to my very great sorrow, let things take their course."39
And some days afterwards, here is her Majesty's Official Assent : “ Placet, since so many great and learned men will have it
so: but long after I am dead, it will be known what this vio
lating of all that was hitherto held sacred and just will give “ rise to."40 (Hear her Majesty !)
Friedrich has none of these compunctious visitings; but his account too, when he does happen to speak on the subject, is
39 “ Als alle meine länder angefochten wurden und gar nit mehr wusste wo ruhig niederkommen sollte, steiffete ich mich auf mein gutes Recht und “ den Beystand Gottes. Aber in dieser Sach, wo nit allein das offenbare Recht
himmelschreyent wider Uns, sondern auch alle Billigkeit und die gesunde
Vernunft wider Uns ist, muess bekhennen dass zeitlebens nit so beängstigt “ mich befunten und mich sehen zu lassen schäme. Bedenkh der Fürst, was “ wir aller Welt für ein Exempel geben, wenn wir um ein ellendes stuk con “ Pohlen oder von der Moldau und Wallachey unser ehr und reputation in “ die schanz schlagen. Ich merkh wohl dass ich allein bin und nit mehr en
vigeur, darum lasse ich die sachen, jedoch nit ohne meinen grössten Gram, " ihren Weg gehen." (From "Hormayr, Taschenbuch, 1831, S. 66: cited in Preuss, iv. 38.)
40 From · Zeitgenossen' (a Biographical Periodical), 'lxxi. 29: cited in Preuss, iv. 39.
1773. worth hearing, and credible every word. Writing to Voltaire, a good while after (Potsdam, 9th October 1773), this, in the swiftflowing, miscellaneous Letter, is one passage:
* “To return “ to your King of Poland. I am aware that Europe pretty
generally believes the late Partition made (qu'on a fait) of “ Poland to be a result of the Political trickeries (manigances) “ which are attributed to me; nevertheless, nothing is more “ untrue. After in vain proposing different arrangements and
expedients, there was no alternative left but either that same Partition, or else Europe kindled into a general War.
Appearances are deceitful; and the Public judges only by 6 these. What I tell you is as true as the Forty-seventh of “ Euclid."41
What Friedrich did with his new Acquisition.
Considerable obloquy still rests on Friedrich, in many liberal circles, for the Partition of Poland. Two things, however, seem by this time tolerably clear, though not yet known in liberal circles: first, that the Partition of Poland was an event inevitable in Polish History; an operation of Almighty Providence and of the Eternal Laws of Nature, as well as of the poor earthly Sovereigns concerned there: and secondly, that Friedrich had nothing special to do with it, and, in the way of originating or causing it, nothing whatever.
It is certain the demands of Eternal Justice must be fulfilled : in earthly instruments, concerned with fulfilling them, there may be all degrees of demerit and also of merit,-from that of a world-ruffian Attila the Scourge of God, conscious of his own ferocities and cupidities alone, to that of a heroic Cromwell, sacredly
1773. aware that he is, at his soul's peril, doing God's Judgments on the enemies of God, in Tredah and other severe
If the Laws and Judgments are verily those of God, there can be no clearer merit than that of pushing them forward, regardless of the barkings of Gazetteers and wayside dogs, and getting them, at the earliest term possible, made valid among recalcitrant mortals! Friedrich, in regard to Poland, I cannot find to have had anything considerable either of merit or of demerit, in the moral point of view; but simply to have accepted, and put in his pocket without criticism, what Providence sent. He himself evidently views it in that light; and is at no pains to conceal his great sense of the value of West-Preussen to him. We praised his Narrative as eminently true, and the only one completely intelligible in every point: in his Preface to it, written some years later, he is still more candid. Speaking there in the first person, this once and never before or after,-he says:
• These new pretensions' (of the Czarina, to assuage the religious putrid-fever of the Poles, by word of command) “raised all Poland' (into Confederation of Bar, and War of the Confederates, sung by Friedrich); "the 'Grandees of the Kingdom implored the assistance of the • Turks: straightway War flamed out; in which the Rus
sian Armies had only to show themselves to beat the • Turks in every rencounter.' His Majesty continues : • This War changed the whole Political System of Europe' (general Diplomatic Dance of Europe, suddenly brought to a whirl by such changes of the music); 'a new arena
(carrière) came to open itself,—and one must have 'been either without address, or else buried in stupid * somnolence (engourdissement), not to profit by an opportunity so advantageous. I had read Bojardo's fine