ページの画像
PDF
ePub

Oct. 1778—May 1779. rich's cantonments were round Landshut, and spread out to right and to left, from Glatz Country and the Upper Silesian Hills, to Silberberg and Schweidnitz; -his own quarter is the same region, where he lay so long in Summer 1759, talking on learned subjects with the late Quintus Icilius, if readers remember, and wearily waiting till Cunctator Daun (likewise now deceased) took his stand, or his seat, at Marklissa, and the King could follow him to Schmöttseifen. Friedrich himself on this present occasion stayed at Schatzlar as rearguard, to see whether the Austrians would not perhaps try to make some Winter Campaign of it, and if so, whether they would attempt on Prince Henri or on him. The Austrians did not attempt on either; showed no such intention,—though mischievous enough in other small ways. Friedrich wrote the Éloge of Voltaire18 while he waited here at Schatzlar, among the rainy Mountains. Later on, as prospects altered, he was much at Breslau, or running about on civic errands with Breslau as centre: at Breslau he had many Dialogues with Professor Garve, -in whose good, but oppressively solemn, little Book, more a dull-droning Preachment than a Narrative, no reader need look for them or for him.

As to the Eulogy of Voltaire, we may say that it is generous, ingenious, succinct; and of dialect now obsolete to us. There was (and is, though suppressed) another Eulogy, brand-new, by Contemporary of our own, from which I know not if readers will permit me a sentence or two, in this pause among the rainy Mountains ?

* * 'A wonderful talent lay in this man?—(in Voltaire, to wit; such an intellect, the sharpest, swiftest of the world' thinks our Contemporary; 'fathoming you the deepest subject, to a depth far beyond most men's soundings, and coming up

6

18 In Euvres de Frédéric, vii. 50 et seq. ('finished, Nov. 26th, 1778.')

Oct. 1778—May 1779.

with victory and something wise and logically speakable to say 6

on it, sooner than any other man,-never doubting but he has been at the bottom, which is from three to ten miles lower!')— • Wonderful talent; but observe always, if you look closely, it ' was in essence a mere talent for Speech; which talent Bavius 6 and Mævius and the Jew Apella may admire without looking • behind it, but this Eulogist by no means will. Speech, my 'friend? If your sublime talent of speech consists only in making ignorance appear to be knowledge, and little wisdom appear to be much, I will thank you to walk on with it, and apply at some other shop. The quantity of shops where you can apply with thrice-golden advantage, from the Morning Newspapers to the National Senate, is tremendous at this epoch 6 of the poor world's history ;-go, I request you! And while his • foot is on the stairs, descending from my garret, I think: Oh unfortunate fellow-creature in an unfortunate world, why is not there a Friedrich Wilhelm to “elect” you, as he did Gundling, "to his Tobacco Parliament, and there set Fassmann upon you 6 with the pans of burning peat? It were better even for your• self; wholesomely didactic to your poor self, I cannot doubt;

and for the poor multitudes to whom you are now to be sacred vates, speaking and singing your dismal Gundlingiana as if inspired by Heaven, how infinitely better!

--Courage, courage ! I discern, across these hideous jargons, the reign of greater silence approaching upon repentant men; reign of greater silence, “I say; or else that of annihilation, which will be the most silent 6 of all.

'Voltaire, if not a great man, is a remarkably peculiar one; 6 and did such a work in these Ages as will render him long me

morable, more or less. He kindled the infinite dry dungheap of • things; set it blazing heaven-high ;—and we all thought, in the • French Revolution time, it would burn out rapidly into ashes,

and then there would a clear Upper Firmament, if over a blackened Earth, be once more vouchsafed us. The flame is

now done, as I once said; and only the dull dungheap, smokily 'burning, but not now blazing, remains,—for it was very damp, except on the surface, and is by nature slow of combustion : who knows but it may have to burn for centuries yet, poisoning 6 by its villanous mal-odours the life-atmosphere of all men ? Eter

6

Oct. 1778—May 1779. ‘nal Author of this Universe, whose throne is Truth, to whom all the True are Sons, wilt thou not look down upon us,

then! «-Till this sad process is complete, Voltaire is like to be very 6 memorable.'

To Friedrich the Winter was in general tranquil; a Friedrich busy preparing all things for his grand Mähren Enterprise, and for “real work next year.” By and by, there came to be real Peace-prospects instead. Meanwhile, the Austrians do try a little, in the small Pandour way, to dislodge him from the Upper-Silesian or Teschen regions, where the Erbprinz of Brunswick is in command; a man not to be pricked into gratis by Pandours. Erbprinz, accordingly, provoked by their Pandourings, broke out at last; and about Zuckmantel instantly scourged them home, and had peace after. Foiled here, they next tried upon Glatz; “Get into his Glatz Country, then;a snatch of that will balance the account” (which was one of Newspaper glory only): and a certain Würmser of theirs, expert in such things, did burn the Town of Habelschwert one morning;19 and tried farther, not wisely this time, a surprisal of Glatz Fortress itself; but got smitten home by our old friend General Wunsch, without profit there. This was the same Würmser who came to bad issues in the Napoleon time afterwards; a rising man then; not a dim Old-Newspaper ghost as now.

Most shameful this burning of Habelschwert by way of mere bravura, thinks Friedrich, in a time of actual Treaty for Peace, when our Congress of Teschen was just struggling to get together! It was the chief stroke done by the Austrians in this War; glorious or shameful, we will not think of inquiring. Nor in fact of adding one word more on such a War,—except, what everybody longs for, That, November 27th, 1778, Czarina Catharine,

10 18th January 1779' (Rödenbeck, iii. 195; Schmettau, &c.).

Oct. 1778—May 1779. by her Prince Galitzin at Vienna, intervened in the matter, in a lofty way; and ended it. Czarina Catharine,small thanks to her, it seems, for it was Friedrich that by his industries and world-diplomacies, French and other, had got her Turks, who had been giving trouble again, compesced into peace for her; and indeed, to Friedrich or his interests, though bound by Treaty, she had small regard in taking this step, but wished merely to appear in German Politics as a She-Jove, — Czarina Catharine signified, in high and peremptory though polite Diplomatic terms, at Vienna, “ Imperial Madam, how long is such a War to last? Be at Peace, both of you ; or—!—I shall, however, mediate, if you like, being the hearty friend of both.”20

“Do,” answers Maria Theresa, whose finance is quite out, whose motherly heart is almost broken, though a young Kaiser still prances violently, and kicks against the pricks: “Do, your noble Czarish Majesty; France, too, is interfering: France and

you

will decide what is just, and we will end." "Congress of Teschen' met accordingly, March 10th, 1779: Teschen, in Austrian Silesia, where we have been ;-Repnin as Russian, Breteuil the Frenchman, Cobentzl and Herzberg as Austrian and Prussian ;—and, May 13th (in two months time, not in two weeks, as had been expected, for there rose unexpected haggles), did close everything, firm as Diplomacy could do it, into equitable, or approximately equitable finis: “Go home, you Austria; quit your stolen Bavaria (all but a rim or paring, Circle of Burghausen, since

you

must have something !): Saxony, Mecklenburg, these must be satisfied to moderate length; and therewith general As-you-were.

Russia and France were agreed on the case; and Friedrich, bitterly longing to have done with it, had Oct. 1778—May 1779. said to himself, “ In two weeks or so:" but it proved far otherwise. Never were such hagglings, provocations, and unreasonable confusions as now rose. The burning of Habelschwert was but a type of them. Haggles on the part of worthless Karl Theodor, kindled by Joseph and his Kaunitz, kicking against the pricks. Haggles on Saxony's part: “I claimed 7,000,0001. sterling, and you allow me 600,000l.” “Better that than nothing,” answered Friedrich. Haggles with Mecklenburg: “Instead of my Leuchtenberg, I get an improvement in my LawCourts, right of Judging without Appeal; what is that!" Haggles with the once grateful Duke of Zweibrück: “ Can't part with my Burghausen.” “Suppose you had had to part with your Bavaria altogether?" In short, Friedrich, who had gained nothing for himself, but such infinity of outlay in all kinds, never saw such a coil of human follies and cupidities before; and had to exhaust his utmost patience, submit to new losses of his own, and try all his dexterities in pig-driving: overjoyed, at last, to get out of it on any terms. Outlay of Friedrich is about Two Millions sterling, and above 10,000 men's lives (his own narrowly not included), with censures, criticisms, provocations and botherations without end. In return for which, he has, truly, put a spoke in Austria's proud wheel for this time, and managed to see fair play in the Reich; which had seemed to him, and seems, a considerable thing. By way of codicil, Austria agrees not to chicane him in regard to Anspach-Baireuth,how generous of Austria, after this experience!

20 Copy of Galitzia's · Declaration,' in Fischer, ii. 406-411.

In reality, the War was an Imaginary War; deserving on its own score little record anywhere; to readers here, requiring almost less than it has got. Schmettau, Schöning and others, have been abundantly minute upon it; but even to soldiers there is little either of interest

« 前へ次へ »