History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 15

Author: Thomas Carlyle

Chapter V. Friedrich, Under Difficulties, Prepares for a New Campaign.

To the Court of Vienna, especially to the Hungarian Majesty, this wonderful reconquest of Bohemia, without battle fought,—or any cause assignable but Traun’s excellent manoeuvring and Friedrich’s imprudences and trust in the French,—was a thing of heavenly miracle; blessed omen that Providence had vouchsafed to her prayers the recovery of Silesia itself. All the world was crowing over Friedrich: but her Majesty of Hungary’s views had risen to a clearly higher pitch of exultation and triumphant hope, terrestrial and celestial, than any other living person’s. "Silesia back again," that was now the hope and resolution of her Majesty’s high heart: "My wicked neighbor shall be driven out, and smart dear for the ill he has done; Heaven so wills it!" "Very little uplifts the Austrians," says Valori; which is true, under such a Queen; "and yet there is nothing that can crush them altogether down," adds he.

No sooner is Bohemia cleared of Friedrich, than Maria, winter as it is, orders that there be, through the Giant-Mountains, vigorous assault upon Silesia. Highland snows and ices, what are these to Pandour people, who, at their first entrance on the scene of History, "crossed the Palus-Maeotis itself [Father of Quagmires, so to speak] in a frozen state," and were sufficiently accommodated each in his own dirty sheepskin? "Prosecute the King of Prussia," ordered she; "take your winter-quarters in Silesia!"—and Traun, in spite of the advanced season, and prior labors and hardships, had to try, from the southwestern Bohemian side, what he could do; while a new Insurrection, coming through the Jablunka, spread itself over the southeast and east. Seriously invasive multitudes; which were an unpleasant surprise to Friedrich; and did, as we shall see, require to be smitten back again, and re-smitten; making a very troublesome winter to the Prussians and themselves; but by no means getting winter-quarters, as they once hoped.

In a like sense, Maria Theresa had already (December 2d) sent forth her Manifesto or Patent, solemnly apprising her ever-faithful Silesian Populations, "That the Treaty of Breslau, not by her fault, is broken; palpably a Treaty no longer. That they, accordingly, are absolved from all oaths and allegiance to the King of Prussia; and shall hold themselves in readiness to swear anew to her Majesty, which will be a great comfort to such faithful creatures; suffering, as her Majesty explains to them that they have done, under Prussian tyranny for these two years past. Immediate dead-lift effort there shall be; that is certain: and ’the Almighty God assisting, who does not leave such injustices unpunished, We have the fixed Christian hope, Omnipotence blessing our arms, of almost immediately (EHESTENS) delivering you from this temporary Bondage (BISHERIGEN JOCH).’ You can pray, in the mean while, for the success of her Majesty’s arms; good fighting, aided by prayer, in a Cause clearly Heaven’s, will now, to appearance, bring matters swiftly round again, to the astonishment and confusion of bad men." [In <italic> Helden-Geschichte, <end italic> ii. 1194-1198; Ib. 1201-1206, is Friedrich’s Answer, "19th December, 1744."]

These are her Majesty’s views; intensely true, I doubt not, to her devout heart. Robinson and the English seem not to be enthusiastic in that direction; as indeed how can they? They would fain be tender of Silesia, which they have guaranteed; fain, now and afterwards, restrain her Majesty from driving at such a pace down hill: but the declivity is so encouraging, her Majesty is not to be restrained, and goes faster and faster for the time being. And indeed, under less devout forms, the general impression, among Pragmatic people, Saxon, Austrian, British even, was, That Friedrich had pretty much ruined himself, and deserved to do so; that this of his being mere "Auxiliary" to a Kaiser in distress was an untenable pretext, now justly fallen bankrupt upon him. The evident fact, That he had by his "Frankfurt Union," and struggles about "union," reopened the door for French tribulations and rough-ridings in the Reich, was universally distasteful; all chance of a "general union of German Princes, in aid of their Kaiser," was extinct for the present.

Friedrich’s rapidity had served him ill with the Public, in this as in some other instances! Friedrich, contemplating his situation, not self-delusively, but with the candor of real remorse, was by no means yet aware how very bad it was. For six months coming, partly as existing facts better disclosed themselves, as France, Saxony and others showed what spirit they were of; partly as new sinister events and facts arrived one after the other,—his outlook continued to darken and darken, till it had become very dark indeed. There is perennially the great comfort, immense if you can manage it, of making front against misfortune; of looking it frankly in the face, and doing with a resolution, hour by hour, your own utmost against it. Friedrich never lacked that comfort; and was not heard complaining. But from December 13th, 1744, when he hastened home to Berlin, under such aspects, till June 4th, 1745, when aspects suddenly changed, are probably the worst six months Friedrich had yet had in the world. During which, his affairs all threatening to break down about him, he himself, behooving to stand firm if the worst was not to realize itself, had to draw largely on what silent courage, or private inexpugnability of mind, was in him,—a larger instalment of that royal quality (as I compute) than the Fates had ever hitherto demanded of him. Ever hitherto; though perhaps nothing like the largest of all, which they had upon their Books for him, at a farther stage! As will be seen. For he was greatly drawn upon in that way, in his time. And he paid always; no man in his Century so well; few men, in any Century, better. As perhaps readers may be led to guess or acknowledge, on surveying and considering. To see, and sympathetically recognize, cannot be expected of modern readers, in the present great distance, and changed conditions of men and things.

Friedrich, after despatching Nassau to cut out Einsiedel, had delivered the Silesian Army to the Old Dessauer, who is to command in chief during Winter; and had then hastened to Berlin,—many things there urgently requiring his presence; preparations, reparations, not to speak of diplomacies, and what was the heaviest item of all, new finance for the coming exertions. In Schweidnitz, on Leopold’s appearance, there had been an interview, due consultings, orderings; which done, Friedrich at once took the road; and was at Berlin, Monday, December 14th,—precisely in the time while Nassau and Einsiedel were marching with torchlights in Rubezahl’s Country, and near ending their difficult enterprise better or worse.

Friedrich, fastening eagerly on Home business, is astonished and provoked to learn that the Austrians, not content with pushing him out of Bohmen, are themselves pushing into Schlesien,—so Old Leopold reports, with increasing emphasis day by day; to whom Friedrich sends impatient order: Hurl them out again; gather what force you need, ten thousand, or were it twenty or thirty thousand, and be immediate about it; "I will as soon be pitched (HERAUSGESCHMISSEN) out of the Mark of Brandenburg as out of Schlesien:" no delay, I tell you! And as the Old Dessauer still explains that the ten or fifteen thousand he needs are actually assembling, and cannot be got on march quite in a moment, Friedrich dashes away his incipient Berlin Operations; will go himself and do it. Haggle no more, you tedious Old Dessauer:—

BERLIN, "19th DECEMBER," 1744. "On the 21st [Monday, one week after my arriving], I leave Berlin, and mean to be at Neisse on the 24th at latest. Your Serenity will in the interim make out the Order-of- Battle [which is also Order-of-March] for what regiments are come in. For I will, on the 25th, without delay, cross the Neisse, and attack those people, cost what it may,—to chase them out of Schlesien and Glatz, and follow them so far as possible. Your Serenity will therefore take your measures, and provide everything, so far as in this short time you can, that the project may be executable the moment I arrive." [Friedrich to the Old Dessauer (<italic> Orlich, <end italic> ii. 356).]

And rushed off accordingly, in a somewhat flamy humor; but at Schweidnitz, where the Old Dessauer met him again, became convinced that the matter was weightier than he thought; not one of Tolpatchery alone, but had Traun himself in it. Upon which Friedrich candidly drew bridle; hastened back, and, with a loss of four days, was at his Potsdam Affairs again. To which he stuck henceforth, ardently, and I think rather with increase of gloom, though without spurt of impatience farther, for three months to come. Before his return,—nay, had he known, it was the night before he went away,—a strange little thing had happened in the opposite or Western parts: surprising accident to Marechal de Belleisle; which now lies waiting his immediate consideration. But let us finish Silesia first.


"This Silesian Affair includes due inroad of Pandours; or indeed two inroads, southwest and southeast; and in the southwest, or Traun quarter, regulars are the main element of it. Traun, 20,000 strong, PLUS stormy-enough Pandour ACCOMPANIMENT, is by this time through into Glatz; in three columns;—is master of all Glatz, except the Rock-Fortress itself; and has spread himself, right and left, along the Neisse River, and from the southwest northwards, in a skilful and dangerous manner. In concert with whom, far to the east, are Pandour whirlwinds on their own footing (brand-new ’Insurrection’ of them, got thus far) starting from Olmutz and Brunn; scouring that eastern country, as far as Namslau northward [a place we were at the taking of, in old Brieg times]; much more, infesting the Mountains of the South. A rather serious thing; with Traun for general manager of it."

With Traun, we say: poor Prince Karl is off, weeks ago; on the saddest of errands. His beautiful young Wife,—Hungarian Majesty’s one Sister, Vice-Regents of the Netherlands he and she, conspicuous among the bright couples of the world,—she had a bad lying-in (child still-born), while those grand Moldau Operations went on; has been ill, poor lady, ever since; and, at Brussels, on December 16th, she herself lies dead, Prince Karl weeping over her and the days that will not return. Prince Karl’s felicities, private and public, had been at their zenith lately, which was very high indeed; but go on declining from this day. Never more the Happiest of Husbands (did not wed again at all); still less the Greatest of Captains, equal or superior to Caesar in the Gazetteer judgment, with distracted EULOGIES, BIOGRAPHIES and such like filling the air: before long, a War-Captain of quite moderate renown; which we shall see sink gradually into no renown at all, and even (unjustly) into MINUS quantities, before all end. A mad world, my masters!

"Between Traun on the southwest hand, and his Pandours on the southeast, the small Prussian posts have all been driven in upon Troppau-Jagerndorf region; more and more narrowed there;—and, in fine (two days before this new Interview of Leopold and the impatient King at Schweidnitz), have had to quit the Troppau- Jagerndorf position; to quit the Hills altogether, and are now in full march towards Brieg. Of which march I should say nothing, were it not that Marwitz, Father of Wilhelmina’s giggling Marmitzes, commanded;—and came by his death in the course of it; though our Wilhelmina is not now there, pen in hand, to tell us what the effects at Baireuth were. Marwitz had been left for dead on the Field of Mollwitz; lay so all night, but was nursed to some kind of strength again by those giggling young women; and came back to Schlesien, to posts of chief trust, for the last year or two,—was guarding the Mountains, and even invading Mahren, during the late Campaign;—but saw himself reduced latterly to Jagerndorf and Troppau; and had even to retreat out of these. And in the whirlpool of hurries thereupon,—how is not very clear; by apoplexy, say some; by accidental pistol from a servant of his own; in actual skirmish with Pandours,—too certainly, one way or the other, on December 23d (just during that second Interview at Schweidnitz), brave old Marwitz did suddenly sink dead, and is ended. [<italic> Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1201.] Even so, ye poor giggling creatures, and your loud weeping will not mend it at all!

"Friedrich, looking candidly into these phenomena, could not but see that: what with Tolpatcheries, what with Traun’s 20,000 regulars, and the whole Army at their back, his Silesian Border is girt in by a very considerable inroad of Austrians,— huge Chain of them, in horse-shoe form, 300 miles long, pressing in; from beyond Glatz and Landshut, round by the southern Mountains, and up eastward again as far as Namslau, nothing but war whirlwinds in regular or irregular form, in the centre of them Traun;—and that the Old Dessauer really must have time to gird himself for dealing with Traun and them.

"It was not till January 9th that Old Leopold, 25,000 strong, equipped to his mind, which was a difficult matter, crossed the Neisse River; and marched direct upon Traun, with Ziethen charging ahead. Actually marched; after which the main wrestle was done in a week. January 16th, Old Leopold got to Jagerndorf; found the actual Traun concentrated at Jagerndorf; and drew up, to be ready for assault to-morrow morning,—had not Traun, candidly computing, judged it better to glide wholly away in the night-time, diligently towards Mahren, breaking the bridges behind him. And so, in effect, to give up the Silesian Invasion for this time. After which, though there remained a good deal of rough tussling with Pandour details, and some rugged exploits of fight, there is—except that of Lehwald in clearing of Glatz—nothing farther that we can afford to speak of. Lehwald’s exploit, Lehwald VERSUS Wallis (same Wallis who defended Glogau long since), which came to be talked of, and got name and date, ’Action of Habelschwert, February 14th,’ something almost like a pitched fight on the small scale, is to the following effect:—

"PLOMNITZ, NEAR HABELSCHWERT, 14th FEBRUARY, 1745. Old General Lehwald, marching in the hollow ground near Habelschwert (hollow of the young Neisse River, twenty miles south of Glatz), with intent to cut that Country free; the Enemy, whom he is in search of, appears in great force,—posted on the uphill ground ahead, halffrozen difficult stream in front of them, cannon on flank, Pandour multitude in woods; all things betokening inexpugnability on the part of the Enemy. So that Lehwald has to take his measures; study well where the vital point is, the root of that extensive Austrian junglery, and cut in upon the same. By considerable fire of effort, the uphill ground, half-frozen stream, sylvan Pandours, cannonbatteries, and what inexpugnabilities there may be, are subdued; Austrian wide junglery, the root of it slit asunder rolls homeward simultaneously, not too fast: nay it halted, and re-ranked itself twice over, finding woods and quaggy runlets to its mind; but was always slit out again, disrooted, and finally tumbled home, having had enough. ’Wenzel Wallis,’ Friedrich asserts with due scorn, ’was all this while in a Chapel; praying ardently,’ to St. Vitus, or one knows not whom; ’without effect; till they shouted to him, "Beaten, Sir! Off, or you are lost!" upon which he sprang to saddle, and spurred with both heels (PIQUA DES DEUX).’ [<italic> OEuvres de Frederic, <end italic> iii. 79. 80.] That was the feat of Lehwald, clearing the Glatz Country with one good cut: a skilful Captain; now getting decidedly oldish, close on sixty; whom we shall meet again a dozen years hence, still in harness.

"The old Serene Highness himself, face the color of gun-powder, and bluer in the winter frost, went rushing far and wide in an open vehicle, which he called his ’cart;’ pushing out detachments, supervising everything; wheeling hither and thither as needful; sweeping out the Pandour world, and keeping it out: not much of fighting needed, but ’a great deal of marching [murmurs Friedrich], which in winter is as bad, and wears down the force of the battalions.’ Of all which we give no detail: sufficient to fancy, in this manner, the Old Dessauer flapping his wide military wings in the faces of the Pandour hordes, with here and there a hard twitch from beak or claws; tolerably keeping down the Pandour interest all Winter. His sons, Leopold and Dietrich, were under him, occasionally beside him; the Junior Leopold so worn down with feverish gout he could hardly sit on horseback at all, while old Papa went tearing about in his cart at that rate." [<italic> Unternehmung in Ober-Schlesien, unter dem Fursten Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau, im Januar und Februar, <end italic> 1745 (Seyfarth, <italic> Beylage, <end italic> i. 141-152); Stenzel, iv. 232; &c.]

There was, on the 21st of February, TE-DEUM sung in the churches of Berlin "for the Deliverance of Silesia from Invasion." Not that even yet the Pandours would be quite quiet, or allow Old Leopold to quit his cart; far from it. And they returned in such increased and tempestuous state, as will again require mention, with the earliest Spring:—precursors to a second, far more serious and deadly "Invasion of Silesia;" for which it hangs yet on the balance whether there will be a TE-DEUM or a MISERERE to sing!

Hungarian Majesty, disappointed of Silesia,—which, it seems, is not to be had "all at once (EHESTENS)," in the form of miracle,— makes amends by a rush upon Seckendorf and Bavaria; attacks Seckendorf furiously ("Bathyani pressing up the Donau Valley, with Browne on one hand, and Barenklau on the other") in midwinter; and makes a terrible hand of him; reducing his "Reconquest of Bavaria" to nothing again, nay to less. Of which in due time.

(November, 1744-April, 1745; April-August, 1745).

It is not divine miracle, Friedrich knows well, that has lost him his late Bohemian Conquests without battle fought: it was rash choosing of a plan inexecutable without French co-operation,— culpable blindness to the chance that France would break its promises, and not co-operate. Had your Majesty forgotten the Joint- Stock Principle, then? His Majesty has sorrowful cause to remember it, from this time, on a still larger scale!

Reflections, indignant or exculpatory, on the conduct of the French in this Business are useless to Friedrich, and to us. The performance, on their part, has been nearly the worst;—though their intentions, while the Austrian Dragon had them by the throat, were doubtless enthusiastically good! But, the big Austrian Dragon being jerked away from Elsass, by Friedrich’s treading on his tail, 500 miles off, they were charmed, quite into new enthusiasm, to be rid of said Dragon: and, instead of chasing HIM according to bargain, took to destroying his DEN, that he might be harmless thenceforth. Freyburg is a captured Town, to the joy and glory of admiring France; and Friedrich’s Campaign has gone the road we see! The Freyburg Illuminations having burnt out, there might rise, in the triumphant mind, some thought of Friedrich again,—perhaps almost of a remorseful nature? Certain it is, the French intentions are now again magnanimous, more so than ever; coupled now with some attempts at fulfilment, too; which obliges us to mention them here. They were still a matter of important hope to Friedrich; hope which did not quite go out till August coming. Though, alas, it did then go out, in gusts of indignation on Friedrich’s part! And as the whole of these magnanimous French intentions, latter like former, again came to zero, we are interested only in rendering them conceivable to readers for Friedrich’s sake,—with the more brevity, the better for everybody. Two grand French Attempts there were; listen, on the threshold, a little:—

... "It is certain the French intend gloriously; regardless of expense. They are dismantling Freyburg, to render it harmless henceforth. But, withal, in answer to the poor Kaiser’s shrieks, they have sent Segur [our old Linz friend], with 12,000, to assist Seckendorf; ’the bravest troops in the world,’"—who did bravely take one beating (at Pfaffenhofen, as will be seen), and go home again. ("They have Coigny guarding those fine Brisgau Conquests. And are furthermore diplomatizing diligently, not to say truculently, in the Rhine Countries; bullying poor little fat Kur-Trier, lean Kur-Koln and others, ’To join the Frankfurt Union’ (not one of whom would, under menace),—though ’it is the clear duty of all Reich’s-Princes with a Kaiser under oppression:’—and have marched Maillebois, directly after Freyburg, into the Middle- Rhine Countries, to Koln Country, to Mainz Country, and to and fro, in support of said compulsory diplomacies;—but without the least effect."

To the "Middle-Rhine Countries," observe, and under Maillebois, then under Conti, little matter under whom: only let readers recollect the name of it;—for it is the FIRST of the French Attempts to do something of a joint-stock nature; something for self AND Allies, instead of for self only. It caused great alarm in those months, to Britannic George and others; and brought out poor Duc d’Ahremberg with portions (no English included) of the poor Pragmatic Army, to go marching about in the winter slushes, instead of resting in bed, [Adelung, iv. 276, 420 ("December, 1744-June, 1745").]—and is indeed a very loud business in the old Gazettes and books, till August coming. Business which almost broke poor D’Ahremberg’s heart, he says, "till once I got out of it" (was TURNED out, in fact): Business of Pragmatic Army, under D’Ahremberg, VERSUS Middle-Rhine Army under Maillebois, under Conti; Business now wholly of Zero VERSUS Zero to us,—except for a few dates and reflex glimmerings upon King Friedrich. Result otherwise— We shall see the Result!

"Attempt SECOND was still more important to Friedrich; being directed upon the Kaiser and Bavaria. Belleisle is to go thither and take survey; Belleisle thither first: you may judge if the intention is sincere! Valori is quite eloquent upon it. Directly after Freyburg, says he, Sechelles, that first of Commissaries, was sent to Munchen. Sechelles cleared up the chaos of Accounts; which King Louis then instantly paid. ’Your Imperial Majesty shall have Magazines also,’ said Louis, regardless of expense; ’and your Army, with auxiliaries (Segur and 25,000 of them French), shall be raised to 60,000.’ Belleisle then came: ’We will have Ingolstadt, the first thing, in Spring.’ Alas, Belleisle had his Accident in the Harz; and all went aback, from that time." [Valori, i. 322-329.] Aback, too indisputably, all!—"And Belleisle’s Accident?" Patience, readers.

"The truth is, Attempt SECOND, and chief, broke down at once [Bathyani beating it to pieces, as will be seen],—the ruins of it painfully reacting on Attempt FIRST; which had the like fate some months later;—and there was no THIRD made. And, in fact, from the date of that latter down-break, August, or end of July, 1745 [and quite especially from "September 13th," by which time several irrevocable things had happened, which we shall hear of], the French withdrew altogether out of German entanglements; and concentrated themselves upon the Netherlands, there to demolish his Britannic Majesty, as the likelier enterprise. This was a course to which, ever since the Exit of Broglio and the Oriflamme, they had been more and more tending and inclining, ’Nothing for us but loss on loss, to be had in Germany!’ and so they at last frankly gave up that bad Country. They fought well in the Netherlands, with great splendor of success, under Saxe VERSUS Cumberland and Company. They did also some successful work in Italy;—and left Friedrich to bear the brunt in Germany; too glad if he or another were there to take Germany off their hand! Friedrich’s feelings on his arriving at this consummation, and during his gradual advance towards it, which was pretty steady all along from those first ’drenched-hen (POULES MOUILLEES)’ procedures, were amply known to Excellency Valori, and may be conceived by readers,"—who are slightly interested in the dates of them at farthest. And now for the Belleisle Accident, with these faint preliminary lights.

HARZ MOUNTAINS (20th December, 1744).

Siege of Freyburg being completed, and the River and most other things (except always the bastions, which we blow up) being let into their old channels there, Marechal de Belleisle, who is to have a chief management henceforth,—the Most Christian King recognizing him again as his ablest man in war or peace,—sets forth on a long tour of supervision, of diplomacy and general arrangement, to prepare matters for the next Campaign. Need enough of a Belleisle: what a business we have made of it, since Friedrich trod on the serpent’s tail for us.! Nothing but our own Freyburg to show for ourselves; elsewhere, mere down-rush of everything whitherward it liked;—and King Friedrich got into such a humor! Friedrich must be put in tune again; something real and good to be agreed on at Berlin: let that be the last thing, crown of the whole. The first thing is, look into Bavaria a little; and how the Kaiser, poor gentleman, in want of all requisites but good-will, can be put into something of fighting posture.

"In the end of November, Marechal Duc de Belleisle, with his Brother the Chevalier (now properly the Count, there having been promotions), and a great retinue more, alights at Munchen; holds counsel with the poor Kaiser for certain days:—Money wanted; many things wanted; and all things, we need not doubt, much fallen out of square. ’Those Seckendorf troops in their winter-quarters,’ say our French Inspectors and Segur people, as usual, ’do but look on it, your Excellency! Scattered, along the valleys, into the very edge of Austria; Austria will swallow them, the first thing, next year; they will never rendezvous again except in the Austrian prisons. Surely, Monseigneur, only a man ignorant of war, or with treasonous intention [or ill-off for victuals],—could post troops in that way? Seckendorf is not ignorant of war!’ say they. [Valori, i. 206.] For, in fact, suspicion runs high; and there is no end to the accusations just and unjust; and Seckendorf is as ill treated as any of us could wish. Poor old soul. Probably nobody in all the Earth, but his old Wife in the Schloss of Altenburg, has any pity for him,—if even she, which I hope. He has fought and diplomatized and intrigued in many countries, very much; and in his old days is hard bested. Monseigueur, whose part is rather that of Jove the Cloud-compeller, is studious to be himself noiseless amid this noise; and makes no alteration in the Seckendorf troops; but it is certain he meant to do it, thinks Valori."

And indeed Seckendorf, tired of the Bavarian bed-of-roses, had privately fixed with himself to quit the same;—and does so, inexorable to the very Kaiser, on New-Year arriving. [<italic> Seckendorfs Leben, <end italic> p. 365.] Succeeded by Thorring (our old friend DRUM Thorring), if that be an improvement. Marechal de Belleisle has still a long journey ahead, and infinitely harder problems than these,—assuagement of the King of Prussia, for example. Let us follow his remarkable steps.

"WEDNESDAY, 9th DECEMBER, 1744, the Marechal leaves Munchen, northwards through OEttingen and the Bamberg-Anspach regions towards Cassel;—journey of some three hundred and fifty miles: with a great retinue of his own; with an escort of two hundred horse from the Kaiser; these latter to prevent any outfall or insult in the Ingolstadt quarter, where the Austrians have a garrison, not at all very tightly blocked by the Seckendorf people thereabouts. No insult or outfall occurring, the Marechal dismisses his escort at OEttingen; fares forward in his twenty coaches and fourgons, some score or so of vehicles:—mere neutral Imperial Countries henceforth, where the Kaiser’s Agent, as Marechal de Belleisle can style himself, and Titular Prince of the German Empire withal, has only to pay his way. By Donauworth, by OEttingen; over the Donau acclivities, then down the pleasant Valley of the Mayn. [See REVIEW OF THE CASE OF MARSHAL BELLEISLE (or Abstract of it, <italic> Gentleman’s Magazine, <end italic> 1745, pp. 366-373); &c. &c.]

"SUNDAY, 13th DECEMBER, Marechal de Belleisle arrives at Hanau [where we have seen Conferences held before now, and Carteret, Prince Karl and great George our King very busy], there to confer with Marshals Coigny, Maillebois and other high men, Commanders in those Rhine parts. Who all come accordingly, except Marechal Maillebois, who is sorry that he absolutely cannot; but will surely do himself the honor as Monseigneur returns." As Monseigneur returns! "And so, on Monday, 14th, Monseigneur starts for Cassel; say a hundred miles right north; where we shall meet Prince Wilhelm of Hessen-Cassel, a zealous Ally; inform him how his Troops, under Seckendorf, are posted [at Vilshofen yonder; hiding how perilous their post is, or promising alterations]; perhaps rest a day or two, consulting as to the common weal: How the King of Prussia takes our treatment of him? How to smooth the King of Prussia, and turn him to harmony again? We are approaching the true nodus of our business, difficulty of difficulties; and Wilhelm, the wise Landgraf, may afford a hint or two. Thus travels magnanimous Belleisle in twenty vehicles, a man loaded with weighty matters, in these deep Winter months; suffering dreadfully from rheumatic neuralgic ailments, a Doctor one of his needfulest equipments; and has the hardest problem yet ahead of him.

"Prince Wilhelm’s consultations are happily lost altogether; buried from sight forever, to the last hint,—all except as to what road to Berlin would be the best from Cassel. By Leipzig, through low-lying country, is the great Highway, advisable in winter; but it runs a hundred and thirty miles to right, before ever starting northward; such a roundabout. Not to say that the Saxons are allies of Austria,—if there be anything in that. Enemies, they, to the Most Christian King: though surely, again, we are on Kaiser’s business, nay we are titular ’Prince of the Reich,’ for that matter, such the Kaiser’s grace to us? Well; it is better perhaps to AVOID the Saxon Territory. And, of course, the Hanoverian much more; through which lies the other Great Road! ’Go by the Harz,’ advises Landgraf Wilhelm: ’a rugged Hill Country; but it is your hypotenuse towards Berlin; passes at once, or nearly so, from Cassel Territory into Prussian: a rugged road, but a shorter and safer.’ That is the road Belleisle resolves upon. Twenty carriages; his Brother the Chevalier and himself occupy one; and always the courier rides before, ordering forty post-horses to be ready harnessed.

"SUNDAY, 20th DECEMBER, 1744. In this way they have climbed the eastern shin of the Harz Range, where the Harz is capable of wheelcarriages; and hope now to descend, this night, to Halberstadt; and thence rapidly by level roads to Berlin. It is sinking towards dark; the courier is forward to Elbingerode, ordering forty horses to be out. Roughish uphill road; winter in the sky and earth, winter vapors and tumbling wind-gusts: westward, in torn stormcloak, the Bracken, with its witch-dances; highland Goslar, and ghost of Henry the Fowler, on the other side of it. A multifarious wizard Country, much overhung by goblin reminiscences, witchdances, sorcerers’-sabbaths and the like,—if a rheumatic gentleman cared to look on it, in the cold twilight. Brrh! Waste chasmy uplands, snow-choked torrents; wild people, gloomy firs! Here at last, by one’s watch 5 P.M., is Elbingerode, uncomfortable little Town; and it is to be hoped the forty post-horses are ready.

"Behold, while the forty post-horses are getting ready, a thing takes place, most unexpected;—which made the name of Elbingerode famous for eight months to come. Of which let us hastily give the bare facts, Fancy making of them what she can. Was Monseigneur aware that this Elbingerode, with a patch of territory round it, is Hanoverian ground; one of those distracted patches or ragged outskirts frequent in the German map? Prussia is not yet, and Hessen-Cassel has ceased to be. Undoubtedly Hanoverian! Apparently the Landgraf and Monseigneur had not thought of that. But Munchhausen of Hanover, spies informing him, had. The Bailiff (Vogt, AdVOCATus) has gathered twenty JAGER [official Game-keepers] with their guns, and a select idle Sunday population of the place with or without guns: the Vogt steps forward, and inquires for Monseigneur’s passport. ’No passport, no need of any!’—’Pardon!’ and signifies to Monseigneur, on the part of George Elector of Hanover, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, that Monseigneur is arrested!

"Monseigneur, with compressed or incompressible feelings, indignantly complies,—what could he else, unfortunate rheumatic gentleman?—and is plucked away in such sudden manner, he for one, out of that big German game of his raising. The twenty vehicles are dragged different roads; towards Scharzfels, Osterode, or I know not where,—handiest roads to Hanover;—and Monseigneur himself has travelling treatment which might be complained of, did not one disdain complaint: ’my Brother parted from me, nay my Doctor, and my Interpreter;’"—not even speech possible to me. [Letter of Belleisle next morning, "Neuhof, 21st December, 9 A.M." (in <italic> Valori, <end italic> i. 204), to Munchhausen at Hanover,—by no possibility "to Valori," as the distracted French Editor has given it!] That was the Belleisle Accident in the Harz, Sunday Evening, 20th December, 1744.

"Afflicted indignant Valori, soon enough apprised, runs to Friedrich with the news,—greets Friedrich with it just alighting from that Silesian run of his own. Friedrich, not without several other things to think of, is naturally sorry at such news; sorry for his own sake even; but not overmuch. Friedrich refuses ’to despatch a party of horse,’ and cut out Marechal de Belleisle. "That will never do, MON CHER!’—and even gets into FROIDES PLAISANTERIES: ’Perhaps the Marechal did it himself? Tallard, prisoner after Blenheim, made PEACE, you know, in England?’—and the like; which grieved the soul of Valori, and convinced him of Friedrich’s inhumanity, in a crying case.

"Belleisle is lugged on to Hanover; his case not doubtful to Munchhausen, or the English Ministry,—though it raised great argument, (was the capture fair, was it unfair? Is he entitled to exchange by cartel, or not entitled?’ and produced, in the next eight months, much angry animated pamphleteering and negotiation. For we hear by and by, he is to be forwarded to Stade, on the Hamburg sea-coast, where English Seventy-fours are waiting for him; his case still undecided;—and, in effect, it was not till after eight months that he got dismissal. ’Lodged handsomely in Windsor Palace,’ in the interim; free on his parole, people of rank very civil to him, though the Gazetteers were sometimes ill-tongued,— had he understood their PATOIS, or concerned himself about such things. ["TUESDAY, 18th FEBRUARY [lst March, 1745], Marshal Belleisle landed at Harwich; lay at Greenwich Palace, having crossed Thames at the Isle of Dogs: next morning, about 10, set out, in a coach-and-six, Colonel Douglas and two troops of horse escorting; arrived 3 P.M.,—by Camberwell, Clapham, Wandsworth, over Kingston and Staines Bridges,—at Windsor Castle, and the apartments ready for him." (<italic> Gentleman’s Magazine, <end italic> 1745, p 107.) Was let go 13th (24th) August, again with great pomp and civilities (ib. p. 442). See Adelung, iv. 299, 346; v. 83, 84.]

"It was a current notion among contemporary mankind, this of Friedrich, that Belleisle’s capture might be a mere collusion, meant to bring about a Peace in that Tallard fashion,—wide of the truth as such a notion is, far as any Peace was from following. To Britannic George and his Hanoverians it had merely seemed, Here was a chief War-Captain and Diplomatist among the French; the pivot of all these world-wide movements, as Valori defines him; which pivot, a chance offering, it were well to twitch from its socket, and see what would follow. Perhaps nothing will follow; next to nothing? A world, all waltzing in mad war, is not to be stopped by acting on any pivot; your waltzing world will find new pivots, or do without any, and perhaps only waltz the more madly for wanting the principal one."

This withdrawal of Belleisle, the one Frenchman respected by Friedrich, or much interested for his own sake in things German, is reckoned a main cause why the French Alliance turned out so ill for Friedrich; and why French effort took more and more a Netherlands direction thenceforth, and these new French magnanimities on Friedrich’s behalf issued in futility again. Probably they never could have issued in very much: but it is certain that, from this point, they also do become zero; and that Friedrich, from his French alliance, reaped from first to last nothing at all, except a great deal of obloquy from German neighbors, and from the French side endless trouble, anger and disappointment in every particular. Which ’might be a joy (though not unmixed) to Britannic Majesty and the subtle followers who had ginned this fine Belleisle bird in its flight over the Harz Range? Though again, had they passively let him wing his way, and he had GOT "to be Commander and Manager," as was in agitation,—he, Belleisle and in Germany, instead of Marechal de Saxe with the Netherlands as chief scene,—what an advantage might that have been to them!


A still sadder cross for Friedrich, in the current of foreign Accidents and Diplomacies, was the next that befell; exactly a month later,—at Munchen, 20th January, 1745. Hardly was Belleisle’s back turned, when her Hungarian Majesty, by her Bathyani and Company, broke furiously in upon the poor Kaiser and his Seckendorf-Segur defences. Belleisle had not reached the Harz, when all was going topsy-turvy there again, and the Donau-Valley fast falling back into Austrian hands. Nor is that the worst, or nearly so.

"MUNCHEN, 20th JANUARY, 1745. This day poor Kaiser Karl laid down his earthly burden here, and at length gave all his enemies the slip. He had been ill of gout for some time; a man of much malady always, with no want of vexations and apprehensions. Too likely the Austrians will drive him out of Munchen again; then nothing but furnished lodgings, and the French to depend upon. He had been much chagrined by some Election, just done, in the Chapter of Salzburg. [Adelung, iv. 249, 276, 313.] The Archbishop there—it was Firmian, he of the SALZBURG EMIGRATION, memorable to readers—had died, some while ago. And now, in flat contradiction to Imperial customs, prerogatives, these people had admitted an Austrian Garrison; and then, in the teeth of our express precept, had elected an Austrian to their benefice: what can one account it but an insult as well as an injury? And the neuralgic maladies press sore, and the gouty twinges; and Belleisle is seized, perhaps with important papers of ours; and the Seckendorf-Segur detachments were ill placed; nay here are the Austrians already on the throat of them, in midwinter! It is said, a babbling valet, or lord-in-waiting, happened to talk of some skirmish that had fallen out (called a battle, in the valet rumor), and how ill the French and Bavarians had fared in it, owing to their ill behavior. And this, add they, proved to be the ounce-weight too much for the so heavy-laden back.

"The Kaiser took to bed, not much complaining; patient, mild, though the saddest of all mortals; and, in a day or two, died. Adieu, adieu, ye loved faithful ones; pity me, and pray for me! He gave his Wife, poor little fat devout creature, and his poor Children (eldest lad, his Heir, only seventeen), a tender blessing; solemnly exhorted them, To eschew ambition, and be warned by his example;—to make their peace with Austria; and never, like him, try COM’ E DURO CALLE, and what the charity of Christian Kings amounts to. This counsel, it is thought, the Empress Dowager zealously accedes to, and will impress upon her Son. That is the Austrian and Cause-of-Liberty account: King Friedrich, from the other side, has heard a directly opposite one. How the Kaiser, at the point of death, exhorted his son, ’Never forget the services which the King of France and the King of Prussia have done us, and do not repay them with ingratitude.’ [<italic> OEuvres de Frederic, <end italic> iii. 92;—and see (PER CONTRA) in Adelung, iv. 314 A; in Coxe, &c.] The reader can choose which he will, or reject both into the region of the uncertain. ’Karl Albert’s pious and affectionate demeanor drew tears from all eyes,’ say the bystanders: ’the manner in which he took leave of his Empress would have melted a heart of stone.’ He was in his forty-eighth year; he had been, of all men in his generation, the most conspicuously unhappy."

What a down-rush of confusion there ensued on this event, not to Bavaria alone, but to all the world, and to King Friedrich more than another, no reader can now take the pains of conceiving. The "Frankfurt Union," then, has gone to air! Here is now no "Kaiser to be delivered from oppression:" here is a new Kaiser to be elected,—"Grand-Duke Franz the man," cry the Pragmatic Potentates with exultation, "no Belleisle to disturb!"—and questions arise innumerable thereupon, Will France go into electioneering again? The new Kur-Baiern, only seventeen, poor child, cannot be set up as candidate. What will France do with HIM; what he with France? Whom can the French try as Candidate against the Grand-Duke? Kur-Sachsen, the Polish Majesty again? Belleisle himself must have paused uncertain over such a welter,—and probably have done, like the others, little or nothing in it, but left it to collapse by natural gravitation.

Hungarian Majesty checked her Bavarian Armaments a little: "If perhaps this young Kur-Baiern will detach himself from France, and on submissive terms come over to us?" Whereupon, at Munchen, and in the cognate quarters, such wriggling, dubitating and diplomatizing, as seldom was,—French, Anti-French (Seckendorf busiest of all), straining every nerve in that way, and for almost three months, nothing coming of it,—till Hungarian Majesty sent her Barenklaus and Bathyanis upon them again; and these rapidly solved the question, in what way we shall see!

Friedrich has still his hopes of Bavaria, so grandiloquent are the French in regard to it; who but would hope? The French diplomatize to all lengths in Munchen, promising seas and mountains; but they perform little; in an effectual manner, nothing. Bavarian "Army raised to 60,000;" counts in fact little above half that number; with no General to it but an imaginary one; Segur’s actual French contingent, instead of 25,000, is perhaps 12,000;—and so of other things. Add to all which, Seckendorf is there, not now as War- General, but as extra-official "Adviser;" busier than ever,— "scandalous old traitor!" say the French;—and Friedrich may justly fear that Bavaria will go, by collapse, a bad road for him.

Friedrich, a week or two after the Kaiser’s death, seeing Bavarian and French things in such a hypothetic state, instructs his Ambassador at London to declare his, Friedrich’s, perfect readiness and wish for Peace: "Old Treaty of Breslau and Berlin made indubitable to me; the rest of the quarrel has, by decease of the Kaiser, gone to air." To which the Britannic Majesty, rather elated at this time, as all Pragmatic people are, answers somewhat in a careless way, "Well, if the others like it!" and promises that he will propose it in the proper quarter. So that henceforth there is always a hope of Peace through England; as well as contrariwise, especially till Bavaria settle itself (in April next), a hope of great assistance from the French. Here are potentialities and counter-potentialities, which make the Bavarian Intricacy very agitating to the young King, while it lasts. And indeed his world is one huge imbroglio of Potentialities and Diplomatic Intricacies, agitating to behold. Concerning which we have again to remark how these huge Spectres of Diplomacy, now filling Friedrich’s world, came mostly in result to Nothing;—shaping themselves wholly, for or against, in exact proportion, direct or inverse, to the actual Quantity of Battle and effective Performance that happened to be found in Friedrich himself. Diplomatic Spectralities, wide Fatamorganas of hope, and hideous big Bugbears blotting out the sun: of these, few men ever had more than Friedrich at this time. And he is careful, none carefuler, not to neglect his Diplomacies at any time;—though he knows, better than most, that good fighting of his own is what alone can determine the value of these contingent and aerial quantities,—mere Lapland witchcraft the greater part of them.

A second grand Intricacy and difficulty, still more enigmatic, and pressing the tighter by its close neighborhood, was that with the Saxons. "Are the Saxons enemies; are they friends? Neutrals at lowest; bound by Treaty to lend Austria troops; but to lend for defence merely, not for offence! Could not one, by good methods, make friends with his Polish Majesty?" Friedrich was far from suspecting the rages that lurked in the Polish Majesty, and least of all owing to what. Owing to that old MORAVIAN-FORAY business; and to his, Friedrich’s, behavior to the Saxons in it; excellent Saxons, who had behaved so beautifully to Friedrich! That is the sad fact, however. Stupid Polish Majesty has his natural envies, jealousies, of a Brandenburg waxing over his head at this rate. But it appears, the Moravian Foray entered for a great deal into the account, and was the final overwhelming item. Bruhl, by much descanting on that famous Expedition,—with such candid Eyewitnesses to appeal to, such corroborative Staff-officers and appliances, powerful on the idle heart and weak brain of a Polish Majesty,—has brought it so far. Fixed indignation, for intolerable usage, especially in that Moravian-Foray time: fixed; not very malignant, but altogether obstinate (as, I am told, that of the pacific sheep species usually is); which carried Bruhl and his Polish Majesty to extraordinary heights and depths in years coming! But that will deserve a section to itself by and by.

A third difficulty, privately more stringent than any, is that of Finance. The expenses of the late Bohemian Expedition, "Friedrich’s Army costing 75,000 pounds a month," have been excessive. For our next Campaign, if it is to be done in the way essential, there are, by rigorous arithmetic, "900,000 pounds" needed. A frugal Prussia raises no new taxes; pays its Wars from "the Treasure," from the Fund saved beforehand for emergencies of that kind; Fund which is running low, threatening to be at the lees if such drain on it continue. To fight with effect being the one sure hope, and salve for all sores, it is not in the Army, in the Fortresses, the Fighting Equipments, that there shall be any flaw left! Friedrich’s budget is a sore problem upon him; needing endless shift and ingenuity, now and onwards, through this war:—already, during these months, in the Berlin Schloss, a great deal of those massive Friedrich-Wilhelm plate Sumptuosities, especially that unparalleled Music-Balcony up stairs, all silver, has been, under Fredersdorf’s management, quietly taken away; "carried over, in the night-time, to the Mint." [Orlich, ii. 126-128.]

And, in fact, no modern reader, not deeper in that distressing story of the Austrian-Succession War than readers are again like to be, can imagine to himself the difficulties of Friedrich at this time, as they already lay disclosed, and kept gradually disclosing themselves, for months coming; nor will ever know what perspicacity, patience of scanning, sharpness of discernment, dexterity of management, were required at Friedrich’s hands;—and under what imminency of peril, too; victorious deliverance, or ruin and annihilation, wavering fearfully in the balance for him, more than once, or rather all along. But it is certain the deeper one goes into that hideous Medea’s Caldron of stupidities, once so flamy, now fallen extinct, the more is one sensible of Friedrich’s difficulties; and of the talent for all kinds of Captaincy,—by no means in the Field only, or perhaps even chiefly,—that was now required of him. Candid readers shall accept these hints, and do their best:—Friedrich himself made not the least complaint of men’s then misunderstanding him; still less will he now! We, keeping henceforth the Diplomacies, the vaporous Foreshadows, and general Dance of Unclean Spirits with their intrigues and spectralities, well underground, so far as possible, will stick to what comes up as practical Performance on Friedrich’s part, and try to give intelligible account of that.

Valori says, he is greatly changed, and for the better, by these late reverses of fortune. All the world notices it, says Valori. No longer that brief infallibility of manner; that lofty light air, that politely disdainful view of Valori and mankind: he has now need of men. Complains of nothing, is cheerful, quizzical;— ardently busy to "grind out the notches," as our proverb is; has a mild humane aspect, something of modesty, almost of piety in him. Help me, thou Supreme Power, Maker of men, if my purposes are manlike! Though one does not go upon the Prayers of Forty-Hours, or apply through St. Vitus and such channels, there may be something of authentic petition to Heaven in the thoughts of that young man. He is grown very amiable; the handsomest young bit of Royalty now going. He must fight well next Summer, or it will go hard with him!


Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options

Title: History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 15

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 15

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Thomas Carlyle, "Chapter V. Friedrich, Under Difficulties, Prepares for a New Campaign.," History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 15 in History of Friedrich II of Prussia—Volume 15 Original Sources, accessed March 21, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DAUYS5D99DD75FZ.

MLA: Carlyle, Thomas. "Chapter V. Friedrich, Under Difficulties, Prepares for a New Campaign." History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 15, in History of Friedrich II of Prussia—Volume 15, Original Sources. 21 Mar. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DAUYS5D99DD75FZ.

Harvard: Carlyle, T, 'Chapter V. Friedrich, Under Difficulties, Prepares for a New Campaign.' in History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 15. cited in , History of Friedrich II of Prussia—Volume 15. Original Sources, retrieved 21 March 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=DAUYS5D99DD75FZ.