History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 13

Author: Thomas Carlyle

Chapter V. Klein-Schnellendorf: Friedrich Gets Neisse, in a Fashion.

While these combined Mysteries and War-movements go on, in Neisse and its Environs, the World-Phenomena continue,—in Upper Austria and elsewhere. Of which take these select summits, or points chiefly luminous in the dusk of the forgotten Past:—

LINZ, SEPTEMBER 14th. Karl Albert, being joined some days ago at Scharding by the first three French Divisions, 15,000 men in all (the other four Divisions of them are still in the Donauworth- Ingolstadt quarter, making their manifold arrangements), has pushed forward, sixty miles (land-marches, south side of the Donau, which makes a bend here), and this day, September 14th, appears at Linz. Pleasant City of Linz; where, as readers may remember, Mr. John Kepler, long ago, busy discovering the System of the World (grandest Conquest ever made, or to be made, by the Sons of Adam), had his poor CAMERA OBSCURA set out, to get himself a livelihood in the interim: here now is Karl Albert’s flag on the winds, and, as it were, the Oriflamme with it, on a singularly different Adventure. "Open Gates!" demands Karl Albert with authority: "Admit me to my Capital of Upper Austria!" Which cannot be denied him, there being nothing but Town-guards in the place.

Karl Albert continued there some weeks, in a serenely victorious posture; doing acts of authority; getting homaged by the STANDE; pushing out his forces farther and farther down the Donau, post after post,—victorious Oriflamme-Bavarian Army may be 40,000 strong or so, in those parts. Friedrich urged him much to push on without pause, and take opportunity by the forelock; sent Schmettau (elder of the two Schmettaus, who is much employed on such business) to urge him; wrote an express Paper of Considerations pressingly urgent: but he would not, and continued pausing.

Vienna, all in terror, is fortifying itself; citizens toiling at the earthworks, resolute for making some defence; Constituted Authorities, National Archives even, Court in a body, and all manner of Noble and Official people, flying else-whither to covert: chiefly to Presburg, where her Majesty already is. The Archives were carried to Gratz; the two Dowager Empresses (for there are two, Maria Theresa’s Mother, and Maria Theresa’s Aunt, Kaiser Joseph’s Widow) fled different ways,—I forget which. An agitated, paralyzed population. Except the diligent wheelbarrows on the ramparts, no vehicle is rolling in Vienna but furniture-wagons loading for flight. General Khevenhuller with 6,000, who pesides with fine scientific skill, and an iron calmness and clearness, over these fortifyings, is the only force left. [Anonymous, <italic> Histoire de la Derniere Guerre de Boheme <end italic> (a Francfort, 1745-1747, 4 tomes), i. 190. A lively succinct little Book, vague not false; still readable, though not now, as then, with complete intelligence, to the unprepared reader. Said, in Dictionaries, to be by Mauvillon PERE, though it resembles nothing else of his that is known to me.]’ Neipperg’s, our only Army in the world, is hundreds of miles away, countermarching and manoeuvring about Woitz, and Neisse Town and River,—pretty sure to be beaten in the end,—and it is high time there were a Silesian bargain had, if Hyndford can get us any.

DRESDEN, SEPTEMBER 19th (Excellency Hyndford just recovering from his colic, in Breslau), Kur-Sachsen, after many waverings, signs Treaty of Copartnery with France and Bavaria, seduced by "that Moravia," and the ticklings of Belleisle acting on a weak mind. [Adelung, ii. 469, 304, 503.] His troops are 20,000, or rather more; said to be of good quality, and well equipped. In February last we saw him engaged in Russian, Anti-Prussian Partition schemes. In April, as these suddenly (on sight of the Camp of Gottin) extinguished themselves, he agreed to go, in the pacific way, with her Hungarian Majesty for friend (Treaty with her, signed 11th April); but never went (Treaty never ratified); kept his 20,000 lying about in Camp, in an enigmatic manner,—first about Torgau, latterly in the Lausitz, much nearer to the ERZGEBIRGE (Metal-Mountains), Frontier of Bohemia;—and now signs as above; intent to march as soon as possible. Is to have Four Circles of Bohemia, imaginary Kingships of Moravia, and other prizes. Belleisle has tickled that big trout: Belleisle could now have the Election as he wishes it, would the Electors but be speedy; but they will not, and he is obliged to push continually.

"Moriamur pro Rege nostro Maria Theresia," IN THE POETIC, AND THEN ALSO IN THE PROSE FORM.

PRESBURG, SEPTEMBER 21st. This is the date (or chief date, for, alas, there turn out to be two!) of the world-famous "MORIAMUR PRO REGE NOSTRO MARIA THERESIA;" of which there are now needed Two Narratives; the generally received (in part mythical) going first, in the following strain:—

"The Queen has been in Presburg mainly, where the Hungarian Diet is sitting, ever since her Coronation-ceremony. On the 11th September [or 11th and 21st together], the afflicted Lady makes an appearance there, which, for theatrical reality, has become very celebrated. Alas, it is but three months since she galloped to the top of the Konigsberg, and cut defiantly with bright sabre towards the Four Points of the Universe; and already it has come to this. Hungarian Magnates in high session, the high Queen enters, beautiful and sad,—and among her Ministers is noticeable a Nurse with the young Archduke, some six months old, a fine thriving child, perhaps too wise for his age, who became Kaiser Joseph II. in after time.

"The Hungarian Session is not on record for me, Hall of meeting, Magyar Parliamentary eloquence unknown; nor is any point conspicuously visible, exact and certain, except these [alas, not even these]: That it was the 11th of September; that her Majesty coming forward to speak, took the child in her arms, and there, in a clear and melodiously piercing voice, sorrow and courage on her noble face, beautiful as the Moon riding among wet stormy clouds, spake, as the Hungarian Archives still have it, a short Latin Harangue; in substance as follows: ... ’Hostile invasion of Austria; imminent peril, to this Kingdom of Hungary, to our person, to our children, to our crown. Forsaken by all,—AB OMNIBUS DERELICTI [Britannic Majesty himself standing stock-still,— blamably, one thinks, the two swords being only at HIS throat, and a good way off!]—I have no resource but to throw myself on the loyalty and help of Your renowned Body, and invoke the ancient Hungarian virtue to rise swiftly and save me!’ Whereat the assembled Hungarian Synod, their wild Magyar hearts touched to the core, start up in impetuous acclaim, flourish aloft their drawn swords, and shout unanimously in passionate tenor-voice, ’MORIAMUR (Let us die) for our Rex Maria Theresa!’ [<italic> Maria Theresiens Leben (which speaks hypothetically), iv, 44; Coxe, iii. 270 (who is positive, "after examining the Documents").] Which were not vain words. For a general ’Insurrection’ was thereupon decreed; what the Magyars call their ’Insurrection,’ which is by no means of rebellious nature; and many noblemen, old Count Palfy himself a chief among them, though past threescore and ten, took the field at their own cost; and the noise of the Hungarian Insurrection spread like a voice of hope over all Pragmatic countries."—

A very beautiful heroic scene; which has gone about the world, circulating triumphantly through all hearts for above a Century past; and has only of late acknowledged itself mythical,—not true, except as toned down to the following stingy prose pitch:—

PRESBURG, SEPTEMBER 21st. Maria Theresa, since that fine Coronation-scene, June 2Sth, has had a mixed time of it with her Hungarian Diet; soft passages alternating with hard: a chivalrous people, most consciously chivalrous; but a constitutional withal, very stiff upon their Charter (PACTA CONVENTA, or whatever the name is); who wrangle much upon privileges, upon taxes, and are difficult to keep long in tune. Ten days ago (September 11th), her Majesty tried them on a new tack; summoned them to her Palace; threw herself upon their nobleness, "No allies but you in the world" (and other fine things, authentically, as above, legible in the Archives to this day):—so spake the beautiful young Queen, her eyes filling with tears as she went on, and yet a noble fire gleaming through them. Which melted the Hungarian heart a good deal; and produced fine cheering, some persons even shedding tears, and voices of "Life and Fortune to your Majesty!" being heard in it. In which humor the Diet returned to its Session-House, and voted the "Insurrection,"—or general Arming of Hungary, County by County, each according to its own contingent;—with all speed, in pursuance of her Majesty’s implied desire. This was voted in rapid manner; but again, in the detail of executing, it was liable to haggles. From this day, however, matters did decidedly improve; PACTA CONVENTA, or any remainder of them, are got adjusted,—the good Queen yielding on many points. So that, September 20th, Grand-Duke Franz is elected Co-regent,—let him start from Vienna instantly, for Instalment;—and it is hoped the Insurrection will go well, and not prove haggly, or hang fire in the details.

At any rate, next day, September 21st, Duke Franz, who arrived last night,—and Baby with him, or in the train of him (to the joy of Mamma!)—is in the Palace Audience-Hall, "at 8 A.M.;" ready for the Diet, and what Homagings aud mutual Oath, as new Co-regent, are necessary. Grand-Duke Franz, Mamma by his side, with the suitable functionaries; and to rearward Nurse and Baby, not so conspicuous till needed. Diet enters with the stroke of 8; solemnity proceeds. At the height of the solemnity, when Duke Franz, who is really risen now to something of a heroic mood, in these emergencies and perils, has just taken his Oath, and will have to speak a fit word or two,—the Nurse, doubtless on hint given, steps forward; holds up Baby (a fine noticing fellow, I have no doubt,—"weighed sixteen pounds avoirdupois when born"); as if Baby too, fine mutual product of the Two Co-regents, were mutually swearing and appealing. Enough to touch any heart. "Life and blood (VITAM ET SANGUINEM) for our Queen and Kingdom.!" exclaims the Grand-Duke, among other things. "Yes, VITAM ET SANGUINEM!" re-echoes the Diet, "our life and our blood!" many-voiced, again and again;—and returns to its own Place of Session, once more in a fine strain of loyal emotion.

And there, O reader, is the naked truth, neither more nor less. It was some Vienna Pamphleteer of theatrical imaginative turn, finding the thing apt, a year or two afterwards—who by kneading different dates and objects into one, boldly annihilating time and space, and adding a little paint,—gave it that seductive mythical form. From whom Voltaire adopted it, with improvements, especially in the little Harangue; and from Voltaire gratefully the rest of mankind. [Voltaire, <italic> Siecle de Louis XV., <end italic> c. 6 (<italic> OEuvres, <end italic> xxviii. 78); Coxe, <italic> House of Austria, <end italic> iii. 270; and innumerable others (who give this Myth); <italic> Maria Theresiens Leben, <end italic> p. 44 n. (who cites the Vienna Pamphleteers, without much believing them); Mailath (a Hungarian), <italic> Geschichte des OEsterrichischen Kaiser-Staats <end italic> (Hamburg, 1850), v. 11-13 (who explodes the fable). Cut down to the practical, it stands as above:—by no means a bad thing still. That of "bringing in Baby" was a pretty touch in the domestic-royal way;—and surely very natural; and has no "art" in it, or none to blame and not love rather, on the part of the bright young Mother, now girdled in such tragic outlooks, and so glad to have Baby back at least, and Papa with him! It is certain the "Insurrection" was voted with enthusiasm; and even became rapidly a fact. And there was, in few months hence, an immense mounted force of Hungarians raised, which galloped and plundered (having almost no pay), and occasionally fenced and fought, very diligently during all these Wars. Hussars, Croats, Pandours, Tolpatches, Warasdins, Uscocks, never heard of in war before: who were found very terrible to look upon once, in the imagination or with the naked eye; but whose fighting talent, against regular troops, was next to worthless; and who gradually became hateful rather than terrible in the military world.

HANOVER, SEPTEMBER 27th. Britannic Majesty, reduced to that frightful pinch, has at last given way. Treaty of Neutrality for Hanover; engagement again to stick one’s puissant Pragmatic sword into its scabbard, to be perfectly quiescent and contemplative in these French-Bavarian Anti-Austrian undertakings, and digest one’s indignation as one can. For our Paladin of the Pragmatic what a posture! This is the first of Three Attempts by our puissant little Paladin to draw sword;—not till the third could he get his sword out, or do the least fighting (even foolish fighting) with all the 40,000 he had kept on pay and subsidy for years back. The Neutrality was for Hanover only, and had no specific limit as to time. Opportunities did rise; but something always rose along with them,—mainly the impossibility of hoisting those lazy Dutch, —and checked one’s noble rage. His Majesty has covenantad to vote for Karl Albert as Kaiser; even he, and will make the thing unanimous! A thoroughly check-mated Majesty. Passing home to England, this time in a gloomy condition of mind, shortly after these humiliations, he was just issuing from Osnabruck by the Eastern Gate, when Maillebois’s people entered by the Western,— the ugly shoes of them insulting his kibes in this manner. And a furious Anti-Walpole Parliament, most perturbed of National Palavers, is waiting him at St. James’s. Heavy-laden little Hercules that he is!

Karl Albert lay at Linz for a month longer (till October 24th, six weeks in all); pausing in uncertainties, in a pleasant dream of victory and sovereignty; not pouncing on Vienna, as Friedrich urged on the French and him, to cut the matter by the root. He does push forward certain troops, Comte de Saxe with Three Horse Regiments as vanguard, ever nearer to Vienna; at last to within forty miles of it; nay, light-horse parties came within twenty-five miles. And there was skirmishing with Mentzel, a sanguinary fellow, of whom we shall hear more; who had got "1,000 Tolpatches" under him, and stood ruggedly at bay.

Karl Albert has been sending out sovereign messages from Linz: Letters to Vienna;—one letter addressed "To the Arch-duchess Maria Theresa;" which came back unopened, "No such person known here." October 2d, he is getting homaged at Linz, by the STANDE of the Province,—on summons sent some time before,—many of whom attend, with a willing enough appearance; Kur-Baiern rather a favorite in Upper Austria, say some. Much fine processioning, melodious haranguing, there now is for Karl Albert, and a pleasant dream of Sovereignty at Linz: but if he do not pounce upon Vienna till Khevenhuller get it fortified? Khevenhuller is drawing home Italian Garrisons, gradually gathering something like an Army round him. In Khevenhuller’s imperturbable military head, one of the clearest and hardest, there is some hope. Above all, if Neipperg’s Army were to disengage itself, and be let loose into those parts?


It was the second day after that Homaging at Linz, when Hyndford (Sept. 22d) with mysterious negotiations, now nearly ripe, for disengaging Neipperg, waylaid his Prussian Majesty; and was answered, as we saw, with "Tush, tush! Dinner is already cold!"

It must be owned, these Friedrich-Hyndford Negotiations, following on an express French-Prussian Treaty of June 5th, which have to proceed in such threefold mystery now and afterwards, are of questionable distressing nature: nor can the fact that they are escorted copiously enough by a correspondent sort on the French side, and indeed on the Austrian and on all sides, be a complete consolation,—far otherwise, to the ingenuous reader. Smelfungus indignantly calls it an immorality and a dishonor, "a playing with loaded dice;" which in good part it surely was. Nor can even Friedrich, who has many pleas for himself, obtain spoken acquittal; unspoken, accompanied with regrets and pity, is all even Friedrich can aspire to. My own impression is, Smelfungus, if candid, would on clearer information and consideration have revoked much of what he says here in censure of Friedrich. At all events, if asked: Where then is the specifical not "superstitious" WANT of "veracity" you ever found in Friedrich? and How, OTHERWISE than even as Friedrich did, would you, most veracious Smelfungus, have plucked out your Silesia from such an Element and such a Time?—he would be puzzled to answer. I give his Fragment as I find it, with these deductions:—

"What negotiating we have had, and shall have," exclaims Smelfungus, my sad foregoer,—"fit rather to be omitted from a serious History, which intends to be read by human creatures! Bargaining, Promising, Non-performing. False in general as dicers’ oaths; false on this side and on that, from beginning to end. Intercepted Letters from Fleury; Letter dropping from Valori’s waistcoat-pocket, upon which Friedrich claps his foot: alas, alas, we are in the middle of a whole world of that. Friedrich knows that the French are false to him; he by no means intends to be romantically true to them, and that also they know. What is the use to human creatures of recording all that melancholy stuff? If sovereign persons want their diplomacies NOT to be swept into the ash-pit, there are two conditions, especially one which is peremptory: FIRST, that they should not be lies;—SECOND, that they should be of some importance, some wisdom; which with known lies is not a possible condition. To unravel cobwebs, and register laboriously and date and sort in the sorrow of your soul the oaths of crowned dicers,—what use is it to gods or men? Having well dressed and sliced your cucumber, the next clear human duty is: Throw it out of window. In that foul Lapland-witch world, of seething Diplomacies and monstrous wigged mendacities, horribly wicked and despicably unwise, I find nothing notable, memorable even in a small degree, except this aspect of a young King who does know what he means in it. Clear as a star, sharp as cutting steel (very dangerous to hydrogen balloons), he stands in the middle of it, and means to extort his own from it by such methods as there are.

"Magnanimous I can by no means call Friedrich to his allies and neighbors, nor even superstitiously veracious, in this business: but he thoroughly understands, he alone, what just thing he wants out of it, and what an enormous wigged mendacity it is he has got to deal with. For the rest, he is at the gaming-table with these sharpers; their dice all cogged;—and he knows it, and ought to profit by his knowledge of it. And in short, to win his stake out of that foul weltering mellay, and go home safe with it if he can."

Very well, my friend! Let us keep to windward of the Diplomatic wizard’s-caldron; let Hyndford, Valori and Company preside over it, throwing in their eye of newt and limb of toad, as occasion may be. Enough, if the reader can be brought to conceive it; and how the young King,—who perhaps alone had real business in this foul element, and did not volunteer into it like the others, though it now unexpectedly envelops him like a world-whirlwind (frightful enough, if one spoke of that to anybody), is struggling with his whole soul to get well out of it. As supremely adroit, all readers already know him; his appearance what we called starlike,—always something definite, fixed and lucid in it.

He is dexterously holding aloof from Hyndford at present, clinging to French Valori as his chosen companion: we may fancy what a time he has of it, like a polygamist amid jealous wives. It will quicken Hyndford, he perceives, in these ulterior stages, to leave him well alone. Hyndford accordingly, as we have noticed, could not see the King at all; had to try every plan, to watch, waylay the King for a bit of interview, when indispensable. However, Hyndford, with his Neipperg in sight of the peril, manages better than Robinson with his Aulic Council at a distance: besides he is a long-headed dogged kind of man, with a surly edacious strength, not inexpert in negotiation, nor easily turned aside from any purpose he may have.

Between the two Camps, nearly midway, lies a Hamlet called Klein- Schnellendorf, LITTLE Schnellendorf, to distinguish it from another Schnellendorf called GREAT, which is a mile or two northwestward, out of the straight line. Not far from the first of these poor Hamlets lies a Schloss or noble Mansion, likewise called Klein- Schnellendorf, belonging to a certain Count von Sternberg, who is not there at present, but whose servants are, and a party of Croats over them for some days back: a pleasant airy Mansion among pleasant gardens, well shut out from the intrusion of the world. Upon this Castle of Klein-Schnellendorf judicious Hyndford has cast his eye:—and Neipperg, now come to a state of readiness, approves the suggestion of Hyndford, and promptly at the due moment converts it into a fact. Arrests namely, on a given morning (the last act of his Croats there, who withdrew directly with their batch of prisoners), every living soul within or about the Mansion;— "suspected of treason;" only for one day;—and in this way, has it reduced to the comfortable furnished solitude of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle; a place fit for high persons to hold a Meeting in, which shall remain secret as the grave. Such a thing was indispensable. For Friedrich, keeping shy of Hyndford, as he well may with a Valori watching every step, has, by words, by silences, when Hyndford could waylay him for a moment, sufficiently indicated what he will and what he will not; and, for one indispensable condition, in the present thrice-delicate Adventure, he will not sign anything; will give and take word of honor, and fully bind himself, but absolutely not put pen to paper at all. Neipperg being willing too, judicious Hyndford finds a medium. Let the parties meet at Klein-Schnellendorf, and judicious Hyndford be there with pen and paper. [Orlich, i. 146; <italic> Helden-Geschichte, <end italic> i. 1009.]

Monday, 9th October, 1741, accordingly, there is meeting to be held. Hyndford, Neipperg with his General Lentulus (a Swiss-Austrian General, whose Son served under Friedrich afterwards), these wait for Friedrich, on the one hand:—"to fix some cartel for exchange of prisoners," it is said;—in these precincts of Klein- Schnellendorf; which are silent, vacant, yet comfortably furnished, like Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. And Friedrich, on the other hand, is actually riding that way, with Goltz;—visiting outposts, reconnoitring, so to speak. "Dine you with Prince Leopold (the Young Dessauer), my fine Valori; I fear I shan’t be home to dinner!" he had said when going off; hoodwinking his fine Valori, who suspects nothing. At a due distance from Klein-Schnellendorf, the very groom is left behind; and Friedrich, with Goltz only, pushes on to the Schloss. All ready there; salutations soon done; business set about, perfected:—and Hyndford with pen and ink in his hand, he, by way of Protocol, or summary of what had bsen agreed on, on mutual word of honor, most brief but most clear on this occasion, writes a State Paper, which became rather famous afterwards. This is the Paper in condensed state; though clear, it is very dull!

KLEIN-SCHNELLENDORF, 9th OCTOBER, 1741. Britannic Excellency Hyndford testifies, That, here and now, his Majesty of Prussia, and Neipperg on behalf of her Hungarian Majesty do, solemnly though only verbally, agree to the following Four Things:—

"FIRST, That General Neipperg, on the 16th of the month [this day week] shall have liberty to retire through the Mountains, towards Moravia; unmolested, or with nothing but sham-attacks in the rear of him. SECOND, That, in consequence, his Prussian Majesty, on making sham-siege of Neisse, shall have the place surrendered to him on the fifteenth day. THIRD, That there shall be, nay in a sense, there hereby is, a Peace made; his Majesty retaining Neisse and Silesia [according to the limits known to us:—nothing said of Glatz]; and that a complete Treaty to that effect shall be perfected, signed and ratified, before the Year is out. FOURTH, That these sham-hostilities, but only sham, shall continue; and that his Majesty, wintering in Bohewia, and carrying on shamhostilities [to the satisfaction of the French], shall pay his own expenses, and do no mischief." [Given in <italic> Helden- Geschichte, <end italic> i. 1009; in &c.]

To these Four Things they pledge their word of honor; and Hyndford signs and delivers each a Copy. Unwritten a Fifth Thing is settled, That the present transaction in all parts of it shall be secret as death,—his Majesty expressly insisting that, if the least inkling of it ooze out, he shall have right to deny it, and refuse in any way to be bound by it. Which likewise is assented to.

Here is a pretty piece of work done for ourself and our allies, while Valori is quietly dining with the Prince of Dessau! The King stayed about two hours; was extremely polite, and even frank and communicative. "A very high-spirited young King," thinks Neipperg, reporting of it; "will not stand contradiction; but a great deal can be made of him, if you go into his ideas, and humor him in a delicate dexterous way. He did not the least hide his engagements with France, Bavaria, Saxony; but would really, so far as I Neipperg could judge, prefer friendship with Austria, on the given terms; and seems to have secretly a kind of pique at Saxony, and no favor for the French and their plans." [Orlich, i. 149 (in condensed state).]

"Business being done [this is Hyndford’s report], the King, who had been politeness itself, took Neipperg aside, beckoning Hyndford to be of the party, ’I wish you too, my Lord, to hear every word:—his Britannic Majesty knows or should know my intentions never were to do him hurt, but only to take care of myself; and pray inform him [what is the fact] that I have ordered my Army in Brandenburg to go into winter-quarters, and break up that Camp at Gottin.’ Friedrich’s talk to Neipperg is, How he may assault the French with advantage: ’Join Lobkowitz and what force he has in Bohmen; go right into your enemies, before they can unite there. If the Queen prosper, I shall—perhaps I shall have no objection to join her by and by? If her Majesty fail; well, every one must look to himself.’" These words Hyndford listened to with an edacious solid countenance, and greedily took them down. [Hyndford’s Despatch, Breslau, 14th October, 1741.]

Once more, a curious glimpse (perhaps imprudently allowed us, in the circumstances) into the real inner man of Friedrich. He had, at this time, now that the Belleisle Adventure is left in such a state, no essential reason to wish the French ruined,—nor probably did he; but only stated both chances, as in the way of unguarded soliloquy; and was willing to leave Neipperg a sweet morsel to chew. Secret mode of corresponding with the Court of Austria is agreed upon; not direct, but thraugh certain Commandants, till the Peace-Treaty be perfected,—at latest "by December 24th," we hope. And so, "BON VOYAGE, and well across the Mountains, M. LE MARECHAL; till we meet again! And you, Excellency Hyndford, be so good you as write to me,—for Valori’s behoof,—complaining that I am deaf to all proposals, that nothing can be had of me. And other Letters, pray, of the like tenor, all round; to Presburg, to England, to Dresden:—if the Couriers are seized, it shall be well. ’Your Letter to myself, let a trumpet come with it while I am at dinner,’ and Valori beside me!"—"Certainly, your Majesty," answers Hyndford; and does it, does all this; which produces a soothing effect on Valori, poor soul!


Thus, if the Austrians hold to their bargain, has Friedrich, in a most compendious manner, got done with a Business which threatened to be infinite: by this short cut he, for his part, is quite out of the waste-howling jungle of Enchanted Forest, and his foot again on the firm free Earth. If only the Austrians hold to their bargain! But probably he doubts if they will. Well, even in that case, he has got Neisse; stands prepared for meeting them again; and, in the mean while, has freedom to deny that there ever was such a bargain.

Of the Political morality of this game of fast-and-loose, what have we to say,—except, that the dice on both sides seem to be loaded; that logic might be chopped upon it forever; that a candid mind will settle what degree of wisdom (which is always essentially veracity), and what of folly (which is always falsity), there was in Friedrich and the others; whether, or to what degree, there was a better course open to Friedrich in the circumstances:—and, in fine, it will have to be granted that you cannot work in pitch and keep hands evidently clean. Friedrich has got into the Enchanted Wilderness, populous with devils and their works;—and, alas, it will be long before he get out of it again, HIS life waning towards night before he get victoriously out, and bequeath his conquest to luckier successors! It is one of the tragic elements of this King’s life; little contemplated by him, when he went lightly into the Silesian Adventure, looking for honor bright, what he called "GLOIRE," as one principal consideration, hardly a year ago!—

Neipperg, according to covenant, broke up punctually that day week, October 16th; and went over the Mountains, through Jagerndorf, Troppau, towards Mahren; Prussians hanging on his rear, and skirmishing about, but only for imaginary or ostensible purposes. After a three-weeks march, he gets to a place called Frating, [Espagnac, i. 104.] easternmost border of Mahren, on the slopes of the Mannhartsberg Hill-Country, which is within wind of Vienna itself; where, as we can fancy, his presence is welcome as morninglight in the present dark circumstances.

Friedrich, on the morrow after Neipperg went, invested Neisse (October 17th); set about the Siege of Neisse with all gravity, as if it had been the most earnest operation; which nobody of mankind, except three or four, doubted but it was. Before opening of the trenches, Leopold young Dessauer took the road for Glatz Country, and the adjoining Circles of Bohemia; there to canton himself, peaceably according to contract; and especially to have an eye upon Glatz, should the Klein-Schnellendorf engagement go awry in any point. The King in his Dialogue with Neipperg had said several things about Glatz, and what a sacrifice he made there for the sake of speedy pace, the French having guaranteed him Glatz, though he now forbore it. Leopold, who has with him some 15,000 horse and foot, cantons himself judiciously in those ultramontane parts,— "all the artillery in the Glatz Country;" [<italic> Helden- Geschichte, <end italic> ii. 431; Orlich, i. 174.]—and we shall hear of him again, by and by, in regard to other business that rises there.

Neisse is a formidable Fortress, much strengthened since last year; but here is a Besieger with much better chance! He marked out parallels, sent summonses, reconnoitred, manoeuvred,—in a way more or less surprising to the eye of Valori, who is military, and knows about sieges. Rather singular, remarks Valori; good engineers much wanted here! But the bombardment did finally begin: night of October 26th-27th, the Prussiaus opened fire; and, at a terrible rate, cannonaded and bombarded without intermission. In point of fire and noise it is tremendous; Valori trusts it may be effective, in spite of faults; goes to Breslau in hope: "Yes, go to Breslau, MON CHER VALORI; wait for me there. Neipperg be chased, say you? Shall not he,—if we had got this place!" And so the fire continues night and day. [<italic> Helden-Geschichte, <end italic> i. 1006.]

Fantastic Bielfeld, in his semi-fabulous style, has a LETTER on this bombardment, attractive to Lovers of the Picturesque,— (written long afterwards, and dated &c. WRONG). As Bielfeld is a rapid clever creature of the coxcomb sort, and doubtless did see Neisse Siege, and entertained seemingly a blazing incorrect recollection of it, his Pseudo-Neisse Letter may be worth giving, to represent approximately what kind of scene it was there at Neisse in the October nights:—

"Marechal Schwerin was lodged in a Village about three-quarters of a mile from Head-Quarters. One day he did me the honor to invite me to dinner; and even offered me a horse to ride thither with him. I found excellent company; a superb repast, and wine of the gods. Host and guests were in high spirits; and the pleasures of the table were kept up so late, that it was midnight when we rose. I was obliged to return to Head-Quarters, having still to wait upon the King, as usual. The Marechal was kind enough to lend me another horse; but the groom mischievously gave me the charger which the Marechal rode at the Battle of Mollwitz; a very powerful animal, and which, from that day, had grown very skittish.

"I was made aware of this circumstance, before we were fairly out of the Village; and the night being of the darkest, I twenty times ran the risk of breaking my neck. We had to pass over a hill, to get to Head-Quarters. When I reached the top, a shudder came over me, and my hair stood on end. I had nobody with me but a strange groom. The country all around was infested with troops and marauders; I was mounted on an unmanageable horse. Under my feet, so to say, I saw the bombardment of the Town of Neisse. I heard the roar of cannon and doleful shrieks. Above our batteries the whole atmosphere was inflamed; and to complete the calamity, I missed the way, and got lost in the darkness. Finally, in descending the hill, my horse, frightened, made a terrible swerve or side-jump. I did not know the cause; but after having, with difficulty, got him into the road again, I found myself opposite to a deserter who had been hanged that day! I was horribly disgusted by the sight; the gallows being very low, and the head of the malefactor almost parallel with mine. I spurred on, and galloped away from such unpleasant nightcompany. At last I arrived at Head-Quarters, all in a perspiration. I sent my horse back; and went in to the King, who asked me at once, why I was so heated. I made his Majesty a faithful report of all my disasters. He laughed much; and advised me seriously not again to go out by night, and alone, beyond the circuit of Head-Quarters." [Bielfeld, ii. 31, 32.]

After four days and nights of this sublime Playhouse thunder (with real bullets in it, which killed some men, and burnt considerable property), the Neisse Commandant (not Roth this time, Roth is now in Brunn),—his "fortnight of siege," Ottober 17th to October 3lst, being accomplished or nearly so,—beat chamade; and was, after grave enough treatying, allowed to march away. Marched, accordingly, on the correct Klein-Schnellendorf terms; most of his poor garrison deserting, and taking Prussian service. Ever since which moment, Neisse, captured in this curious manner, has been Friedrich’s and his Prussia’s.

November 1st, the Prussian soldiers entered the place; and Friedrich, after diligent inspection and what orders were necessary, left for Brieg on the following day;—where general illuminating and demonstrating awaited him, amid more serious business. After strict examinations, and approval of Walrave and his works at Brieg, he again takes the road; enters Breslau, in considerable state (November 4th); where many Persons of Quality are waiting, and the general Homaging is straightway to be,—or indeed should have been some days ago, but has fallen behind by delays in the Neisse affair.

The Breslau HULDIGUNG,—Friedrich sworn to and homaged with the due solemnities as "Sovereign Duke of Lower Silesia,"—was an event to throw into fine temporary frenzy the descriptive Gazetteers, and Breslau City, overflowing with Quality people come to act and to see on the occasion. Event which can be left to the reader’s fancy, at this date. There were Corporations out in quantity, "all in cloaks" and with sublime Addresses, partly in poetry, happily rather brief. There were beautiful Prussian Life-guards ("First Battalion," admirable to the softer sex, not to speak of the harder); much military resonance and splendor. Friedrich drove about in carriages-and-six, "nay carriage-and-eight, horses creamcolor:" a very high King indeed; and a very busy one, for those four days (November 4th-8th) 1741), but full of grace and condescension. The HULDIGUNG itself took effect on the 7th; in the fine old Rathhaus, which Tourists still know,—the surrounding Apple-women sweeping themselves clear away for one day. Ancient Ducal throne and proper apparatus there was; state-sword unluckily wanting: Schwerin, who was to act Grand-Marshal, could find no state-sword, till Friedrich drew his own and gave it him. [<italic> Helden-Geschichte, <end italic> i. 1022, 1025; ii. 349.]

Podewils the Minister said something, not too much; to which one Prittwitz, head of a Silesian Family of which we shall know individuals, made pithy and pretty response, before swearing. "There were above Four Hundred of Quality present, all in gala." The customary Free-Gift of the STANDE Friedrich magnanimously refused: "Impossible to be a burden to our Silesia in such harassed war-circumstances, instead of benefactor and protector, as we intended and intend!" The Ceremony, swearing and all, was over in two hours; hundreds of silver medals, not to speak of the gold ones, flying about; and Breslau giving itself up joyfully to dinner and festivities. And, after dinner, that evening, to Illumination; followed by balls and jubilations for days after, in a highly harmonious key. Of the lamps-festoons, astonishing transparencies, and glad symbolic devices, I could say a great deal; but will mention only two, both of comfortably edible or quasi-edible tendency:—
1. That of David Schulze, Flesher by profession; who had a Transparency large as life, representing his own fat Person in the act of felling a fat Ox; to which was appended this epigraph:—

<italic> "Wer mir wird den Konig in Preussen verachten, Den will ich wie diesen Ochsen schlacten." <end italic> "Who dares me the King of Prussia insult, Him I will serve like this fat head of nolt." Signed "DAVID SCHULER, A BRANDENBURGER."—

And then,

2. How, in another quarter, there was set aloft IN RE, by some Pastry-cook of patriotic turn: "An actual Ox roasted whole; filled with pheasants, partridges, grouse, hares and geese; Prussian Eagle atop, made of roasted fowls, larks and the like,"—unattainable, I doubt, except for money down. [<italic> Helden-Geschichte, <end italic> ii. 359.]

On the fifth morning, 9th November,—after much work done during this short visit, much ceremonial audiencing, latterly, and raising to the peerage,—Friedrich rolled on to Glogau. Took accurate survey of the engineering and other interests there, for a couple of days; thence to Berlin (noon of the llth), joyfully received by Royal Family and all the world;—and, as we might fancy, asking himself: "Am I actually home, then; out of the enchanted jungles and their devilries; safe here, and listening, I alone in Peace, to the universal din of War?" Alas, no; that was a beautiful hypothesis; too beautiful to be long credible! Before reaching Berlin,—or even Breslau, as appears,—Friedrich, vigilantly scanning and discerning, had seen that fine hope as good as vanish; and was silently busy upon the opposite one.

In a fortnight hence, Hyndford, who had followed to Berlin, got transient sight of the King one morning, hastening through some apartment or other: "’My Lord,’ said the King, (the Court of Vienna has entirely divulged our secret. Dowager Empress Amelia [Kaiser Joseph’s widow, mother of Karl Albert’s wife] has acquainted the Court of Bavaria with it; Wasner [Austrian Minister at Paris] has told Fleury; Sinzendorf [ditto at Petersburg] has told the Court of Russia; Robinson, through Mr. Villiers [your Saxon Minister], has told the Court of Dresden; and several members of your Government in England have talked publicly about it!’ And, with a shrug of the shoulders, he left me,"—standing somewhat agape there. [Hyndford’s Despatch, Berlin, 28th November, 1741; Ib. Breslau, 28th October (secret already known).]


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Chicago: Thomas Carlyle, "Chapter V. Klein-Schnellendorf: Friedrich Gets Neisse, in a Fashion.," History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 13 in History of Friedrich II of Prussia—Volume 13 Original Sources, accessed March 31, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8N3JCFLVHHL8Y74.

MLA: Carlyle, Thomas. "Chapter V. Klein-Schnellendorf: Friedrich Gets Neisse, in a Fashion." History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 13, in History of Friedrich II of Prussia—Volume 13, Original Sources. 31 Mar. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8N3JCFLVHHL8Y74.

Harvard: Carlyle, T, 'Chapter V. Klein-Schnellendorf: Friedrich Gets Neisse, in a Fashion.' in History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 13. cited in , History of Friedrich II of Prussia—Volume 13. Original Sources, retrieved 31 March 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8N3JCFLVHHL8Y74.