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From The Edinburgh Review. a troublesome and even a dangerous one. FREDERIC II. AND MARIA THERESA.*
It might perhaps have been secured if the The Duke de Broglie has given us a emperor would have had her husband, the book charming in itself, and most inter. Duke of Lorraine, proclaimed King of esting from the new light which it throws the Romans; but this he would not do, on the most obscure transactions it de keeping up even to the last it has been scribes. These volumes are history, not supposed a hope that he might still satire; but as the words and the deeds of have a son. He preferred rather to trust Frederic are compared and contrasted in to negotiation and to an agreement with them with an exactness never before at. France, whose consent was purchased tained, we learn to separate the true from with the long-coveted province of Lorthe false, and to distinguish the Frederic raine ; the duke receiving, as a nominal of fact from the Frederic of fiction. As equivalent, the grand duchy of Tuscany. a Frenchman, the Duke de Broglie has The Diet of the Empire had approved the naturally no bias in favor of the Prussian Pragmatic Sanction, and all the powers king; but he is equally free from bias in of Europe had guaranteed it. That sturdy favor of the French government. He old warrior, Prince Eugene, had, indeed, examines and condemns, with equal rigor | urged the emperor to trust the cause of and severity, the mean, weak, short. his daughter to a powerful army rather sighted policy of Fleury and the hypocrit- than to promises or vows; one hundred ical rapacity of Frederic. The story is a thousand men, he had said, would be more gloomy one; it is a record of folly, of to the purpose than one hundred thousand wickedness, and of treachery, such as
guarantees. Of this Charles was suffihave seldom been equalled; it is worked ciently sensible; but the exhausted state out with close attention to accuracy in of his treasury and the jealousy of his even minute details ; and with a rare and ministers rendered it impossible for him poetic feeling, it gives an enthralling into act as Eugene and his own judgment terest to what has sometimes been consid- advised, and the army was reduced inered a dull, and what Frederic's admirers stead of increased. Still the guarantees, would fain believe a forgotten, episode. as far as they went, appeared to be genuIt has indeed all the elements of the ine. If there was faith in man or in govtragic and the sublime: it tells of kings ernments, the emperor might die happy; and queens, of wars and deaths, of heroic but he had no such faith, and his last resolve and patriotic enthusiasm, of vil. day's were disturbed by gloomy anticipalany, perfidy, and crime.
tions of the evil to come. Nor were these The commencement of the story car. long in being realized. He died at the ries us back to the Pragmatic Sanction by comparatively early age of fifty-five, on which the emperor Charles VI., in de- October 20, 1740; and before the breath fault of male heirs, assigned his domin. was well out of his body, all the Conti. ions to his daughter Maria Theresa. nental subscribers to the guarantee were These dominions were widely scattered, busy in the endeavor to subvert the Prag. and held by various claims; they had matic Sanction, and to turn the death of been added to the archduchy of Austria the emperor to their own private adby happy marriages rather than by pros. vantage. perous wars; they had never been consoli
Charles Albert, elector of Bavaria, was dated or wedded into one; the different the first to speak out. Whilst waiving people, speaking different languages, had any claims he might have from his wife, no feeling of national unity, and might a daughter of the late emperor's preeasily fall apart if left without the strong decessor and elder brother, he had alhand of a master. To a young girl such ready binted at pretensions going back to an inheritance was likely enough to prove Ferdinand I., to whose will be appealed. • Frédéric 11. et Marie-Thérèse, d'après des docu- A public reference to this will showed
1740-1742. Par le Duc de Broglie. that the claim was invalid; but, notwith2 vols., 8vo. Paris: 1883.
standing this, he now reasserted it with
significant persistence. Others were not | lable fidelity, the engagements which he has slow to follow his example. Augustus, made with you; and if I may be allowed to elector of Saxony and king of Poland, speak of myself at the same time, I venture to had married an elder sister of the electress hope that my peaceful intentions are so well of Bavaria, and, by virtue thereof, his known that you may readily believe I am very claim was stronger than that of Charles far from thinking of setting Europe in a flame. Albert. The duke of Savoy and the and more to the same effect. In Octo. king of Spain had their own pretensions, ber, however, when it was time to make and would not be ignored. Each might good his promises, he was wanting in claim the whole of the inheritance which, Both courage and decision. He hesitated, but a few years before, they had guaran. he equivocated. He told the Austrian anteed to Maria Theresa, but a common minister that to doubt his good faith was interest prompted them to moderation,
an insult, but that under the unusual cir. and suggested that they should divide the
cumstances it was necessary to discuss spoil. The threatened coalition was most the question of etiquette, and to deterformidable, for the Austrian army had
mine how an Austrian sovereign, not holdlittle real existence, the Austrian treasury ing the Imperial dignity, and a woman, was empty, and the Austrian people them
was to be addressed; on the following selves were disaffected – in the country, day he assured the Bavarian minister that by reason of a bad harvest and consequent
reason why the elector scarcity; in Vienna, by an unwillingness should not aspire to the Imperial crown; that the glory and profit of being the Im- that the king was free to support him; perial city should depart from among that the guarantee could not be underthem. But neither were the opposing stood as nullifying the just rights of any powers ready for immediate action, and third party; and that the Bavarian claims the question whether they would be able
should be considered. Thus paltering to give effect to their claims seemed to with his own conscience and the demands depend very much on the view which of the rivals, he became in the end the France should take of the position.
slave instead of the ruler of events. France, equally with the other powers,
Of all the Continental powers, Prussia had guaranteed the succession of Maria alone had neither genealogical nor matriTheresa; and though she no doubt had monial claim on the Austrian succession, certain remote genealogical claims, she and had guaranteed the Pragmatic Sanchad not put them forward. There was, tion without difficulty or diplomacy. Her apparently, nothing to tempt her to forfeit king, too, was a young man of — it was her pledge. But through more than two said – romantic, nay, of chivalrous dispocenturies she had been accustomed to sition, and bound to the house of Austria consider herself as the natural enemy of
by the ties of friendship and gratitude. the house of Austria, and the present It is unnecessary here to repeat the oftenseemed to some of her ruling spirits to told story of Frederic's education, and of be an opportunity for trampling the enemy the brutal treatment he received at the in the dust. Cardinal Fleury still held hands of his father. Suffice it to recall the reins of government, as he had done one incident of his youth. In August, for seventeen years before. He himself
1730, the crown prince, then eighteen was virtually the French guarantee of the
years old, unable longer to endure the Pragmatic Sanction, and all that he was tyranny to which he was subjected, re. now called on to do was to acknowledge solved to fly and seek refuge, possibly, in his plighted word.
But he was a very
England with his uncle. The attempt man, and old age is unwilling to take any was frustrated. Of two friends who were decided step. Yet on January 26, only to fly with him, one made good bis escape; vine months before the emperor's death, the other was apprehended, tried, and he had written to him :
sentenced to imprisonment. The king Your Majesty may be assured that the king considered this unequal to the crime, will observe, with the most exact and invio- which he called high treason, and substituted for the sentence an edict ordering | even when they were unable to form any the offender to be beheaded, which order clear idea of what the reality might prove. was duly obeyed. Prince Frederic, under | The old king died on May 31, 1740; and the name of Colonel Fritz, was also Frederic so far gave the lie to expectabrought before a court-martial, on a charge tion, that he did not at once unveil. The of desertion; and at the special instance dissimulation which had been forced on of the king, enforced on the members of him in boyhood and youth was become a the court by the royal cane unflinchingly second nature; he kept up and increased laid on, he was found guilty, and sen- the army which his father had formed, tenced to death. The princess Wilhel- but he also kept up the literary coterie mina ventured to plead in her brother's which he had assembled round himself; behalf. With the foulest language the and during the first months of his reign king threw himself on her, pommelled appeared equally anxious about the set of her over 'the face and head with his a soldier's belt or the rhythm of a French clenched fist, struck her to the ground by sentence. a blow on the temple, and was with diffi
. His romantic visit to Strasbourg, a few culty restrained from kicking and tramp. months later, did not make things clearer. ling on her prostrate body. It was known His intention may possibly have been to that the sentence of the court had been go on to Paris, and, under the obscure procured by the brutal violence of the name of Count Dufour, see for himself king: the courtiers, having more regard the society of which he had read and for their own shoulders and ears than for heard. This, however, must be doubtful, the life of a boy, scarcely ventured to and the escapade probably meant nothing intercede: the foreign ministers were more than the curiosity of a young man lukewarm; and the prince was rescued suddenly released from severe restraint; from an otherwise certain fate only by the otherwise, we may suppose that he would remonstrances of the Imperial ambassa- bave provided himself beforehand with dor, supported by a personal letter to the proper passports and letters of introduce king from the emperor himself. He was tion, and that matters would have been pardoned, but permitted to remain in se arranged with more care to prevent recog. clusion, destitute of the means to provide nition. As it was, he had not been many the necessaries of life, still less the de. hours in Strasbourg before it was pretty cencies of his rank. From this embar- generally known that Count Dufour was rassment, also, he was relieved by the but another way of saying king of Prusemperor, who, for several years, secretly sia; and the Duke de Broglie suspects but regularly paid him such sums of that his ancestor, the second Marshal de money as rendered him independent of Broglie — who was then governor of the his father's sordid economy.
town, and to whose private papers he re. It is very well known that, during this fers - may have been wanting in tact time and for the greater part of the next during the difficult interview which he ten years, the prince specially affected bad with the stranger. the society of musicians, philosophers, Naturally [he says] if the old governor was poets, and men of letters, professing the guilty of any awkwardness, he was either not desire to rank as one of themselves; and conscious of it or he took care not to acknowlthat with such apparent zeal and earnest- edge it; so that it remains difficult to underness, that there were many who believed stand what it was that provoked the king's illthat, when called to the throne, his chief humor to such a degree that when, a year merit and distinction would be as their afterwards, the marshal had to concert meas
ures with him relative to the operations of the patron, although there were not wanting those who suspected the sardonic humor, campaign, the recollection of this incident the seething ambition, and the unscrupu
proved a real difficulty. lous rapacity which lay hid behind the We may, however, be permitted to doubt inask of dissimulation, or who recognized whether Frederic's distaste for the marthe falseness of the assumed character I shal really sprang from so childish a
cause, or whether it was not rather as and trenches will be more talked about recollection of the ridiculous figure which than actresses, ballets, and theatres." the old man had made during the recent That this was a correct forecast of the campaign in Italy, when he had to spring political weather, not only for next June into his saddle, without boots or breeches, but for the next three-and-twenty years, is and ride for his life from the ill-mannered now a familiar fact of history; and it was Germans; and, if there is any truth in easy enough to make it, as the prophet Frederic's story that the marshal enter. was himself the disturbing influence. tained him with a long account of bis But the exact measure in which he was name, bis titles, and his distinctions, the so has been strangely misstated by Fred. king may well have thought him verging eric's agents in the first place, and after. on his dotage.
wards by those who, admiring his genius, It was a few days after this that, at have been wilfully blind to his crimes ; Moyland, near Cleves, the young king met and of all who have sinned in this way, Voltaire for the first time. The conver- none — we say it to our shame - has been sation, which lasted well into the night, more guilty than an English writer who turned on philosophy, on the immortality has been held up to public reverence as a of the soul, and incidentally on politics; great moral teacher. and so led to Frederic's asking Voltaire Enough has been said of the late Mr. to write for him a manifesto to the Bishop Harrison Ainsworth having promoted rufof Liège, against whom he had a disputed fians, such as Dick Turpin or Jack Shepclaim, which it had been proposed to pard, to be heroes of romance: that was, compromise for a million livres, and which we think, a moral mistake and a literary he had determined to enforce in spite of, error; but at least Mr. Ainsworth did not or perhaps even in consequence of, the dwell on the crimes of his heroes as the emperor's remonstrance. He had, in fact, praiseworthy incidents of their career; written, very shortly after his accession, and, forgetting these, it may be allowable “ I will presently go into the Cleves coun- to admire the daring of the ride to York try and try what is to be done by gentle or the ingenuity of the escape from Newmeans; but if I meet with refusal I will gate. In the same way we might be perdo myself justice. The emperor is the mitted to admire, in Frederic of Prussia, old phantom of an idol which really had the courage which bore up against defeat power long ago but has none now; just as or the military skill which led to victory; he himself used to be a strong man, but is but these are not the characteristics which Dow worn by sickness and good for noth- Mr. Carlyle chose to embellish with exing.” The peace of the Empire was not, travagant laudation. We are not now however, disturbed; for, convinced by the reviewing Mr. Carlyle's “ History of Fredarguments of Voltaire, or by the soldiers eric * the Great,” and would willingly pass of Frederic, the bishop paid the sun. it by in silence; but it forces itself on But the very summary proceeding which our 'notice, and the author's great reputa. had been threatened gave rise to much tion gives it an importance to which, on uneasiness in diplomatic circles; and as its own merits, it is not entitled. As the king, with an army already numbering history, it is not to be trusted; and as some eighty thousand men in the highest morality, it is to be utterly condemned. state of efficiency, was busily increasing During his long life Mr. Carlyle waged a it, the question could not but be asked as vigorous and oftentimes a righteous war to the probable motive - for the succes against shams, against calling things by sion to the duchies of Juliers and Berg, their wrong names; but when we find him which Frederic openly claimed, seemed holding Frederic up as an object for us altogether too small a matter to require to admire, and singling out unabashed such a formidable armament.
falsehood as veracity, unblushing, impu. The public had not long to wait for an dence as candor, or selfishness and greed
Frederic was lying at Rheins. as manliness and straightforwardness, we berg, sick of an intermittent fever, when, are compelled by his own teaching to on October 26, he received news of the enter a protest against the misuse of emperor's death. Contrary to the orders words and the misstatement of facts. of his physician, he at once swallowed a The incident in his hero's career which dose of quinquing and sent off to Berlin for Count Podewils, the secretary of state, * Mr. Carlyle generally calls his hero Friedrich, and for Field-Marshal Schwerin. Atine which is neither English nor accurate : the king of
Prussia signed himself Fédericin French, and Friderich same time he wrote to Voltaire, “I think in German; if he had known English, he might posthat next June gunpowder and soldiers sibly have devised a third spelling.
he has honored with his warmest approval | Prussian majesty must have some designs is bis conduct immediately after the em- upon Silesia.” It was not, however, till peror's death, leading up to the war in the 29th that he could say: “ The project Silesia. He refers to the justice of Fred. of invading Silesia is now almost as good eric's claims, not, indeed, to discuss them as avowed; several of the regiments or
for not even Mr. Carlyle could pretend dered on this expedition are actually on to understand them - but by asserting their march, and we are told that if they Frederic's belief in them.
meet with any opposition, this army shall He speaks [he says] when business requires
be supported by another of thirty thou. it, of "Those known rights” of his, and with sand men.” But, as is well known, the the air of a man who expects to be believed on truth was not declared till the very last his word; but it is cursorily and in the busi- moment. On December 6, Mr. Dickens ness way only; and there is not here or else described long conversation which he where the least pleading. A man, you would had had with the king, who said plainly say, considerably indifferent to our belief on enough that it was not his intention to that head; his eye set on the practical merely. support the Pragmatic Sanction; he had "Just Rights? What are rights, never so not guaranteed it, and was not bound by just, which you cannot make valid ? The world is full of such. If you have rights and any engagements which his father had can assert them into facts, do it; that is worth made. When Dickens asked him what doing!”
he was to write to his court, Frederic
grew red in the face and said, “ You canSo, indeed, Frederic thought, without not yet have any instructions to ask me asking whether the rights were just or that'; you have no right to enquire into unjust, or, indeed, without mentioning the my designs.” Afterwards, however, he rights at all. That Mr. Carlyle, in his affected to become more communicative, view of Frederic's conduct on this impor- and said: “He was for the grand duke of tant occasion, was carried away by the Tuscany's being made emperor, but he hero-worship which had affected him, has could never consent to his being declared always been sufficiently clear; but the king of Bohemia, and that it was against extent of his error has perhaps never the Pragmatic Sanction ; for if the queen, been put before the public in a connected his consort, happened to die without issue, form till now by the Duke de Broglie, the second archduchess would be deprived who has used the MSS. of his own fam- of what belongs to her by right.” On ily and of the French archives to illus- which Mr. Dickens observes :trate and interpret the valuable papers lately published at Vienna and Berlin, * to the beginning of my audience, he declared he
The King of Prussia contradicts himself: in which we are happily able to add some would not support the Pragmatic Sanction, and further elucidations from the diplomatic now he seems to plead for it; from which I correspondence in our own records.
can infer nothing else than that he meant to While Frederic and his two ministers take possession of Bohemia as well as Silesia, were arranging their plans at Rheinsberg, under pretence of keeping those countries for the diplomatic world at Berlin was specu. the second archduchess, in case her elder sislating as to the course the king of Prus. ter should die without children. sia meant to take; and one opinion was, Eleven days later, on the 17th, Dickens that plans were being formed “to bring wrote again that the king had hinted to the imperial crown into the house of him that England might find her own Brandenburg;” but all that could be got advantage on the side of Mecklenburg. out of the Prussian ministers, who had “ I have been told,” he added, “by a perreally no knowledge, was “Gaudeant son of good authority that he was some. bene arinati.” The great stir among the time in suspense whether he should begin troops suggested that the object might be his conquests by the latter or the former" to sustain the Prussian claims on the suc
Mecklenburg or Silesia ; and that it cession of Juliers and Berg; though, as might be expected, if he remained in posearly as November 5, Mr. Guy Dickens session of the one, he would afterwards wrote, “ The ministers and generals here form the same pretension on the other. speak very much of late of some old pre. There does not, however, seem to have tensions of this house upon the princi- been any mention of Mecklenburg; and pality of Jägerndorf in Silesia;' and on
we know now from the “Politische Correo the 15th, “The general opinion is that his spondenz” that the question proposed by
Frederic to his two counsellors, Pode• Arneth, Geschichte Maria Theresia's, 1863, etc. Politische Correspondenz Friedrichs des Grossen, 1879, wils and Schwerin, was simply and almost
in so many words, How best to take pos.