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From The Edinburgh Review. FREDERIC II. AND MARIA THERESA.*
a troublesome and even a dangerous one. 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 in- to 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 would fain believe a forgotten, episode. It has indeed all the elements of the tragic and the sublime: it tells of kings and queens, of wars and deaths, of heroic resolve and patriotic enthusiasm, of villany, perfidy, and crime.
stead of increased. Still the guarantees, as far as they went, appeared to be genuine. If there was faith in man or in governments, the emperor might die happy; but he had no such faith, and his last days were disturbed by gloomy anticipations 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 Contiions to his daughter Maria Theresa. nental subscribers to the guarantee were These dominions were widely scattered, busy in the endeavor to subvert the Pragand 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 consolidated or wedded into one; the different people, speaking different languages, had no feeling of national unity, and might easily fall apart if left without the strong hand of a master. To a young girl such an inheritance was likely enough to prove • Frédéric II. et Marie-Thérèse, d'après des documents nouveaux. 1740-1742. Par le Duc DE BROGLIE.
2 vols., 8vo. Paris: 1883.
Charles Albert, elector of Bavaria, was the first to speak out. Whilst waiving any claims he might have from his wife, a daughter of the late emperor's predecessor and elder brother, he had already hinted at pretensions going back to Ferdinand I., to whose will he appealed. A public reference to this will showed that the claim was invalid; but, notwithstanding this, he now reasserted it with
significant persistence. Others were not | lable fidelity, the engagements which he has
slow to follow his example. Augustus, elector of Saxony and king of Poland, had married an elder sister of the electress of Bavaria, and, by virtue thereof, his claim was stronger than that of Charles Albert. The duke of Savoy and the king of Spain had their own pretensions, and would not be ignored. Each might claim the whole of the inheritance which, but a few years before, they had guarananteed to Maria Theresa, but a common interest prompted them to moderation, and suggested that they should divide the spoil. The threatened coalition was most formidable, for the Austrian army had little real existence, the Austrian treasury was empty, and the Austrian people themselves were disaffected in the country, by reason of a bad harvest and consequent scarcity; in Vienna, by an unwillingness that the glory and profit of being the Imperial city should depart from among them. But neither were the opposing powers ready for immediate action, and the question whether they would be able to give effect to their claims seemed to depend very much on the view which France should take of the position.
made with you; and if I may be allowed to speak of myself at the same time, I venture to hope that my peaceful intentions are so well known that you may readily believe I am very far from thinking of setting Europe in a flame. And more to the same effect. In October, however, when it was time to make good his promises, he was wanting in both courage and decision. He hesitated, he equivocated. He told the Austrian minister that to doubt his good faith was an insult, but that under the unusual circumstances it was necessary to discuss the question of etiquette, and to determine how an Austrian sovereign, not holding the Imperial dignity, and a woman, was to be addressed; on the following day he assured the Bavarian minister that there was no reason why the elector should not aspire to the Imperial crown; that the king was free to support him; that the guarantee could not be understood as nullifying the just rights of any third party; and that the Bavarian claims should be considered. Thus paltering with his own conscience and the demands of the rivals, he became in the end the
slave instead of the ruler of events.
Of all the Continental powers, Prussia alone had neither genealogical nor matrimonial claim on the Austrian succession, and had guaranteed the Pragmatic Sanction without difficulty or diplomacy. Her king, too, was a young man of — it was said-romantic, nay, of chivalrous dispo sition, and bound to the house of Austria by the ties of friendship and gratitude. It is unnecessary here to repeat the oftentold story of Frederic's education, and of the brutal treatment he received at the hands of his father. Suffice it to recall one incident of his youth. In August, 1730, the crown prince, then eighteen years old, unable longer to endure the tyranny to which he was subjected, resolved to fly and seek refuge, possibly, in England with his uncle. The attempt was frustrated. Of two friends who were to fly with him, one made good his escape; the other was apprehended, tried, and sentenced to imprisonment. The king
France, equally with the other powers, had guaranteed the succession of Maria Theresa; and though she no doubt had certain remote genealogical claims, she had not put them forward. There was, apparently, nothing to tempt her to forfeit her pledge. But through more than two centuries she had been accustomed to consider herself as the natural enemy of the house of Austria, and the present seemed to some of her ruling spirits to be an opportunity for trampling the enemy in the dust. Cardinal Fleury still held the reins of government, as he had done for seventeen years before. He himself was virtually the French guarantee of the Pragmatic Sanction, and all that he was now called on to do was to acknowledge his plighted word. But he was a very old man, and old age is unwilling to take any decided step. Yet on January 26, only bine months before the emperor's death, he had written to him: 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 substi
tion, that he did not at once unveil. The dissimulation which had been forced on him in boyhood and youth was become a second nature; he kept up and increased the army which his father had formed, but he also kept up the literary coterie which he had assembled round himself; and during the first months of his reign appeared equally anxious about the set of a soldier's belt or the rhythm of a French sentence.
tuted 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 of desertion; and at the special instance of the king, enforced on the members of the court by the royal cane unflinchingly laid on, he was found guilty, and sentenced to death. The princess Wilhelmina ventured to plead in her brother's behalf. With the foulest language the king threw himself on her, pommelled her over the face and head with his clenched fist, struck her to the ground by a blow on the temple, and was with diffi culty restrained from kicking and tramp ling on her prostrate body. It was known that the sentence of the court had been procured by the brutal violence of the king: the courtiers, having more regard for their own shoulders and ears than for the life of a boy, scarcely ventured to intercede the foreign ministers were lukewarm; and the prince was rescued from an otherwise certain fate only by the remonstrances of the Imperial ambassador, supported by a personal letter to the king from the emperor himself. He was pardoned, but permitted to remain in se clusion, destitute of the means to provide the necessaries of life, still less the decencies of his rank. From this embarrassment, also, he was relieved by the emperor, who, for several years, secretly but regularly paid him such sums of money as rendered him independent of his father's sordid economy.
His romantic visit to Strasbourg, a few months later, did not make things clearer. His intention may possibly have been to go on to Paris, and, under the obscure name of Count Dufour, see for himself the society of which he had read and heard. This, however, must be doubtful, and the escapade probably meant nothing more than the curiosity of a young man suddenly released from severe restraint; otherwise, we may suppose that he would have provided himself beforehand with proper passports and letters of introduction, and that matters would have been arranged with more care to prevent recognition. As it was, he had not been many hours in Strasbourg before it was pretty generally known that Count Dufour was but another way of saying king of Prussia; and the Duke de Broglie suspects that his ancestor, the second Marshal de Broglie-who was then governor of the town, and to whose private papers he refers may have been wanting in tact during the difficult interview which he had with the stranger.
Naturally [he says] if the old governor was guilty of any awkwardness, he was either not conscious of it or he took care not to acknowl
It is very well known that, during this time and for the greater part of the next ten years, the prince specially affected the society of musicians, philosophers, poets, and men of letters, professing the desire to rank as one of themselves; and that with such apparent zeal and earnest-edge it; so that it remains difficult to underness, that there were many who believed that, when called to the throne, his chief merit and distinction would be as their patron, although there were not wanting those who suspected the sardonic humor, the seething ambition, and the unscrupulous rapacity which lay hid behind the We may, however, be permitted to doubt mask of dissimulation, or who recognized whether Frederic's distaste for the marthe falseness of the assumed character shal really sprang from so childish a
stand what it was that provoked the king's illhumor to such a degree that when, a year afterwards, the marshal had to concert measures with him relative to the operations of the campaign, the recollection of this incident proved a real difficulty.
cause, or whether it was not rather al and trenches will be more talked about recollection of the ridiculous figure which the old man had made during the recent campaign in Italy, when he had to spring into his saddle, without boots or breeches, and ride for his life from the ill-mannered Germans; and, if there is any truth in Frederic's story that the marshal enter tained him with a long account of his name, his titles, and his distinctions, the king may well have thought him verging on his dotage.
It was a few days after this that, at Moyland, near Cleves, the young king met Voltaire for the first time. The conversation, which lasted well into the night, turned on philosophy, on the immortality of the soul, and incidentally on politics; and so led to Frederic's asking Voltaire to write for him a manifesto to the Bishop of Liège, against whom he had a disputed claim, which it had been proposed to compromise for a million livres, and which he had determined to enforce in spite of, or perhaps even in consequence of, the emperor's remonstrance. He had, in fact, written, very shortly after his accession, "I will presently go into the Cleves country and try what is to be done by gentle means; but if I meet with refusal I will do myself justice. The emperor is the old phantom of an idol which really had power long ago but has none now; just as he himself used to be a strong man, but is now worn by sickness and good for nothing." The peace of the Empire was not, however, disturbed; for, convinced by the arguments of Voltaire, or by the soldiers of Frederic, the bishop paid the sum. But the very summary proceeding which had been threatened gave rise to much uneasiness in diplomatic circles; and as the king, with an army already numbering some eighty thousand men in the highest state of efficiency, was busily increasing it, the question could not but be asked as to the probable motive for the succession to the duchies of Juliers and Berg, which Frederic openly claimed, seemed altogether too small a matter to require such a formidable armament.
The public had not long to wait for an answer. Frederic was lying at Rheins berg, sick of an intermittent fever, when, on October 26, he received news of the emperor's death. Contrary to the orders of his physician, he at once swallowed a dose of quinquina and sent off to Berlin for Count Podewils, the secretary of state, and for Field-Marshal Schwerin. At the same time he wrote to Voltaire, "I think that next June gunpowder and soldiers
than actresses, ballets, and theatres." That this was a correct forecast of the political weather, not only for next June but for the next three-and-twenty years, is now a familiar fact of history; and it was easy enough to make it, as the prophet was himself the disturbing influence. But the exact measure in which he was so has been strangely misstated by Frederic's agents in the first place, and afterwards by those who, admiring his genius, have been wilfully blind to his crimes; and of all who have sinned in this way, none- we say it to our shame has been more guilty than an English writer who has been held up to public reverence as a great moral teacher.
Enough has been said of the late Mr. Harrison Ainsworth having promoted ruffians, such as Dick Turpin or Jack Sheppard, to be heroes of romance: that was, we think, a moral mistake and a literary error; but at least Mr. Ainsworth did not dwell on the crimes of his heroes as the praiseworthy incidents of their career; and, forgetting these, it may be allowable to admire the daring of the ride to York or the ingenuity of the escape from Newgate. In the same way we might be permitted to admire, in Frederic of Prussia, the courage which bore up against defeat or the military skill which led to victory; but these are not the characteristics which Mr. Carlyle chose to embellish with extravagant laudation. We are not now reviewing Mr. Carlyle's "History of Frederic the Great," and would willingly pass it by in silence; but it forces itself on our notice, and the author's great reputation gives it an importance to which, on its own merits, it is not entitled. As history, it is not to be trusted; and as morality, it is to be utterly condemned. During his long life Mr. Carlyle waged a vigorous and oftentimes a righteous war against shams, against calling things by their wrong names; but when we find him holding Frederic up as an object for us to admire, and singling out unabashed falsehood as veracity, unblushing impu dence as candor, or selfishness and greed as manliness and straightforwardness, we are compelled by his own teaching to enter a protest against the misuse of words and the misstatement of facts.
The incident in his hero's career which
Mr. Carlyle generally calls his hero Friedrich, which is neither English nor accurate: the king of in German; if he had known English, he might posPrussia signed himself Féderic in French, and Friderich sibly have devised a third spelling."
He speaks [he says] when business requires it, of "those known rights" of his, and with the air of a man who expects to be believed on his word; but it is cursorily and in the business way only; and there is not here or else where the least pleading. A man, you would say, considerably indifférent to our belief on that head; his eye set on the practical merely. 'Just Rights? What are rights, never so just, which you cannot make valid? The world is full of such. If you have rights and can assert them into facts, do it; that is worth doing!"
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 orfor 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 be supported by another of thirty thou sand men." But, as is well known, the truth was not declared till the very last moment. On December 6, Mr. Dickens described a long conversation which he had had with the king, who said plainly enough that it was not his intention to support the Pragmatic Sanction; he had not guaranteed it, and was not bound by any engagements which his father had made. When Dickens asked him what he was to write to his court, Frederic grew red in the face and said, “You cannot yet have any instructions to ask_me that; you have no right to enquire into my designs." Afterwards, however, he affected to become more communicative, and said: "He was for the grand duke of Tuscany's being made emperor, but he could never consent to his being declared king of Bohemia, and that it was against the Pragmatic Sanction; for if the queen, his consort, happened to die without issue, the second archduchess would be deprived of what belongs to her by right." which Mr. Dickens observes:
So, indeed, Frederic thought, without
the beginning of my audience, he declared he The King of Prussia contradicts himself: in would not support the Pragmatic Sanction, and now he seems to plead for it; from which I can infer nothing else than that he meant to take possession of Bohemia as well as Silesia, under pretence of keeping those countries for the second archduchess, in case her elder sis
While Frederic and his two ministers were arranging their plans at Rheinsberg, the diplomatic world at Berlin was speculating as to the course the king of Prus-ter should die without children. sia meant to take; and one opinion was, that plans were being formed "to bring the Imperial crown into the house of Brandenburg; " but all that could be got out of the Prussian ministers, who had really no knowledge, was "Gaudeant bene armati." The great stir among the troops suggested that the object might be to sustain the Prussian claims on the suc
cession of Juliers and Berg; though, as early as November 5, Mr. Guy Dickens wrote, "The ministers and generals here speak very much of late of some old pretensions of this house upon the principality of Jägerndorf in Silesia;" and on the 15th, "The general opinion is that his
· Arneth, Geschichte Maria Theresia's, 1863, etc.
Politische Correspondenz Friedrichs des Grossen, 1879,
Eleven days later, on the 17th, Dickens wrote again that the king had hinted to him that England might find her own advantage on the side of Mecklenburg. "I have been told," he added, "by a person of good authority that he was some. time in suspense whether he should begin his conquests by the latter or the former" - Mecklenburg or Silesia; and that it might be expected, if he remained in possession of the one, he would afterwards form the same pretension on the other. There does not, however, seem to have been any mention of Mecklenburg; and we know now from the "Politische Corre
spondenz" that the question proposed by Frederic to his two counsellors, Podewils and Schwerin, was simply and almost in so many words, How best to take pos