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session of Silesia? and that on October | journey left little doubt in his mind, 29, they reported on three different plans and the persistence with which Frederic of operation: 1. To offer to uphold Aus- avoided the subject was only an additional tria, defend her territory against all claim-confirmation. He could obtain nothing ants, and to employ all his credit to get more definite than that the king was the grand duke of Tuscany elected em- sending Count Gotter on a special misperor; in return for which, and for yield- sion to Vienna. "I trust," he said, "that ing to Austria his rights to the succession the queen will carefully consider his mesof Juliers and Berg, he was to be put sage: she will see that my proposals are in possession of Silesia. 2. If Austria reasonable and my intentions are pure." should reject this proposal, to ally himself Botta was at once dissatisfied and with Saxony and Bavaria, to sustain their alarmed; his feelings found expression in pretensions, to yield his rights as to Ju- forcible language; but neither the general liers and Berg to France in favor of Bava- public nor the foreign ministers believed ria, and so to be put in possession of in the reality of his imprecations, or in Silesia. And either one or other of these, his assertions that Austria would resist but more especially the first, they recom- the invasion of her territory. The resistmend: but as a third alternative, in case ance, they said, would be a mere preof Saxony invading Bohemia or Silesia, tence, a farce; that Botta's mission was they give to enter the country and hold to arrange a close alliance with Frederic, it by force, "a measure for which some who was to support the grand duke, and sort of justification,can surely be found;" to receive some part of Silesia - even if having occupied the country, he will be in it was thought better that he should ap an advantageous position to treat for its pear to take it by force, so that it might cession. not be said that Austria herself had given up the Pragmatic Sanction. The French ambassador, the Marquis de Valori, was much perturbed. "What does it all mean?" he wrote: "M. de Botta denies that there is any agreement between the grand duke and the king; he appears to be extremely indignant; if he is playing a comedy, he is doing it uncommonly well." On the evening of December 10 Frederic threw off the mask. He sent for Botta, and revealed his immediate purpose, as to which we may let the Duke de Broglie speak:
Frederic was not long in making up his mind to adopt this third course, without waiting for the pretence of a Saxon invasion his troops were concentrated in the direction of Silesia, whilst detailed preparations were made for a winter camp; but, as we have seen, not so secretly as to prevent suspicion, which was transmitted to Vienna by the Austrian minister at Berlin. The queen refused to credit it: the ingenuous confidence and honest illusions of youth had not yet been destroyed by the cruel experience of human wickedness or the withering selfishness of politics she believed in virtue, in honor, in nobility of soul; and was unwilling to doubt either the mellifluous protestations of Fleury, or the gratitude of a prince whose life her father had saved. The Austrian ministers, who had not the plea of youth and innocence, said, "There's no cause for anxiety: he will be like his father, who went through life with his musket at full cock, without ever firing it off."
One only, Bartenstein, to whom knowledge and suspicion had come with grey hairs, took a more gloomy view of the situation: "No one knows," he said, "what this young man really is; and I warned the late emperor of it when he insisted on writing to his father to save his life."
The court of Vienna, however, resolved to send the Marquis de Botta d'Adorno as a special ambassador to Berlin, and he arrived there on December 3. The military preparations which he saw on his
mand for the cession of Silesia, imperiously This was nothing less than the formal designified to Maria Theresa at the very moment of taking forcible possession of it, without any declaration of war and even without any previous warning. This perfidious action burst like a shell over astonished Europe. All contemporary documents bear witness to the intense indignation which it aroused in all who placed any value in morality and honor. Time, their ordinary effect, and the echo of that outsuccess, and glory have since then produced cry of the public conscience has been much weakened on its way down to posterity. And, in these last days, there have even been found, outside of Germany, serious historians-such as the celebrated Englishman, Carlyle-to undertake the justification of this violent outrage: We may now, however, say that the archivists of Berlin have revived the impression which was becoming effaced. The char be sufficiently odious; but by their new revelaacter of the enterprise was already known to tion they have taught us how much, from the very first, it was aggravated by the cunning and hypocrisy which presided over its secret
of Silesia rather than any other part of Maria Theresa's patrimony is explained by the simple fact that this province, lying contiguous to his own States, was most open to a sudden and surreptitious attack. As to the rights which have been spoken of as sufficient to justify him, I may, for several reasons, pass them by as undeserving of serious consideration; for, in the first place, this side of the question did not at any time occupy the attention of Frederic; and, in the second, if these rights ever existed, they had died out many years before. Droysen has attempted to show, by reference to numerous judicial and diplomatic writings, that some of the Duchies of Silesia formerly belonged to the Electors of Brandenburg, and were parted with by them only in exchange for another principality which had been promised but never ceded. Such an argument is nothing to the purpose. The latest of these transactions, true or false, dates back to 1660, since which time Austria and Prussia had been at peace for eighty years, had signed more than one treaty of alliance, and even in the last war had fought side by side. If it is permitted to revive claims so long forgotten, what prince, what private individual even, as Macaulay has well remarked, could sleep in security? But, independently of that, let us be as candid as Frederic himself, and accept the avowal which he made to Voltaire, and which Voltaire alone prevented him from publishing. We must then admit that he had absolutely no right except that which he derived from having an army ready to act, and a treasury well filled, unless indeed we add, from the weakness and misfortune of Maria Theresa.
Why Frederic made choice | advance of the fire of war which threatens our
This last point in the Duke de Broglie's argument may be strengthened by the consideration that, on marching into Sile-it,
sia, Frederic issued a manifesto to the inhabitants, in which the rights that have been since so much talked of are not only not mentioned, but are not even hinted at. He said that in the dangerous discussions which must be expected to follow on the death of the emperor without a male heir, and which may probably be pushed to great lengths by those who think they have claims on the inheritance, the province of Silesia seems to form a sort of
barrier to the Prussian dominions, and therefore, he continued,
we have thought it our duty to take military possession of this province in order to stop the
In refusing to entertain the argument at all, the Duke de Broglie has, we may presume intentionally, understated his case. For, briefly, most stress has been laid on the claim to the duchy of Jägerndorf, whose duke, at the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War, was a collateral relation of the House of Brandenburg. In the early years of the war this prince was driven out by the emperor; the duchy was then held to have reverted to Bohemia; but, if the term confiscation is preferred, the confiscation took place about the year 1622, and was recognized by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
but secretly, for the orders to the troops are given." The ministers had presuma when the invasion took place, so that bly not accomplished their crooked task their statement was not published for more than a month afterwards, when it was deemed advisable to endeavor, if pos sible, to tone down the scandal arising out of an operation which the Duke de Broglie curtly describes as of a kind matists. more familiar to brigands than to diplo
flection of the argument and the evidence We are here able to give but a faint rewith which, through many pages, the Duke de Broglie lays bare the astounding falsehood and hypocrisy of the king of Prussia. Scarcely a word is recorded, whether spoken by himself at home or his ministers abroad, which does not tell with damning effect on the character of
Exposition fidèles des droits incontestables de la Maison Royale de Prusse et Electorale de Brandebourg sur plusieurs principautés, duchés et seigneuries de la Silésie, 4to, 92 pp.
+ Politische Correspondenz, No. 141, vol. i., p. 91.
this man, of whom Mr. Carlyle did not scruple to say: "In his way he is a Reality, he always means what he speaks, grounds his actions on what he recognizes for the truth, and, in short, has nothing whatever of the hypocrite a king who managed not to be a liar." But indeed Mr. Carlyle's own judgment on his hero, read by the clear light of the "Politische Correspondenz," is more severe than anything which the Duke de Broglie has written. He knew well [he says] how entirely inex. orable is the nature of facts; how vain all cunning of diplomacy, management, and sophistry to save any mortal, who does not stand on the truth of things, from sinking in the long run. Sinking to the very Mudgods, with all his diplomacies, possessions, achievements, and becoming an unnameable object, hidden deep in the Cesspools of the Universe.
Notwithstanding his, determination, rights or no rights, to invade Silesia,
Frederic was anxious to find support amongst the powers of Europe. He vainly endeavored to cajole Mr. Dickens, who earnestly implored him to consider "the great reproach he would bring upon himself by such an open breach of his engagements, which he would never be able to color with any pretence founded on the least shadow of reason or justice;" after hearing which, he turned to M. de Valori, and asked him if it was not the wish and the interest of France to take the Imperial crown away from the house of Austria and give it to the elector of Bavaria; and if so, whether the king would not be glad to have his alliance. Valori replied doubtingly, that public rumor alleged that he had already engaged himself to the grand duke.
He answered me [wrote Valori on December 13] that it was far from being so. His vote was still for hire: but that if he did not find an opportunity of allying himself with the king, he would look for other friends who would support his views. That for himself he was perfectly indifferent as to who should be emperor, and that in the election he should be guided by his own interests or those of his allies. But he would repeat that his friendship was not to be despised, for he was in a position to second any aims the king might have, whilst his aggrandisement could not be prejudicial to
This interview may be considered as the first definite approach of Prussia to France, and the beginning of that negotiation which, a few months later, ended in an alliance between the two countries. In dealing with it, therefore, the Duke de Broglie passes in review the several
courses open to France to follow. She might have frankly anticipated the demand of the queen, and hastened to acknowledge and confirm the engagements into which she had entered by the treaty of 1738. This would have been chivalrous, but also, it may be admitted, unusual, and was not obligatory. A second course would have been to have waited until called on; and when the queen invoked the aid of her allies, it would not have been altogether out of place, before undertaking the expense of a campaign, to stipulate for some compensation. This might have taken the form of part of the Austrian Netherlands, or of Luxemburg, which -as after events proved Maria Theresa would gladly have given up, sooner than yield to the insolent aggression of Frederic, and which, at the same time, would have rounded off and markedly strengthened
the French border.
France [he says] had thus the choice between an act of almost ideal disinterestedness, and a fairly honorable, well-calculated policy. There was one other line of conduct possible — to break all her engagements without either provocation or pretext, and to throw herself blindly into the chances of a continental aggression on the very eve of a maritime war; and all for the sake of a Pretender without troops, such as the Elector of Bavaria, and in company of an sia. This had the curious merit of combining ally without faith, such as the invader of Sileall that was wrong with all that was dangerous, and imprudence with disloyalty; and it was it which, after mature reflection, the French Government chose to adopt.
The consideration which determined this course was mainly that of the hostility which, since the days of Francis I. and Charles V., had been traditional between the houses of France and Austria. To all Frenchmen the glory and greatness of Richelieu or of Mazarin, of Condé, Turenne, and Villars, were based on the blows which they had struck against the Imperial house. From the general to the subaltern, from the ambassador to the lowest diplomatic agent, the whole service of the crown had been trained from earliest youth to a policy hostile to Austria; and would have felt that their king was resisting the decrees of Providence and insulting the memory of his ancestors, if he neglected this chance to overwhelm the enemy of centuries. But, as a matter of fact, the traditional policy of France had, for the time being at least, lost its old meaning. When that policy was initiated, the Empire of Charles
ping at once into an assured and recognized position, he had his way to make both in the army and at court, where, indeed, he was not received at all till after the death of Louis XIV. He had thus served in the army as a soldier rather than as a volunteer, and had won each grade by merit and brilliant conduct before the enemy. At court he obtained influence by the seductive and caressing grace of his manner, which rendered him irresistible amongst the fair rulers of society. Meanwhile he was indefatiga
on the firm base of property: he had persuaded the regency that his sole patrimony, the rocky island from which he derived his title, was a necessary safeguard to the coasts of Brittany, and had ceded it to the State on advantageous terms: he had engaged, also, in certain army contracts, of a more or less doubtful character, but leading to very profita ble results; and thus, at the present time, he was possessed of great wealth, a man of talent and originality, a marshal of France and a universal favorite.
V. embraced what was practically the whole of continental Europe, except France. But in the course of years it had been disintegrated: limb after limb had been lopped from it by long wars or dynastic changes. With Spain, with southern Italy, with Holland, with Alsace and Lorraine lost to it; with Hanover linked to England; with an armed and autocratic Prussia risen in the north, and with Russia coming each year into more prominent notice, and showing more distinctly a desire and intention to be reckoned as one of the great powers of Eu-ble in his endeavors to establish himself rope, the dignity of the emperor was but the shadow of what it had been, and the aggressive force of the Empire had ceased to be a danger; with the accession of Maria Theresa it might be considered to have vanished altogether. A true statesman, had such a man been at the head of the French ministry, might well have thought the time come to modify the old ideas, and have considered whether the danger to France was not greater from a young and aggressive Prussia than from an old and conservative Austria. But Fleury, in his eighty-eighth year, wished He had been quick to note the opporfor nothing more than peace peace tunity of breaking down the power of abroad if he could have it, but in any case Austria; and for some years before the peace at home and the martial ardor of death of Charles VI., had maintained a the enthusiastic spirits who surrounded close correspondence with the elector of the court, and the ambition of the un- Bavaria, with whom, through his wife, he chaste sisterhood who surrounded the was distantly connected. When, thereking, carried him away on the flood of fore, the time came, Belle-Isle was at military enterprise. He would fain have once the strongest advocate of the Bavaresisted; but resistance had become im-rian claims, and the choice of the war possible. Why should this old priest, it was everywhere asked, stop the course of glory and honor which opened to the king and to France? His senile rule, it was said, had already lasted too long. If his old age was deaf to the voice of events, means must be taken to make him hear. One cardinal had struck a mortal blow at Austria: this other cardinal would revive her, if he was permitted. Let him go. The king could easily find a successor: a man of action as well as of counsel; at once a general and a minister.
One name was in the mouths of all the agitators, that of Charles Louis Fouquet, Comte de Belle-Isle. This was the grandson of Fouquet the financier: he was now fifty-six years old; but the cloud which had darkened the fortunes of his family and kept him from the court in his youth, had sheltered him from the bad effects of fashion and notoriety, and preserved him from the stamp of uniformity which was impressed on the great body of the French nobles. Instead of step
party in France. Fleury would willingly have compromised matters, and have acknowledged Maria Theresa as queen of Hungary and Bohemia, whilst he supported Charles Albert as a candidate for the Imperial crown; and, at the same time, have engaged both to keep the peace of Europe. But this was not the view of those around him; and Belle-Isle on the one hand, the king of Prussia on the other, had very different plans. Whether a frank and loyal recognition of Maria Theresa, in accordance with the guarantee, would have altogether stayed the hand of Prussia, may be perhaps doubtful: but it is certain that Frederic calcu lated on the support of either England or France, trusting that their impending hostility would compel them to take opposite sides.
We find nothing in the despatches be tween the English government and_the English ambassadors at Vienna or Berlin which leads us to suppose that — in the beginning, at any rate England
would have supported Frederic in his | fying such claims as it had on the Aus scheme of spoliation, though she would trian States. As yet, nothing was said very probably not have made common about armed support: it was merely imcause with Austria and France against plied. For the present, the moral suphim. But Frederic very early understood port was enough: it was, indeed, a great that there was no probability of active deal; for it gave an air of respectability opposition from France, and he depended to an adventure which justly lay under on the helplessness of Hanover as a means the ban of European diplomacy. of neutralizing any measures which England might threaten. When, however, he saw that France was anxious for Charles Albert to be elected emperor, the way was open for further intrigue. He signified to the cardinal that his vote, as elector of Brandenburg, was for hire; and the cardinal, pondering over the proposal, noted: "The king retains it, and, as an earnest, invites him to make a treaty of alliance." He had said, "It's absurd to suppose that this can be settled without swords clashing:"" Difficult, I allow," mused the cardinal. "It is right for the young people to begin the dance," continued Frederic. "Yes," wrote Fleury, "that is true; but as the ball is chiefly on their account, we must take care that when they have had enough of it, they do not leave others to finish, and endure the reproaches of those who have to pay the piper." This curious conversation appears as a sketch for the instruction of M. de Valori, and took form in an official letter of January 5.
His Majesty [it runs] very sincerely desires, for the sake of the prince's interest, that his enterprise may succeed; and, for the sake of his reputation, that he should not delay justifying himself. Courts more suspicious than ours might hesitate to avow this... for the sending an ambassador of such high rank as Count Gotter to Vienna seems to indicate a double negotiation. It is publicly stated here that Count Gotter has offered to the Grand Duke to enter into all his views, without exception, if he would but agree to recognize the king's rights in Silesia. But his Majesty puts no faith in these reports; he has perfect confidence in the King of Prussia, and gives a very decided proof of it in thus offering, at the present time, to ally himself with him.
The intrusion of France into the domestic politics of Germany was certain to be resented by many of the German States, and still more by England, which, already at war with Spain, felt the attitude of France in relation to that power as offensive and hostile. The sending a large French fleet to the West Indies had given rise to speculations as to the orders under which it had sailed; and though it was not yet known that, in the early days of January, a casual encounter had taken place, whether by "mistake" or "anticipation," it was well enough known that the fleet had gone out to lend moral, and not improbably physical, support to the Spaniards. The answer which England might make to the unfriendly if not hostile demonstration was eagerly looked for. What England wished to do, what seemed to English politicians as a European interest, was to form a general coalition of German States against France; and, as the first step towards this, to patch up a peace between Prussia and Austria. To induce the one to offer terms which the other would accept, became the leading idea of the embassies at Berlin and Vienna: at this latter place especially, the English minister was virtually an agent for Fred. eric, working to obtain the concessions which he demanded; whilst at Berlin the king was courted by both France and England, on account of the very act of aggression which outraged the whole of Europe. From Versailles he received hints of a possible military assistance to finish his Conquest, which London labored to secure for him as the price of peace. It was with this knowledge that, on January 30, he wrote to his uncle George II.:
This was accompanied by a project of I am happy to see that I have not been dealliance, according to the terms of which ceived in the trust which I have placed in the two sovereigns engaged themselves to your Majesty.. Having had no allies, I act in unison, in order to place on the have not been able to open myself to any one; Imperial throne that prince who should but, seeing your Majesty's good intentions, I be considered best fitted to maintain the look on you as being already my ally, and liberties of the Empire: following on think that, for the future, I ought not to have .. Very which, his Very Christian Majesty would anything hidden or secret from you. far from wishing to trouble the peace of Euoffer no opposition to the king of Prussia rope, I want nothing except the recognition of exercising his rights on Silesia; whilst on my just and incontestable rights.... I place his part, the king would put no obstacle unbounded reliance on the friendship of your in the way of the house of Bavaria satis- | Majesty, and on the common interests of