Friedrich's own Peace being made on such terms, his wish and hope was, that it might soon be followed by a general European one; that, the live-coal, which had kindled this War, being quenched, the War itself might go out. Silesia is his; farther interest in the Controversy, except that it would end itself in some fair manner, he has none. "Silesia being settled," think many, thinks Friedrich for one, "what else of real and solid is there to settle?"
The European Public, or benevolent individuals of it everywhere, indulged also in this hope. "How glorious is my King, the youngest of the Kings and the grandest!" exclaims Voltaire (in his Letters to Friedrich, at this time), and re-exclaims, till Friedrich has to interfere, and politely stop it: "A King who carries in the one hand an all-conquering sword, but in the other a blessed olive- branch, and is the Arbiter of Europe for Peace or War!" "Friedrich the THIRD [so Voltaire calls him, counting ill, or misled by ignorance of German nomenclature], Friedrich the Third, I mean Friedrich the Great (FREDERIC LE GRAND)," will do this, and do that;--probably the first emergence of that epithet in human speech, as yet in a quite private hypothetic way. [Letters of Voltaire, in
These hopes, how fond they were, we now all know. True, my friends, the live-coal which kindled this incendiary whirlpool (ONE of the live-coals, first of them that spread actual flame in these European parts, and first of them all except Jenkins's Ear) is out, fairly withdrawn; but the fire, you perceive, rages not the less. The fire will not quench itself, I doubt, till the bitumen, sulphur and other angry fuel have run much lower! Austria has fighting men in abundance, England behind it has guineas; Austria has got injuries, then successes:--there is in Austria withal a dumb pride, quite equal in pretensions to the vocal vanity of France, and far more stubborn of humor. The First Nation of the Universe, rashly hurling its fine-throated hunting-pack, or Army of the Oriflamme, into Austria,--see what a sort of badgers, and gloomily indignant bears, it has awakened there! Friedrich had to take arms again; and an unwelcome task it was to him, and a sore and costly. We shall be obliged (what is our grand difficulty in this History) to note, in their order, the series of European occurrences; and, tedious as the matter now is, keep readers acquainted with the current of that big War; in which, except Friedrich broad awake, and the Ear of Jenkins in somnambulancy, there is now next to nothing to interest a human creature.
It is an error still prevalent in England, though long since exploded everywhere else, that Friedrich wanted new wars, "new successful robberies," as our Gazetteers called them; and did wilfully plunge into this War again, in the hope of again doing a stroke in that kind. English readers, on consulting the facts a little, will not hesitate to sweep that notion altogether away. Shadow of basis, except in their own angry uninformed imaginations, they will find it never had; and that precisely the reverse is manifest in Friedrich's History. A perfectly clear-sighted Friedrich; able to discriminate shine from substance; and gravitating always towards the solid, the actual. That of "GLOIRE," which he owns to at starting, we saw how soon it died out, choked in the dire realities. That of Conquering Hero, in the Macedonia's-madman style, was at all times far from him, if the reader knew it,--perhaps never farther from any King who had such allurements to it, such opportunities for it. This his First Expedition to Silesia--a rushing out to seize your own stolen horse, while the occasion answered--was a voluntary one; produced, we may say, by Friedrich's own thought and the Invisible Powers. But the rest were all purely compulsory,--to defend the horse he had seized. Clear necessities, and Powers very Visible, were the origin of all his other Expeditions and Warlike Struggles, which lasted to the end of his life.
That recent "Moravian Foray;" the joint-stock principle in War matters; and the terrible pass a man might reduce himself to, at that enormous gaming-table of the gods, if he lingered there: think what considerations these had been for him! So that "his look became FAROUCHE," in the sight of Valori; and the spectre of Ruin kept him company, and such hell-dogs were in chase of him;--till Czaslau, when the dice fell kind again! All this had been didactic on a young docile man. He was but thirty gone. And if readers mark such docility at those years, they will find considerable meaning in it. Here are prudence, moderation, clear discernment; very unusual VERACITY of intellect, as we define it,--which quality, indeed, is the summary and victorious outcome of all manner of good qualities, and faithful performances, in a man. "Given up to strong delusions," in the tragical way many are, Friedrich was not; and, in practical matters, very seldom indeed "believed a lie."
Certain it is, he now resumes his old Reinsberg Program of Life; probably with double relish, after such experiences the other way; and prosecutes it with the old ardor; hoping much that his History will be of halcyon pacific nature, after all. Would the mad War- whirlpool but quench itself; dangerous for singeing a near neighbor, who is only just got out of it! Fain would he be arbiter, and help to quench it; but it will not quench. For a space of Two Years or more (till August, 1744, Twenty-six Months in all), Friedrich, busy on his own affairs, with carefully neutral aspect towards this War, yet with sword ready for drawing in case of need, looks on with intense vigilance; using his wisest interference, not too often either, in that sense and in that only, "Be at Peace; oh, come to Peace!"--and finds that the benevolent Public and he have been mistaken in their hopes. For the next Two Years, we say:--for the first Year (or till about August, 1743), with hope not much abated, and little actual interference needed; for the latter Twelvemonth, with hope ever more abating; interference, warning, almost threatening ever more needed, and yet of no avail, as if they had been idle talking and gesticulation on his part:--till, in August, 1744, he had to--But the reader shall gradually see it, if by any method we can show it him, in something of its real sequence; and shall judge of it by his own light.
Friedrich's Domestic History was not of noisy nature, during this interval:--and indeed in the bewildered Records given of it, there is nothing visible, at first, but one wide vortex of simmering inanities; leading to the desperate conclusion that Friedrich had no domestic history at all. Which latter is by no means the fact! Your poor Prussian Dryasdust (without even an Index to help you) being at least authentic, if you look a long time intensely and on many sides, features do at last dawn out of those sad vortexes; and you find the old Reinsberg Program risen to activity again; and all manner of peaceable projects going on. Friedrich visits the Baths of Aachen (what we call Aix-la-Chapelle); has the usual Inspections, business activities, recreations, visits of friends. He opens his Opera-House, this first winter. He enters on Law- reform, strikes decisively into that grand problem; hoping to perfect it. What is still more significant, he in private begins writing his MEMOIRS. And furthermore, gradually determines on having a little Country House, place of escape from his big Potsdam Palace; and gets plans drawn for it,--place which became very famous, by the name of SANS-SOUCI, in times coming. His thoughts are wholly pacific; of Life to Minerva and the Arts, not to Bellona and the Battles:--and yet he knows well, this latter too is an inexorable element. About his Army, he is quietly busy; augmenting, improving it; the staff of life to Prussia and him.
Silesian Fortress-building, under ugly Walrave, goes on at a steadily swift rate. Much Silesian settlement goes on; fixing of the Prussian-Austrian Boundaries without; of the Catholic- Protestant limits within: rapid, not too rough, remodelling of the Province from Austrian into Prussian, in the Financial, Administrative and every other respect:--in all which important operations the success was noiseless, but is considered to have been perfect, or nearly so. Cannot we, from these enormous Paper- masses, carefully riddled, afford the reader a glimpse or two, to quicken his imagination of these things?