Belleisle's schemes, in the rear of all this labor, are grandiose to a degree. Men wonder at the First Napoleon's mad notions in that kind. But no Napoleon, in the fire of the revolutionary element; no Sham-Napoleon, in the ashes of it: hardly a Parisian Journalist of imaginative turn, speculating on the First Nation of the Universe and what its place is,--could go higher than did this grandiose Belleisle; a man with clear thoughts in his head, under a torpid Louis XV. Let me see, thinks Belleisle. Germany with our Bavarian for Kaiser; Germany to be cut into, say, Four little Kingdoms: 1. Bavaria with the lean Kaiserhood; 2. Saxony, fattened by its share of Austria; 3. Prussia the like; 4. Austria itself, shorn down as above, and shoved out to the remote Hungarian parts: VOILA. These, not reckoning Hanover, which perhaps we cannot get just yet, are Four pretty Sovereignties. Three, or Two, of these hireable by gold, it is to be hoped. And will not France have a glorious time of it; playing master of the revels there, egging one against the other! Yes, Germany is then, what Nature designed it, a Province of France: little George of Hanover himself, and who knows but England after him, may one day find their fate inevitable, like the others. O Louis, O my King, is not this an outlook? Louis le Grand was great; but you are likely to be Louis the Grandest; and here is a World shaped, at last, after the real pattern!
Such are, in sad truth, Belleisle's schemes; not yet entirely hatched into daylight or articulation; bnt becoming articulate, to himself and others, more and more. Reader, keep them well in mind: I had rather not speak of them again. They are essential to our Story; but they are afflictively vain, contrary to the Laws of Fact; and can, now or henceforth, in nowise be. My friend, it was not Beelzebub, nor Mephistopheles, nor Autolyeus-Apollo that built this world and us; it was Another. And you will get your crown well rapped, M. le Marechal, for so forgetting that fact! France is an extremely pretty creature; but this of making France the supreme Governor and God's-Vicegerent of Nations, is, was, and remains, one of the maddest notions. France at its ideal BEST, and with a demi- god for King over it, were by no means fit for such function; nay of many Nations is eminently the unfittest for it. And France at its WORST or nearly so, with a Louis XV. over it by way of demi-god --O Belleisle, what kind of France is this; shining in your grandiose imagination, in such contrast to the stingy fact: like a creature consisting of two enormous wings, five hundred yards in potential extent, and no body bigger than that of a common cock, weighing three pounds avoirdupois. Cock with his own gizzard much out of sorts, too!
It was "early in March" [Adelung, ii. 305.] when Belleisle, the Artificial Sun-god, quitted Paris on this errand. He came by the Moselle road; called on the Rhine Kurfursts, Koln, Trier, Mainz; dazzling them, so far as possible, with his splendor for the mind and for the eye. He proceeded next to Dresden, which is a main card: and where there is immense manipulation needed, and the most delicate trout-tickling; this being a skittish fish, and an important, though a foolish. Belleisle was at Dresden when the Battle of Mollwitz fell out: what a windfall into Belleisle's game! He ran across to Friedrich at Mollwitz, to congratulate, to consult,--as we shall see anon.
Belleisle, I am informed, in this preliminary Tour of his, speaks only, or hints only (except in the proper quarters), of Election Business; of the need there perhaps is, on the part of an Age growing in liberal ideas, to exclude the Austrian Grand-Duke; to curb that ponderous, harsh, ungenerous House of Austria, too long lording it over generous Germany; and to set up some better House,--Bavaria, for example; Saxony, for example? Of his plans in the rear of this he is silent; speaks only by hints, by innuendoes, to the proper parties. But ripening or ripe, plans do lie to rear; far-stretching, high-soaring; in part, dark even at Versailles; darkly fermenting, not yet developed, in Belleisle's own head; only the Future Kaiser a luminous fixed point, shooting beams across the grandiose Creation-Process going on there.
By the end of August, 1741, Belleisle had become certain of his game; 24th January, 1742, he saw himself as if winner. Before August, 1741, he had got his Electors manipulated, tickled to his purpose, by the witchery of a Phoebus-Autolycus or Diplomatic Sun-god; majority secured for a Bavarian Kaiser, and against an Austrian one. And in the course of that month,--what was still more considerable!--he was getting, under mild pretexts, about a hundred thousand armed Frenchmen gently wafted over upon the soil of Germany. Two complete French Armies, 40,000 each (PLUS their Reserves), one over the Upper Rhine, one over the Lower; about which we shall hear a great deal in time coming! Under mild pretexts: "Peaceable as lambs, don't you observe? Merely to protect Freedom of Election, in this fine neighbor country; and as allies to our Friend of Bavaria, should he chance to be new Kaiser, and to persist in his modest claims otherwise." This was his crowning stroke. Which finished straightway the remnants of Pragmatic Sanction and of every obstacle; and in a shining manner swept the roads clear. And so, on January 24th following, the Election, long held back by Belleisle's manoeuvrings, actually takes effect,--in favor of Karl Albert, our invaluable Bavarian Friend. Austria is left solitary in the Reich; Pragmatic Sanction, Keystone of Nature, which Belleisle and France had sworn to keep in, is openly torn out by Belleisle and by France and the majority of mankind; and Belleisle sees himself, to all appearance, winner.
This was the harvest reaped by Belleisle, within year and day; after endless manoeuvring, such as only a Belleisle in the character of Diplomatic Sun-god could do. Beyond question, the distracted ambitions of several German Princes have been kindled by Belleisle; what we called the rotten thatch of Germany is well on fire. This diligent sowing in the Reich--to judge by the 100,000, armed men here, and the counter hundreds of thousands arming-- has been a pretty stroke of dragon's-teeth husbandry on Belleisle's part.
BELLEISLE ON VISIT TO FRIEDRICH; SEES FRIEDRICH BESIEGE BRIEG, WITH EFFECT.
It was April 26th when Marechal de Belleisle, with his Brother the Chevalier, with Valori and other bright accompaniment, arrived in Friedrich's Camp. "Camp of Mollwitz" so named; between Mollwitz and Brieg; where Friedrich is still resting, in a vigilant expectant condition; and, except it be the taking of Brieg, has nothing military on hand. Wednesday, 26th April, the distinguished Excellency--escorted for the last three miles by 120 Horse, and the other customary ceremonies--makes his appearance: no doubt an interesting one to Friedrich, for this and the days next following. Their talk is not reported anywhere: nor is it said with exactitude how far, whether wholly now, or only in part now, Belleisle expounded his sublime ideas to Friedrich; or what precise reception they got. Friedrich himself writes long afterwards of the event; but, as usual, without precision, except in general effect. Now, or some time after, Friedrich says he found Belleisle, one morning, with brow clouded, knit into intense meditation: "Have you had bad news, M. le Marechal?" asks Friedrich. "No, oh no! I am considering what we shall make of that Moravia?"--"Moravia; Hm!" Friedrich suppresses the glance that is rising to his eyes: "Can't you give it to Saxony, then? Buy Saxony into the Plan with it!" "Excellent," answers Belleisle, and unpuckers his stern brow again.