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.
Friedrich thinks highly, and about this time often says so, of the man Belleisle: but as to the man's effulgencies, and wide-winged Plans, none is less seduced by them than Friedrich: "Your chickens are not hatched, M. le Marechal; some of us hope they never will be,--though the incubation-process may have uses for some of us!" Friedrich knows that the Kaisership given to any other than Grand- Duke Franz will be mostly an imaginary quantity. "A grand Symbolic Cloak in the eyes of the vulgar; but empty of all things, empty even of cash, for the last Two Hundred Years: Austria can wear it to advantage; no other mortal. Hang it on Austria, which is a solid human figure,--so." And Friedrich wishes, and hopes always, Maria Theresa will agree with him, and get it for her Husband. "But to haug it on Bavaria, which is a lean bare pole? Oh, M. le Marechal! --And those Four Kingdoms of yours: what a brood of poultry, those! Chickens happily yet UNhatched;--eggs addle, I should venture to hope:--only do go on incubating, M. le Marechal!" That is Friedrich's notion of the thing. Belleisle stayed with Friedrich "a few days," say the Books. After which, Friedrich, finding Belleisle too winged a creature, corresponded, in preference, with Fleury and the Head Sources;--who are always intensely enough concerned about those "aces" falling to him, and how the same are to be "shared." [Details in
Instead of parade or review in honor of Belleisle, there happened to be a far grander military show, of the practical kind. The Siege of Brieg, the Opening of the Trenches before Brieg, chanced to be just ready, on Belleisle's arrival:--and would have taken effect, we find, that very night, April 26th, had not a sudden wintry outburst, or "tempest of extraordinary violence," prevented. Next night, night of the 27th-28th, under shine of the full Moon, in the open champaign country, on both sides of the River, it did take effect. An uncommonly fine thing of its sort; as one can still see by reading Friedrich's strict Program for it,--a most minute, precise and all-anticipating Program, which still interests military men, as Friedrich's first Piece in that kind,--and comparing therewith the Narratives of the performance which ensued. [
Kalkstein, Friedrich's old Tutor, is Captain of the Siege; under him Jeetz, long used to blockading about Brieg. The silvery Oder has its due bridges for communication; all is in readiness, and waiting manifold as in the slip,--and there is Engineer Walrave, our Glogau Dutch friend, who shall, at the right instant, "with his straw-rope (STROHSEIL) mark out the first parallel," and be swift about it! There are 2,000 diggers, with the due implements, fascines, equipments; duly divided, into Twelve equal Parties, and "always two spademen to one pickman " (which indicates soft sandy ground): these, with the escorting or covering battalions, Twelve Parties they also, on both sides of the River, are to be in their several stations at the fixed moments; man, musket, mattock, strictly exact. They are to advance at Midnight; the covering battalions so many yards ahead: no speaking is permissible, nor the least tobacco-smoking; no drum to be allowed for fear of accident; no firing, unless you are fired on. The covering battalions are all to "lie flat, so soon as they get to their ground, all but the Officers and sentries." To rear of these stand Walrave and assistants, silent, with their straw-rope; --silent, then anon swift, and in whisper or almost by dumb-show, "Now, then!" After whom the diggers, fascine-men, workers, each in his kind, shall fall to, silently, and dig and work as for life.
All which is done; exact as clock-work: beautiful to see, or half see, and speak of to your Belleisle, in the serene moonlight! Half an hour's marching, half an hour's swift digging: the Town-clock of Brieg was hardly striking One, when "they had dug themselves in." And, before daybreak, they had, in two batteries, fifty cannon in position, with a proper set of mortars (other side the River),-- ready to astonish Piccolomini and his Austrians; who had not had the least whisper of them, all night, though it was full moon. Graf von Piccolomini, an active gallant person, had refused terms, some time before; and was hopefully intent on doing his best. And now, suddenly, there rose round Piccolomini such a tornado of cannonading and bombardment, day after day, always "three guns of ours playing against one of theirs," that his guns got ruined; that "his hay-magazines took fire,"--and the Schloss itself, which was adjacent to them, took fire (a sad thing to Friedrich, who commanded pause, that they might try quenching, but in vain):--and that, in short, Piccolomini could not stand it; but on the 4th of May, precisely after one week's experience, hung out the white flag, and "beat chamade at 3 of the afternoon." He was allowed to march out next morning, with escort to Neisse; parole pledged, Not to serve against us for two years coming.
Friedrich in person (I rather guess, Belleisle not now at his side) saw the Garrison march out;--kept Piccolomini to dinner; a gallant Piccolomini, who had hoped to do better, but could not. This was a pretty enough piece of Siege-practice. Torstenson, with his Swedes, had furiously besieged Brieg in 1642, a hundred years ago; and could do nothing to it. Nothing, but withdraw again, futile; leaving 1,400 of his people dead. Friedrich, the Austrian Garrison once out, set instantly about repairing the works, and improving them into impregnability,--our ugly friend Walrave presiding over that operation too.
Belleisle, we may believe, so long as he continued, was full of polite wonder over these things; perhaps had critical advices here and there, which would be politely received. It is certain he came out extremely brilliant, gifted and agreeable, in the eyes of Friedrich; who often afterwards, not in the very strictest language, calls him a great man, great soldier, and by far the considerablest person you French have. It is no less certain, Belleisle displayed, so far as displayable, his magnificent Diplomatic Ware to the best advantage. To which, we perceive, the young King answered, "Magnificent, indeed!" but would not bite all at once; and rather preferred corresponding with Fleury, on business points, keeping the matter dexterously hanging, in an illuminated element of hope and contingency, for the present.
Belleisle, after we know not how many days, returned to Dresden; perfected his work at Dresden, or shoved it well forward, with "that Moravia" as bait. "Yes, King of Moravia, you, your Polish Majesty, shall be!"--and it is said the simple creature did so style himself, by and by, in certain rare Manifestoes, which still exist in the cabinets of the curious. Belleisle next, after only a few days, went to Munchen; to operate on Karl Albert Kur-Baiern, a willing subject. And, in short, Belleisle whirled along incessantly, torch in hand; making his "circuit of the German Courts,"--details of said circuit not to be followed by us farther. One small thing only I have found rememberable; probably true, though vague. At Munchen, still more out at Nymphenburg, the fine Country-Palace not far off, there was of course long conferencing, long consulting, secret and intense, between Belleisle with his people and Karl Albert with his. Karl Albert, as we know, was himself willing. But a certain Baron von Unertl--heavy-built Bavarian of the old type, an old stager in the Bavarian Ministries --was of far other disposition. One day, out at Nymphenburg, Unertl got to the Council-room, while Belleisle and Company were there: Unertl found the apartment locked, absolutely no admittance; and heard voices, the Kurfurst's and French voices, eagerly at work inside. "Admit me, Gracious Herr; UM GOTTES WILLEN, me!" No admission. Unertl, in despair, rushed round to the garden side of the Apartment; desperately snatched a ladder, set it up to the window, and conjured the Gracious Highness: "For the love of Heaven, my ALLERGNADIGSTER, don't! Have no trade with those French! Remember your illustrious Father, Kurfurst Max, in the Eugene- Marlborough time, what a job he made of it, building actual architecture on THEIR big promises, which proved mere acres of gilt balloon!" [Hormayr,