For, directly on the back of Mollwitz, there ensued, first, an explosion of Diplomatic activity such as was never seen before; Excellencies from the four winds taking wing towards Friedrich; and talking and insinuating, and fencing and fugling, after their sort, in that Silesian Camp of his, the centre being there. A universal rookery of Diplomatists;--whose loud cackle and cawing is now as if gone mad to us; their work wholly fallen putrescent and avoidable, dead to all creatures. And secondly, in the train of that, there ensued a universal European War, the French and the English being chief parties in it; which abounds in battles and feats of arms, spirited but delirious, and cannot be got stilled for seven or eight years to come; and in which Friedrich and his War swim only as an intermittent Episode henceforth. What to do with such a War; how extricate the Episode, and leave the War lying? The War was at first a good deal mad; and is now, to men's imagination, fallen wholly so; who indeed have managed mostly to forget it; only the Episode (reduced thereby to an UNintelligible state) retaining still some claims on them.
It is singular into what oblivion the huge Phenomenon called Austrian-Succession War has fallen; which, within a hundred years ago or little more, filled all mortal hearts! The English were principals on one side; did themselves fight in it, with their customary fire, and their customary guidance ("courageous Wooden Pole with Cocked Hat," as our friend called it); and paid all the expenses, which were extremely considerable, and are felt in men's pockets to this day: but the English have more completely forgotten it than any other People. "Battle of Dettingen, Battle of Fontenay, --what, in the Devil's name, were we ever doing there?" the impatient Englishman asks; and can give no answer, except the general one: "Fit of insanity; DELIRIUM TREMENS, perhaps FURENS;-- don't think of it!" Of Philippi and Arbela educated Englishmen can render account; and I am told young gentlemen entering the Army are pointedly required to say who commanded at Aigos-Potamos and wrecked the Peloponnesian War: but of Dettingen and Fontenoy, where is the living Englishman that has the least notion, or seeks for any? The Austrian-Succession War did veritably rage for eight years, at a terrific rate, deforming the face of Earth and Heaven; the English paying the piper always, and founding their National Debt thereby:--but not even that could prove mnemonic to them; and they have dropped the Austrian-Succession War, with one accord, into the general dustbin, and are content it should lie there. They have not, in their language, the least approach to an intelligible account of it: How it went on, whitherward, whence; why it was there at all,--are points dark to the English, and on which they do not wish to be informed. They have quitted the matter, as an unintelligible huge English-and-Foreign Delirium (which in good part it was); Delirium unintelligible to them; tedious, not to say in parts, as those of the Austrian Subsidies, hideous and disgusting to them; happily now fallen extinct; and capable of being skipped, in one's inquiries into the wonders of this England and this World. Which, in fact, is a practical conclusion not so unwise as it looks.
"Wars are not memorable," says Sauerteig, "however big they may have been, whatever rages and miseries they may have occasioned, or however many hundreds of thousands they may have been the death of,--except when they have something of World-History in them withal. If they are found to have been the travail-throes of great or considerable changes, which continue permanent in the world, men of some curiosity cannot but inquire into them, keep memory of them. But if they were travail-throes that had no birth, who of mortals would remember them? Unless perhaps the feats of prowess, virtue, valor and endurance, they might accidentally give rise to, were very great indeed. Much greater than the most were, which came out in that Austrian-Succession case! Wars otherwise are mere futile transitory dust-whirlwinds stilled in blood; extensive fits of human insanity, such as we know are too apt to break out;--such as it rather beseems a faithful Son of the House of Adam NOT to speak about again; as in houses where the grandfather was hanged, the topic of ropes is fitly avoided.
"Never again will that War, with its deliriums, mad outlays of blood, treasure, and of hope and terror, and far-spread human destruction, rise into visual life in any imagination of living man. In vain shall Dryasdust strive: things mad, chaotic and without ascertainable purpose or result, cannot be fixed into human memories. Fix them there by never so many Documentary Histories, elaborate long-eared Pedantries, and cunning threads, the poor human memory has an alchemy against such ill usage;--it forgets them again; grows to know them as a mere torpor, a stupidity and horror, and instinctively flies from Dryasdust and them."
Alive to any considerable degree, in the poor human imagination, this Editor does not expect or even wish the Austrian-Succession War to be. Enough for him if it could be understood sufficiently to render his poor History of Friedrich intelligible. For it enwraps Friedrich like a world-vortex henceforth; modifies every step of his existence henceforth; and apart from it, there is no understanding of his business or him. "So much as sticks to Friedrich:" that was our original bargain! Assist loyally, O reader, and we will try to make the indispensable a minimum for you.
WHO WAS TO BLAME FOR THE AUSTRIAN-SUCCESSION WAR?
The first point to be noted is, Where did it originate? To which the answer mainly is, With that lean Gentleman whom we saw with Papers in the OEil-de-Boeuf on New-year's day last. With Monseigneur the Marechal de Belleisle principally; with the ambitious cupidities and baseless vanities of the French Court and Nation, as represented by Belleisle. George II.'s Spanish War, if you will examine, had a real necessity in it. Jenkins's Ear was the ridiculous outside figure this matter had: Jenkins's Ear was one final item of it; but the poor English People, in their wrath and bellowings about that small item, were intrinsically meaning: "Settle the account; let us have that account cleared up and liquidated; it has lain too long!" And seldom were a People more in the right, as readers shall yet see.
The English-Spanish War had a basis to stand on in this Universe. The like had the Prussian-Austrian one; so all men now admit. If Friedrich had not business there, what man ever had in an enterprise he ventured on? Friedrich, after such trial and proof as has seldom been, got his claims on Schlesien allowed by the Destinies. His claims on Schlesien;--and on infinitely higher things; which were found to be his and his Nation's, though he had not been consciously thinking of them in making that adventure. For, as my poor Friend insists, there ARE Laws valid in Earth and in Heaven; and the great soul of the world is just. Friedrich had business in this War; and Maria Theresa VERSUS Friedrich had likewise cause to appear in court, and do her utmost pleading against him.