A very fast-and-loose Treaty, to all appearance! Outwardly it is a mere Treaty of Alliance, each party guaranteeing the other for Fifteen Years; without mention made of the joint Belleisle Adventure now in the wind. But then, like the postscript to a lady's letter, there come "secret articles" bearing upon that essential item: How France, in the course of this current season 1741, is to bring an Army across the Rhine in support of its friend Kur-Baiern VERSUS Austria; is, in the same term of time, to make Sweden declare war on Russia (important for Friedrich, who is never sure a moment that those Russians will not break in upon him); and finally, most important of all, That France "guarantees Lower Silesia with Breslau to his Prussian Majesty." In return for which his Prussian Majesty--will do what? It is really difficult to say what: Be a true ally and second to France in its grand German Adventure? Not at all. Friedrich does not yet know, nor does Belleisle himself quite precisely, what the grand German Adventure is; and Friedrich's wishes never were, nor will be, for the prosperity of that. Support France, at least in its small Bavarian Anti-Austrian Adventure? By no means definitely even that. "Maintain myself in Lower Silesia with Breslau, and fight my best to such end:" really that, you might say, is in substance the most of what Friedrich undertakes; though inarticulately he finds himself bound to much more,--and will frankly go into it, IF you do as you have said; and unless you do, will not. Never was a more contingent Treaty: "unless you stir up Sweden, Messieurs; unless you produce that Rhine Army; unless--" such is steadily Friedrich's attitude; long after this, he refuses to say whom he will vote for as Kaiser: "Fortune of War will decide it," answers he, in regard to that and to many other things; and keeps himself to an incomprehensible extent loose; ready, for weeks and months after, to make bargain on his own Silesian Affair with anybody that can. [Ranke, ii. 271, 275, 280.]
For indeed the French also are very contingent; Fleury hanging one way, Belleisle pushing another; and know not how far they will go on the grand German Adventure, nor conclusively whether at all. Here is an Anecdote by Friedrich himself. Valori was, one night, with him; and, on rising to take leave, the fat hand, sticking probably in the big waistcoat-pocket, twitched out a little diplomatic-looking Note; which Friedrich, with gentle adroitness (permissible in such circumstances), set his foot upon, till Valori had bowed himself out. The Note was from Amelot, French Minister of the Foreign Department: "Don't give his Prussian Majesty Glatz, if it can possibly be helped." Very well, thought Friedrich; and did not forget the fine little Note on burning it. [
Two things we have to remark: FIRST, That Friedrich, with an eye to real business on his part in the Bavarian Adventure, in which Kur-Pfalz is sure to accompany, volunteered (like a real man of business, and much to Belleisle's surprise) to renounce the Berg- Julich controversy, and let Kur-Pfalz have his way, that there might be no quarrelling among allies. This too is contingent; but was gladly accepted by Belleisle. SECOND, That Belleisle had instructed Valori, Not to insist on active help from Friedrich in the German Adventure, but merely to stipulate for his Neutrality throughout, in case they could get no more. How joyfully would Friedrich have accepted this,--had Valori volunteered with it, which he did not! [Ranke, ii. 280.] But, after all, in result it was the same; and had to be,--PLUS only a great deal of clamor by and by, from the French and the Gazetteers, about the Article in question.
Was there ever so contingent a Treaty before? It is signed, Breslau, 5th June, 1741, and both parties have their hands loose, and make use of their liberty for months to come; nay, in some sort, all along; feeling how contingent it was! Friedrich did not definitely tie himself till 4th November next, five months after: when he signed the French-Bavarian Treaty, renounced Berg-Julich controversies, and fairly went into the French-Bavarian, smaller French Adventure; into the greater, or wide-winged Belleisle one, he never went nor intended to go,--perhaps even the contrary, if needful. Readers may try to remember these elucidative items, riddled from the immensities of Dryasdust: I have no more to give, nor can afford to return upon it. May not we well say, as above, "A Treaty thought to have many IFS in it!"--And now, 8th June, comes solemnly the Joint-Resolution itself; like mustard (under a flourish of trumpets) three days after dinner:--
"CAMP OF GROTKAU, 8th JUNE. Hyndford and Ginkel [the same respectable old Ginkel whom we used to know in Friedrich Wilhelm's time], having, according to renewed order, got out from Breslau with that formidable Dutch-English 'Advice' or Joint-Exhortation in their pocket, did this day in the Camp at Grotkau present the same. A very mild-spoken Piece, though it had required such courage; and which is not now worth speaking of, things having gone as we see. Friedrich received it with a gracious mien: 'Infinitely sensible to the trouble his Britannic Majesty and their High Mightinesses took with his affairs; Document should receive his best consideration,'--which indeed it has already done, and its Answer withal: A FRENCH Treaty signed three days ago, in virtue of it! 'Might I request a short Private Audience of your Majesty?' solicits Hyndford, intending to modify by new assurances, as bidden.--'Surely,' answers Friedrich.
"The two Excellencies dine with the King, who is in high spirits. After dinner, Hyndford gets his Private Audience; does his best in the way of 'new assurances;' which produce what effect we can fancy. Among other things, he appeals to the King's 'magnanimity, how grand and generous it will be to accept moderate terms from Austria, to--' KING (interrupting): 'My Lord, don't talk to me of magnanimity, a Prince [acting not for himself but for his Nation] ought to consult his interest in the first place. I am not against Peace: but I expect to have Four Duchies given me.'" [State-Paper Office (Hyndford, Breslau, 12th June, 1741).]
Hyndford and Ginkel slept that night in Grotkau Town: "at 4 next morning the King sent us word, That if we had a mind to see the Army on march," just moving off, Strehlen way, "we might come out by the North Gate." We accordingly saw the whole Army leave Camp; and march in four columns towards Friedewald, where Marshal Neipperg is encamped." Not a bit of it, your Excellency! Neipperg is safe at Neisse; amid inaccessible embankments and artificial mud: and these are mere Hussar-Pandour rabble out here; whom a push or two sends home again,--would it could keep them there! But they are of sylvan (or SALVAGE) nature, affecting the shade; and burst out, for theft and arson, sometimes at great distances, no calculating where. "The King's Army lay all that night upon their arms, and encamped next morning, the 10th. I believe nothing happened that day, for we were obliged to stay at Grotkau, for want of post-horses, a good part of it."
Hyndford hears (in secret Opposition Circles, and lays the flattering unction to his soul and your Lordship's): "The King of Prussia's Army, as I am informed, unless he will take counsel, another campaign will go near to ruin. Everything is in the greatest disorder; utmost dejection amongst the Officers from highest to lowest;"--fact being that the King has important improvements and new drillings in view (to go on at Strehlen), Cavalry improvements, Artillery improvements, unknown to Hyndford and the Opposition; and will not be ruined next campaign. "I hope the news we have here, of the taking of Carthagena, is true," concludes he. Alas, your Excellency!