EXCELLENCY HYNDFORD HAS HIS FIRST AUDIENCE (Camp of Mollwitz, May 7th); AND FRIEDRICH MAKES A MOST IMPORTANT TREATY,--NOT WITH HYNDFORD.
May 2d, Hyndford arrived in Breslau; and after some preliminary flourishings, and difficulties about post-horses and furnitures in a seat of War, got to Brieg; and thence, May 7th, "to the Camp [Camp of Mollwitz still], which is about an English mile off,"-- Podewils escorting him from Brieg, and what we note farther, Pollnitz too; our poor old Pollnitz, some kind of Chief Goldstick, whom we did not otherwise know to be on active duty in those rude scenes. Belleisle had passed through Breslau while Hyndford was there:--"am unable to inform your Lordship what success he has had." Brieg Siege is done only three days ago; Castle all lying black; and the new trenching and fortifying hardly begun. In a word, May 7th, 1741, "about 11 A.M.," Excellency Hyndford is introduced to the King's Tent, and has his First Audience. Goldstick having done his motions, none but Podewils is left present; who sits at a table, taking notes of what is said. Podewils's Notes are invisible to me; but here, in authentic though carefully compressed state, is Hyndford's minute Narrative:--
Excellency Hyndford mentioned the Instructions he had, as to "good offices," friendship and so forth. "But his Prussian Majesty had hardly patience to hear me out; and said in a passion [we rise, where possible, Hyndford's own wording; readers will allow for the leaden quality in some parts]:-- KING (in a passion). "'How is it possible, my Lord, to believe things so contradictory? It is mighty fine all this that you now tell me, on the part of the King of England; but how does it correspond to his last Speech to his Parliament [19th April last, when Mr. Viner was in such minority of one] and to the doings of his Ministers at Petersburg [a pretty Partition-Treaty that; and the Excellency Finch still busy, as I know!] and at the Hague [Excellency Trevor there, and this beautiful Joint-Resolution and Advice which is coming!] to stir up allies against me? I have reason rather to doubt the sincerity of the King of England. They perhaps mean to amuse me. [That is Friedrich's real opinion. [His Letter to Podewils (Ranke, ii. 268).]] But, by God, they are mistaken! I will risk everything rather than abate the least of my pretensions.'"
Poor Hyndford said and mumbled what he could; knew nothing what instructions Finch had, Trevor had, and-- KING. "'My Lord, there seems to be a contradiction in all this. The King of England, in his Letter, tells me you are instructed as to everything; and yet you pretend ignorance! But I am perfectly informed of all. And I should not be surprised if, after all these fine words, you should receive some strong letter or resolution for me,'"--Joint-Resolution to Advise, for example?
Hyndford, not in the strength of conscious innocence, stands silent; the King, "in his heat of passion," said to Podewils:-- KING TO PODEWILS (on the sudden). "'Write down, that my Lord would be surprised [as he should be] to receive such Instructions!'" (A mischievous sparkle, half quizzical, half practical, considerably in the Friedrich style.)--Hyndford, "quite struck, my Lord, with this strange way of acting," and of poking into one, protests with angry grunt, and "was put extremely upon my guard." Of course Podewils did net write. ... HYNDFORD. "'Europe is under the necessity of taking some speedy resolution, things are in such a state of crisis. Like a fever in a human body, got to such a height that quinquina becomes necessary.' ... That expression made him smile, and he began to look a little cooler. ... 'Shall we apply to Vienna, your Majesty?' FRIEDRICH. "'Follow your own will in that.' HYNDFORD. "'Would your Majesty consent now to stand by his Excellency Gotter's original Offer at Vienna on your part? Agree, namely, in consideration of Lower Silesia and Breslau, to assist the Queen with all your troops for maintenance of Pragmatic Sanction, and to vote for the Grand-Duke as Kaiser?' KING. "'Yes' [what the reader may take notice of, and date for himself]. HYNDFORD. "'What was the sum of money then offered her Hungarian Majesty?'
"King hesitated, as if he had forgotten; Podewils answered, 'Three million florins (300,000 pounds).'
KING. "'I should not value the money; if money would content her Majesty, I would give more.' ... Here was a long pause, which I did not break;"--nor would the King. Podewils reminded me of an idea we had been discoursing of together ("on his suggestion, my Lord, which I really think is of importance, and worth your Lordship's consideration"); whereupon, on such hint, HYNDFORD. "'Would your Majesty consent to an Armistice?' FRIEDRICH. "'Yes; but [counts on his fingers, May, June, till he comes to December] not for less than six months,--till December 1st. By that time they could do nothing,'" the season out by that time. HYNDFORD. "'His Excellency Podewils has been taking notes; if I am to be bound by them, might I first see that he has mistaken nothing?' KING. "'Certainly!'"--Podewils's Note-protocol is found to be correct in every point; Hyndford, with some slight flourish of compliments on both sides, bows himself away (invited to dinner, which he accepts, "will surely have that honor before returning to Breslau");--and so the First Audience has ended. [Hyndford's Despatches, Breslau, 5th and 13th May, 1741. Are in State-Paper Office, like the rest of Hyndford's; also in British Museum (Additional MSS. 11,365 &c.), the rough draughts of them.] Baronay and Pandours are about,--this is ten days before the Ziethen feat on Baronay;--but no Pandour, now or afterwards, will harm a British Excellency.
These utterances of Friedrich's, the more we examine them by other lights that there are, become the more correctly expressive of what Friedrich's real feelings were on the occasion. Much contrary, perhaps, to expectation of some readers. And indeed we will here advise our readers to prepare for dismissing altogether that notion of Friedrich's duplicity, mendacity, finesse and the like, which was once widely current in the world; and to attend always strictly to what Friedrich says, if they wish to guess what he is thinking; --there being no such thing as "mendacity" discoverable in Friedrich, when you take the trouble to inform yourself. "Mendacity," my friends? How busy have the Owls been with Friedrich's memory, in different countries of the world;--perhaps even more than their sad wont is in such cases! For indeed he was apt to be of swift abrupt procedure, disregardful of Owleries; and gave scope for misunderstanding in the course of his life. But a veracious man he was, at all points; not even conscious of his veracity; but had it in the blood of him; and never looked upon "mendacity" but from a very great height indeed. He does not, except where suitable, at least he never should, express his whole meaning; but you will never find him expressing what is not his meaning. Reticence, not dissimulation. And as to "finesse,"--do not believe in that either, in the vulgar or bad sense. Truly you will find his finesse is a very fine thing; and that it consists, not in deceiving other people, but in being right himself; in well discerning, for his own behoof, what the facts before him are; and in steering, which he does steadily, in a most vigilant, nimble, decisive and intrepid manner, by monition of the same. No salvation but in the facts. Facts are a kind of divine thing to Friedrich; much more so than to common men: this is essentially what Religion I have found in Friedrich. And, let me assure you, it is an invaluable element in any man's Religion, and highly indispensable, though so often dispensed with! Readers, especially in our time English readers, who would gain the least knowledge about Friedrich, in the extinct Bedlam where his work now lay, have a great many things to forget, and sad strata of Owl-droppings, ancient and recent, to sweep away!--