"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.
But if we ask, What Belleisle or France and Louis XV. had to do there? the answer is rigorously, Nothing. Their own windy vanities, ambitions, sanctioned not by fact and the Almighty Powers, but by phantasm and the babble of Versailles; transcendent self-conceit, intrinsically insane; pretensions over their fellow-creatures which were without basis anywhere in Nature, except in the French brain alone: it was this that brought Belleisle and France into a German War. And Belleisle and France having gone into an Anti-Pragmatic War, the unlucky George and his England were dragged into a Pragmatic one,--quitting their own business, on the Spanish Main, and hurrying to Germany,--in terror as at Doomsday, and zeal to save the Keystone of Nature these. That is the notable point in regard to this War: That France is to be called the author of it, who, alone of all the parties, had no business there whatever. And the wages due to France for such a piece of industry,--the reader will yet see what wages France and the other parties got, at the tail of the affair. For that too is apparent in our day.
We have often said, the Spanish-English War was itself likely to have kindled Europe; and again Friedrich's Silesian War was itself likely,--France being nearly sure to interfere. But if both these Wars were necessary ones, and if France interfered in either of them on the wrong side, the blame will be to France, not to the necessary Wars. France could, in no way, have interfered in a more barefacedly unjust and gratuitous manner than she now did; nor, on any terms, have so palpably made herself the author of the conflagration of deliriums that ensued for above Seven years henceforth. Nay for above Twenty years,--the settlement of this Silesian Pragmatic-Antipragmatic matter (and of Jenkins's Ear, incidentally, ALONG with this!) not having fairly completed itself till 1763.