History of Friedrich II of Prussia V 1
Part 3 out of 3
superior of Preussen, were delicate; and Gustavus was in deadly
quarrel with Poland. And then Gustavus's sudden laying-hold of
Pommern, which had just escaped from Wallenstein and the Kaiser?
It must be granted, poor George Wilhelm's case demanded
One can forgive him for declining the Bohemian-King speculation,
though his Uncle of Jagerndorf and his Cousins of Liegnitz were so
hearty and forward in it. Pardonable in him to decline the
Bohemian speculation;--though surely it is very sad that he found
himself so short of "butter and firewood" when the poor Ex-King,
and his young Wife, then in a specially interesting state, came to
take shelter with him! [Solltl (Geschichte des
Dreissigjahrigen Krieges, --a trivial modern Book)
gives a notable memorial from the Brandenburg RATHS, concerning
these their difficulties of housekeeping. Their real object, we
perceive, was to get rid of a Guest so dangerous as the Ex-King,
under Ban of the Empire, had now become.] But when Gustavus
landed, and flung out upon the winds such a banner as that of
his,--truly it was required of a Protestant Governor of men to be
able to read said banner in a certain degree. A Governor, not too
IMperfect, would have recognized this Gustavus, what his purposes
and likelihoods were; the feeling would have been, checked by due
circumspectness: "Up, my men, let us follow this man; let us live
and die in the Cause this man goes for! Live otherwise with honor,
or die otherwise with honor, we cannot, in the pass things have
come to!"--And thus, at the very worst, Brandenburg would have had
only one class of enemies to ravage it; and might have escaped
with, arithmetically speaking, HALF the harrying it got in that
But Protestant Germany--sad shame to it, which proved lasting
sorrow as well--was all alike torpid; Brandenburg not an
exceptional case. No Prince stood up as beseemed: or only one, and
he not a great one; Landgraf Wilhelm of Hessen, who, and his brave
Widow after him, seemed always to know what hour it was.
Wilhelm of Hessen all along;--and a few wild hands, Christian of
Brunswick, Christian of Anhalt, Johann George of Jagerndorf, who
stormed out tumultuously at first, but were soon blown away by the
Tilly-Wallenstein TRADE-WINDS and regulated armaments:--the rest
sat still, and tried all they could to keep out of harm's way.
The "Evangelical Union" did a great deal of manifestoing,
pathetic, indignant and other; held solemn Meetings at Heilbronn,
old Sir Henry Wotton going as Ambassador to them; but never got
any redress. Had the Evangelical Union shut up its inkhorns
sooner; girt on its fighting-tools when the time came, and done
some little execution with them then, instead of none at all,--
we may fancy the Evangelical Union would have better discharged
its function. It might have saved immense wretchedness to Germany.
But its course went not that way.
In fact, had there been no better Protestantism than that of
Germany, all was over with Protestantism; and Max of Bavaria, with
fanatical Ferdinand II. as Kaiser over him, and Father Lammerlein
at his right hand and Father Hyacinth at his left, had got their
own sweet way in this world. But Protestant Germany was not
Protestant Europe, after all. Over seas there dwelt and reigned a
certain King in Sweden; there farmed, and walked musing by the
shores of the Ouse in Huntingdonshire, a certain man;--there was a
Gustav Adolf over seas, an Oliver Cromwell over seas;
and "a company of poor men" were found capable of taking Lucifer
by the beard,--who accordingly, with his Lammerleins, Hyacinths,
Habernfeldts and others, was forced to withdraw, after a
The enormous Thirty-Years War, most intricate of modern
Occurrences in the domain of Dryasdust, divides itself, after some
unravelling, into Three principal Acts or Epochs; in all of which,
one after the other, our Kurfurst had an interest mounting
progressively, but continuing to be a passive interest.
Act FIRST goes from 1620 to 1624; and might be entitled "The
Bohemian King Made and Demolished." Personally the Bohemian King
was soon demolished. His Kingship may be said to have gone off by
explosion; by one Fight, namely, done on the Weissenberg near Prag
(Sunday, 8th November, 1620), while he sat at dinner in the City,
the boom of the cannon coming in with interest upon his high
guests and him. He had to run, in hot haste, that night, leaving
many of his important papers,--and becomes a Winter-King. Winter-
King's account was soon settled. But the extirpating of his
Adherents, and capturing of his Hereditary Lands, Palatinate and
Upper-Palatinate, took three years more. Hard fighting for the
Palatinate; Tilly and Company against the "Evangelical-Union
Troops, and the English under Sir Horace Vere." Evangelical-Union
Troops, though marching about there, under an Uncle of our
Kurfurst (Margraf Joachim Ernst, that lucky Anspach Uncle, founder
of "the Line"), who professed some skill in soldiering, were a
mere Picture of an Army; would only "observe," and would not fight
at all. So that the whole fighting fell to Sir Horace and his poor
handful of English; of whose grim posture "in Frankendale"
[Frankenthal, a little Town in the Palatinate, N.W. from Mannheim
a short way.] and other Strongholds, for months long, there is
talk enough in the old English History-Books.
Then there were certain stern War-Captains, who rallied from the
Weissenberg Defeat:--Christian of Brunswick, the chief of them,
titular Bishop of Halberstadt, a high-flown, fiery young fellow,
of terrible fighting gifts; he flamed up considerably, with "the
Queen of Bohemia's glove stuck in his Hat:" "Bright Lady, it shall
stick there, till I get you your own again, or die!" [1621-1623,
age not yet twenty-five; died (by poison), 1626, having again
become supremely important just then. "Gottes Freund, der
Pfaffen Feind (God's Friend, Priests' Foe);"
"Alles fur Ruhm und Ihr (All for Glory and Her,"
--the bright Elizabeth, become Ex-Queen), were mottoes of his.--
Buddaus IN VOCE (i. 649); Michaelis, i. 110.] Christian of
Brunswick, George of Jagerndorf (our Kurfurst's Uncle), Count
Mansfeldt and others, made stormy fight once and again, hanging
upon this central "Frankendale" Business, till they and it became
hopeless. For the Kaiser and his Jesuits were not in doubt;
a Kaiser very proud, unscrupulous; now clearly superior in force,
--and all along of great superiority in fraud.
Christian of Brunswick, Johann George and Mansfeldt were got rid
of: Christian by poison; Johann George and Mansfeldt by other
methods,--chiefly by playing upon poor King James of England, and
leading him by the long nose he was found to have. The Palatinate
became the Kaiser's for the time being; Upper Palatinate (OBER-
PFALZ) Duke Max of Bavaria, lying contiguous to it, had easily
taken. "Incorporate the Ober-Pfalz with your Bavaria," said the
Kaiser, "you, illustrious, thrice-serviceable Max! And let
Lammerlein and Hyacinth, with their Gospel of Ignatius, loose upon
it. Nay, as a still richer reward, be yours the forfeited KUR
(Electorship) of this mad Kur-Pfalz, or Winter-King. I will hold
his Rhine-Lands, his UNTER-PFALZ: his Electorship and OBER-PFALZ,
I say, are yours, Duke, henceforth KURFURST Maximilian!" [Kohler,
Reichs-Historie, p. 520.] Which was a hard
saying in the ears of Brandenburg, Saxony and the other Five, and
of the Reich in general; but they had all to comply, after
wincing. For the Kaiser proceeded with a high hand. He had put the
Ex-King under Ban of the Empire (never asking "the Empire" about
it); put his Three principal Adherents, Johann George of
Jagerndorf one of them, Prince Christian of Anhalt (once captain
at the Siege of Juliers) another, likewise under Ban of the
Empire; [22d Jan. 1621 (ibid. p. 518).] and in short had flung
about, and was flinging, his thunder-bolts in a very Olympian
manner. Under all which, what could Brandenburg and the others do;
but whimper some trembling protest, "Clear against Law!"--and sit
obedient? The Evangelical Union did not now any more than formerly
draw out its fighting-tools. In fact, the Evangelical Union now
fairly dissolved itself; melted into a deliquium of terror under
these thunder-bolts that were flying, and was no more heard of in
SECOND ACT, OR EPOCH, 1624-1629. A SECOND UNCLE PUT TO
THE BAN, AND POMMERN SNATCHED AWAY.
Except in the "NETHER-SAXON CIRCLE" (distant Northwest region,
with its Hanover, Mecklenburg, with its rich Hamburgs, Lubecks,
Magdeburgs, all Protestant, and abutting on the Protestant North),
trembling Germany lay ridden over as the Kaiser willed. Foreign
League got up by France, King James, Christian IV. of Denmark
(James's Brother-in-law, with whom he had such "drinking" in
Somerset House, long ago, on Christian's visit hither [Old
Histories of James I. (Wilson, &c.)]), went to water, or worse.
Only the "Nether-Saxon Circle" showed some life; was levying an
army; and had appointed Christian of Brunswick its Captain, till
he was got poisoned;--upon which the drinking King of Denmark took
Act SECOND goes from 1624 to 1627 or even 1629; and contains
drunken Christian's Exploits. Which were unfortunate, almost to
the ruin of Denmark itself, as well as of the Nether-Saxon
Circle;--till in the latter of these years he slightly rallied,
and got a supportable Peace granted him (Peace of Lubeck, 1629);
after which he sits quiet, contemplative, with an evil eye upon
Sweden now and then. The beatings he got, in quite regular
succession, from Tilly and Consorts, are not worth mentioning:
the only thing one now remembers of him is his alarming accident
on the ramparts of Hameln, just at the opening of these Campaigns.
At Hameln, which was to be a strong post, drunken Christian rode
out once, on a summer afternoon (1624), to see that the ramparts
were all right, or getting all right;--and tumbled, horse and self
(self in liquor, it is thought), in an ominous alarming manner.
Taken up for dead;--nay some of the vague Histories seem to think
he was really dead:--but he lived to be often beaten after that,
and had many moist years more.
Our Kurfurst had another Uncle put to the Ban in this Second Act,
--Christian Wilhelm Archbishop of Magdeburg, "for assisting the
Danish King;" nor was Ban all the ruin that fell on this poor
Archbishop. What could an unfortunate Kurfurst do, but tremble and
obey? There was still a worse smart got by our poor Kurfurst out
of Act Second; the glaring injustice done him in Pommern.
Does the reader remember that scene in the High Church of Stettin
a hundred and fifty years ago? How the Burgermeister threw sword
and helmet into the grave of the last Duke of Pommern-Stettin
there; and a forward Citizen picked them out again in favor of a
Collateral Branch? Never since, any more than then, could
Brandenburg get Pommern according to claim. Collateral Branch, in
spite of Friedrich Ironteeth, in spite even of Albert Achilles and
some fighting of his; contrived, by pleading at the Diets and
stirring up noise, to maintain its pretensions: and Treaties
without end ensued, as usual; Treaties refreshed and new-signed by
every Successor of Albert, to a wearisome degree. The sum of which
always was: "Pommern does actual homage to Brandenburg; vassal
of Brandenburg;--and falls home to it, if the now Extant Line go
extinct." Nay there is an ERBVERBRUDERUNG (Heritage-Fraternity)
over and above, established this long time, and wearisomely
renewed at every new Accession. Hundreds of Treaties, oppressive
to think of:--and now the last Duke, old Bogislaus, is here,
without hope of children; and the fruit of all that haggling,
actual Pommern to wit, will at last fall home? Alas, no;
For the Kaiser having so triumphantly swept off the Winter-King,
and Christian IV. in the rear of him, and got Germany ready for
converting to Orthodoxy,--wished now to have some hold of the
Seaboard, thereby to punish Denmark; nay thereby, as is hoped, to
extend the blessings of Orthodoxy into England, Sweden, Holland,
and the other Heretic States, in due time. For our plans go far!
This is the Kaiser's fixed wish, rising to the rank of hope now
and then: all Europe shall become Papist again by the help of God
and the Devil. So the Kaiser, on hardly any pretext, seized
Mecklenburg from the Proprietors,--"Traitors, how durst you join
Danish Christian?"--and made Wallenstein Duke of it. Duke of
Mecklenburg, "Admiral of the EAST SEA (Baltic);" and set to
"building ships of war in Rostock,"--his plans going far. [Kohler,
Reichs-Historie, pp, 524, 525.] This done,
he seized Pommern, which also is a fine Sea-country,--stirring up
Max of Bavaria to make some idle pretence to Pommern, that so the
Kaiser might seize it "in sequestration till decided on."
Under which hard treatment, George Wilhelm had to sit sad and
silent,--though the Stralsunders would not. Hence the world-famous
Siege of Stralsund (1628); fierce Wallenstein declaring, "I will
have the Town, if it hung by a chain from Heaven;" but finding he
could not get it; owing to the Swedish succor, to the stubborn
temper prevalent among the Townsfolk, and also greatly to the
rains and peat-bogs.
A second Uncle of George Wilhelm's, that unlucky Archbishop of
Magdeburg above mentioned, the Kaiser, once more by his own
arbitrary will, put under Ban of the Empire, in this Second Act:
"Traitor, how durst you join with the Danes?" The result of which
was Tilly's Sack of Magdeburg (10-12th May, 1631), a transaction
never forgettable by mankind.--As for Pommern, Gustav Adolf, on
his intervening in these matters, landed there: Pommern was now
seized by Gustav Adolf, as a landing-place and place-of-arms,
indispensable for Sweden in the present emergency; and was so held
thenceforth. Pommern will not fall to George Wilhelm at this time.
THIRD ACT, AND WHAT THE KURFURST SUFFERED IN IT.
And now we are at Act THIRD:--Landing of Gustav Adolf "in the Isle
of Usedom, 24th June, 1630," and onward for Eighteen Years till
the Peace of Westphalia, in 1648;--on which, as probably better
known to the reader, we will not here go into details. In this
Third Act too, George Wilhelm followed his old scheme, peace at
any price;--as shy of Gustav as he had been of other Champions of
the Cause; and except complaining, petitioning and manifestoing,
studiously did nothing.
Poor man, it was his fate to stand in the range of these huge
collisions,--Bridge of Dessau, Siege of Stralsund, Sack of
Magdeburg, Battle of Leipzig,--where the Titans were bowling rocks
at one another; and he hoped, by dexterous skipping, to escape
share of the game. To keep well with his Kaiser,--and such a
Kaiser to Germany and to him,--this, for George Wilhelm, was
always the first commandment. If the Kaiser confiscate your
Uncles, against law; seize your Pommern; rob you on the public
highways,--George Wilhelm, even in such case, is full of
dubitations. Nay his Prime-Minister, one Schwartzenberg, a
Catholic, an Austrian Official at one time,--Progenitor of the
Austrian Schwartzenbergs that now are,--was secretly in the
Kaiser's interest, and is even thought to have been in the
Kaiser's pay, all along.
Gustav, at his first landing, had seized Pommern, and swept it
clear of Austrians, for himself and for his own wants; not too
regardful of George Wilhelm's claims on it. He cleared out
Frankfurt-on-Oder, Custrin and other Brandenburg Towns, in a
similar manner,--by cannon and storm, when needful;--drove the
Imperialists and Tilly forth of these countries. Advancing, next
year, to save Magdeburg, now shrieking under Tilly's bombardment,
Gustav insisted on having, if not some bond of union from his
Brother-in-law of Brandenburg, at least the temporary cession of
two Places of War for himself, Spandau and Custrin, indispensable
in any farther operation. Which cession Kurfurst George Wilhelm,
though giving all his prayers to the Good Cause, could by no means
grant. Gustav had to insist, with more and more emphasis;
advancing at last, with military menace, upon Berlin itself.
He was met by George Wilhelm and his Council, "in the woods of
Copenick," short way to the east of that City: there George
Wilhelm and his Council wandered about, sending messages,
hopelessly consulting; saying among each other, "Que
faire; ils ont des canons, what can one do; they have
got cannon?" [ OEvres de Frederic le Grand
(Berlin, 1846-1856 et seqq.: Memoires de Brandebourg
italic>), i. 38. For the rest, Friedrich's Account of the
Transaction is very loose and scanty: see Pauli (iv. 568) and his
minute details.] For many hours so; round the inflexible Gustav,--
who was there like a fixed milestone, and to all questions and
comers had only one answer!-- "Que faire; ils ont des
canons?" This was the 3d May, 1631. This probably
is about the nadir-point of the Brandenburg-Hohenzollern History.
The little Friedrich, who became Frederick the Great, in writing
of it, has a certain grim banter in his tone; and looks rather
with mockery on the perplexities of his poor Ancestor, so fatally
ignorant of the time of day it had now become.
On the whole, George Wilhelm did what is to be called nothing, in
the Thirty-Years War; his function was only that of suffering.
He followed always the bad lead of Johann George, Elector of
Saxony; a man of no strength, devoutness or adequate human worth;
who proved, on these negative grounds, and without flagrancy of
positive badness, an unspeakable curse to Germany. Not till the
Kaiser fulminated forth his Restitution-Edict, and showed he was
in earnest about it (1629-1631), "Restore to our Holy Church what
you have taken from her since the Peace of Passau!"--could this
Johann George prevail upon himself to join Sweden, or even to do
other than hate it for reasons he saw. Seized by the throat in
this manner, and ordered to DELIVER, Kur-Sachsen did, and
Brandenburg along with him, make Treaty with the Swede. [8th
February, 1631 (Kohler, Reichs-Historie,
pp. 526-531.] in consequence of which they two, some months after,
by way of co-operating with Gustav on his great march Vienna-ward,
sent an invading force into Bohemia, Brandenburg contributing some
poor 3,000 to it; who took Prag, and some other open Towns;
but "did almost nothing there," say the Histories, "except dine
and drink." It is clear enough they were instantly scattered home
[October, 1633 (Stenzel, i. 503).] at the first glimpse of
Wallenstein dawning on the horizon again in those parts.
Gustav having vanished (Field of Lutzen, 6th November, 1632
[Pauli, iv. 576.]), Oxenstiern, with his high attitude, and
"Presidency" of the "Union of Heilbronn," was rather an offence to
Kur-Sachsen, who used to be foremost man on such occasions.
Kur-Sachsen broke away again; made his Peace of Prag, [1635, 20th
May (Stenzel, i. 513).] whom Brandenburg again followed;
Brandenburg and gradually all the others, except the noble Wilhelm
of Hessen-Cassel alone. Miserable Peace; bit of Chaos clouted up,
and done over with Official varnish;--which proved to be the
signal for continuing the War beyond visible limits, and rendering
After this, George Wilhelm retires from the scene; lives in
Custrin mainly; mere miserable days, which shall be invisible to
us. He died in 1640; and, except producing an active brave Son
very unlike himself, did nothing considerable in the world.
"Que faire; ils ont des canons!"
Among the innumerable sanguinary tusslings of this War are counted
Three great Battles, Leipzig, Lutzen, Nordlingen. Under one great
Captain, Swedish Gustav, and the two or three other considerable
Captains, who appeared in it, high passages of furious valor, of
fine strategy and tactic, are on record. But on the whole, the
grand weapon in it, and towards the latter times the exclusive
one, was Hunger. The opposing Armies tried to starve one another;
at lowest, tried each not to starve. Each trying to eat the
country, or at any rate to leave nothing eatable in it: what that
will mean for the country, we may consider. As the Armies too
frequently, and the Kaiser's Armies habitually, lived without
commissariat, often enough without pay, all horrors of war and of
being a seat of war, that have been since heard of, are poor to
those then practised. The detail of which is still horrible to
read. Germany, in all eatable quarters of it, had to undergo the
process;--tortured, torn to pieces, wrecked, and brayed as in a
mortar under the iron mace of war. [Curious incidental details of
the state it was reduced to, in the Rhine and Danube Countries,
turn up in the Earl of Arundel and Surrey's TRAVELS ("Arundel of
the Marbles") as Ambassador Extraordinary to the Emperor
Ferdinando II. in 1636 (a small Volume, or Pamphlet,
London, 1637).] Brandenburg saw its towns sieged and sacked, its
country populations driven to despair, by the one party and the
other. Three times,--first in the. Wallenstein Mecklenburg period,
while fire and sword were the weapons, and again, twice over, in
the ultimate stages of the struggle, when starvation had become
the method--Brandenburg fell to be the principal theatre of
conflict, where all forms of the dismal were at their height.
In 1638, three years after that precious "Peace of Prag," the
Swedes (Banier VERSUS Gallas) starving out the Imperialists in
those Northwestern parts, the ravages of the starving Gallas and
his Imperialists excelled all precedent; and the "famine about
Tangermunde had risen so high that men ate human flesh, nay human
creatures ate their own children." [1638: Pauli, iv. 604.]
"Que faire; ils ont des canons!"
DUCHY OF JAGERNDORF.
This unfortunate George Wilhelm failed in getting Pommern when
due; Pommern, firmly held by the Swedes, was far from him.
But that was not the only loss of territory he had. Jagerndorf,--
we have heard of Johann George of Jagerndorf, Uncle of this George
Wilhelm, how old Joachim Friedrich put him into Jagerndorf, long
since, when it fell home to the Electoral House. Jagerndorf is now
lost; Johann George is under REICHS-ACHT (Ban of Empire), ever
since the Winter-King's explosion, and the thunder-bolts that
followed; and wanders landless;--nay he is long since dead, and
has six feet of earth for a territory, far away in Transylvania,
or the RIESEN-GEBIRGE (Giant Mountains) somewhere. Concerning whom
a word now.
DUKE OF JAGERNDORF, ELECTOR'S UNCLE, IS PUT UNDER BAN.
Johann George, a frank-hearted valiant man, concerning whom only
good actions, and no bad one, are on record, had notable troubles
in the world; bad troubles to begin with, and worse to end in.
He was second Son of Kurfurst Joachim Friedrich, who had meant him
for the Church. [1577-1624: Rentsch, p. 486.] The young fellow was
Coadjutor of Strasburg, almost from the time of getting into
short-clothes. He was then, still very young, elected Bishop there
(1592); Bishop of Strasburg,--but only by the Protestant part of
the Canons; the Catholic part, unable to submit longer, and
thinking it a good time for revolt against a Protestant population
and obstinately heterodox majority, elected another Bishop,--one
"Karl of the House of Lorraine;" and there came to be dispute, and
came even to be fighting needed. Fighting; which prudent Papa
would not enter into, except faintly at second-hand, through the
Anspach Cousins, or others that were in the humor. Troublesome
times for the young man; which lasted a dozen years or more.
At last a Bargain was made (1604); Protestant and Catholic Canons
splitting the difference in some way; and the House of Lorraine
paying Johann George a great deal of money to go home again.
[ OEuvres completes de Voltaire, 97 vols.
(Paris, 1825-1832), xxxiii. 284.--Kohler ( Reichs-
Historie, p. 487) gives the authentic particulars.]
Poor Johann George came out of it in that way; not second-best,
He was then (1606) put into Jagerndorf, which had just fallen
vacant; our excellent fat friend, George Friedrich of Anspach,
Administrator of Preussen, having lately died, and left it vacant,
as we saw. George Friedrich's death yielded fine apanages, three
of them in all: FIRST Anspach, SECOND, Baireuth, and this THIRD of
Jagerndorf for a still younger Brother. There was still a fourth
younger Brother, Uncle of George Wilhelm; Archbishop of Magdeburg
this one; who also, as we have seen, got into REICHS-ACHT, into
deep trouble in the Thirty-Years War. He was in Tilly's thrice-
murderous Storm of Magdeburg (10th May, 1631); was captured,
tumbled about by the wild soldiery, and nearly killed there.
Poor man, with his mitre and rochets left in such a state! In the
end he even became CATHOLIC,--from conviction, as was evident, and
bewilderment of mind;--and lived in Austria on a pension;
occasionally publishing polemical pamphlets. [1587; 1628; 1665
(Rentsch, pp. 905-910).]--
As to Johann George, he much repaired and beautified the Castle of
Jagerndorf, says Rentsch: but he unfortunately went ahead into the
Winter-King's adventure; which, in that sad battle of the
Weissenberg, made total shipwreck of itself, drawing Johann George
and much else along with it. Johann George was straightway
tyrannously put to the Ban, forfeited of life and lands: [22d
January, 1621 (Kohler, Reichs-Historie,
p. 518: and rectify Hubner, t. 178).] Johann George disowned the
said Ban; stood out fiercely for self and Winter-King; and did
good fighting in the Silesian strongholds and mountain-passes:
but was forced to seek temporary shelter in SIEBENBURGEN
(Transylvania); and died far away, in a year or two (1624), while
returning to try it again. Sleeps, I think, in the "Jablunka
Pass;" the dumb Giant-Mountains (RIESEN-GEBIRGE) shrouding up his
sad shipwreck and him.
Jagerndorf was thus seized by Ferdinand II. of the House of
Hapsburg; and though it was contrary to all law that the Kaiser
should keep it,--poor Johann George having left Sons very innocent
of treason, and Brothers, and an Electoral. Nephew, very
innocent,--to whom, by old compacts and new, the Heritage in
defect of him was to fall,--neither Kaiser Ferdinand II. nor
Kaiser Ferdinand III. nor any Kaiser would let go the hold;
but kept Jagerndorf fast clenched, deaf to all pleadings, and
monitions of gods or men. Till at length, in the fourth generation
afterwards, one "Friedrich the Second," not unknown to us,--
a sharp little man, little in stature, but large in faculty and
renown, who is now called "Frederick the Great,"--clutched hold of
the Imperial fist (so to speak), seizing his opportunity in 1740;
and so wrenched and twisted said close fist, that not only
Jagerndorf dropped out of it, but the whole of Silesia along with
Jagerndorf, there being other claims withal. And the account was
at last settled, with compound interest,--as in fact such accounts
are sure to be, one way or other. And so we leave Johann George
among the dumb Giant-Mountains again.
FRIEDRICH WILHELM, THE GREAT KURFURST, ELEVENTH OF THE SERIES.
Brandenburg had again sunk very low under the Tenth Elector, in
the unutterable troubles of the times. But it was gloriously
raised up again by his Son Friedrich Wilhelm, who succeeded in
1640. This is he whom they call the "Great Elector (GROSSE
KURFURST);" of whom there is much writing and celebrating in
Prussian Books. As for the epithet, it is not uncommon among petty
German populations, and many times does not mean too much:
thus Max of Bavaria, with his Jesuit Lambkins and Hyacinths, is,
by Bavarians, called "Maximilian the Great." Friedrich Wilhelm,
both by his intrinsic qualities and the success he met with,
deserves it better than most. His success, if we look where he
started and where he ended, was beyond that of any other man in
his day. He found Brandenburg annihilated, and he left Brandenburg
sound and flourishing; a great country, or already on the way
towards greatness. Undoubtedly a most rapid, clear-eyed, active
man. There was a stroke in him swift as lightning, well-aimed
mostly, and of a respectable weight, withal; which shattered
asunder a whole world of impediments for him, by assiduous
repetition of it for fifty years. [1620; 1640; 1688.]
There hardly ever came to sovereign power a young man of twenty
under more distressing, hopeless-looking circumstances. Political
significance Brandenburg had none; a mere Protestant appendage
dragged about by a Papist Kaiser. His Father's Prime-Minister, as
we have seen, was in the interest of his enemies; not
Brandenburg's servant, but Austria's. The very Commandants of his
Fortresses, Commandant of Spandau more especially, refused to obey
Friedrich Wilhelm, on his accession; "were bound to obey the
Kaiser in the first place." He had to proceed softly as well
as swiftly; with the most delicate hand to get him of Spandau
by the collar, and put him under lock-and-key, him as a warning
For twenty years past, Brandenburg had been scoured by hostile
armies, which, especially the Kaiser's part of which, committed
outrages new in human history. In a year or two hence, Brandenburg
became again the theatre of business; Austrian Gallas advancing
thither again (1644), with intent "to shut up Torstenson and his
Swedes in Jutland," where they had been chastising old Christian
IV., now meddlesome again, for the last time, and never a good
neighbor to Sweden. Gallas could by no means do what he intended:
on the contrary, he had to run from Torstenson, what feet could
do; was hunted, he and his MERODE-BRUDER (beautiful inventors of
the "Marauding" Art), "till they pretty much all died
(CREPERTIN)," says Koh1er. [ Reichs-Historie,
italic> p. 556; Pauli, v. 24.] No great loss to society, the
death of these Artists: but we can fancy what their life, and
especially what the process of their dying, may have cost poor
Friedrich Wilhelm's aim, in this as in other emergencies, was
sun-clear to himself, but for most part dim to everybody else.
He had to walk very warily, Sweden on one hand of him, suspicious
Kaiser on the other; he had to wear semblances, to be ready with
evasive words; and advance noiselessly by many circuits.
More delicate operation could not be imagined. But advance he did:
advance and arrive. With extraordinary talent, diligence and
felicity the young man wound himself out of this first fatal
position: got those foreign Armies pushed out of his Country, and
kept them out. His first concern had been to find some vestige of
revenue, to put that upon a clear footing; and by loans or
otherwise to scrape a little ready money together. On the strength
of which a small body of soldiers could be collected about him,
and drilled into real ability to fight and obey. This as a basis:
on this followed all manner of things: freedom from Swedish-
Austrian invasions, as the first thing.
He was himself, as appeared by and by, a fighter of the first
quality, when it came to that: but never was willing to fight if
he could help it. Preferred rather to shift, manoeuvre and
negotiate; which he did in a most vigilant, adroit and masterly
manner. But by degrees he had grown to have, and could maintain
it, an Army of 24,000 men: among the best troops then in being.
With or without his will, he was in all the great Wars of his
time,--the time of Louis XIV., who kindled Europe four times over,
thrice in our Kurfurst's day. The Kurfurst's Dominions, a long
straggling country, reaching from Memel to Wesel, could hardly
keep out of the way of any war that might rise. He made himself
available, never against the good cause of Protestantism and
German Freedom, yet always in the place and way where his own best
advantage was to be had. Louis XIV. had often much need of him:
still oftener, and more pressingly, had Kaiser Leopold, the little
Gentleman "in scarlet stockings, with a red feather in his hat,"
whom Mr. Savage used to see majestically walking about, with
Austrian lip that said nothing at all. [ A Compleat
History of Germany, by Mr. Savage (8vo, London,
1702), p. 553. Who this Mr. Savage was, we have no trace.
Prefixed to the volume is the Portrait of a solid Gentleman of
forty: gloomily polite, with ample wig and cravat,--in all
likelihood some studious subaltern Diplomatist in the Succession
War. His little Book is very lean and barren: but faithfully
compiled,--and might have some illumination in it, where utter
darkness is so prevalent. Most likely, Addison picked his story of
the Siege of Weinsberg ("Women carrying out
their Husbands on their back,"--one of his best SPECTATORS) out of
this poor Book.] His 24,000 excellent fighting-men, thrown in at
the right time, were often a thing that could turn the balance
in great questions. They required to be allowed for at a high
rate,--which he well knew how to adjust himself for exacting and
WHAT BECAME OF POMMERN AT THE PEACE; FINAL GLANCE INTO CLEVE-JULICH.
When the Peace of Westphalia (1648) concluded that Thirty-Years
Conflagration, and swept the ashes of it into order again,
Friedrich Wilhelm's right to Pommern was admitted by everybody:
and well insisted on by himself: but right had to yield to reason
of state, and he could not get it. The Swedes insisted on their
expenses: the Swedes held Pommern, had all along held it,--in
pawn, they said, for their expenses. Nothing for it but to give
the Swedes the better half of Pommern. FORE-Pommern (so they call
it, "Swedish Pomerania" thenceforth), which lies next the Sea:
this, with some Towns and cuttings over and above, was Sweden's
share: Friedrich Wilhelm had to put up with HINDER-Pommern, docked
furthermore of the Town of Stettin, and of other valuable
cuttings, in favor of Sweden. Much to Friedrich Wilhelm's grief
and just anger, could he have helped it.
They gave him Three secularized Bishoprics, Magdeburg,
Halberstadt, Minden, with other small remnants, for compensation;
and he had to be content with these for the present. But he never
gave up the idea of Pommern: much of the effort of his life was
spent upon recovering Fore-Pommern: thrice-eager upon that,
whenever lawful opportunity offered. To no purpose then: he never
could recover Swedish Pommern; only his late descendants, and that
by slowish degrees, could recover it all. Readers remember that
Burgermeister of Stettin, with the helmet and sword flung into the
grave and picked out again:--and can judge whether Brandenburg got
its good luck quite by lying in bed!--
Once, and once only, he had a voluntary purpose towards War, and
it remained a purpose only. Soon after the Peace of Westphalia,
old Pfalz-Neuburg, the same who got the slap on the face, went
into tyrannous proceedings against the Protestant part of his
subjects in Julich-Cleve: who called to Friedrich Wilhelm for
help. Friedrich Wilhelm, a zealous Protestant, made remonstrances,
retaliations: ere long the thought struck him, "Suppose, backed by
the Dutch, we threw out this fantastic old gentleman, his
Papistries, and pretended claims and self, clear out of it?"
This was Friedrich Wilhelm's thought; and he suddenly marched
troops into the Territory, with that view. But Europe was in
alarm, the Dutch grew faint: Friedrich Wilhelm saw it would not
do. He had a conference with old Pfalz-Neuburg: "Young gentleman,
we remember how your Grandfather made free with us and our august
countenance! Nevertheless we--" In fine, the "statistic of
Treaties" was increased by One: and there the matter rested till
In 1666, as already said, an effective Partition of these
litigated Territories was accomplished: Prussia to have the Duchy
of Cleve-Proper, the Counties of Mark and Ravensburg, with other
Patches and Pertinents: Neuburg, what was the better share, to
have Julich Duchy and Berg Duchy. Furthermore, if either of the
Lines failed, in no sort was a collateral to be admitted:
but Brandenburg was to inherit Neuburg, or Neuburg Brandenburg, as
the case might be. [Pauli, v. 120-129.] A clear Bargain this at
last: and in the times that had come, it proved executable so far.
But if the reader fancies the Lawsuit was at last out in this way,
he will be a simple reader! In the days of our little Fritz, the
Line of Pfalz-Neuburg was evidently ending: but that Brandenburg
and not a collateral should succeed it, there lay the quarrel,--
open still, as if it had never been shut: and we shall hear enough
THE GREAT KURFURST'S WARS: WHAT HE ACHIEVED IN WAR AND PEACE.
Friedrich Wilhelm's first actual appearance in War, Polish-
Swedish War (1655-1660), was involuntary in the highest degree:
forced upon him for the sake of his Preussen, which bade fair to
be lost or ruined, without blame of his or its. Nevertheless, here
too he made his benefit of the affair. The big King of Sweden had
a standing quarrel with his big Cousin of Poland, which broke out
into hot War; little Preussen lay between them, and was like to be
crushed in the collision. Swedish King was Karl Gustav,
Christina's Cousin, Charles Twelfth's Grandfather; a great and
mighty man, lion of the North in his time: Polish King was one
John Casimir; chivalrous enough, and with clouds of forward Polish
chivalry about him, glittering with barbaric gold. Frederick III.,
Danish King for the time being, he also was much involved in the
thing. Fain would Friedrich Wilhelm have kept out of it, but he
could not. Karl Gustav as good as forced him to join: he joined;
fought along with Karl Gustav an illustrious Battle; "Battle of
Warsaw," three days long (28-30th July, l656), on the skirts of
Warsaw,--crowds "looking from the upper windows" there; Polish
chivalry, broken at last, going like chaff upon the winds, and
John Casimir nearly ruined.
Shortly after which, Friedrich Wilhelm, who had shone much in the
Battle, changed sides. An inconsistent, treacherous man?
Perhaps not, O reader; perhaps a man advancing "in circuits," the
only way he has; spirally, face now to east, now to west, with his
own reasonable private aim sun-clear to him all the while?
John Casimir agreed to give up the "Homage of Preussen" for this
service; a grand prize for Friedrich Wilhelm. [Treaty of Labiau,
10th November, 1656 (Pauli, v. 73-75); 20th November (Stenzel, iv.
128,--who always uses NEW STYLE).] What the Teutsch Ritters strove
for in vain, and lost their existence in striving for, the shifty
Kurfurst has now got: Ducal Prussia, which is also called East
Prussia, is now a free sovereignty,--and will become as "Royal" as
the other Polish part. Or perhaps even more so, in the course of
time!--Karl Gustav, in a high frame of mind, informs the Kurfurst,
that he has him on his books, and will pay the debt one day!
A dangerous debtor in such matters, this Karl Gustav. In these
same months, busy with the Danish part of the Controversy, he was
doing a feat of war, which set all Europe in astonishment.
In January, 1658, Karl Gustav marches his Army, horse, foot and
artillery, to the extent of twenty thousand, across the Baltic
ice, and takes an Island without shipping,--Island of Funen,
across the Little Belt; three miles of ice; and a part of the sea
open, which has to be crossed on planks. Nay, forward from Funen,
when once there, he achieves ten whole miles more of ice;
and takes Zealand itself, [Holberg's Danemarkische
Reichs-Historie, pp. 406-409.]--to the wonder of all
mankind. An imperious, stern-browed, swift-striking man; who had
dreamed of a new Goth Empire: The mean Hypocrites and Fribbles of
the South to be coerced again by noble Norse valor, and taught a
new lesson. Has been known to lay his hand on his sword while
apprising an Ambassador (Dutch High-Mightiness) what his royal
intentions were: "Not the sale or purchase of groceries, observe
you, Sir! My aims go higher!"--Charles Twelfth's Grandfather,
and somewhat the same type of man.
But Karl Gustav died, short while after; [13th February, 1660, age
38.] left his big wide-raging Northern Controversy to collapse in
what way it could. Sweden and the fighting-parties made their
"Peace of Oliva" (Abbey of Oliva, near Dantzig, 1st May, 1660);
and this of Preussen was ratified, in all form, among the other
points. No homage more; nothing now above Ducal Prussia but the
Heavens; and great times coming for it. This was one of the
successfulest strokes of business ever done by Friedrich Wilhelm;
who had been forced, by sheer compulsion, to embark in that big
game.--"Royal Prussia," the Western or POLISH Prussia: this too,
as all Newspapers know, has, in our times, gone the same road as
the other. Which probably, after all, it may have had, in Nature,
some tendency to do? Cut away, for reasons, by the Polish sword,
in that Battle of Tannenberg, long since; and then, also for
reasons, cut back again! That is the fact;--not unexampled in
Old Johann Casimir, not long after that Peace of Oliva, getting
tired of his unruly Polish chivalry and their ways, abdicated;--
retired to Paris; and "lived much with Ninon de 1'Enclos and her
circle," for the rest of his life. He used to complain of his
Polish chivalry, that there was no solidity in them; nothing but
outside glitter, with tumult and anarchic noise; fatal want of one
essential talent, the talent of Obeying; and has been heard to
prophesy that a glorious Republic, persisting in such courses,
would arrive at results which would surprise it.
Onward from this time, Friedrich Wilhelm figures in the world;
public men watching his procedure; Kings anxious to secure him,--
Dutch printsellers sticking up his Portraits for a hero-
worshipping Public. Fighting hero, had the Public known it, was
not his essential character, though he had to fight a great deal.
He was essentially an Industrial man; great in organizing,
regulating, in constraining chaotic heaps to become cosmic for
him. He drains bogs, settles colonies in the waste-places of his
Dominions, cuts canals; unweariedly encourages trade and work.
The FRIEDRICH-WILHELM'S CANAL, which still carries tonnage from
the Oder to the Spree, [Executed, 1662-1668; fifteen English miles
long (Busching, ERDBESCHREIBUNG, vi, 2193).] is a monument of his
zeal in this way; creditable, with the means he had. To the poor
French Protestants, in the Edict-of-Nantes Affair, he was like an
express Benefit of Heaven: one Helper appointed, to whom the help
itself was profitable. He munificently welcomed them to
Brandenburg; showed really a noble piety and human pity, as well
as judgment; nor did Brandenburg and he want their reward.
Some 20,000 nimble French souls, evidently of the best French
quality, found a home there;--made "waste sands about Berlin into
potherb gardens;" and in the spiritual Brandenburg, too, did
something of horticulture, which is still noticeable. [Erman (weak
Biographer of Queen Sophie-Charlotte, already cited),
Memoires pour sevir a l'Histoire den Refugies Francais dans
les Etats du Roi de Prusse (Berlin, 1782-1794),
8 tt. 8vo.]
Certainly this Elector was one of the shiftiest of men. Not an
unjust man either. A pious, God-fearing man rather, stanch to his
Protestantism and his Bible; not unjust by any means,--nor, on the
other hand, by any means thick-skinned in his interpretings of
justice: Fair-play to myself always; or occasionally even the
Height of Fair-play! On the whole, by constant energy, vigilance,
adroit activity, by an ever-ready insight and audacity to seize
the passing fact by its right handle, he fought his way well in
the world; left Brandenburg a flourishing and greatly increased
Country, and his own name famous enough.
A thick-set stalwart figure; with brisk eyes, and high strong
irregularly Roman nose. Good bronze Statue of him, by Schluter,
once a famed man, still rides on the LANGE-BRUCKE (Long-Bridge) at
Berlin; and his Portrait, in huge frizzled Louis-Quatorze wig, is
frequently met with in German Galleries. Collectors of Dutch
Prints, too, know him: here a gallant, eagle-featured little
gentleman, brisk in the smiles of youth, with plumes, with
truncheon, caprioling on his war-charger, view of tents in the
distance;--there a sedate, ponderous, wrinkly old man, eyes
slightly puckered (eyes BUSIER than mouth); a face well-ploughed
by Time, and not found unfruitful; one of the largest, most
laborious, potent faces (in an ocean of circumambient periwig) to
be met with in that Century. [Both Prints are Dutch; the Younger,
my copy of the Younger, has lost the Engraver's Name (Kurfurst's
age is twenty-seven); the Elder is by MASSON, 1633, when Friedrich
Wilhelm was sixty-three.] There are many Histories about him, too;
but they are not comfortable to read. [G. D. Geyler,
Leben und Thaten Friedrich Wihelms des Grossen
(Frankfort and Leipzig, 1703), folio. Franz Horn, Das
Leben Friedrich Wilhelms des Grossen (Berlin, 1814).
Pauli, Staats-Geschichte, Band v. (Halle,
1764). Pufendorf, De rebus gestis Friderici Wilhelmi
Magni Electoris Brandenburgensis Commentaria (Lips.
et Berol. 1733, fol.)] He also has wanted a sacred Poet; and found
only a bewildering Dryasdust.
His Two grand Feats that dwell in the Prussian memory are perhaps
none of his greatest, but were of a kind to strike the
imagination. They both relate to what was the central problem of
his life,--the recovery of Pommern from the Swedes. Exploit First
is the famed "Battle of FEHRBELLIN (Ferry of BellEEN)," fought on
the 18th June, 1675. Fehrbellin is an inconsiderable Town still
standing in those peaty regions, some five-and-thirty miles
northwest of Berlin; and had for ages plied its poor Ferry over
the oily-looking, brown, sluggish stream called Rhin, or Rhein in
those parts, without the least notice from mankind, till this fell
out. It is a place of pilgrimage to patriotic Prussians, ever
since Friedrich Wilhelm's exploit there. The matter went thus:--
Friedrich Wilhelm was fighting, far south in Alsace, on Kaiser
Leopold's side, in the Louis-Fourteenth War; that second one,
which ended in the treaty of Nimwegen. Doing his best there,--when
the Swedes, egged on by Louis XIV., made war upon him; crossed the
Pomeranian marches, troop after troop, and invaded his Brandenburg
Territory with a force which at length amounted to some 16,000
men. No help for the moment: Friedrich Wilhelm could not be spared
from his post. The Swedes, who had at first professed well,
gradually went into plunder, roving, harrying, at their own will;
and a melancholy time they made of it for Friedrich Wilhelm and
his People. Lucky if temporary harm were all the ill they were
likely to do; lucky if--! He stood steady, however; in his solid
manner, finishing the thing in hand first, since that was
feasible. He then even retired into winter-quarters, to rest his
men; and seemed to have left the Swedish 16,000 autocrats of the
situation; who accordingly went storming about at a great rate.
Not so, however; very far indeed from so. Having rested his men
for certain months, Friedrich Wilhelm silently in the first days
of June (1675) gets them under march again; marches, his Cavalry
and he as first instalment, with best speed from Schweinfurt,
[Stenzel, ii. 347.] which is on the river Main, to Magdeburg;
a distance of two hundred miles. At Magdeburg, where he rests
three days, waiting for the first handful of foot and a field-
piece or two, he learns that the Swedes are in three parties wide
asunder; the middle party of them within forty miles of him.
Probably stronger, even this middle one, than his small body (of
"six thousand Horse, twelve hundred Foot and three guns");--
stronger, but capable perhaps of being surprised, of being cut in
pieces, before the others can come up? Rathenau is the nearest
skirt of this middle party: thither goes the Kurfurst, softly,
swiftly, in the June night (16-17th June, 1675); gets into
Rathenau, by brisk stratagem; tumbles out the Swedish Horse-
regiment there, drives it back towards Fehrbellin.
He himself follows hard;--swift riding enough, in the summer
night, through those damp Havel lands, in the old Hohenzollern
fashion: and indeed old Freisack Castle, as it chances,--Freisack,
scene of Dietrich von Quitzow and LAZY PEG long since,--is close
by! Follows hard, we say: strikes in upon this midmost party
(nearly twice his number, but Infantry for the most part);
and after fierce fight, done with good talent on both sides, cuts
it into utter ruin, as proposed. Thereby he has left the Swedish
Army as a mere head and tail WITHOUT body; has entirely demolished
the Swedish Army. [Stenzel, ii. 350-357.] Same feat intrinsically
as that done by Cromwell, on Hamilton and the Scots, in 1648.
It was, so to speak, the last visit Sweden paid to Brandenburg, or
the last of any consequence; and ended the domination of the
Swedes in those quarters. A thing justly to be forever remembered
by Brandenburg;--on a smallish modern scale, the Bannockburn,
Sempach, Marathon, of Brandenburg. [See Pauli, v. 161-169;
Stenzel, ii. 335, 340-347, 354; Kausler, Atlas des
plus memorables Batailles, Combats et Sieges, or
Atlas der merkwurdigsten Schlachten, Treffen und
Belagerungen (German and French, Carlsruhe and
Freiburg, 1831), p. 417, Blatt 62.]
Exploit Second was four years later; in some sort a corollary to
this; and a winding-up of the Swedish business. The Swedes, in
farther prosecution of their Louis-Fourteenth speculation, had
invaded Preussen this time, and were doing sad havoc there. It was
in the dead of winter, Christmas, 1678, more than four hundred
miles off; and the Swedes, to say nothing of their other havoc,
were in a case to take Konigsberg, and ruin Prussia altogether, if
not prevented. Friedrich Wilhelm starts from Berlin, with the
opening Year, on his long march; the Horse-troops first, Foot to
follow at their swiftest; he himself (his Wife, his ever-true
"Louisa," accompanying, as her wont was) travels, towards the end,
at the rate of "sixty miles a day." He gets in still in time,
finds Konigsberg unscathed. Nay it is even said, the Swedes are
extensively falling sick; having, after a long famine, found
infinite "pigs, near Insterburg," in those remote regions, and
indulged in the fresh pork overmuch.
I will not describe the subsequent manoeuvres, which would
interest nobody: enough if I say that on the 16th of January,
1679, it had become of the highest moment for Friedrich Wilhelm to
get from Carwe (Village near Elbing) on the shore of the FRISCHE
HAF, where he was, through Konigsberg, to Gilge on the CURISCHE
HAF, where the Swedes are,--in a minimum of time. Distance, as the
crow flies, is about a hundred miles; road, which skirts the two
HAFS [Pauli, v. 215-222; Stenzel, ii. 392-397.] (wide shallow
WASHES, as we should name them), is of rough quality, and
naturally circuitous. It is ringing frost to-day, and for days
back:--Friedrich Wilhelm hastily gathers all the sledges, all the
horses of the district; mounts some four thousand men in sledges;
starts, with the speed of light, in that fashion. Scours along all
day, and after the intervening bit of land, again along; awakening
the ice-bound silences. Gloomy Frische Haf, wrapt in its Winter
cloud-coverlids, with its wastes of tumbled sand, its poor frost-
bound fishing-hamlets, pine-hillocks,--desolate-looking, stern as
Greenland or more so, says Busching, who travelled there in
winter-time, [Busching's Beitrage (Halle,
1789), vi. 160.]--hears unexpected human noises, and huge grinding
and trampling; the four thousand, in long fleet of sledges,
scouring across it, in that manner. All day they rush along,--out
of the rimy hazes of morning into the olive-colored clouds of
evening again,--with huge loud-grinding rumble;--and do arrive in
time at Gilge. A notable streak of things, shooting across those
frozen solitudes, in the New-Year, 1679;--little short of Karl
Gustav's feat, which we heard of, in the other or Danish end of
the Baltic, twenty years ago, when he took Islands without ships.
This Second Exploit--suggested or not by that prior one of Karl
Gustav on the ice--is still a thing to be remembered by
Hohenzollerns and Prussians. The Swedes were beaten here, on
Friedrich Wilhelm's rapid arrival; were driven into disastrous
rapid retreat Northward; which they executed, in hunger and cold;
fighting continually, like Northern bears, under the grim sky;
Friedrich Wilhelm sticking to their skirts,--holding by their
tail, like an angry bear-ward with steel whip in his hand. A thing
which, on the small scale, reminds one of Napoleon's experiences.
Not till Napoleon's huge fighting-flight, a hundred and thirty-
four years after, did I read of such a transaction in those parts.
The Swedish invasion of Preussen has gone utterly to ruin.
And this, then, is the end of Sweden, and its bad neighborhood on
these shores, where it has tyrannously sat on our skirts so long?
Swedish Pommern the Elector already had: last year, coming towards
it ever since the Exploit of Fehrbellin, he had invaded Swedish
Pommern; had besieged and taken Stettin, nay Stralsund too, where
Wallenstein had failed;--cleared Pommern altogether of its Swedish
guests. Who had tried next in Preussen, with what luck we see.
Of Swedish Pommern the Elector might now say: "Surely it is mine;
again mine, as it long was; well won a second time, since the
first would not do!" But no:--Louis XIV. proved a gentleman to his
Swedes. Louis, now that the Peace of Nimwegen had come, and only
the Elector of Brandenburg was still in harness, said steadily,
though anxious enough to keep well with the Elector: "They are my
allies, these Swedes; it was on my bidding they invaded you: can I
leave them in such a pass? It must not be!" So Pommern had to be
given back. A miss which was infinitely grievous to Friedrich
Wilhelm. The most victorious Elector cannot hit always, were his
right never so good.
Another miss which he had to put up with, in spite of his rights,
and his good services, was that of the Silesian Duchies.
The Heritage-Fraternity with Liegnitz had at length, in 1675, come
to fruit. The last Duke of Liegnitz was dead: Duchies of Liegnitz,
of Brieg, Wohlau, are Brandenburg's, if there were right done!
But Kaiser Leopold in the scarlet stockings will not hear of
Heritage-Fraternity. "Nonsense!" answers Kaiser Leopold: "A thing
suppressed at once, ages ago; by Imperial power: flat ZERO of a
thing at this time;--and you, I again bid you, return me your
Papers upon it!" This latter act of duty Friedrich Wilhelm would
not do; but continued insisting. [Pauli, v. 321.] "Jagerndorf at
least, O Kaiser of the world," said he; "Jagerndorf, there is no
color for your keeping that!" To which the Kaiser again answers,
"Nonsense!"--and even falls upon astonishing schemes about it, as
we shall see;--but gives nothing. Ducal Preussen is sovereign,
Cleve is at Peace, Hinter-Pommern ours;--this Elector has
conquered much: but the Silesian Heritages and Vor-Pommern, and
some other things, he will have to do without. Louis XIV., it is
thought, once offered to get him made King; [Ib. vii. 215.] but
that he declined for the present.
His married and domestic life is very fine and human; especially
with that Oranien-Nassau Princess, who was his first Wife
(1646-1667); Princess Louisa of Nassau-Orange; Aunt to our own
Dutch William, King William III., in time coming. An excellent
wise Princess; from whom came the Orange Heritages, which
afterwards proved difficult to settle:--Orange was at last
exchanged for the small Principality of Neufchatel in Switzerland,
which is Prussia's ever since. "Oranienburg (ORANGE-BURG)," a
Royal Country-house, still standing, some twenty miles northwards
from Berlin, was this Louisa's place: she had trimmed it up into a
little jewel, of the Dutch type,--potherb gardens, training-
schools for young girls, and the like;--a favorite abode of hers,
when she was at liberty for recreation. But her life was busy and
earnest: she was helpmate, not in name only, to an ever-busy man.
They were married young; a marriage of love withal.
Young Friedrich Wilhelm's courtship, wedding in Holland;
the honest trustful walk and conversation of the two Sovereign
Spouses, their journeyings together, their mutual hopes, fears and
manifold vicissitudes; till Death, with stern beauty, shut it in:
--all is human, true and wholesome in it; interesting to look
upon, and rare among sovereign persons.
Not but that he had his troubles with his womankind. Even with
this his first Wife, whom he loved truly, and who truly loved him,
there were scenes; the Lady having a judgment of her own about
everything that passed, and the Man being choleric withal.
Sometimes, I have heard, "he would dash his hat at her feet,"
saying symbolically, "Govern you, then, Madam! Not the
Kurfurst-Hat; a Coif is my wear, it seems!" [Forster,
Friedrich Wilhelm I. Konig von Preussen (Potsdam,
1834), i. 177.] Yet her judgment was good; and he liked to have it
on the weightiest things, though her powers of silence might halt
now and then. He has been known, on occasion, to run from his
Privy-Council to her apartment, while a complex matter was
debating, to ask her opinion, hers too, before it was decided.
Excellent Louisa; Princess full of beautiful piety, good-sense and
affection; a touch of the Nassau-Heroic in her. At the moment of
her death, it is said, when speech had fled, he felt, from her
hand which lay in his, three slight, slight pressures: "Farewell!"
thrice mutely spoken in that manner,--not easy to forget in this
world. [Wegfuhrer, Leben der Kurfurstin Luise
italic> (Leipzig, 1838), p. 175.]
His second Wife, Dorothea,--who planted the Lindens in Berlin, and
did other husbandries, of whom we have heard, fell far short of
Louisa in many things; but not in tendency to advise, to
remonstrate, and plaintively reflect on the finished and
unalterable. Dreadfully thrifty lady, moreover; did much in dairy
produce, farming of town-rates, provision-taxes: not to speak
again of that Tavern she was thought to have in Berlin, and to
draw custom to in an oblique manner! What scenes she had with
Friedrich her stepson, we have seen. "Ah, I have not my Louisa
now; to whom now shall I run for advice or help!" would the poor
Kurfurst at times exclaim.
He had some trouble, considerable trouble now and then, with
mutinous spirits in Preussen; men standing on antique Prussian
franchises and parchments; refusing to see that the same were now
antiquated, incompatible, not to say impossible, as the new
Sovereign alleged; and carrying themselves very stiffly at times.
But the Hohenzollerns had been used to such things; a Hohenzollern
like this one would evidently take his measures, soft but strong,
and ever stronger to the needful pitch, with mutinous spirits.
One Burgermeister of Konigsberg, after much stroking on the back,
was at length seized in open Hall, by Electoral writ,--soldiers
having first gently barricaded the principal streets, and brought
cannon to bear upon them. This Burgermeister, seized in such brief
way, lay prisoner for life; refusing to ask his liberty, though it
was thought he might have had it on asking. [Horn, Das
Leben Friedrich Wilhelms des Grossen (Berlin, 1814),
Another gentleman, a Baron von Kalkstein, of old Teutsch-Bitter
kin, of very high ways, in the Provincial Estates (STANDE) and
elsewhere, got into lofty almost solitary opposition, and at
length into mutiny proper, against the new "Non-Polish SOVEREIGN,"
and flatly refused to do homage at his accession in that new
capacity. [Supra, pp. 383, et seqq.] Refused, Kalkstein did, for
his share; fled to Warsaw; and very fiercely, in a loud manner,
carried on his mutinies in the Diets and Court-Conclaves there;
his plea being, or plea for the time, "Poland is our liege lord
[which it was not always], and we cannot be transferred to you,
except by our consent asked and given," which too had been a
little neglected on the former occasion of transfer. So that the
Great Elector knew not what to do with Kalkstein; and at length
(as the case was pressing) had him kidnapped by his Ambassador at
Warsaw; had him "rolled into a carpet" there, and carried swiftly
in the Ambassador's coach, in the form of luggage, over the
frontier, into his native Province, there to be judged, and, in
the end (since nothing else would serve him), to have the sentence
executed, and his head cut off. For the case was pressing! [Horn,
pp. 80-82.]--These things, especially this of Kalkstein, with a
boisterous Polish Diet and parliamentary eloquence in the rear of
him, gave rise to criticism; and required management on the part
of the Great Elector.
Of all his Ancestors, our little Fritz, when he grew big, admired
this oue. A man made like himself in many points. He seems really
to have loved and honored this one. In the year 1750 there had
been a new Cathedral got finished at Berlin; the ancestral bones
had to be shifted over from the vaults of the old one,--the
burying-place ever since Joachim II., that Joachim who drew his
sword on Alba. "King Friedrich, with some attendants, witnessed
the operation, January, 1750. When the Great Kurfurst's coffin
came, he made them open it; gazed in silence on the features for
some time, which were perfectly recognizable; laid his hand on the
hand long dead, and said, 'Messieurs, celui-ci a fait de
grandes choses (This one did a great work)!'" [See
Preuss, i. 270.]
He died 29th April, 1688;--looking with intense interest upon
Dutch William's preparations to produce a Glorious Revolution in
this Island; being always of an ardent Protestant feeling, and a
sincerely religious man. Friedrich, Crown-Prince, age then
thirty-one, and already married a second time, was of course left
Chief Heir;--who, as we see, has not declined the Kingship, when a
chance for it offered. There were four Half-brothers of Friedrich,
too, who got apanages, appointments. They had at one time
confidently looked for much more, their Mother being busy;
but were obliged to be content, and conform to the GERA BOND and
fundamental Laws of the Country. They are entitled Margraves;
two of whom left children, Margraves of Brandenburg-Schwedt,
HEERMEISTERS (Head of the Malta-Knighthood) at Sonnenburg,
Statthalters in Magdeburg, or I know not what; whose names turn up
confusedly in the Prussian Books; and, except as temporary
genealogical puzzles, are not of much moment to the Foreign
reader. Happily there is nothing else in the way of Princes of the
Blood, in our little Friedrich's time; and happily what concern he
had with these, or how he was related to them, will not be
abstruse to us, if occasion rise.
KING FRIEDRICH I. AGAIN.
We said the Great Elector never could work his Silesian Duchies
out of Kaiser Leopold's grip: to all his urgencies the little
Kaiser in red stockings answered only in evasions, refusals;
and would quit nothing. We noticed also what quarrels the young
Electoral Prince, Friedrich, afterwards King, had got into with
his Stepmother; suddenly feeling poisoned after dinner, running to
his Aunt at Cassel, coming back on treaty, and the like. These are
two facts which the reader knows: and out of these two grew a
third, which it is fit he should know.
In his last years, the Great Elector, worn out with labor, and
harassed with such domestic troubles over and above, had evidently
fallen much under his Wife's management; cutting out large
apanages (clear against the GERA BOND) for her children;--longing
probably for quiet in his family at any price. As to the poor
young Prince, negotiated back from Cassel, he lived remote, and
had fallen into open disfavor,--with a very ill effect upon his
funds, for one thing. His father kept him somewhat tight on the
money-side, it is alleged; and he had rather a turn for spending
money handsomely. He was also in some alarm about the proposed
apanages to his Half-brothers, the Margraves above mentioned, of
which there were rumors going.
HOW AUSTRIA SETTLED THE SILESIAN CLAIMS.
Now in these circumstances the Austrian Court, who at this time
(1685) greatly needed the Elector's help against Turks and others,
and found him very urgent about these Silesian Duchies of his,
fell upon what I must call a very extraordinary shift for getting
rid of the Silesian question. "Serene Highness," said they, by
their Ambassador at Berlin, "to end these troublesome talks, and
to liquidate all claims, admissible and inadmissible, about
Silesia, the Imperial Majesty will give you an actual bit of
Territory, valuable, though not so large as you expected!"
The Elector listens with both ears: What Territory, then?
The "Circle of Schwiebus," hanging on the northwestern edge of
Silesia, contiguous to the Elector's own Dominions in these
Frankfurt-on-Oder regions: this the generous Imperial Majesty
proposes to give in fee-simple to Friedrich Wilhelm, and so to end
the matter. Truly a most small patch of Territory in comparison;
not bigger than an English Rutlandshire, to say nothing of soil
and climate! But then again it was an actual patch of territory;
not a mere parchment shadow of one: this last was a tempting point
to the old harassed Elector. Such friendly offer they made him,
I think, in 1685, at the time they were getting 8,000 of his
troops to march against the Turks for them; a very needful service
at the moment. "By the bye, do not march through Silesia, you!--
Or march faster!" said the cautious Austrians on this occasion:
"Other roads will answer better than Silesia!" said they. [Pauli,
v. 327, 332.] Baron Freytag, their Ambassador at Berlin, had
negotiated the affair so far: "Circle of Schwiebus," said Freytag,
"and let us have done with these thorny talks!"
But Baron Freytag had been busy, in the mean while, with the young
Prince; secretly offering Sympathy, counsel, help; of all which
the poor Prince stood in need enough. "We will help you in that
dangerous matter of the Apanages," said Freytag; "Help you in all
things,"--I suppose he would say,--"necessary pocket-money is not
a thing your Highness need want!" And thus Baron Freytag, what is
very curious, had managed to bargain beforehand with the young
Prince, That directly on coming to power, he would give up
Schwiebus again, SHOULD the offer of Schwiebus be accepted by
Papa. To which effect Baron Freytag held a signed Bond, duly
executed by the young man, before Papa had concluded at all.
Which is very curious indeed!--
Poor old Papa, worn out with troubles, accepted Schwiebus in
liquidation of all claims (8th April, 1686), and a few days after
set his men on march against the Turks:--and, exactly two months
beforehand, on the 8th of February last, the Prince had signed HIS
secret engagement, That Schwiebus should be a mere phantasm to
Papa; that he, the Prince, would restore it on his accession.
Both these singular Parcbments, signed, sealed and done in the due
legal form, lay simultaneously in Freytag's hand; and probably
enough they exist yet, in some dusty corner, among the solemn
sheepskins of the world. This is literally the plan hit upon
by an Imperial Court, to assist a young Prince in his pecuniary
and other difllculties, and get rid of Silesian claims.
Plan actually not unlike that of swindling money-lenders to a
young gentleman in difficulties, and of manageable turn, who has
got into their hands.
The Great Elector died two years after; Schwiebus then in his
hand. The new Elector, once instructed as to the nature of the
affair, refused to give up Schwiebus; [19th September, 1689
Pauli, vii. 74).] declared the transaction a swindle:--and in
fact, for seven years more, retained possession of Schwiebus.
But the Austrian Court insisted, with emphasis, at length with
threats (no insuperable pressure from Louis, or the Turks, at this
time); the poor cheated Elector had, at last, to give up
Schwiebus, in terms of his promise. [31st December, 1694.] He took
act that it had been a surreptitious transaction, palmed upon him
while ignorant, and while without the least authority or power to
make such a promise; that he was not bound by it, nor would be,
except on compulsion thus far: and as to binding Brandenburg by
it, how could he, at that period of his history, bind Brandenburg?
Brandenburg was not then his to bind, any more than China was.
His Raths had advised Friedrich against giving up Schwiebus in
that manner. But his answer is on record: "I must, I will and
shall keep my own word. But my rights on Silesia, which I could
not, and do not in these unjust circumstances, compromise, I leave
intact for my posterity to prosecute. If God and the course of
events order it no otherwise than now, we must be content. But if
God shall one day send the opportunity, those that come after me
will know what they have to do in such case." [Pauli, vii. 150.]
And so Schwiebus was given up, the Austrians paying back what
Brandenburg had laid out in improving it, "250,000 GULDEN (25,000
pounds);"--and the Hand of Power had in this way, finally as it
hoped, settled an old troublesome account of Brandenburg's.
Settled the Silesian-Duchies Claim, by the temporary Phantasm of a
Gift of Schwiebus. That is literally the Liegnitz-Jagerndorf case;
and the reader is to note it and remember it. For it will turn up
again in History. The Hand of Power is very strong: but a stronger
may perhaps get hold of its knuckles one day, at an advantageous
time, and do a feat upon it.
The "eventual succession to East Friesland," which had been
promised by the Reich, some ten years ago, to the Great Elector,
"for what he had done against the Turks, and what he had suffered
from those Swedish Invasions, in the Common Cause:" this shadow of
Succession, the Kaiser now said, should not be haggled with any
more; but be actually realized, and the Imperial sanction to it
now given,--effect to follow IF the Friesland Line died out.
Let this be some consolation for the loss of Schwiebus and your
Silesian Duchies. Here in Friesland is the ghost of a coming
possession; there in Schwiebus was the ghost of a going one:
phantasms you shall not want for; but the Hand of Power parts not
with its realities, however come by.
HIS REAL CHARACTER.
Poor Friedrich led a conspicuous life as Elector and King; but no
public feat he did now concerns us like this private one of
Schwiebus. Historically important, this, and requiring to be
remembered, while so much else demands mere oblivion from us.
He was a spirited man; did soldierings, fine Siege of Bonn
(July-October, 1689), sieges and campaignings, in person,--valiant
in action, royal especially in patience there,--during that Third
War of Louis-Fourteenth's, the Treaty-of-Ryswick one. All through
the Fourth, or Spanish Succession-War, his Prussian Ten-Thousand,
led by fit generals, showed eminently what stuff they were made
of. Witness Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau (still a YOUNG Dessauer) on
the field of Blenheim;--Leopold had the right wing there, and
saved Prince Eugene who was otherwise blown to pieces, while
Marlborough stormed and conquered on the left. Witness the same
Dessauer on the field of Hochstadt the year before, [Varnhagen von
Ense, Biographische Denkmale (Berlin, 1845),
ii, 155.] how he managed the retreat there. Or see him at the
Bridge of Cassano (1705); in the Lines of Turin (1706); [
Des weltberuhnden Furstens Leopoldi von Anhult-Dessau Leben und
Thaten (Leipzig, 1742, anonymous, by one MICHAEL
RANFFT), pp. 53, 61.] wherever hot service was on hand.
At Malplaquet, in those murderous inexpugnable French Lines,
bloodiest of obstinate Fights (upwards of thirty thousand left on
the ground), the Prussians brag that it was they who picked their
way through a certain peat-bog, reckoned impassable; and got
fairly in upon the French wing,--to the huge comfort of
Marlborough, and little Eugene his brisk comrade on that occasion.
Marlborough knew well the worth of these Prussian troops, and also
how to stroke his Majesty into continuing them in the field.
He was an expensive King, surrounded by cabals, by Wartenbergs
male and female, by whirlpools of intrigues, which, now that the
game is over, become very forgettable. But one finds he was a
strictly honorable man; with a certain height and generosity of
mind, capable of other nobleness than the upholstery kind. He had
what we may call a hard life of it; did and suffered a good deal
in his day and generation, not at all in a dishonest or unmanful
manner. In fact, he is quite recognizably a Hohenzollern,--with
his back half broken. Readers recollect that sad accident: how the
Nurse, in one of those headlong journeys which his Father and
Mother were always making, let the poor child fall or jerk
backward; and spoiled him much, and indeed was thought to have
killed him, by that piece of inattention. He was not yet
Hereditary Prince, he was only second son: but the elder died;
and he became Elector, King; and had to go with his spine
distorted,--distortion not glaringly conspicuous, though
undeniable;--and to act the Hohenzollern SO. Nay who knows but it
was this very jerk, and the half-ruin of his nervous system,--this
doubled wish to be beautiful, and this crooked back capable of
being hid or decorated into straightness,--that first set the poor
man on thinking of expensive ornamentalities, and Kingships in
particular? History will forgive the Nurse in that case.
Perhaps History has dwelt too much on the blind side of this
expensive King. Toland, on entering his country, was struck rather
with the signs of good administration everywhere. No sooner have
you crossed the Prussian Border, out of Westphalia, says Toland,
than smooth highways, well-tilled fields, and a general air of
industry and regularity, are evident: solid milestones,
brass-bound, and with brass inscription, tell the traveller where
he is; who finds due guidance of finger-posts, too, and the
blessing of habitable inns. The people seem all to be busy,
diligently occupied; villages reasonably swept and whitewashed;--
never was a better set of Parish Churches; whether new-built or
old, they are all in brand-new repair. The contrast with
Westphalia is immediate and great; but indeed that was a sad
country, to anybody but a patient Toland, who knows the causes of
phenomena. No inns there, except of the naturally savage sort.
"A man is very happy if he finds clean straw to sleep on, without
expecting sheets or coverings; let him readily dispense with
plates, forks and napkins, if he can get anything to eat. . . .
He must be content to have the cows, swine and poultry for his
fellow-lodgers, and to go in at the same passage that the smoke
comes out at, for there's no other vent for it but the door;
which makes foreigners commonly say that the people of Westphalia
enter their houses by the chimney." And observe withal: "This is
the reason why their beef and hams are so finely prepared and
ripened; for the fireplace being backwards, the smoke must spread
over all the house before it gets to the door; which makes
everything within of a russet or sable color, not excepting the
hands and faces of the meaner sort." [ An Account of the
Courts of Prussia and Hanover, by Mr. Toland (cited
already), p. 4.] If Prussia yield to Westphalia in ham, in all
else she is strikingly superior.
He founded Universities, this poor King; University of Halle;
Royal Academy of Berlin, Leibnitz presiding: he fought for
Protestantism;--did what he could for the cause of Cosmos VERSUS
Chaos, after his fashion. The magnificences of his
Charlottenburgs, Oranienburgs and numerous Country-houses make
Toland almost poetic. An affable kindly man withal, though quick
of temper; his word sacred to him. A man of many troubles, and
acquainted with "the infinitely little (L'INFINIMENT PETIT),"
as his Queen termed it.
DEATH OF KING FRIEDRICH I.
Old King Friedrich I. had not much more to do in the world, after
witnessing the christening of his Grandson of like name.
His leading forth or sending forth of troops, his multiplex
negotiations, solemn ceremonials, sad changes of ministry,
sometimes transacted "with tears," are mostly ended;
the ever-whirling dust-vortex of intrigues, of which he has been
the centre for a five-and-twenty years, is settling down finally
towards everlasting rest. No more will Marlborough come and
dexterously talk him over,--proud to "serve as cupbearer," on
occasion, to so high a King--for new bodies of men to help in the
next campaign: we have ceased to be a King worthy of such a
cupbearer, and Marlborough's campaigns too are all ended.
Much is ended. They are doing the sorrowful Treaty of Utrecht;
Louis XIV. himself is ending; mournfully shrunk into the corner,
with his Missal and his Maintenon; looking back with just horror
on Europe four times set ablaze for the sake of one poor mortal in
big periwig, to no purpose. Lucky if perhaps Missal-work, orthodox
litanies, and even Protestant Dragonnades, can have virtue to wipe
out such a score against a man! Unhappy Louis: the sun-bright gold
has become dim as copper; we rose in storms, and we are setting
in watery clouds. The Kaiser himself (Karl VI., Leopold's Son,
Joseph I.'s younger Brother) will have to conform to this Treaty
of Utrecht: what other possibility for him?
The English, always a wonderful Nation, fought and subsidied from
side to side of Europe for this Spanish-Suceession business;
fought ten years, such fighting as they never did before or since,
under "John Duke of Marlborough," who, as is well known, "beat the
French thorough and thorough." French entirely beaten at last, not
without heroic difficulty and as noble talent as was ever shown in
diplomacy and war, are ready to do your will in all things;
in this of giving up Spain, among others:--whereupon the English
turn round, with a sudden new thought, "No, we will not have our
WILL done; it shall be the other way, the way it WAS,--now that
we bethink ourselves, after all this fighting for our will!"
And make Peace on those terms, as if no war had been; and accuse
the great Marlborough of many things, of theft for one.
A wonderful People; and in their Continental Politics (which
indeed consist chiefly of Subsidies) thrice wonderful. So the
Treaty of Utrecht is transacting itself; which that of Rastadt,
on the part of Kaiser and Empire, unable to get on without
Subsidies, will have to follow: and after such quantities of
powder burnt, and courageous lives wasted, general AS-YOU-WERE is
the result arrived at.
Old Friedrich's Ambassadors are present at Utrecht, jangling and
pleading among the rest; at Berlin too the despatch of business
goes lumbering on; but what thing, in the shape of business, at
Utrecht or at Berlin, is of much importance to the old man?
Seems as if Enrope itself were waxing dim, and sinking to stupid
sleep,--as we, in our poor royal person, full surely are. A Crown
has been achieved, and diamond buttons worth 1,500 pounds apiece;
but what is a Crown, and what are buttons, after all?--I suppose
the tattle and SINGERIES of little Wilhelmina, whom he would spend
whole days with; this and occasional visits to a young Fritzchen's
cradle, who is thriving moderately, and will speak and do aperies
one day,--are his main solacements in the days that are passing.
Much of this Friedrich's life has gone off like the smoke of
fire-works, has faded sorrowfully, and proved phantasmal. Here is
an old Autograph Note, written by him at the side of that Cradle,
and touching on a slight event there; which, as it connects two
venerable Correspondents and their Seventeenth Century with a
grand Phenomenon of the Eighteenth, we will insert here. The old
King addresses his older Mother-in-law, famed Electress Sophie of
Hanover, in these terms (spelling corrected):--
"CHARLOTTENBURG, den 30 August, 1712.
"Ew. Churf. Durchlaucht werden sich zweifelsohne mit uns
erfreuen, dass der kleine Printz (PRINZ) Fritz nuhnmero (NUNMEHR)
6 Zehne (ZAHNE) hat und ohne die geringste incommoditet (-TAT).
Daraus kann man auch die PREDESTINATION sehen, dass alle seine
Bruder haben daran sterben mussen, dieser aber bekommt sie ohne
Muhe wie seine Schwester. Gott erhalte ihn uns noch lange zum
trohst (TROST), in dessen Schutz ich dieselbe ergebe und
"Ew. Churf. Durchl. gehorsamster Diener und treuer Sohn,
[Preuss, Friedrich der Grosse (Historische Skizze,
italic> Berlin, 1838), p. 380.
Of which this is the literal English:--
"Your Electoral Serenity will doubtless rejoice with us that the
little Prince Fritz has now got his sixth tooth without the least
INCOMMODITE. And therein we may trace a pre-destination, inasmuch
as his Brothers died of teething [ Not of cannon-sound and
weight of head-gear, then, your Majesty thinks? That were a
painful thought? ]; and this one, as his Sister
[WILHELMINA] did, gets them [THE TEETH] without trouble.
God preserve him long for a comfort to us:--to whose protection
I commit DIESELBE [ Your Electoral Highness, in the third
person ], and remain lifelong,
"Your Electoral Highness's most obedient Servant and true Son,
One of Friedrich Rex's worst adventures was his latest; commenced
some five or six years ago (1708), and now not far from
terminating. He was a Widower, of weakly constitution, towards
fifty: his beautiful ingenious "Serena," with all her Theologies,
pinch-of-snuff Coronations and other earthly troubles, was dead;
and the task of continuing the Hohenzollern progeny, given over to
Friedrich Wilhelm the Prince Royal, was thought to be in good
hands. Majesty Friedrich with the weak back had retired, in 1708,
to Karlsbad, to rest from his cares; to take the salutary waters,
and recruit his weak nerves a little. Here, in the course of
confidential promenadings, it was hinted, it was represented to
him by some pickthank of a courtier, That the task of continuing
the Hohenzollern progeny did not seem to prosper in the present
good hands; that Sophie Dorothee, Princess Royal, had already
borne two royal infants which had speedily died: that in fact it
was to be gathered from the medical men, if not from their words,
then from their looks and cautious innuendoes, that Sophie
Dorothee, Princess Royal, would never produce a Prince or even
Princess that would live; which task, therefore, did now again
seem to devolve upon his Majesty, if his Majesty had not
insuperable objections? Majesty had no insuperable objections;
old Majesty listened to the flattering tale; and, sure enough, he
smarted for it in a signal manner.
By due industry, a Princess was fixed upon for Bride, Princess
Sophie Louisa of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, age now twenty-four:
she was got as Wife, and came home to Berlin in all pomp;--but
good came not with her to anybody there. Not only did she bring
the poor old man no children, which was a fault to be overlooked,
considering Sophie Dorothee's success; but she brought a
querulous, weak and self-sufficient female humor; found his
religion heterodox,--he being Calvinist, and perhaps even
lax-Calvinist, she Lutheran as the Prussian Nation is, and strict
to the bone:--heterodox wholly, to the length of no salvation
possible; and times rose on the Berlin Court such as had never
been seen before! "No salvation possible, says my Dearest? Hah!
And an innocent Court-Mask or Dancing Soiree is criminal in the
sight of God and of the Queen? And we are children of wrath
wholly, and a frivolous generation; and the Queen will see
The end was, his Majesty, through sad solitary days and nights,
repented bitterly that he had wedded such a She-Dominic;
grew quite estranged from her; the poor She-Dominic giving him due
return in her way,--namely, living altogether in her own
apartments, upon orthodoxy, jealousy and other bad nourishment.
Till at length she went quite mad; and, except the due medical and
other attendants, nobody saw her, or spoke of her, at Berlin.
Was this a cheering issue of such an adventure to the poor old
expensive Gentleman? He endeavored to digest in silence the bitter
morsel he had cooked for himself; but reflected often, as an old
King might, What dirt have I eaten!
In this way stands that matter in the Schloss of Berlin, when
little Friedrich, who will one day be called the Great, is born.
Habits of the expensive King, hours of rising, modes of dressing,
and so forth, are to be found in Pollnitz; [Pollnitz,
Memoiren zur Lebens- und Regierungs-Geschichte der Vier letzten
Regenten des Preussischen Staats (Berlin, 1791).
A vague, inexact, but not quite uninstructive or uninteresting
Book: Printed also in FRENCH, which was the Original, same place
and time.] but we charitably omit them all. Even from foolish
Pollnitz a good eye will gather, what was above intimated, that
this feeble-backed, heavy-laden old King was of humane and just
disposition; had dignity in his demeanor; had reticence, patience;
and, though hot-tempered like all the Hohenzollerns, that he bore
himself like a perfect gentleman for one thing; and tottered along
his high-lying lonesome road not in an unmanful manner at all.
Had not his nerves been damaged by that fall in infancy, who knows
but we might have had something else to read of him than that he
was regardless of expense in this world!
His last scene, of date February, 1713, is the tragical ultimatum
of that fine Karlsbad adventure of the Second marriage,--Third
marriage, in fact, though the First, anterior to "Serena," is apt
to be forgotten, having lasted short while, and produced only a
Daughter, not memorable except by accident. This Third marriage,
which had brought so many sorrows to him, proved at length the
death of the old man. For he sat one morning, in the chill
February days of the Year 1713, in his Apartment, as usual;
weak of nerves, but thinking no special evil; when, suddenly with
huge jingle, the glass door of his room went to sherds; and there
rushed in--bleeding and dishevelled, the fatal "White Lady"
(WEISSE FRAU), who is understood to walk that Schloss at Berlin,
and announce Death to the Boyal inhabitants. Majesty had fainted,
or was fainting. "Weisse Frau? Oh no, your Majesty!"--not that;
but indeed something almost worse.--Mad Queen, in her Apartments,
had been seized, that day, when half or quarter dressed;
with unusual orthodoxy or unusual jealousy. Watching her
opportunity, she had whisked into the corridor, in extreme
deshabille; and gone, like the wild roe, towards Majesty's Suite
of Rooms; through Majesty's glass door, like a catapult;
and emerged as we saw,--in petticoat and shift, with hair
streaming, eyes glittering, arms cut, and the other sad trimmings.
O Heaven, who could laugh? There are tears due to Kings and to all
men. It was deep misery; deep enough "SIN and misery," as Calvin
well says, on the one side and the other! The poor old King was
carried to bed; and never rose again, but died in a few days.
The date of the WEISSE FRAU'S death, one might have hoped, was not
distant either; but she lasted, in her sad state, for above twenty
Old King Friedrich's death-day was 25th February, 1713;
the unconscious little Grandson being then in his Fourteenth
month. To whom, after this long, voyage round the world, we now
* By way of reinforcement to any recollection the reader may have
of these Twelve Hohenzollern Kurfursts, I will append a continuous
list of them, with here and there an indication.
THE TWELVE HOHENZOLLERN ELECTORS.
1. FRIEDRICH I. (as Burggraf, was Friedrich VI.): born, it is
inferred, 1372 (Rentsch, p. 350); accession, 18th April, 1417;
died 21st September, 1440. Had come to Brandenburg, 1412, as
Statthalter. The Quitzows and HEAVY PEG.
2. FRIEDRICH II.: 19th November, 1413; 21st September, 1440;
10th February, 1472. Friedrich IRONTEETH; tames the Berlin
Burghers. Spoke Polish, was to have been Polish King. Cannon-shot
upon his dinner-table shatters his nerves so, that he abdicates,
and soon dies. JOHANNES ALCHYMISTA his elder Brother; ALBERT
ACHILLES his younger.
3. ALBERT (Achilles): 24th November, 1414; 10th February, 1471;
11th March, 1486. Third son of Friedrich I.; is lineal Progenitor
of all the rest.
Eldest Son, JOHANN CICERO, follows as Kurfurst; a Younger Son,
FRIEDRICH (by a different Mother), got Culmbach, and produced the
Elder Line there. (See Genealogical Diagram.)
4. JOHANN (Cicero): 2d August, 1455; 11th March, 1486; 9th
January, 1499. Big John. Friedrich of Culmbach's elder (Half-)
5. JOACHIM I.: 21st February, 1484; 9th January, 1499; 11th July,
1535. Loud in the Reformation times; finally declares peremptorily
for the Conservative side. Wife (Sister of Christian II. of
Denmark) runs away.
Younger Brother Albert Kur-Mainz, whom Hutten celebrated; born
1490; Archbishop of Magdeburg and Halberstadt 1513, of Maim 1514;
died 1545: set Tetzel, and the Indulgence, on foot.
6. JOACHIM II. (Hector): 9th January, 1505; 11th July, 1535;
3d January, 1571. Sword drawn on Alba once. ERBVERBRUDERUNG with
Liegnitz. Staircase at Grimnitz. A weighty industrious Kurfurst.
Declared himself Protestant, 1539. First Wife (mother of his
Successor) was Daughter to Duke George of Saxony, Luther's "If it
rained Duke Georges."--Johann of Custrin was a younger Brother of
his: died ten days after Joachim; left no Son.
7. JOHANN GEORGE: 11th September, 1525; 3d January, 1571;
8th January, 1598. Cannon-shot, at Siege of Wittenberg, upon
Kaiser Karl and him. Gera Bond.
Married a Silesian Duke of Liegnitz's Daughter (result of the
ERBVERBRUDERUNG there,--Antea, p. 231). Had twenty-three children.
It was to him that Baireuth and Anspach fell home: he settled them
on his second and his third sons, Christian and Joachim Ernst;
founders of the New Line of Baireuth and Anspach. (See
8. JOACHIM FRIEDRICH: 27th January, 1546; 8th January, 1598;
18th July, 1608. Archbishop of Magdeburg first of all,--to keep
the place filled. Joachimsthal School at old Castle of Grimnitz.
Very vigilant for Preussen; which was near falling due.
Two of his Younger Sons, Johann George (1577-1624) to whom he
gave JAGERNDORF, and that Archbishop of Magdeburg, who was present
in Tilly's storm, got both wrecked in the Thirty-Years War;--not
without results, in the Jagerndorf case.
9. JOHANN SIGISMUND: 8th November, 1572; 18th July, 1608;
23d December, 1619. Preussen: Cleve; Slap on the face to Neuburg.
10. GEORGE WILHELM: 3d November, 1595; 22d November, 1619;
21st November, 1640. The unfortunate of the Thirty-Years War.
"Que faire; ils ont des canons!"
11. FRIEDRICH WILHELM: 6th February, 1620; 21st November, 1640;
29th April, 1688. The Great Elector.
12. FRIEDRICH III.: 1st July, 1657; 29th April, 1688;
25th February, 1713. First King (18th January, 1701).
GENEALOGICAL DIAGRAM: THE TWO CULMBACH LINES.
3d KURFURST (1471-1486)
ELDER CULMBACH LINE.
FRIEDRICH, second son of Kurfurst Albert Achilles, younger Brother
of Johannes Cicero, got CULMBACH: Anspach first, then Baireuth on
the death of a younger Brother. Born 1460; got Anspach 1486;
Baireuth 1495; followed Max in his VENETIAN CAMPAIGN, 1508;
fell IMBECILE 1515; died 1536. Had a Polish Wife; from whom came
interests in Hungary as well as Poland to his children. Friedrich
had Three notable Sons,
1. CASIMIR, who got BAIREUTH (1515): born 1481; died 1527.
Very truculent in the Peasants' War.
ALBERT ALEIBIADES: a man of great mark in his day (1522-1557);
never married. Two Sisters, with one of whom he took shelter at
last; no Brother.
2. GEORGE THE PIOUS, who got ANSPACH (1515): born 1484; died 1543;
got Jagerndorf, by purchase, from his Mother's Hungarian
connection, 1524. Protestant declared, 1528; and makes honorable
figure in the Histories thenceforth. The George of Kaiser Karl's
"Nit-Kop-ab." One Son,
GEORGE FRIEDRICH; born 1539; went to administer Preussen when
Cousin became incompetent; died 1603. Heir to his Father in
ANSPACH and JAGERNDORF; also to his Cousin Alcibiades in BAIREUTH.
Had been left a minor (boy of 4, as the reader sees);
Alcibiades his Guardian for a little while: from which came great
difficulties, and unjust ruin would have come, had not Kurfurst
Joachim I. been helpful and vigorous in his behalf.
George Friedrich got at length most of his Territories into hand:
Anspach and Baireuth unimpaired, Jagerndorf too, except that
Ratibor and Oppeln were much eaten into by the Imperial
chicaneries in that quarter. Died 1603, without children;--upon
which his Territories all reverted to the main Brandenburg line,
namely, to Johann George Seventh Kurfurst, or his representatives,
according to the GERA BOND; and the "Elder Culmbach Line" had
ended in this manner.
3. ALBERT; born 1490; Hochmeister of the Teutsch Ritters, 1511;
declares himself Protestant, and Duke of Prussia, 1525; died 1568.
One Son, ALBERT FRIEDRICH: born 1553; follows as Duke 1568,
declared MELANCHOLIC 1573; died 1618. His Cousin George Friedrich
administered for him till 1603; after which Joachim Friedrich;
and then, lastly, Joachim Friedrich's Son, Johann Sigismund the
Ninth Kurfurst. Had married the Heiress of Cleve (whence came a
celebrated Cleve Controversy in after-times). No son; a good many
daughters; eldest of whom was married to Kurfurst Johann
Sigismund; from her came the controverted Cleve Property.
7th KURFURST (1571-1598),
YOUNGER CULMBACH LINE.
Kurfurst Johann George settled Baireuth and Anspach on Two of his
Younger Sons, who are Founders of the "Younger Culmbach Line"
(SPLIT Line or Pair of LINES). Jagerndorf the new Kurfurst,
Joachim Friedrich, kept; settled it on one of his younger sons.
Here are the two new Founders in Baireuth and Anspach, and some
indication of their "Lines," so far as important to us at present:
(1.) CHRISTIAN, second son of Kurfurst Johann George: born 1581;
got Baireuth 1603; died 1655. A distinguished Governor in his
sphere. Had two sons; the elder died before him, but left a son,
Christian Ernst; who (2.) succeeded, and (3.) whose son, George
Wilhelm: 1644, 1655, 1712; 1678, 1712, 1726 (are BIRTH, ACCESSION,
END of these two); the latter of whom had no son that lived.
Upon which the posterity of Christian's second son succeeded.
Second son of Christian notable to us in two little ways:
FIRST, That HE, George Albert, Margraf of CULMbach, is the
inscrutable "Marquis de LULENbach" of Bromley's Letters
(antea p. 184, let the Commentators take comfort!);
SECOND and better, That from him came our little Wilhelmina's
Husband,--as will be afterwards explained. It was his grandson
(4.) that succeeded in Baireuth, George Friedrich Karl (1688,
1726, 1735); Father of Wilhelmina's Husband. After whom (5.) his
Son Friedrich (1711, 1735, 1763), Wilhelmina's Husband;
who leaving (1763) nothing hut a daughter, Baireuth fell to
Anspach, 1769, after an old Uncle (6.), childless, had also died.
SIX Baireuth Margraves of this Line; FIVE generations; and then to Anspach, in 1769.
(1.) JOACHIM ERNST, third son of Kurfurst Johann George: born
1583; got Anspach 1603; died 1625. Had military tendencies,
experiences; did not thrive as Captain of the EVANGELICAL UNION
(1619-1620) when WINTER-KING came up and THIRTY-YEARS WAR along
with him. Left two sons; elder of whom, (2.) Friedrich, nominally
Sovereign, age still only eighteen, fell in the Battle of
Nordlingen (worst battle of the Thirty-Years War, 1634); and the
younger of whom, (3.) Albert, succeeded (1620, 1634, 1667), and
his son, (4.) Johann Friedrich (1654, 1667, 1686); and (5, 6, 7.)
no fewer than three grandsons,--children mostly, though entitled
"sovereign"--in a PARALLEL way (Christian Albert, 1675, 1686,
1692; George Friedrich, 1678, 1692, 1703; Wilhelm Friedrich, 1685,
1703, 1723). Two little points notable here also, and no third:
FIRST, That one of the grand-DAUGHTERS, full-sister of the last
of these three parallel figures, half-sister of the two former,
was--Queen Caroline, George II.'s wife, who has still some fame
SECOND, That the youngest of said three grandsons, Queen
Caroline's full-brother, left a son then minor, who became major,
(8.) and wedded a Sister of our dear little Wilhelmina's, of whom
we shall hear (Karl Wilhelm Friedrich, 1712, 1723, 1757);
unmomentous Margraf otherwise. His and her one son it was,
(9.) Christian Friedrich Karl Alexander (1736, 1757, 1806), who
inherited Baireuth, inherited Actress Clairon, Lady Craven, and at
Hammersmith (House once Bubb Doddington's, if that has any charm)
ended the affair.
NINE Anspach Margraves; in FIVE generations: end, 1806.
END OF BOOK III
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