"Never was mediation undertaken with greater pleasure," adds the King. And both did proceed upon it with all zeal; but only the King as real "mediator," or MIDDLEman; Kaunitz from the first planting himself immovably upon the Turk side of things, which is likewise the Austrian; and playing in secret (as Friedrich probably expected he would) the strangest tricks with his assumed function.
So that Friedrich had to take the burden of mediating altogether on himself; and month after month, year after year, it is evident he prosecutes the same with all the industry and faculty that are in him,--in intense desire, and in hope often nearly desperate, to keep his two neighbors' houses, and his own and the whole world along with them, from taking fire. Apart from their conflicting interests, the two Empresses have privately a rooted aversion to one another. What with Russian exorbitancy (a Czarina naturally uplifted with her Tchesmes and Kaghuls); what with Austrian cupidity, pride, mulishness, and private trickery of Kaunitz; the adroit and heartily zealous Friedrich never had such a bit of diplomacy to do. For many months hence, in spite of his intensest efforts and cunningest appliances, no way of egress visible: "The imbroglio MUST catch fire!" At last a way opens, "Ha, at last a way!"--then, for above a twelvemonth longer, such a guiding of the purblind quadrupeds and obstinate Austrian mules into said way: and for years more such an urging of them, in pig-driver fashion, along the same, till Peace did come!--
And here, without knowing it, we have insensibly got to the topmost summit of our Polish Business; one small step more, and we shall be on the brow of the precipitous inclined-plane, down which Poland and its business go careering thenceforth, down, down,--and will need but few words more from us. Actual discovery of "a way out" stands for next Section.
First, however, we will notice, as prefatory, a curious occurrence in the Country of Zips, contiguous to the Hungarian Frontier. Zips, a pretty enough District, of no great extent, had from time immemorial belonged to Hungary; till, above 300 years ago, it was-- by Sigismund SUPER GRAMMATICAM, a man always in want of money (whom we last saw, in flaming color, investing Friedrich's Ancestor with Brandenburg instead of payment for a debt of money)--pledged to the Crown of Poland for a round sum to help in Sigismund's pressing occasions. Redemption by payment never followed; attempt at redemption there had never been, by Sigismund or any of his successors. Nay, one successor, in a Treaty still extant, [Preuss, iv. 32 (date 1589; pawning had beep 1412).] expressly gave up the right of redeeming: Pledge forfeited: a Zips belonging to Polish Crown and Republic by every law.
Well; Imperial Majesty, as we have transiently seen, is assembling troops on the Hungarian Frontier, for a special purpose. Poor Poland is, by this time (1770), as we also saw, sunk in Pestilence,--pigs and dogs devouring the dead bodies: not a loaf to be had for a hundred ducats, and the rage of Pestilence itself a mild thing to that of Hunger, not to mention other rages. So that both Austria and Prussia, in order to keep out Pestilence at least, if they cannot the other rages, have had to draw CORDONS, or lines of troops along the Frontiers. "The Prussian cordon," I am informed, "goes from Crossen, by Frankfurt northward, to the Weichsel River and border of Warsaw Country:" and "is under the command of General Belling," our famous Anti-Swede Hussar of former years. The Austrian cordon looks over upon Zips and other Starosties, on the Hungarian Border: where, independently of Pestilence, an alarmed and indignant Empress-Queen has been and is assembling masses of troops, with what object we know. Looking over into Zips in these circumstances, indignant Kaunitz and Imperial Majesty, especially HIS Imperial Majesty, a youth always passionate for territory, say to themselves, "Zips was ours, and in a sense is!"--and (precise date refused us, but after Neustadt, and before Winter has quite come) push troops across into Zips Starosty: seize the whole Thirteen Townships of Zips, and not only these, but by degrees tract after tract of the adjacencies: "Must have a Frontier to our mind in those parts: indefensible otherwise!" And quietly set up boundary-pillars, with the Austrian double-eagle stamped on them, and intimation to Zips and neighborhood, That it is now become Austrian, and shall have no part farther in these Polish Confederatings, Pestilences, rages of men, and pigs devouring dead bodies, but shall live quiet under the double-eagle as others do. Which to Zips, for the moment, might be a blessed change, welcome or otherwise; but which awoke considerable amazement in the outer world,--very considerable in King Stanislaus (to whom, on applying, Kaunitz would give no explanation the least articulate);--and awoke, in the Russian Court especially, a rather intense surprise and provocation.
PRINCE HENRI HAS BEEN TO SWEDEN; IS SEEN AT PETERSBURG IN MASQUERADE (on or about New-year's Day, 1771); AND DOES GET HOME, WITH RESULTS THAT ARE IMPORTANT.
Prince Henri, as we noticed, was not of this Second King-and-Kaiser Interview; Henri had gone in the opposite direction,--to Sweden, on a visit to his Sister Ulrique,--off for West and North, just in the same days while the King was leaving Potsdam for Silesia and his other errand in the Southeast parts. Henri got to Drottingholm, his Sister's country Palace near Stockholm, by the "end of August;" and was there with Queen Ulrique and Husband during these Neustadt manoeuvres. A changed Queen Ulrique, since he last saw her "beautiful as Love," whirling off in the dead of night for those remote Countries and destinies. [Supra, viii. 309.] She is now fifty, or on the edge of it, her old man sixty,--old man dies within few months. They have had many chagrins, especially she, as the prouder, has had, from their contumacious People,--contumacious Senators at least (strong always both in POCKET-MONEY French or Russian, and in tendency to insolence and folly),--who once, I remember, demanded sight and count of the Crown-Jewels from Queen Ulrique: "There, VOILA, there are they!" said the proud Queen; "view them, count them,--lock them up: never more will I wear one of them!" But she has pretty Sons grown to manhood, one pretty Daughter, a patient good old Husband; and Time, in Sweden too, brings its roses; and life is life, in spite of contumacious bribed Senators and doggeries that do rather abound. Henri stayed with her six or seven weeks; leaves Sweden, middle of October, 1770,--not by the straight course homewards: "No, verily, and well knew why!" shrieks the indignant Polish world on us ever since.
It is not true that Friedrich had schemed to send Henri round by Petersburg. On the contrary, it was the Czarina, on ground of old acquaintanceship, who invited him, and asked his Brother's leave to do it. And if Poland got its fate from the circumstance, it was by accident, and by the fact that Poland's fate was drop-ripe, ready to fall by a touch.--Before going farther, here is ocular view of the shrill-minded, serious and ingenious Henri, little conscious of being so fateful a man:-
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