Consent of Polish Diet was not had for a year more; but that is worth little record. Diet, for that object, got together 19th APRIL, 1773; recalcitrant enough, had not Russia understood the methods: "a common fund was raised [ON SE COTISA, says Friedrich] for bribing;" the Three Powers had each a representative General in Warsaw (Lentulus the Prussian personage), all three with forces to rear: Diet came down by degrees, and, in the course of five months (SEPTEMBER 18th, 1773), acquiesced in everything.
And so the matter is ended; and various men will long have various opinions upon it. I add only this one small Document from Maria Theresa's hand, which all hearts, and I suppose even Friedrich's had he ever read it, will pronounce to be very beautiful; homely, faithful, wholesome, well-becoming in a high and true Sovereign Woman.
THE EMPRESS-QUEEN TO PRINCE KAUNITZ (Undated: date must be Vienna, February, 1772).
"When all my lands were invaded, and I knew not where in the world I should find a place to be brought to bed in, I relied on my good right and the help of God. But in this thing, where not only public law cries to Heaven against us, but also all natural justice and sound reason, I must confess never in my life to have been in such trouble, and am ashamed to show my face. Let the Prince [Kaunitz] consider what an example we are giving to all the world, if, for a miserable piece of Poland, or of Moldavia or Wallachia, we throw our honor and reputation to the winds. I see well that I am alone, and no more in vigor; therefore I must, though to my very great sorrow, let things take their course." [
And, some days afterwards, here is her Majesty's Official Assent: "PLACET, since so many great and learned men will have it so: but long after I am dead, it will be known what this violating of all that was hitherto held sacred and just will give rise to." [From
Friedrich has none of these compunctious visitings; but his account too, when he does happen to speak on the subject, is worth hearing, and credible every word. Writing to Voltaire, a good while after (POTSDAM, 9th OCTOBER, 1773)) this, in the swift-flowing, miscellaneous Letter, is one passage: ... "To return to your King of Poland. I am aware that Europe pretty generally believes the late Partition made (QU'ON A FAIT) of Poland to be a result of the Political trickeries (MANIGANCES) which are attributed to me; nevertheless, nothing is more untrue. After in vain proposing different arrangements and expedients, there was no alternative left but either that same Partition, or else Europe kindled into a general War. Appearances are deceitful; and the Public judges only by these. What I tell you is as true as the Forty-seventh of Euclid." [OEuvres de Frederic, xxiii. 257.]
WHAT FRIEDRICH DID WITH HIS NEW ACQUISITION.
Considerable obloquy still rests on Friedrich, in many liberal circles, for the Partition of Poland. Two things, however, seem by this time tolerably clear, though not yet known in liberal circles: first, that the Partition of Poland was an event inevitable in Polish History; an operation of Almighty Providence and of the Eternal Laws of Nature, as well as of the poor earthly Sovereigns concerned there; and secondly, that Friedrich had nothing special to do with it, and, in the way of originating or causing it, nothing whatever.
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