the fruit of vice;” he added, addressing a younger person
French trade being ruined withal, money is running dreadfully low: but they appoint a new Controller-General; a M. de Silhouette, who is thought to have an extraordinary creative genius in Finance. Had he but a Fortunatus-Purse, how lucky were it! With Fortunatus Silhouette as purse-holder, with a fiery young Choiseul on this hand, and a fiery old Belleisle on that, Pompadour meditates great things this Year,--Invasions of England; stronger German Armies; better German Plans, and slashings home upon Hanover itself, or the vital point;--and flatters herself, and her poor Louis, that there is on the anvil, for 1759, such a French Campaign as will perhaps astonish Pitt and another insolent King. Very fixed, fell and feminine is the Pompadour's humor in this matter. Nor is the Czarina's less so; but more, if possible; unappeasable except by death. Imperial Maria Theresa has masculine reasons withal; great hopes, too, of late. Of the War's ending till flat impossibility stop it, there is no likelihood.
To Pitt this Campaign 1759, in spite of bad omens at the outset, proved altogether splendid: but greatly the reverse on Friedrich's side; to whom it was the most disastrous and unfortunate he had yet made, or did ever make. Pitt at his zenith in public reputation; Friedrich never so low before, nothing seemingly but extinction near ahead, when this Year ended. The truth is, apart from his specific pieces of ill-luck, there had now begun for Friedrich a new rule of procedure, which much altered his appearance in the world. Thrice over had he tried by the aggressive or invasive method; thrice over made a plunge at the enemy's heart, hoping so to disarm or lame him: but that, with resources spent to such a degree, is what he cannot do a fourth time: he is too weak henceforth to think of that.
Prussia has always its King, and his unrivalled talent; but that is pretty much the only fixed item: Prussia VERSUS France, Austria, Russia, Sweden and the German Reich, what is it as a field of supplies for war! Except its King, these are failing, year by year; and at a rate fatally SWIFT in comparison. Friedrich cannot now do Leuthens, Rossbachs; far-shining feats of victory, which astonish all the world. His fine Prussian veterans have mostly perished; and have been replaced by new levies and recruits; who are inferior both in discipline and native quality;--though they have still, people say, a noteworthy taste of the old Prussian sort in them; and do, in fact, fight well to the last. But "it is observable," says Retzow somewhere, and indeed it follows from the nature of the case, "that while the Prussian Army presents always its best kind of soldiers at the beginning of a war, Austria, such are its resources in population, always improves in that particular, and its best troops appear in the last campaigns." In a word, Friedrich stands on the defensive henceforth; disputing his ground inch by inch: and is reduced, more and more, to battle obscurely with a hydra-coil of enemies and impediments; and to do heroisms which make no noise in the Gazettes. And, alas, which cannot figure in History either,--what is more a sorrow to me here!
Friedrich, say all judges of soldiership and human character who have studied Friedrich sufficiently, "is greater than ever," in these four Years now coming. [Berenhorst, in
Friedrich's Winter in Breslau was of secluded, silent, sombre character, this time; nothing of stir in it but from work only: in marked contrast with the last, and its kindly visitors and gayeties. A Friedrich given up to his manifold businesses, to his silent sorrows. "I have passed my winter like a Carthusian monk," he writes to D'Argens: "I dine alone; I spend my life in reading and writing; and I do not sup. When one is sad, it becomes at last too burdensome to hide one's grief continually; and it is better to give way to it by oneself, than to carry one's gloom into society. Nothing solaces me but the vigorous application required in steady and continuous labor. This distraction does force one to put away painful ideas, while it lasts: but, alas, no sooner is the work done, than these fatal companions present themselves again, as if livelier than ever. Maupertuis was right: the sum of evil does certainly surpass that of good:--but to me it is all one; I have almost nothing more to lose; and my few remaining days, what matters it much of what complexion they be?" ["Breslau, 1st March, 1759," To D'Argens (
The loss of his Wilhelmina, had there been no other grief, has darkened all his life to Friedrich. Readers are not prepared for the details of grief we could give, and the settled gloom of mind they indicate. A loss irreparable and immeasurable; the light of life, the one loved heart that loved him, gone. His passionate appeals to Voltaire to celebrate for him in verse his lost treasure, and at least make her virtues immortal, are perhaps known to readers: [ODE SUR LA MORT DE S. A. S. MADAME LA PRINCESSE DE BAREITH (in
The War is ever more dark and dismal to him; a wearing, harassing, nearly disgusting task; on which, however, depends life or death. This Year, he "expects to have 300,000 enemies upon him;" and "is, with his utmost effort, getting up 150,000 to set against them." Of business, in its many kinds, there can be no lack! In the intervals he also wrote considerably: one of his Pieces is a SERMON ON THE LAST JUDGMENT; handed to Reader De Catt, one evening:--to De Catt's surprise, and to ours; the Voiceless in a dark Friedrich trying to give itself some voice in this way! [
Finance is naturally a heavy part of Friedrich's Problem; the part which looks especially impossible, from our point of vision! In Friedrich's Country, the War Budget does not differ from the Peace one. Neither is any borrowing possible; that sublime Art, of rolling over on you know not whom the expenditure, needful or needless, of your heavy-laden self, had not yet--though England is busy at it--been invented among Nations. Once, or perhaps twice, from the STANDE of some willing Province, Friedrich negotiated some small Loan; which was punctually repaid when Peace came, and was always gratefully remembered. But these are as nothing, in face of such expenses; and the thought how he did contrive on the Finance side, is and was not a little wonderful. An ingenious Predecessor, whom I sometimes quote, has expressed himself in these words:--
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