“I might see a big fish, and we could vary our bill of

time:2023-12-07 14:07:44 source:Alliance under the city author:two

"August, by change of his religion, and other sad operations, got to be what they called the King of Poland, thirty five years ago; but, though looking glorious to the idle public, it has been a crown of stinging-nettles to the poor man,--a sedan-chair running on rapidly, with the bottom broken out! To say nothing of the scourgings he got, and poor Saxony along with him, from Charles XII., on account of this Sovereignty so called, what has the thing itself been to him? In Poland, for these thirty-five years, the individual who had least of his real will done in public matters has been, with infinite management, and display of such good-humor as at least deserves credit, the nominal Sovereign Majesty of Poland. Anarchic Grandees have been kings over him; ambitious, contentious, unmanageable;--very fanatical too, and never persuaded that August's Apostasy was more than a sham one, not even when he made his Prince apostatize too. Their Sovereignty has been a mere peck of troubles, disgraces and vexations: for those thirty-five years, an ever-boiling pot of mutiny, contradiction, insolence, hardly tolerable even to such nerves as August's.

“I might see a big fish, and we could vary our bill of

"August, for a long time back, has been thinking of schemes to clap some lid upon all that. To make the Sovereignty hereditary in his House: that, with the good Saxon troops we have, would be a remedy;--and in fact it is the only remedy. John Casimir (who abdicated long ago, in the Great Elector's time, and went to Paris,--much charmed with Ninon de l'Enclos there) told the Polish Diets, With their LIBERUM VETO, and 'right of confederation' and rebellion, they would bring the country down under the feet of mankind, and reduce their Republic to zero one day, if they persisted. They have not failed to persist. With some hereditary King over it, and a regulated Saxony to lean upon: truly might it not be a change to the better? To the worse, it could hardly be, thinks August the Strong; and goes intent upon that method, this long while back;--and at length hopes now, in few days longer, at the Diet just assembling, to see fruits appear, and the thing actually begin.

“I might see a big fish, and we could vary our bill of

"The difficulties truly are many; internal and external:--but there are calculated methods, too. For the internal: Get up, by bribery, persuasion, some visible minority to countenance you; with these manoeuvre in the Diets; on the back of these, the 30,000 Saxon troops. But then what will the neighboring Kings say? The neighboring Kings, with their big-mouthed manifestoes, pities for an oppressed Republic, overwhelming forces, and invitations to 'confederate' and revolt: without their tolerance first had, nothing can be done. That is the external difficulty. For which too there is a remedy. Cut off sufficient outlying slices of Poland; fling these to the neighboring Kings to produce consent: Partition of Poland, in fact; large sections of its Territory sliced away: that will be the method, thinks King August.

“I might see a big fish, and we could vary our bill of

"Neighboring Kings, Kaiser, Prussia, Russia, to them it is not grievous that Poland should remain in perennial anarchy, in perennial impotence; the reverse rather: a dead horse, or a dying, in the next stall,--he at least will not kick upon us, think the neighboring Kings. And yet,--under another similitude,--you do not like your next-door neighbor to be always on the point of catching fire; smoke issuing, thicker or thinner, through the slates of his roof, as a perennial phenomenon? August will conciliate the neighboring Kings. Russia, big-cheeked Anne Czarina there, shall have not only Courland peaceably henceforth, but the Ukraine, Lithuania, and other large outlying slices; that surely will conciliate Russia. To Austria, on its Hungarian border, let us give the Country of Zips;--nay there are other sops we have for Austria. Pragmatic Sanction, hitherto refused as contrary to plain rights of ours,--that, if conceded to a spectre-hunting Kaiser? To Friedrich Wilhelm we could give West-Preussen; West-Preussen torn away three hundred years ago, and leaving a hiatus in the very continuity of Friedrich Wilhelm: would not that conciliate him? Of all enemies or friends, Friedrich Wilhelm, close at hand with 80,000 men capable of fighting at a week's, notice, is by far the most important.

"These are August's plans: West-Preussen for the nearest Neighbor; Zips for Austria; Ukraine, Lithuania, and appendages for the Russian Czarina: handsome Sections to be sliced off, and flung to good neighbors; as it were, all the outlying limbs and wings of the Polish Territory sliced off; compact body to remain, and become, by means of August and Saxon troops, a Kingdom with government, not an imaginary Republic without government any longer. In fact, it was the 'Partition of Poland,' such as took effect forty years after, and has kept the Newspapers weeping ever since. Partition of Poland,--MINUS the compact interior held under government, by a King with Saxon troops or otherwise. Compact interior, in that effective partition, forty years after, was left as anarchic as ever; and had to be again partitioned, and cut away altogether,--with new torrents of loud tears from the Newspapers, refusing to be comforted to this day.

"It is not said that Friedrich Wilhelm had the least intention of countenancing August in these dangerous operations, still less of going shares with August; but he wished much, through Grumkow, to have some glimpse into the dim program of them; and August wished much to know Friedrich Wilhelm's and Grumkow's humor towards them. Grumkow and August drank oopiously, or copiously pressed drink on one another, all night (llth-12th January, 1733, as I compute; some say at Crossen, some say at Frauendorf a royal domain near by), with the view of mutually fishing out those secrets;--and killed one another in the business, as is rumored."

What were Grumkow's news at home-coming, I did not hear; but he continues very low and shaky;--refuses, almost with horror, to have the least hand in Seckendorf's mad project, of resuscitating the English Double-Marriage, and breaking off the Brunswick one, at the eleventh hour and after word pledged. Seckendorf himself continues to dislike and dissuade: but the High Heads at Vienna are bent on it; and command new strenuous attempts;--literally at the last moment; which is now come.

Since November last, Wilhelmina is on visit at Berlin,--first visit since her marriage;--she stays there for almost ten months; not under the happiest auspices, poor child. Mamma's reception of her, just off the long winter journey, and extenuated with fatigues and sickly chagrins, was of the most cutting cruelty: "What do you want here? What is a mendicant like you come hither for?" And next night, when Papa himself came home, it was little better. "Ha, ha," said he, "here you are; I am glad to see you." Then holding up a light, to take view of me: "How changed you are!" said he: "What is little Frederika [my little Baby at Baireuth] doing?" And on my answering, continued: "I am sorry for you, on my word. You have not bread to eat; and but for me you might go begging. I am a poor man myself, not able to give you much; but I will do what I can. I will give you now and then a twenty or a thirty shillings (PAR DIX OU DOUZE FLORINS), as my affairs permit: it will always be something to assuage your want. And you, Madam," said he, turning to the Queen, "you will sometimes give her an old dress; for the poor child has n't a shift to her back." [Wilhelmina, ii. 85.] This rugged paternal banter was taken too literally by Wilhelmina, in her weak state; and she was like "to burst in her skin," poor Princess.


recommended content