be but the idle, careless correspondence of two young messmates,

time:2023-12-01 05:04:49source:iosedit:zop

It is very observable, how Friedrich Wilhelm, hating quarrels, was ever ready to turn out for quarrel on such an occasion; though otherwise conspicuously a King who stayed well at home, looking after his own affairs; meddling with no neighbor that would be at peace with him. This properly is Friedrich Wilhelm's "sphere of political activity" among his contemporaries; this small quasi-domestic sphere, of forbidding injury to Protestants. A most small sphere, but then a genuine one: nor did he seek even this, had it not forced itself upon him. And truly we might ask, What has become of the other more considerable "spheres" in that epoch? The supremest loud-trumpeting "political activities" which then filled the world and its newspapers, what has the upshot of them universally been? Zero, and oblivion; no other. While this poor Friedrich-Wilhelm sphere is perhaps still a countable quantity. Wise is he who stays well at home, and does the duty he finds lying there!--

be but the idle, careless correspondence of two young messmates,

Great favor from the Protestant public: but, on the other hand, his Majesty had given offence in high places. What help for it? The thing was a point of conscience with him; natural to the surly Royal Overseer, going his rounds in the world, stick in hand! However, the Kaiser was altogether gloomy of brow at such disobedience. A Kaiser unfriendly to Friedrich Wilhelm: witness that of the RITTER-DIENST (our unreasonable Magdeburg Ritters, countenanced by him, on such terms, in such style too), and other offensive instances that could be given. Perhaps the Kaiser will not always continue gloomy of brow; perhaps the thoughts of the Imperial breast may alter, on our behalf or his own, one day?--

be but the idle, careless correspondence of two young messmates,

Nor could King August the Physically Strong be glad to see his "Director" function virtually superseded, in this triumphant way. A year or two ago, Friedrich Wilhelm had, with the due cautions and politic reserves, inquired of the CORPUS EVANGELICORUM, "If they thought the present Directorship (that of August the Physically Strong) a good one?" and "Whether he, Friedrich Wilhelm, ought not perhaps himself to be Director?"--To which, though the answer was clear as noonday, this poor Corpus had only mumbled some "QUIETA NON MOVERE," or other wise-foolish saw; and helplessly shrugged its shoulders. [1717-1719, when August's KURPRINZ, Heir-Apparent, likewise declared himself Papist, to the horror and astonishment of poor Saxony, and wedded the late Kaiser Joseph's Daughter:--not to Father August's horror; who was steering towards "popularity in Poland," "hereditary Polish Crown," &c. with the young man. (Buchholz, i. 53-56.)] But King August himself,--though a jovial social kind of animal, quite otherwise occupied in the world; busy producing his three hundred and fifty-four Bastards there, and not careful of Church matters at all,--had expressed his indignant surprise. And now, it would seem nevertheless, though the title remains where it was, the function has fallen to another, who actually does it: a thing to provoke comparisons in the public.

be but the idle, careless correspondence of two young messmates,

Clement, the Hungarian forger, vender of false state-secrets, is well hanged; went to the gallows (18th April, 1720) with much circumstance, just two days before that Heidelberg Church was got reopened. But the suspicions sown by Clement cannot quite be abolished by the hanging of him: Forger indisputably; but who knows whether he had not something of fact for his? What with Clement, what with this Heidelberg business, the Court of Berlin has fallen wrong with Dresden, with Vienna itself, and important clouds have risen.

There is an absurd Flame of War, blown out by Admiral Byng; and a new Man of Genius announces himself to the dim Populations.

The poor Kaiser himself is otherwise in trouble of his own, at this time. The Spaniards and he have fallen out, in spite of Utrecht Treaty and Rastadt ditto; the Spaniards have taken Sicily from him; and precisely in those days while Karl Philip took to shutting up the HEILIGE-GEIST Church at Heidelberg, there was, loud enough in all the Newspapers, silent as it now is, a "Siege of Messina" going on; Imperial and Piedmontese troops doing duty by land, Admiral Byng still more effectively by sea, for the purpose of getting Sicily back. Which was achieved by and by, though at an extremely languid pace. [Byng's Sea-fight, 10th August, 1718 (Campbell's Lives of the Admirals, iii. 468); whereupon the Spaniards, who had hardly yet completed their capture of Messina, are besieged in it;-- 29th October, 1719, Messina retaken (this is the "Siege of Messina"): February, 1720, Peace is clapt up (the chief article, that Alberoni shall be packed away), and a "Congress of Cambrai" is to meet, and settle everything.] One of the most tedious Sieges; one of the paltriest languid Wars (of extreme virulence and extreme feebleness, neither party having any cash left), and for an object which could not be excelled in insignificance. Object highly interesting to Kaiser Karl VI. and Elizabeth Farnese Termagant Queen of Spain. These two were red, or even were pale, with interest in it; and to the rest of Adam's Posterity it was not intrinsically worth an ounce of gunpowder, many tons of that and of better commodities as they had to spend upon it. True, the Spanish Navy got well lamed in the business; Spanish Fleet blown mostly to destruction,--"Roads of Messina, 10th August, 1718," by the dexterous Byng (a creditable handy figure both in Peace and War) and his considerable Sea-fight there:--if that was an object to Spain or mankind, that was accomplished. But the "War," except that many men were killed in it, and much vain babble was uttered upon it, ranks otherwise with that of Don Quixote, for conquest of the enchanted Helmet of Mambrino, which when looked into proved to be a Barber's Basin.

Congress of Cambrai, and other high Gatherings and convulsive Doings, which all proved futile, and look almost like Lapland witchcraft now to us, will have to follow this futility of a War. It is the first of a long series of enchanted adventures, on which Kaiser Karl,--duelling with that Spanish Virago, Satan's Invisible World in the rear of her,--has now embarked, to the woe of mankind, for the rest of his life. The first of those terrifico-ludicrous paroxysms of crisis into which he throws the European Universe; he with his Enchanted Barber's-Basin enterprises;--as perhaps was fit enough, in an epoch presided over by the Nightmares. Congress of Cambrai is to follow; and much else equally spectral. About all which there will be enough to say anon! For it was a fearful operation, though a ludicrous one, this of the poor Kaiser; and it tormented not the big Nations only, and threw an absurd Europe into paroxysm after paroxysm; but it whirled up, in its wide-weeping skirts, our little Fritz and his Sister, and almost dashed the lives out of them, as we shall see! Which last is perhaps the one claim it now has to a cursory mention from mankind.

Byng's Sea-fight, done with due dexterity of manoeuvring, and then with due emphasis of broadsiding, decisive of that absurd War, and almost the one creditable action in it, dates itself 10th August, 1718. And about three months later, on the mimic stage at Paris there came out a piece, OEDIPE the title of it, [18th November, 1718.] by one Francois Arouet, a young gentleman about twenty-two; and had such a run as seldom was;--apprising the French Populations that, to all appearance, a new man of genius had appeared among them (not intimating what work he would do); and greatly angering old M. Arouet of the Chamber of Accouuts; who thereby found his Son as good as cast into the whirlpools, and a solid Law-career thenceforth impossible for the young fool.-- The name of that "M. Arouet junior" changes itself, some years hence, into M. DE VOLTAIRE; under which latter designation he will conspicuously reappear in this Narrative.


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