For it is a state of the Balances little less than awful. Rumor goes that, by the Ripperda bargain, fatal to mankind, Don Carlos was to get the beautiful young Maria Theresa to wife: that would settle the Parma-Piacenza business and some others; that would be a compensation with a witness! Spain and Austria united, as in Karl V.'s time; or perhaps some Succession War, or worse, to fight over again!--
Fleury and George, as Duc de Bourbon and George had done, though both pacific gentlemen, brandished weapons at the Kaiser; strongly admonishing him to become less formidable, or it would be worse for him. Possible indeed, in such a shadow-hunting, shadow-hunted hour! Fleury and George stand looking with intense anxiety into a certain spectral something, which they call the Balance of Power; no end to their exorcisms in that matter. Truly, if each of the Royal Majesties and Serene Highnesses would attend to his own affairs,--doing his utmost to better his own land and people, in earthly and in heavenly respects, a little,--he would find it infinitely profitabler for himself and others. And the Balance of Power would settle, in that case, as the laws of gravity ordered: which is its one method of settling, after all diplomacy!--Fleury and George, by their manifestoing, still more by their levying of men, George I. shovelling out his English subsidies as usual, created deadly qualms in the Kaiser; who still found it unpleasant to "admit Spanish Garrisons in Parma;" but found likewise his Termagant Friend inexorably positive on that score; and knew not what would become of him, if he had to try fighting, and the Sea-Powers refused him cash to do it.
Hereby was the ship trimmed, and more; ship now lurching to the other side again. George I. goes subsidying Hessians, Danes; sounding manifestoes, beating drums, in an alarming manner: and the Kaiser, except it were in Russia, with the new Czarina Catherine I. (that brown little woman, now become Czarina [8th February, 1725. Treaty with Kaiser (6th August, 1726) went to nothing on her death, 11th May, 1727.]), finds no ally to speak of. An unlucky, spectre-hunting, spectre-hunted Kaiser; who, amid so many drums, manifestoes, menaces, is now rolling eyes that witness everywhere considerable dismay. This is the Fourth grand Crisis of Europe; crisis or travail-throe of Nature, bringing forth, and unable to do it, Baby Carlos's Apanage and the Pragmatic Sanction. Fourth conspicuous change of color to the universal lobster, getting itself boiled on those sad terms, for twenty years. For its sins, we need not doubt; for its own long-continued cowardices, sloths and greedy follies, as well as those of Kaiser Karl!--
At this Fourth change we will gladly leave the matter, for a time; much wishing it might be forever. Alas, as if that were possible to us! Meanwhile, let afflicted readers, looking before and after, readier to forget than to remember in such a case, accept this Note, or Summary of all the Seven together, by way of help:--
TRAVAIL-THROES OF NATURE FOR BABY CARLOS'S ITALIAN APANAGE; SEVEN IN NUMBER.
l. Triple Alliance, English, Dutch, French (4th January, 1717), saying, "Peace, then! No Alberoni-plotting; no Duel-fighting permitted!" Same Powers, next year, proposing Terms of Agreement; Kaiser gloomily accepting them; which makes it Quadruple Alliance (18th July, 1718); Termagant indignantly refusing,--with attack on the Kaiser's Sicilies. 2. First Sputter of War; Byng's Sea-fight, and the other pressures, compelling Termagant: Peace (26th January, 1720); Congress of Cambrai to settle the Apanage and other points. 3. Congress of Cambrai, a weariness to gods and men, gets the floor pulled from under it (Ripperda's feat, 30th April, 1725); so that Kaiser and Termagant stand ranked together, Apanage wrapt in mystery,--to the terror of mankind. 4. Treaty of Hanover (France, England, Prussia, 3d September, 1725) restores the Balances, and more. War imminent. Prussia privately falls off,--as we shall see.
[These first Four lie behind us, at this point; but there are Three others still ahead, which we cannot hope to escape altogether; namely:]
5. Second Sputter of War: Termagant besieges Gibraltar (4th March, 1727--6th March, 1728): Peace at that latter date;-- Congress of Soissons to settle the Apanage and other points, as formerly. 6. Congress of Soissons (14th June, 1728--9th November, 1729), as formerly, cannot in the least: Termagaut whispers England;-- there is Treaty of Seville (9th November, 1729), France and England undertaking for the Apanage. Congress vanishes; Kaiser is left solitary, with the shadow of Pragmatic Sanction, in the night of things. Pause of an awful nature:--but Fleury does not hasten with the Apanage, as promised. Whereupon, at length, 7. Treaty of Vienna (16th March, 1731): Sea-Powers, leading Termagant by the hand, Sea-Powers and no France, unite with Kaiser again, according to the old laws of Nature;--and Baby Carlos gets his Apanage, in due course;--but does not rest content with it, Mamma nor he, very long!