Read Chapter XIII. - PEACE OF HUBERTSBURG. of History Of Friedrich II. of Prussia (Vol. XX.) (Friedrich is not to be Overwhelmed: The Seven-Years War Gradually Ends-25th April‚ 1760-15th February‚ 1763.), free online book, by Thomas Carlyle, on

The Prussian troops took Winter-quarters in the Meissen-Freyberg region, the old Saxon ground, familiar to them for the last three years:  room enough this Winter, “from Plauen and Zwickau, round by Langensalza again;” Truce with everybody, and nothing of disturbance till March 1st at soonest.  The usual recruiting went on, or was preparing to go on, - a part of which took immediate effect, as we shall see.  Recruiting, refitting, “Be ready for a new Campaign, in any case:  the readier we are, the less our chance of having one!” Friedrich’s head-quarter is Leipzig; but till December 5th he does not get thither.  “More business on me than ever!” complains he.  At Leipzig he had his Nephews, his D’Argens; for a week or two his Brother Henri; finally, his Berlin Ministers, especially Herzberg, when actual Peace came to be the matter in hand.  Henri, before that, had gone home:  “Peace being now the likelihood; - Home; and recruit one’s poor health, at Berlin, among friends!”

Before getting to Leipzig, the King paid a flying Visit at Gotha; - probably now the one fraction of these manifold Winter movements and employments, in which readers could take interest.  Of this, as there happens to be some record left of it, here is what will suffice.  From Meissen, Friedrich writes to his bright Grand-Duchess, always a bright, high and noble creature in his eyes:  “Authorized by your approval [has politely inquired beforehand], I shall have the infinite satisfaction of paying my duties on December 3d [four days hence], and of reiterating to you, Madam, my liveliest and sincerest assurances of esteem and friendship....  Some of my Commissariat people have been misbehaving?  Strict inquiry shall be had,” [To the Grand-Duchess, “Meissen, 29th November” (OEuvres de Frederic, xvii.] - and we soon find WAS.  But the Visit is our first thing.

The Visit took place accordingly; Seidlitz, a man known in Gotha ever since his fine scenic-military procedures there in 1757, accompanied the King.  Of the lucent individualities invited to meet him, all are now lost to me, except one Putter, a really learned Gottingen Professor (deep in REICHS-HISTORY and the like), whom the Duchess has summoned over.  By the dim lucency of Putter, faint to most of us as a rushlight in the act of going out, the available part of our imagination must try to figure, in a kind of Obliterated-Rembrandt way, this glorious Evening; for there was but one, - December 3d-4th, - Friedrich having to leave early on the 4th.  Here is Putters record, given in the third person: -

During dinner, Putter, honorably present among the spectators of this high business, was beckoned by the Duchess to step near the King [right hand or left, Putter does not say]; but the King graciously turned round, and conversed with Putter.  The King said: -

KING.  “In German History much is still buried; many important Documents lie hidden in Monasteries.”  Putter answered “schicklich - fitly;” that is all we know of Putter’s answer.

KING (thereupon).  “Of Books on Reichs-History I know only the PERE BARRI.” [Barri de Beaumarchais, 10 volto, Paris, 1748:  I believe, an extremely feeble Pillar of Will-o’-Wisps by Night; - as I can expressly testify Pfeffel to be (Pfeffel, Abrège Chronologique de l’Histoire d’Allemagne, 2 volto, Paris, 1776), who has succeeded Barri as Patent Guide through that vast SYLVA SYLVARUM and its pathless intricacies, for the inquiring French and English.]

PUTTER....  “Foreigners have for most part known only, in regard to our History, a Latin work written by Struve at Jena.” [Burkhard Gotthelf Struve, Syntagma Historiae Germanicus (1730, 2 vols. folio).]

KING.  “Struv, Struvius; him I don’t know.”

PUTTER.  “It is a pity Barri had not known German.”

KING.  “Barri was a Lorrainer; Barri must have known German!” - Then turning to the Duchess, on this hint about the German Language, he told her, “in a ringing merry tone, How, at Leipzig once, he had talked with Gottsched [talk known to us] on that subject, and had said to him, That the French had many advantages; among others, that a word could often be used in a complex signification, for which you had in German to scrape together several different expressions.  Upon which Gottsched had said, ‘We will have that mended (DAS WOLLEN WIR NOCH MACHEN)!’ These words the King repeated twice or thrice, with such a tone that you could well see how the man’s conceit had struck him;” - and in short, as we know already, what a gigantic entity, consisting of wind mainly, he took this elevated Gottsched to be.

Upon which, Putter retires into the honorary ranks again; silent, at least to us, and invisible; as the rest of this Royal Evening at Gotha is. ["Putter’s Selbstbiographie (Autobiography), :  cited in Preuss, i n.] Here, however, is the Letter following on it two days after: -


“LEIPZIG, 6th December, 1762.

“MADAM, - I should never have done, my adorable Duchess, if I rendered you account of all the impressions which the friendship you lavished on me has made on my heart.  I could wish to answer it by entering into everything that can be agreeable to you [conduct of my Recruiters or Commissariat people first of all].  I take the liberty of forwarding the ANSWERS which have come in to the Two Mémoires you sent me.  I am mortified, Madam, if I have not been able to fulfil completely your desires:  but if you knew the situation I am in, I flatter myself you would have some consideration for it.

“I have found myself here [in Leipzig, as elsewhere] overwhelmed with business, and even to a degree I had not expected.  Meanwhile, if I ever can manage again to run over and pay you in person the homage of a heart which is more attached to you than that of your near relations, assuredly I will not neglect the first opportunity that shall present itself.

“Messieurs the English [Bute, Bedford and Company, with their Preliminaries signed, and all my Westphalian Provinces left in a condition we shall hear of] continue to betray.  Poor M. Mitchell has had a stroke of apoplexy on hearing it.  It is a hideous thing (CHOSE AFFREUSE); but I will speak of it no more.  May you, Madam, enjoy all the prosperities that I wish for you, and not forget a Friend, who will be till his death, with sentiments of the highest esteem and the most perfect consideration, - Madam, your Highness’s most faithful Cousin and Servant, FRIEDRICH.” [OEuvres de Frederic, xzvi.]

For a fortnight past, Friedrich has had no doubt that general Peace is now actually at hand.  November 25th, ten days before this visit, a Saxon Privy-Councillor, Baron von Fritsch, who, by Order from his Court, had privately been at Vienna on the errand, came privately next, with all speed, to Friedrich (Meissen, November 25th):  [Rodenbeck, i.] “Austria willing for Treaty; is your Majesty willing?” “Thrice-willing, I; my terms well known!” Friedrich would answer, - gladdest of mankind to see general Pacification coming to this vexed Earth again.  The Dance of the Furies, waltzing itself off, HOME out of this upper sunlight:  the mad Bellona steeds plunging down, down, towards their Abysses again, for a season! -

This was a result which Friedrich had foreseen as nearly certain ever since the French and English signed their Preliminaries.  And there was only one thing which gave him anxiety; that of his Rhine Provinces and Strong Places, especially Wesel, which have been in French hands for six years past, ever since Spring, 1757.  Bute stipulates That those places and countries shall be evacuated by his Choiseul, as soon as weather and possibility permit; but Bute, astonishing to say, has not made the least stipulation as to whom they are to be delivered to, - allies or enemies, it is all one to Bute.  Truly rather a shameful omission, Pitt might indignantly think, - and call the whole business steadily, as he persisted to do, “a shameful Peace,” had there been no other article in it but this; - as Friedrich, with at least equal emphasis thought and felt.  And, in fact, it had thrown him into very great embarrassment, on the first emergence of it.

For her Imperial Majesty began straightway to draw troops into those neighborhoods:  “WE will take delivery, our Allies playing into our hand!” And Friedrich, who had no disposable troops, had to devise some rapid expedient; and did.  Set his Free-Corps agents and recruiters in motion:  “Enlist me those Light people of Duke Ferdinand’s, who are all getting discharged; especially that BRITANNIC LEGION so called.  All to be discharged; re-enlist them, you; Ferdinand will keep them till you do it.  Be swift!” And it is done; - a small bit of actual enlistment among the many prospective that were going on, as we noticed above.  Precise date of it not given; must have been soon after November 3d.  There were from 5 to 6,000 of them; and it was promptly done.  Divided into various regiments; chief command of them given to a Colonel Bauer, under whom a Colonel Beckwith whose name we have heard:  these, to the surprise of Imperial Majesty, and alarm of a pacific Versailles, suddenly appeared in the Cleve Countries, handy for Wesel, for Geldern; in such posts, and in such force and condition as intimated, “It shall be we, under favor, that take delivery!” Snatch Wesel from them, some night, sword in hand:  that had been Bauer’s notion; but nothing of that kind was found necessary; mere demonstration proved sufficient.  To the French Garrisons the one thing needful was to get away in peace; Bauer with his brows gloomy is a dangerous neighbor.  Perhaps the French Officers themselves rather favored Friedrich than his enemies.  Enough, a private agreement, or mutual understanding on word of honor, was come to:  and, very publicly, at length, on the 11th and 12th days of March, 1763 (Peace now settled everywhere), Wesel, in great gala, full of field-music, military salutations and mutual dining, saw the French all filing out, and Bauer and people filing in, to the joy of that poor Town. [Preuss, i.]

Soon after which, painful to relate, such the inexorable pressure of finance, Bauer and people were all paid off, flung loose again:  ruthlessly paid off by a necessitous King!  There were about 6,000 of those poor fellows, - specimens of the bastard heroic, under difficulties, from every country in the world; Beckwith and I know not what other English specimens of the lawless heroic; who were all cashiered, officer and man, on getting to Berlin.  As were the earlier Free-Corps, and indeed the subsequent, all and sundry, “except seven,” whose names will not be interesting to you.  Paid off, with or without remorse, such the exhaustion of finance; Kleist, Icilius, Count Hordt and others vainly repugning and remonstrating; the King himself inexorable as Arithmetic.  “Can maintain 138,000 of regular, 12,000 of other sorts; not a man more!” Zealous Icilius applied for some consideration to his Officers:  “partial repayment of the money they have spent from their own pocket in enlistment of their people now discharged!” Not a doit.  The King’s answer is in autograph, still extant; not in good spelling, but with sense clear as light:  “SEINE OFFICIERS HABEN WIE DIE RABEN GESTOLLEN SIE KRIGEN NICHTS, Your Officers stole like ravens; - they get Nothing.” [Preuss, i.] Lessing’s fine play of MINNA VON BARNHELM testifies to considerable public sympathy for these impoverished Ex-Military people.  Pathetic truly, in a degree; but such things will happen.  Irregular gentlemen, to whom the world ’s their oyster, - said oyster does suddenly snap to on them, by a chance.  And they have to try it on the other side, and say little! - But we are forgetting the Peace-Treaty itself, which still demands a few words.

Kleist’s raid into the Reich had a fine effect on the Potentates there; and Plotho’s Offer was greedily complied with; the Kaiser, such his generosity, giving “free permission.”  We spoke of Privy-Councillor von Fritsch, and his private little word with Friedrich at Meissen, on November 25th.  The Electoral-Prince of Saxony, it seems, was author of that fine stroke; the history of it this.  Since November 3d, the French and English have had their preliminaries signed; and all Nations are longing for the like.  “Let us have a German Treaty for general Peace,” said the Kurprinz of Saxony, that amiable Heir-Apparent whom we have seen sometimes, who is rather crooked of back, but has a sprightly Wife.  “By all means,” answered Polish Majesty:  “and as I am in the distance, do you in every way further it, my Son!” Whereupon despatch of Fritsch to Vienna, and thence to Meissen; with “Yes” to him from both parties.  Plenipotentiaries are named:  “Fritsch shall be ours:  they shall have my Schloss of Hubertsburg for Place of Congress,” said the Prince.  And on Thursday, December 30th, 1762, the Three Dignitaries met at Hubertsburg, and began business.

This is the Schloss in Torgau Country which Quintus Icilius’s people, Saldern having refused the job, willingly undertook spoiling; and, as is well known, did it, January 22d, 1761; a thing Quintus never heard the end of.  What the amount of profit, or the degree of spoil and mischief, Quintus’s people made of it, I could not learn; but infer from this new event that the wreck had not been so considerable as the noise was; at any rate, that the Schloss had soon been restored to its pristine state of brilliancy.  The Plenipotentiaries, - for Saxony, Fritsch; for Austria, a Von Collenbach, unknown to us; for Prussia, one Hertzberg, a man experienced beyond his years, who is of great name in Prussian History subsequently, - sat here till February 15th, 1763, that is for six weeks and five days.  Leaving their Protocols to better judges, who report them good, we will much prefer a word or two from Friedrich himself, while waiting the result they come to.


“LEIPZIG, 14th JANUARY, 1763....  Am not surprised you find Berlin changed for the worse:  such a train of calamities must, in the end, make itself felt in a poor and naturally barren Country, where continual industry is needed to second its fecundity and keep up production.  However, I will do what I can to remedy this dearth (LA DISETTE), at least as far as my small means permit....

“No fear of Geldern and Wesel; all that has been cared for by Bauer and the new Free-Corps.  By the end of February Peace will be signed; at the beginning of April everybody will find himself at home, as in 1756.

“The Circles are going to separate:  indifferent to me, or nearly so; but it is good to be plucking out tiresome burning sticks, stick after stick.  I hope you amuse yourself at Berlin:  at Leipzig nothing but balls and redouts; my Nephews diverting themselves amazingly.  Madam Friedrich, lately Garden-maid at Seidlitz [Village in the Neumark, with this Beauty plucking weeds in it, - little prescient of such a fortune], now Wife to an Officer of the Free Hussars, is the principal heroine of these Festivities.” [Schoning, ii.]

LEIPZIG, 25th JANUARY, 1763.  “Thanks for your care about my existence.  I am becoming very old, dear Brother; in a little while I shall be useless to the world and a burden to myself:  it is the lot of all creatures to wear down with age, - but one is not, for all that, to abuse one’s privilege of falling into dotage.

“You still speak without full confidence of our Negotiation business [going on at Hubertsburg yonder].  Most certainly the chapter of accidents is inexhaustible; and it is still certain there may happen quantities of things which the limited mind of man cannot foresee:  but, judging by the ordinary course, and such degrees of probability as human creatures found their hopes on, I believe, before the month of February entirely end, our Peace will be completed.  In a permanent Arrangement, many things need settling, which are easier to settle now than they ever will be again.  Patience; haste without speed is a thriftless method.” [Ib. ii.]

February 5th, the trio at Hubertsburg got their Preliminaries signed.  On the tenth day thereafter, the Treaty itself was signed and sealed.  All other Treaties on the same subject had been guided towards a contemporary finis:  England and France, ready since the 3d of November last, signed and ended February 10th.  February 11th, the Reich signed and ended; February 15th, Prussia, Austria, Saxony; and the THIRD SILESIAN or SEVEN-YEARS WAR was completely finished. [Copy of the treaty in Helden-Geschichte, vi et seq.; in Seyfarth, Beylagen, ii-495; in ROUSSET, in WENCK, in &c. &c.]

It had cost, in loss of human lives first of all, nobody can say what:  according to Friedrich’s computation, there had perished of actual fighters, on the various fields, of all the nations, 853,000; of which above the fifth part, or 180,000, is his own share:  and, by misery and ravage, the general Population of Prussia finds itself 500,000 fewer; nearly the ninth man missing.  This is the expenditure of Life.  Other items are not worth enumerating, in comparison; if statistically given, you can find the most approved guesses at them by the same Head, who ought to be an authority. [OEuvres de Frederic, -234; Preuss, ii-351.] It was a War distinguished by - Archenholtz will tell you, with melodious emphasis, what a distinguished, great and thrice-greatest War it was.  There have since been other far bigger Wars, - if size were a measure of greatness; which it by no means is!  I believe there was excellent Heroism shown in this War, by persons I could name; by one person, Heroism really to be called superior, or, in its kind, almost of the rank of supreme; - and that in regard to the Military Arts and Virtues, it has as yet, for faculty and for performance, had no rival; nor is likely soon to have.  The Prussians, as we once mentioned, still use it as their school-model in those respects.  And we - O readers, do not at least you and I thank God to have now done with it! -

Of the Peace-Treaties at Hubertsburg, Paris and other places, it is not necessary that we say almost anything.  They are to be found in innumerable Books, dreary to the mind; and of the 158 Articles to be counted there, not one could be interesting at present.  The substance of the whole lies now in Three Points, not mentioned or contemplated at all in those Documents, though repeatedly alluded to and intimated by us here.

The issue, as between Austria and Prussia, strives to be, in all points, simply AS-YOU-WERE; and, in all outward or tangible points, strictly is so.  After such a tornado of strife as the civilized world had not witnessed since the Thirty-Years War.  Tornado springing doubtless from the regions called Infernal; and darkening the upper world from south to north, and from east to west for Seven Years long; - issuing in general AS-YOU-WERE!  Yes truly, the tornado was Infernal; but Heaven too had silently its purposes in it.  Nor is the mere expenditure of mens diabolic rages, in mutual clash as of opposite electricities, with reduction to equipoise, and restoration of zero and repose again after seven years, the one or the principal result arrived at.  Inarticulately, little dreamt of at the time by any by-stander, the results, on survey from this distance, are visible as Threefold.  Let us name them one other time: -

1.  There is no taking of Silesia from this man; no clipping of him down to the orthodox old limits; he and his Country have palpably outgrown these.  Austria gives up the Problem:  “We have lost Silesia!” Yes; and, what you hardly yet know, - and what, I perceive, Friedrich himself still less knows, - Teutschland has found Prussia.  Prussia, it seems, cannot be conquered by the whole world trying to do it; Prussia has gone through its Fire-Baptism, to the satisfaction of gods and men; and is a Nation henceforth.  In and of poor dislocated Teutschland, there is one of the Great Powers of the World henceforth; an actual Nation.  And a Nation not grounding itself on extinct Traditions, Wiggeries, Papistries, Immaculate Conceptions; no, but on living Facts, - Facts of Arithmetic, Geometry, Gravitation, Martin Luther’s Reformation, and what it really can believe in: - to the infinite advantage of said Nation and of poor Teutschland henceforth.  To be a Nation; and to believe as you are convinced, instead of pretending to believe as you are bribed or bullied by the devils about you; what an advantage to parties concerned!  If Prussia follow its star - As it really tries to do, in spite of stumbling!  For the sake of Germany, one hopes always Prussia will; and that it may get through its various Child-Diseases, without death:  though it has had sad plunges and crises, - and is perhaps just now in one of its worst Influenzas, the Parliamentary-Eloquence or Ballot-Box Influenza!  One of the most dangerous Diseases of National Adolescence; extremely prevalent over the world at this time, - indeed unavoidable, for reasons obvious enough.  “SIC ITUR AD ASTRA;” all Nations certain that the way to Heaven is By voting, by eloquently wagging the tongue “within those walls”!  Diseases, real or imaginary, await Nations like individuals; and are not to be resisted, but must be submitted to, and got through the best you can.  Measles and mumps; you cannot prevent them in Nations either.  Nay fashions even; fashion of Crinoline, for instance (how infinitely more, that of Ballot-Box and Fourth-Estate!), - are you able to prevent even that?  You have to be patient under it, and keep hoping!

2.  In regard to England.  Her JENKINSS-EAR CONTROVERSY is at last settled.  Not only liberty of the Seas, but, if she were not wiser, dominion of them; guardianship of liberty for all others whatsoever:  Dominion of the Seas for that wise object.  America is to be English, not French; what a result is that, were there no other!  Really a considerable Fact in the History of the World.  Fact principally due to Pitt, as I believe, according to my best conjecture, and comparison of probabilities and circumstances.  For which, after all, is not everybody thankful, less or more?  O my English brothers, O my Yankee half-brothers, how oblivious are we of those that have done us benefit! -

These are the results for England.  And in the rear of these, had these and the other elements once ripened for her, the poor Country is to get into such merchandisings, colonizings, foreign-settlings, gold-nuggetings, as lay beyond the drunkenest dreams of Jenkins (supposing Jenkins addicted to liquor); - and, in fact, to enter on a universal uproar of Machineries, Eldorados, “Unexampled Prosperities,” which make a great noise for themselves in the very days now come.  Prosperities evidently not of a sublime type:  which, in the mean while, seem to be covering the at one time creditably clean and comely face of England with mud-blotches, soot-blotches, miscellaneous squalors and horrors; to be preaching into her amazed heart, which once knew better, the omnipotence of

SHODDY; filling her ears and soul with shriekery and metallic clangor, mad noises, mad hurries mostly no-whither; - and are awakening, I suppose, in such of her sons as still go into reflection at all, a deeper and more ominous set of Questions than have ever risen in England’s History before.  As in the foregoing case, we have to be patient and keep hoping.

3.  In regard to France.  It appears, noble old Teutschland, with such pieties and unconquerable silent valors, such opulences human and divine, amid its wreck of new and old confusions, is not to be cut in Four, and made to dance to the piping of Versailles or another.  Far the contrary!  To Versailles itself there has gone forth, Versailles may read it or not, the writing on the wall:  “Thou art weighed in the balance, and found wanting” (at last even “FOUND wanting")!  France, beaten, stript, humiliated; sinful, unrepentant, governed by mere sinners and, at best, clever fools (FOUS PLEINS D’ESPRIT), - collapses, like a creature whose limbs fail it; sinks into bankrupt quiescence, into nameless fermentation, generally into DRY-ROT.  Rotting, none guesses whitherward; - rotting towards that thrice-extraordinary Spontaneous-Combustion, which blazed out in 1789.  And has kindled, over the whole world, gradually or by explosion, this unexpected Outburst of all the chained Devilries (among other chained things), this roaring Conflagration of the Anarchies; under which it is the lot of these poor generations to live, - for I know not what length of Centuries yet.  “Go into Combustion, my pretty child!” the Destinies had said to this BELLE FRANCE, who is always so fond of shining and outshining:  “Self-Combustion; - in that way, won’t you shine, as none of them yet could?” Shine; yes, truly, - till you are got to CAPUT MORTUUM, my pretty child (unless you gain new wisdom!) - But not to wander farther: -

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16th, Friedrich, all Saxon things being now settled, - among the rest, “eight Saxon Schoolmasters” to be a model in Prussia, - quitted Leipzig, with the Seven-Years War safe in his pocket, as it were.  Drove to Moritzburg, to dinner with the amiable Kurprinz and still more amiable Wife:  “It was to your Highness that we owe this Treaty!” A dinner which readers may hear of again.  At Moritzburg; where, with the Lacys, there was once such rattling and battling.  After which, rapidly on to Silesia, and an eight days of adjusting and inspecting there.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30th, Friedrich arrives in Frankfurt-on-Oder, on the way homeward from Silesia:  “takes view of the Field of Kunersdorf” (reflections to be fancied); early in the afternoon speeds forward again; at one of the stages (place called Tassdorf) has a Dialogue, which we shall hear of; and between 8 and 9 in the evening, not through the solemn receptions and crowded streets, drives to the Schloss of Berlin.  “Goes straight to the Queen’s Apartment,” Queen, Princesses and Court all home triumphantly some time ago; sups there with the Queen’s Majesty and these bright creatures, - beautiful supper, had it consisted only of cresses and salt; and, behind it, sound sleep to us under our own roof-tree once more. [Rodenbeck, i, 212; Preuss, i, 346; &c. &c.] Next day, “the King made gifts to,” as it were, to everybody; “to the Queen about 5,000 pounds, to the Princess Amelia 1,000 pounds,” and so on; and saw true hearts all merry round him, - merrier, perhaps, than his own was.