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the endeavour to make a perfect hero, without fear or reproach, of one who commonly passes for the most unloveable, if not absolutely odious, of all the really great men recorded in history; a task under which he has for these five years reminded us of nothing so much as of a set of busy children, in a winter garden, endeavouring, with vast activity and perseverance, to build up a Man of Snow. We feel ourselves well able to combine the sentiment of thankfulness for what we have got, with that of sympathetic relief at seeing the labourer himself quit of the mighty burden which he has laid down at our feet.
The fifth volume opens with the second campaign in chronological order, but which in substance may be almost called the opening one of the Seven Years' War—that of 1757. Excited by Frederic's audacious occupation of Saxony, the three great allies, France, Russia, and Austria, have resolved on his speedy extinction, or reduction to the limits of the March of Brandenburg.' They have dragged into the quarrel that anomalous body the Holy Roman Empire (which Mr. Carlyle, after his fashion, will persist in calling the Reich, though he might quite as gracefully style France the Royaume’), and even the misgoverned and decayed state of Sweden, in virtue of its old claims on Pomerania : as to which last addition to the alliance Mr. Carlyle remarks, with truth, that its chief value was, that it served for an answer to the plausible representation that Catholic states were coalescing against a Protestant Sovereign. In point of fact, it may be said at the outset, that questions of religion were soon felt by all parties—except a few of our determined English Protestants—to have no more to do with the Seven Years' War than they had afterwards with those of Napoleon. Frederic has only England at his side; and England, as yet, has little more than an army of observation, on the Rhine, under the Duke of Cumberland. Four invading masses-Russia from north-east, Sweden northwest, France and the Reich' south-west, Austria south-east, are collecting at once on the frontiers of his disjointed States. All the on-lookers, with one judgment, seem to have made up their mind that he will remain on the defensive, and make Saxony his battle-field; that is, suffer himself to be gradually squeezed into collapse by the folds of the boa-constrictor,' to use an illustration which recent American campaigns have made famous. But it is by no means Frederic's intention that Saxony itself shall need to be invaded. Frederic's habit is—as his enemies might by this time be beginning to learn--not that of standing on the defensive, but that of going on it, as the preferable method, wherever possible.' Accordingly, in April of this year, Frederic dashes with upwards of 150,000 men out of Saxony into Bohemia
-why Saxony and Bohemia, while Silesia is sometimes “Schlesien, Lusatia and Pomerania always · Lausitz' and · Pommern,' we can on no principle, whether of philology or euphony, conjecture—and lays siege to Prag.' The siege is admirably described ; the description of the country in which the leading events take place, as fine and accurate a piece of picturesque writing as we have met with. The siege—more properly a series of attacks on a hostile army intrenched within lines comprehending a city--proves a failure. · Prag cannot be got at once.' And hereby comes a complication, which produces, to us, Englishmen, one of the most interesting portions of Mr. Carlyle's work. England, hitherto loyally, if not very energetically, engaged in support of Prussia, begins to waver, under the doubtful aspect of affairs in Bohemia, and the extremely unstable character of her own statesmen.
It is in this crisis (if we may anticipate the complete development of events by a few months) that Pitt steps forward as the founder of England's European greatness, but as the very saviour of Prussia. We are so much more accustomed to dwell on him in the first character than the last--the cause of Prussia, for various reasons intelligible to most, though ignored by Mr. Carlyle, not having been one of abiding popularity—that it is as it were a new lesson to us, and a very valuable one, to have it pointed out how entirely, next to his own good sword, Frederic owed his political salvation to Pitt's personal character and resolution. The union of France and Austria had long been the contingency against which thoughtful English statesmanship had most sedulously sought to guard. This contingency had now taken place. Pitt had that true political insight which revealed to him alone, perhaps, of his contemporaries, the importance to Britain of the erection of a new, independent military power in Northern Europe, sufficient with our aid to counterbalance France and Austria both. To this object he devoted, without hesitation, all the energy of his will : for this purpose he inflamed the spirit of England to the highest pitch of hardihood and resolution. That he has become thereby a prime favourite with Mr. Carlyle—'an authentically royal style of man,' 'not born King; alas, no, not officially so, only naturally so: has his kingdom to seek: the conquering of Silesia, the conquering of Pelham Parliaments,'—it is easy to anticipate. But allowing at once for extravagances of diction, and also for the kind of collateral bias which thus helps to direct his judgment, Pitt has seldom been more thoroughly appreciated, or more worthily celebrated, than by the author of these volumes. But we have not space to bring this subject fairly before the reader. We will
content ourselves, on English affairs, with a singular bit of bypraise not at all undeserved, in our opinion, but which shows how far the force of the lues biographica—the passion of a biographer for his hero-can overcome even the most congenital antipathies. Mr. Carlyle—of all conceivable people—actually bestows a coup de chapeau on Horace Walpole! The common tie of connexion being the love of Pitt, whom Mr. Carlyle loves as the supporter of Frederic, while Walpole praised him, in truth, because he superseded the Pelhams, who had risen on the fall of Sir Robert :
· Walpole's “George the Second” is a book of far more worth than is commonly ascribed to it: almost the one original English book yet written on those times—which, by the accident of Pitt, are still memorable to us. But for Walpole, burning like a small steady light there, shining faithfully, if stingily, on the evil and on the good—that sordid muddle of the Pelham Parliaments, which chanced to be the element of things now recognisable enough as great-would be for ever unintelligible. He is unusually accurate, punctual, lucid: an irrefragible authority on English points. And if in regard to foreign, he cannot be called an understanding witness, he has read the best documents accessible, has conversed with select ambassadors (Mitchell and the like, as we can guess), and has informed himself to a degree far beyond most of his contemporaries. In regard to Pitt's speeches, in particular, his brief jottings, done rapidly while the matter was still shining to him, are the only reports that have the least human resemblance. We may thank Walpole that Pitt is not dumb to us, as well as dark. Very curious little scratchings and etchings these of Walpole : frugal, swift
, but punctual and exact ; hasty pen-and-ink outlines ; at first view, barren : bald as an invoice, seemingly: but which yield you, after long study here and elsewhere, a conceivable notion of what and how excellent these Pitt speeches may have been. Airy, winged, like arrow-flights of Phoebus Apollo; very superlative speeches indeed. Walpole's book is carefully printed ; but, in respect of editing, may be characterised as still wanting an editor' (v. 67).
Of the results of Pitt's final accession to power in 1757 on Frederic's destinies—the extinction of Newcastleisms and impious poltrooneries' at home, the punctual payment abroad of subsidies which under the reign of Newcastle had been promised and not paid at all, the generous vigour with which the whole weight of France was at once removed from the mass which lay on Frederic, and that country forced to employ nearly all her means in fighting England alone, in America and in Germany, Mr. Carlyle has of course much to say; and according to our impression it has never been so well said before. Unfortunately these, like all the really valuable parts of the work, are reduced to so disjointed a state from his singular method of composition
or rather decomposition of his subject into minute fractionsthey are only to be disinterred with such an infinity of trouble from under the dead weight of tons of battles and sieges, that very few readers of the ordinary class will derive from them so much instruction as they might on one of the most interesting and glorious passages in our domestic history.
Prag, as we have seen, cannot be got at once : Daun is moving from eastward to relieve it: Frederic raises the siege and advances against Daun : and in the battle of Kolin (June, 1757) receives his first defeat-a pretty decided one. Invincible up to that point, he could scarcely believe in its reality. According to one account, Frederic stood his ground till nearly left alone :
'In his rear, man after man fell away, till Lieutenant-Colonel Grant (not "Le Grand,” as some call him, and indeed there is an accent of Scotch in him still audible to us here) had to remark, “ Your Majesty and I cannot take the battery ourselves !” Upon which Friedrich turned round, and, seeing nobody, looked at the enemy through his glass, and slowly rode away-on a different errand.'
Happily for the hero, Daun, completely victorious, would not let the sun go down upon his wrath,' stood all night under arms, and next day returned to his camp again, as if he had been afraid the king would come back!' Except the raising of the siege of Prag,' things remained as before.
The battle of Kolin is well described ; and not quite at such tedious length as is the case-to our own apprehension-with too many of the feats of arms recorded in these pages. point on which we distrust our own judgment, having no vocation for battle-descriptions : which are, on the contrary, evidently labours of love to our author, who has devoted much toil and travel to the patient inspection of field after field of the great war. But our own general criticism would be this: his accounts are, we presume, careful: they are certainly, if not clear from perspicuity of style on the first glance, reducible at least to clearness with the aid of thought and of maps: they are vigorous in parts: but they do not amount to battle-painting : they do not bring the scene either before the eyes of the fancy or within the grasp of the intellect, as compositions by really great masters in that line, and especially professional masters, sometimes do. But we readily leave the question to be solved for themselves by readers (of whom there are very many) who will take greater interest in this special branch than we do.
For the first time—a thing so often afterwards repeated—the beaten Frederic, hemmed in by Austria, France, the Empire, was
It is a
spared simply by the inconceivable hesitation of his antagonists, whom it is difficult to suspect of having been in earnest. He remains posted the rest of the summer, as if in defiance, at Leitmeritzhalfway between Prag and Dresden -- until the gaps in his legions are filled again, and the momentary shock to his invincibility repaired. Undoubtedly this was one of the most depressing periods of his life: for although even more pressing evils beset him later in his career, he had by that time trained himself to meet them with a sterner cynicism. While at Leitmeritz, too, he lost his mother, to whom he was attached with an affection cemented by the years of common misery they had undergone under the sway of her husband :
* At Leitmeritz, it appears, he kept withdrawn to his closet a good deal; ; gave
up to his sorrows and his thoughts; would sit many hours drowned in tears, weeping bitterly like a child or a woman! This is strange to some readers; but it is true : and ought to alter certain current notions. Friedrich, flashing like clear steel upon evil doers and mendacious unjust persons and their works, is not by nature a cruel man, then, or an unfeeling, as Rumour reports ? Reader, no; far the reverse : and public Rumour, as you may have remarked, is apt to be an extreme blockhead, full of fury and stupidity on such points, and had much better hold its tongue till it know in some measure. Extreme sensibility is not sure to be a merit; though it is sure to be reckoned one by the greedy dim fellows looking idly on; but, in any case, the degree of it that dwelt, privately for the most part, in Friedrich was great : and to himself it seemed a sad rather than joyful fact' (v. 110).
That an observer of human nature at once so acute and profound as Mr. Carlyle should put up with such commonplace as this, when the defence of a favourite is concerned, only adds one more proof of the lowering effect of hero-worship on the intellect. Because Frederic was (as almost all men of genius are) of a very refined, excitable temper of mind, and easily moved even to tears, therefore the supposition that he could be "cruel and unfeeling' can be the result only of 'furious stupidity'! We beg Mr. Carlyle's pardon. Of the blackest monsters whom the annals of criminal justice have made immortal, rather a large proportion have been very sentimental persons, whose tears bave been ready on the slightest provocation. We will not enter into controversy with him on the inner depths of his favourite's moral character, as to which we entertain very different notions from himself. We will say but this—that if those who have judged of him the worst—who have esteemed him unfeeling, selfish, cold, false, bad-hearted, to an extent rarely equalled among distinguished men-if these are to be esteemed as refuted merely by