Potsdam, 27. August 1756.

Mitchell berichtet an Holdernesse, Berlin 30. August (very secret): „Last Friday, the 27th, I had the honour of a very long audience of the King of Prussia at Potsdam. He first desired me to read over the ans wer of the court of Vienna dated the 21st and afterwards some remarks he had made upon it,295-2 both of which your Lordship has a copy inclosed. He then asked me if I did not perceive there was something wanting in it, that it broke off abruptly after denying the existence of any offensive treaty with Russia, he added he had some reason to suspect that count Kaunitz had retrenched something that the Empress-Queen had said, for he was informed that the Empress-Queen had said to count Flemming, before he set out for Dresden, that she did not intend to attack him,295-3 if so, he could see no reason<296> why she might not declare it, that he was so much disposed to peace that any declaration would have satisfied him, provided he had found in it an assurance for his security, that he had read this answer over several times, but could find nothing of that sort in it, that, as a farther proof of his modération and aversion to war, he had directed his minister to ask once more an audience of the Empress to obtain this assurance, that, if it was granted, either verbally or in writing, without the formality of the English and French ministers being present,296-1 he would be satisfied, but, if refused, he had ordered his minister to depart forthwith from Vienna, as the inclosed instruction sent to Monsieur de Klinggræffen296-2 will fully inform your Lordship. The Postscript to this instruction, which he likewise gave me, is very remarkable as it shows his real way of thinking, after having received great provocation and after having been put to a prodigious expence. Though completely prepared for war, he is Willing to be quiet, if he can but be secure, and indeed this is perfectly agreeable to the whole tenor of his conversation, that even with success he cannot be a gainer by war, that, therefore, both, interest and inclination, lead him to wish for peace, so that he should be glad to hear propositions for peace, even after he had taken the field.

He then told me that he was to march next morning,296-3 and that Orders were given to the other corps of his troops to move at the same time …

As the King of Prussia has been pleased to communicate the instruction he has sent to Monsieur de Maltzahn his minister at Dresden,296-4 I send it inclosed together with a declaration296-5 to be published,296-6 as soon as his troops enter the Saxon territories. When I asked whether he had previously demanded a passage for his troops trough Saxony, he answered he had not, that he was afraid the Saxons might have called in the Austrians and thereby have disappointed the scheme he had laid, that nothing but the absolute necessity of his affairs made him take this Step.

I shall now endeavour to give your Lordship the best idea I can of the King of Prussia's scheme of Operations, as far as he was pleased to communicate it to me.

After his troops are assembled at Pirna — for he does not seem to expert Opposition from the Saxons — he will, without loss of time,<297> pass the mountains into Bohemia and march as far as Melnik, where the Elbe ceases to be navigable; here, having the navigation of the Elbe free behind him, he is sure of being supplied with provisions and other necessary stores, and, as he does not think that the Austrians will be soon ready to attack him, he imagines they will throw in a strong garrison into Prague, that, as the winter approaches, he can have good quarters in Bohemia, which will disorder the finances at Vienna and perhaps render that court more reasonable, that, if the Austrians should attempt to pass into Silesia, he can easily recall them by sending a detachment after them, and they must return to save the magazines they have297-1 in Bohemia, besides the marshal Schwerin is in Silesia at the head of almost 30,000 men.

The reasons the King of Prussia gives for his marching into Bohemia, are that, by being there, he can prevent the Austrians from getting between him and his own country, which they might have done, had he gone into Silesia; that, in the position he had chosen, he should be able to succour and to protect his own country, and, if things went on successfully, to be of use to Hannover if attacked, which he does not think can happen this year. He said he had drawn together his troops round Berlin to be ready to move all at once, that he had ordered several camps to be marked out, particularly that at Hornburg,297-2 which he never intended to occupy, that his design in this was pour donner le change à ses ennemis, who, he believed, had not yet penetrated his real intentions, that, for fear of discovering them, he had not only not asked for a passage trough Saxony but forbid his minister to say anything tili the 29th, that count Brühl would make a great clamour, but he knew how to quiet this gentleman, being possessed of many of his letters and negociations.

The King of Prussia computes the three divisions of his army, when joined, at 65,000 men, and he reckons that the Empress-Queen can bring into Bohemia upwards of 55,000. The King of Prussia's troops are perfectly complete, and he has lately added a hundred supernumeraries to every regiment. …Late in the evening on Friday he sent me the inclosed line of battle for His Majesty's use. —

Notwithstanding the favourable appearance at the court of Petersburg, there is intelligence that they have lately sent into Lithuania and Poland several persons297-3 to survey the roads, from which and other circumstances it is imagined that they intend either to attack Prussia or to march through Poland and make a diversion in Silesia, in case the Empress-Queen should been attacked in Bohemia; whichsoever of of these events may happen, the King of Prussia is prepared, having<298> left in Prussia the marshal Lehwaldt, an old and experienced officer, at the head of upwards of 30,000 men and, as mentioned before, the marshal Schwerin one of his best officers with nearly the same number of men in Silesia.

There is one danger more to which the King of Prussia finds himself exposed, and which, though foreseen, cannot be obviated, that is, if Prince Charles should march with the army he has from the Netherlands, into the dutchy of Cleves, he will make a very easy and a very safe campagne, the Prussian troops being almost all withdrawn from that neighbourhood and that country abandoned for the present.298-1

In conversation the King of Prussia said that he thought by next year that the court of Vienna would themselves attack Hanover, but did not say upon what he founded his opinion.

He recommended again our using every means to recover Holland,298-2 that it was plainly our interest to postpone commercial considérations, when our all was at stake, which it certainly was, while the union between the houses of Austria and Bourbon subsisted, that, if this union could be supposed sincère and lasting, the only question then would be who should be last undone.

Mitchell berichtet an Holdernesse, Berlin 30. August: „, …In the last audience … the King of Prussia told me that he was not only Willing to send a minister to Petersburg, if there was a proper opening on the part of the Czarina, but that he would even accept of her médiation jointly with His Majesty — in whose hands he knows his interests are safe — to make up the différences between him and the Empress-Queen. This offer, he thinks, may please the vanity of the court of Russia and will serve to strengthen he hands of the Great-Chancellor …“

Mitchell berichtet an Holdernesse, Berlin 30. August (private): „, …In my last conversation with the King of Prussia, he desired me to assure His Majesty that he would have a particular attention to the bailliages in Saxony that are mortgaged to the King, to secure them as much as possible from all the calamities of war.“

Nach den Ausfertigungen im Public Record Office zu London.


295-2 Nr. 7923.

295-3 Maltzahn berichtet, Dresden 24. August, über eine Unterredung mit dem Grafen Brühl: „Il m'a dit que, le comte Flemming ayant demandé la permission de faire un tour à Dresde … et ayant eu le 17 du mois présent une audience de l'Impératrice-Reine pour se congédier, il avait …témoigné à l'Impératrice-Reine combien son maître désirait que la guerre ne s'élevât pas entre Votre Majesté et l'Impératrice. Que cette Princesse lui avait répondu qu'elle donnerait une réponse au sieur de Klinggræffen dont elle espérait que Votre Majesté serait contente, qui serait qu'elle n'avait point songé ni ne songeait à L'attaquer.“

296-1 Vergl. S. 165.

296-2 Vergl. Nr. 7914.

296-3 Vergl. Nr. 7937.

296-4 Nr. 7915.

296-5 In dem Mitchell'schen Letter-Book (British Museum) „with a printed copy of the declaration etc.“

296-6 „Déclaration du Roi sur les motifs qui obligent Sa Majesté d'entrer avec son armée dans les États héréditaires du roi de Pologne, électeur de Saxe.“ Berlin 1756. Vergl. S. 322 Anm. 8.

297-1 In dem Mitchell'schen Letter-Book (British Museum) „leave“ .

297-2 Vergl. S. 25.

297-3 Vergl. S. 212. 213.

298-1 Vergl. S. 89. 243.

298-2 Vergl. S. 193.