James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Philip Mazzei, [7 December] 1780

From Philip Mazzei

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Water stains have entirely eliminated the last four lines of this letter and largely blotted out what appears to have been the first eight lines.

Firenze, [7. 10]bre 1780

Carmo: Amico

[Questa serv?]irà di supp[lemento alla pr?]ecedente d[el 30 del passato?] unicamente   [un’aneddoto che potrebbe causare una revoluzione?]

della Regina [d’Ungheria]

della guerra [al me questo?] ultimo   [L’Imperatore è tutto di?] contrario   nel’occhi il Rè [di Prussia in?] posse[so a?] mig[lior] parte della Silesia. Non è contento del   della Francia   [in] tempo delle dispute intorno alla Baviera, e Seguet[asse?] una guerra in Germania, se la Francia el’Inghilterra ci si mescolassero inclinerebbe a collegarsi colla seconda. Se potessi dirvi da chi sono Stato informato delle disposizioni dell’Imperatore considerereste come una dimonstrazione geometrica. Come tale potete annunziarla al Congresso, e quando vi piaccia potete comunicare anche Le mie congetture che Sono le Seguenti. Il Rè di Prussia non può essere unito all’Imperatore, e La Russia non Si Staccherà dalla Prussia. Gli Olandesi, medessimi Giudei d’Europa, prenderanno schiaffi e calci in culo in infinito prima di romper La Neutralità, che è sempre vantaggiosa al Loro interesse, non ostante le prese che gl’Inglesi fanno dei Loro Bastimenti; ed [essen?]do forzati ad entrare in guerra, non converrebbe Loro di mettersi contro La Russia e La Prussia, dalle quali potrebbero essere si facilmente oppressi. La Russia à 30 Vascelli di Linea, e l’Imperatore non ne à uno; e Se La Danimarca si unisse all’Inghilterra, La Svezia che non Sarà disgiunto dalla Francia non è inferiore in forze marittime. Gli affari di Germania non posson progiudicare ai vantaggi, che potremo ricavar dall’Italia Se prendiamo i passi opportuni, quantunque il Granduca, fratello dell’Imperatore, per ragioni

Vostro Umilmo. Servo e Amico Vero

Filippo Mazzei

Florence, [7 December] 17801

Dear Friend

This will serve as a supplement to my preceding letter of the 30th of last month2   a story that could produce a revolution

of the Queen of Hungary

of the war [and in this latter regard it appears to me that the Emperor is completely opposed   the King of Prussia?] in possession of the greater part of Silesia. He is not satisfied with   of France   in the time of the disputes over Bavaria, and [should?] a war in Germany follow, if France and England were to become involved in it, he would be inclined to ally himself with the latter.3 If I were to tell you by whom I have been informed of the inclinations of the Emperor, the result could be regarded as a geometrical demonstration. You can announce it to the Congress as such, and when you wish, you can also communicate my conjectures, which are as follows. The King of Prussia cannot be united with the Emperor, and Russia will not detach herself from Prussia.4 The Dutch, those Jews of Europe, will accept an infinite number of slaps and kicks in the posterior before breaking their Neutrality,5 which is always advantageous to Their interests, in spite of the fact that the English seize Their Ships; and being forced to enter a war, it would not profit them to place themselves in opposition to Russia and Prussia, by whom they would easily be defeated. Russia has 30 Ships of the Line, and the Emperor does not have even one; and if Denmark should unite with England, Sweden, which will not detach herself from France, is not inferior in maritime forces. The affairs of Germany cannot be detrimental to the advantages that we will be able to procure in Italy if we take the proper steps, though the Grand Duke, the brother of the Emperor,6 for reasons

Your Humble Servant and True Friend

Philip Mazzei

1In a letter to JM on 13 March 1782 (misdated the 15th as printed on pp. 77–80 of Richard C. Garlick, Jr., Philip Mazzei), Mazzei recalled that in his letter of 7 December 1780 he had commented about the “death of the Queen of Hungary and … the political system of the Northern Powers.” This remark serves to date the present letter and also to make almost certain that its completely illegible third line mentioned Maria Theresa’s death late in November 1780.

3Probably the sense of what Mazzei wrote was something as follows: “This supplementary letter will deal only with the possible effects of Maria Theresa’s death in bringing about a revolutionary realignment of European powers. Emperor Joseph II, the successor of Maria, is completely opposed to having King Frederick the Great of Prussia possess most of Silesia. The Emperor was not satisfied with the conduct of France during his largely unrewarding dispute (1777–1779) with Frederick the Great over the Bavarian Electorate issue. If Joseph’s hope of recovering Silesia, mostly lost to Frederick in 1742, should precipitate a new war between Austria and Prussia, and if France and England become involved in the conflict, Joseph will be inclined to ally with England rather than France.”

4Mazzei’s analysis was not trustworthy. There was no war between Austria and Prussia over Silesia. Joseph II and Catherine the Great of Russia co-operated between 1781 and 1783 in an attempt to dismember the Ottoman Empire but were unsuccessful largely as a result of the skilful diplomacy of the French foreign minister Charles Gravier, Comte de Vergennes.

5Here Mazzei had in mind the League of Armed Neutrality. As mentioned above, Britain declared war on the Netherlands a few days after the date of this letter (Reverend James Madison to JM, 3 August 1780, n. 3; JM to Pendleton, 7 November 1780, nn. 2 and 3).

6The Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1765 to 1790 was Leopold I. In 1790 he succeeded his brother, Emperor Joseph II of Austria. For the hoped-for “advantages” to accrue to Virginia from the mission of Mazzei, see his letter to JM, 13 June 1779, n. 2.

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