HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH II OF PRUSSIA
FREDERICK THE GREAT
By Thomas Carlyle
Chapter I. — MANSION OF REINSBERG.
Chapter II. — OF VOLTAIRE AND THE LITERARY CORRESPONDENCES.
Chapter III. — CROWN-PRINCE MAKES A MORNING CALL.
Chapter IV. — NEWS OF THE DAY.
Chapter V. — VISIT AT LOO.
SECKENDORF GETS LODGED IN GRATZ.
THE EAR OF JENKINS RE-EMERGES.
Chapter VI. — LAST YEAR OF REINSBERG; JOURNEY TO PREUSSEN.
FRIEDRICH IN PREUSSEN AGAIN; AT THE STUD OF TRAKEHNEN. A TRAGICALLY GREAT EVENT COMING ON.
Chapter VII. — LAST YEAR OF REINSBERG: TRANSIT OF BALTIMORE AND OTHER PERSONS AND THINGS.
TURK WAR ENDS; SPANISH WAR BEGINS. A WEDDING IN PETERSBURG.
Chapter VIII. — DEATH OF FRIEDRICH WILHELM.
BOOK X. — AT REINSBERG. - 1736-1740.
Chapter I. — MANSION OF REINSBERG.
On the Crown-Prince's Marriage, three years ago, when the AMT or Government-District RUPPIN, with its incomings, was assigned to him for revenue, we heard withal of a residence getting ready. Hint had fallen from the Prince, that Reinsberg, an old Country-seat, standing with its Domain round it in that little Territory of Ruppin, and probably purchasable as was understood, might be pleasant, were it once his and well put in repair. Which hint the kind paternal Majesty instantly proceeded to act upon. He straightway gave orders for the purchase of Reinsberg; concluded said purchase, on fair terms, after some months' bargaining; [23d October, 1733, order given,—16th March, 1734, purchase completed (Preuss, i. 75).]—and set his best Architect, one Kemeter, to work, in concert with the Crown-Prince, to new-build and enlarge the decayed Schloss of Reinsberg into such a Mansion as the young Royal Highness and his Wife would like.
Kemeter has been busy, all this while; a solid, elegant, yet frugal builder: and now the main body of the Mansion is complete, or nearly so, the wings and adjuncts going steadily forward; Mansion so far ready that the Royal Highnesses can take up their abode in it. Which they do, this Autumn, 1736; and fairly commence Joint Housekeeping, in a permanent manner. Hitherto it has been intermittent only: hitherto the Crown-Princess has resided in their Berlin Mansion, or in her own Country-house at Schonhausen; Husband not habitually with her, except when on leave of absence from Ruppin, in Carnival time or for shorter periods. At Ruppin his life has been rather that of a bachelor, or husband abroad on business; up to this time. But now at Reinsberg they do kindle the sacred hearth together; "6th August, 1736," the date of that important event. They have got their Court about them, dames and cavaliers more than we expected; they have arranged the furnitures of their existence here on fit scale, and set up their Lares and Penates on a thrifty footing. Majesty and Queen come out on a visit to them next month; [4th September, 1736 (Ib.).]—raising the sacred hearth into its first considerable blaze, and crowning the operation in a human manner.
And so there has a new epoch arisen for the Crown-Prince and his Consort. A new, and much-improved one. It lasted into the fourth year; rather improving all the way: and only Kingship, which, if a higher sphere, was a far less pleasant one, put an end to it. Friedrich's happiest time was this at Reinsberg; the little Four Years of Hope, Composure, realizable Idealism: an actual snatch of something like the Idyllic, appointed him in a life-pilgrimage consisting otherwise of realisms oftenest contradictory enough, and sometimes of very grim complexion. He is master of his work, he is adjusted to the practical conditions set him; conditions once complied with, daily work done, he lives to the Muses, to the spiritual improvements, to the social enjoyments; and has, though not without flaws of ill-weather,—from the Tobacco-Parliament perhaps rather less than formerly, and from the Finance-quarter perhaps rather more,—a sunny time. His innocent insipidity of a Wife, too, appears to have been happy. She had the charm of youth, of good looks; a wholesome perfect loyalty of character withal; and did not "take to pouting," as was once apprehended of her, but pleasantly gave and received of what was going. This poor Crown-Princess, afterwards Queen, has been heard, in her old age, reverting, in a touching transient way, to the glad days she had at Reinsberg. Complaint openly was never heard from her, in any kind of days; but these doubtless were the best of her life.
Reinsberg, we said, is in the AMT Ruppin; naturally under the Crown-Prince's government at present: the little Town or Village of Reinsberg stands about, ten miles north of the Town Ruppin;—not quite a third-part as big as Ruppin is in our time, and much more pleasantly situated. The country about is of comfortable, not unpicturesque character; to be distinguished almost as beautiful, in that region of sand and moor. Lakes abound in it; tilled fields; heights called "hills;" and wood of fair growth,—one reads of "beech-avenues" of "high linden-avenues:"—a country rather of the ornamented sort, before the Prince with his improvements settled there. Many lakes and lakelets in it, as usual hereabouts; the loitering waters straggle, all over that region, into meshes of lakes. Reinsberg itself, Village and Schloss, stands on the edge of a pleasant Lake, last of a mesh of such: the SUMMARY, or outfall, of which, already here a good strong brook or stream, is called the RHEIN, Rhyn or Rein; and gives name to the little place. We heard of the Rein at Ruppin: it is there counted as a kind of river; still more, twenty miles farther down, where it falls into the Havel, on its way to the Elbe. The waters, I think, are drab-colored, not peat-brown: and here, at the source, or outfall from that mesh of lakes, where Reinsberg is, the country seems to be about the best;—sufficient, in picturesqueness and otherwise, to satisfy a reasonable man.
The little Town is very old; but, till the Crown-Prince settled there, had no peculiar vitality in it. I think there are now some potteries, glass-manufactories: Friedrich Wilhelm, just while the Crown-Prince was removing thither, settled a first Glass-work there; which took good root, and rose to eminence in the crystal, Bohemian-crystal, white-glass, cut-glass, and other commoner lines, in the Crown-Prince's time. [Bescheibung des Lutschlosses &c. zu Reinsberg (Berlin, 1788); Author, a "Lieutenant Hennert," thoroughly acquainted with his subject.]
Reinsberg stands on the east or southeast side of its pretty Lake: Lake is called "the GRINERICK SEE" (as all those remote Lakes have their names); Mansion is between the Town and Lake. A Mansion fronting, we may say, four ways; for it is of quadrangular form, with a wet moat from the Lake begirdling it, and has a spacious court for interior: but the principal entrance is from the Town side; for the rest, the Building is ashlar on all sides, front and rear. Stands there, handsomely abutting on the Lake with two Towers, a Tower at each angle, which it has on that lakeward side; and looks, over Reinsberg, and its steeple rising amid friendly umbrage which hides the house-tops, towards the rising sun. Townward there is room for a spacious esplanade; and then for the stables, outbuildings, well masked; which still farther shut off the Town. To this day, Reinsberg stands with the air of a solid respectable Edifice; still massive, rain-tight, though long since deserted by the Princeships,—by Friedrich nearly sixscore years ago, and nearly threescore by Prince Henri, Brother of Friedrich's, who afterwards had it. Last accounts I got were, of talk there had risen of planting an extensive NORMAL-SCHOOL there; which promising plan had been laid aside again for the time.
The old Schloss, residence of the Bredows and other feudal people for a long while, had good solid masonry in it, and around it orchards, potherb gardens; which Friedrich Wilhelm's Architects took good care to extend and improve, not to throw away: the result of their art is what we see, a beautiful Country-House, what might be called a Country-Palace with all its adjuncts;—and at a rate of expense which would fill English readers, of this time, with amazement. Much is admirable to us as we study Reinsberg, what it had been, what it became, and how it was made; but nothing more so than the small modicum of money it cost. To our wondering thought, it seems as if the shilling, in those parts, were equal to the guinea in these; and the reason, if we ask it, is by no means flattering altogether. "Change in the value of money?" Alas, reader, no; that is not above the fourth part of the phenomenon. Three-fourths of the phenomenon are change in the methods of administering money,—difference between managing it with wisdom and veracity on both sides, and managing it with unwisdom and mendacity on both sides. Which is very great indeed; and infinitely sadder than any one, in these times, will believe!—But we cannot dwell on this consideration. Let the reader take it with him, as a constant accompaniment in whatever work of Friedrich Wilhelm's or of Friedrich his Son's, he now or at any other time may be contemplating. Impious waste, which means disorder and dishonesty, and loss of much other than money to all, parties,—disgusting aspect of human creatures, master and servant, working together as if they were not human,—will be spared him in those foreign departments; and in an English heart thoughts will arise, perhaps, of a wholesome tendency, though very sad, as times are.
It would but weary the reader to describe this Crown-Prince Mansion; which, by desperate study of our abstruse materials, it is possible to do with auctioneer minuteness. There are engraved VIEWS of Reinsberg and its Environs; which used to lie conspicuous in the portfolios of collectors,—-which I have not seen. [See Hennert, just cited, for the titles of them.] Of the House itself, engraved Frontages (FACADES), Ground-plans, are more accessible; and along with them, descriptions which are little descriptive,—wearisomely detailed, and as it were dark by excess of light (auctioneer light) thrown on them. The reader sees, in general, a fine symmetrical Block of Buildings, standing in rectangular shape, in the above locality;—about two hundred English feet, each, the two longer sides measure, the Townward and the Lakeward, on their outer front: about a hundred and thirty, each, the two shorter; or a hundred and fifty, taking in their Towers just spoken of. The fourth or Lakeward side, however, which is one of the longer pair, consists mainly of "Colonnade;" spacious Colonnade "with vases and statues;" catching up the outskirts of said Towers, and handsomely uniting everything.
Beyond doubt, a dignified, substantial pile of stone-work; all of good proportions. Architecture everywhere of cheerfully serious, solidly graceful character; all of sterling ashlar; the due RISALITES (projecting spaces) with their attics and statues atop, the due architraves, cornices and corbels,—in short the due opulence of ornament being introduced, and only the due. Genuine sculptors, genuine painters, artists have been busy; and in fact all the suitable fine arts, and all the necessary solid ones, have worked together, with a noticeable fidelity, comfortable to the very beholder to this day. General height is about forty feet; two stories of ample proportions: the Towers overlooking them are sixty feet in height. Extent of outer frontage, if you go all round, and omit the Colonnade, will be five hundred feet and more: this, with the rearward face, is a thousand feet of room frontage:—fancy the extent of lodging space. For "all the kitchens and appurtenances are underground;" the "left front" (which is a new part of the Edifice) rising comfortably over these. Windows I did not count; but they must go high up into the Hundreds. No end to lodging space. Way in a detached side-edifice subsequently built, called Cavalier House, I read of there being, for one item, "fifty lodging rooms," and for another "a theatre." And if an English Duke of Trumps were to look at the bills for all that, his astonishment would be extreme, and perhaps in a degree painful and salutary to him.
In one of these Towers the Crown-Prince has his Library: a beautiful apartment; nothing wanting to it that the arts could furnish, "ceiling done by Pesne" with allegorical geniuses and what not,—looks out on mere sky, mere earth and water in an ornamental state: silent as in Elysium. It is there we are to fancy the Correspondence written, the Poetries and literary industries going on. There, or stepping down for a turn in the open air, or sauntering meditatively under the Colonnade with its statues and vases (where weather is no object), one commands the Lake, with its little tufted Islands, "Remus Island" much famed among them, and "high beech-woods" on the farther side. The Lake is very pretty, all say; lying between you and the sunset;—with perhaps some other lakelet, or solitary pool in the wilderness, many miles away, "revealing itself as a cup of molten gold," at that interesting moment. What the Book-Collection was, in the interior, I know not except by mere guess.
The Crown-Princess's Apartment, too, which remained unaltered at the last accounts had of it, [From Hennert, namely, in 1778.] is very fine;—take the anteroom for specimen: "This fine room," some twenty feet height of ceiling, "has six windows; three of them, in the main front, looking towards the Town, the other three, towards the Interior Court. The light from these windows is heightened by mirrors covering all the piers (SCHAFTE, interspaces of the walls), to an uncommonly splendid pitch; and shows the painting of the ceiling, which again is by the famous Pesne, to much perfection. The Artist himself, too, has managed to lay on his colors there so softly, and with such delicate skill, that the light-beams seem to prolong themselves in the painted clouds and air, as if it were the real sky you had overhead." There in that cloud-region "Mars is being disarmed by the Love-goddesses, and they are sporting with his weapons. He stretches out his arm towards the Goddess, who looks upon him with fond glances. Cupids are spreading out a draping." That is Pesne's luxurious performance in the ceiling.—"Weapon-festoons, in basso-relievo, gilt, adorn the walls of this room; and two Pictures, also by Pesne, which represent, in life size, the late King and Queen [our good friends Friedrich Wilhelm and his Sophie], are worthy of attention. Over each of the doors, you find in low-relief the Profiles of Hannibal, Pompey, Scipio, Caesar, introduced as Medallions."
All this is very fine; but all this is little to another ceiling, in some big Saloon elsewhere, Music-saloon, I think: Black Night, making off, with all her sickly dews, at one end of the ceiling; and at the other end, the Steeds of Phoebus bursting forth, and the glittering shafts of Day,—with Cupids, Love-goddesses, War-gods, not omitting Bacchus and his vines, all getting beautifully awake in consequence. A very fine room indeed;—used as a Music-saloon, or I know not what,—and the ceiling of it almost an ideal, say the connoisseurs.
Endless gardens, pavilions, grottos, hermitages, orangeries, artificial ruins, parks and pleasances surround this favored spot and its Schloss; nothing wanting in it that a Prince's establishment needs,—except indeed it be hounds, for which this Prince never had the least demand.
Except the old Ruppin duties, which imply continual journeyings thither, distance only a morning's ride; except these, and occasional commissions from Papa, Friedrich is left master of his time and pursuits in this new Mansion. There are visits to Potsdam, periodical appearances at Berlin; some Correspondence to keep the Tobacco-Parliament in tune. But Friedrich's taste is for the Literatures, Philosophies: a—young Prince bent seriously to cultivate his mind; to attain some clear knowledge of this world, so all-important to him. And he does seriously read, study and reflect a good deal; his main recreations, seemingly, are Music, and the converse of well-informed, friendly men. In Music we find him particularly rich. Daily, at a fixed hour of the afternoon, there is concert held; the reader has seen in what kind of room: and if the Artists entertained here for that function were enumerated (high names, not yet forgotten in the Musical world), it would still more astonish readers. I count them to the number of twenty or nineteen; and mention only that "the two Brothers Graun" and "the two Brothers Benda" were of the lot; suppressing four other Fiddlers of eminence, and "a Pianist who is known to everybody." [Hennert, p. 21.] The Prince has a fine sensibility to Music: does himself, with thrilling adagios on the flute, join in these harmonious acts; and, no doubt, if rightly vigilant against the Nonsenses, gets profit, now and henceforth, from this part of his resources.
He has visits, calls to make, on distinguished persons within reach; he has much Correspondence, of a Literary or Social nature. For instance, there is Suhm the Saxon Envoy translating Wolf's Philosophy into French for him; sending it in fascicles; with endless Letters to and from, upon it,—which were then highly interesting, but are now dead to every reader. The Crown-Prince has got a Post-Office established at Reinsberg; leathern functionary of some sort comes lumbering round, southward, "from the Mecklenburg quarter twice a week, and goes by Fehrbellin," for the benefit of his Correspondences. Of his calls in the neighborhood, we mean to show the reader one sample, before long; and only one.
There are Lists given us of the Prince's "Court" at Reinsberg; and one reads, and again reads, the dreariest unmemorable accounts of them; but cannot, with all one's industry, attain any definite understanding of what they were employed in, day after day, at Reinsberg:—still more are their salaries and maintenance a mystery to us, in that frugal establishment. There is Wolden for Hofmarschall, our old Custrin friend; there is Colonel Senning, old Marlborough Colonel with the wooden leg, who taught Friedrich his drillings and artillery-practices in boyhood, a fine sagacious old gentleman this latter. There is a M. Jordan, Ex-Preacher, an ingenious Prussian-Frenchman, still young, who acts as "Reader and Librarian;" of whom we shall hear a good deal more. "Intendant" is Captain (Ex-Captain) Knobelsdorf; a very sensible accomplished man, whom we saw once at Baireuth; who has been to Italy since, and is now returned with beautiful talents for Architecture: it is he that now undertakes the completing of Reinsberg, [Hennert, p. 29.] which he will skilfully accomplish in the course of the next three years. Twenty Musicians on wind or string; Painters, Antoine Pesne but one of them; Sculptors, Glume and others of eminence; and Hof-Cavaliers, to we know not what extent:—how was such a Court kept up, in harmonious free dignity, and no halt in its finances, or mean pinch of any kind visible? The Prince did get in debt; but not deep, and it was mainly for the tall recruits he had to purchase. His money-accounts are by no means fully known to me: but I should question if his expenditure (such is my guess) ever reached 3,000 pounds a year; and am obliged to reflect more and more, as the ancient Cato did, what an admirable revenue frugality is!
Many of the Cavaliers, I find, for one thing, were of the Regiment Goltz; that was one evident economy. "Rittmeister van Chasot," as the Books call him: readers saw that Chasot flying to Prince Eugene, and know him since the Siege of Philipsburg. He is not yet Rittmeister, or Captain of Horse, as he became; but is of the Ruppin Garrison; Hof-Cavalier; "attended Friedrich on his late Prussian journey;" and is much a favorite, when he can be spared from Ruppin. Captain Wylich, afterwards a General of mark; the Lieutenant Buddenbrock who did the parson-charivari at Ruppin, but is now reformed from those practices: all these are of Goltz. Colonel Keyserling, not of Goltz, nor in active military duty here, is a friend of very old standing; was officially named as "Companion" to the Prince, a long while back; and got into trouble on his account in the disastrous Ante-Custrin or Flight Epoch: one of the Prince's first acts, when he got pardoned after Custrin, was to beg for the pardon of this Keyserling; and now he has him here, and is very fond of him. A Courlander, of good family, this Keyserling; of good gifts too,—which, it was once thought, would be practically sublime; for he carried off all manner of college prizes, and was the Admirable-Crichton of Konigsberg University and the Graduates there. But in the end they proved to be gifts of the vocal sort rather: and have led only to what we see. A man, I should guess, rather of buoyant vivacity than of depth or strength in intellect or otherwise. Excessively buoyant, ingenious; full of wit, kindly exuberance; a loyal-hearted, gay-tempered man, and much a favorite in society as well as with the Prince. If we were to dwell on Reinsberg, Keyserling would come prominently forward.
Major van Stille, ultimately Major-General von Stille, I should also mention: near twenty years older than the Prince; a wise thoughtful soldier (went, by permission, to the Siege of Dantzig lately, to improve himself); a man capable of rugged service, when the time comes. His military writings were once in considerable esteem with professional men; and still impress a lay reader with favorable notions towards Stille, as a man of real worth and sense. [Campagnes du Roi de Prusse;—a posthumous Book; ANTERIOR to the Seven-Years War.]
OF MONSIEUR JORDAN AND THE LITERARY SET.
There is, of course, a Chaplain in the Establishment: a Reverend "M. Deschamps;" who preaches to them all,—in French no doubt. Friedrich never hears Deschamps: Friedrich is always over at Ruppin on Sundays; and there "himself reads a sermon to the Garrison," as part of the day's duties. Reads finely, in a melodious feeling manner, says Formey, who can judge: "even in his old days, he would incidentally," when some Emeritus Parson, like Formey, chanced to be with him, "roll out choice passages from Bossuet, from Massillon," in a voice and with a look, which would have been perfection in the pulpit, thinks Formey. [Souvenirs d'un Citoyen (2de edition, Paris, 1797), i. 37.]
M. Jordan, though he was called "LECTEUR (Reader)," did not read to him, I can perceive; but took charge of the Books; busied himself honestly to be useful in all manner of literary or quasi-literary ways. He was, as his name indicates, from the French-refugee department; a recent acquisition, much valued at Reinsberg. As he makes a figure afterwards, we had better mark him a little.
Jordan's parents were wealthy religious persons, in trade at Berlin; this Jordan (Charles Etienne, age now thirty-six) was their eldest son. It seems they had destined him from birth, consulting their own pious feelings merely, to be a Preacher of the Gospel; the other sons, all of them reckoned clever too, were brought up to secular employments. And preach he, this poor Charles Etienne, accordingly did; what best Gospel he had; in an honest manner, all say,—though never with other than a kind of reluctance on the part of Nature, forced out of her course. He had wedded, been clergyman in two successive country places; when his wife died, leaving him one little daughter, and a heart much overset by that event. Friends, wealthy Brothers probably, had pushed him out into the free air, in these circumstances: "Take a Tour; Holland, England; feel the winds blowing, see the sun shining, as in times past: it will do you good!"
Jordan, in the course of his Tour, came to composure on several points. He found that, by frugality, by wise management of some peculium already his, his little Daughter and he might have quietness at Berlin, and the necessary food and raiment;—and, on the whole, that he would altogether cease preaching, and settle down there, among his Books, in a frugal manner. Which he did;—and was living so, when the Prince, searching for that kind of person, got tidings of him. And here he is at Reinsberg; bustling about, in a brisk, modestly frank and cheerful manner: well liked by everybody; by his Master very well and ever better, who grew into real regard, esteem and even friendship for him, and has much Correspondence, of a freer kind than is common to him, with little Jordan, so long as they lived together. Jordan's death, ten years hence, was probably the one considerable pain he had ever given his neighbors, in this the ultimate section of his life.
I find him described, at Reinsberg, as a small nimble figure, of Southern-French aspect; black, uncommonly bright eyes; and a general aspect of adroitness, modesty, sense, sincerity; good prognostics, which on acquaintance with the man were pleasantly fulfilled.
For the sake of these considerations, I fished out, from the Old-Book Catalogues and sea of forgetfulness, some of the poor Books he wrote; especially a Voyage Litteraire, [Histoire d'un Voyage Litteraire fait, en MDCCXXXIII., en France, en Angleterre et en Hollande (2de edition, a La Haye, 1736).] Journal of that first Sanitary Excursion or Tour he took, to get the clouds blown from his mind. A LITERARY VOYAGE which awakens a kind of tragic feeling; being itself dead, and treating of matters which are all gone dead. So many immortal writers, Dutch chiefly, whom Jordan is enabled to report as having effloresced, or being soon to effloresce, in such and such forms, of Books important to be learned: leafy, blossomy Forest of Literature, waving glorious in the then sunlight to Jordan;—and it lies all now, to Jordan and us, not withered only, but abolished; compressed into a film of indiscriminate PEAT. Consider what that peat is made of, O celebrated or uncelebrated reader, and take a moral from Jordan's Book! Other merit, except indeed clearness and commendable brevity, the Voyage Litteraire or other little Books of Jordan's have not now. A few of his Letters to Friedrich, which exist, are the only writings with the least life left in them, and this an accidental life, not momentous to him or us. Dryasdust informs me, "Abbe Jordan, alone of the Crown-Prince's cavaliers, sleeps in the Town of Reinsberg, not in the Schloss:" and if I ask, Why?—there is no answer. Probably his poor little Daughterkin was beside him there?—
We have to say of Friedrich's Associates, that generally they were of intelligent type, each of them master of something or other, and capable of rational discourse upon that at least. Integrity, loyalty of character, was indispensable; good humor, wit if it could be had, were much in request. There was no man of shining distinction there; but they were the best that could be had, and that is saying all. Friedrich cannot be said, either as Prince or as King, to have been superlatively successful in his choice of associates. With one single exception, to be noticed shortly, there is not one of them whom we should now remember except for Friedrich's sake;—uniformly they are men whom it is now a weariness to hear of, except in a cursory manner. One man of shining parts he had, and one only; no man ever of really high and great mind. The latter sort are not so easy to get; rarely producible on the soil of this Earth! Nor is it certain how Friedrich might have managed with one of this sort, or he with Friedrich;—though Friedrich unquestionably would have tried, had the chance offered. For he loved intellect as few men on the throne, or off it, ever did; and the little he could gather of it round him often seems to me a fact tragical rather than otherwise.
With the outer Berlin social world, acting and reacting, Friedrich has his connections, which obscurely emerge on us now and then. Literary Eminences, who are generally of Theological vesture; any follower of Philosophy, especially if he be of refined manners withal, or known in fashionable life, is sure to attract him; and gains ample recognition at Reinsberg or on Town-visits. But the Berlin Theological or Literary world at that time, still more the Berlin Social, like a sunk extinct object, continues very dim in those old records; and to say truth, what features we have of it do not invite to miraculous efforts for farther acquaintance. Venerable Beausobre, with his History of the Manicheans, [Histoire critique de Manichee et du Manicheisme: wrote also Remarques &c. sur le Nouveau Testament, which were once famous; Histoire de la Reformation; &c. &c. He is Beausobre SENIOR; there were two Sons (one of them born in second wedlock, after Papa was 70), who were likewise given to writing.—See Formey, Souvenirs d'un Citoyen since, in Toland and the Republican Queen's time, as a light of the world. He is now fourscore, grown white as snow; very serene, polite, with a smack of French noblesse in him, perhaps a smack of affectation traceable too. The Crown-Prince, on one of his Berlin visits, wished to see this Beausobre; got a meeting appointed, in somebody's rooms "in the French College," and waited for the venerable man. Venerable man entered, loftily serene as a martyr Preacher of the Word, something of an ancient Seigneur de Beausobre in him, too; for the rest, soft as sunset, and really with fine radiances, in a somewhat twisted state, in that good old mind of his. "What have you been reading lately, M. de Beausobre?" said the Prince, to begin conversation. "Ah, Monseigneur, I have just risen from reading the sublimest piece of writing that exists."—"And what?" "The exordium of St. John's Gospel: In the Beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God, and the Word was—" Which somewhat took the Prince by surprise, as Formey reports; though he rallied straightway, and got good conversation out of the old gentleman. To whom, we perceive, he writes once or twice, [OEuvres de Frederic, 121-126. Dates are all of 1737; the last of Beausobre's years.]—a copy of his own verses to correct, on one occasion,—and is very respectful and considerate.
Formey tells us of another French sage, personally known to the Prince since Boyhood; for he used to be about the Palace, doing something. This is one La Croze; Professor of, I think, "Philosophy" in the French College: sublime Monster of Erudition, at that time; forgotten now, I fear, by everybody. Swag-bellied, short of wind; liable to rages, to utterances of a coarse nature; a decidedly ugly, monstrous and rather stupid kind of man. Knew twenty languages, in a coarse inexact way. Attempted deep kinds of discourse, in the lecture-room and elsewhere; but usually broke off into endless welters of anecdote, not always of cleanly nature; and after every two or three words, a desperate sigh, not for sorrow, but on account of flabbiness and fat. Formey gives a portraiture of him; not worth copying farther. The same Formey, standing one day somewhere on the streets of Berlin, was himself, he cannot doubt, SEEN by the Crown-Prince in passing; "who asked M. Jordan, who that was," and got answer:—is not that a comfortable fact? Nothing farther came of it;—respectable Ex-Parson Formey, though ever ready with his pen, being indeed of very vapid nature, not wanted at Reinsberg, as we can guess.
There is M. Achard, too, another Preacher, supreme of his sort, in the then Berlin circles; to whom or from whom a Letter or two exist. Letters worthless, if it were not for one dim indication: That, on inquiry, the Crown-Prince had been consulting this supreme Achard on the difficulties of Orthodoxy; [OEuvres de Frederic, xvi. pp. 112-117: date, March-June, 1736.] and had given him texts, or a text, to preach from. Supreme Achard did not abolish the difficulties for his inquiring Prince,—who complains respectfully that "his faith is weak," and leaves us dark as to particulars. This Achard passage is almost the only hint we have of what might have been an important chapter: Friedrich's Religious History at Reinsberg. The expression "weak faith" I take to be meant not in mockery, but in ingenuous regret and solicitude; much painful fermentation, probably, on the religious question in those Reinsberg years! But the old "GNADENWAHL" business, the Free-Grace controversy, had taught him to be cautious as to what he uttered on those points. The fermentation, therefore, had to go on under cover; what the result of it was, is notorious enough; though the steps of the process are not in any point known.
Enough now of such details. Outwardly or inwardly, there is no History, or almost none, to be had of this Reinsberg Period; the extensive records of it consisting, as usual, mainly of chaotic nugatory matter, opaque to the mind of readers. There is copious correspondence of the Crown-Prince, with at least dates to it for most part: but this, which should be the main resource, proves likewise a poor one; the Crown-Prince's Letters, now or afterwards, being almost never of a deep or intimate quality; and seldom turning on events or facts at all, and then not always on facts interesting, on facts clearly apprehensible to us in that extinct element.
The Thing, we know always, IS there; but vision of the Thing is only to be had faintly, intermittently. Dim inane twilight, with here and there a transient SPARK falling somewhither in it;—you do at last, by desperate persistence, get to discern outlines, features:—"The Thing cannot always have been No-thing," you reflect! Outlines, features:—and perhaps, after all, those are mostly what the reader wants on this occasion.
Chapter II. — OF VOLTAIRE AND THE LITERARY CORRESPONDENCES.
One of Friedrich's grand purposes at Reinsberg, to himself privately the grandest there, which he follows with constant loyalty and ardor, is that of scaling the heights of the Muses' Hill withal; of attaining mastership, discipleship, in Art and Philosophy;—or in candor let us call it, what it truly was, that of enlightening and fortifying himself with clear knowledge, clear belief, on all sides; and acquiring some spiritual panoply in which to front the coming practicalities of life. This, he feels well, will be a noble use of his seclusion in those still places; and it must be owned, he struggles and endeavors towards this, with great perseverance, by all the methods in his power, here, or wherever afterwards he might be.
Here at Reinsberg, one of his readiest methods, his pleasantest if not his usefulest, is that of getting into correspondence with the chief spirits of his time. Which accordingly he forthwith sets about, after getting into Reinsberg, and continues, as we shall see, with much assiduity. Rollin, Fontenelle, and other French lights of the then firmament,—his Letters to them exist; and could be given in some quantity: but it is better not. They are intrinsically the common Letters on such occasions: "O sublime demi-god of literature, how small are princely distinctions to such a glory as thine; thou who enterest within the veil of the temple, and issuest with thy face shining!"—To which the response is: "Hm, think you so, most happy, gracious, illustrious Prince, with every convenience round you, and such prospects ahead? Well, thank you, at any rate,—and, as the Irish say, more power to your Honor's Glory!" This really is nearly all that said Sets of Letters contain; and except perhaps the Voltaire Set, none of them give symptoms of much capacity to contain more.
Certainly there was no want of Literary Men discernible from Reinsberg at that time; and the young Prince corresponds with a good many of them; temporal potentate saluting spiritual, from the distance,—in a way highly interesting to the then parties, but now without interest, except of the reflex kind, to any creature. A very cold and empty portion, this, of the Friedrich Correspondence; standing there to testify what his admiration was for literary talent, or the great reputation of such; but in itself uninstructive utterly, and of freezing influence on the now living mind. Most of those French lights of the then firmament are gone out. Forgotten altogether; or recognized, like Rollin and others, for polished dullards, university big-wigs, and long-winded commonplace persons, deserving nothing but oblivion. To Montesquieu,—not yet called "Baron de Montesquieu" with ESPRIT DES LOIS, but "M. de Secondat" with (Anonymous) LETTRES PERSANES, and already known to the world for a person of sharp audacious eyesight,—it does not appear that Friedrich addressed any Letter, now or afterwards. No notice of Montesquieu; nor of some others, the absence of whom is a little unexpected. Probably it was want of knowledge mainly; for his appetite was not fastidious at this time. And certainly he did hit the centre of the mark, and get into the very kernel of French literature, when, in 1736, hardly yet established in his new quarters, he addressed himself to the shining figure known to us as "Arouet Junior" long since, and now called M. DE VOLTAIRE; which latter is still a name notable in Friedrich's History and that of Mankind. Friedrich's first Letter, challenging Voltaire to correspondence, dates itself 8th August, 1736; and Voltaire's Answer—the Reinsberg Household still only in its second month—was probably the brightest event which had yet befallen there.
On various accounts it will behoove us to look a good deal more strictly into this Voltaire; and, as his relations to Friedrich and to the world are so multiplex, endeavor to disengage the real likeness of the man from the circumambient noise and confusion which in his instance continue very great. "Voltaire was the spiritual complement of Friedrich," says Sauerteig once: "what little of lasting their poor Century produced lies mainly in these Two. A very somnambulating Century! But what little it DID, we must call Friedrich; what little it THOUGHT, Voltaire. Other fruit we have not from it to speak of, at this day. Voltaire, and what CAN be faithfully done on the Voltaire Creed; 'Realized Voltairism;'—admit it, reader, not in a too triumphant humor,—is not that pretty much the net historical product of the Eighteenth Century? The rest of its history either pure somnambulism; or a mere Controversy, to the effect, 'Realized Voltairism? How soon shall it be realized, then? Not at once, surely!' So that Friedrich and Voltaire are related, not by accident only. They are, they for want of better, the two Original Men of their Century; the chief and in a sense the sole products of their Century. They alone remain to us as still living results from it,—such as they are. And the rest, truly, OUGHT to depart and vanish (as they are now doing); being mere ephemera; contemporary eaters, scramblers for provender, talkers of acceptable hearsay; and related merely to the butteries and wiggeries of their time, and not related to the Perennialities at all, as these Two were."—With more of the like sort from Sauerteig.
M. de Voltaire, who used to be M. Francois-Marie Arouet, was at this time about forty, [Born 20th February, 1694; the younger of two sons: Father, "Francois Arouet, a Notary of the Chatelet, ultimately Treasurer of the Chamber of Accounts;" Mother, "Marguerite d'Aumart, of a noble family of Poitou."] and had gone through various fortunes; a man, now and henceforth, in a high degree conspicuous, and questionable to his fellow-creatures. Clear knowledge of him ought, at this stage, to be common; but unexpectedly it is not. What endless writing and biographying there has been about this man; in which one still reads, with a kind of lazy satisfaction, due to the subject, and to the French genius in that department! But the man himself, and his environment and practical aspects, what the actual physiognomy of his life and of him can have been, is dark from beginning to ending; and much is left in an ambiguous undecipherable condition to us. A proper History of Voltaire, in which should be discoverable, luminous to human creatures, what he was, what element he lived in, what work he did: this is still a problem for the genius of France!—
His Father's name is known to us; the name of his Father's profession, too, but not clearly the nature of it; still less his Father's character, economic circumstances, physiognomy spiritual or social: not the least possibility granted you of forming an image, however faint, of that notable man and household, which distinguished itself to all the earth by producing little Francois into the light of this sun. Of Madame Arouet, who, or what, or how she was, nothing whatever is known. A human reader, pestered continually with the Madame-Denises, Abbe-Mignots and enigmatic nieces and nephews, would have wished to know, at least, what children, besides Francois, Madame Arouet had: once for all, How many children? Name them, with year of birth, year of death, according to the church-registers: they all, at any rate, had that degree of history! No; even that has not been done. Beneficent correspondents of my own make answer, after some research, No register of the Arouets anywhere to be had. The very name VOLTAIRE, if you ask whence came it? there is no answer, or worse than none.—The fit "History" of this man, which might be one of the shining Epics of his Century, and the lucid summary and soul of any HISTORY France then had, but which would require almost a French demi-god to do it, is still a great way off, if on the road at all! For present purposes, we select what follows from a well-known hand:—
"YOUTH OF VOLTAIRE (1694-1725).—French Biographers have left the Arouet Household very dark for us; meanwhile we can perceive, or guess, that it was moderately well in economic respects; that Francois was the second of the Two Sons; and that old Arouet, a steady, practical and perhaps rather sharp-tempered old gentleman, of official legal habits and position, 'Notary of the Chatelet' and something else, had destined him for the Law Profession; as was natural enough to a son of M. Arouet, who had himself succeeded well in Law, and could there, best of all, open roads for a clever second son. Francois accordingly sat 'in chambers,' as we call it; and his fellow-clerks much loved him,—the most amusing fellow in the world. Sat in chambers, even became an advocate; but did not in the least take to advocateship;—took to poetry, and other airy dangerous courses, speculative, practical; causing family explosions and rebukes, which were without effect on him. A young fool, bent on sportful pursuits instead of serious; more and more shuddering at Law. To the surprise and indignation of M. Arouet Senior. Law, with its wigs and sheepskins, pointing towards high honors and deep flesh-pots, had no charms for the young fool; he could not be made to like Law.
"Whereupon arose explosions, as we hint; family explosions on the part of M. Arouet Senior; such that friends had to interfere, and it was uncertain what would come of it. One judicious friend, 'M. Caumartin,' took the young fellow home to his house in the country for a time;—and there, incidentally, brought him acquainted with old gentlemen deep in the traditions of Henri Quatre and the cognate topics; which much inflamed the young fellow, and produced big schemes in the head of him.
"M. Arouet Senior stood strong for Law; but it was becoming daily more impossible. Madrigals, dramas (not without actresses), satirical wit, airy verse, and all manner of adventurous speculation, were what this young man went upon; and was getting more and more loved for; introduced, even, to the superior circles, and recognized there as one of the brightest young fellows ever seen. Which tended, of course, to confirm him in his folly, and open other outlooks and harbors of refuge than the paternal one.
"Such things, strange to M. Arouet Senior, were in vogue then; wicked Regent d'Orleans having succeeded sublime Louis XIV., and set strange fashions to the Quality. Not likely to profit this fool Francois, thought M. Arouet Senior; and was much confirmed in his notion, when a rhymed Lampoon against the Government having come out (LES J'AI VU, as they call it ["I have seen (J'AI VU)" this ignominy occur, "I have seen" that other,—to the amount of a dozen or two;—"and am not yet twenty." Copy of it, and guess as to authorship, in OEuvres de Voltaire, i. 321.]), and become the rage, as a clever thing of the kind will, it was imputed to the brightest young fellow in France, M. Arouet's Son. Who, in fact, was not the Author; but was not believed on his denial; and saw himself, in spite of his high connections, ruthlessly lodged in the Bastille in consequence. 'Let him sit,' thought M. Arouet Senior, 'and come to his senses there!' He sat for eighteen months (age still little above twenty); but privately employed his time, not in repentance, or in serious legal studies, but in writing a Poem on his Henri Quatre. 'Epic Poem,' no less; LA LIGUE, as he then called it; which it was his hope the whole world would one day fall in love with;—as it did. Nay, in two years more, he had done a Play, OEDIPE the renowned name of it; which ran for forty-eight nights' (18th November, 1718, the first of them); and was enough to turn any head of such age. Law may be considered hopeless, even by M. Arouet Senior.
"Try him in the Diplomatic line; break these bad habits and connections, thought M. Arouet, at one time; and sent him to the French Ambassador in Holland,—on good behavior, as it were, and by way of temporary banishment. But neither did this answer. On the contrary, the young fellow got into scrapes again; got into amatory intrigues,—young lady visiting you in men's clothes, young lady's mother inveigling, and I know not what;—so that the Ambassador was glad to send him home again unmarried; marked, as it were, 'Glass, with care!' And the young lady's mother printed his Letters, not the least worth reading:—and the old M. Arouet seems now to have flung up his head; to have settled some small allowance on him, with peremptory no hope of more, and said, 'Go your own way, then, foolish junior: the elder shall be my son.' M. Arouet disappears at this point, or nearly so, from the history of his son Francois; and I think must have died in not many years. Poor old M. Arouet closed his old eyes without the least conception what a prodigious ever-memorable thing he had done unknowingly, in sending this Francois into the world, to kindle such universal 'dry dung-heap of a rotten world,' and set it blazing! Francois, his Father's synonym, came to be representative of the family, after all; the elder Brother also having died before long. Except certain confused niece-and-nephew personages, progeny of the sisters, Francois has no more trouble or solacement from the paternal household. Francois meanwhile is his Father's synonym, and signs Arouet Junior, 'Francois Aroue l. j. (LE JEUNE).'
"'All of us Princes, then, or Poets!' said he, one night at supper, looking to right and left: the brightest fellow in the world, well fit to be Phoebus Apollo of such circles; and great things now ahead of him. Dissolute Regent d'Orleans, politest, most debauched of men, and very witty, holds the helm; near him Dubois the Devil's Cardinal, and so many bright spirits. All the Luciferous Spiritualism there is in France is lifting anchor, under these auspices, joyfully towards new latitudes and Isles of the Blest. What may not Francois hope to become? 'Hmph!' answers M. Arouet Senior, steadily, so long as he lives. Here are one or two subsequent phases, epochs or turning-points, of the young gentleman's career.
"PHASIS FIRST (1725-1728).—The accomplished Duc de Sulli (Year 1725, day not recorded), is giving in his hotel a dinner, such as usual; and a bright witty company is assembled;—the brightest young fellow in France sure to be there; and with his electric coruscations illuminating everything, and keeping the table in a roar. To the delight of most; not to that of a certain splenetic ill-given Duc de Rohan; grandee of high rank, great haughtiness, and very ill-behavior in the world; who feels impatient at the notice taken of a mere civic individual, Arouet Junior. 'Quel est done ce jeune homme qui parle si haut, Who is this young man that talks so loud, then?' exclaims the proud splenetic Duke. 'Monseigneur,' flashes the young man back upon him in an electric manner, 'it is one who does not drag a big name about with him; but who secures respect for the name he has!' Figure that, in the penetrating grandly clangorous voice (VOIX SOMBRE ET MAJESTUEUSE), and the momentary flash of eyes that attended it. Duc de Rohan rose, in a sulphurous frame of mind; and went his ways. What date? You ask the idle French Biographer in vain;—see only, after more and more inspection, that the incident is true; and with labor date it, summer of the Year 1725. Treaty of Utrecht itself, though all the Newspapers and Own Correspondents were so interested in it, was perhaps but a foolish matter to date in comparison!
"About a week after, M. Arouet Junior was again dining with the Duc de Sulli, and a fine company as before. A servant whispers him, That somebody has called, and wants him below. 'Cannot come,' answers Arouet; 'how can I, so engaged?' Servant returns after a minute or two: 'Pardon, Monsieur; I am to say, it is to do an act of beneficence that you are wanted below!' Arouet lays down his knife and fork; descends instantly to see what act it is. A carriage is in the court, and hackney-coach near it: 'Would Monsieur have the extreme goodness to come to the door of the carriage, in a case of necessity?' At the door of the carriage, hands seize the collar of him, hold him as in a vice; diabolic visage of Duc de Rohan is visible inside, who utters, looking to the hackney-coach, some "VOILA, Now then!" Whereupon the hackney-coach opens, gives out three porters, or hired bullies, with the due implements: scandalous actuality of horsewhipping descends on the back of poor Arouet, who shrieks and execrates to no purpose, nobody being near. 'That will do,' says Rohan at last, and the gallant ducal party drive off; young Arouet, with torn frills and deranged hair, rushing up stairs again, in such a mood as is easy to fancy. Everybody is sorry, inconsolable, everybody shocked; nobody volunteers to help in avenging. 'Monseigneur de Sulli, is not such atrocity done to one of your guests, an insult to yourself?' asks Arouet. 'Well, yes perhaps, but'—Monseigneur de Sulli shrugs his shoulders, and proposes nothing. Arouet withdrew, of course in a most blazing condition, to consider what he could, on his own strength, do in this conjuncture.
"His Biographer Duvernet says, he decided on doing two things: learning English and the small-sword exercise. [La Vie de Voltaire, par M—(a Geneve, 1786), pp. 55-57; or pp. 60-63, in his SECOND form of the Book. The "M—" is an Abbe Duvernet; of no great mark otherwise. He got into Revolution trouble afterwards, but escaped with his head; and republished his Book, swollen out somewhat by new "Anecdotes" and republican bluster, in this second instance; signing himself T. J. D. V—(Paris, 1797). A vague but not dark or mendacious little Book; with traces of real EYESIGHT in it,—by one who had personally known Voltaire, or at least seen and heard him.] He retired to the country for six months, and perfected himself in these two branches. Being perfect, he challenged Duc de Rohan in the proper manner; applying ingenious compulsives withal, to secure acceptance of the challenge. Rohan accepted, not without some difficulty, and compulsion at the Theatre or otherwise:—accepted, but withal confessed to his wife. The result was, no measuring of swords took place; and Rohan only blighted by public opinion, or incapable of farther blight that way, went at large; a convenient LETTRE DE CACHET having put Arouet again in the Bastille. Where for six months Arouet lodged a second time, the innocent not the guilty; making, we can well suppose, innumerable reflections on the phenomena of human life. Imprisonment once over, he hastily quitted for England; shaking the dust of ungrateful France off his feet,—resolved to change his unhappy name, for one thing.
"Smelfungus, denouncing the torpid fatuity of Voltaire's Biographers, says he never met with one Frenchman, even of the Literary classes, who could tell him whence this name VOLTAIRE originated. 'A PETITE TERRE, small family estate,' they said; and sent him hunting through Topographies, far and wide, to no purpose. Others answered, 'Volterra in Italy, some connection with Volterra,'—and seemed even to know that this was but fatuity. 'In ever-talking, ever-printing Paris, is it as in Timbuctoo, then, which neither prints nor has anything to print?' exclaims poor Smelfungus! He tells us at last, the name VOLTAIRE is a mere Anagram of AROUET L. J.—you try it; A.R.O.U.E.T.L.J.=V.O.L.T.A.I.R.E and perceive at once, with obligations to Smelfungus, that he has settled this small matter for you, and that you can be silent upon it forever thenceforth.
"The anagram VOLTAIRE, gloomily settled in the Bastille in this manner, can be reckoned a very famous wide-sounding outer result of the Rohan impertinence and blackguardism; but it is not worth naming beside the inner intrinsic result, of banishing Voltaire to England at this point of his course. England was full of Constitutionality and Freethinking; Tolands, Collinses, Wollastons, Bolingbrokes, still living; very free indeed. England, one is astonished to see, has its royal-republican ways of doing; something Roman in it, from Peerage down to Plebs; strange and curious to the eye of M. de Voltaire. Sciences flourishing; Newton still alive, white with fourscore years, the venerable hoary man; Locke's Gospel of Common Sense in full vogue, or even done into verse, by incomparable Mr. Pope, for the cultivated upper classes. In science, in religion, in politics, what a surprising 'liberty' allowed or taken! Never was a freer turn of thinking. And (what to M. de Voltaire is a pleasant feature) it is Freethinking with ruffles to its shirt and rings on its fingers;—never yet, the least, dreaming of the shirtless or SANSCULOTTIC state that lies ahead for it! That is the palmy condition of English Liberty, when M. de Voltaire arrives there.
"In a man just out of the Bastille on those terms, there is a mind driven by hard suffering into seriousness, and provoked by indignant comparisons and remembrances. As if you had elaborately ploughed and pulverized the mind of this Voltaire to receive with its utmost avidity, and strength of fertility, whatever seed England may have for it. That was a notable conjuncture of a man with circumstances. The question, Is this man to grow up a Court Poet; to do legitimate dramas, lampoons, witty verses, and wild spiritual and practical magnificences, the like never seen; Princes and Princesses recognizing him as plainly divine, and keeping him tied by enchantments to that poor trade as his task in life? is answered in the negative. No: and it is not quite to decorate and comfort your 'dry dung-heap' of a world, or the fortunate cocks that scratch on it, that the man Voltaire is here; but to shoot lightnings into it, and set it ablaze one day! That was an important alternative; truly of world-importance to the poor generations that now are; and it was settled, in good part, by this voyage to England, as one may surmise. Such is sometimes the use of a dissolute Rohan in this world; for the gods make implements of all manner of things.
"M. de Voltaire (for we now drop the Arouet altogether, and never hear of it more) came to England—when? Quitted England—when? Sorrow on all fatuous Biographers, who spend their time not in laying permanent foundation-stones, but in fencing with the wind!—I at last find indisputably, it was in 1726 that he came to England: [Got out of the Bastille, with orders to leave France, "29th April" of that year (OEuvres de Voltaire, i. 40 n.).] and he himself tells us that he 1728.' Spent, therefore, some two years there in all,—last year of George I.'s reign, and first of George II.'s. But mere inanity and darkness visible reign, in all his Biographies, over this period of his life, which was above all others worth investigating: seek not to know it; no man has inquired into it, probably no competent man now ever will. By hints in certain Letters of the period, we learn that he lodged, or at one time lodged, in 'Maiden Lane, Covent Garden;' one of those old Houses that yet stand in Maiden Lane: for which small fact let us be thankful. His own Letters of the period are dated now and then from 'Wandsworth.' Allusions there are to Bolingbroke; but the Wandsworth is not Bolingbroke's mansion, which stood in Battersea; the Wandsworth was one Edward Fawkener's; a man somewhat admirable to young Voltaire, but extinct now, or nearly so, in human memory. He had been a Turkey Merchant, it would seem, and nevertheless was admitted to speak his word in intellectual, even in political circles; which was wonderful to young Voltaire. This Fawkener, I think, became Sir Edward Fawkener, and some kind of 'Secretary to the Duke of Cumberland:'—I judge it to be the same Fawkener; a man highly unmemorable now, were it not for the young Frenchman he was hospitable to. Fawkener's and Bolingbroke's are perhaps the only names that turn up in Voltaire's LETTERS of this English Period: over which generally there reigns, in the French Biographies, inane darkness, with an intimation, half involuntary, that it SHOULD have been made luminous, and would if perfectly easy.
"We know, from other sources, that he had acquaintance with many men in England, with all manner of important men: Notes to Pope in Voltaire-English, visit of Voltaire to Congreve, Notes even to such as Lady Sundon in the interior of the Palace, are known of. The brightest young fellow in the world did not want for introductions to the highest quarters, in that time of political alliance, and extensive private acquaintance, between his Country and ours. And all this he was the man to improve, both in the trivial and the deep sense. His bow to the divine Princess Caroline and suite, could it fail in graceful reverence or what else was needed? Dexterous right words in the right places, winged with ESPRIT so called: that was the man's supreme talent, in which he had no match, to the last. A most brilliant, swift, far-glancing young man, disposed to make himself generally agreeable. For the rest, his wonder, we can see, was kept awake; wonder readily inclining, in his circumstances, towards admiration. The stereotype figure of the Englishman, always the same, which turns up in Voltaire's WORKS, is worth noting in this respect. A rugged surly kind of fellow, much-enduring, not intrinsically bad; splenetic without complaint, standing oddly inexpugnable in that natural stoicism of his; taciturn, yet with strange flashes of speech in him now and then, something which goes beyond laughter and articulate logic, and is the taciturn elixir of these two, what they call 'humor' in their dialect: this is pretty much the REVERSE of Voltaire's own self, and therefore all the welcomer to him; delineated always with a kind of mockery, but with evident love. What excellences are in England, thought Voltaire; no Bastille in it, for one thing! Newton's Philosophy annihilated the vortexes of Descartes for him; Locke's Toleration is very grand (especially if all is uncertain, and YOU are in the minority); then Collins, Wollaston and Company,—no vile Jesuits here, strong in their mendacious mal-odorous stupidity, despicablest yet most dangerous of creatures, to check freedom of thought! Illustrious Mr. Pope, of the Essay on Man, surely he is admirable; as are Pericles Bolingbroke, and many others. Even Bolingbroke's high-lacquered brass is gold to this young French friend of his.—Through all which admirations and exaggerations the progress of the young man, toward certain very serious attainments and achievements, is conceivable enough.
"One other man, who ought to be mentioned in the Biographies, I find Voltaire to have made acquaintance with, in England: a German M. Fabrice, one of several Brothers called Fabrice or Fabricius,—concerning whom, how he had been at Bender, and how Voltaire picked CHARLES DOUSE from the memory of him, there was already mention. The same Fabrice who held poor George I. in his arms while they drove, galloping, to Osnabriick, that night, IN EXTREMIS:—not needing mention again. The following is more to the point.
"Voltaire, among his multifarious studies while in England, did not forget that of economics: his Poem LA LIGUE,—surreptitiously printed, three years since, under that title (one Desfontaines, a hungry Ex-Jesuit, the perpetrator), [1723, VIE, par T. J. D. V. (that is, "M—" in the second form), p. 59.]—he now took in hand for his own benefit; washed it clean of its blots; christened it HENRIADE, under which name it is still known over all the world;—and printed it; published it here, by subscription, in 1726; one of the first things he undertook. Very splendid subscription; headed by Princess Caroline, and much favored by the opulent of quality. Which yielded an unknown but very considerable sum of thousands sterling, and grounded not only the world-renown but the domestic finance of M. de Voltaire. For the fame of the 'new epic,' as this HENRIADE was called, soon spread into all lands. And such fame, and other agencies on his behalf, having opened the way home for Voltaire, he took this sum of Thousands Sterling along with him; laid it out judiciously in some city lottery, or profitable scrip then going at Paris, which at once doubled the amount: after which he invested it in Corn-trade, Army Clothing, Barbary-trade, Commissariat Bacon-trade, all manner of well-chosen trades,—being one of the shrewdest financiers on record;—and never from that day wanted abundance of money, for one thing. Which he judged to be extremely expedient for a literary man, especially in times of Jesuit and other tribulation. 'You have only to watch,' he would say, 'what scrips, public loans, investments in the field of agio, are offered; if you exert any judgment, it is easy to gain there: do not the stupidest of mortals gain there, by intensely attending to it?'
"Voltaire got almost nothing by his Books, which he generally had to disavow, and denounce as surreptitious supposititious scandals, when some sharp-set Book-seller, in whose way he had laid the savory article as bait, chose to risk his ears for the profit of snatching and publishing it. Next to nothing by his Books; but by his fine finance-talent otherwise, he had become possessed of ample moneys. Which were so cunningly disposed, too, that he had resources in every Country; and no conceivable combination of confiscating Jesuits and dark fanatic Official Persons could throw him out of a livelihood, whithersoever he might be forced to run. A man that looks facts in the face; which is creditable of him. The vulgar call it avarice and the like, as their way is: but M. de Voltaire is convinced that effects will follow causes; and that it well beseems a lonely Ishmaelite, hunting his way through the howling wildernesses and confused ravenous populations of this world, to have money in his pocket. He died with a revenue of some 7,000 pounds a year, probably as good as 20,000 pounds at present; the richest literary man ever heard of hitherto, as well as the remarkablest in some other respects. But we have to mark the second phasis of his life [in which Friedrich now sees him], and how it grew out of this first one.
"PHASIS SECOND (1728-1733).—Returning home as if quietly triumphant, with such a talent in him, and such a sanction put upon it and him by a neighboring Nation, and by all the world, Voltaire was warmly received, in his old aristocratic circles, by cultivated France generally; and now in 1728, in his thirty-second year, might begin to have definite outlooks of a sufficiently royal kind, in Literature and otherwise. Nor is he slow, far from it, to advance, to conquer and enjoy. He writes successful literature, falls in love with women of quality; encourages the indigent and humble; eclipses, and in case of need tramples down, the too proud. He elegizes poor Adrienne Lecouvreur, the Actress,—our poor friend the Comte de Saxe's female friend; who loyally emptied out her whole purse for him, 30,000 pounds in one sum, that he might try for Courland, and whether he could fall in love with her of the Swollen Cheek there; which proved impossible. Elegizes Adrienne, slightly, and even buries her under cloud of night: ready to protect unfortunate females of merit. Especially theatrical females; having much to do in the theatre, which we perceive to be the pulpit or real preaching-place of cultivated France in those years. All manner of verse, all manner of prose, he dashes off with surprising speed and grace: showers of light spray for the moment; and always some current of graver enterprise, Siecle de Louis Quatorze or the like, going on beneath it. For he is a most diligent, swift, unresting man; and studies and learns amazingly in such a rackety existence. Victorious enough in some senses; defeat, in Literature, never visited him. His Plays, coming thick on the heels of one another, rapid brilliant pieces, are brilliantly received by the unofficial world; and ought to dethrone dull Crebillon, and the sleepy potentates of Poetry that now are. Which in fact is their result with the public; but not yet in the highest courtly places;—a defect much to be condemned and lamented.
"Numerous enemies arise, as is natural, of an envious venomous description; this is another ever-widening shadow in the sunshine. In fact we perceive he has, besides the inner obstacles and griefs, two classes of outward ones: There are Lions on his path and also Dogs. Lions are the Ex-Bishop of Mirepoix, and certain other dark Holy Fathers, or potent orthodox Official Persons. These, though Voltaire does not yet declare his heterodoxy (which, indeed, is but the orthodoxy of the cultivated private circles), perceive well enough, even by the HENRIADE, and its talk of 'tolerance,' horror of 'fanaticism' and the like, what this one's 'DOXY is; and how dangerous he, not a mere mute man of quality, but a talking spirit with winged words, may be;—and they much annoy and terrify him, by their roaring in the distance. Which roaring cannot, of course, convince; and since it is not permitted to kill, can only provoke a talking spirit into still deeper strains of heterodoxy for his own private behoof. These are the Lions on his path: beasts conscious to themselves of good intentions; but manifesting from Voltaire's point of view, it must be owned, a physiognomy unlovely to a degree. 'Light is superior to darkness, I should think,' meditates Voltaire; 'power of thought to the want of power! The ANE DE MIREPOIX (Ass of Mirepoix), [Poor joke of Voltaire's, continually applied to this Bishop, or Ex-Bishop,—who was thought, generally, a rather tenebrific man for appointment to the FEUILLE DES BENEFICES (charge of nominating Bishops, keeping King's conscience, &c.); and who, in that capacity, signed himself ANC (by no means "ANE," but "ANCIEN, Whilom") DE MIREPOIX,—to the enragement of Voltaire often enough.] pretending to use me in this manner, is it other, in the court of Rhadamanthus, than transcendent Stupidity, with transcendent Insolence superadded?' Voltaire grows more and more heterodox; and is ripening towards dangerous utterances, though he, strives to hold in.
"The Dogs upon his path, again, are all the disloyal envious persons of the Writing Class, whom his success has offended; and, more generally, all the dishonest hungry persons who can gain a morsel by biting him: and their name is legion. It must be owned, about as ugly a Doggery ('INFAME CANAILLE' he might well reckon them) as has, before or since, infested the path of a man. They are not hired and set on, as angry suspicion might suggest; but they are covertly somewhat patronized by the Mirepoix, or orthodox Official class. Scandalous Ex-Jesuit Desfontaines, Thersites Freron,—these are but types of an endless Doggery; whose names and works should be blotted out; whose one claim to memory is, that the riding man so often angrily sprang down, and tried horsewhipping them into silence. A vain attempt. The individual hound flies howling, abjectly petitioning and promising; but the rest bark all with new comfort, and even he starts again straightway. It is bad travelling in those woods, with such Lions and such Dogs. And then the sparsely scattered HUMAN Creatures (so we may call them in contrast, persons of Quality for most part) are not always what they should be. The grand mansions you arrive at, in this waste-howling solitude, prove sometimes essentially Robber-towers;—and there may be Armida Palaces, and divine-looking Armidas, where your ultimate fate is still worse.
'Que le monde est rempli d'enchanteurs, je ne dis rien d'enchanteresses!'
To think of it, the solitary Ishmaelite journeying, never so well mounted, through such a wilderness: with lions, dogs, human robbers and Armidas all about him; himself lonely, friendless under the stars:—one could pity him withal, though that is not the feeling he solicits; nor gets hitherto, even at this impartial distance.
"One of the beautiful creatures of Quality,—we hope, not an Armida,—who came athwart Voltaire, in these times, was a Madame du Chatelet; distinguished from all the others by a love of mathematics and the pure sciences, were it nothing else. She was still young, under thirty; the literary man still under forty. With her Husband, to whom she had brought a child, or couple of children, there was no formal quarrel; but they were living apart, neither much heeding the other, as was by no means a case without example at that time; Monsieur soldiering, and philandering about, in garrison or elsewhere; Madame, in a like humor, doing the best for herself in the high circles of society, to which he and she belonged. Most wearisome barren circles to a person of thought, as both she and M. de Voltaire emphatically admitted to one another, on first making acquaintance. But is there no help?
"Madame had tried the pure sciences and philosophies, in Books: but how much more charming, when they come to you as a Human Philosopher; handsome, magnanimous, and the wittiest man in the world! Young Madame was not regularly beautiful; but she was very piquant, radiant, adventurous; understood other things than the pure sciences, and could be abundantly coquettish and engaging. I have known her scuttle off, on an evening, with a couple of adventurous young wives of Quality, to the remote lodging of the witty M. de Voltaire, and make his dim evening radiant to him. [One of Voltaire's Letters.] Then again, in public crowds, I have seen them; obliged to dismount to the peril of Madame's diamonds, there being a jam of carriages, and no getting forward for half the day. In short, they are becoming more and more intimate, to the extremest degree; and, scorning the world, thank Heaven that they are mutually indispensable. Cannot we get away from this scurvy wasp's-nest of a Paris, thought they, and live to ourselves and our books?
"Madame was of high quality, one of the Breteuils; but was poor in comparison, and her Husband the like. An old Chateau of theirs, named Cirey, stands in a pleasant enough little valley in Champagne; but so dilapidated, gaunt and vacant, nobody can live in it. Voltaire, who is by this time a man of ample moneys, furnishes the requisite cash; Madame and he, in sweet symphony, concert the plans: Cirey is repaired, at least parts of it are, into a boudoir of the gods, regardless of expense; nothing ever seen so tasteful, so magnificent; and the two withdraw thither to study, in peace, what sciences, pure and other, they have a mind to. They are recognized as lovers, by the Parisian public, with little audible censure from anybody there,—with none at all from the easy Husband; who occasionally even visits Cirey, if he be passing that way; and is content to take matters as he finds them, without looking below the surface. [See (whosoever is curious) Madame de Grafigny, Vie Privee de Voltaire et de Madame du Chatelet (Paris, 1820). A six months of actual Letters written by poor Grafigny, while sheltering at Cirey, Winter and Spring, 1738-1739; straitened there in various respects,—extremely ill off for fuel, among other things. Rugged practical Letters, shadowing out to us, unconsciously oftenest, and like a very mirror, the splendid and the sordid, the seamy side and the smooth, of Life at Cirey, in her experience of it. Published, fourscore years after, under the above title.] For the Ten Commandments are at a singular pass in cultivated France at this epoch. Such illicit-idyllic form of life has been the form of Voltaire's since 1733,"—for some three years now, when Friedrich and we first make acquaintance with him. "It lasted above a dozen years more: an illicit marriage after its sort, and subject only to the liabilities of such. Perhaps we may look in upon the Cirey Household, ourselves, at some future time; and"—This Editor hopes not!
"Madame admits that for the first ten years it was, on the whole, sublime; a perfect Eden on Earth, though stormy now and then. [Lettres Inedites de Madame la Marquise du Chastelet; auxquelles on a joint une Dissertation (&c. of hers): Paris, 1806.] After ten years, it began to grow decidedly dimmer; and in the course of few years more, it became undeniably evident that M. de Voltaire 'did not love me as formerly:'—in fact, if Madame could have seen it, M. de Voltaire was growing old, losing his teeth, and the like; and did not care for anything as formerly! Which was a dreadful discovery, and gave rise to results by and by.
"In this retreat at Cirey, varied with flying visits to Paris, and kept awake by multifarious Correspondences, the quantity of Literature done by the two was great and miscellaneous. By Madame, chiefly in the region of the pure sciences, in Newtonian Dissertations, competitions for Prizes, and the like: really sound and ingenious Pieces, entirely forgotten long since. By Voltaire, in serious Tragedies, Histories, in light Sketches and deep Dissertations:—mockery getting ever wilder with him; the satirical vein, in prose and verse, amazingly copious, and growing more and more heterodox, as we can perceive. His troubles from the ecclesiastical or Lion kind in the Literary forest, still more from the rabid Doggery in it, are manifold, incessant. And it is pleasantly notable,—during these first ten years,—with what desperate intensity, vigilance and fierceness, Madame watches over all his interests and liabilities and casualties great and small; leaping with her whole force into M. de Voltaire's scale of the balance, careless of antecedences and consequences alike; flying, with the spirit of an angry brood-hen, at the face of mastiffs, in defence of any feather that is M. de Voltaire's. To which Voltaire replies, as he well may, with eloquent gratitude; with Verses to the divine Emilie, with Gifts to her, verses and gifts the prettiest in the world;—and industriously celebrates the divine Emilie to herself and all third parties.
"An ardent, aerial, gracefully predominant, and in the end somewhat termagant female figure, this divine Emilie. Her temper, radiant rather than bland, was none of the patientest on occasion; nor was M. de Voltaire the least of a Job, if you came athwart him the wrong way. I have heard, their domestic symphony was liable to furious flaws,—let us hope at great distances apart:—that 'plates' in presence of the lackeys, actual crockery or metal, have been known to fly from end to end of the dinner-table; nay they mention 'knives' (though only in the way of oratorical action); and Voltaire has been heard to exclaim, the sombre and majestic voice of him risen to a very high pitch: 'Ne me regardez tant de ces yeux hagards et louches, Don't fix those haggard sidelong eyes on me in that way!'—mere shrillness of pale rage presiding over the scene. But we hope it was only once in the quarter, or seldomer: after which the element would be clearer for some time. A lonesome literary man, who has got a Brood Phoenix to preside over him, and fly at the face of gods and men for him in that manner, ought to be grateful.
"Perhaps we shall one day glance, personally, as it were, into Cirey with our readers;"—Not with this Editor or his!—"It will turn out beyond the reader's expectation. Tolerable illicit resting-place, so far as the illicit can be tolerable, for a lonesome Man of Letters, who goes into the illicit. Helpfulness, affection, or the flattering image of such, are by no means wanting: squalls of infirm temper are not more frequent than in the most licit establishments of a similar sort. Madame, about this time, has a swift Palfrey, 'ROSSIGNOL (Nightingale)' the name of him; and gallops fairy-like through the winding valleys; being an ardent rider, and well-looking on horseback. Voltaire's study is inlaid with—the Grafigny knows all what:—mere china tiles, gilt sculptures, marble slabs, and the supreme of taste and expense: study fit for the Phoebus Apollo of France, so far as Madame could contrive it. Takes coffee with Madame, in the Gallery, about noon. And his bedroom, I expressly discern, [Letters of Voltaire.] looks out upon a running brook, the murmur of which is pleasant to one."
Enough, enough. We can perceive what kind of Voltaire it was to whom the Crown-Prince now addressed himself; and how luminous an object, shining afar out of the solitudes of Champagne upon the ardent young man, still so capable of admiration. Model Epic, HENRIADE; model History, CHARLES DOUZE; sublime Tragedies, CISAR, ALZIRE and others, which readers still know though with less enthusiasm, are blooming fresh in Friedrich's memory and heart; such Literature as man never saw before; and in the background Friedrich has inarticulately a feeling as if, in this man, there were something grander than all Literatures: a Reform of human Thought itself; a new "Gospel," good-tidings or God's-Message, by this man;—which Friedrich does not suspect, as the world with horror does, to be a new BA'SPEL, or Devil's-Message of bad-tidings! A sublime enough Voltaire; radiant enough, over at Cirey yonder. To all lands, a visible Phoebus Apollo, climbing the eastern steeps; with arrows of celestial "new light" in his quiver; capable of stretching many a big foul Python, belly uppermost, in its native mud, and ridding the poor world of her Nightmares and Mud-Serpents in some measure, we may hope!—
And so there begins, from this point, a lively Correspondence between Friedrich and Voltaire; which, with some interruptions of a notable sort, continued during their mutual Life; and is a conspicuous feature in the Biographies of both. The world talked much of it, and still talks; and has now at last got it all collected, and elucidated into a dimly legible form for studious readers. [Preuss, OEuvres de Frederic, (xxi. xxii. xxiii., Berlin, 1853); who supersedes the lazy French Editors in this matter.] It is by no means the diabolically wicked Correspondence it was thought to be; the reverse, indeed, on both sides;—but it has unfortunately become a very dull one, to the actual generation of mankind. Not without intrinsic merit; on the contrary (if you read intensely, and bring the extinct alive again), it sparkles notably with epistolary grace and vivacity; and, on any terms, it has still passages of biographical and other interest: but the substance of it, then so new and shining, has fallen absolutely commonplace, the property of all the world, since then; and is now very wearisome to the reader. No doctrine or opinion in it that you have not heard, with clear belief or clear disbelief, a hundred times, and could wish rather not to hear again. The common fate of philosophical originalities in this world. As a Biographical Document, it is worth a very strict perusal, if you are interested that way in either Friedrich or Voltaire: finely significant hints and traits, though often almost evanescent, so slight are they, abound in this Correspondence; frankness, veracity under graceful forms, being the rule of it, strange to say! As an illustration of Two memorable Characters, and of their Century; showing on what terms the sage Plato of the Eighteenth Century and his Tyrant Dionysius correspond, and what their manners are to one another, it may long have a kind of interest to mankind: otherwise it has not much left.
In Friedrich's History it was, no doubt, an important fact, that there lived a Voltaire along with him, twenty years his senior. With another Theory of the Universe than the Voltaire one, how much OTHER had Friedrich too been! But the Theory called by Voltaire's name was not properly of Voltaire's creating, but only of his uttering and publishing; it lay ready for everybody's finding, and could not well have been altogether missed by such a one as Friedrich. So that perhaps we exaggerate the effects of Voltaire on him, though undoubtedly they were considerable. Considerable; but not derived from this express correspondence, which seldom turns on didactic points at all; derived rather from Voltaire's Printed WORKS, where they lay derivable to all the world. Certain enough it is, Voltaire was at this time, and continued all his days, Friedrich's chief Thinker in the world; unofficially, the chief Preacher, Prophet and Priest of this Working King;—no better off for a spiritual Trismegistus was poor Friedrich in the world! On the practical side, Friedrich soon outgrew him,—perhaps had already outgrown, having far more veracity of character, and an intellect far better built in the silent parts of it, and trained too by hard experiences to know shadow from substance;—outgrew him, and gradually learned to look down upon him, occasionally with much contempt, in regard to the practical. But in all changes of humor towards Voltaire, Friedrich, we observe, considers him as plainly supreme in speculative intellect; and has no doubt but, for thinking and speaking, Nature never made such another. Which may be taken as a notable feature of Friedrich's History; and gives rise to passages between Voltaire and him, which will make much noise in time coming.
Here, meanwhile, faithfully presented though in condensed form, is the starting of the Correspondence; First Letter of it, and first Response. Two Pieces which were once bright as the summer sunrise on both sides, but are now fallen very dim; and have much needed condensation, and abridgment by omission of the unessential,—so lengthy are they, so extinct and almost dreary to us! Sublime "Wolf" and his "Philosophy," how he was hunted out of Halle with it, long since; and now shines from Marburg, his "Philosophy" and he supreme among mankind: this, and other extinct points, the reader's fancy will endeavor to rekindle in some slight measure:—
TO M. DE VOLTAIRE, AT CIREY (from the Crown-Prince).
"BERLIN, 8th August, 1736.
"MONSIEUR,—Although I have not the satisfaction of knowing you personally, you are not the less known to me through your Works. They are treasures of the mind, if I may so express myself; and they reveal to the reader new beauties at every fresh perusal. I think I have recognized in them the character of their ingenious Author, who does honor to our age and to human nature. If ever the dispute on the comparative merits of the Moderns and the Ancients should be revived, the modern great men will owe it to you, and to you only, that the scale is turned in their favor. With the excellent quality of Poet you join innumerable others more or less related to it. Never did Poet before put Metaphysics into rhythmic cadence: to you the honor was reserved of doing it first.
"This taste for Philosophy manifested in your writings, induces me to send you a translated Copy of the Accusation and defence of M. Wolf, the most celebrated Philosopher of our days; who, for having carried light into the darkest places of Metaphysics, is cruelly accused of irreligion and atheism. Such is the destiny of great men; their superior genius exposes them to the poisoned arrows of calumny and envy. I am about getting a Translation made of the Treatise on God, the Soul, and the World,"—Translation done by an Excellency Suhm, as has been hinted,—"from the pen of the same Author. I will send it you when it is finished; and I am sure that the force of evidence in all his propositions, and their close geometrical sequence, will strike you.
"The kindness and assistance you afford to all who devote themselves to the Arts and Sciences, makes me hope that you will not exclude me from the number of those whom you find worthy of your instructions:—it is so I would call your intercourse by Correspondence of Letters; which cannot be other than profitable to every thinking being....
... "beauties without number in your works. Your HENRIADE delights me. The tragedy of CESAR shows us sustained characters; the sentiments in it are magnificent and grand, and one feels that Brutus is either a Roman, or else an Englishman (ou un Romain ou un Anglais). Your ALZIRE, to the graces of novelty adds...
"Monsieur, there is nothing I wish so much as to possess all your Writings," even those not printed hitherto. "Pray, Monsieur, do communicate them to me without reserve. If there be amongst your Manuscripts any that you wish to conceal from the eyes of the public, I engage to keep them in the profoundest secrecy. I am unluckily aware, that the faith of Princes is an object of little respect in our days; nevertheless I hope you will make an exception from the general rule in my favor. I should think myself richer in the possession of your Works than in that of all the transient goods of Fortune. These the same chance grants and takes away: your Works one can make one's own by means of memory, so that they last us whilst it lasts. Knowing how weak my own memory is, I am in the highest degree select in what I trust to it.
"If Poetry were what it was before your appearance, a strumming of wearisome idyls, insipid eclogues, tuneful nothings, I should renounce it forever:" but in your hands it becomes ennobled; a melodious "course of morals; worthy of the admiration and the study of cultivated minds (DES HONNETES GENS). You"—in fine, "you inspire the ambition to follow in your footsteps. But I, how often have I said to myself: 'MALHEUREUX, throw down a burden which is above thy strength! One cannot imitate Voltaire, without being Voltaire!'
"It is in such moments that I have felt how small are those advantages of birth, those vapors of grandeur, with which vanity would solace us! They amount to little, properly to nothing (POUR MIEUX DIRE, RIEN). Nature, when she pleases, forms a great soul, endowed with faculties that can advance the Arts and Sciences; and it is the part of Princes to recompense his noble toils. Ah, would Glory but make use of me to crown your successes! My only fear would be, lest this Country, little fertile in laurels, proved unable to furnish enough of them.
"If my destiny refuse me the happiness of being able to possess you, may I, at least, hope one day to see the man whom I have admired so long now from afar; and to assure you, by word of mouth, that I am,—With all the esteem and consideration due to those who, following the torch of truth for guide, consecrate their labors to the Public,—Monsieur, your affectionate friend,
"FREDERIC, P. R. of Prussia."
[OEuvres de Frederic, xxi. 6.]
By what route or conveyance this Letter went, I cannot say. In general, it is to be observed, these Friedrich-Voltaire Letters—liable perhaps to be considered contraband at BOTH ends of their course—do not go by the Post; but by French-Prussian Ministers, by Hamburg Merchants, and other safe subterranean channels. Voltaire, with enthusiasm, and no doubt promptly, answers within three weeks:—
TO THE CROWN-PRINCE, AT REINSBERG (from Voltaire).
"CIREY, 26th August, 1736.
"MONSEIGNEUR,—A man must be void of all feeling who were not infinitely moved by the Letter which your Royal Highness has deigned to honor me with. My self-love is only too much flattered by it: but my love of Mankind, which I have always nourished in my heart, and which, I venture to say, forms the basis of my character, has given me a very much purer pleasure,—to see that there is, now in the world, a Prince who thinks as a man; a PHILOSOPHER Prince, who will make men happy.
"Permit me to say, there is not a man on the earth but owes thanks for the care you take to cultivate by sound philosophy a soul that is born for command. Good kings there never were except those that had begun by seeking to instruct themselves; by knowing-good men from bad; by loving what was true, by detesting persecution and superstition. No Prince, persisting in such thoughts, but might bring back the golden age into his Countries! And why do so few Princes seek this glory? You feel it, Monseigneur, it is because they all think more of their Royalty than of Mankind. Precisely the reverse is your case:—and, unless, one day, the tumult of business and the wickedness of men alter so divine a character, you will be worshipped by your People, and loved by the whole world. Philosophers, worthy of the name, will flock to your States; thinkers will crowd round that throne, as the skilfulest artisans do to the city where their art is in request. The illustrious Queen Christina quitted her kingdom to go in search of the Arts; reign you, Monseigneur, and the Arts will come to seek you.
"May you only never be disgusted with the Sciences by the quarrels of their Cultivators! A race of men no better than Courtiers; often enough as greedy, intriguing, false and cruel as these," and still more ridiculous in the mischief they do. "And how sad for mankind that the very Interpreters of Heaven's commandments, the Theologians, I mean, are sometimes the most dangerous of all! Professed messengers of the Divinity, yet men sometimes of obscure ideas and pernicious behavior; their soul blown out with mere darkness; full of gall and pride, in proportion as it is empty of truths. Every thinking being who is not of their opinion is an Atheist; and every King who does not favor them will be damned. Dangerous to the very throne; and yet intrinsically insignificant:" best way is, leave their big talk and them alone; speedy collapse will follow....
"I cannot sufficiently thank your Royal Highness for the gift of that little Book about Monsieur Wolf. I respect Metaphysical ideas; rays of lightning they are in the midst of deep night. More, I think, is not to be hoped from Metaphysics. It does not seem likely that the First-principles of things will ever be known. The mice that nestle in some little holes of an immense Building, know not whether it is eternal, or who the Architect, or why he built it. Such mice are we; and the Divine Architect who built the Universe has never, that I know of, told his secret to one of us. If anybody could pretend to guess correctly, it is M. Wolf." Beautiful in your Royal Highness to protect such a man. And how beautiful it will be, to send me his chief Book, as you have the kindness to promise! "The Heir of a Monarchy, from his palace, attending to the wants of a recluse far off! Condescend to afford me the pleasure of that Book, Monseigneur....
"What your Royal Highness thinks of poetry is just: verses that do not teach men new and touching truths, do not deserve to be read." As to my own poor verses—But, after all, "that HENRIADE is the writing of an Honest Man: fit, in that sense, that it find grace with a Philosopher Prince.
"I will obey your commands as to sending those unpublished Pieces. You shall be my public, Monseigneur; your criticisms will be my reward: it is a price few Sovereigns can pay. I am sure of your secrecy: your virtue and your intellect must be in proportion. I should indeed consider it a precious happiness to come and pay my court to your Royal Highness! One travels to Rome to see paintings and ruins: a Prince such as you is a much more singular object; worthier of a long journey! But the friendship [divine Emilie's] which keeps me in this retirement does not permit my leaving it. No doubt you think with Julian, that great and much calumniated man, who said, 'Friends should always be preferred to Kings.'
"In whatever corner of the world I may end my life, be assured, Monseigneur, my wishes will continually be for you,—that is to say, for a whole People's happiness. My heart will rank itself among your subjects; your glory will ever be dear to me. I shall wish, May you always be like yourself, and may other Kings be like you!—I am, with profound respect, your Royal Highness's most humble
[OEuvres de Frederic, xxi. 10.]
The Correspondence, once kindled, went on apace; and soon burst forth, finding nourishment all round, into a shining little household fire, pleasant to the hands and hearts of both parties. Consent of opinions on important matters is not wanting; nor is emphasis in declaring the same. The mutual admiration, which is high,—high and intrinsic on Friedrich's side; and on Voltaire's, high if in part extrinsic,—by no means wants for emphasis of statement: superlatives, tempered by the best art, pass and repass. Friedrich, reading Voltaire's immortal Manuscripts, confesses with a blush, before long, that he himself is a poor Apprentice that way. Voltaire, at sight of the Princely Productions, is full of admiration, of encouragement; does a little in correcting, solecisms of grammar chiefly; a little, by no means much. But it is a growing branch of employment; now and henceforth almost the one reality of function Voltaire can find for himself in this beautiful Correspondence. For, "Oh what a Crown-Prince, ripening forward to be the delight of human nature, and realize the dream of sages, Philosophy upon the Throne!" And on the other side, "Oh what a Phoebus Apollo, mounting the eastern sky, chasing the Nightmares,—sowing the Earth with Orient pearl, to begin with!"—In which fine duet, it must be said, the Prince is perceptibly the truer singer; singing within compass, and from the heart; while the Phoebus shows himself acquainted with art, and warbles in seductive quavers, now and then beyond the pitch of his voice. We must own also, Friedrich proves little seducible; shows himself laudably indifferent to such siren-singing;—perhaps more used to flattery, and knowing by experience how little meal is to be made of chaff. Voltaire, in an ungrateful France, naturally plumes himself a good deal on such recognition by a Foreign Rising Sun; and, of the two, though so many years the elder, is much more like losing head a little.
Elegant gifts are despatched to Cirey; gold-amber trinkets for Madame, perhaps an amber inkholder for Monsieur: priceless at Cirey as the gifts of the very gods. By and by, a messenger goes express: the witty Colonel Keyserling, witty but experienced, whom we once named at Reinsberg; he is to go and see with his eyes, since his Master cannot. What a messenger there; ambassador from star to star! Keyserling's report at Reinsberg is not given; but we have Grafigny's, which is probably the more impartial. Keyserling's embassy was in the end of next year; [3d November, 1737 (as we gather from the Correspondence).] and there is plenty of airy writing about it and him, in these Letters.
Friedrich has translated the name KEYSERLING (diminutive of KAISER) into "Caesarion;"—and I should have said, he plays much upon names and also upon things, at Reinsberg, in that style; and has a good deal of airy symbolism, and cloud-work ingeniously painted round the solidities of his life there. Especially a "Bayard Order," as he calls it: Twelve of his selectest Friends made into a Chivalry Brotherhood, the names of whom are all changed, "Caesarion" one of them; with dainty devices, and mimetic procedures of the due sort. Which are not wholly mummery; but have a spice of reality, to flavor them to a serious young heart. For the selection was rigorous, superior merit and behavior a strict condition; and indeed several of these Bayard Chevaliers proved notable practical Champions in time coming;—for example Captain Fouquet, of whom we have heard before, in the dark Custrin days. This is a mentionable feature of the Reinsberg life, and of the young Prince's character there: pleasant to know of, from this distance; but not now worth knowing more in detail.
The Friedrich-Voltaire Correspondence contains much incense; due whiffs of it, from Reinsberg side, to the "divine Emilie," Voltaire's quasi better-half or worse-half; who responds always in her divinest manner to Reinsberg, eager for more acquaintance there. The Du Chatelets had a Lawsuit in Brabant; very inveterate, perhaps a hundred years old or more; with the "House of Honsbrouck:" [Lettres Inedites de Voltaire (Paris, 1826), p. 9.] this, not to speak of other causes, flights from French peril and the like, often brought Voltaire and his Dame into those parts; and gave rise to occasional hopes of meeting with Friedrich; which could not take effect. In more practical style, Voltaire solicits of him: "Could not your Royal Highness perhaps graciously speak to some of those Judicial Big wigs in Brabant, and flap them up a little!" Which Friedrich, I think, did, by some good means. Happily, by one means or other, Voltaire got the Lawsuit ended,—1740, we might guess, but the time is not specified;&mmdash;and Friedrich had a new claim, had there been need of new, to be regarded with worship by Madame. [Record of all this, left, like innumerable other things there, in an intrinsically dark condition, lies in Voltaire's LETTERS,—not much worth hunting up into clear daylight, the process being so difficult to a stranger.] But the proposed meeting with Madame could never take effect; not even when Friedrich's hands were free. Nay I notice at last, Friedrich had privately determined it never should—Madame evidently an inconvenient element to him. A young man not wanting in private power of eyesight; and able to distinguish chaff from meal! Voltaire and he will meet; meet, and also part; and there will be passages between them:—and the reader will again hear of this Correspondence of theirs, where it has a biographical interest. We are to conceive it, at present, as a principal light of life to the young heart at Reinsberg; a cheerful new fire, almost an altar-fire, irradiating the common dusk for him there.
Of another Correspondence, beautifully irradiative for the young heart, we must say almost nothing: the Correspondence with Suhm. Suhm the Saxon Minister, whom we have occasionally heard of, is an old Friend of the Crown-Prince's, dear and helpful to him: it is he who is now doing those Translations of Wolf, of which Voltaire lately saw specimens; translate at large, for the young man's behoof. The young man, restless to know the best Philosophy going, had tried reading of Wolf's chief Book; found it too abstruse, in Wolf's German: wherefore Suhm translates; sends it to him in limpid French; fascicle by fascicle, with commentaries; young man doing his best to understand and admire,—gratefully, not too successfully, we can perceive. That is the staple of the famous SUHM CORRESPONDENCE; staple which nobody could now bear to be concerned with.
Suhm is also helpful in finance difficulties, which are pretty frequent; works out subventions, loans under a handsome form, from the Czarina's and other Courts. Which is an operation of the utmost delicacy; perilous, should it be heard of at Potsdam. Wherefore Suhm and the Prince have a covert language for it: and affect still to be speaking of "Publishers" and "new Volumes," when they mean Lenders and Bank-Draughts. All these loans, I will hope, were accurately paid one day, as that from George II. was, in "rouleaus of new gold." We need not doubt the wholesome charm and blessing of so intimate a Correspondence to the Crown-Prince: and indeed his real love of the amiable Suhm, as Suhm's of him, comes beautifully to light in these Letters: but otherwise they are not now to be read without weariness, even dreariness, and have become a biographical reminiscence merely.
Concerning Graf von Manteufel, a third Literary Correspondent, and the only other considerable one, here, from a German Commentator on this matter, is a Clipping that will suffice:—
"Manteufel was Saxon by birth, long a Minister of August the Strong, but quarrelled with August, owing to some frail female it is said, and had withdrawn to Berlin a few years ago. He shines there among the fashionable philosophical classes; underhand, perhaps does a little in the volunteer political line withal; being a very busy pushing gentleman. Tall of stature, 'perfectly handsome at the age of sixty;' [Formey, Souvenirs d'un Citoyen, i. 39-45.] great partisan of Wolf and the Philosophies, awake to the Orthodoxies too. Writes flowing elegant French, in a softly trenchant, somewhat too all-knowing style. High manners traceable in him; but nothing of the noble loyalty, natural politeness and pious lucency of Suhm. One of his Letters to Friedrich has this slightly impertinent passage;—Friedrich, just getting settled in Reinsberg, having transiently mentioned 'the quantity of fair sex' that had come about him there:—
"'BERLIN, 26th AUGUST, 1736 (to the Crown-Prince).... I am well persuaded your Royal Highness will regulate all that to perfection, and so manage that your fair sex will be charmed to find themselves with you at Reinsberg, and you charmed to have them there. But permit me, your Royal Highness, to repeat in this place, what I one day took the liberty of saying here at Berlin: Nothing in the world would better suit the present interests of your Royal Highness and of us all, than some Heir of your Royal Highness's making! Perhaps the tranquil convenience with which your Royal Highness at Reinsberg can now attend to that object, will be of better effect than all those hasty and transitory visits at Berlin were. At least I wish it with the best of my heart. I beg pardon, Monseigneur, for intruding thus into everything which concerns your Royal Highness;'—In truth, I am a rather impudent busybodyish fellow, with superabundant dashing manner, speculation, utterance; and shall get myself ordered out of the Country, by my present correspondent, by and by.—'Being ever,' with the due enthusiasm, 'MANTEUFEL.' [OEuvres de Frederic, xxv. 487;—Friedrich's Answer is, Reinsberg, 23d September (Ib. 489).]
"To which Friedrich's Answer is of a kind to put a gag in the foul mouth of certain extraordinary Pamphleteerings, that were once very copious in the world; and, in particular, to set at rest the Herr Dr. Zimmermann, and his poor puddle of calumnies and credulities, got together in that weak pursuit of physiology under obscene circumstances;—
"Which is the one good result I have gathered from the Manteufel Correspondence," continues our German friend; whom I vote with!—Or if the English reader never saw those Zimmermann or other dog-like Pamphleteerings and surmisings, let this Excerpt be mysterious and superfluous to the thankful English reader.
On the whole, we conceive to ourselves the abundant nature of Friedrich's Correspondence, literary and other; and what kind of event the transit of that Post functionary "from Fehrbellin northwards," with his leathern bags, "twice a week," may have been at Reinsberg, in those years.
Chapter III. — CROWN-PRINCE MAKES A MORNING CALL.
Thursday, 25th October, 1736, the Crown-Prince, with Lieutenant Buddenbrock and an attendant or two, drove over into Mecklenburg, to a Village and serene Schloss called Mirow, intending a small act of neighborly civility there; on which perhaps an English reader of our time will consent to accompany him. It is but some ten or twelve miles off, in a northerly direction; Reinsberg being close on the frontier there. A pleasant enough morning's-drive, with the October sun shining on the silent heaths, on the many-colored woods and you.
Mirow is an Apanage for one of the Mecklenburg-Strelitz junior branches: Mecklenburg-Strelitz being itself a junior compared to the Mecklenburg-Schwerin of which, and its infatuated Duke, we have heard so much in times past. Mirow and even Strelitz are not in—a very shining state,—but indeed, we shall see them, as it were, with eyes. And the English reader is to note especially those Mirow people, as perhaps of some small interest to him, if he knew it. The Crown-Prince reports to papa, in a satirical vein, not ungenially, and with much more freedom than is usual in those Reinsberg letters of his:—
"TO HIS PRUSSIAN MAJESTY (from the Crown-Prince).
"REINSBERG, 26th October, 1736.
... "Yesterday I went across to Mirow. To give my Most All-gracious Father an idea of the place, I cannot liken it to anything higher than Gross-Kreutz [term of comparison lost upon us; say GARRAT, at a venture, or the CLACHAN OF ABERFOYLE]: the one house in it, that can be called a house, is not so good as the Parson's there. I made straight for the Schloss; which is pretty much like the Garden-house in Bornim: only there is a rampart round it; and an old Tower, considerably in ruins, serves as a Gateway to the House.
"Coming on the Drawbridge, I perceived an old stocking-knitter disguised as Grenadier, with his cap, cartridge-box and musket laid to a side, that they might not hinder him in his knitting-work. As I advanced, he asked, 'Whence I came, and whitherward I was going?' I answered, that 'I came from the Post-house, and was going over this Bridge:' whereupon the Grenadier, quite in a passion, ran to the Tower; where he opened a door, and called out the Corporal. The Corporal seemed to have hardly been out of bed; and in his great haste, had not taken time to put on his shoes, nor quite button his breeches; with much flurry he asked us, 'Where we were for, and how we came to treat the Sentry in that manner?' Without answering him at all, we went our way towards the Schloss.
"Never in my life should I have taken this for a Schloss, had it not been that there were two glass lamps fixed at the door-posts, and the figures of two Cranes standing in front of them, by way of Guards. We made up to the House; and after knocking almost half an hour to no purpose, there peered out at last an exceedingly old woman, who looked as if she might have nursed the Prince of Mirow's father. The poor woman, at sight of strangers, was so terrified, she slammed the door to in our faces. We knocked again; and seeing there could nothing be made of it, we went round to the stables; where a fellow told us, 'The young Prince with his Consort was gone to Neu-Strelitz, a couple of miles off [ten miles English]; and the Duchess his Mother, who lives here, had given him, to make the better figure, all her people along with him; keeping nobody but the old woman to herself.'
"It was still early; so I thought I could not do better than profit by the opportunity, and have a look at Neu-Strelitz. We took post-horses; and got thither about noon. Neu-Strelitz is properly a Village; with only one street in it, where Chamberlains, Office-Clerks, Domestics all lodge, and where there is an Inn. I cannot better describe it to my Most All-gracious Father than by that street in Gumbinnen where you go up to the Town-hall,—except that no house here is whitewashed. The Schloss is fine, and lies on a lake, with a big garden; pretty much like Reinsberg in situation.
"The first question I asked here was for the Prince of Mirow: but they told me he had just driven off again to a place called Kanow; which is only a couple of miles English from Mirow, where we had been. Buddenbrock, who is acquainted with Neu-Strelitz, got me, from a chamberlain, something to eat; and in the mean while, that Bohme came in, who was Adjutant in my Most All-gracious Father's Regiment [not of Goltz, but King's presumably]: Bohme did not know me till I hinted to him who I was. He told me, 'The Duke of Strelitz was an excellent seamster;'" fit to be Tailor to your Majesty in a manner, had not Fate been cruel, "'and that he made beautiful dressing-gowns (CASSAQUINS) with his needle.' This made me curious to see him: so we had ourselves presented as Foreigners; and it went off so well that nobody recognized me. I cannot better describe the Duke than by saying he is like old Stahl [famed old medical man at Berlin, dead last year, physiognomy not known to actual readers], in a blond Abbe's-periwig. He is extremely silly (BLODE); his Hofrath Altrock tells him, as it were, everything he has to say." About fifty, this poor Duke; shrunk into needlework, for a quiet life, amid such tumults from Schwerin and elsewhere.
"Having taken leave, we drove right off to Kanow; and got thither about six. It is a mere Village; and the Prince's Pleasure-House (LUSTHAUS) here is nothing better than an ordinary Hunting-Lodge, such as any Forest-keeper has. I alighted at the Miller's; and had myself announced" at the LUSTHAUS, "by his maid: upon which the Major-Domo (HAUS-HOFMEISTER) came over to the Mill, and complimented me; with whom I proceeded to the Residenz," that is, back again to Mirow, "where the whole Mirow Family were assembled. The Mother is a Princess of Schwartzburg, and still the cleverest of them all," still under sixty; good old Mother, intent that her poor Son should appear to advantage, when visiting the more opulent Serenities. "His Aunt also," mother's sister, "was there. The Lady Spouse is small; a Niece to the Prince of Hildburghausen, who is in the Kaiser's service: she was in the family-way; but (ABER) seemed otherwise to be a very good Princess.
"The first thing they entertained me with was, the sad misfortune come upon their best Cook; who, with the cart that was bringing the provisions, had overset, and broken his arm; so that the provisions had all gone to nothing. Privately I have had inquiries made; there was not a word of truth in the story. At last we went to table; and, sure enough, it looked as if the Cook and his provisions had come to some mishap; for certainly in the Three Crowns at Potsdam [worst inn, one may guess, in the satirical vein], there is better eating than here.
"At table, there was talk of nothing but of all the German Princes who are not right in their wits (NICHT RECHT KLUG)," as Mirow himself, your Majesty knows, is reputed to be!" There was Weimar, [Wilhelmina's acquaintance; wedded, not without difficulty, to a superfluous Baireuth Sister-in-law by Wilhelmina ( Memoires de Wilhelmina, ii. 185-194): Grandfather of Goethe's Friend;—is nothing like fairly out of his wits; only has a flea (as we may say) dancing occasionally in the ear of him. Perhaps it is so with the rest of these Serenities, here fallen upon evil tongues?] Gotha, Waldeck, Hoym, and the whole lot of them, brought upon the carpet:—and after our good Host had got considerably drunk, we rose,—and he lovingly promised me that 'he and his whole Family would come and visit Reinsberg.' Come he certainly will; but how I shall get rid of him, God knows.
"I most submissively beg pardon of my Most All-gracious Father for this long Letter; and"—we will terminate here. [OEuvres de Frederic, xxvii. part 3d, pp. 104-106.]
Dilapidated Mirow and its inmates, portrayed in this satirical way, except as a view of Serene Highnesses fallen into Sleepy Hollow, excites little notice in the indolent mind; and that little, rather pleasantly contemptuous than really profitable. But one fact ought to kindle momentary interest in English readers: the young foolish Herr, in this dilapidated place, is no other than our "Old Queen Charlotte's" Father that is to be,—a kind of Ancestor of ours, though we little guessed it! English readers will scan him with new curiosity, when he pays that return visit at Reinsberg. Which he does within the fortnight:—
"TO HIS PRUSSIAN MAJESTY (from the Crown-Prince).
"REINSBERG, 6th November, 1736.
... "that my Most All-gracious Father has had the graciousness to send us some Swans. My Wife also has been exceedingly delighted at the fine Present sent her.... General Praetorius," Danish Envoy, with whose Court there is some tiff of quarrel, "came hither yesterday to take leave of us; he seems very unwilling to quit Prussia.
"This morning about three o'clock, my people woke me, with word that there was a Stafette come with Letters,"—from your Majesty or Heaven knows whom! "I spring up in all haste; and opening the Letter,—find it is from the Prince of Mirow; who informs me that 'he will be here to-day at noon.' I have got all things in readiness to receive him, as if he were the Kaiser in person; and I hope there will be material for some amusement to my Most All-gracious Father, by next post."—Next post is half a week hence:—
"TO HIS PRUSSIAN MAJESTY (from the Crown-Prince).
"REINSBERG, 11th Novemher.
... "The Prince of Mirow's visit was so curious, I must give my Most All-gracious Father a particular report of it. In my last, I mentioned how General Praetorius had come to us: he was in the room, when I entered with the Prince of Mirow; at sight of him Praetorius exclaimed, loud enough to be heard by everybody, 'VOILA LE PRINCE CAJUCA!' [Nickname out of some Romance, fallen extinct long since.] Not one of us could help laughing; and I had my own trouble to turn it so that he did not get angry.
"Scarcely was the Prince got in, when they came to tell me, for his worse luck, that Prince Heinrich," the Ill Margraf, "was come;—who accordingly trotted him out, in such a way that we thought we should all have died with laughing. Incessant praises were given him, especially for his fine clothes, his fine air, and his uncommon agility in dancing. And indeed I thought the dancing would never end.
"In the afternoon, to spoil his fine coat,"—a contrivance of the Ill Margraf's, I should think,—"we stept out to shoot at target in the rain: he would not speak of it, but one could observe he was in much anxiety about the coat. In the evening, he got a glass or two in his head, and grew extremely merry; said at last, 'He was sorry that, for divers state-reasons and businesses of moment, he must of necessity return home;'—which, however, he put off till about two in the morning. I think, next day he would not remember very much of it.
"Prince Heinrich is gone to his Regiment again;" Praetorius too is off;—and we end with the proper KOW-TOW. [OEuvres de Frederic, xvii. part 3d, p. 109.]
These Strelitzers, we said, are juniors to infatuated Schwerin; and poor Mirow is again junior to Strelitz: plainly one of the least opulent of Residences. At present, it is Dowager Apanage (WITTWEN-SITZ) to the Widow of the late Strelitz of blessed memory: here, with her one Child, a boy now grown to what manhood we see, has the Serene Dowager lived, these twenty-eight years past; a Schwartzburg by birth, "the cleverest head among them all." Twenty-eight years in dilapidated Mirow: so long has that Tailoring Duke, her eldest STEP-SON (child of a prior wife) been Supreme Head of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; employed with his needle, or we know not how,—collapsed plainly into tailoring at this date. There was but one other Son; this clever Lady's, twenty years junior,—"Prince of Mirow" whom we now see. Karl Ludwig Friedrich is the name of this one; age now twenty-eight gone. He, ever since the third month of him, when the poor Serene Father died ("May, 1703"), has been at Mirow with Mamma; getting what education there was,—not too successfully, as would appear. Eight years ago, "in 1726," Mamma sent him off upon his travels; to Geneva, Italy, France: he looked in upon Vienna, too; got a Lieutenant-Colonelcy in the Kaiser's Service, but did not like it; soon gave it up; and returned home to vegetate, perhaps to seek a wife,—having prospects of succession in Strelitz. For the Serene Half-Brother proves to have no children: were his tailoring once finished in the world, our Prince of Mirow is Duke in Chief. On this basis the wedded last year; the little Wife has already brought him one child, a Daughter; and has (as Friedrich notices) another under way, if it prosper. No lack of Daughters, nor of Sons by and by: eight years hence came the little Charlotte,—subsequently Mother of England: much to her and our astonishment. [Born (at Mirow) 19th May, 1744; married (London), 8th September, 1761; died, 18th November, 1818 (Michaelis, ii. 445, 446; Hubner, t. 195; OErtel, pp. 43, 22).]
The poor man did not live to be Duke of Strelitz; he died, 1752, in little Charlotte's eighth year; Tailor Duke SURVIVING him a few months. Little Charlotte's Brother did then succeed, and lasted till 1794; after whom a second Brother, father of the now Serene Strelitzes;—who also is genealogically notable. For from him there came another still more famous Queen: Louisa of Prussia; beautiful to look upon, as "Aunt Charlotte" was not, in a high degree; and who showed herself a Heroine in Napoleon's time, as Aunt Charlotte never was called to do. Both Aunt and Niece were women of sense, of probity, propriety; fairly beyond the average of Queens. And as to their early poverty, ridiculous to this gold-nugget generation, I rather guess it may have done them benefits which the gold-nugget generation, in its Queens and otherwise, stands far more in want of than it thinks.
But enough of this Prince of Mirow, whom Friedrich has accidentally unearthed for us. Indeed there is no farther history of him, for or against. He evidently was not thought to have invented gunpowder, by the public. And yet who knows but, in his very simplicity, there lay something far beyond the Ill Margraf to whom he was so quizzable? Poor down-pressed brother mortal; somnambulating so pacifically in Sleepy Hollow yonder, and making no complaint!
He continued, though soon with less enthusiasm, and in the end very rarely, a visitor of Friedrich's during this Reinsberg time. Patriotic English readers may as well take the few remaining vestiges, too, before quite dismissing him to Sleepy Hollow. Here they are, swept accurately together, from that Correspondence of Friedrich with Papa:—
"REINSBERG, 18th NOVEMBER, 1736.... report most submissively that the Prince of Mirow has again been here, with his Mother, Wife, Aunt, Hofdames, Cavaliers and entire Household; so that I thought it was the Flight out of Egypt [Exodus of the Jews]. I begin to have a fear of those good people, as they assured me they would have such pleasure in coming often!"
"REINSBERG, 1st FEBRUARY, 1737." Let us give it in the Original too, as a specimen of German spelling:—
"Der Prints von Mihrau ist vohr einigen thagen hier gewessen und haben wier einige Wasser schwermer in der See ihm zu Ehren gesmissen, seine frau ist mit eber thoten Printzesin nieder geKomen.—Der General schulenburg ist heute hier gekommen und wirdt morgen"—That is to say:—
"The Prince of Mirow was here a few days ago; and we let off, in honor of him, a few water-rockets over the Lake: his Wife has been brought to bed of a dead Princess. General Schulenburg [with a small s] came hither to-day; and to-morrow will"...
"REINSBERG, 28th MARCH, 1737.... Prince von Mirow was here yesterday; and tried shooting at the popinjay with us; he cannot see rightly, and shoots always with help of an opera-glass."
"RUPPIN, 20th OCTOBER, 1737. The Prince of Mirow was with us last Friday; and babbled much in his high way; among other things, white-lied to us, that the Kaiserinn gave him a certain porcelain snuff-box he was handling; but on being questioned more tightly, he confessed to me he had bought it in Vienna." [Briefe an Vater, p. 71 (CARET in OEuvres ); pp. 85-114.—See Ib. 6th November, 1737, for faint trace of a visit; and 25th September, 1739, for another still fainter, the last there is.]
And so let him somnambulate yonder, till the two Queens, like winged Psyches, one after the other, manage to emerge from him.
Friedrich's Letters to his Father are described by some Prussian Editors as "very attractive, SEHR ANZIEHENDE BRIEFE;" which, to a Foreign reader, seems a strange account of them. Letters very hard to understand completely; and rather insignificant when understood. They turn on Gifts sent to and sent from, "swans," "hams," with the unspeakable thanks for them; on recruits of so many inches; on the visitors that have been; they assure us that "there is no sickness in the regiment," or tell expressly how much:—wholly small facts; nothing of speculation, and of ceremonial pipe-clay a great deal. We know already under what nightmare conditions Friedrich wrote to his Father! The attitude of the Crown-Prince, sincerely reverent and filial, though obliged to appear ineffably so, and on the whole struggling under such mountains of encumbrance, yet loyally maintaining his equilibrium, does at last acquire, in these Letters, silently a kind of beauty to the best class of readers. But that is nearly their sole merit. By far the most human of them, that on the first visit to Mirow, the reader has now seen; and may thank us much that we show him no more of them. [Friedrich des Grossen Briefe an seinen Vater (Berlin, 1838)]. Reduced in size, by suitable omissions; and properly spelt; but with little other elucidation for a stranger: in OEuvres, xxvii. part 3d, pp, 1-123 (Berlin, 1856).
Chapter IV. — NEWS OF THE DAY.
While these Mirow visits are about their best, and much else at Reinsberg is in comfortable progress, Friedrich's first year there just ending, there come accounts from England of quarrels broken out between the Britannic Majesty and his Prince of Wales. Discrepancies risen now to a height; and getting into the very Newspapers;—the Rising Sun too little under the control of the Setting, in that unquiet Country!
Prince Fred of England did not get to the Rhine Campaign, as we saw: he got some increase of Revenue, a Household of his own; and finally a Wife, as he had requested: a Sachsen-Gotha Princess; who, peerless Wilhelmma being unattainable, was welcome to Prince Fred. She is in the family-way, this summer 1737, a very young lady still; result thought to be due—When? Result being potential Heir to the British Nation, there ought to have been good calculation of the time when! But apparently nobody had well turned his attention that way. Or if Fred and Spouse had, as is presumable, Fred had given no notice to the Paternal Majesty,—"Let Paternal Majesty, always so cross to me, look out for himself in that matter." Certain it is, Fred and Spouse, in the beginning of August, 1737, are out at Hampton Court; potential Heir due before long, and no preparation made for it. August 11th in the evening, out at solitary Hampton Court; the poor young Mother's pains came on; no Chancellor there, no Archbishop to see the birth,—in fact, hardly the least medical help, and of political altogether none. Fred, in his flurry, or by forethought,—instead of dashing off expresses, at a gallop as of Epsom, to summon the necessary persons and appliances, yoked wheeled vehicles and rolled off to the old unprovided Palace of St. James's, London, with his poor Wife in person! Unwarned, unprovided; where nevertheless she was safely delivered that same night,—safely, as if by miracle. The crisis might have taken her on the very highway: never was such an imprudence. Owing, I will believe, to Fred's sudden flurry in the unprovided moment,—unprovided, by reason of prior desuetudes and discouragements to speech, on Papa's side. A shade of malice there might also be. Papa doubts not, it was malice aforethought all of it. "Had the potential Heir of the British Nation gone to wreck, or been born on the highway, from my quarrels with this bad Fred, what a scrape had I been in!" thinks Papa, and is in a towering permanence of wrath ever since; the very Newspapers and coffee-houses and populaces now all getting vocal with it.
Papa, as it turned out, never more saw the face of Fred. Judicious Mamma, Queen Caroline, could not help a visit, one visit to the poor young Mother, so soon as proper: coming out from the visit, Prince Fred obsequiously escorting her to her carriage, found a crowd of people and populace, in front of St. James's; and there knelt down on the street, in his fine silk breeches, careless of the mud, to "beg a Mother's blessing," and show what a son he was, he for his part, in this sad discrepancy that had risen! Mamma threw a silent glance on him, containing volumes of mixed tenor; drove off; and saw no more of Fred, she either. I fear, this kneeling in the mud tells against Prince Fred; but in truth I do not know, nor even much care. [Lord Hervey, Memoirs of George the Second, ii. 362-370, 409.] What a noise in England about nothing at all!—What a noisy Country, your Prussian Majesty! Foolish "rising sun" not restrainable there by the setting or shining one; opposition parties bowling him about among the constellations, like a very mad object!—
But in a month or two, there comes worse news out of England; falling heavy on the heart of Prussian Majesty: news that Queen Caroline herself is dead. ["Sunday evening, 1st December (20th Nov.), 1737." Ib. pp. 510-539.] Died as she had lived, with much constancy of mind, with a graceful modest courage and endurance; sinking quietly under the load of private miseries long quietly kept hidden, but now become too heavy, and for which the appointed rest was now here. Little George blubbered a good deal; fidgeted and flustered a good deal: much put about, poor foolish little soul. The dying Caroline recommended HIM to Walpole; advised his Majesty to marry again. "Non, j'aurai des maitresses (No, I'll have mistresses)!" sobbed his Majesty passionately. "Ah, mon Dieu, cela n'empeche pas" (that does not an experience of the case). There is something stoically tragic in the history of Caroline with her flighty vaporing little King: seldom had foolish husband so wise a wife. "Dead!" thought Friedrich Wilhelm, looking back through the whirlwinds of life, into sunny young scenes far enough away: "Dead!"—Walpole continued to manage the little King; but not for long; England itself rising in objection. Jenkins's Ear, I understand, is lying in cotton; and there are mad inflammable strata in that Nation, capable of exploding at a great rate.
From the Eastern regions our Newspapers are very full of events: War with the Turk going on there; Russia and Austria both doing their best against the Turk. The Russians had hardly finished their Polish-Election fighting, when they decided to have a stroke at the Turk,—Turk always an especial eye-sorrow to them, since that "Treaty of the Pruth," and Czar Peter's sad rebuff there:—Munnich marched direct out of Poland through the Ukraine, with his eye on the Crimea and furious business in that quarter. This is his second Campaign there, this of 1737; and furious business has not failed. Last year he stormed the Lines of Perecop, tore open the Crimea; took Azoph, he or Lacy under him; took many things: this year he had laid his plans for Oczakow;—takes Oczakow,—fiery event, blazing in all the Newspapers, at Reinsberg and elsewhere. Concerning which will the reader accept this condensed testimony by an eye-witness?
"OCZAKOW, 13th JULY, 1737. Day before yesterday, Feldmarschall Munnich got to Oczakow, as he had planned,"—strong Turkish Town in the nook between the Black Sea and the estuary of the Dnieper;—"with intention to besiege it. Siege-train, stores of every sort, which he had set afloat upon the Dnieper in time enough, were to have been ready for him at Oczakow. But the flotilla had been detained by shallows, by waterfalls; not a boat was come, nor could anybody say when they were coming. Meanwhile nothing is to be had here; the very face of the earth the Turks have burnt: not a blade of grass for cavalry within eight miles, nor a stick of wood for engineers; not a hole for covert, and the ground so hard you cannot raise redoubts on it: Munnich perceives he must attempt, nevertheless.
"On his right, by the sea-shore, Munnich finds some remains of gardens, palisades; scrapes together some vestige of shelter there (five thousand, or even ten thousand pioneers working desperately all that first night, 11th July, with only half success); and on the morrow commences firing with what artillery he has. Much outfired by the Turks inside;—his enterprise as good as desperate, unless the Dnieper flotilla come soon. July 12th, all day the firing continues, and all night; Turks extremely furious: about an hour before daybreak, we notice burning in the interior, 'Some wooden house kindled by us, town got on fire yonder,'—and, praise to Heaven, they do not seem to succeed in quenching it again. Munnich turns out, in various divisions; intent on trying something, had he the least engineer furniture;—hopes desperately there may be promise for him in that internal burning still visible.
"In the centre of Munnich's line is one General Keith, a deliberate stalwart Scotch gentleman, whom we shall know better; Munnich himself is to the right: Could not one try it by scalade; keep the internal burning free to spread, at any rate? 'Advance within musket-shot, General Keith!' orders Munnich's Aide-de-Camp cantering up. 'I have been this good while within it,' answers Keith, pointing to his dead men. Aide-de-Camp canters up a second time: 'Advance within half musket-shot, General Keith, and quit any covert you have!' Keith does so; sends, with his respects to Feldmarschall Munnich, his remonstrance against such a waste of human life. Aide-de-Camp canters up a third time: 'Feldmarschall Munnich is for trying a scalade; hopes General Keith will do his best to co-operate!' 'Forward, then!' answers Keith; advances close to the glacis; finds a wet ditch twelve feet broad, and has not a stick of engineer furniture. Keith waits there two hours; his men, under fire all the while, trying this and that to get across; Munnich's scalade going off ineffectual in like manner:—till at length Keith's men, and all men, tire of such a business, and roll back in great confusion out of shot-range. Munnich gives himself up for lost. And indeed, says Mannstein, had the Turks sallied out in pursuit at that moment, they might have chased us back to Russia. But the Turks did not sally. And the internal conflagration is not quenched, far from it;—and about nine A.M. their Powder-Magazine, conflagration reaching it, roared aloft into the air, and killed seven thousand of them," [Mannstein, pp. 151-156.]—
So that Oczakow was taken, sure enough; terms, life only: and every remaining Turk packs off from it, some "twenty thousand inhabitants young and old" for one sad item.—A very blazing semi-absurd event, to be read of in Prussian military circles,—where General Keith will be better known one day.
Russian War with the Turk: that means withal, by old Treaties, aid of thirty thousand men from the Kaiser to Russia. Kaiser, so ruined lately, how can he send thirty thousand, and keep them recruited, in such distant expedition? Kaiser, much meditating, is advised it will be better to go frankly into the Turk on his own score, and try for slices of profit from him in this game. Kaiser declares war against the Turk; and what is still more interesting to Friedrich Wilhelm and the Berlin Circles, Seckendorf is named General of it. Feldzeugmeister now Feldmarschall Seckendorf, envy may say what it will, he has marched this season into the Lower-Donau Countries,—going to besiege Widdin, they say,—at the head of a big Army (on paper, almost a hundred and fifty thousand, light troops and heavy)—virtually Commander-in-Chief; though nominally our fine young friend Franz of Lorraine bears the title of Commander, whom Seckendorf is to dry-nurse in the way sometimes practised. Going to besiege Widdin, they say. So has the poor Kaiser been advised. His wise old Eugene is now gone; [Died 30th April, 1736.] I fear his advisers,—a youngish Feldzeugmeister, Prince of Hildburghausen, the chief favorite among them,—are none of the wisest. All Protestants, we observe, these favorite Hildburghausens, Schmettaus, Seckendorfs of his; and Vienna is an orthodox papal Court;—and there is a Hofkriegsrath (Supreme Council of War), which has ruined many a General, poking too meddlesomely into his affairs! On the whole, Seckendorf will have his difficulties. Here is a scene, on the Lower Donau, different enough from that at Oczakow, not far from contemporaneous with it. The Austrian Army is at Kolitz, a march or two beyond Belgrade:—
"KOLITZ, 2d JULY, 1737. This day, the Army not being on march, but allowed to rest itself, Grand Duke Franz went into the woods to hunt. Hunting up and down, he lost himself; did not return at evening; and, as the night closed in and no Generalissimo visible, the Generalissimo AD LATUS (such the title they had contrived for Seckendorf) was in much alarm. Generalissimo AD LATUS ordered out his whole force of drummers, trumpeters: To fling themselves, postwise, deeper and deeper into the woods all round; to drum there, and blow, in ever-widening circle, in prescribed notes, and with all energy, till the Grand Duke were found. Grand Duke being found, Seckendorf remonstrated, rebuked; a thought too earnestly, some say, his temper being flurried,"—voice snuffling somewhat in alt, with lisp to help:—"so that the Grand Duke took offence; flung off in a huff: and always looked askance on the Feldmarschall from that time;" [See Lebensgeschichte des Grafen van Schmettau (by his Son: Berlin, 1806), i. 27.]—quitting him altogether before long; and marching with Khevenhuller, Wallis, Hildburghausen, or any of the subordinate Generals rather. Probably Widdin will not go the road of Oczakow, nor the Austrians prosper like the Russians, this summer.
Pollnitz, in Tobacco-Parliament, and in certain Berlin circles foolishly agape about this new Feldmarschall, maintains always, Seckendorf will come to nothing; which his Majesty zealously contradicts,—his Majesty, and some short-sighted private individuals still favorable to Seckendorf. [Pollnitz, Memoiren, ii. 497-502.] Exactly one week after that singular drum-and-trumpet operation on Duke Franz, the Last of the Medici dies at Florence; [9th July (Fastes de Louis XV., p. 304).] and Serene Franz, if he knew it, is Grand Duke of Tuscany, according to bargain: a matter important to himself chiefly, and to France, who, for Stanislaus and Lorraine's sake, has had to pay him some 200,000 pounds a year during the brief intermediate state.
OF BERG AND JULICH AGAIN; AND OF LUISCIUS WITH THE ONE RAZOR.
These remote occurrences are of small interest to his Prussian Majesty, in comparison with the Pfalz affair, the Cleve-Julich succession, which lies so near home. His Majesty is uncommonly anxious to have this matter settled, in peace, if possible. Kaiser and Reich, with the other Mediating Powers, go on mediating; but when will they decide? This year the old Bishop of Augsburg, one Brother of the older Kur-Pfalz Karl Philip, dies; nothing now between us and the event itself, but Karl Philip alone, who is verging towards eighty: the decision, to be peaceable, ought to be speedy! Friedrich Wilhelm, in January last, sent the expert Degenfeld, once of London, to old Karl Philip; and has him still there, with the most conciliatory offers: "Will leave your Sulzbachs a part, then; will be content with part, instead of the whole, which is mine if there be force in sealed parchment; will do anything for peace!" To which the old Kur-Pfalz, foolish old creature, is steadily deaf; answers vaguely, negatively always, in a polite manner; pushing his Majesty upon extremities painful to think of. "We hate war; but cannot quite do without justice, your Serenity," thinks Friedrich Wilhelm: "must it be the eighty thousand iron ramrods, then?" Obstinate Serenity continues deaf; and Friedrich Wilhelm's negotiations, there at Mannheim, over in Holland, and through Holland with England, not to speak of Kaiser and Reich close at hand, become very intense; vehemently earnest, about this matter, for the next two years. The details of which, inexpressibly uninteresting, shall be spared the reader.
Summary is, these Mediating Powers will be of no help to his Majesty;
not even the Dutch will, with whom he is specially in friendship: nay, in the third year it becomes fatally manifest, the chief Mediating Powers, Kaiser and France, listening rather to political convenience, than to the claims of justice, go direct in Kur-Pfalz's favor;—by formal treaty of their own, ["Versailles, 13th January, 1739" (Olrich, Geschichte der Schlesischen Kriege, i. 13); Mauvillon, ii 405-446; &c.] France and the Kaiser settle, "That the Sulzbachers shall, as a preliminary, get provisional possession, on the now Serenity's decease; and shall continue undisturbed for two years, till Law decide between his Prussian Majesty and them." Two years; Law decide;—and we know what are the NINE-POINTS in a Law-case! This, at last, proved too much for his Majesty. Majesty's abstruse dubitations, meditations on such treatment by a Kaiser and others, did then, it appears, gloomily settle into fixed private purpose of trying it by the iron ramrods, when old Kur-Pfalz should die,—of marching with eighty thousand men into the Cleve Countries, and SO welcoming any Sulzbach or other guests that might arrive. Happily old Kur-Pfalz did not die in his Majesty's time; survived his Majesty several years: so that the matter fell into other hands,—and was settled very well, near a century after.
Of certain wranglings with the little Town of Herstal,—Prussian Town (part of the Orange Heritage, once KING PEPIN'S Town, if that were any matter now) in the Bishop of Liege's neighborhood, Town highly insignificant otherwise,—we shall say nothing here, as they will fall to be treated, and be settled, at an after stage. Friedrich Wilhelm was much grieved by the contumacies of that paltry little Herstal; and by the Bishop of Liege's high-flown procedures in countenancing them;—especially in a recruiting ease that had fallen out there, and brought matters to a head. ["December, 1738," is crisis of the recruiting case (Helden-Geschichte, ii. 63); "17th February, 1739," Bishop's high-flown appearance in it (ib. 67); Kaiser's in consequence, "10th April, 1739."] The Kaiser too was afflictively high in countenancing the Bishop;—-for which both Kaiser and Bishop got due payment in time. But his Prussian Majesty would not kindle the world for such a paltriness; and so left it hanging in a vexatious condition. Such things, it is remarked, weigh heavier on his now infirm Majesty than they were wont. He is more subject to fits of hypochondria, to talk of abdicating. "All gone wrong!" he would say, if any little flaw rose, about recruiting or the like. "One might go and live at Venice, were one rid of it!" [Forster (place LOST).] And his deep-stung clangorous growl against the Kaiser's treatment of him bursts out, from time to time; though he oftenest pities the Kaiser, too; seeing him at such a pass with his Turk War and otherwise.
It was in this Pfalz business that Herr Luiscius, the Prussian Minister in Holland, got into trouble; of whom there is a light dash of outline-portraiture by Voltaire, which has made him memorable to readers. This "fat King of Prussia," says Voltaire, was a dreadfully avaricious fellow, unbeautiful to a high degree in his proceedings with mankind:—
"He had a Minister at the Hague called Luiscius; who certainly of all Ministers of Crowned Heads was the worst paid. This poor man, to warm himself, had made some trees be felled in the Garden of Honslardik, which belonged at that time to the House of Prussia; he thereupon received despatches from the King, intimating that a year of his salary was forfeited. Luiscius, in despair, cut his throat with probably the one razor he had (SEUL RASOIR QU'IL EUT); an old valet came to his assistance, and unhappily saved his life. In after years, I found his Excellency at the Hague; and have occasionally given him an alms at the door of the VIEILLE COUR (Old Court), a Palace belonging to the King of Prussia, where this poor Ambassador had lived a dozen years. It must be owned, Turkey is a republic in comparison to the despotism exercised by Friedrich Wilhelm." [OEuvres de Voltaire (Vie Pricee, or what they now call Memoires ), ii. 15.]
Here truly is a witty sketch; consummately dashed off, as nobody but Voltaire could; "round as Giotto's O," done at one stroke. Of which the prose facts are only as follows. Luiscius, Prussian Resident, not distinguished by salary or otherwise, had, at one stage of these negotiations, been told, from head-quarters, He might, in casual extra-official ways, if it seemed furthersome, give their High Mightinesses the hope, or notion, that his Majesty did not intend actual war about that Cleve-Julich Succession,—being a pacific Majesty, and unwilling to involve his neighbors and mankind. Luiscius, instead of casual hint delicately dropped in some good way, had proceeded by direct declaration; frank assurance to the High Mightinesses, That there would be no war. Which had never been quite his Majesty's meaning, and perhaps was now becoming rather the reverse of it. Disavowal of Luiscius had to ensue thereupon; who produced defensively his instruction from head-quarters; but got only rebukes for such heavy-footed clumsy procedure, so unlike Diplomacy with its shoes of felt;—and, in brief, was turned out of the Diplomatic function, as unfit for it; and appointed to manage certain Orange Properties, fragments of the Orange Heritage which his Majesty still has in those Countries. This misadventure sank heavily on the spirits of Luiscius, otherwise none of the strongest-minded of men. Nor did he prosper in managing the Orange Properties: on the contrary, he again fell into mistakes; got soundly rebuked for injudicious conduct there,—"cutting trees," planting trees, or whatever it was;—and this produced such an effect on Luiscius, that he made an attempt on his own throat, distracted mortal; and was only stopped by somebody rushing in. "It was not the first time he had tried that feat," says Pollnitz, "and been prevented; nor was it long till he made a new attempt, which was again frustrated: and always afterwards his relations kept him close in view:" Majesty writing comfortable forgiveness to the perturbed creature, and also "settling a pension on him;" adequate, we can hope, and not excessive; "which Luiscius continued to receive, at the Hague, so long as he lived." These are the prose facts; not definitely dated to us, but perfectly clear otherwise. [Pollnitz, ii. 495, 496;—the "NEW attempt" seems to have been "June, 1739" ( Gentleman's Magazine, in mense, p. 331).]
Voltaire, in his Dutch excursions, did sometimes, in after years, lodge in that old vacant Palace, called VIEILLE COUR, at the Hague; where he gracefully celebrates the decayed forsaken state of matters; dusky vast rooms with dim gilding; forgotten libraries "veiled under the biggest spider-webs in Europe;" for the rest, an uncommonly quiet place, convenient for a writing man, besides costing nothing. A son of this Luiscius, a good young lad, it also appears, was occasionally Voltaire's amanuensis there; him he did recommend zealously to the new King of Prussia, who was not deaf on the occasion. This, in the fire of satirical wit, is what we can transiently call "giving alms to a Prussian Excellency;"—not now excellent, but pensioned and cracked; and the reader perceives, Luiscius had probably more than one razor, had not one been enough, when he did the rash act. Friedrich employed Luiscius Junior, with no result that we hear of farther; and seems to have thought Luiscius Senior an absurd fellow, not worth mentioning again: "ran away from the Cleve Country [probably some mad-house there] above a year ago, I hear; and what is the matter where such a crack-brain end?" [Voltaire, OEuvres (Letter to Friedrich, 7th October, 1740), lxxii. 261; and Fredrich's answer (wrong dated), ib. 265; Preuss, xxii. 33.]
Chapter V. — VISIT AT LOO.
The Pfalz question being in such a predicament, and Luiscius diplomatizing upon it in such heavy-footed manner, his Majesty thinks a journey to Holland, to visit one's Kinsfolk there, and incidentally speak a word with the High Mightinesses upon Pfalz, would not be amiss. Such journey is decided on; Crown-Prince to accompany. Summer of 1738: a short visit, quite without fuss; to last only three days;—mere sequel to the Reviews held in those adjacent Cleve Countries; so that the Gazetteers may take no notice. All which was done accordingly: Crown-Prince's first sight of Holland; and one of the few reportable points of his Reinsberg life, and not quite without memorability to him and us.
On the 8th of July, 1738, the Review Party got upon the road for Wesel: all through July, they did their reviewing in those Cleve Countries; and then struck across for the Palace of Loo in Geldern, where a Prince of Orange countable kinsman to his Prussian Majesty, and a Princess still more nearly connected,—English George's Daughter, own niece to his Prussian Majesty,—are in waiting for this distinguished honor. The Prince of Orange we have already seen, for a moment once; at the siege of Philipsburg four years ago, when the sale of Chasot's horses went off so well. "Nothing like selling horses when your company have dined well," whispered he to Chasot, at that time; since which date we have heard nothing of his Highness.
He is not a beautiful man; he has a crooked back, and features conformable; but is of prompt vivacious nature, and does not want for sense and good-humor. Paternal George, the gossips say, warned his Princess, when this marriage was talked of, "You will find him very ill-looking, though!" "And if I found him a baboon—!" answered she; being so heartily tired of St. James's. And in fact, for anything I have heard, they do well enough together. She is George II.'s eldest Princess;—next elder to our poor Amelia, who was once so interesting to us! What the Crown-Prince now thought of all that, I do not know; but the Books say, poor Amelia wore the willow, and specially wore the Prince's miniature on her breast all her days after, which were many. Grew corpulent, somewhat a huddle in appearance and equipment, "eyelids like upper-LIPS," for one item: but when life itself fled, the miniature was found in its old place, resting on the old heart after some sixty years. O Time, O Sons and Daughters of Time!—
His Majesty's reception at Loo was of the kind he liked,—cordial, honorable, unceremonious; and these were three pleasant days he had. Pleasant for the Crown-Prince too; as the whole Journey had rather been; Papa, with covert satisfaction, finding him a wise creature, after all, and "more serious" than formerly. "Hm, you don't know what things are in that Fritz!" his Majesty murmured sometimes, in these later years, with a fine light in his eyes.
Loo itself is a beautiful Palace: "Loo, close by the Village Appeldoorn, is a stately brick edifice, built with architectural regularity; has finely decorated rooms, beautiful gardens, and round are superb alleys of oak and linden." [Busching, Erdbeschreibung, viii. 69.] There saunters pleasantly our Crown-Prince, for these three days;—and one glad incident I do perceive to have befallen him there: the arrival of a Letter from Voltaire. Letter much expected, which had followed him from Wesel; and which he answers here, in this brick Palace, among the superb avenues and gardens. [OEuvres, xxi. 203, the Letter, "Cirey, June, 1738;" Ib. 222, the Answer to it, "Loo, 6th August, 1738."]
No doubt a glad incident, irradiating, as with a sudden sunburst in gray weather, the commonplace of things. Here is news worth listening to; news as from the empyrean! Free interchange of poetries and proses, of heroic sentiments and opinions, between the Unique of Sages and the Paragon of Crown-Princes; how charming to both! Literary business, we perceive, is brisk on both hands; at Cirey the Discours sur l'Homme ("Sixth DISCOURS" arrives in this packet at Loo, surely a deathless piece of singing); nor is Reinsberg idle: Reinsberg is copiously doing verse, such verse! and in prose, very earnestly, an "ANTI-MACHIAVEL;" which soon afterwards filled all the then world, though it has now fallen so silent again. And at Paris, as Voltaire announces with a flourish, "M. de Maupertuis's excellent Book, Figure de la T'erre, is out;" [Paris, 1738: Maupertuis's "measurement of a degree," in the utmost North, 1736-1737 (to prove the Earth flattened there). Vivid Narrative; somewhat gesticulative, but duly brief. The only Book of that great Maupertuis which is now readable to human nature.] M. de Maupertuis, home from the Polar regions and from measuring the Earth there; the sublimest miracle in Paris society at present. Might build, new-build, an ACADEMY OF SCIENCES at Berlin for your Royal Highness, one day? suggests Voltaire, on this occasion: and Friedrich, as we shall see, takes the hint. One passage of the Crown-Prince's Answer is in these terms;—fixing this Loo visit to its date for us, at any rate:—
"LOO IN HOLLAND, 6th AUGUST, 1739.... I write from a place where there lived once a great man [William III. of England, our Dutch William]; which is now the Prince of Orange's House. The demon of Ambition sheds its unhappy poisons over his days. He might be the most fortunate of men; and he is devoured by chagrins in his beautiful Palace here, in the middle of his gardens and of a brilliant Court. It is pity in truth; for he is a Prince with no end of wit (INFINIMENT D'ESPRIT), and has respectable qualites." Not Stadtholder, unluckily; that is where the shoe pinches; the Dutch are on the Republican tack, and will not have a Stadtholder at present. No help for it in one's beautiful gardens and avenues of oak and linden.
"I have talked a great deal about Newton with the Princess,"—about Newton; never hinted at Amelia; not permissible!—"from Newton we passed to Leibnitz; and from Leibnitz to the Late Queen of England," Caroline lately gone, "who, the Prince told me, was of Clarke's sentiment" on that important theological controversy now dead to mankind.—And of Jenkins and his Ear did the Princess say nothing? That is now becoming a high phenomenon in England! But readers must wait a little.
Pity that we cannot give these two Letters in full; that no reader, almost, could be made to understand them, or to care for them when understood. Such the cruelty of Time upon this Voltaire-Friedrich Correspondence, and some others; which were once so rosy, sunny, and are now fallen drearily extinct,—studiable by Editors only! In itself the Friedrich-Voltaire Correspondence, we can see, was charming; very blossomy at present: businesses increasing; mutual admiration now risen to a great height,—admiration sincere on both sides, most so on the Prince's, and extravagantly expressed on both sides, most so on Voltaire's.
CROWN-PRINCE BECOMES A FREEMASON; AND IS HARANGUED BY MONSIEUR DE
His Majesty, we said, had three pleasant days at Loo; discoursing, as with friends, on public matters, or even on more private matters, in a frank unconstrained way. He is not to be called "Majesty" on this occasion; but the fact, at Loo, and by the leading Mightinesses of the Republic, who come copiously to compliment him there, is well remembered. Talk there was, with such leading Mightinesses, about the Julich-and-Berg question, aim of this Journey: earnest enough private talk with some of them: but it availed nothing; and would not be worth reporting now to any creature, if we even knew it. In fact, the Journey itself remains mentionable chiefly by one very trifling circumstance; and then by another, not important either, which followed out of that. The trifling circumstance is,—That Friedrich, in the course of this Journey, became a Freemason: and the unimportant sequel was, That he made acquaintance with one Bielfeld, on the occasion; who afterwards wrote a Book about him, which was once much read, though never much worth reading, and is still citable, with precaution, now and then. [Monsieur le Baron de Bielfeld, Lettres Familieres et Autres, 1763;—second edition, 2 vols. a Leide, 1767, is the one we use here.] Trifling circumstance, of Freemasonry, as we read in Bielfeld and in many Books after him, befell in manner following.
Among the dinner-guests at Loo, one of those three days, was a Prince of Lippe-Buckeburg,—Prince of small territory, but of great speculation; whose territory lies on the Weser, leading to Dutch connections; and whose speculations stretch over all the Universe, in a high fantastic style:—he was a dinner-guest; and one of the topics that came up was Freemasonry; a phantasmal kind of object, which had kindled itself, or rekindled, in those years, in England first of all; and was now hovering about, a good deal, in Germany and other countries; pretending to be a new light of Heaven, and not a bog-meteor of phosphorated hydrogen, conspicuous in the murk of things. Bog-meteor, foolish putrescent will-o'-wisp, his Majesty promptly defined it to be: Tom-foolery and KINDERSPIEL, what else? Whereupon ingenious Buckeburg, who was himself a Mason, man of forty by this time, and had high things in him of the Quixotic type, ventured on defence; and was so respectful, eloquent, dexterous, ingenious, he quite captivated, if not his Majesty, at least the Crown-Prince, who was more enthusiastic for high things. Crown-Prince, after table, took his Durchlaucht of Buckeburg aside; talked farther on the subject, expressed his admiration, his conviction,—his wish to be admitted into such a Hero Fraternity. Nothing could be welcomer to Durchlaucht. And so, in all privacy, it was made up betweeen them, That Durchlaucht, summoning as many mystic Brothers out of Hamburg as were needful, should be in waiting with them, on the Crown-Prince's road homeward,—say at Brunswick, night before the Fair, where we are to be,—and there make the Crown-Prince a Mason. [Bielfeld, i. 14-16; Preuss, i. 111; Preuss, Buch fur Jedermann, i. 41.]
This is Bielfeld's account, repeated ever since; substantially correct, except that the scene was not Loo at all: dinner and dialogue, it now appears, took place in Durchlaucht's own neighborhood, during the Cleve Review time; "probably at Minden, 17th July;" and all was settled into fixed program before Loo came in sight. [OEuvres de Frederic, xvs. 201: Friedrich's Letter to this Durchlaucht, "Comte de Schaumbourg-Lippe" he calls him; date, "Moyland, 26th July, 1738: "Moyland, a certain SCHLOSS, or habitable Mansion, of his Majesty's, few miles to north of Mors in the Cleve Country; where his Majesty used often to pause;—and where (what will be much more remarkable to readers) the Crown-Prince and Voltaire had their first meeting, two years hence.] Bielfeld's report of the subsequent procedure at Brunswick, as he saw it and was himself part of it, is liable to no mistakes, at least of the involuntary kind; and may, for anything we know, be correct in every particular.
He says (veiling it under discreet asterisks, which are now decipherable enough), The Durchlaucht of Lippe-Buckeburg had summoned six Brethren of the Hamburg Lodge; of whom we mention only a Graf von Kielmannsegge, a Baron von Oberg, both from Hanover, and Bielfeld himself, a Merchant's Son, of Hamburg; these, with "Kielmannsegge's Valet to act as Tiler," Valet being also a Mason, and the rule equality of mankind,—were to have the honor of initiating the Crown-Prince. They arrived at the Western Gate of Brunswick on the 11th of August, as prearranged; Prussian Majesty not yet come, but coming punctually on the morrow. It is Fair-time; all manner of traders, pedlers, showmen rendezvousing; many neighboring Nobility too, as was still the habit. "Such a bulk of light luggage?" said the Custom-house people at the Gate;—but were pacified by slipping them a ducat. Upon which we drove to "Korn's Hotel" (if anybody now knew it); and there patiently waited. No great things of a Hotel, says Bielfeld; but can be put up with;—worst feature is, we discover a Hanover acquaintance lodging close by, nothing but a wooden partition between us: How if he should overhear!—
Prussian Majesty and suite, under universal cannon-salvos, arrived, Sunday the 12th; to stay till Wednesday (three days) with his august Son-in-law and Daughter here. Durchlaucht Lippe presents himself at Court, the rest of us not; privately settles with the Prince: "Tuesday night, eve of his Majesty's departure; that shall be the night: at Korn's Hotel, late enough!" And there, accordingly, on the appointed night, 14th-15th August, 1738, the light-luggage trunks have yielded their stage-properties; Jachin and Boaz are set up, and all things are ready; Tiler (Kielmannsegge's Valet) watching with drawn sword against the profane. As to our Hanover neighbor, on the other side the partition, says Bielfeld, we waited on him, this day after dinner, successively paying our respects; successively pledged him in so many bumpers, he is lying dead drunk hours ago, could not overhear a cannon-battery, he. And soon after midnight, the Crown-Prince glides in, a Captain Wartensleben accompanying, who is also a candidate; and the mysterious rites are accomplished on both of them, on the Crown-Prince first, without accident, and in the usual way.
Bielfeld could not enough admire the demeanor of this Prince, his clearness, sense, quiet brilliancy; and how he was so "intrepid," and "possessed himself so gracefully in the most critical instants." Extremely genial air, and so young, looks younger even than his years: handsome to a degree, though of short stature. Physiognomy, features, quite charming; fine auburn hair (BEAU BRUN), a negligent plenty of it; "his large blue eyes have something at once severe, sweet and gracious." Eligible Mason indeed. Had better make despatch at present, lest Papa be getting on the road before him!—Bielfeld delivered a small address, composed beforehand; with which the Prince seemed to be content. And so, with masonic grip, they made their adieus for the present; and the Crown-Prince and Wartensleben were back at their posts, ready for the road along with his Majesty.
His Majesty came on Sunday; goes on Wednesday, home now at a stretch; and, we hope, has had a good time of it here, these three days. Daughter Charlotte and her Serene Husband, well with their subjects, well with one another, are doing well; have already two little Children; a Boy the elder, of whom we have heard: Boy's name is Karl, age now three; sprightly, reckoned very clever, by the fond parents;—who has many things to do in the world, by and by; to attack the French Revolution, and be blown to pieces by it on the Field of Jena, for final thing! That is the fate of little Karl, who frolics about here, so sunshiny and ingenuous at present.
Karl's Grandmother, the Serene Dowager Duchess, Friedrich's own Mother-in-law, his Majesty and Friedrich would also of course see here. Fine Younger Sons of hers are coming forward; the reigning Duke beautifully careful about the furtherance of these Cadets of the House. Here is Prince Ferdinand, for instance; just getting ready for the Grand Tour; goes in a month hence: [Mauvillon (FILS, son of him whom we cite otherwise), Geschichte Ferdinands Herzogs von Braunschweig-Luneburg (Leipzig, 1794), i. 17-25.] a fine eupeptic loyal young fellow; who, in a twenty years more, will be Chatham's Generalissimo, and fight the French to some purpose. A Brother of his, the next elder, is now fighting the Turks for his Kaiser; does not like it at all, under such Seckendorfs and War-Ministries as there are. Then, elder still, eldest of all the Cadets, there is Anton Ulrich, over at Petersburg for some years past, with outlooks high enough: To wed the Mecklenburg Princess there (Daughter of the unutterable Duke), and be as good as Czar of all the Russias one day. Little to his profit, poor soul!—These, historically ascertainable, are the aspects of the Brunswick Court during those three days of Royal Visit, in Fair-time; and may serve to date the Masonic Transaction for us, which the Crown-Prince has just accomplished over at Korn's.
As for the Transaction itself, there is intrinsically no harm in this initiation, we will hope: but it behooves to be kept well hidden from Papa. Papa's good opinion of the Prince has sensibly risen, in the course of this Journey, "so rational, serious, not dangling about among the women as formerly;"—and what a shock would this of Korn's Hotel be, should Papa hear of it! Poor Papa, from officious tale-bearers he hears many things: is in distress about Voltaire, about Heterodoxies;—and summoned the Crown-Prince, by express, from Reinsberg, on one occasion lately, over to Potsdam, "to take the Communion" there, by way of case-hardening against Voltaire and Heterodoxies! Think of it, human readers!—We will add the following stray particulars, more or less illustrative of the Masonic Transaction; and so end that trifling affair.
The Captain Wartensleben, fellow-recipient of the mysteries at Brunswick, is youngest son, by a second marriage, of old Feldmarschall Wartensleben, now deceased; and is consequently Uncle, Half-Uncle, of poor Lieutenant Katte, though some years younger than Katte would now have been. Tender memories hang by Wartensleben, in a silent way! He is Captain in the Potsdam Giants; somewhat an intimate, and not undeservedly so, of the Crown-Prince;—succeeds Wolden as Hofmarschall at Reinsberg, not many months after this; Wolden having died of an apoplectic stroke. Of Bielfeld comes a Book, slightly citable; from no other of the Brethren, or their Feat at Kern's, comes (we may say) anything whatever. The Crown-Prince prosecuted his Masonry, at Reinsberg or elsewhere, occasionally, for a year or two; but was never ardent in it; and very soon after his Accession, left off altogether: "Child's-play and IGNIS FATUUS mainly!" A Royal Lodge was established at Berlin, of which the new King consented to be patron; but he never once entered the place; and only his Portrait (a welcomely good one, still to be found there) presided over the mysteries in that Establishment. Harmless "fire," but too "fatuous;" mere flame-circles cut in the air, for infants, we know how!—
With Lippe-Buckeburg there ensued some Correspondence, high enough on his Serenity's side; but it soon languished on the Prince's side; and in private Poetry, within a two years of this Brunswick scene, we find Lippe used proverbially for a type-specimen of Fools. ["Taciturne, Caton, avec mes bons parents, Aussi fou que la Lippe met les jeunes gens." OEuvres, xi. 80 (Discours sur la Faussete, written 1740).] A windy fantastic individual;—overwhelmed in finance-difficulties too! Lippe continued writing; but "only Secretaries now answered him" from Berlin. A son of his, son and successor, something of a Quixote too, but notable in Artillery-practice and otherwise, will turn up at a future stage.
Nor is Bielfeld with his Book a thing of much moment to Friedrich or to us. Bielfeld too has a light airy vein of talk; loves Voltaire and the Philosophies in a light way;—knows the arts of Society, especially the art of flattering; and would fain make himself agreeable to the Crown-Prince, being anxious to rise in the world. His Father is a Hamburg Merchant, Hamburg "Sealing-wax Manufacturer," not ill off for money: Son has been at schools, high schools, under tutors, posture-masters; swashes about on those terms, with French ESPRIT in his mouth, and lace ruffles at his wrists; still under thirty; showy enough, sharp enough; considerably a coxcomb, as is still evident. He did transiently get about Friedrich, as we shall see; and hoped to have sold his heart to good purpose there;—was, by and by, employed in slight functions; not found fit for grave ones. In the course of some years, he got a title of Baron; and sold his heart more advantageously, to some rich Widow or Fraulein; with whom he retired to Saxony, and there lived on an Estate he had purchased, a stranger to Prussia thenceforth.
His Book (Lettres Familieres et Autres, all turning on Friedrich), which came out in 1763, at the height of Friedrich's fame, and was much read, is still freely cited by Historians as an Authority. But the reading of a few pages sufficiently intimates that these "Letters" never can have gone through a terrestrial Post-office; that they are an afterthought, composed from vague memory and imagination, in that fine Saxon retreat;—a sorrowful ghost-like "TRAVELS OF ANACHARSIS," instead of living words by an eye-witness! Not to be cited "freely" at all, but sparingly and under conditions. They abound in small errors, in misdates, mistakes; small fictions even, and impossible pretensions:—foolish mortal, to write down his bit of knowledge in that form! For the man, in spite of his lace ruffles and gesticulations, has brisk eyesight of a superficial kind: he COULD have done us this little service (apparently his one mission in the world, for which Nature gave him bed and board here); and he, the lace ruffles having gone into his soul, has been tempted into misdoing it!—Bielfeld and Bielfeld's Book, such as they are, appear to be the one conquest Friedrich got of Freemasonry; no other result now traceable to us of that adventure in Korn's Hotel, crowning event of the Journey to Loo.
SECKENDORF GETS LODGED IN GRATZ.
Feldmarschall Seckendorf, after unheard-of wrestlings with the Turk War, and the Vienna War-Office (HOFKRIEGSRATH), is sitting, for the last three weeks,—where thinks the reader?—in the Fortress of Gratz among the Hills of Styria; a State-Prisoner, not likely to get out soon! Seckendorf led forth, in 1737, "such an Army, for number, spirit and equipment," say the Vienna people, "as never marched against the Turk before;" and it must be owned, his ill success has been unparalleled. The blame was not altogether his; not chiefly his, except for his rash undertaking of the thing, on such terms as there were. But the truth is, that first scene we saw of him,—an Army all gone out trumpeting and drumming into the woods to FIND its Commander-in-Chief,—was an emblem of the Campaign in general. Excellent Army; but commanded by nobody in particular; commanded by a HOFKRIEGSRATH at Vienna, by a Franz Duke of Tuscany, by Feldmarschall Seckendorf, and by subordinates who were disobedient to him: which accordingly, almost without help of the Turk and his disorderly ferocity, rubbed itself to pieces before long. Roamed about, now hither now thither, with plans laid and then with plans suddenly altered, Captain being Chaos mainly; in swampy countries, by overflowing rivers, in hunger, hot weather, forced marches; till it was marched gradually off its feet; and the clouds of chaotic Turks, who did finally show face, had a cheap pennyworth of it. Never was such a campaign seen as this of Seckendorf in 1737, said mankind. Except indeed that the present one, Campaign of 1738, in those parts, under a different hand, is still worse; and the Campaign of 1739, under still a different, will be worst of all!—Kaiser Karl and his Austrians do not prosper in this Turk War, as the Russians do,—who indeed have got a General equal to his task: Munnich, a famed master in the art of handling Turks and War-Ministries: real father of Russian Soldiering, say the Russians still. [See MANNSTEIN for Munnich's plans with the Turk (methods and devices of steady Discipline in small numbers VERSUS impetuous Ferocity in great); and Berenhorst (Betrachtungen uber die Kriegskunst, Leipzig, 1796), a first-rate Authority, for examples and eulogies of them.]
Campaign 1737, with clouds of chaotic Turks now sabring on the skirts of it, had not yet ended, when Seckendorf was called out of it; on polite pretexts, home to Vienna; and the command given to another. At the gates of Vienna, in the last days of October, 1737, an Official Person, waiting for the Feldmarschall, was sorry to inform him, That he, Feldmarschall Seckendorf, was under arrest; arrest in his own house, in the KOHLMARKT (Cabbage-market so called), a captain and twelve musketeers to watch over him with fixed bayonets there; strictly private, till the HOFKRIEGSRATH had satisfied themselves in a point or two. "Hmph!" snuffled he; with brow blushing slate-color, I should think, and gray eyes much alight. And ever since, for ten months or so, Seckendorf, sealed up in the Cabbage-market, has been fencing for life with the HOFKRIEGSRATH; who want satisfaction upon "eighty-six" different "points;" and make no end of chicaning to one's clear answers. And the Jesuits preach, too: "A Heretic, born enemy of Christ and his Kaiser; what is the use of questioning!" And the Heathen rage, and all men gnash their teeth, in this uncomfortable manner.
Answering done, there comes no verdict, much less any acquittal; the captain and twelve musketeers, three of them with fixed bayonets in one's very bedroom, continue. One evening, 21st July, 1738, glorious news from the seat of War—not TILL evening, as the Imperial Majesty was out hunting—enters Vienna; blowing trumpets; shaking flags: "Grand Victory over the Turks!" so we call some poor skirmish there has been; and Vienna bursting all into three-times-three, the populace get very high. Populace rush to the Kohlmarkt: break the Seckendorf windows; intent to massacre the Seckendorf; had not fresh military come, who were obliged to fire and kill one or two. "The house captain and his twelve musketeers, of themselves, did wonders; Seckendorf and all his domestics were in arms:" "JARNI-BLEU" for the last time!—This is while the Crown-Prince is at Wesel; sound asleep, most likely; Loo, and the Masonic adventure, perhaps twinkling prophetically in his dreams.
At two next morning, an Official Gentleman informs Seckendorf, That he, for his part, must awaken, and go to Gratz. And in one hour more (3 A.M.), the Official Gentleman rolls off with him; drives all day; and delivers his Prisoner at Gratz:—"Not so much as a room ready there; Prisoner had to wait an hour in the carriage," till some summary preparation were made. Wall-neighbors of the poor Feldmarschall, in his Fortress here, were "a GOLD-COOK (swindling Alchemist), who had gone crazy; and an Irish Lieutenant, confined thirty-two years for some love-adventure, likewise pretty crazy; their noises in the night-time much disturbed the Feldmarschall." [Seckendorfs Leben, ii. 170-277 pp. 27-59.] One human thing there still is in his lot, the Feldmarschall's old Grafinn. True old Dame, she, both in the Kohlmarkt and at Gratz, stands by him, "imprisoned along with him" if it must be so; ministering, comforting, as only a true Wife can;—and hope has not quite taken wing.
Rough old Feldmarschall; now turned of sixty: never made such a Campaign before, as this of 1737 followed by 1738! There sits he; and will not trouble us any more during the present Kaiser's lifetime. Friedrich Wilhelm is amazed at these sudden cantings of Fortune's wheel, and grieves honestly as for an old friend: even the Crown-Prince finds Seckendorf punished unjustly; and is almost, sorry for him, after all that has come and gone.
THE EAR OF JENKINS RE-EMERGES.
We must add the following, distilled from the English Newspapers, though it is now almost four months after date:—
"LONDON, 1st APRIL, 1738. In the English House of Commons, much more in the English Public, there has been furious debating for a fortnight past: Committee of the whole House, examining witnesses, hearing counsel; subject, the Termagant of Spain, and her West-Indian procedures;—she, by her procedures somewhere, is always cutting out work for mankind! How English and other strangers, fallen-in with in those seas, are treated by the Spaniards, readers have heard, nay have chanced to see; and it is a fact painfully known to all nations. Fact which England, for one nation, can no longer put up with. Walpole and the Official Persons would fain smooth the matter; but the West-India Interest, the City, all Mercantile and Navigation Interests are in dead earnest: Committee of the whole House, 'Presided by Alderman Perry,' has not ears enough to hear the immensities of evidence offered; slow Public is gradually kindling to some sense of it. This had gone on for two weeks, when—what shall we say?—the EAR OF JENKINS re-emerged for the second time; and produced important effects!
"Where Jenkins had been all this while,—steadfastly navigating to and fro, steadfastly eating tough junk with a wetting of rum; not thinking too much of past labors, yet privately 'always keeping his lost Ear in cotton' (with a kind of ursine piety, or other dumb feeling),—no mortal now knows. But to all mortals it is evident he was home in London at this time; no doubt a noted member of Wapping society, the much-enduring Jenkins. And witnesses, probably not one but many, had mentioned him to this Committee, as a case eminently in point. Committee, as can still be read in its Rhadamanthine Journals, orders: 'DIE JOVIS, 16* MARTII 1737-1738, That Captain Robert Jenkins do attend this House immediately;' and then more specially, '17* MARTII' captious objections having risen in Official quarters, as we guess,—'That Captain Robert Jenkins do attend upon Tuesday morning next.' [Commons Journals, xxiii. (in diebus).] Tuesday next is 21st March,—1st of April, 1738, by our modern Calendar;—and on that day, not a doubt, Jenkins does attend; narrates that tremendous passage we already heard of, seven years ago, in the entrance of the Gulf of Florida; and produces his Ear wrapt in cotton:—setting all on flame (except the Official persons) at sight of it."
Official persons, as their wont is in the pressure of debate, endeavored to deny, to insinuate in their vile Newspapers, That Jenkins lost his Ear nearer home and not for nothing; as one still reads in the History Books. [Tindal (xx. 372). Coxe, &c.] Sheer calumnies, we now find. Jenkins's account was doubtless abundantly emphatic; but there is no ground to question the substantial truth of him and it. And so, after seven years of unnoticeable burning upon the thick skin of the English Public, the case of Jenkins accidentally burns through, and sets England bellowing; such a smart is there of it,—not to be soothed by Official wet-cloths; but getting worse and worse, for the nineteen months ensuing. And in short—But we will not anticipate!
Chapter VI. — LAST YEAR OF REINSBERG; JOURNEY TO PREUSSEN.
The Idyllium of Reinsberg—of which, except in the way of sketchy suggestion, there can no history be given—lasted less than four years; and is now coming to an end, unexpectedly soon. A pleasant Arcadian Summer in one's life;—though it has not wanted its occasional discords, flaws of ill weather in the general sunshine. Papa, always in uncertain health of late, is getting heavier of foot and of heart under his heavy burdens; and sometimes falls abstruse enough, liable to bewilderments from bad people and events: not much worth noticing here. [See Pollnitz, ii. 509-515; Friedrich's Letter to Wilhelmina ("Berlin, 20th January, 1739:" in OEuvres, xxvii. part 1st, pp. 60, 61); &c. &c.] But the Crown-Prince has learned to deal with all this; all this is of transient nature; and a bright long future seems to lie ahead at Reinsberg;—brightened especially by the Literary Element; which, in this year of 1739, is brisker than it had ever been. Distinguished Visitors, of a literary turn, look in at Reinsberg; the Voltaire Correspondence is very lively; on Friedrich's part there is copious production, various enterprise, in the form of prose and verse; thoughts even of going to press with some of it: in short, the Literary Interest rises very prominent at Reinsberg in 1739. Biography is apt to forget the Literature there (having her reasons); but must at last take some notice of it, among the phenomena of the year.
To the young Prince himself, "courting tranquillity," as his door-lintel intimated, ["Frederico tranquillitatem colenti" (Infra, p. 123).] and forbidden to be active except within limits, this of Literature was all along the great light of existence at Reinsberg; the supplement to all other employments or wants of employment there. To Friedrich himself, in those old days, a great and supreme interest; while again, to the modern Biographer of him, it has become dark and vacant; a thing to be shunned, not sought. So that the fact as it stood with Friedrich differs far from any description that can be given of the fact. Alas, we have said already, and the constant truth is, Friedrich's literatures, his distinguished literary visitors and enterprises, which were once brand-new and brilliant, have grown old as a garment, and are a sorrow rather than otherwise to existing mankind! Conscientious readers, who would represent to themselves the vanished scene at Reinsberg, in this point more especially, must make an effort.
As biographical documents, these Poetries and Proses of the young man give a very pretty testimony of him; but are not of value otherwise. In fact, they promise, if we look well into them, That here is probably a practical faculty and intellect of the highest kind; which again, on the speculative, especially on the poetical side, will never be considerable, nor has even tried to be so. This young soul does not deal in meditation at all, and his tendencies are the reverse of sentimental. Here is no introspection, morbid or other, no pathos or complaint, no melodious informing of the public what dreadful emotions you labor under: here, in rapid prompt form, indicating that it is truth and not fable, are generous aspirations for the world and yourself, generous pride, disdain of the ignoble, of the dark, mendacious;—here, in short, is a swift-handed, valiant, STEEL-bright kind of soul; very likely for a King's, if other things answer, and not likely for a Poet's. No doubt he could have made something of Literature too; could have written Books, and left some stamp of a veracious, more or less victorious intellect, in that strange province too. But then he must have applied himself to it, as he did to reigning: done in the cursory style, we see what it has come to.
It is certain, Friedrich's reputation suffers, at this day, from his writing. From his NOT having written nothing, he stands lower with the world. Which seems hard measure;—though perhaps it is the law of the case, after all. "Nobody in these days," says my poor Friend, "has the least notion of the sinful waste there is in talk, whether by pen or tongue. Better probably that King Friedrich had written no Verses; nay I know not that David's Psalms did David's Kingship any good!" Which may be truer than it seems. Fine aspirations, generous convictions, purposes,—they are thought very fine: but it is good, on various accounts, to keep them rather silent; strictly unvocal, except on call of real business; so dangerous are they for becoming conscious of themselves! Most things do not ripen at all except underground. And it is a sad but sure truth, that every time you SPEAK of a fine purpose, especially if with eloquence and to the admiration of by-standers, there is the LESS chance of your ever making a fact of it in your poor life.—If Reinsberg, and its vacancy of great employment, was the cause of Friedrich's verse-writing, we will not praise Reinsberg on that head! But the truth is, Friedrich's verses came from him with uncommon fluency; and were not a deep matter, but a shallow one, in any sense. Not much more to him than speaking with a will; than fantasying on the flute in an animated strain. Ever and anon through his life, on small hint from without or on great, there was found a certain leakage of verses, which he was prompt to utter;—and the case at Reinsberg, or afterwards, is not so serious as we might imagine.
PINE'S HORACE; AND THE ANTI-MACHIAVEL.
In late months Friedrich had conceived one notable project; which demands a word in this place. Did modern readers ever hear of "John Pine, the celebrated English Engraver"? John Pine, a man of good scholarship, good skill with his burin, did "Tapestries of the House of Lords," and other things of a celebrated nature, famous at home and abroad: but his peculiar feat, which had commended him at Reinsberg, was an Edition of HORACE: exquisite old FLACCUS brought to perfection, as it were; all done with vignettes, classical borderings, symbolic marginal ornaments, in fine taste and accuracy, the Text itself engraved; all by the exquisite burin of Pine. ["London, 1737" (Biographie Universelle, xxxiv. 465).] This Edition had come out last year, famous over the world; and was by and by, as rumor bore, to be followed by a VIRGIL done in the like exquisite manner.
The Pine HORACE, part of the Pine VIRGIL too, still exist in the libraries of the curious; and are doubtless known to the proper parties, though much forgotten by others of us. To Friedrich, scanning the Pine phenomenon with interest then brand-new, it seemed an admirable tribute to classical genius; and the idea occurred to him, "Is not there, by Heaven's blessing, a living genius, classical like those antique Romans, and worthy of a like tribute?" Friedrich's idea was, That Voltaire being clearly the supreme of Poets, the HENRIADE, his supreme of Poems, ought to be engraved like FLACCUS; text and all, with vignettes, tail-pieces, classical borderings beautifully symbolic and exact; by the exquisite burin of Pine. Which idea the young hero-worshipper, in spite of his finance-difficulties, had resolved to realize; and was even now busy with it, since his return from Loo. "Such beautiful enthusiasm," say some readers; "and in behalf of that particular demi-god!" Alas, yes; to Friedrich he was the best demi-god then going; and Friedrich never had any doubt about him.
For the rest, this heroic idea could not realize itself; and we are happy to have nothing more to do with Pine or the HENRIADE. Correspondences were entered into with Pine, and some pains taken: Pine's high prices were as nothing; but Pine was busy with his VIRGIL; probably, in fact, had little stomach for the HENRIADE; "could not for seven years to come enter upon it:" so that the matter had to die away; and nothing came of it but a small DISSERTATION, or Introductory Essay, which the Prince had got ready,—which is still to be found printed in Voltaire's Works [OEuvres, xiii. 393-402.] and in Friedrich's, if anybody now cared much to read it. Preuss says it was finished, "the 10th August, 1739;" and that minute fact in Chronology, with the above tale of Hero-worship hanging to it, will suffice my readers and me.
But there is another literary project on hand, which did take effect;—much worthy of mention, this year; the whole world having risen into such a Chorus of TE DEUM at sight of it next year. In this year falls, what at any rate was a great event to Friedrich, as literary man: the printing of his first Book,—assiduous writing of it with an eye to print. The Book is that "celebrated ANTI-MACHIAVEL," ever-praiseworthy Refutation of Machiavel's PRINCE; concerning which there are such immensities of Voltaire Correspondence, now become, like the Book itself, inane to all readers. This was the chosen soul's employment of Friedrich, the flower of life to him, at Reinsberg, through the yea? 1739. It did not actually get to press till Spring 1740; nor actually come out till Autumn,—by which time a great change had occurred in Friedrich's title and circumstances: but we may as well say here what little is to be said of it for modern readers.
"The Crown-Prince, reading this bad Book of Machiavel's, years ago, had been struck, as all honest souls, especially governors or apprentices to governing, must be, if they thought of reading such a thing, with its badness, its falsity, detestability; and came by degrees, obliquely fishing out Voltaire's opinion as he went along, on the notion of refuting Machiavel; and did refute him, the best he could. Set down, namely, his own earnest contradiction to such ungrounded noxious doctrines; elaborating the same more and more into clear logical utterance; till it swelled into a little Volume; which, so excellent was it, so important to mankind, Voltaire and friends were clear for publishing. Published accordingly it was; goes through the press next Summer (1740), under Voltaire's anxious superintendence: [Here, gathered from Friedrich's Letters to Voltaire, is the Chronology of the little Enterprise:—1738, MARCH 21, JUNE 17, "Machiavel a baneful man," thinks Friedrich. "Ought to be refuted by somebody?" thinks he (date not known). 1739, MARCH 22, Friedrich thinks of doing it himself. Has done it, DECEMBER 4;—"a Book which ought to be printed," say Voltaire and the literary visitors. 1740, APRIL 26, Book given up to Voltaire for finished; Book appears, "end of SEPTEMBER," when a great change had occurred in Friedrich's title and position.] for the Prince has at length consented; and Voltaire hands the Manuscript, with mystery yet with hints, to a Dutch Bookseller, one Van Duren at the Hague, who is eager enough to print such an article. Voltaire himself—such his magnanimous friendship, especially if one have Dutch Lawsuits, or business of one's own, in those parts—takes charge of correcting; lodges himself in the 'Old Court' (Prussian Mansion, called VIEILLE COUR, at the Hague, where 'Luiscius,' figuratively speaking, may 'get an alms' from us); and therefrom corrects, alters; corresponds with the Prince and Van Duren, at a great rate. Keeps correcting, altering, till Van Duren thinks he is spoiling it for sale;—and privately determines to preserve the original Manuscript, and have an edition of that, with only such corrections as seem good to Van Duren. A treasonous step on this mule of a Bookseller's part, thinks Voltaire; but mulishly persisted in by the man. Endless correspondence, to right and left, ensues; intolerably wearisome to every reader. And, in fine, there came out, in Autumn next,"—the Crown-Prince no longer a Crown-Prince by that time, but shining conspicuous under Higher Title,—"not one ANTI-MACHIAVEL only, but a couple or a trio of ANTI-MACHIAVELS; as printed 'at the Hague;' as reprinted 'at London' or elsewhere; the confused Bibliography of which has now fallen very insignificant. First there was the Voltaire text, Authorized Edition, 'end of September, 1740;' then came, in few weeks, the Van Duren one; then, probably, a third, combining the two, the variations given as foot-notes:—in short, I know not how many editions, translations, printings and reprintings; all the world being much taken up with such a message from the upper regions, and eager to read it in any form.
"As to Friedrich himself, who of course says nothing of the ANTI-MACHIAVEL in public, he privately, to Voltaire, disowns all these editions; and intends to give a new one of his own, which shall be the right article; but never did it, having far other work cut out for him in the months that came. But how zealous the worlds humor was in that matter, no modern reader can conceive to himself. In the frightful Compilation called HELDEN-GESCHICHTE, which we sometimes cite, there are, excerpted from the then 'Bibliotheques' (NOUVELLE BIBLIOTHEQUE and another; shining Periodicals of the time, now gone quite dead), two 'reviews' of the ANTI-MACHIAVEL, which fill modern readers with amazement: such a DOMINE DIMITTAS chanted over such an article!—These details, in any other than the Biographical point of view, are now infinitely unimportant."
Truly, yes! The Crown-Prince's ANTI-MACHIAVEL, final correct edition (in two forms, Voltaire's as corrected, and the Prince's own as written), stands now in clear type; [Preuss, OEuvres de Frederic, viii. 61-163.] and, after all that jumble of printing and counter-printing, we can any of us read it in a few hours; but, alas, almost none of us with the least interest, or, as it were, with any profit whatever. So different is present tense from past, in all things, especially in things like these! It is sixscore years since the ANTI-MACHIAVEL appeared. The spectacle of one who was himself a King (for the mysterious fact was well known to Van Duren and everybody) stepping forth to say with conviction, That Kingship was not a thing of attorney mendacity, to be done under the patronage of Beelzebub, but of human veracity, to be set about under quite Other patronage; and that, in fact, a King was the "born servant of his People" (DOMESTIQUE Friedrich once calls it), rather than otherwise: this, naturally enough, rose upon the then populations, unused to such language, like the dawn of a new day; and was welcomed with such applauses as are now incredible, after all that has come and gone! Alas, in these sixscore years, it has been found so easy to profess and speak, even with sincerity! The actual Hero-Kings were long used to be silent; and the Sham-Hero kind grow only the more desperate for us, the more they speak and profess!—This ANTI-MACHIAVEL of Friedrich's is a clear distinct Treatise; confutes, or at least heartily contradicts, paragraph by paragraph, the incredible sophistries of Machiavel. Nay it leaves us, if we sufficiently force our attention, with the comfortable sense that his Royal Highness is speaking with conviction, and honestly from the heart, in the affair: but that is all the conquest we get of it, in these days. Treatise fallen more extinct to existing mankind it would not be easy to name.
Perhaps indeed mankind is getting weary of the question altogether. Machiavel himself one now reads only by compulsion. "What is the use of arguing with anybody that can believe in Machiavel?" asks mankind, or might well ask; and, except for Editorial purposes, eschews any ANTI-MACHIAVEL; impatient to be rid of bane and antidote both. Truly the world has had a pother with this little Nicolo Machiavelli and his perverse little Book:—pity almost that a Friedrich Wilhelm, taking his rounds at that point of time, had not had the "refuting" of him; Friedrich Wilhelm's method would have been briefer than Friedrich's! But let us hope the thing is now, practically, about completed. And as to the other question, "Was the Signor Nicolo serious in this perverse little Book; or did he only do it ironically, with a serious inverse purpose?" we will leave that to be decided, any time convenient, by people who are much at leisure in the world!—
The printing of the ANTI-MACHIAVEL was not intrinsically momentous in Friedrich's history; yet it might as well have been dispensed with. He had here drawn a fine program, and needlessly placarded it for the street populations: and afterwards there rose, as could not fail on their part, comparison between program and performance; scornful cry, chiefly from men of weak judgment, "Is this King an ANTI-Machiavel, then? Pfui!" Of which,—though Voltaire's voice, too, was heard in it, in angry moments,—we shall say nothing: the reader, looking for himself, will judge by and by. And herewith enough of the ANTI-MACHIAVEL. Composition of ANTI-MACHIAVEL and speculation of the Pine HENRIADE lasted, both of them, all through this Year 1739, and farther: from these two items, not to mention any other, readers can figure sufficiently how literary a year it was.
FRIEDRICH IN PREUSSEN AGAIN; AT THE STUD OF TRAKEHNEN. A TRAGICALLY
GREAT EVENT COMING ON.
In July this year the Crown-Prince went with Papa on the Prussian Review-journey. ["Set out, 7th July" (OEuvres, xxvii. part 1st, 67 n.).] Such attendance on Review-journeys, a mark of his being well with Papa, is now becoming usual; they are agreeable excursions, and cannot but be instructive as well. On this occasion, things went beautifully with him. Out in those grassy Countries, in the bright Summer, once more he had an unusually fine time;—and two very special pleasures befell him. First was, a sight of the Emigrants, our Salzburgers and other, in their flourishing condition, over in Lithuania yonder. Delightful to see how the waste is blossoming up again; busy men, with their industries, their steady pious husbandries, making all things green and fruitful: horse-droves, cattle-herds, waving cornfields;—a very "SCHMALZGRUBE (Butter-pit)" of those Northern parts, as it is since called. [Busching, Erdbeschreibung, ii. 1049.] The Crown-Prince's own words on this matter we will give; they are in a Letter of his to Voltaire, perhaps already known to some readers;—and we can observe he writes rather copiously from those localities at present, and in a cheerful humor with everybody.
"INSTERBURG, 27th JULY, 1739 (Crown-Prince to Voltaire).... Prussian Lithuania is a Country a hundred and twenty miles long, by from sixty to forty broad; ["Miles ENGLISH," we always mean, UNLESS &c.] it was ravaged by Pestilence at the beginning of this Century; and they say three hundred thousand people died of disease and famine." Ravaged by Pestilence and the neglect of King Friedrich I.; till my Father, once his hands were free, made personal survey of it, and took it up, in earnest.
"Since that time," say twenty years ago, "there is no expense that the King has been afraid of, in order to succeed in his salutary views. He made, in the first place, regulations full of wisdom; he rebuilt wherever the Pestilence had desolated: thousands of families, from the ends of Europe," seventeen thousand Salzburgers for the last item, "were conducted hither; the Country repeopled itself; trade began to flourish again;—and now, in these fertile regions, abundance reigns more than it ever did.
"There are above half a million of inhabitants in Lithuania; there are more towns than there ever were, more flocks than formerly, more wealth and more productiveness than in any other part of Germany. And all this that I tell you of is due to the King alone: who not only gave the orders, but superintended the execution of them; it was he that devised the plans, and himself got them carried to fulfilment; and spared neither care nor pains, nor immense expenditures, nor promises nor recompenses, to secure happiness and life to this half-million of thinking beings, who owe to him alone that they have possessions and felicity in the world.
"I hope this detail does not weary you. I depend on your humanity extending itself to your Lithuanian brethren, as well as to your French, English, German, or other,—all the more as, to my great astonishment, I passed through villages where you hear nothing spoken but French.—I have found something so heroic, in the generous and laborious way in which the King addressed himself to making this desert flourish with inhabitants and happy industries and fruits, that it seemed to me you would feel the same sentiments in learning the circumstances of such a re-establishment. I daily expect news of you from Enghien" [in those Dutch-Lawsuit Countries].... The divine Emilie;... the Duke [D'Aremberg, Austrian Soldier, of convivial turn,—remote Welsh-Uncle to a certain little Prince de Ligne, now spinning tops in those parts; [Born 23d May, 1735, this latter little Prince; lasted till 13th December, 1814 ("DANSE, MAIS IL NE MARCHE PAS").] not otherwise interesting], whom Apollo contends for against Bacchues.... Adieu. NE M'OUBLIEZ PAS, MON CHER AMI." [OEuvres, xxi. 304, 305.]
This is one pleasant scene, to the Crown-Prince and us, in those grassy localities. And now we have to mention that, about a fortnight later, at Konigsberg one day, in reference to a certain Royal Stud or Horse-breeding Establishment in those same Lithuanian regions, there had a still livelier satisfaction happened him; satisfaction of a personal and filial nature. The name of this Royal Stud, inestimable on such ground, is Trakehnen,—lies south of Tilsit, in an upper valley of the Pregel river;—very extensive Horse-Establishment, "with seven farms under it," say the Books, and all "in the most perfect order," they need hardly add, Friedrich Wilhelm being master of it. Well, the Royal Party was at Konigsberg, so far on the road homewards again from those outlying parts, when Friedrich Wilhelm said one day to his Son, quite in a cursory manner, "I give thee that Stud of Trakehnen; thou must go back and look to it;" which struck Fritz quite dumb at the moment.
For it is worth near upon 2,000 pounds a year (12,000 thalers); a welcome new item in our impoverished budget; and it is an undeniable sign of Papa's good-humor with us, which is more precious still. Fritz made his acknowledgments, eloquent with looks, eloquent with voice, on coming to himself; and is, in fact, very proud of his gift, and celebrates it to his Wilhelmina, to Camas and others who have a right to know such a thing. Grand useful gift; and handed over by Papa grandly, in three business words, as if it had been a brace of game: "I give it thee, Fritz!" A thing not to be forgotten. "At bottom, Friedrich Wilhelm was not avaricious" (not a miser, only a man grandly abhorring waste, as the poor vulgar cannot do), "not avaricious," says Pollnitz once; "he made munificent gifts, and never thought of them more." This of Trakehnen,—perhaps there might be a whiff of coming Fate concerned in it withal: "I shall soon be dead, not able to give thee anything, poor Fritz!" To the Prince and us it is very beautiful; a fine effulgence of the inner man of Friedrich Wilhelm. The Prince returned to Trakehnen, on this glad errand; settled the business details there; and, after a few days, went home by a route of his own;—well satisfied with this Prussian-Review journey, as we may imagine.
[SEE EARLIER—-Prussian Review-journey (placing of hyphen)]
One sad thing there was, though Friedrich did not yet know how sad, in this Review-journey: the new fit of illness that overtook his Majesty. From Pollnitz, who was of the party, we have details on that head. In his Majesty's last bad illness, five years ago, when all seemed hopeless, it appears the surgeons had relieved him,—in fact recovered him, bringing off the bad humors in quantity,—by an incision in the foot or leg. In the course of the present fatigues, this old wound broke out again; which of course stood much in the way of his Majesty; and could not be neglected, as probably the causes of it were. A regimental surgeon, Pollnitz says, was called in; who, in two days, healed the wound,—and declared all to be right again; though in fact, as we may judge, it was dangerously worse than before. "All well here," writes Friedrich; "the King has been out of order, but is now entirely recovered (TOUT A FAIT REMIS)." ["Konigsberg, 30th July, 1739," to his Wife (OEuvres, xxvi. 6).]
Much reviewing and heavy business followed at Konigsberg;—gift of Trakehnen, and departure of the Crown-Prince for Trakehnen, winding it up. Directly on the heel of which, his Majesty turned homewards, the Crown-Prince not to meet him till once at Berlin again. Majesty's first stage was at Pillau, where we have been. At Pillau, or next day at Dantzig, Pollnitz observed a change in his Majesty's humor, which had been quite sunshiny all this journey hitherto. At Dantzig Pollnitz first noticed it; but at every new stage it grew worse, evil accidents occurring to worsen it; and at Berlin it was worst of all;—and, alas, his poor Majesty never recovered his sunshine in this world again! Here is Pollnitz's account of the journey homewards:—
"Till now," till Pillau and Dantzig, "his Majesty had been in especially good humor; but in Dantzig his cheerfulness forsook him;—and it never came back. He arrived about ten at night in that City [Wednesday, 12th August, or thereby]; slept there; and was off again next morning at five. He drove only thirty miles this day; stopped in Lupow [coast road through Pommern], with Herr von Grumkow [the late Grumkow's Brother], Kammer President in this Pommern Province. From Lupow he went to a poor Village near Belgard, EIGHTY miles farther;"—last village on the great road, Belgard lying to left a little, on a side road;—"and stayed there overnight.
"At Belgard, next morning, he reviewed the Dragoon Regiment von Platen; and was very ill content with it. And nobody, with the least understanding of that business, but must own that never did Prussian Regiment manoeuvre worse. Conscious themselves how bad it was, they lost head, and got into open confusion. The King did all that was possible to help them into order again. He withdrew thrice over, to give the Officers time to recover themselves; but it was all in vain. The King, contrary to wont, restrained himself amazingly, and would not show his displeasure in public. He got into his carriage, and drove away with the Furst of Anhalt," Old Dessauer, "and Von Winterfeld," Captain in the Giant Regiment, "who is now Major-General von Winterfeld; [Major-General since 1743, of high fame; fell in fight, 7th September, 1757.] not staying to dine with General von Platen, as was always his custom with Commandants whom he had reviewed. He bade Prince Wilhelm and the rest of us stay and dine; he himself drove away,"—towards the great road again, and some uncertain lodging there.
"We stayed accordingly; and did full justice to the good cheer,"—though poor Platen would certainly look flustered, one may fancy. "But as the Prince was anxious to come up with his Majesty again, and knew not where he would meet him, we had to be very swift with the business.
"We found the King with Anhalt and Winterfeld, by and by; sitting in a village, in front of a barn, and eating a cold pie there, which the Furst of Anhalt had chanced to have with him; his Majesty, owing to what he had seen on the parade-ground, was in the utmost ill-humor (HOCHST UBLER LAUNE). Next day, Saturday, he went a hundred and fifty or two hundred miles; and arrived in Berlin at ten at night. Not expected there till the morrow; so that his rooms were locked,—her Majesty being over in Monbijou, giving her children a Ball;" [Pollnitz, ii. 534-537.]—and we can fancy what a frame of mind there was!
Nobody, not at first even the Doctors, much heeded this new fit of illness; which went and came: "changed temper," deeper or less deep gloom of "bad humor," being the main phenomenon to by-standers. But the sad truth was, his Majesty never did recover his sunshine; from Pillau onwards he was slowly entering into the shadows of the total Last Eclipse; and his journeyings and reviewings in this world were all done. Ten months hence, Pollnitz and others knew better what it had been!—
Chapter VII. — LAST YEAR OF REINSBERG: TRANSIT OF BALTIMORE AND OTHER
PERSONS AND THINGS.
Friedrich had not been long home again from Trakehnen and Preussen, when the routine of things at Reinsberg was illuminated by Visitors, of brilliant and learned quality; some of whom, a certain Signor Algarotti for one, require passing mention here. Algarotti, who became a permanent friend or satellite, very luminous to the Prince, and was much about him in coming years, first shone out upon the scene at this time,—coming unexpectedly, and from the Eastward as it chanced.
On his own score, Algarotti has become a wearisome literary man to modern readers: one of those half-remembered men; whose books seem to claim a reading, and do not repay it you when given. Treatises, of a serious nature, ON THE OPERA; setting forth, in earnest, the potential "moral uses" of the Opera, and dedicated to Chatham; Neutonianismo per le Donne (Astronomy for Ladies): the mere Titles of such things are fatally sufficient to us; and we cannot, without effort, nor with it, recall the brilliancy of Algarotti and them to his contemporary world.
Algarotti was a rich Venetian Merchant's Son, precisely about the Crown-Prince's age; shone greatly in his studies at Bologna and elsewhere; had written Poesies (RIME); written especially that Newtonianism for the Dames (equal to Fontenelle, said Fame, and orthodox Newtonian withal, not heterodox or Cartesian); and had shone, respected, at Paris, on the strength of it, for three or four years past: friend of Voltaire in consequence, of Voltaire and his divine Emilie, and a welcome guest at Cirey; friend of the cultivated world generally, which was then laboring, divine Emilie in the van of it, to understand Newton and be orthodox in this department of things. Algarotti did fine Poesies, too, once and again; did Classical Scholarships, and much else: everywhere a clear-headed, methodically distinct, concise kind of man. A high style of breeding about him, too; had powers of pleasing, and used them: a man beautifully lucent in society, gentle yet impregnable there; keeping himself unspotted from the world and its discrepancies,—really with considerable prudence, first and last.
He is somewhat of the Bielfeld type; a Merchant's Son, we observe, like Bielfeld; but a Venetian Merchant's, not a Hamburg's; and also of better natural stuff than Bielfeld. Concentrated himself upon his task with more seriousness, and made a higher thing of it than Bielfeld; though, after all, it was the same task the two had. Alas, our "Swan of Padua" (so they sometimes called him) only sailed, paddling grandly, no-whither,—as the Swan-Goose of the Elbe did, in a less stately manner! One cannot well bear to read his Books. There is no light upon Friedrich to tempt us; better light than Bielfeld's there could have been, and much of it: but he prudently, as well as proudly, forbore such topics. He approaches very near fertility and geniality in his writings, but never reaches it. Dilettantism become serious and strenuous, in those departments—Well, it was beautiful to young Friedrich and the world at that time, though it is not to us!—Young Algarotti, twenty-seven this year, has been touring about as a celebrity these four years past, on the strength of his fine manners and Newtonianism for the Dames.
It was under escort of Baltimore, "an English Milord," recommended from Potsdam itself, that Algarotti came to Reinsberg; the Signor had much to do with English people now and after. Where Baltimore first picked him up, I know not: but they have been to Russia together; Baltimore by twelve years the elder of the two: and now, getting home towards England again, they call at Reinsberg in the fine Autumn weather;—and considerably captivate the Crown-Prince, Baltimore playing chief, in that as in other points. The visit lasted five days: [20th-25th September, 1739 (OEuvres de Frederic, xiv. p. xiv).] there was copious speech on many things;—discussion about Printing of the ANTI MACHIAVEL; Algarotti to get it printed in England, Algarotti to get Pine and his Engraved HENRIADE put under way; neither of which projects took effect;—readers can conceive what a charming five days these were. Here, in the Crown-Prince's own words, are some brief glimmerings which will suffice us:—
REINSBERG, 25th SEPT. 1739 (Crown-Prince to Papa).... that "nothing new has occurred in the Regiment, and we have few sick. Here has the English Milord, who was at Potsdam, passing through [stayed five days, though we call it passing, and suppress the Algarotti, Baltimore being indeed chief]. He is gone towards Hamburg, to take ship for England there. As I heard that my Most All-gracious Father wished I should show him courtesy, I have done for him what I could. The Prince of Mirow has also been here,"—our old Strelitz friend. Of Baltimore nothing more to Papa. But to another Correspondent, to the good Suhm (who is now at Petersburg, and much in our intimacy, ready to transact loans for us, translate Wolf, or do what is wanted), there is this passage next day:—
REINSBERG, 26th SEPTEMBER, 1739 (to Suhm). "We have had Milord Baltimore here, and the young Algarotti; both of them men who, by their accomplishments, cannot but conciliate the esteem and consideration of all who see them. We talked much of you [Suhm], of Philosophy, of Science, Art; in short, of all that can be included in the taste of cultivated people (HONNETES GENS)." [OEuvres de Frederic, xvi. 378.] And again to another, about two weeks hence:—
REINSBERG, 10th OCTOBER, 1739 (to Voltaire). "We have had Milord Baltimore and Algarotti here, who are going back to England. This Milord is a very sensible man (HOMME TRESSENSE); who possesses a great deal of knowledge, and thinks, like us, that sciences can be no disparagement to nobility, nor degrade an illustrious rank. I admired the genius of this ANGLAIS, as one does a fine face through a crape veil. He speaks French very ill, yet one likes to hear him speak it; and as for his English, he pronounces it so quick, there is no possibility of following him. He calls a Russian 'a mechanical animal.' He says 'Petersburg is the eye of Russia, with which it keeps civilized countries in sight; if you took this eye from it, Russia would fall again into barbarism, out of which it is just struggling.' [Ib. xxi. 326, 327.]... Young Algarotti, whom you know, pleased me beyond measure. He promised that he"—But Baltimore, promise or not, is the chief figure at present.
Evidently an original kind of figure to us, CET ANGLAIS. And indeed there is already finished a rhymed EPISTLE to Baltimore; Epitre sur la Liberte (copy goes in that same LETTER, for Voltaire's behoof), which dates itself likewise October 10th; beginning,—"L'esprit libre, Milord, qui regne en Angleterre," which, though it is full of fine sincere sentiments, about human dignity, papal superstition, Newton, Locke, and aspirations for progress of culture in Prussia, no reader could stand at this epoch.
What Baltimore said in answer to the EPITRE, we do not know; probably not much: it does not appear he ever saw or spoke to Friedrich a second time. Three weeks after, Friedrich writing to Algarotti, has these words: "I pray you make my friendships to Milord Baltimore, whose character and manner of thinking I truly esteem. I hope he has, by this time, got my EPITRE on the English Liberty of Thought." [29th October 1739, To Algarotti in London (OEuvres, xviii. 5).] And so Baltimore passes on, silent in History henceforth,—though Friedrich seems to have remembered him to late times, as a kind of type-figure when England came into his head. For the sake of this small transit over the sun's disk, I have made some inquiry about Baltimore; but found very little;—perhaps enough:—
"He was Charles, Sixth Lord Baltimore, it appears; Sixth, and last but one. First of the Baltimores, we know, was Secretary Calvert (1618-1624), who colonized Maryland; last of them (1774) was the Son of this Charles; something of a fool, to judge by the face of him in Portraits, and by some of his doings in the world. He, that Seventh Baltimore, printed one or two little Volumes "now of extreme rarity"—(cannot be too rare); and winded up by standing an ugly Trial at Kingston Assizes (plaintiff an unfortunate female). After which he retired to Naples, and there ended, 1774, the last of these Milords. [Walpole (by Park), Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors (London, 1806), v. 278.]
"He of the Kingston Assizes, we say, was not this Charles; but his Son, whom let the reader forget. Charles, age forty at this time, had travelled about the Continent a good deal: once, long ago, we imagined we had got a glimpse of him (but it was a guess merely) lounging about Luneville and Lorraine, along with Lyttelton, in the Congress-of-Soissons time? Not long after that, it is certain enough, he got appointed a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to Prince Fred; who was a friend of speculative talkers and cultivated people. In which situation Charles Sixth Baron Baltimore continued all his days after; and might have risen by means of Fred, as he was anxious enough to do, had both of them lived; but they both died; Baltimore first, in 1751, a year before Fred. Bubb Doddington, diligent laborer in the same Fred vineyard, was much infested by this Baltimore,—who, drunk or sober (for he occasionally gets into liquor), is always putting out Bubb, and stands too well with our Royal Master, one secretly fears! Baltimore's finances, I can guess, were not in too good order; mostly an Absentee; Irish Estates not managed in the first style, while one is busy in the Fred vineyard! 'The best and honestest man in the world, with a good deal of jumbled knowledge,' Walpole calls him once: 'but not capable of conducting a party.'" [Walpole's Letters to Mann (London, 1843), ii. 175; 27th January, 1747. See ib. i. 82.] Oh no;—and died, at any rate, Spring 1751: [Peerage of Ireland (London, 1768), ii. 172-174.] and we will not mention him farther.
BIELFELD, WHAT HE SAW AT REINSBERG AND AROUND.
Directly on the rear of these fine visitors, came, by invitation, a pair of the Korn's-Hotel people; Masonic friends; one of whom was Bielfeld, whose dainty Installation Speech and ways of procedure had been of promise to the Prince on that occasion. "Baron von Oberg" was the other:—Hanoverian Baron: the same who went into the Wars, and was a "General von Oberg" twenty years hence? The same or another, it does not much concern us. Nor does the visit much, or at all; except that Bielfeld, being of writing nature, professes to give ocular account of it. Honest transcript of what a human creature actually saw at Reinsberg, and in the Berlin environment at that date, would have had a value to mankind: but Bielfeld has adopted the fictitious form; and pretty much ruined for us any transcript there is. Exaggeration, gesticulation, fantastic uncertainty afflict the reader; and prevent comfortable belief, except where there is other evidence than Bielfeld's.
At Berlin the beautiful straight streets, Linden Avenues (perhaps a better sample than those of our day), were notable to Bielfeld; bridges, statues very fine; grand esplanades, and such military drilling and parading as was never seen. He had dinner-invitations, too, in quantity; likes this one and that (all in prudent asterisks),—-likes Truchsess von Waldburg very much, and his strange mode of bachelor housekeeping, and the way he dines and talks among his fellow-creatures, or sits studious among his Military Books and Paper-litters. But all is loose far-off sketching, in the style of Anacharsis the Younger; and makes no solid impression.
Getting to Reinsberg, to the Town, to the Schloss, he crosses the esplanade, the moat; sees what we know, beautiful square Mansion among its woods and waters;—and almost nothing that we do not know, except the way the moat-bridge is lighted: "Bridge furnished," he says, "with seven Statues representing the seven Planets, each holding in her hand a glass lamp in the form of a globe;"—which is a pretty object in the night-time. The House is now finished; Knobelsdorf rejoicing in his success; Pesne and others giving the last touch to some ceilings of a sublime nature. On the lintel of the gate is inscribed FREDERICO TRANQUILLITATEM COLENTI (To Friedrich courting Tranquillity). The gardens, walks, hermitages, grottos, are very spacious, fine: not yet completed,—perhaps will never be. A Temple of Bacchus is just now on hand, somewhere in those labyrinthic woods: "twelve gigantic Satyrs as caryatides, crowned by an inverted Punch-bowl for dome;" that is the ingenious Knobelsdorf's idea, pleasant to the mind. Knobelsdorf is of austere aspect; austere, yet benevolent and full of honest sagacity; the very picture of sound sense, thinks Bielfeld. M. Jordan is handsome, though of small stature; agreeable expression of face; eye extremely vivid; brown complexion, bushy eyebrows as well as beard are black. [Bielfeld (abridged), i. 45.]
Or did the reader ever hear of "M. Fredersdorf," Head Valet at this time? Fredersdorf will become, as it were, Privy-Purse, House-Friend, and domestic Factotum, and play a great part in coming years. "A tall handsome man;" much "silent sense, civility, dexterity;" something "magnificently clever in him," thinks Bielfeld (now, or else twenty years afterwards); whom we can believe. [Ib. p. 49.] He was a gift from General Schwerin, this Fredersdorf; once a Private in Schwerin's regiment, at Frankfurt-on-Oder,—excellent on the flute, for one quality. Schwerin, who had an eye for men, sent him to Friedrich, in the Custrin time; hoping he might suit in fluting and otherwise. Which he conspicuously did. Bielfeld's account, we must candidly say, appears to be an afterthought; but readers can make their profit of it, all the same.
As to the Crown-Prince and Princess, words fail to express their gracious perfections, their affabilities, polite ingenuities:—Bielfeld's words do give us some pleasant shadowy conceivability of the Crown-Princess:—
"Tall, and perfect in shape; bust such as a sculptor might copy; complexion of the finest; features ditto; nose, I confess, smallish and pointed, but excellent of that kind; hair of the supremest flaxen, 'shining' like a flood of sunbeams, when the powder is off it. A humane ingenuous Princess; little negligences in toilet or the like, if such occur, even these set her off, so ingenuous are they. Speaks little; but always to the purpose, in a simple, cheerful and wise way. Dances beautifully; heart (her soubrette assures me) is heavenly;—and 'perhaps no Princess living has a finer set of diamonds.'"
Of the Crown-Princess there is some pleasant shadow traced as on cobweb, to this effect. But of the Crown-Prince there is no forming the least conception from what he says:—this is mere cobweb with Nothing elaborately painted on it. Nor do the portraits of the others attract by their verisimilitude. Here is Colonel Keyserling, for instance; the witty Courlander, famous enough in the Friedrich circle; who went on embassy to Cirey, and much else: he "whirls in with uproar (FRACAS) like Boreas in the Ballet;" fowling-piece on shoulder, and in his "dressing-gown" withal, which is still stranger; snatches off Bielfeld, unknown till that moment, to sit by him while dressing; and there, with much capering, pirouetting, and indeed almost ground-and-lofty tumbling, for accompaniment, "talks of Horses, Mathematics, Painting, Architecture, Literature, and the Art of War," while he dresses. This gentleman was once Colonel in Friedrich Wilhelm's Army; is now fairly turned of forty, and has been in troubles: we hope he is not LIKE in the Bielfeld Portrait;—otherwise, how happy that we never had the honor of knowing him! Indeed, the Crown-Prince's Household generally, as Bielfeld paints it in flourishes of panegyric, is but unattractive; barren to the modern on-looker; partly the Painter's blame, we doubt not. He gives details about their mode of dining, taking coffee, doing concert;—and describes once an incidental drinking-bout got up aforethought by the Prince; which is probably in good part fiction, though not ill done. These fantastic sketchings, rigorously winnowed into the credible and actual, leave no great residue in that kind; but what little they do leave is of favorable and pleasant nature.
Bielfeld made a visit privately to Potsdam, too: saw the Giants drill; made acquaintance with important Captains of theirs (all in ASTERISKS) at Potsdam; with whom he dined, not in a too credible manner, and even danced. Among the asterisks, we easily pick out Captain Wartensleben (of the Korn's-Hotel operation), and Winterfeld, a still more important Captain, whom we saw dining on cold pie with his Majesty, at a barn-door in Pommern, not long since. Of the Giants, or their life at Potsdam, Bielfeld's word is not worth hearing,—worth suppressing rather; his knowledge being so small, and hung forth in so fantastic a way. This transient sight he had of his Majesty in person; this, which is worth something to us,—fact being evidently lodged in it, "After church-parade," Autumn Sunday afternoon (day uncertain, Bielfeld's date being fictitious, and even impossible), Majesty drove out to Wusterhausen, "where the quantities of game surpass all belief;" and Bielfeld had one glimpse of him:—
"I saw his Majesty only, as it were, in passing. If I may judge by his Portraits, he must have been of a perfect beauty in his young time; but it must be confessed there is nothing left of it now. His eyes truly are fine; but the glance of them is terrible: his complexion is composed of the strongest tints of red, blue, yellow, green,"—not a lovely complexion at all; "big head; the thick neck sunk between the shoulders; figure short and heavy (COURTE ET RAMASSEE)." [Bielfeld, p. 35.]
"Going out to Wusterhausen," then, that afternoon, "October, 1739." How his Majesty is crushed down; quite bulged out of shape in that sad way, by the weight of time and its pressures: his thoughts, too, most likely, of a heavy-laden and abstruse nature! The old Pfalz Controversy has misgone with him: Pfalz, and so much else in the world;—the world in whole, probably enough, near ending to him; the final shadows, sombre, grand and mournful, closing in upon him!
TURK WAR ENDS; SPANISH WAR BEGINS. A WEDDING IN PETERSBURG.
Last news come to Potsdam in these days is, The Kaiser has ended his disastrous Turk War; been obliged to end it; sudden downbreak, and as it were panic terror, having at last come upon his unfortunate Generals in those parts. Duke Franz was passionate to be out of such a thing; Franz, General Neipperg and others; and now, "2d September, 1739," like lodgers leaping from a burning house, they are out of it. The Turk gets Belgrade itself, not to mention wide territories farther east,—Belgrade without shot fired;—nay the Turk was hardly to be kept from hanging the Imperial Messenger (a General Neipperg, Duke Franz's old Tutor, and chief Confidant, whom we shall hear more of elsewhere), whose passport was not quite right on this occasion!—Never was a more disgraceful Peace. But also never had been worse fighting; planless, changeful, powerless, melting into futility at every step:—not to be mended by imprisonments in Gratz, and still harsher treatment of individuals. "Has all success forsaken me, then, since Eugene died?" said the Kaiser; and snatched at this Turk Peace; glad to have it, by mediation of France, and on any terms.
Has not this Kaiser lost his outlying properties at a fearful rate? Naples is gone; Spanish Bourbon sits in our Naples; comparatively little left for us in Italy. And now the very Turk has beaten us small; insolently fillips the Imperial nose of us,—threatening to hang our Neipperg, and the like. Were it not for Anne of Russia, whose big horse-whip falls heavy on this Turk, he might almost get to Vienna again, for anything we could do! A Kaiser worthy to be pitied;—whom Friedrich Wilhelm, we perceive, does honestly pity. A Kaiser much beggared, much disgraced, in late years; who has played a huge life-game so long, diplomatizing, warring; and, except the Shadow of Pragmatic Sanction, has nothing to retire upon.
The Russians protested, with astonishment, against such Turk Peace on the Kaiser's part. But there was no help for it. One ally is gone, the Kaiser has let go this Western skirt of the Turk; and "Thamas Kouli Khan" (called also Nadir Shah, famed Oriental slasher and slayer of that time) no longer stands upon the Eastern skirt, but "has entered India," it appears: the Russians—their cash, too, running low—do themselves make peace, "about a month after;" restoring Azoph and nearly all their conquests; putting off the ruin of the Turk till a better time.
War is over in the East, then; but another in the West, England against Spain (Spain and France to help), is about beginning. Readers remember how Jenkins's Ear re-emerged, Spring gone a year, in a blazing condition? Here, through SYLVANUS URBAN himself, are two direct glimpses, a twelve-month nearer hand, which show us how the matter has been proceeding since:—
"LONDON, 19th FEBRUARY, 1739. The City Authorities,"—laying or going to lay "the foundation of the Mansion-House" (Edifice now very black in our time), and doing other things of little moment to us, "had a Masquerade at the Guildhall this night. There was a very splendid appearance at the Masquerade; but among the many humorous and whimsical characters, what seemed most to engage attention was a Spaniard, who called himself 'Knight of the Ear;' as Badge of which Order he wore on his breast the form of a Star, with its points tinged in blood; and on the body of it an Ear painted, and in capital letters the word JENKINS encircling it. Across his shoulder there hung, instead of ribbon, a large Halter; which he held up to several persons dressed as English Sailors, who seemed in great terror of him, and falling on their knees suffered him to rummage their pockets; which done, he would insolently dismiss them with strokes of his halter. Several of the Sailors had a bloody Ear hanging down from their heads; and on their hats were these words, EAR FOR EAR; on others, NO SEARCH OR NO TRADE; with the like sentences." [Gentleman's Magazine for 1739, p. 103;—our DATES, as always, are N. 8.] The conflagration evidently going on; not likely to be damped down again, by ministerial art!—
"LONDON, 19th MARCH, 1739." Grand Debate in Parliament, on the late "Spanish Convention," pretended Bargain of redress lately got from Spain: Approve the Convention, or Not approve? "A hundred Members were in the House of Commons before seven, this morning; and four hundred had taken their seat by ten; which is an unheard-of thing. Prince of Wales," Fred in person, "was in the gallery till twelve at night, and had his dinner sent to him. Sir Robert Walpole rose: 'Sir, the great pains that have been taken to influence all ranks and degrees of men in this Nation—... But give me leave to'"—apply a wet cloth to Honorable Gentlemen. Which he does, really with skill and sense. France and the others are so strong, he urges; England so unprepared; Kaiser at such a pass; 'War like to be, about the Palatinate Dispute [our friend Friedrich Wilhelm's]: Where is England to get, allies?'—and hours long of the like sort. A judicious wet cloth; which proved unavailing.
For "William Pitts" (so they spell the great Chatham that is to be) was eloquent on the other side: "Despairing Merchants," "Voice of England," and so on. And the world was all in an inflamed state. And Mr. Pulteney exclaimed: Palatinate? Allies? "We need no allies; the case of Mr. Jenkins will raise us volunteers everywhere!" And in short,—after eight months more of haggling, and applying wet cloths,—Walpole, in the name of England, has to declare War against Spain; ["3d November (23d October), 1739."] the public humor proving unquenchable on that matter. War; and no Peace to be, "till our undoubted right," to roadway on the oceans of this Planet, become permanently manifest to the Spanish Majesty.
Such the effect of a small Ear, kept about one in cotton, from ursine piety or other feelings. Has not Jenkins's Ear re-emerged, with a vengeance? It has kindled a War: dangerous for kindling other Wars, and setting the whole world on fire,—as will be too evident in the sequel! The EAR OF JENKINS is a singular thing. Might have mounted to be a constellation, like BERENICE'S HAIR, and other small facts become mythical, had the English People been of poetic turn! Enough of IT, for the time being.—
This Summer, Anton Ulrich, at Petersburg, did wed his Serene Mecklenburg Princess, Heiress of all the Russias: "July 14th, 1739,"—three months before that Drive to Wusterhausen, which we saw lately. Little Anton Ulrich, Cadet of Brunswick; our Friedrich's Brother-in-Law;—a noticeably small man in comparison to such bulk of destiny, thinks Friedrich, though the case is not without example! [A Letter of his to Suhm; touching on Franz of Lorraine and this Anton Ulrich.]
"Anton Ulrich is now five-and-twenty," says one of my Notebooks; "a young gentleman of small stature, shining courage in battle, but somewhat shy and bashful; who has had his troubles in Petersburg society, till the trial came,—and will have. Here are the stages of Anton Ulrich's felicity:—
"WINTER, 1732-1733. He was sent for to Petersburg (his Serene Aunt the German Kaiserinn, and Kaiser Karl's diplomatists, suggesting it there), with the view of his paying court to the young Mecklenburg Princess, Heiress of all the Russias, of whom we have often heard. February, 1733, he arrived on this errand;—not approved of at all by the Mecklenburg Princess, by Czarina Anne or anybody there: what can be done with such an uncomfortable little creature? They gave him the Colonelcy of Cuirassiers: 'Drill there, and endure.'
"SPRING, 1737. Much-enduring, diligently drilling, for four years past, he went this year to the Turk War under Munnich;—much pleased Munnich, at Oczakow and elsewhere; who reports in the War-Office high things of him. And on the whole,—the serene Vienna people now again bestirring themselves, with whom we are in copartnery in this Turk business,—little Anton Ulrich is encouraged to proceed. Proceeds; formally demands his Mecklenburg Princess; and,
"JULY 14th, 1739, weds her; the happiest little man in all the Russias, and with the biggest destiny, if it prosper. Next year, too, there came a son and heir; whom they called Iwan, in honor of his Russian Great-grandfather. Shall we add the subsequent felicities of Anton Ulrich here; or wait till another opportunity?"
Better wait. This is all, and more than all, his Prussian Majesty, rolling out of Wusterhausen that afternoon, ever knew of them, or needed to know!—
Chapter VIII. — DEATH OF FRIEDRICH WILHELM.
At Wusterhausen, this Autumn, there is game as usual, but little or no hunting for the King. He has to sit drearily within doors, for most part; listening to the rustle of falling leaves, to dim Winter coming with its rains and winds. Field-sports are a rumor from without: for him now no joyous sow-baiting, deer-chasing;—that, like other things, is past.
In the beginning of November, he came to Berlin; was worse there, and again was better;—strove to do the Carnival, as had been customary; but, in a languid, lamed manner. One night he looked in upon an evening-party which General Schulenburg was giving: he returned home, chilled, shivering, could not, all night, be brought to heat again. It was the last evening-party Friedrich Wilhelm ever went to. [Pollnitz (ii. 538); who gives no date.] Lieutenant-General Schulenburg: the same who doomed young Friedrich to death, as President of the Court-Martial; and then wrote the Three Letters about him which we once looked into: illuminates himself in this manner in Berlin society,—Carnival season, 1740, weather fiercely cold. Maypole Schulenburg the lean Aunt, Ex-Mistress of George I., over in London,—I think she must now be dead? Or if not dead, why not! Memory, for the tenth time, fails me, of the humanly unmemorable, whom perhaps even flunkies should forget; and I will try it no more. The stalwart Lieutenant-General will reappear on us once, twice at the utmost, and never again. He gave the last evening-party Friedrich Wilhelm ever went to.
Poor Friedrich Wilhelm is in truth very ill; tosses about all day, in and out of bed,—bed and wheeled-chair drearily alternating; suffers much;—and again, in Diplomatic circles, the rumors are rife and sinister. Ever from this chill at Schulenburg's the medicines did him no good, says Pollnitz: if he rallied, it was the effect of Nature, and only temporary. He does daily, with punctuality, his Official business; perhaps the best two hours he has of the four-and-twenty, for the time hangs heavy on him. His old Generals sit round his bed, talking, smoking, as it was five years ago; his Feekin and his Children much about him, out and in: the heavy-laden, weary hours roll round as they can. In general there is a kind of constant Tabaks-Collegium, old Flans, Camas, Hacke, Pollnitz, Derschau, and the rest by turns always there; the royal Patient cannot be left alone, without faces he likes: other Generals, estimable in their way, have a physiognomy displeasing to the sick man; and will smart for it if they enter,—"At sight of HIM every pain grows painfuler!"—the poor King being of poetic temperament, as we often say. Friends are encouraged to smoke, especially to keep up a stream of talk; if at any time he fall into a doze and they cease talking, the silence will awaken him.
He is worst off in the night; sleep very bad: and among his sore bodily pains, ennui falls very heavy to a mind so restless. He can paint, he can whittle, chisel: at last they even mount him a table, in his bed, with joiner's tools, mallets, glue-pots, where he makes small carpentry,—the talk to go on the while;—often at night is the sound of his mallet audible in the Palace Esplanade; and Berlin townsfolk pause to listen, with many thoughts of a sympathetic or at least inarticulate character: "HM, WEH, IHRO MAJESTAT: ACH GOTT, pale Death knocks with impartial foot at the huts of poor men and the Palaces of Kings!" [Pollnitz, ii. 539.] Reverend Herr Roloff, whom they call Provost (PROBST, Chief Clergyman) Roloff, a pious honest man and preacher, he, I could guess, has already been giving spiritual counsel now and then; later interviews with Roloff are expressly on record: for it is the King's private thought, ever and anon borne in upon him, that death itself is in this business.
Queen and Children, mostly hoping hitherto, though fearing too, live in much anxiety and agitation. The Crown-Prince is often over from Reinsberg; must not come too often, nor even inquire too much: his affectionate solicitude might be mistaken for solicitude of another kind! It is certain he is in no haste to be King; to quit the haunts of the Muses, and embark on Kingship. Certain, too, he loves his Father; shudders at the thought of losing HIM. And yet again there will gleams intrude of a contrary thought; which the filial heart disowns, with a kind of horror, "Down, thou impious thought!"—We perceive he manages in general to push the crisis away from him; to believe that real danger is still distant. His demeanor, so far as we can gather from his Letters or other evidence, is amiable, prudent, natural; altogether that of a human Son in those difficult circumstances. Poor Papa is heavy-laden: let us help to bear his burdens;—let us hope the crisis is still far off!—
Once, on a favorable evening, probably about the beginning of April, when he felt as if improving, Friedrich Wilhelm resolved to dress, and hold Tobacco-Parliament again in a formal manner, Let us look in there, through the eyes of Pollnitz, who was of it, upon the last Tobacco-Parliament:—
"A numerous party; Schwerin, Hacke, Derschau, all the chiefs and commandants of the Berlin Garrison are there; the old circle full; social human speech once more, and pipes alight; pleasant to the King. He does not himself smoke on this occasion; but he is unusually lively in talk; much enjoys the returning glimpse of old days; and the Tobacco circle was proceeding through its phases, successful beyond common. All at once the Crown-Prince steps in; direct from Reinsberg: [12th April, 1740? (OEuvres, xxvii. part lst, p. 29); Pollnitz is dateless] an unexpected pleasure. At sight of whom the Tobacco circle, taken on the sudden, simultaneously started up, and made him a bow. Rule is, in Tobacco-Parliament you do not rise—for anybody; and they have risen. Which struck the sick heart in a strange painful way. 'Hm, the Rising Sun?' thinks he; 'Rules broken through, for the Rising Sun. But I am not dead yet, as you shall know!' ringing for his servants in great wrath; and had himself rolled out, regardless of protestations and excuses. 'Hither, you Hacke!' said he.
"Hacke followed; but it was only to return on the instant, with the King's order, 'That you instantly quit the Palace, all of you, and don't come back!' Solemn respectful message to his Majesty was of no effect, or of less; they had to go, on those terms; and Pollnitz, making for his Majesty's apartment next morning as usual, was twitched by a Gens-d'arme, 'No admittance!' And it was days before the matter would come round again, under earnest protestations from the one side, and truculent rebukes from the other." [Pollnitz (abridged), ii. 50.] Figure the Crown-Prince, figure the poor sick Majesty; and what a time in those localities!
With the bright spring weather he seemed to revive; towards the end of April he resolved for Potsdam, everybody thinking him much better, and the outer Public reckoning the crisis of the illness over. He himself knew other. It was on the 27th of the month that he went; he said, "Fare thee well, then, Berlin; I am to die in Potsdam, then (ICH WERDE IN POTSDAM STERBEN)!" The May-flowers came late; the weather was changeful, ungenial for the sick man: this winter of 1740 had been the coldest on record; it extended itself into the very summer; and brought great distress of every kind;—of which some oral rumor still survives in all countries. Friedrich Wilhelm heard complaints of scarcity among the people; admonitions to open his Corn-granaries (such as he always has in store against that kind of accident); but he still hesitated and refused; unable to look into it himself, and fearing deceptions.
For the rest, he is struggling between death and life; in general persuaded that the end is fast hastening on. He sends for Chief Preacher Roloff out to Potsdam; has some notable dialogues with Roloff, and with two other Potsdam Clergymen, of which there is record still left us. In these, as in all his demeanor at this supreme time, we see the big rugged block of manhood come out very vividly; strong in his simplicity, in his veracity. Friedrich Wilhelm's wish is to know from Roloff what the chances are for him in the other world,—which is not less certain than Potsdam and the giant grenadiers to Friedrich Wilhelm; and where, he perceives, never half so clearly before, he shall actually peel off his Kinghood, and stand before God Almighty, no better than a naked beggar. Roloff's prognostics are not so encouraging as the King had hoped. Surely this King "never took or coveted what was not his; kept true to his marriage-vow, in spite of horrible examples everywhere; believed the Bible, honored the Preachers, went diligently to Church, and tried to do what he understood God's commandments were?" To all which Roloff, a courageous pious man, answers with discreet words and shakings of the head, "Did I behave ill, then; did I ever do injustice?" Roloff mentions Baron Schlubhut the defalcating Amtmann, hanged at Konigsberg without even a trial. "He had no trial; but was there any doubt he had justice? A public thief, confessing he had stolen the taxes he was set to gather; insolently offering, as if that were all, to repay the money, and saying, It was not MANIER (good manners) to hang a nobleman!" Roloff shakes his head, Too violent, your Majesty, and savoring of the tyrannous. The poor King must repent.
"Well,—is there anything more? Out with it, then; better now than too late!"—Much oppression, forcing men to build in Berlin.—"Oppression? was it not their benefit, as well as Berlin's and the Country's? I had no interest in it other. Derschau, you who managed it?" and his Majesty turned to Derschau. For all the smoking generals and company are still here; nor will his Majesty consent to dismiss them from the presence and be alone with Roloff: "What is there to conceal? They are people of honor, and my friends." Derschau, whose feats in the building way are not unknown even to us, answers with a hard face, It was all right and orderly; nothing out of square in his building operations. To which Roloff shakes his head: "A thing of public notoriety, Herr General."—"I will prove everything before a Court," answers the Herr General with still harder face; Roloff still austerely shaking his head. Hm!—And then there is forgiveness of enemies; your Majesty is bound to forgive all men, or how can you ask to be forgiven? "Well, I will, I do; you Feekin, write to your Brother (unforgivablest of beings), after I am dead, that I forgave him, died in peace with him."—Better her Majesty should write at once, suggests Roloff.—"No, after I am dead," persists the Son of Nature,—that will be safer! [Wrote accordingly, "not able to finish without many tears;" honest sensible Letter (though indifferently spelt), "Berlin, 1st June, 1740;"—lies now in State-Paper Office: "ROYAL LETTERS, vol. xciv., Prussia, 1689-1777."] An unwedgeable and gnarled big block of manhood and simplicity and sincerity; such as we rarely get sight of among the modern sons of Adam, among the crowned sons nearly never. At parting he said to Roloff, "You (ER, He) do not spare me; it is right. You do your duty like an honest Christian man." [Notata ex ore Roloffi ("found among the Seckendorf Papers," no date but "May 1740"), in Forster, ii. 154, 155; in a fragmentary state: completed in Pollnitz, ii. 545-549.]
Roloff, I perceive, had several Dialogues with the King; and stayed in Potsdam some days for that object. The above bit of jotting is from the Seckendorf Papers (probably picked up by Seckendorf Junior), and is dated only "May." Of the two Potsdam Preachers, one of whom is "Oesfeld, Chaplain of the Giant Grenadiers," and the other is "Cochius, Calvinist Hofprediger," each published on his own score some Notes of dialogue and circumstance; [Cochius the HOFPREDIGER'S (Calvinist Court-Chaplain's) ACCOUNT of his Interviews (first of them "Friday, 27th May, 1740, about 9 P.M."); followed by ditto from Oesfeld (Chaplain of the Giants), who usually accompanied Cochius,—are in Seyfarth, Geschichte Friedrich des Grossen (Leipzig, 1783-1788), i. (Beylage) 24-40. Seyfarth was "Regiments-Auditor" in Halle: his Work, solid though stupid, consists nearly altogether of multifarious BEYLAGEN (Appendices) and NOTES; which are creditably accurate, and often curious; and, as usual, have no Index for an unfortunate reader.] which are to the same effect, so far as they concern us; and exhibit the same rugged Son of Nature, looking with all his eyesight into the near Eternity, and sinking in a human and not inhuman manner amid the floods of Time. "Wa, Wa, what great God is this, that pulls down the strength of the strongest Kings!"—
The poor King's state is very restless, fluctuates from day to day; he is impatient of bed; sleeps very ill; is up whenever possible; rolls about in his wheeled-chair, and even gets into the air: at one time looking strong, as if there were still months in him, and anon sunk in fainting weakness, as if he had few minutes to live. Friedrich at Reinsberg corresponds very secretly with Dr. Eller; has other friends at Potsdam whose secret news he very anxiously reads. To the last he cannot bring himself to think it "serious." [Letter to Eller, 25th May, 1740 (OEuvres ), xvi. 184.]
On Thursday, 26th of May, an express from Eller, or the Potsdam friends, arrives at Reinsberg: He is to come quickly, if he would see his Father again alive! The step may have danger, too; but Friedrich, a world of feelings urging him, is on the road next morning before the sun. His journey may be fancied; the like of it falls to all men. Arriving at last, turning hastily a corner of the Potsdam Schloss, Friedrich sees some gathering in the distance: it is his Father in his ROLLWAGEN (wheeled-chair),—not dying; but out of doors, giving orders about founding a House, or seeing it done. House for one Philips, a crabbed Englishman he has; whose tongue is none of the best, not even to Majesty itself, but whose merits as a Groom, of English and other Horses, are without parallel in those parts. Without parallel, and deserve a House before we die. Let us see it set agoing, this blessed Mayday! Of Philips, who survived deep into Friedrich's time, and uttered rough sayings (in mixed intelligible dialect) when put upon in his grooming, or otherwise disturbed, I could obtain no farther account: the man did not care to be put in History (a very small service to a man); cared to have a house with trim fittings, and to do his grooming well, the fortunate Philips.
At sight of his Son, Friedrich Wilhelm threw out his arms; the Son kneeling sank upon his breast, and they embraced with tears. My Father, my Father; My Son, my Son! It was a scene to make all by-standers and even Philips weep.—Probably the emotion hurt the old King; he had to be taken in again straightway, his show of strength suddenly gone, and bed the only place for him. This same Friday he dictated to one of his Ministers (Boden, who was in close attendance) the Instruction for his Funeral; a rude characteristic Piece, which perhaps the English reader knows. Too long and rude for reprinting here. [Copy of it, in Seyfarth (ubi supra), i. 19-24. Translated in Mauvillon (ii. 432-437); in &c. &c.]
He is to be buried in his uniform, the Potsdam Grenadiers his escort; with military decorum, three volleys fired (and take care they be well fired, "NICHT PLACKEREN"), so many cannon-salvos;—and no fuss or flaunting ceremony: simplicity and decency is what the tenant of that oak coffin wants, as he always did when owner of wider dominions. The coffin, which he has ready and beside him in the Palace this good while, is a stout piece of carpentry, with leather straps and other improvements; he views it from time to time; solaces his truculent imagination with the look of it: "I shall sleep right well there," he would say. The image he has of his Burial, we perceive, is of perfect visuality, equal to what a Defoe could do in imagining. All is seen, settled to the last minuteness: the coffin is to be borne out by so and so, at such and such a door; this detachment is to fall-in here, that there, in the attitude of "cover arms" (musket inverted under left arm); and the band is to play, with all its blackamoors, O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden (O Head, all bleeding wounded); a Dirge his Majesty had liked, who knew music, and had a love for it, after his sort. Good Son of Nature: a dumb Poet, as I say always; most dumb, but real; the value of him great, and unknown in these babbling times. It was on this same Friday night that Cochius was first sent for; Cochius, and Oesfeld with him, "about nine o'clock."
For the next three days (Saturday to Monday) when his cough and many sufferings would permit him, Friedrich Wilhelm had long private dialogues with his Son; instructing him, as was evident, in the mysteries of State; in what knowledge, as to persons and to things, he reckoned might be usefulest to him. What the lessons were, we know not; the way of taking them had given pleasure to the old man: he was heard to say, perhaps more than once, when the Generals were called in, and the dialogue interrupted for a while: "Am not I happy to have such a Son to leave behind me!" And the grimly sympathetic Generals testified assent; endeavored to talk a little, could at least smoke, and look friendly; till the King gathered strength for continuing his instructions to his Successor. All else was as if settled with him; this had still remained to do. This once done (finished, Monday night), why not abdicate altogether; and die disengaged, be it in a day or in a month, since that is now the one work left? Friedrich Wilhelm does so purpose.
His state, now as all along, was fluctuating, uncertain, restless. He was heard murmuring prayers; he would say sometimes, "Pray for me; BETET BETET." And more than once, in deep tone: "Lord, enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified!" The wild Son of Nature, looking into Life and Death, into Judgment and Eternity, finds that these things are very great. This too is a characteristic trait: In a certain German Hymn (Why fret or murmur, then? the title of it), which they often sang to him, or along with him, as he much loved it, are these words, "Naked I came into the world, and naked shall I go,"—"No," said he "always with vivacity," at this passage; "not quite nakid, I shall have my uniform on:" Let us be exact, since we are at it! After which the singing proceeded again. "The late Graf Alexander von Wartenberg"—Captain Wartenberg, whom we know, and whose opportunities—"was wont to relate this." [Busching (in 1786), Beitrage, iv. 100.]
Tuesday, 31st May, "about one in the morning," Cochius was again sent for. He found the King in very pious mood, but in great distress, and afraid he might yet have much pain to suffer. Cochius prayed with him; talked piously. "I can remember nothing," said the King; "I cannot pray, I have forgotten all my prayers."—"Prayer is not in words, but in the thought of the heart," said Cochius; and soothed the heavy-laden man as he could. "Fare you well," said Friedrich Wilhelm, at length; "most likely we shall not meet again in this world." Whereat Cochius burst into tears, and withdrew. About four, the King was again out of bed; wished to see his youngest Boy, who had been ill of measles, but was doing well: "Poor little Ferdinand, adieu, then, my little child!" This is the Father of that fine Louis Ferdinand, who was killed at Jena; concerning whom Berlin, in certain emancipated circles of it, still speaks with regret. He, the Louis Ferdinand, had fine qualities; but went far a-roving, into radicalism, into romantic love, into champagne; and was cut down on the threshold of Jena, desperately fighting,—perhaps happily for him.
From little Ferdinand's room Friedrich Wilhelm has himself rolled into Queen Sophie's. "Feekin, O my Feekin, thou must rise this day, and help me what thou canst. This day I am going to die; thou wilt be with me this day!" The good Wife rises: I know not that it was the first time she had been so called; but it did prove the last. Friedrich Wilhelm has decided, as the first thing he will do, to abdicate; and all the Official persons and companions of the sick-room, Pollnitz among them, not long after sunrise, are called to see it done. Pollnitz, huddling on his clothes, arrived about five: in a corridor he sees the wheeled-chair and poor sick King; steps aside to let him pass: "'It is over (DAS IST VOLLBRACHT),' said the King, looking up to me as he passed: he had on his nightcap, and a blue mantle thrown round him." He was wheeled into his anteroom; there let the company assemble; many of them are already there.
The royal stables are visible from this room: Friedrich Wilhelm orders the horses to be ridden out: you old Furst of Anhalt-Dessau my oldest friend, you Colonel Hacke faithfulest of Adjutant-Generals, take each of you a horse, the best you can pick out: it is my last gift to you. Dessau, in silence, with dumb-show of thanks, points to a horse, any horse: "You have chosen the very worst," said Friedrich Wilhelm: "Take that other, I will warrant him a good one!" The grim old Dessauer thanks in silence; speechless grief is on that stern gunpowder face, and he seems even to be struggling with tears. "Nay, nay, my friend," Friedrich Wilhelm said, "this is a debt we have all to pay."
The Official people, Queen, Friedrich, Minister Boden, Minister Podewils, and even Pollnitz, being now all present, Friedrich Wilhelm makes his Declaration, at considerable length; old General Bredow repeating it aloud, [Pollnitz, ii. 561.] sentence by sentence, the King's own voice being too weak; so that all may hear: "That he abdicates, gives up wholly, in favor of his good Son Friedrich; that foreign Ambassadors are to be informed; that you are all to be true and loyal to my Son as you were to me"—and what else is needful. To which the judicious Podewils makes answer, "That there must first be a written Deed of his high Transaction executed, which shall be straightway set about; the Deed once executed, signed and sealed,—the high Royal will, in all points, takes effect." Alas, before Podewils has done speaking, the King is like falling into a faint; does faint, and is carried to bed: too unlikely any Deed of Abdication will be needed.
Ups and downs there still were; sore fluctuating labor, as the poor King struggles to his final rest, this morning. He was at the window again, when the WACHT-PARADE (Grenadiers on Guard) turned out; he saw them make their evolutions for the last time. [Pauli, viii. 280.] After which, new relapse, new fluctuation. It was about eleven o'clock, when Cochius was again sent for. The King lay speechless, seemingly still conscious, in bed; Cochius prays with fervor, in a loud tone, that the dying King may hear and join. "Not so loud!" says the King, rallying a little. He had remembered that it was the season when his servants got their new liveries; they had been ordered to appear this day in full new costume: "O vanity! O vanity!" said Friedrich Wilhelm, at sight of the ornamented plush. "Pray for me, pray for me; my trust is in the Saviour!" he often said. His pains, his weakness are great; the cordage of a most tough heart rending itself piece by piece. At one time, he called for a mirror: that is certain:—rugged wild man, son of Nature to the last. The mirror was brought; what he said at sight of his face is variously reported: "Not so worn out as I thought," is Pollnitz's account, and the likeliest;—though perhaps he said several things, "ugly face," "as good as dead already;" and continued the inspection for some moments. [Pollnitz, ii. 564; Wilhelmina, ii. 321.] A grim, strange thing.
"Feel mv pulse, Pitsch," said he, noticing the Surgeon of his Giants: "tell me how long this will last."—"Alas, not long," answered Pitsch.—"Say not, alas; but how do you (He) know?"—"The pulse is gone!"—"Impossible," said he, lifting his arm: "how could I move my fingers so, if the pulse were gone?" Pitsch looked mournfully steadfast. "Herr Jesu, to thee I live; Herr Jesu, to thee I die; in life and in death thou art my gain (DU BIST MEIN GEWINN)." These were the last words Friedrich Wilhelm spoke in this world. He again fell into a faint. Eller gave a signal to the Crown-Prince to take the Queen away. Scarcely were they out of the room, when the faint had deepened into death; and Friedrich Wilhelm, at rest from all his labors, slept with the primeval sons of Thor.
No Baresark of them, nor Odin's self, I think, was a bit of truer human stuff;—I confess his value to me, in these sad times, is rare and great. Considering the usual Histrionic, Papin's-Digester, Truculent-Charlatan and other species of "Kings," alone attainable for the sunk flunky populations of an Era given up to Mammon and the worship of its own belly, what would not such a population give for a Friedrich Wilhelm, to guide it on the road BACK from Orcus a little? "Would give," I have written; but alas, it ought to have been "SHOULD give." What THEY "would" give is too mournfully plain to me, in spite of ballot-boxes: a steady and tremendous truth from the days of Barabbas downwards and upwards!—Tuesday, 31st May, 1740, between one and two o'clock in the afternoon, Friedrich Wilhelm died; age fifty-two, coming 15th August next. Same day, Friedrich his Son was proclaimed at Berlin; quilted heralds, with sound of trumpet and the like, doing what is customary on such occasions.
On Saturday, 4th June, the King's body is laid out in state; all Potsdam at liberty to come and see. He lies there, in his regimentals, in his oaken coffin, on a raised place in the middle of the room; decent mortuary draperies, lamps, garlands, banderols furnishing the room and him: at his feet, on a black-velvet TABOURET (stool), are the chivalry emblems, helmet, gauntlets, spurs; and on similar stools, at the right hand and the left, lie his military insignia, hat and sash, sword, guidon, and what else is fit. Around, in silence, sit nine veteran military dignitaries; Buddenbrock, Waldau, Derschau, Einsiedel, and five others whom we omit to name. Silent they sit. A grim earnest sight in the shine of the lamplight, as you pass out of the June sun. Many went, all day; looked once again on the face that was to vanish. Precisely at ten at night, the coffin-lid is screwed down: twelve Potsdam Captains take the coffin on their shoulders; four-and-twenty Corporals with wax torches, four-and-twenty Sergeants with inverted halberts lowered; certain Generals on order, and very many following as volunteers; these perform the actual burial,—carry the body to the Garrison Church, where are clergy waiting, which is but a small step off; see it lodged, oak coffin and all, in a marble coffin in the side vault there, which is known to Tourists. [Pauli, viii. 281.] It is the end of the week, and the actual burial is done,—hastened forward for reasons we can guess.
Filial piety by no means intends to defraud a loved Father of the Spartan ceremonial contemplated as obsequies by him: very far from it. Filial piety will conform to that with rigor; only adding what musical and other splendors are possible, to testify his love still more. And so, almost three weeks hence, on the 23d of the month, with the aid of Dresden Artists, of Latin Cantatas and other pomps (not inexcusable, though somewhat out of keeping), the due Funeral is done, no Corpse but a Wax Effigy present in it;—and in all points, that of the Potsdam Grenadiers not forgotten, there was rigorous conformity to the Instruction left. In all points, even to the extensive funeral dinner, and drinking of the appointed cask of wine, "the best cask in my cellar." Adieu, O King.
The Potsdam Grenadiers fired their three volleys (not "PLACKERING," as I have reason to believe, but well); got their allowance, dinner-liquor, and appointed coin of money: it was the last service required of them in this world. That same night they were dissolved, the whole Four Thousand of them, at a stroke; and ceased to exist as Potsdam Grenadiers. Colonels, Captains, all the Officers known to be of merit, were advanced, at least transferred. Of the common men, a minority, of not inhuman height and of worth otherwise, were formed into a new Regiment on the common terms: the stupid splay-footed eight-feet mass were allowed to stalk off whither they pleased, or vegetate on frugal pensions; Irish Kirkman, and a few others neither knock-kneed nor without head, were appointed HEYDUCS, that is, porters to the King's or other Palaces; and did that duty in what was considered an ornamental manner.
Here are still two things capable of being fished up from the sea of nugatory matter; and meditated on by readers, till the following Books open.
The last breath of Friedrich Wilhelm having fled, Friedrich hurried to a private room; sat there all in tears; looking back through the gulfs of the Past, upon such a Father now rapt away forever. Sad all, and soft in the moonlight of memory,—the lost Loved One all in the right as we now see, we all in the wrong!—this, it appears, was the Son's fixed opinion. Seven years hence, here is how Friedrich concludes the HISTORY of his Father, written with a loyal admiration throughout: "We have left under silence the domestic chagrins of this great Prince: readers must have some indulgence for the faults of the Children, in consideration of the virtues of such a Father." [OEuvres, i. 174 (Memoires de Brandebourg: finished about 1747).] All in tears he sits at present, meditating these sad things.
In a little while the Old Dessauer, about to leave for Dessau, ventures in to the Crown-Prince, Crown-Prince no longer; "embraces his knees;" offers, weeping, his condolence, his congratulation;—hopes withal that his sons and he will be continued in their old posts, and that he, the Old Dessauer, "will have the same authority as in the late reign." Friedrich's eyes, at this last clause, flash out tearless, strangely Olympian. "In your posts I have no thought of making change: in your posts, yes;—and as to authority, I know of none there can be but what resides in the King that is sovereign!" Which, as it were, struck the breath out of the Old Dessauer; and sent him home with a painful miscellany of feelings, astonishment not wanting among them.
At an after hour, the same night, Friedrich went to Berlin; met by acclamation enough. He slept there, not without tumult of dreams, one may fancy; and on awakening next morning, the first sound he heard was that of the Regiment Glasenap under his windows, swearing fealty to the new King. He sprang out of bed in a tempest of emotion; bustled distractedly to and fro, wildly weeping. Pollnitz, who came into the anteroom, found him in this state, "half-dressed, with dishevelled hair, in tears, and as if beside himself." "These huzzaings only tell me what I have lost!" said the new King.—"HE was in great suffering," suggested Pollnitz; "he is now at rest." "True, he suffered; but he was here with us: and now—!" [Ranke (ii. 46, 47)], from certain Fragments, still, in manuscript, of Pollnits's Memoiren.