HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH II. OF PRUSSIA
FREDERICK THE GREAT
By Thomas Carlyle
BOOK IV. — FRIEDRICH'S APPRENTICESHIP, FIRST STAGE. - 1713-1728.
CHAPTER I. — CHILDHOOD: DOUBLE EDUCATIONAL ELEMENT.
Of Friedrich's childhood, there is not, after all our reading, much that it would interest the English public to hear tell of. Perhaps not much of knowable that deserves anywhere to be known. Books on it, expressly handling it, and Books on Friedrich Wilhelm's Court and History, of which it is always a main element, are not wanting: but they are mainly of the sad sort which, with pain and difficulty, teach us nothing, Books done by pedants and tenebrific persons, under the name of men; dwelling not on things, but, at endless length, on the outer husks of things: of unparalleled confusion, too;—not so much as an Index granted you; to the poor half-peck of cinders, hidden in these wagon-loads of ashes, no sieve allowed! Books tending really to fill the mind with mere dust-whirlwinds,—if the mind did not straightway blow them out again; which it does. Of these let us say nothing. Seldom had so curious a Phenomenon worse treatment from the Dryasdust, species.
Among these Books, touching on Friedrich's childhood, and treating of his Father's Court, there is hardly above one that we can characterize as fairly human: the Book written by his little Sister Wilhelmina, when she grew to size and knowledge of good and evil; [Memoires de Frederique Sophie Wilhelmine de Prusse, Margrave de Bareith (Brunswick, Paris et Londres, l8l2), 2 vols. 8vo.]—and this, of what flighty uncertain nature it is, the world partly knows. A human Book, however, not a pedant one: there is a most shrill female soul busy with intense earnestness here; looking, and teaching us to look. We find it a VERACIOUS Book, done with heart, and from eyesight and insight; of a veracity deeper than the superficial sort. It is full of mistakes, indeed; and exaggerates dreadfully, in its shrill female way; but is above intending to deceive: deduct the due subtrahend,—say perhaps twenty-five per cent, or in extreme cases as high as seventy-five,—you will get some human image of credible actualities from Wilhelmina. Practically she is our one resource on this matter. Of the strange King Friedrich Wilhelm and his strange Court, with such an Heir-Apparent growing up in it, there is no real light to be had, except what Wilhelmina gives,—or kindles dark Books of others into giving. For that, too, on long study, is the result of her, here and there. With so flickery a wax-taper held over Friedrich's childhood,—and the other dirty tallow-dips all going out in intolerable odor,—judge if our success can be very triumphant!
We perceive the little creature has got much from Nature; not the big arena only, but fine inward gifts, for he is well-born in more senses than one;—and that in the breeding of him there are two elements noticeable, widely diverse: the French and the German. This is perhaps the chief peculiarity; best worth laying hold of, with the due comprehension, if our means allow.
FIRST EDUCATIONAL ELEMENT, THE FRENCH ONE.
His nurses, governesses, simultaneous and successive, mostly of French breed, are duly set down in the Prussian Books, and held in mind as a point of duty by Prussian men; but, in foreign parts, cannot be considered otherwise than as a group, and merely with generic features. He had a Frau von Kamecke for Head Governess,—the lady whom Wilhelmina, in her famed Memoires, always writes KAMKEN; and of whom, except the floating gossip found in that Book, there is nothing to be remembered. Under her, as practical superintendent, SOUS-GOUVERNANTE and quasi-mother, was the Dame de Roucoulles, a more important person for us here. Dame de Roucoulles, once de Montbail, the same respectable Edict-of-Nantes French lady who, five-and-twenty years ago, had taken similar charge of Friedrich Wilhelm; a fact that speaks well for the character of her performance in that office. She had done her first edition of a Prussian Prince in a satisfactory manner; and not without difficult accidents and singularities, as we have heard: the like of which were spared her in this her second edition (so we may call it); a second and, in all manner of ways, an improved one. The young Fritz swallowed no shoe-buckles; did not leap out of window, hanging on by the hands; nor achieve anything of turbulent, or otherwise memorable, in his infantine history; the course of which was in general smooth, and runs, happily for it, below the ken of rumor. The Boy, it is said, and is easily credible, was of extraordinary vivacity; quick in apprehending all things, and gracefully relating himself to them. One of the prettiest, vividest little boys; with eyes, with mind and ways, of uncommon brilliancy;—only he takes less to soldiering than the paternal heart could wish; and appears to find other things in the world fully as notable as loud drums, and stiff men drawn up in rows. Moreover, he is apt to be a little unhealthy now and then, and requires care from his nurses, over whom the judicious Roucoulles has to be very vigilant.
Of this respectable Madame de Roucoulles I have read, at least seven times, what the Prussian Books say of her by way of Biography; but it is always given in their dull tombstone style; it has moreover next to no importance; and I,—alas, I do not yet too well remember it! She was from Normandy; of gentle blood, never very rich; Protestant, in the Edict-of-Nantes time; and had to fly her country, a young widow, with daughter and mother-in-law hanging on her; the whole of them almost penniless. However, she was kindly received at the Court of Berlin, as usual in that sad case; and got some practical help towards living in her new country. Queen Sophie Charlotte had liked her society; and finding her of prudent intelligent turn, and with the style of manners suitable, had given her Friedrich Wilhelm to take charge of. She was at that time Madame de Montbail; widow, as we said: she afterwards wedded Roucoulles, a refugee gentleman of her own Nation, who had gone into the Prussian Army, as was common for the like of him: She had again become a widow, Madame de Roucoulles this time, with her daughter Montbail still about her, when, by the grateful good sense of Friedrich Wilhelm, she was again intrusted as we see;—and so had the honor of governessing Frederick the Great for the first seven years of his life. Respectable lady, she oversaw his nurses, pap-boats,—"beer-soup and bread," he himself tells us once, was his main diet in boyhood,—beer-soups, dress-frocks, first attempts at walking; and then also his little bits of intellectualities, moralities; his incipiencies of speech, demeanor, and spiritual development; and did her function very honestly, there is no doubt.
Wilhelmina mentions her, at a subsequent period; and we have a glimpse of this same Roucoulles, gliding about among the royal young-folk, "with only one tooth left" (figuratively speaking), and somewhat given to tattle, in Princess Wilhelmina's opinion. Grown very old now, poor lady; and the dreadfulest bore, when she gets upon Hanover and her experiences, and Queen Sophie Charlotte's, in that stupendously magnificent court under Gentleman Ernst. Shun that topic, if you love your peace of mind! [Memoires (above cited).]—She did certainly superintend the Boy Fritzkin for his first seven years; that is a glory that cannot be taken from her. And her pupil, too, we agreeably perceive, was always grateful for her services in that capacity. Once a week, if he were in Berlin, during his youthful time, he was sure to appear at the Roucoulles Soiree, and say and look various pleasant things to his "CHER MAMAN (dear Mamma)," as he used to call her, and to the respectable small parts she had. Not to speak of other more substantial services, which also were not wanting.
Roucoulles and the other female souls, mainly French, among whom the incipient Fritz now was, appear to have done their part as well as could be looked for. Respectable Edict-of-Nantes French ladies, with high head-gear, wide hoops; a clear, correct, but somewhat barren and meagre species, tight-laced and high-frizzled in mind and body. It is not a very fertile element for a young soul: not very much of silent piety in it; and perhaps of vocal piety more than enough in proportion. An element founding on what they call "enlightened Protestantism," "freedom of thought," and the like, which is apt to become loquacious, and too conscious of itself; terming, on the whole, rather to contempt of the false, than to deep or very effective recognition of the true.
But it is, in some important senses, a clear and pure element withal. At lowest, there are no conscious semi-falsities, or volunteer hypocrisies, taught the poor Boy; honor, clearness, truth of word at least; a decorous dignified bearing; various thin good things, are honestly inculcated and exemplified; nor is any bad, ungraceful or suspicious thing permitted there, if recognized for such. It might have been a worse element; and we must be thankful for it. Friedrich, through life, carries deep traces of this French-Protestant incipiency: a very big wide-branching royal tree, in the end; but as small and flexible a seedling once as any one of us.
The good old Dame de Roucoulles just lived to witness his accession; on which grand juncture and afterwards, as he had done before, he continued to express, in graceful and useful ways, his gratitude and honest affection to her and hers. Tea services, presents in cut-glass and other kinds, with Letters that were still more precious to the old Lady, had come always at due intervals, and one of his earliest kingly gifts was that of some suitable small pension for Montbail, the elderly daughter of this poor old Roucoulles, [Preuss, Friedrich der Grosse, eine Lebensgeschichte (5 vols. Berlin, 1832-1834), v. (Urkundenbuch, p. 4). OEuvres de Frederic (same Preuss's Edition, Berlin, 1846-1850, &c.), xvi. 184, 191.—The Herr Doctor J. D. E. Preuss, "Historiographer of Brandenburg," devoted wholly to the study of Friedrich for five-and-twenty years past, and for above a dozen years busily engaged in editing the OEuvres de Frederic,—has, besides that Lebensgeschichte just cited, three or four smaller Books, of indistinctly different titles, on the same subject. A meritoriously exact man; acquainted with the outer details of Friedrich's Biography (had he any way of arranging, organizing or setting them forth) as few men ever were or will be. We shall mean always this Lebensgeschichte here, when no other title is given: and OEuvres de Frederic shall signify HIS Edition, unless the contrary be stated.] who was just singing her DIMITTAES as it were, still in a blithe and pious manner. For she saw now (in 1740) her little nursling grown to be a brilliant man and King; King gone out to the Wars, too, with all Europe inquiring and wondering what the issue would be. As for her, she closed her poor old eyes, at this stage of the business; piously, in foreign parts, far from her native Normandy; and did not see farther what the issue was. Good old Dame, I have, as was observed, read some seven times over what they call biographical accounts of her; but have seven times (by Heaven's favor, I do partly believe) mostly forgotten them again; and would not, without cause, inflict on any reader the like sorrow. To remember one worthy thing, how many thousand unworthy things must a man be able to forget!
From this Edict-of-Mantes environment, which taught our young Fritz his first lessons of human behavior,—a polite sharp little Boy, we do hope and understand,—he learned also to clothe his bits of notions, emotions, and garrulous utterabilities, in the French dialect. Learned to speak, and likewise, what is more important; to THINK, in French; which was otherwise quite domesticated in the Palace, and became his second mother-tongue. Not a bad dialect; yet also none of the best. Very lean and shallow, if very clear and convenient; leaving much in poor Fritz unuttered, unthought, unpractised, which might otherwise have come into activity in the course of his life. He learned to read very soon, I presume; but he did not, now or afterwards, ever learn to spell. He spells indeed dreadfully ILL, at his first appearance on the writing stage, as we shall see by and by; and he continued, to the last, one of the bad spellers of his day. A circumstance which I never can fully account for, and will leave to the reader's study.
From all manner of sources,—from inferior valetaille, Prussian Officials, Royal Majesty itself when not in gala,—he learned, not less rootedly, the corrupt Prussian dialect of German; and used the same, all his days, among his soldiers, native officials, common subjects and wherever it was most convenient; speaking it, and writing and misspelling it, with great freedom, though always with a certain aversion and undisguised contempt, which has since brought him blame in some quarters. It is true, the Prussian form of German is but rude; and probably Friedrich, except sometimes in Luther's Bible, never read any German Book. What, if we will think of it, could he know of his first mother-tongue! German, to this day, is a frightful dialect for the stupid, the pedant and dullard sort! Only in the hands of the gifted does it become supremely good. It had not yet been the language of any Goethe, any Lessing; though it stood on the eve of becoming such. It had already been the language of Luther, of Ulrich Hutten, Friedrich Barbarossa, Charlemagne and others. And several extremely important things had been said in it, and some pleasant ones even sung in it, from an old date, in a very appropriate manner,—had Crown-Prince Friedrich known all that. But he could not reasonably be expected to know:—and the wiser Germans now forgive him for not knowing, and are even thankful that he did not.
Chapter II. — THE GERMAN ELEMENT.
So that, as we said, there are two elements for young Fritz, and highly diverse ones, from both of which he is to draw nourishment, and assimilate what he can. Besides that Edict-of-Nantes French element, and in continual contact and contrast with it, which prevails chiefly in the Female Quarters of the Palace,—there is the native German element for young Fritz, of which the centre is Papa, now come to be King, and powerfully manifesting himself as such. An abrupt peremptory young King; and German to the bone. Along with whom, companions to him in his social hours, and fellow-workers in his business, are a set of very rugged German sons of Nature; differing much from the French sons of Art. Baron Grumkow, Leopold Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (not yet called the "OLD Dessauer," being under forty yet), General Glasenap, Colonel Derschau, General Flans; these, and the other nameless Generals and Officials, are a curious counterpart to the Camases, the Hautcharmoys and Forcades, with their nimble tongues and rapiers; still more to the Beausobres, Achards, full of ecclesiastical logic, made of Bayle and Calvin kneaded together; and to the high-frizzled ladies rustling in stiff silk, with the shadow of Versailles and of the Dragonnades alike present to them.
Born Hyperboreans these others; rough as hemp, and stout of fibre as hemp; native products of the rigorous North. Of whom, after all our reading, we know little.—O Heaven, they have had long lines of rugged ancestors, cast in the same rude stalwart mould, and leading their rough life there, of whom we know absolutely nothing! Dumb all those preceding busy generations; and this of Friedrich Wilhelm is grown almost dumb. Grim semi-articulate Prussian men; gone all to pipe-clay and mustache for us. Strange blond-complexioned, not unbeautiful Prussian honorable women, in hoops, brocades, and unintelligible head-gear and hair-towers,—ACH GOTT, they too are gone; and their musical talk, in the French or German language, that also is gone; and the hollow Eternities have swallowed it, as their wont is, in a very surprising manner!—
Grumkow, a cunning, greedy-hearted, long-headed fellow, of the old Pomeranian Nobility by birth, has a kind of superficial polish put upon his Hyperboreanisms; he has been in foreign countries, doing legations, diplomacies, for which, at least for the vulpine parts of which, he has a turn. He writes and speaks articulate grammatical French; but neither in that, nor in native Pommerish Platt-Deutsch, does he show us much, except the depths of his own greed, of his own astucities and stealthy audacities. Of which we shall hear more than enough by and by.
OF THE DESSAUER, NOT YET "OLD."
As to the Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, rugged man, whose very face is the color of gunpowder, he also knows French, and can even write in it, if he like,—having duly had a Tutor of that nation, and strange adventures with him on the grand tour and elsewhere;—but does not much practise writing, when it can be helped. His children, I have heard, he expressly did not teach to read or write, seeing no benefit in that effeminate art, but left them to pick it up as they could. His Princess, all rightly ennobled now,—whom he would not but marry, though sent on the grand tour to avoid it,—was the daughter of one Fos an Apothecary at Dessau; and is still a beautiful and prudent kind of woman, who seems to suit him well enough, no worse than if she had been born a Princess. Much talk has been of her, in princely and other circles; nor is his marriage the only strange thing Leopold has done. He is a man to keep the world's tongue wagging, not too musically always; though himself of very unvocal nature. Perhaps the biggest mass of inarticulate human vitality, certainly one of the biggest, then going about in the world. A man of vast dumb faculty; dumb, but fertile, deep; no end of ingenuities in the rough head of him:—as much mother-wit, there, I often guess, as could be found in whole talking parliaments, spouting themselves away in vocables and eloquent wind!
A man of dreadful impetuosity withal. Set upon his will as the one law of Nature; storming forward with incontrollable violence: a very whirlwind of a man. He was left a minor; his Mother guardian. Nothing could prevent him from marrying this Fos the Apothecary's Daughter; no tears nor contrivances of his Mother, whom he much loved, and who took skilful measures. Fourteen months of travel in Italy; grand tour, with eligible French Tutor,—whom he once drew sword upon, getting some rebuke from him one night in Venice, and would have killed, had not the man been nimble, at once dexterous and sublime:—it availed not. The first thing he did, on re-entering Dessau, with his Tutor, was to call at Apothecary Fos's, and see the charming Mamsell; to go and see his Mother, was the second thing. Not even his grand passion for war could eradicate those; he went to his grand passion for Dutch William's wars; the wise mother still counselling, who was own aunt to Dutch William, and liked the scheme. He besieged Namur; fought and besieged up and down,—with insatiable appetite for fighting and sieging; with great honor, too, and ambitions awakening in him;—campaign after campaign: but along with the flamy-thundery ideal bride, figuratively called Bellona, there was always a soft real one, Mamsell Fos of Dessau, to whom he continued constant. The Government of his Dominions he left cheerfully to his Mother, even when he came of age: "I am for learning War, as the one right trade; do with all things as you please, Mamma,— only not with Mamsell, not with her!"—
Readers may figure this scene too, and shudder over it. Some rather handsome male Cousin of Mamsell, Medical Graduate or whatever he was, had appeared in Dessau:—"Seems, to admire Mamsell much; of course, in a Platonic way," said rumor:—"He? Admire?" thinks Leopold;—thinks a good deal of it, not in the philosophic mood. As he was one day passing Fos's, Mamsell and the Medical Graduate are visible, standing together at the window inside. Pleasantly looking out upon Nature,—of course quite casually, say some Histories with a sneer. In fact, it seems possible this Medical Graduate may have been set to act shoeing-horn; but he had better not. Leopold storms into the House, "Draw, scandalous canaille, and defend yourself!"—And in this, or some such way, a confident tradition says, he killed the poor Medical Graduate there and then. One tries always to hope not: but Varnhagen is positive, though the other Histories say nothing of it. God knows. The man was a Prince; no Reichshofrath, Speyer-Wetzlar KAMMER, or other Supreme Court, would much trouble itself, except with formal shakings of the wig, about such a peccadillo. In fine, it was better for Leopold to marry the Miss Fos; which he actually did (1698, in his twenty-second year), "with the left-hand,"—and then with the right and both hands; having got her properly ennobled before long, by his splendid military services. She made, as we have hinted, an excellent Wife to him, for the fifty or sixty ensuing years.
This is a strange rugged specimen, this inarticulate Leopold; already getting mythic, as we can perceive, to the polished vocal ages; which mix all manner of fables with the considerable history he has. Readers will see him turn up again in notable forms. A man hitherto unknown except in his own country; and yet of very considerable significance to all European countries whatsoever; the fruit of his activities, without his name attached, being now manifest in all of them. He invented the iron ramrod; he invented the equal step; in fact, he is the inventor of modern military tactics. Even so, if we knew it: the Soldiery of every civilized country still receives from this man, on parade-fields and battle-fields, its word of command; out of his rough head proceeded the essential of all that the innumerable Drill-sergeants, in various languages, daily repeat and enforce. Such a man is worth some transient glance from his fellow-creatures,—especially with a little Fritz trotting at his foot, and drawing inferences from him.
Dessau, we should have said for the English reader's behoof, was and still is a little independent Principality; about the size of Huntingdonshire, but with woods instead of bogs;—revenue of it, at this day, is 60,000 pounds, was perhaps not 20, or even 10,000 in Leopold's first time. It lies some fourscore miles southwest of Berlin, attainable by post-horses in a day. Leopold, as his Father had done, stood by Prussia as if wholly native to it. Leopold's Mother was Sister of that fine Louisa, the Great Elector's first Wife; his Sister is wedded to the Margraf of Schwedt, Friedrich Wilhelm's half-uncle. Lying in such neighborhood, and being in such affinity to the Prussian House, the Dessauers may be said to have, in late times, their headquarters at Berlin. Leopold and Leopold's sons, as his father before him had done, without neglecting their Dessau and Principality, hold by the Prussian Army as their main employment. Not neglecting Dessau either; but going thither in winter, or on call otherwise; Leopold least of all neglecting it, who neglects nothing that can be useful to him.
He is General Field-Marshal of the Prussian Armies, the foremost man in war-matters with this new King; and well worthy to be so. He is inventing, or brooding in the way to invent, a variety of things,—"iron ramrods," for one; a very great improvement on the fragile ineffective wooden implement, say all the Books, but give no date to it; that is the first thing; and there will be others, likewise undated, but posterior, requiring mention by and by. Inventing many things;—and always well practising what is already invented, and known for certain. In a word, he is drilling to perfection, with assiduous rigor, the Prussian Infantry to be the wonder of the world. He has fought with them, too, in a conclusive manner; and is at all times ready for fighting.
He was in Malplaquet with them, if only as volunteer on that occasion. He commanded them in Blenheim itself; stood, in the right or Eugene wing of that famed Battle of Blenheim, fiercely at bay, when the Austrian Cavalry had all fled;—fiercely volleying, charging, dexterously wheeling and manoeuvring; sticking to his ground with a mastiff-like tenacity,—till Marlborough, and victory from the left, relieved him and others. He was at the Bridge of Cassano; where Eugene and Vendome came to hand-grips;—where Mirabeau's Grandfather, COL-D'ARGENT, got his six-and-thirty wounds, and was "killed" as he used to term it. [Carlyle's Miscellanies, v. ? Mirabeau.] "The hottest fire I ever saw," said Eugene, who had not seen Malplaquet at that time. While Col-d'Argent sank collapsed upon the Bridge, and the horse charged over him, and again charged, and beat and were beaten three several times,—Anhalt-Dessau, impatient of such fiddling hither and thither, swashed into the stream itself with his Prussian Foot: swashed through it, waist-deep or breast-deep; and might have settled the matter, had not his cartridges got wetted. Old King Friedrich rebuked him angrily for his impetuosity in this matter, and the sad loss of men.
Then again he was at the Storming of the Lines of Turin,—Eugene's feat of 1706, and a most volcanic business;—was the first man that got-over the entrenchment there. Foremost man; face all black with the smoke of gunpowder, only channelled here and there with rivulets of sweat;—not a lovely phenomenon to the French in the interior! Who still fought like madmen, but were at length driven into heaps, and obliged to run. A while before they ran, Anhalt-Dessau, noticing some Captain posted with his company in a likely situation, stept aside to him for a moment, and asked, "Am I wounded, think you?—No? Then have you anything to drink?" and deliberately "drank a glass of aqua-vitae," the judicious Captain carrying a pocket-pistol of that sort, in case of accident; and likewise "eat, with great appetite, a bit of bread from one of the soldiers' haversacks; saying, He believed the heat of the job was done, and that there was no fear now!"—[Des weltberumkten Leopoldi, &c. (Anonymous, by Ranfft, cited above), pp. 42-45, 52, 65.]
A man that has been in many wars; in whose rough head, are schemes hatching. Any religion he has is of Protestant nature; but he has not much,—on the doctrinal side, very little. Luther's Hymn, Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott, he calls "God Almighty's grenadier-march." On joining battle, he audibly utters, with bared head, some growl of rugged prayer, far from orthodox at times, but much in earnest: that lifting of his hat for prayer, is his last signal on such occasions. He is very cunning as required, withal; not disdaining the serpentine method when no other will do. With Friedrich Wilhelm, who is his second-cousin (Mother's grand-nephew, if the reader can count that), he is from of old on the best footing, and contrives to be his Mentor in many things besides War. Till his quarrel with Grumkow, of which we shall hear, he took the lead in political advising, too; and had schemes, or was thought to have, of which Queen Sophie was in much terror.
A tall, strong-boned, hairy man; with cloudy brows, vigilant swift eyes; has "a bluish tint of skin," says Wilhelmina, "as if the gunpowder still stuck to him." He wears long mustaches; triangular hat, plume and other equipments, are of thrifty practical size. Can be polite enough in speech; but hides much of his meaning, which indeed is mostly inarticulate, and not always joyful to the by-stander. He plays rough pranks, too, on occasion; and has a big horse-laugh in him, where there is a fop to be roasted, or the like. We will leave him for the present, in hope of other meetings.
Remarkable men, many of those old Prussian soldiers: of whom one wishes, to no purpose, that there had more knowledge been attainable. But the Books are silent; no painter, no genial seeing-man to paint with his pen, was there. Grim hirsute Hyperborean figures, they pass mostly mute before us: burly, surly; in mustaches, in dim uncertain garniture, of which the buff-belts and the steel, are alone conspicuous. Growling in guttural Teutsoh what little articulate meaning they had: spending, of the inarticulate, a proportion in games, of chance, probably too in drinking beer; yet having an immense overplus which they do not so spend, but endeavor to utter in such working as there may be. So have the Hyperboreans lived from of old. From the times of Tacitus and Pytheas, not to speak of Odin and Japhet, what hosts of them have marched across Existence, in that manner;—and where is the memory that would, even if it could, speak of them all!—
We will hope the mind of our little Fritz has powers of assimilation. Bayle-Calvin logics, and shadows of Versailles, on this hand, and gunpowder Leopolds and inarticulate Hyperboreans on that: here is a wide diversity of nutriment, all rather tough in quality, provided for the young soul. Innumerable unconscious inferences he must have drawn in his little head! Prince Leopold's face, with the whiskers and blue skin, I find he was wont, at after periods, to do in caricature, under the figure of a Cat's;—horror and admiration not the sole feelings raised in him by the Field-Marshal.—For bodily nourishment he had "beer-soup;" a decided Spartan tone prevailing, wherever possible, in the breeding and treatment of him.
And we need not doubt, by far the most important element of his education was the unconscious Apprenticeship he continually served to such a Spartan as King Friedrich Wilhelm. Of whose works and ways he could not help taking note, angry or other, every day and hour; nor in the end, if he were intelligent, help understanding them, and learning from them. A harsh Master and almost half-mad, as it many times seemed to the poor Apprentice; yet a true and solid one, whose real wisdom was worth that of all the others, as he came at length to recognize.
Chapter III. — FRIEDRICH WILHELM IS KING.
With the death of old King Friedrich, there occurred at once vast changes in the Court of Berlin; a total and universal change in the mode of living and doing business there. Friedrich Wilhelm, out of filial piety, wore at his father's funeral the grand French peruke and other sublimities of French costume; but it was for the last time: that sad duty once done, he flung the whole aside, not without impatience, and on no occasion wore such costume again. He was not a friend to French fashions, nor had ever been; far the contrary. In his boyhood, say the Biographers, there was once a grand embroidered cloth-of-gold, or otherwise supremely magnificent, little Dressing-gown given him; but he would at no rate put it on, or be concerned with it; on the contrary, stuffed it indignantly "into the fire;" and demanded wholesome useful duffel instead.
He began his reform literally at the earliest moment. Being summoned into the apartment where his poor Father was in the last struggle, he could scarcely get across for KAMMERJUNKER, KAMMERHERRN, Goldsticks, Silversticks, and the other solemn histrionic functionaries, all crowding there to do their sad mimicry on the occasion: not a lovely accompaniment in Friedrich Wilhelm's eyes. His poor Father's death-struggle once done, and all reduced to everlasting rest there, Friedrich Wilhelm looked in silence over the Unutterable, for a Short space, disregardful of the Goldsticks and their eager new homaging; walked swiftly away from it to his own room, shut the door with a slam; and there, shaking the tears from his eyes, commenced by a notable duty,—the duty nearest hand, and therefore first to be done, as it seemed to him. It was about one in the afternoon, 25th February, 1713; his Father dead half an hour before: "Tears at a Father's death-bed, must they be dashed with rage by such a set of greedy Histrios?" thought Friedrich Wilhelm. He summoned these his Court-people, that is to say, summoned their OBER-HOFMARSCHALL and representative; and through him signified to them, That, till the Funeral was over, their service would continue; and that on the morrow after the Funeral, they were, every soul of them, discharged; and from the highest Goldstick down to the lowest Page-in-waiting, the King's House should be swept entirely clean of them;—said House intending to start afresh upon a quite new footing. [Forster, i. 174; Pollnitz, Memoiren, ii. 4.] Which spread such a consternation among the courtier people, say the Histories, as was never seen before.
The thing was done, however; and nobody durst whisper discontent with it; this rugged young King, with his plangent metallic voice, with his steady-beaming eyes, seeming dreadfully in earnest about it, and a person that might prove dangerous if you crossed him. He reduced his Household accordingly, at once, to the lowest footing of the indispensable; and discharged a whole regiment of superfluous official persons, court-flunkies, inferior, superior and supreme, in the most ruthless manner. He does not intend keeping any OBER-HOFMARSCHALL, or the like idle person, henceforth; thinks a minimum of the Goldsticks ought to suffice every man.
Eight Lackeys, in the ante-chambers and elsewhere, these, with each a JAGERBURSCH (what we should call an UNDER-KEEPER) to assist when not hunting, will suffice: Lackeys at "eight THALERS monthly," which is six shillings a week. Three active Pages, sometimes two, instead of perhaps three dozen idle that there used to be. In King Friedrich's time, there were wont to be a thousand saddle-horses at corn and hay: but how many of them were in actual use? Very many of them were mere imaginary quadrupeds; their price and keep pocketed by some knavish STALLMEISTER, Equerry or Head-groom. Friedrich Wilhelm keeps only thirty Horses; but these are very actual, not imaginary at all; their corn not running into any knave's pocket; but lying actually in the mangers here; getting ground for you into actual four-footed speed, when, on turf or highway, you require such a thing. About, thirty for the saddle,—with a few carriage-teams, are what Friedrich Wilhelm can employ in any reasonable measure: and more he will not have about him.
In the like ruthless humor he goes over his Pension-list; strikes three fourths of that away, reduces the remaining fourth to the very bone. In like humor, he goes over every department of his Administrative, Household and other Expenses: shears everything down, here by the hundred thalers, there by the ten, willing even to save HALF A THALER. He goes over all this three several times;—his Papers, the three successive Lists he used on that occasion, have been printed. [Rodenbeck, Beitrage zur Bereicherung der Lebembeschreibungen Friedrich Wilhelms I. und Friedrichs des Grossen (Berlin, 1836), pp. 99-127.] He has satisfied himself, in about two months, what, the effective minimum is; and leaves it so. Reduced to below the fifth of what it was; 55,000 THALERS, instead of 276,000. [Stenzel, iii. 237.]
By degrees he went over, went into and through, every department of Prussian Business, in that fashion; steadily, warily, irresistibly compelling every item of it, large and little, to take that same character of perfect economy and solidity, of utility pure and simple. Needful work is to be rigorously well done; needless work, and ineffectual or imaginary workers, to be rigorously pitched out of doors. What a blessing on this Earth; worth purchasing almost at any price! The money saved is something, nothing if you will; but the amount of mendacity expunged, has any one computed that? Mendacity not of tongue; but the far feller sort, of hand, and of heart, and of head; short summary of all Devil's-worship whatsoever. Which spreads silently along, once you let it in, with full purse or with empty; some fools even praising it: the quiet DRY-ROT of Nations! To expunge such is greatly the duty of every man, especially of every King. Unconsciously, not thinking of Devil's-worship, or spiritual dry-rot, but of money chiefly, and led by Nature and the ways she has with us, it was the task of Friedrich Wilhelm's life to bring about this beneficent result in all departments of Prussian Business, great and little, public and even private. Year after year, he brings it to perfection; pushes it unweariedly forward every day and hour. So that he has Prussia, at last, all a Prussia made after his own image; the most thrifty, hardy, rigorous and Spartan country any modern King ever tied over; and himself (if he thought of that) a King indeed. He that models Nations according to his own image, he is a King, though his sceptre were a walking-stick; and, properly no other is.
Friedrich Wilhelm was wondered at, and laughed at, by innumerable mortals for his ways of doing; which indeed were very strange. Not that he figured much in what is called Public History, or desired to do so; for, though a vigilant ruler, he did not deal in protocolling and campaining,—he let a minimum of that suffice him. But in court soirees, where elegant empty talk goes on, and of all materials for it scandal is found incomparably the most interesting. I suppose there turned up no name oftener than that of his Prussian Majesty; and during these twenty-seven years of his Reign, his wild pranks and explosions gave food for continual talk in such quarter.
For he was like no other King that then existed, or had ever been discovered. Wilder Son of Nature seldom came into the artificial world; into a royal throne there, probably never. A wild man, wholly in earnest, veritable as the old rocks,—and with a terrible volcanic fire in him too. He would have been strange anywhere; but among the dapper Royal gentlemen of the Eighteenth Century, what was to be done with such an Orson of a King?—Clap him in Bedlam, and bring out the ballot-boxes instead? The modern generation, too, still takes its impression of him from these rumors,—still more now from Wilhelmina's Book; which paints the outside savagery of the royal man, in a most striking manner; and leaves the inside vacant, undiscovered by Wilhelmina or the rumors.
Nevertheless it appears there were a few observant eyes even of contemporaries, who discerned in him a surprising talent for "National Economics" at least. One Leipzig Professor, Saxon, not Prussian by nation or interest, recognizes in Friedrich Wilhelm "DEN GROSSEN WIRTH (the great Manager, Husbandry-man, or Landlord) of the epoch;" and lectures on his admirable "works, arrangements and institutions" in that kind. [Rodenbeck's Beitrage (p. 14),—Year, or Name of Lecturer, not mentioned.] Nay the dapper Royal gentlemen saw, with envy, the indubitable growth of this mad savage Brother; and ascribed it to "his avarice," to his mean ways, which were in such contrast to their sublime ones. That he understood National Economics has now become very certain. His grim semi-articulate Papers and Rescripts, on these subjects, are still almost worth reading, by a lover of genuine human talent in the dumb form. For spelling, grammar, penmanship and composition, they resemble nothing else extant; are as if done by the paw of a bear: indeed the utterance generally sounds more like the growling of a bear than anything that could be handily spelt or parsed. But there is a decisive human sense in the heart of it; and there is such a dire hatred of empty bladders, unrealities and hypocritical forms and pretences, what he calls "wind and humbug (WIND UND BLAUER DUNST)," as is very strange indeed. Strange among all mankind; doubly and trebly strange among the unfortunate species called Kings in our time. To whom,—for sad reasons that could be given,—"wind and blue vapor (BLAUER DUNST)," artistically managed by the rules of Acoustics and Optics, seem to be all we have left us!—
It must be owned that this man is inflexibly, and with a fierce slow inexorable determination, set upon having realities round him. There is a divine idea of fact put into him; the genus sham was never hatefuler to any man. Let it keep out of his way, well beyond the swing of that rattan of his, or it may get something to remember! A just man, too; would not wrong any man, nor play false in word or deed to any man. What is Justice but another form of the REALITY we love; a truth acted out? Of all the humbugs or "painted vapors" known, Injustice is the least capable of profiting men or kings! A just man, I say; and a valiant and veracious: but rugged as a wild bear; entirely inarticulate, as if dumb. No bursts of parliamentary eloquence in him, nor the least tendency that way. His talent for Stump-Oratory may be reckoned the minimum conceivable, or practically noted a ZERO. A man who would not have risen in modern Political Circles; man unchoosable at hustings or in caucus; man forever invisible, and very unadmirable if seen, to the Able Editor and those that hang by him. In fact, a kind of savage man, as we say; but highly interesting, if you can read dumb human worth; and of inexpressible profit to the Prussian Nation.
For the first ten years of his reign, he had a heavy, continual struggle, getting his finance and other branches of administration extricated from their strangling imbroglios of coiled nonsense, and put upon a rational footing. His labor in these years, the first of little Fritz's life, must have been great; the pushing and pulling strong and continual. The good plan itself, this comes not of its own accord; it is the fruit of "genius" (which means transcendent capacity of taking trouble, first of all): given a huge stack of tumbled thrums, it is not in your sleep that you will find the vital centre of it, or get the first thrum by the end! And then the execution, the realizing, amid the contradiction, silent or expressed, of men and things? Explosive violence was by no means Friedrich Wilhelm's method; the amount of slow stubborn broad-shouldered strength, in all kinds, expended by the man, strikes us as very great. The amount of patience even, though patience is not reckoned his forte.
That of the RITTER-DIENST (Knights'-Service), for example, which is but one small item of his business, the commuting of the old feudal duty of his Landholders to do Service in Wartime, into a fixed money payment: nothing could be fairer, more clearly advantageous to both parties; and most of his "Knights" gladly accepted the proposal: yet a certain factious set of them, the Magdeburg set, stirred up by some seven or eight of their number, "hardly above seven or eight really against me," saw good to stand out; remonstrated, recalcitrated; complained in the Diet (Kaiser too happy to hear of it, that he might have a hook on Friedrich Wilhelm); and for long years that paltry matter was a provocation to him. [1717-1725. Forster, ii. 162-165, iv. 31-34; Stenzel, iii. 316-319; Samuel Buchholz, Neueste Preussisch-Brandenburgische Geschichte (Berlin, 1775), i. 197.] But if your plan is just, and a bit of Nature's plan, persist in it like a law of Nature. This secret too was known to Friedrich Wilhelm. In the space of ten years, by actual human strength loyally spent, he had managed many things; saw all things in a course towards management. All things, as it were, fairly on the road; the multiplex team pulling one way, in rational human harness, not in imbroglios of coiled thrums made by the Nightmares.
How he introduced a new mode of farming his Domain Lands, which are a main branch of his revenue, and shall be farmed on regular lease henceforth, and not wasted in peculation and indolent mismanagement as heretofore; [Forster, ii. 206, 216.] new modes of levying his taxes and revenues of every kind: [Ib. ii. 190, 195.] How he at last concentrated, and harmonized into one easy-going effective GENERAL DIRECTORY, [Completed 19th January, 1723 (Ib. ii. 172).] the multifarious conflicting Boards, that were jolting and jangling in a dark use-and-wont manner, and leaving their work half done, when he first came into power: [Dohm, Denkwurdigkeiten meiner Zeit (Lemgo und Hanover, 1814-1819), iv. 88.] How he insisted on having daylight introduced to the very bottom of every business, fair-and-square observed as the rule of it, and the shortest road adopted for doing it: How he drained bogs, planted colonies, established manufactures, made his own uniforms of Prussian wool, in a LAGERHAUS of his own: How he dealt with the Jew Gompert about farming his Tobacoo;—how, from many a crooked case and character he, by slow or short methods, brought out something straight; would take no denial of what was his, nor make any demand of what was not; and did prove really a terror to evildoers of various kinds, especially to prevaricators, defalcators, imaginary workers, and slippery unjust persons: How he urged diligence on all mortals, would not have the very Apple-women sit "without knitting" at their stalls; and brandished his stick, or struck it fiercely down, over the incorrigibly idle:—All this, as well as his ludicrous explosions and unreasonable violences, is on record concerning Friedrich Wilhelm, though it is to the latter chiefly that the world has directed its unwise attention, in judging of him. He was a very arbitrary King. Yes, but then a good deal of his ARBITRIUM, or sovereign will, was that of the Eternal Heavens as well; and did exceedingly behoove to be done, if the Earth would prosper. Which is an immense consideration in regard to his sovereign will and him! He was prompt with his rattan, in urgent cases; had his gallows also, prompt enough, where needful. Let him see that no mistakes happen, as certainly he means that none shall!
Yearly he made his country richer; and this not in money alone (which is of very uncertain value, and sometimes has no value at all, and even less), but in frugality, diligence, punctuality, veracity,—the grand fountains from which money, and all real values and valors spring for men. To Friedrich Wilhelm in his rustio simplicity, money had no lack of value; rather the reverse. To the homespun man it was a success of most excellent quality, and the chief symbol of success in all kinds. Yearly he made his own revenues, and his people's along with them and as the source of them, larger: and in all states of his revenue, he had contrived to make his expenditure less than it; and yearly saved masses of coin, and "reposited them in barrels in the cellars of his Schloss,"—where they proved very useful, one day. Much in Friedrich Wilhelm proved useful, beyond even his expectations. As a Nation's HUSBAND he seeks his fellow among Kings, ancient and modern. Happy the Nation which gets such a Husband, once in the half-thousand years. The Nation, as foolish wives and Nations do, repines and grudges a good deal, its weak whims and will being thwarted very often; but it advances steadily, with consciousness or not, in the way of well-doing; and afterlong times the harvest of this diligent sowing becomes manifest to the Nation and to all Nations.
Strange as it sounds in the Republic of Letters, we are tempted to call Friedrich Wilhelm a man of genius;—genius fated and promoted to work in National Husbandry, not in writing Verses or three-volume Novels. A silent genius. His melodious stanza, which he cannot bear to see halt in any syllable, is a rough fact reduced to order; fact made to stand firm on its feet, with the world-rocks under it, and looking free towards all the winds and all the stars. He goes about suppressing platitudes, ripping off futilities, turning deceptions inside out. The realm of Disorder, which is Unveracity, Unreality, what we call Chaos, has no fiercer enemy. Honest soul, and he seemed to himself such a stupid fellow often; no tongue-learning at all; little capable to give a reason for the faith that was in him. He cannot argue in articulate logic, only in inarticulate bellowings, or worse. He must DO a thing, leave it undemonstrated; once done, it will itself tell what kind of thing it is, by and by. Men of genius have a hard time, I perceive, whether born on the throne or off it; and must expect contradictions next to unendurable,—the plurality of blockheads being so extreme!
I find, except Samuel Johnson, no man of equal veracity with Friedrich Wilhelm in that epoch: and Johnson too, with all his tongue-learning, had not logic enough. In fact, it depends on how much conviction you have. Blessed be Heaven, there is here and there a man born who loves truth as truth should be loved, with all his heart and all his soul; and hates untruth with a corresponding perfect hatred. Such men, in polite circles, which understand that certainly truth is better than untruth, but that you must be polite to both, are liable to get to the end of their logic. Even Johnson had a bellow in him; though Johnson could at any time withdraw into silence, HIS kingdom lying all under his own hat. How much more Friedrich Wilhelm, who had no logic whatever; and whose kingdom lay without him, far and wide, a thing he could not withdraw from. The rugged Orson, he needed to be right. From utmost Memel down to Wesel again, ranked in a straggling manner round the half-circumference of Europe, all manner of things and persons were depending on him, and on his being right, not wrong, in his notion.
A man of clear discernment, very good natural eyesight; and irrefragably confident in what his eyes told him, in what his belief was;—yet of huge simplicity withal. Capable of being coaxed about, and led by the nose, to a strange degree, if there were an artist dexterous enough, daring enough! His own natural judgment was good, and, though apt to be hasty and headlong, was always likely to come right in the end; but internally, we may perceive, his modesty, self-distrust, anxiety and other unexpected qualities, must have been great. And then his explosiveness, impatience, excitability; his conscious dumb ignorance of all things beyond his own small horizon of personal survey! An Orson capable enough of being coaxed and tickled, by some first-rate conjurer;—first-rate; a second-rate might have failed, and got torn to pieces for his pains. But Seckendorf and Grumkow, what a dance they led him on some matters,—as we shall see, and as poor Fritz and others will see!
He was full of sensitiveness, rough as he was and shaggy of skin. His wild imaginations drove him hither and thither at a sad rate. He ought to have the privileges of genius. His tall Potsdam Regiment, his mad-looking passion for enlisting tall men; this also seems to me one of the whims of genius,—an exaggerated notion to have his "stanza" polished to the last punctilio of perfection; and might be paralleled in the history of Poets. Stranger "man of genius," or in more peculiar circumstances, the world never saw!
Friedrich Wilhelm, in his Crown-Prince days, and now still more when he was himself in the sovereign place, had seen all along, with natural arithmetical intellect, That his strength in this world, as at present situated, would very much depend upon the amount of potential-battle that lay in him,—on the quantity and quality of Soldiers he could maintain, and have ready for the field at any time. A most indisputable truth, and a heartfelt one in the present instance. To augment the quantity, to improve the quality, in this thrice-essential particular: here lay the keystone and crowning summit of all Friedrich Wilhelm's endeavors; to which he devoted himself, as only the best Spartan could have done. Of which there will be other opportunities to speak in detail. For it was a thing world-notable; world-laughable, as was then thought; the extremely serious fruit of which did at length also become notable enough.
In the Malplaquet time, once on some occasion, it is said, two English Officers, not well informed upon the matter, and provoking enough in their contemptuous ignorance, were reasoning with one another in Friedrich Wilhelm's hearing, as to the warlike powers of the Prussian State, and Whether the King of Prussia could on his own strength maintain a standing army of 15,000? Without subsidies, do you think, so many as 15,000? Friedrich Wilhelm, incensed at the thing and at the tone, is reported to have said with heat: "Yes, 30,000!" [Forster, i. 138.] whereat the military men slightly wagged their heads, letting the matter drop for the present. But he makes it good by degrees; twofold or threefold;—and will have an army of from seventy to a hundred thousand before he dies, ["72,000 field-troops, 30,000 garrison-troops" (Gestandnisse eines OEster reichischen Veterans, Breslau, 1788, i. 64).] the best-drilled of fighting men; and what adds much to the wonder, a full Treasury withal. This is the Brandenburg Spartan King; acquainted with National Economics. Alone of existing Kings he lays by money annually; and is laying by many other and far more precious things, for Prussia and the little Boy he has here.
Friedrich Wilhelm's passion for drilling, recruiting and perfecting his army attracted much notice: laughing satirical notice; in the hundred months of common rumor, which he regarded little; and notice iracund and minatory, when it led him into collision with the independent portions of mankind, now and then. This latter sort was not pleasant, and sometimes looked rather serious; but this too he contrived always to digest in some tolerable manner. He continued drilling and recruiting,—we may say not his Army only, but his Nation in all departments of it,—as no man before or since ever did: increasing, by every devisable method, the amount of potential-battle that lay in him and it.
In a military, and also in a much deeper sense, he may be defined as the great Drill-sergeant of the Prussian Nation. Indeed this had been the function of the Hohenzollerns all along; this difficult, unpleasant and indispensable one of drilling. From the first appearance of Burggraf Friedrich, with good words and with HEAVY PEG, in the wreck of anarchic Brandenburg, and downwards ever since, this has steadily enough gone on. And not a little good drilling these populations have had, first and last; just orders given them (wise and just, which to a respectable degree were Heaven's orders as well): and certainly Heavy Peg, for instance,—Heavy Peg, bringing Quitzow's strong House about his ears,—was a respectable drummer's cat to enforce the same. This has been going on these three hundred years. But Friedrich Wilhelm completes the process; finishes it off to the last pitch of perfection. Friedrich Wilhelm carries it through every fibre and cranny of Prussian Business, and so far as possible, of Prussian Life; so that Prussia is all a drilled phalanx, ready to the word of command; and what we see in the Army is but the last consummate essence of what exists in the Nation everywhere. That was Friedrich Wilhelm's function, made ready for him, laid to his hand by his Hohenzollern foregoers; and indeed it proved a most beneficent function.
For I have remarked that, of all things, a Nation needs first to be drilled; and no Nation that has not first been governed by so-called "Tyrants," and held tight to the curb till it became perfect in its paces and thoroughly amenable to rule and law, and heartily respectful of the same, and totally abhorrent of the want of the same, ever came to much in this world. England itself, in foolish quarters of England, still howls and execrates lamentably over its William Conqueror, and rigorous line of Normans and Plantagenets; but without them, if you will consider well, what had it ever been? A gluttonous race of Jutes and Angles, capable of no grand combinations; lumbering about in pot-bellied equanimity; not dreaming of heroic toil and silence and endurance, such as leads to the high places of this Universe, and the golden mountain-tops where dwell the Spirits of the Dawn. Their very ballot-boxes and suffrages, what they call their "Liberty," if these mean "Liberty," and are such a road to Heaven, Anglo-Saxon high-road thither,—could never have been possible for them on such terms. How could they? Nothing but collision, intolerable interpressure (as of men not perpendicular), and consequent battle often supervening, could have been appointed those undrilled Anglo-Saxons; their pot-bellied equanimity itself continuing liable to perpetual interruptions, as in the Heptarchy time. An enlightened Public does not reflect on these things at present; but will again, by and by. Looking with human eyes over the England that now is, and over the America and the Australia, from pole to pole; and then listening to the Constitutional litanies of Dryasaust, and his lamentations on the old Norman and Plantagenet Kings, and his recognition of departed merit and causes of effects,—the mind of man is struck dumb!
Chapter IV. — HIS MAJESTY'S WAYS.
Friedrich Wilhelm's History is one of ECONOMICS; which study, so soon as there are Kings again in this world, will be precious to them. In that happy state of matters, Friedrich Wilhelm's History will well reward study; and teach by example, in a very simple and direct manner. In what is called the Political, Diplomatic, "Honor-to-be" department, there is not, nor can ever be, much to be said of him; this Economist King having always kept himself well at home, and looked steadily to his own affairs. So that for the present he has, as a King, next to nothing of what is called History; and it is only as a fellow-man, of singular faculty, and in a most peculiar and conspicuous situation, that he can be interesting to mankind. To us he has, as Father and daily teacher and master of young Fritz, a continual interest; and we must note the master's ways, and the main phenomena of the workshop as they successively turned up, for the sake of the notable Apprentice serving there.
He was not tall of stature, this arbitrary King: a florid-complexioned stout-built man; of serious, sincere, authoritative face; his attitudes and equipments very Spartan in type. Man of short firm stature; stands (in Pesne's best Portraits of him) at his ease, and yet like a tower. Most solid; "plumb and rather more;" eyes steadfastly awake; cheeks slightly compressed, too, which fling the mouth rather forward; as if asking silently, "Anything astir, then? All right here?" Face, figure and bearing, all in him is expressive of robust insight, and direct determination; of healthy energy, practicality, unquestioned authority,—a certain air of royalty reduced to its simplest form. The face in Pictures by Pesne and others, is not beautiful or agreeable; healthy, genuine, authoritative, is the best you can say of it. Yet it may have been, what it is described as being, originally handsome. High enough arched brow, rather copious cheeks and jaws; nose smallish, inclining to be stumpy; large gray eyes, bright with steady fire and life, often enough gloomy and severe, but capable of jolly laughter too. Eyes "naturally with a kind of laugh in them," says Pollnitz;—which laugh can blaze out into fearful thunderous rage, if you give him provocation. Especially if you lie to him; for that he hates above all things. Look him straight in the face: he fancies he can see in your eyes, if there is an internal mendacity in you: wherefore you must look at him in speaking; such is his standing order.
His hair is flaxen, falling into the ash-gray or darker; fine copious flowing hair, while he wore it natural. But it soon got tied into clubs, in the military style; and at length it was altogether cropped away, and replaced by brown, and at last by white, round wigs. Which latter also, though bad wigs, became him not amiss, under his cocked-hat and cockade, says Pollnitz. [Pollnitz, Memoiren (Berlin, 1791), ii. 568.] The voice, I guess, even when not loud, was of clangorous and penetrating, quasi-metallic nature; and I learn expressly once, that it had a nasal quality in it. [Busching, Beitrage, i. 568.] His Majesty spoke through the nose; snuffled his speech in an earnest ominously plangent manner. In angry moments, which were frequent, it must have been—unpleasant to listen to. For the rest, a handsome man of his inches; conspicuously well-built in limbs and body, and delicately finished off to the very extremities. His feet and legs, says Pollnitz, were very fine. The hands, if he would have taken care of them, were beautifully white; fingers long and thin; a hand at once nimble to grasp, delicate to feel, and strong to clutch and hold: what may be called a beautiful hand, because it is the usefulest.
Nothing could exceed his Majesty's simplicity of habitudes. But one loves especially in him his scrupulous attention to cleanliness of person and of environment. He washed like a very Mussulman, five times a day; loved cleanliness in all things, to a superstitious extent; which trait is pleasant in the rugged man, and indeed of a piece with the rest of his character. He is gradually changing all his silk and other cloth room-furniture; in his hatred of dust, he will not suffer a floor-carpet, even a stuffed chair; but insists on having all of wood, where the dust may be prosecuted to destruction. [Forster, i. 208.] Wife and womankind, and those that take after them, let such have stuffing and sofas: he, for his part, sits on mere wooden chairs;—sits, and also thinks and acts, after the manner of a Hyperborean Spartan, which he was. He ate heartily, but as a rough farmer and hunter eats; country messes, good roast and boiled; despising the French Cook, as an entity without meaning for him. His favorite dish at dinner was bacon and greens, rightly dressed; what could the French Cook do for such a man? He ate with rapidity, almost with indiscriminate violence: his object not quality but quantity. He drank too, but did not get drunk: at the Doctor's order he could abstain; and had in later years abstained. Pollnitz praises his fineness of complexion, the originally eminent whiteness of his skin, which he had tanned and bronzed by hard riding and hunting, and otherwise worse discolored by his manner of feeding and digesting: alas, at last his waistcoat came to measure, I am afraid to say how many Prussian ells,—a very considerable diameter indeed! [Ib. i. 163.]
For some years after his accession he still appeared occasionally in "burgher dress," or unmilitary clothes; "brown English coat, yellow waistcoat" and the other indispensables. But this fashion became rarer with him every year; and ceased altogether (say Chronologists) about the year 1719: after which he appeared always simply as Colonel of the Potsdam Guards (his own Lifeguard Regiment) in simple Prussian uniform: close military coat; blue, with red cuffs and collar, buff waistcoat and breeches; white linen gaiters to the knee. He girt his sword about the loins, well out of the mud; walked always with a thick bamboo in his hand; Steady, not slow of step; with his triangular hat, cream-white round wig (in his older days), and face tending to purple,—the eyes looking out mere investigation, sharp swift authority, and dangerous readiness to rebuke and set the cane in motion:—it was so he walked abroad in this earth; and the common run of men rather fled his approach than courted it.
For, in fact, he was dangerous; and would ask in an alarming manner, "Who are you?" Any fantastic, much more any suspicious-looking person, might fare the worse. An idle lounger at the street-corner he has been known to hit over the crown; and peremptorily despatch: "Home, Sirrah, and take to some work!" That the Apple-women be encouraged to knit, while waiting for custom;—encouraged and quietly constrained, and at length packed away, and their stalls taken from them, if unconstrainable,—there has, as we observed, an especial rescript been put forth; very curious to read. [In Rodenbeck, Beitrage, p. 15.]
Dandiacal figures, nay people looking like Frenchmen, idle flaunting women even,—better for them to be going. "Who are you?" and if you lied or prevaricated ("Er blicke mich gerade an, Look me in the face, then!"), or even stumbled, hesitated, and gave suspicion of prevaricating, it might be worse for you. A soft answer is less effectual than a prompt clear one, to turn away wrath. "A Candidatus Theoligiae, your Majesty," answered a handfast threadbare youth one day, when questioned in this manner.—"Where from?" "Berlin, your Majesty."—"Hm, na, the Berliners are a good-for-nothing set." "Yes, truly, too many of them; but there are exceptions; I know two."—"Two? which then?" "Your Majesty and myself!"—Majesty burst into a laugh: the Candidatus was got examined by the Consistoriums, and Authorities proper in that matter, and put into a chaplaincy.
This King did not love the French, or their fashions, at all. We said he dismissed the big Peruke,—put it on for the last time at his Father's funeral, so far did filial piety go; and then packed it aside, dismissing it, nay banishing and proscribing it, never to appear more. The Peruke, and, as it were, all that the Peruke symbolized. For this was a King come into the world with quite other aims than that of wearing big perukes, and, regardless of expense, playing burst-frog to the ox of Versailles, which latter is itself perhaps a rather useless animal. Of Friedrich Wilhelm's taxes upon wigs; of the old "Wig-inspectors," and the feats they did, plucking off men's periwigs on the street, to see if the government-stamp were there, and to discourage wiggery, at least all but the simple scratch or useful Welsh-wig, among mankind: of these, and of other similar things, I could speak; but do not. This little incident, which occurred once in the review-ground on the outskirts of Berlin, will suffice to mark his temper in that respect. It was in the spring of 1719; our little Fritz then six years old, who of course heard much temporary confused commentary, direct and oblique, triumphant male laughter, and perhaps rebellious female sighs, on occasion of such a feat.
Count Rothenburg, Prussian by birth, [Buchholz, Neueste Preuwssisch-Brandenburgische Geschichte, i. 28.] an accomplished and able person in the diplomatic and other lines of business, but much used to Paris and its ways, had appeared lately in Berlin, as French envoy,—and, not unnaturally, in high French costume; cocked-hat, peruke, laced coat, and the other trimmings. He, and a group of dashing followers and adherents, were accustomed to go about in that guise; very capable of proving infectious to mankind. What is to be done with them? thinks the anxious Father of his People. They were to appear at the ensuing grand Review, as Friedrich Wilhelm understood. Whereupon Friedrich Wilhelm took his measures in private. Dressed up, namely, his Scavenger-Executioner people (what they call PROFOSSEN in Prussian regiments) in an enormous exaggeration of that costume; cocked-hats about an ell in diameter, wigs reaching to the houghs, with other fittings to match: these, when Count Rothenburg and his company appeared upon the ground, Friedrich Wilhelm summoned out, with some trumpet-peal or burst of field-music; and they solemnly crossed Count Rothenburg's field of vision; the strangest set of, Phantasms he had seen lately. Awakening salutary reflections in him. [Forster, i. 165; Faasmann, Leben und Thaten des allerdurchlauchtigsten gc. Konigs von Preussen Frederici Wilhelmi (Hambug und Breslau, 1735), pp. 223, 319.] Fancy that scene in History; Friedrich Wilhelm for comic-symbolic Dramaturgist. Gods and men (or at least Houyhnhnm horses) might have saluted it; with a Homeric laugh,—so huge and vacant is it, with a suspicion of real humor too:—but the men were not permitted, on parade, more than a silent grin, or general irrepressible rustling murmur; and only the gods laughed inextinguishably, if so disposed. The Scavenger-Executioners went back to their place; and Count Rothenburg took a plain German costume, so long as he continued in those parts.
Friedrich Wilhelm has a dumb rough wit and mockery, of that kind, on many occasions; not without geniality in its Brobdignag exaggeration and simplicity. Like a wild bear of the woods taking his sport; with some sense of humor in the rough skin of him. Very capable of seeing through sumptuous costumes; and respectful of realities alone. Not in French sumptuosity, but in native German thrift, does this King see his salvation; so as Nature constructed him: and the world which has long lost its Spartans, will see again an original North-German Spartan; and shriek a good deal over him; Nature keeping her own counsel the while, and as it were, laughing in her sleeve at the shrieks of the flunky world. For Nature, when she makes a Spartan, means a good deal by it; and does not expect instant applauses, but only gradual and lasting.
"For my own part," exclaims a certain Editor once, "I perceive well there was never yet any great Empire founded, Roman, English, down to Prussian or Dutch, nor in fact any great mass of work got achieved under the Sun, but it was founded even upon this humble-looking quality of Thrift, and became achievable in virtue of the same. Which will seem a strange doctrine, in these days of gold-nuggets, railway-fortunes, and miraculous, sumptuosities regardless of expense. Earnest readers are invited to consider it, nevertheless. Though new; it is very old; and a sad meaning lies in it to us of these times! That you have squandered in idle fooleries, building where there was no basis, your Hundred Thousand Sterling, your Eight Hundred Million Sterling, is to me a comparatively small matter. You may still again become rich, if you have at last become wise. But if you have wasted your capacity of strenuous, devoutly valiant labor, of patience, perseverance, self-denial, faith in the causes of effects; alas, if your once just judgment of what is worth something and what is worth nothing, has been wasted, and your silent steadfast reliance on the general veracities, of yourself and of things, is no longer there,—then indeed you have had a loss! You are, in fact, an entirely bankrupt individual; as you will find by and by. Yes; and though you had California in fee-simple; and could buy all the upholsteries, groceries, funded-properties, temporary (very temporary) landed properties of the world, at one swoop, it would avail you nothing. Henceforth for you no harvests in the Seedfield of this Universe, which reserves its salutary bounties, and noble heaven-sent gifts, for quite other than you; and I would not give a pin's value for all YOU will ever reap there. Mere imaginary harvests, sacks of nuggets and the like; empty as the east-wind;—with all the Demons laughing at you! Do you consider that Nature too is a swollen flunky, hungry for veils; and can be taken in with your sublime airs of sumptuosity, and the large balance you actually have in Lombard Street? Go to the—General Cesspool, with your nuggets and your ducats!"
The flunky world, much stript of its plush and fat perquisites, accuses Friedrich Wilhelm bitterly of avarice and the cognate vices. But it is not so; intrinsically, in the main, his procedure is to be defined as honorable thrift,—verging towards avarice here and there; as poor human virtues usually lean to one side or the other! He can be magnificent enough too, and grudges no expense, when the occasion seems worthy. If the occasion is inevitable, and yet not quite worthy, I have known him have recourse to strange shifts. The Czar Peter, for example, used to be rather often in the Prussian Dominions, oftenest on business of his own: such a man is to be royally defrayed while with us; yet one would wish it done cheap. Posthorses, "two hundred and eighty-seven at every station," he has from the Community; but the rest of his expenses, from Memel all the way to Wesel? Friedrich Wilhelm's marginal response to his FINANZ-DIRECTORIUM, requiring orders once on that subject, runs in the following strange tenor: "Yes, all the way (except Berlin, which I take upon myself); and observe, you contrive to do it for 6,000 thalers (900 pounds),—which is uncommonly cheap, about 1 pound per mile;—won't allow you one other penny (nit einen Pfennig gebe mehr dazu); but you are (sollen Sie)," this is the remarkable point, "to give out in the world that it costs me from Thirty to Forty Thousand!" [1717: Forster, i. 213.] So that here is the Majesty of Prussia, who beyond all men abhors lies, giving orders to tell one? Alas, yes; a kind of lie, or fib (white fib, or even GRAY), the pinch of Thrift compelling! But what a window into the artless inner-man of his Majesty, even that GRAY fib;—not done by oneself, but ordered to be done by the servant, as if that were cheaper!
"Verging upon avarice," sure enough: but, unless we are unjust and unkind, he can by no means be described as a MISER King. He collects what is his; gives you accurately what is yours. For wages paid he will see work done; he will ascertain more and more that the work done be work needful for him; and strike it off, if not. A Spartan man, as we said,—though probably he knew as little of the Spartans as the Spartans did of him. But Nature is still capable of such products: if in Hellas long ages since, why not in Brandenburg now?
Chapter V. — FRIEDRICH WILHELM'S ONE WAR.
One of Fritz's earliest strong impressions from the outer world chanced to be of War,—so it chanced, though he had shown too little taste that way, and could not, as yet, understand such phenomena;—and there must have been much semi-articulate questioning and dialoguing with Dame de Roucoulles, on his part, about the matter now going on.
In the year 1715, little Fritz's third year, came grand doings, not of drill only, but of actual war and fighting: the "Stralsund Expedition," Friedrich Wilhelm's one feat in that kind. Huge rumor of which fills naturally the maternal heart, the Berlin Palace drawing-rooms; and occupies, with new vivid interests, all imaginations young and old. For the actual battledrums are now beating, the big cannon-wains are creaking under way; and military men take farewell, and march, tramp, tramp; Majesty in grenadier-guard uniform at their head: horse, foot and artillery; northward to Stralsund on the Baltic shore, where a terrible human Lion has taken up his lair lately. Charles XII. of Sweden, namely; he has broken out of Turkish Bender or Demotica, and ended his obstinate torpor, at last; has ridden fourteen or sixteen days, he and a groom or two, through desolate steppes and mountain wildernesses, through crowded dangerous cities;—"came by Vienna and by Cassel, then through Pommern;" leaving his "royal train of two thousand persons" to follow at its leisure. He, for his part, has ridden without pause, forward, ever forward, in darkest incognito, the indefatigable man;—and finally, on Old-Hallowmas Eve (22d-11th November, 1714), far in the night, a Horseman, with two others still following him, travel-splashed, and "white with snow," drew bridle at the gate of Stralsund; and, to the surprise of the Swedish sentinel there, demanded instant admission to the Governor. The Governor, at first a little surly of humor, saw gradually how it was; sprang out of bed, and embraced the knees of the snowy man; Stralsund in general sprang out of bed, and illuminated itself, that same Hallow-Eve:—and in brief, Charles XII., after five years of eclipse, has reappeared upon the stage of things; and menaces the world, in his old fashion, from that City. From which it becomes urgent to many parties, and at last to Friedrich Wilhelm himself, that he be dislodged.
The root of this Stralsund story belongs to the former reign, as did the grand apparition of Charles XII. on the theatre of European History, and the terror and astonishment he created there. He is now thirty-three years old; and only the winding up, both of him and of the Stralsund story, falls within our present field. Fifteen years ago, it was like the bursting of a cataract of bomb-shells in a dull ball-room, the sudden appearance of this young fighting Swede among the luxurious Kings and Kinglets of the North, all lounging about and languidly minuetting in that manner, regardless of expense! Friedrich IV. of Denmark rejoicing over red wine; August the Strong gradually producing his "three hundred and fifty-four bastards;" [Memoires de Bareith (Wilhelmina's Book, Londres, 1812), i. 111.] these and other neighbors had confidently stept in, on various pretexts; thinking to help themselves from the young man's properties, who was still a minor; when the young minor suddenly developed himself as a major and maximus, and turned out to be such a Fire-King among them!
In consequence of which there had been no end of Northern troubles; and all through the Louis-Fourteenth or Marlborough grand "Succession War," a special "Northern War" had burnt or smouldered on its own score; Swedes VERSUS Saxons, Russians and Danes, bickering in weary intricate contest, and keeping those Northern regions in smoke if not on fire. Charles XII., for the last five years (ever since Pultawa, and the summer of 1709), had lain obstinately dormant in Turkey; urging the Turks to destroy Czar Peter. Which they absolutely could not, though they now and then tried; and Viziers not a few lost their heads in consequence. Charles lay sullenly dormant; Danes meanwhile operating upon his Holstein interests and adjoining territories; Saxons, Russians, battering continually at Swedish Pommern, continually marching thither, and then marching home again, without success,—always through the Brandenburg Territory, as they needs must. Which latter circumstance Friedrich Wilhelm, while yet only Crown-Prince, had seen with natural displeasure, could that have helped it. But Charles XII. would not yield a whit; sent orders peremptorily, from his bed at Bender or Demotica, that there must be no surrender. Neither could the sluggish enemy compel surrender.
So that, at length, it had grown a feeble wearisome welter of inextricable strifes, with worn-out combatants, exhausted of all but their animosity; and seemed as if it would never end. Inveterate ineffective war; ruinous to all good interests in those parts. What miseries had Holstein from it, which last to our own day! Mecklenburg also it involved in sore troubles, which lasted long enough, as we shall see. But Brandenburg, above all, may be impatient; Brandenburg, which has no business with it except that of unlucky neighborhood. One of Friedrich Wilhelm's very first operations, as King, was to end this ugly state of matters, which he had witnessed with impatience, as Prince, for a long while.
He had hailed even the Treaty of Utrecht with welcome, in hopes it might at least end these Northern brabbles. This the Treaty of Utrecht tried to do, but could not: however, it gave him back his Prussian Fighting Men; which he has already increased by six regiments, raised, we may perceive, on the ruins of his late court-flunkies and dismissed goldsticks;—with these Friedrich Wilhelm will try to end it himself. These he at once ordered to form a Camp on his frontier, close to that theatre of contest; and signified now with emphasis, in the beginning of 1713, that he decidedly wished there were peace in those Pommern regions. Negotiations in consequence; [10th June, 1713: Buchholz, i. 21.] very wide negotiations, Louis XIV. and the Kaiser lending hand, to pacify these fighting Northern Kings and their Czar: at length the Holstein Government, representing their sworn ally, Charles XII., on the occasion, made an offer which seemed promising. They proposed that, Stettin and its dependencies, the strong frontier Town, and, as it were, key of Swedish Pommern, should be evacuated by the Swedes, and be garrisoned by neutral troops, Prussians and Holsteiners in equal number; which neutral troops shall prohibit any hostile attack of Pommern from without, Sweden engaging not to make any attack through Pommern from within. That will be as good as peace in Pommern, till we get a general Swedish Peace. With which Friedrich Wilhelm gladly complies. [22d June, 1713: Buchholz, i. 21.]
Unhappily, however, the Swedish Commandant in Stettin would not give up the place, on any representative or secondary authority; not without an express order in his King's own hand. Which, as his King was far away, in abstruse Turkish circumstances and localities, could not be had at the moment; and involved new difficulties and uncertainties, new delay which might itself be fatal. The end was, the Russians and Saxons had to cannonade the man out by regular siege: they then gave up the Town to Prussia and Holstein; but required first to be paid their expenses incurred in sieging it,—400,000 thalers, as they computed and demonstrated, or some where about 60,000 pounds of our money.
Friedrich Wilhelm paid the money (Holstein not having a groschen); took possession of the Town, and dependent towns and forts; intending well to keep them till repaid. This was in October, 1713; and ever since, there has been actual tranquillity in those parts: the embers of the Northern War may still burn or smoulder elsewhere, but here they are quite extinct. At first, it was a joint possession of Stettin, Holsteiners and Prussians in equal number; and if Friedrich Wilhelm had been sure of his money, so it would have continued. But the Holsteiners had paid nothing; Charles XII's sanction never could be expressly got, and the Holsteiners were mere dependents of his. Better to increase our Prussian force, by degrees; and, in some good way, with a minimum of violence, get the Holsteiners squeezed out of Stettin: Friedrich Wilhelm has so ordered and contrived. The Prussian force having now gradually increased to double in this important garrison, the Holsteiners are quietly disarmed, one night, and ordered to depart, under penalties;—which was done. Holding such a pawn-ticket as Stettin, buttoned in our own pocket, we count now on being paid our 60,000 pounds before parting with it.
Matters turned out as Friedrich Wilhelm had dreaded they might. Here is Charles XII. come back; inflexible as cold Swedish iron; will not hear of any Treaty dealing with his properties in that manner: Is he a bankrupt, then, that you will sell his towns by auction? Charles does not, at heart, believe that Friedrich Wilhelm ever really paid the 60,000 pounds Charles demands, for his own part, to have, his own Swedish Town of Stettin restored to him; and has not the least intention, or indeed ability, to pay money. Vain to answer: "Stettin, for the present, is not a Swedish Town; it is a Prussian Pawn-ticket!"—There was much negotiation, correspondence; Louis XIV. and the Kaiser stepping in again to produce settlement. To no purpose. Louis, gallant old Bankrupt, tried hard to take Charles's part with effect. But he had, himself, no money now; could only try finessing by ambassadors, try a little menacing by them; neither of which profited. Friedrich Wilhelm, wanting only peace on his borders, after fifteen years of extraneous uproar there, has paid 60,000 pounds in hard cash to have it: repay him that sum, with promise of peace on his borders, he will then quit Stettin; till then not. Big words from a French Ambassador in big wig, will not suffice: "Bullying goes for nothing (Bange machen gilt nicht),"—the thing covenanted for will need to be done! Poor Louis the Great, whom we now call "BANKRUPT-Great," died while these affairs were pending; while Charles, his ally, was arguing and battling against all the world, with only a grandiloquent Ambassador to help him from Louis. "J'ai trop aime la guerre," said Louis at his death, addressing a new small Louis (five years old), his great-grandson and successor: "I have been too fond of war; do not imitate me in that, ne m'imitez pas en cela." [1st September, 1715.] Which counsel also, as we shall see, was considerably lost in air.
Friedrich Wilhelm had a true personal regard for Charles XII., a man made in many respects after his own heart; and would fain have persuaded him into softer behavior. But it was to no purpose. Charles would not listen to reasons of policy; or believe that his estate was bankrupt, or that his towns could be put in pawn. Danes, Saxons, Russians, even George I. of England (George-having just bought, of the Danish King, who had got hold of it, a great Hanover bargain, Bremen and Verden, on cheap terms, from the quasi-bankrupt estate of poor Charles),—have to combine against him, and see to put him down. Among whom Prussia, at length actually attacked by Charles in the Stettin regions, has reluctantly to take the lead in that repressive movement. On the 28th of April, 1715, Friedrich Wilhelm declares war against Charles; is already on march, with a great force, towards Stettin, to coerce and repress said Charles. No help for it, so sore as it goes against us: "Why will the very King whom I most respect compel me to be his enemy?" said Friedrich Wilhelm. [ OEuvres de Frederic (Histoire de Brandebourg), i. 132; Buchholz, i. 28.]
One of Friedrich Wilhelm's originalities is his farewell Order and Instruction, to his three chief Ministers, on this occasion. Ilgen, Dohna, Prinzen, tacit dusky figures, whom we meet in Prussian Books, and never gain the least idea of, except as of grim, rather cunning, most reserved antiquarlan gentlemen,—a kind of human iron-safes, solemnly filled (under triple and quadruple patent-locks) with what, alas, has now all grown waste-paper, dust and cobweb, to us:—these three reserved cunning Gentlemen are to keep a thrice-watchful eye on all subordinate boards and persons, and see well that nobody nod or do amiss. Brief weekly report to his Majesty will be expected; staffettes, should cases of hot haste occur: any questions of yours are "to be put on a sheet of paper folded down, to which I can write marginalia:" if nothing particular is passing, "NIT SCHREIBEN, you don't write." Pay out no money, except what falls due by the Books; none;—if an extraordinary case for payment arise, consult my Wife, and she must sign her order for it. Generally in matters of any moment, consult my Wife; but her only, "except her and the Privy Councillors, no mortal is to poke into my affairs:" I say no mortal, "SONST KEIN MENSCH."
"My Wife shall be told of all things," he says elsewhere, "and counsel asked of her." The rugged Paterfamilias, but the human one! "And as I am a man," continues he, "and may be shot dead, I command you and all to take care of Fritz (FUR FRITZ ZU SORGEN), as God shall reward you. And I give you all, Wife to begin with, my curse (MEINEN PLUCH), that God may punish you in Time and Eternity, if you do not, after my death,—do what, O Heavens?—bury me in the vault of the Schlosskirche," Palace-Church at Berlin! "And you shall make no grand to-do (KEIN FESTIN) on the occasion. On your body and life, no festivals and ceremonials, except that the regiments one after the other fire a volley over me." Is not this an ursine man-of-genius, in some sort, as we once defined him? He adds suddenly, and concludes: "I am assured you will manage everything with all the exactness in the world; for which I shall ever zealously, as long as I live, be your friend." [26th April, 1715: Cosmars und Klaproths Staatsrath,s. 223 (in Stenzel, iii. 269)]. Russians, Saxons affected to intend joining Friedrich Wilhelm in his Pommern Expedition; and of the latter there did, under a so-called Field-Marshal von Wackerbarth, of high plumes and titles, some four thousand—of whom only Colonel von Seckendorf, commanding one of the horse-regiments, is remarkable to us—come and serve. The rest, and all the Russians, he was as well pleased to have at a distance. Some sixteen thousand Danes joined him, too, with the King of Denmark at their head; very furious, all, against the Swedish-iron Hero; but they were remarked to do almost no real service, except at sea a little against the Swedish ships. George I. also had a fleet in the Baltic; but only "to protect English commerce." On the whole, the Siege of Stralsund, to which the Campaign pretty soon reduced itself, was done mainly by Friedrich Wilhelm. He stayed two months in Stettin, getting all his preliminaries completed; his good Queen, Wife "Feekin," was with him for some time, I know not whether now or afterwards. In the end of June, he issued from Stettin; took the interjacent outpost places; and then opened ground before Stralsund, where, in a few days more, the Danes joined him. It was now the middle of July: a combined Army of well-nigh forty thousand against Charles; who, to man his works, musters about the fourth part of that number. [Pauli, viii. 85-101; Buchholz, i. 31-39; Forster, ii. 34-39; Stenzel, iii. 272-218.]
Stralsund, with its outer lines and inner, with its marshes, ditches, ramparts and abundant cannon to them, and leaning, one side of it, on the deep sea, which Swedish ships command as yet, is very strong. Wallenstein, we know, once tried it with furious assault, with bombardment, sap and storm; swore he would have it, "though it hung by a chain from Heaven;" but could not get it, after all his volcanic raging; and was driven away, partly by the Swedes and armed Townsfolk, chiefly by the marsh-fevers and continuous rains. Stralsund has been taken, since that, by Prussian sieging; as old men, from the Great Elector's time, still remember. [l0th-15th October, 1678 (Pauli, v. 203, 205).] To Louis Fourteenth's menacing Ambassador, Friedrich Wilhelm seems to intimate that indeed big bullying words will not take it, but that Prussian guns and men, on a just ground, still may.
The details of this Siege of Stralsund are all on record, and had once a certain fame in the world; but, except as a distant echo, must not concern us here. It lasted till midwinter, under continual fierce counter-movements and desperate sallies from the Swedish Lion, standing at bay there against all the world. But Friedrich Wilhelm was vigilance itself; and he had his Anhalt-Dessaus with him, his Borcks, Buddenbrocks, Finkensteins, veteran men and captains, who had learned their art under Marlborough and Eugene. The Lion King's fierce sallies, and desperate valor, could not avail. Point after point was lost for him. Koppen, a Prussian Lieutenant-Colonel, native to the place, who has bathed in those waters in his youth, remembers that, by wading to the chin, you could get round the extremity of Charles's main outer line. Koppen states his project, gets it approved of;—wades accordingly, with a select party, under cloud of night (4th of November, eve of Gunpowder-day, a most cold-hot job); other ranked Prussian battalions awaiting intently outside, with shouldered firelock, invisible in the dark; what will become of him. Koppen wades successfully; seizes the first battery of said line,—masters said line with its batteries, the outside battalions and he. Irrepressibly, with horrible uproar from without and from within; the flying Swedes scarcely getting up the Town drawbridge, as he chased them. That important line is lost to Charles.
Next they took the Isle of Rugen from him, which shuts up the harbor. Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau, our rugged friend, in Danish boats, which were but ill navigated, contrives, about a week after that Koppen feat, to effect a landing-on Rugen at nightfall; beats off the weak Swedish party;—entrenches, palisades himself to the teeth, and lies down under arms. That latter was a wise precaution. For, about four in the morning, Charles comes in person, with eight pieces of cannon and four thousand horse and foot: Charles is struck with amazement at the palisade and ditch ("MEIN GOTT, who would have expected this!" he was heard murmuring); dashes, like a fire-flood, against ditch and palisade; tears at the pales himself, which prove impregnable to his cannon and him. He storms and rages forward, again and again, now here, now there; but is met everywhere by steady deadly musketry; and has to retire, fruitless, about daybreak, himself wounded, and leaving his eight cannons, and four hundred slain.
Poor Charles, there had been no sleep for him that night, and little for very many nights: "on getting to horse, on the shore at Stralsund, he fainted repeatedly; fell out of one faint into another; but such was his rage, he always recovered himself, and got on horseback again." [Buchholz, i. 36.] Poor Charles: a bit of right royal Swedish-German stuff, after his kind; and tragically ill bested now at last! This is his exit he is now making,—still in a consistent manner. It is fifteen years now since he waded ashore at Copenhagen, and first heard the bullets whistle round him. Since which time, what a course has he run; crashing athwart all manner of ranked armies, diplomatic combinations, right onward, like a cannon-ball; tearing off many solemn wigs in those Northern parts, and scattering them upon the winds,—even as he did his own full-bottom wig, impatiently, on that first day at Copenhagen, tiding it unfurthersome for actual business in battle. [Kohler, Munzbelustigungen, xiv. 213.]
In about a month hence, the last important hornwork is forced; Charles, himself seen fiercely fighting on the place, is swept back from his last hornwork; and the general storm, now altogether irresistible, is evidently at hand. On entreaty from his followers, entreaty often renewed, with tears even (it is said) and on bended knees, Charles at last consents to go. He left no orders for surrender; would not name the word; "left only ambiguous vague orders." But on the 19th December, 1715, he does actually depart; gets on board a little boat, towards a Swedish frigate, which is lying above a mile out; the whole road to which, between Rugen and the mainland, is now solid ice, and has to be cut as he proceeds. This slow operation, which lasted all day, was visible, and its meaning well known, in the besiegers' lines. The King of Denmark saw it; and brought a battery to bear upon it; his thought had always been, that Charles should be captured or killed in Stralsund, and not allowed to get away. Friedrich Wilhelm was of quite another mind, and had even used secret influences to that effect; eager that Charles should escape. It is said, he remonstrated very passionately with the Danish King and this battery of his; nay, some add, since remonstrances did not avail, and the battery still threatened to fire, Friedrich Wilhelm drew up a Prussian regiment or two at the muzzles of it, and said, You shall shoot us first, then. [Buchholz, p. 138.] Which is a pleasant myth at least; and symbolical of what the reality was.
Charles reached his frigate about nightfall, but made little way from the place, owing to defect of wind. They say, he even heard the chamade beating in Stralsund next day, and that a Danish frigate had nearly taken him; both which statements are perhaps also a little mythical. Certain only that he vanished at this point into Scandinavia; and general Europe never saw him more. Vanished into a cloud of untenable schemes, guided by Alberoni, Baron Gortz and others; wild schemes, financial, diplomatic, warlike, nothing not chimerical in them but his own unquenchable real energy;—and found his death (by assassination, as appears) in the trenches of Frederickshall, among the Norway Hills, one winter night, three years hence. Assassination instigated by the Swedish Official Persons, it is thought. The bullet passed through both his temples; he had clapt his hand upon the hilt of his sword, and was found leant against the parapet, in that attitude,—gone upon a long march now. So vanished Charles Twelfth; the distressed Official Persons and Nobility exploding upon him in that rather damnable way,—anxious to slip their muzzles at any cost whatever. A man of antique character; true as a child, simple, even bashful, and of a strength and valor rarely exampled among men. Open-hearted Antique populations would have much worshipped such an Appearance;—Voltaire, too, for the artificial Moderns, has made a myth of him, of another type; one of those impossible cast-iron gentlemen, heroically mad, such as they show in the Playhouses, pleasant but not profitable, to an undiscerning Pub1ic. [See Adlerfeld (Military History of Charles XII. London, 1740, 3 vols., "from the Swedish," through the French) and Kohler (Munzbelustigungen, ubi supra), for some authentic traits of his life and him.] The last of the Swedish Kings died in this way; and the unmuzzled Official Persons have not made much of kinging it in his stead. Charles died; and, as we may say, took the life of Sweden along with him; for it has never shone among the Nations since, or been much worth mentioning, except for its misfortunes, spasmodic impotences and unwisdoms.
Stralsund instantly beat the chamade, as we heard; and all was surrender and subjection in those regions. Surrender; not yet pacification, not while Charles lived; nor for half a century after his death, could Mecklenburg, Holstein-Gottorp, and other his confederates, escape a sad coil of calamities bequeathed by him to them. Friedrich Wilhelm returned to Berlin, victorious from his first, which was also his last Prussian War, in January, 1716; and was doubtless a happy man, NOT "to be buried in the Schlosskirche (under penalty of God's curse)," but to find his little Fritz and Feekin, and all the world, merry to see him, and all things put square again, abroad as at home. He forbade the "triumphal entry" which Berlin was preparing for him; entered privately; and ordered a thanksgiving sermon in all the churches next Sunday.
THE DEVIL IN HARNESS: CREUTZ THE FINANCE-MINISTER.
In the King's absence nothing particular had occurred,—except indeed the walking of a dreadful Spectre, three nights over, in the corridors of the Palace at Berlin; past the doors where our little Prince and Wilhelmina slept: bringing with it not airs from Heaven, we may fear, but blasts from the Other place! The stalwart sentries shook in their paces, and became "half-dead" from terror. "A horrible noise, one night," says Wilhelmina, "when all were buried in sleep: all the world started up, thinking it was fire; but they were much surprised to find that it was a Spectre." Evident Spectre, seen to pass this way, "and glide along that gallery, as if towards the apartments of the Queen's Ladies." Captain of the Guard could find nothing in that gallery, or anywhere, and withdrew again:—but lo, it returns the way it went! Stalwart sentries were found melted into actual delirium of swooning, as the Preternatural swept by this second time. "They said, It was the Devil in person; raised by Swedish wizards to kill the Prince-Royal." [Wilhelmina, Memoires de Bareith, i. 18.]l Poor Prince-Royal; sleeping sound, we hope; little more than three years old at this time, and knowing nothing of it!—All Berlin talked of the affair. People dreaded it might be a "Spectre" of Swedish tendencies; aiming to burn the Palace, spirit off the Royal Children, and do one knew not what?
Not that at all, by any means! The Captain of the Guard, reinforcing himself to defiance even of the Preternatural, does, on the third or fourth apparition, clutch the Spectre; finds him to be—a prowling Scullion of the Palace, employed here he will not say how; who is straightway locked in prison, and so exorcised at least. Exorcism is perfect; but Berlin is left guessing as to the rest,—secret of it discoverable only by the Queen's Majesty and some few most interior parties. To the following effect.
Spectre-Scullion, it turns out, had been employed by Grumkow, as spy upon one of the Queen's Maids of Honor,—suspected by him to be a No-maid of Dishonor, and of ill intentions too,—who lodges in that part of the Palace: of whom Herr Grumkow wishes intensely to know, "Has she an intrigue with Creutz the new Finance-Minister, or has she not?" "Has, beyond doubt!" the Spectre-Scullion hopes he has discovered, before exorcism. Upon which Grumkow, essentially illuminated as to the required particular, manages to get the Spectre-Scullion loose again, not quite hanged; glozing the matter off to his Majesty on his return: for the rest, ruins entirely the Creutz speculation; and has the No-maid called of Honor—with whom Creutz thought to have seduced the young King also, and made the young King amenable—dismissed from Court in a peremptory irrefragable manner. This is the secret of the Spectre-Scullion, fully revealed by Wilhelmina many years after.
This one short glance into the Satan's Invisible-World of the Berlin Palace, we could not but afford the reader, when an actual Goblin of it happened to be walking in our neighborhood. Such an Invisible-World of Satan exists in most human Houses, and in all human Palaces;—with its imps, familiar demons, spies, go-betweens, and industrious bad-angels, continually mounting and descending by THEIR Jacob's-Ladder, or Palace Backstairs: operated upon by Conjurers of the Grumkow-Creutz or other sorts. Tyrannous Mamsell Leti, [Leti, Governess to Wilhelmina, but soon dismissed for insolent cruelty and other bad conduct, was daughter of that Gregorio Leti ("Protestant Italian Refugee," "Historiographer of Amsterdam," &c. &c.), who once had a pension in this country; and who wrote History-Books, a Life of Cromwell one of them, so regardless of the difference between true and false.] treacherous Mamsell Ramen, valet-surgeon Eversmann, and plenty more: readers of Wilhelmina's Book are too well acquainted with them. Nor are expert Conjurers wanting; capable to work strange feats with so plastic an element as Friedrich Wilhelm's mind. Let this one short glimpse of such Subterranean World be sufficient indication to the reader's fancy.
Creutz was not dismissed, as some people had expected he might be. Creutz continues Finance-Minister; makes a great figure in the fashionable Berlin world in these coming years, and is much talked of in the old Books,—though, as he works mostly underground, and merely does budgets and finance-matters with extreme talent and success, we shall hope to hear almost nothing more of him. Majesty, while Crown-Prince, when he first got his regiment from Papa, had found this Creutz "Auditor" in it; a poor but handsome fellow, with perhaps seven shillings a week to live upon; but with such a talent for arranging, for reckoning and recording, in brief for controlling finance, as more and more charmed the royal mind. [Mauvillon ("Elder Mauvillon," ANONYMOUS), Histoire de Frederic Guillaume I., par M. de M—(Amsterdam et Leipzig, 1741), i. 47. A vague flimsy compilation;—gives abundant "State-Papers" (to such as want them), and echoes of old Newspaper rumor. Very copious on Creutz.]
One of Majesty's first acts was to appoint him Finance-Minister; [4th May, 1713: Preuss, i. 349. n.] and there he continued steady, not to be overset by little flaws of wind like this of the Spectre-Scullion's raising. It is certain he did, himself, become rich; and helped well to make his Majesty so. We are to fancy him his Majesty's bottle-holder in that battle with the Finance Nightmares and Imbroglios, when so much had to be subjugated, and drilled into step, in that department. Evidently a long-headed cunning fellow, much of the Grumkow type;—standing very low in Wilhelmina's judgment; and ill-seen, when not avoidable altogether, by the Queen's Majesty. "The man was a poor Country Bailiff's (AMTMANN'S, kind of Tax-manager's) son: from Auditor of a regiment," Papa's own regiment, "he had risen to be Director of Finance, and a Minister of State. His soul was as low as his birth; it was an assemblage of all the vices," [Wilhelmina, i. 16.] says Wilhelmina, in the language of exaggeration.—Let him stand by his budgets; keep well out of Wilhelmina's and the Queen's way;—and very especially beware of coming on Grumkow's field again.
Chapter VI. — THE LITTLE DRUMMER.
This Siege of Stralsund, the last military scene of Charles XII., and the FIRST ever practically heard of by our little Fritz, who is now getting into his fourth year, and must have thought a great deal about it in his little head,—Papa and even Mamma being absent on it, and such a marching and rumoring going on all round him,—proved to be otherwise of some importance to little Fritz.
Most of his Tutors were picked up by the careful Papa in this Stralsund business. Duhan de Jandun, a young French gentleman, family-tutor to General Count Dohna (a cousin of our Minister Dohna's), but fonder of fighting than of teaching grammar; whom Friedrich Wilhelm found doing soldier's work in the trenches, and liked the ways of; he, as the foundation-stone of tutorage, is to be first mentioned. And then Count Fink von Finkenstein, a distinguished veteran, high in command (of whose qualities as Head-Tutor, or occasional travelling guardian Friedrich Wilhelm had experience in his own young days [Biographisches Lexikon aaler Helden und Militairpersonen, welche sich in Preussischen Diensten berumht gemacht haben (4 vols. Berlin, 1788), i. 418, ? Finkenatein.—A praiseworthy, modest, highly correct Book, of its kind; which we shall, in future, call Militair-Lexikon, when referring to it.]); and Lieutenant-Colonel Kalkstein, a prisoner-of-war from the Swedish side, whom Friedrich Wilhelm, judging well of him, adopts into his own service with this view: these three come all from Stralsund Siege; and were of vital moment to our little Fritz in the subsequent time. Colonel Seckendorf, again, who had a command in the four thousand Saxons here, and refreshed into intimacy a transient old acquaintance with Friedrich Wilhelm,—is not he too of terrible importance to Fritz and him? As we shall see in time!—
For the rest, here is another little incident. We said it had been a disappointment to Papa that his little Fritz showed almost no appetite for soldiering, but found other sights more interesting to him than the drill-ground. Sympathize, then, with the earnest Papa, as he returns home one afternoon,—date not given, but to all appearance of that year 1715, when there was such war-rumoring, and marching towards Stralsund;—and found the little Fritz, with Wilhelmina looking over him, strutting about, and assiduously beating a little drum.
The paternal heart ran over with glad fondness, invoking Heaven to confirm the omen. Mother was told of it; the phenomenon was talked of,—beautifulest, hopefulest of little drummers. Painter Pesne, a French Immigrant, or Importee, of the last reign, a man of great skill with his brush, whom History yet thanks on several occasions, was sent for; or he heard of the incident, and volunteered his services. A Portrait of little Fritz drumming, with Wilhelmina looking on; to which, probably for the sake of color and pictorial effect, a Blackamoor, aside with parasol in hand, grinning approbation, has been added,—was sketched, and dexterously worked out in oil, by Painter Pesne. Picture approved by mankind there and then. And it still hangs on the wall, in a perfect state, in Charlottenburg Palace; where the judicious tourist may see it without difficulty, and institute reflections on it.
A really graceful little Picture; and certainly, to Prussian men, not without weight of meaning. Nor perhaps to Picture-Collectors and Cognoscenti generally, of whatever country,—if they could forget, for a moment, the correggiosity of Correggio, and the learned babble of the Sale-room and varnishing Auctioneer; and think, "Why it is, probably, that Pictures exist in this world, and to what end the divine art of Painting was bestowed, by the earnest gods, upon poor mankind?" I could advise it, once, for a little! Flaying of Saint Bartholomew, Rape of Europa, Rape of the Sabines, Piping and Amours of goat-footed Pan, Romulus suckled by the Wolf: all this, and much else of fabulous, distant, unimportant, not to say impossible, ugly and unworthy, shall pass without undue severity of criticism, in a Household of such opulence as ours, where much goes to waste, and where things are not on an earnest footing for this long while past! As Created Objects, or as Phantasms of such, pictorially done, all this shall have much worth, or shall have little. But I say, Here withal is one not phantasmal; of indisputable certainty, home-grown, just commencing business, who carried it far!
Fritz is still, if not in "long-clothes," at least in longish and flowing clothes, of the petticoat sort, which look as of dark-blue velvet, very simple, pretty and appropriate; in a cap of the same; has a short raven's feather in the cap; and looks up, with a face and eyes full of beautiful vivacity and child's enthusiasm, one of the beautifulest little figures, while the little drum responds to his bits of drumsticks. Sister Wilhelmina, taller by some three years, looks on in pretty marching attitude, and with a graver smile. Blackamoor, and accompaniments elegant enough; and finally the figure of a grenadier, on guard, seen far off through an opening,—make up the background.
We have engravings of this Picture; which are of clumsy poor quality, and misrepresent it much: an excellent Copy in oil, what might be called almost a fac-simile and the perfection of a Copy, is now (1854) in Lord Ashburton's Collection here in England. In the Berlin Galleries,—which are made up, like other Galleries, of goat-footed Pan, Europa's Bull, Romulus's She-Wolf, and the correggiosity of Correggio; and contain, for instance, no Portrait of Frederick the Great; no Likenesses at all, or next to none at all, of the noble series of Human Realities, or of any part of them, who have sprung not from the idle brains of dreaming Dilettanti, but from the Head of God Almighty, to make this poor authentic Earth a little memorable for us, and to do a little work that may be eternal there:—in those expensive Halls of "High Art" at Berlin, there were, to my experience, few Pictures more agreeable than this of Pesne's. Welcome, like one tiny islet of Reality amid the shoreless sea of Phantasms, to the reflective mind, seriously loving and seeking what is worthy and memorable, seriously hating and avoiding what is the reverse, and intent not to play the dilettante in this world.
The same Pesne, an excellent Artist, has painted Friedrich as Prince-Royal: a beautiful young man with MOIST-looking enthusiastic eyes of extraordinary brilliancy, smooth oval face; considerably resembling his Mother. After which period, authentic Pictures of Friedrich are sought for to little purpose. For it seems he never sat to any Painter, in his reigning days; and the Prussian Chodowiecki, [Pronounce KODOV-YETSKI;—and endeavor to make some acquaintance with this "Prussian Hogarth," who has real worth and originality.] Saxon Graff, English Cunningham had to pick up his physiognomy from the distance, intermittently, as they could. Nor is Rauch's grand equestrian Sculpture a thing to be believed, or perhaps pretending much to be so. The commonly received Portrait of Friedrich, which all German limners can draw at once,—the cocked-hat, big eyes and alert air, reminding you of some uncommonly brisk Invalid Drill-sergeant or Greenwich Pensioner, as much as of a Royal Hero,—is nothing but a general extract and average of all the faces of Friedrich, such as has been tacitly agreed upon; and is definable as a received pictorial-myth, by no means as a fact, or credible resemblance of life.
But enough now of Pictures. This of the Little Drummer, the painting and the thing painted which remain to us, may be taken as Friedrich's first appearance on the stage of the world; and welcomed accordingly. It is one of the very few visualities or definite certainties we can lay hold of, in those young years of his, and bring conclusively home to our imagination, out of the waste Prussian dust-clouds of uninstructive garrulity which pretend to record them for us. Whether it came into existence as a shadowy emanation from the Stralsund Expedition, can only be matter of conjecture. To judge by size, these figures must have been painted about the year 1715; Fritz some three or four years old, his sister Wilhelmina seven.
It remains only to be intimated, that Friedrich Wilhelm, for his part, had got all he claimed from this Expedition: namely, Stettin with the dependent Towns, and quietness in Pommern. Stettin was, from of old, the capital of his own part of Pommern; thrown in along with the other parts of Pommern, and given to Sweden (from sheer necessity, it was avowed), at the Peace of Westphalia, sixty years ago or more:—and now, by good chance, it has come back. Wait another hundred years, and perhaps Swedish Pommern altogether will come back! But from all this Friedrich Wilhelm is still far. Stettin and quiet are all he dreams of demanding there.
Stralsund he did not reckon his; left it with the Danes, to hold in pawn till some general Treaty. Nor was there farther outbreak of war in those regions; though actual Treaty of Peace did not come till 1720, and make matters sure. It was the new Queen of Sweden, Ulrique Eleonora (Charles's younger Sister, wedded to the young Landgraf of Hessen-Cassel),—much aided by an English Envoy,—who made this Peace with Friedrich Wilhelm. A young English Envoy, called Lord Carteret, was very helpful in this matter; one of his first feats in the diplomatic world. For which Peace, [Stockholm, 21st January, 1720: in Mauvillon (i. 380-417) the Document itself at large.] Friedrich Wilhelm was so thankful, good pacific armed-man, that happening to have a Daughter born to him just about that time, he gave the little creature her Swedish Majesty's name; a new "Ulrique," who grew to proper stature, and became notable in Sweden, herself, by and by. [Louisa Ulrique, born 24th July, 1720; Queen of Sweden in time coming.]
Chapter VII. — TRANSIT OF CZAR PETER.
In the Autumn of 1717, Peter the Great, coming home from his celebrated French journey, paid Friedrich Wilhelm a visit; and passed four days at Berlin. Of which let us give one glimpse, if we can with brevity.
Friedrich Wilhelm and the Czar, like in several points, though so dissimilar in others, had always a certain regard for one another; and at this time, they had been brought into closer intercourse by their common peril from Charles XII., ever since that Stralsund business. The peril was real, especially with a Gortz and Alberoni putting hand to it; and the alarm, the rumor, and uncertainty were great in those years. The wounded Lion driven indignant into his lair, with Plotting Artists now operating upon the rage of the noble animal: who knows what spring he will next take? George I. had a fleet cruising in the Baltic Sounds, and again a fleet;—paying, in that oblique way, for Bremen and Verden; which were got, otherwise, such a bargain to his Hanover. Czar Peter had marched an Army into Denmark; united Russians and Danes count fifty thousand there; for a conjunct invasion, and probable destruction, of Sweden: but that came to nothing; Charles looking across upon it too dangerously, "visible in clear weather over from the Danish side." [1716: Fassmann, p. 171.] So Peter's troops have gone home again; Denmark too glad to get them away. Perhaps they would have stayed in Denmark altogether; much liking the green pastures and convenient situation,—had not Admiral Norris with his cannon been there! Perhaps? And the Pretender is coming again, they say? And who knows what is coming?—How Gortz, in about a year hence was laid hold of, and let go, and then ultimately tried and beheaded (once his lion Master was disposed of); [19th March, 1719: see Kohler (Munzbelustiggungen, vi. 233-240, xvii. 297-304) for many curious details of Gortz and his end.] how, Ambassador Cellamare, and the Spanish part of the Plot, having been discovered in Paris, Cardinal Alberoni at Madrid was discovered, and the whole mystery laid bare; all that mad business, of bringing the Pretender into England, throwing out George I., throwing out the Regent d'Orleans, and much more,—is now sunk silent enough, not worthy of reawakening; but it was then a most loud matter; filling the European Courts, and especially that of Berlin, with rumors and apprehensions. No wonder Friedrich Wilhelm was grateful for that Swedish Peace of his, and named his little daughter "Ulrique" in honor of it. Tumultuous cloud-world of Lapland Witchcraft had ceased hereby, and daylight had begun: old women (or old Cardinals) riding through the sky, on broomsticks, to meet Satan, where now are they? The fact still dimly perceptible is, Europe, thanks to that pair of Black-Artists, Gortz and Alberoni, not to mention Law the Finance-Wizard and his French incantations, had been kept generally, for these three or four years past, in the state of a Haunted House; riotous Goblins, of unknown dire intent, walking now in this apartment of it, now in that; no rest anywhere for the perturbed inhabitants.
As to Friedrich Wilhelm, his plan in 1717, as all along, in this bewitched state of matters, was: To fortify his Frontier Towns; Memel, Wesel, to the right and left, especially to fortify Stettin, his new acquisition;—and to put his Army, and his Treasury (or Army-CHEST), more and more in order. In that way we shall better meet whatever goblins there may be, thinks Friedrich Wilhelm. Count Lottum, hero of the Prussians at Malplaquet, is doing his scientific uttermost in Stettin and those Frontier Towns. For the rest, his Majesty, invited by the Czar and France, has been found willing to make paction with them, as he is with all pacific neighbors. In fact, the Czar and he had their private Conference, at Havelberg, last year,—Havelberg, some sixty miles from Berlin, on the road towards Denmark, as Peter was passing that way;—ample Conference of five days; [23d-28th November, 1716: Fassmann, p. 172.]—privately agreeing there, about many points conducive to tranquillity. And it was on that same errand, though ostensibly to look after Art and the higher forms of Civilization so called, that Peter had been to France on this celebrated occasion of 1717. We know he saw much Art withal; saw Marly, Trianon and the grandeurs and politenesses;—saw, among other things, "a Medal of himself fall accidentally at his feet;" polite Medal "just getting struck in the Mint, with a rising sun on it; and the motto, VIRES ACQUIRIT EUNDO." [Voltaire, OEuvres Completes (Histoire du Czar Pierre), xxxi. 336.—Kohler in Munzbelustigungen, xvii. 386-392 (this very MEDAL the subject), gives authentic account, day by day, of the Czar's visit there.] Ostensibly it was to see CETTE BELLE FRANCE; but privately withal the Czar wished to make his bargain, with the Regent d'Orleans, as to these goblins walking in the Northern and Southern parts, and what was to be done with them. And the result has been, the Czar, Friedrich Wilhelm and the said Regent have just concluded an Agreement; [4th August, 1717; Buchholz, i. 43.] undertaking in general, that the goblins shall be well watched; that they Three will stand by one another in watching them. And now the Czar will visit Berlin in passing homewards again. That is the position of affairs, when he pays this visit. Peter had been in Berlin more than once before; but almost always in a succinct rapid condition; never with his "Court" about him till now. This is his last, and by far his greatest, appearance in Berlin.
Such a transit, of the Barbaric semi-fabulous Sovereignties, could not but be wonderful to everybody there. It evidently struck Wilhelmina's fancy, now in her ninth year, very much. What her little Brother did in it, or thought of it, I nowhere find hinted; conclude only that it would remain in his head too, visible occasionally to the end of his life. Wilhelmina's Narrative, very loose, dateless or misdated, plainly wrong in various particulars, has still its value for us: human eyes, even a child's, are worth something, in comparison to human want-of-eyes, which is too frequent in History-books and elsewhere!—Czar Peter is now forty-five, his Czarina Catherine about thirty-one. It was in 1698 that he first passed this way, going towards Saardam and practical Ship-building: within which twenty years what a spell of work done! Victory of Pultawa is eight years behind him; [27th June, 1709.] victories in many kinds are behind him: by this time he is to be reckoned a triumphant Czar; and is certainly the strangest mixture of heroic virtue and brutish Samoeidic savagery the world at any time had.
It was Sunday, 19th September, 1717, when the Czar arrived in Berlin. Being already sated with scenic parades, he had begged to be spared all ceremony; begged to be lodged in Monbijou, the Queen's little Garden-Palace with river and trees round it, where he hoped to be quietest. Monbijou has been set apart accordingly; the Queen, not in the benignest humor, sweeping all her crystals and brittle things away; knowing the manners of the Muscovites. Nor in the way of ceremony was there much: King and Queen drove out to meet him; rampart-guns gave three big salvos, as the Czarish Majesty stept forth. "I am glad to see you, my Brother Friedrich," said Peter, in German, his only intelligible language; shaking hands with the Brother Majesty, in a cordial human manner. The Queen he, still more cordially, "would have kissed;" but this she evaded, in some graceful effective way. As to the Czarina,—who, for OBSTETRIC and other reasons, of no moment to us, had stayed in Wesel all the time he was in France,—she followed him now at two days' distance; not along with him, as Wilhelmina has it. Wilhelmina says, she kissed the Queen's hand, and again and again kissed it; begged to present her Ladies,—"about four hundred so-called Ladies, who were of her Suite."—Surely not so many as four hundred, you too witty Princess? "Mere German serving-maids for the most part," says the witty Princess; "Ladies when there is occasion, then acting as chambermaids, cooks, washerwomen, when that is over."
Queen Sophie was averse to salute these creatures; but the Czarina Catherine making reprisals upon our Margravines, and the King looking painfully earnest in it, she prevailed upon herself. Was there ever seen such a travelling tagraggery of a Sovereign Court before? "Several of these creatures [PRESQUE TOUTES, says the exaggerative Princess] had, in their arms, a baby in rich dress; and if you asked, 'Is that yours, then?' they answered, making salaams in Russian style, 'The Czar did me the honor (m'a fait l'honneur de me faire cet enfant )!'"—
Which statement, if we deduct the due 25 per cent, is probably not mythic, after all. A day or two ago, the Czar had been at Magdeburg, on his way hither, intent upon inspecting matters there; and the Official Gentlemen,—President Cocceji (afterwards a very celebrated man) at the head of them,—waited on the Czar, to do what was needful. On entering, with the proper Address or complimentary Harangue, they found his Czarish Majesty "standing between two Russian Ladies," clearly Ladies of the above sort; for they stood close by him, one of his arms was round the neck of each, and his hands amused themselves by taking liberties in that posture, all the time Cocceji spoke. Nay, even this was as nothing among the Magdeburg phenomena. Next day, for instance, there appeared in the audience-chamber a certain Serene high-pacing Duke of Mecklenburg, with his Duchess;—thrice-unfortunate Duke, of whom we shall too often hear again; who, after some adventures, under Charles XII. first of all, and then under the enemies of Charles, had, about a year ago, after divorcing his first Wife, married a Niece of Peter's:—Duke and Duchess arrive now, by order or gracious invitation of their Sovereign Uncle, to accompany him in those parts; and are announced to an eager Czar, giving audience to his select Magdeburg public. At sight of which most desirable Duchess and Brother's Daughter, how Peter started up, satyr-like, clasping her in his arms, and snatching her into an inner room, with the door left ajar, and there—It is too Samoeidic for human speech! and would excel belief, were not the testimony so strong. [Pollnitz (Memoiren, ii. 95) gives Friedrich Wilhelm as voucher, "who used to relate it as from eye-and-ear witnesses."] A Duke of Mecklenburg, it would appear, who may count himself the NON-PLUS-ULTRA of husbands in that epoch;—as among Sovereign Rulers, too, in a small or great way, he seeks his fellow for ill-luck!
Duke and Duchess accompanied the Czar to Berlin, where Wilhelmina mentions them, as presentees; part of those "four hundred" anomalies. They took the Czar home with them to Mecklenburg: where indeed some Russian Regiments of his, left here on their return from Denmark, had been very useful in coercing the rebellious Ritterschaft (KNIGHTAGE, or Landed-Gentry) of this Duke,—till at length the general outcry, and voice of the Reich itself, had ordered the said Regiments to get on march again, and take themselves away. [The LAST of them, "July, 1717;" two months ago. (Michaelis, ii. 418.)] For all is rebellion, passive rebellion, in Mecklenburg; taxes being so indispensable; and the Knights so disinclined; and this Duke a Sovereign,—such as we may construe from his quarrelling with almost everybody, and his NOT quarrelling with an Uncle Peter of that kind. [One poor hint, on his behalf, let us not omit: "WIFE quitted him in 1719, and lived at Moscow afterwards!" (General Mannstein, Memoirs of Russia, London, 1770, p. 27 n.)] His troubles as Sovereign Duke, his flights to Dantzig, oustings, returns, law-pleadings and foolish confusions, lasted all his life, thirty years to come; and were bequeathed as a sorrowful legacy to Posterity and the neighboring Countries. Voltaire says, the Czar wished to buy his Duchy from him. [Ubi supra, xxxi. 414.] And truly, for this wretched Duke, it would have been good to sell it at any price: but there were other words than his to such a bargain, had it ever been seriously meditated. By this extraordinary Duchess he becomes Father (real or putative) of a certain Princess, whom we may hear of; and through her again is Grandfather of an unfortunate Russian Prince, much bruited about, as "the murdered Iwan," in subsequent times. With such a Duke and Duchess let our acquaintance be the MINIMUM of what necessity compels.
Wilhelmina goes by hearsay hitherto; and, it is to be hoped, had heard nothing of these Magdeburg-Mecklenburg phenomena; but after the Czarina's arrival, the little creature saw with her own eyes:—
"Next day," that is, Wednesday, 22d "the Czar and his Spouse came to return the Queen's visit; and I saw the Court myself." Palace Grand-Apartments; Queen advancing a due length, even to the outer guard-room; giving the Czarina her right hand, and leading her into her audience-chamber in that distinguished manner: King and Czar followed close;—and here it was that Wilhelmina's personal experiences began. "The Czar at once recognized me, having seen me before, five years ago [March, 1713]. He caught me in his arms; fell to kissing me, like to flay the skin off my face. I boxed his ears, sprawled, and struggled with all my strength; saying I would not allow such familiarities, and that he was dishonoring me. He laughed greatly at this idea; made peace, and talked a long time with me. I had got my lesson: I spoke of his fleet and his conquests;—which charmed him so much, that he said more than once to the Czarina, 'If he could have a child like me, he would willingly give one of his Provinces in exchange.' The Czarina also caressed me a good deal. The Queen [Mamma] and she placed themselves under the dais, each in an arm-chair" of proper dignity; "I was at the Queen's side, and the Princesses of the Blood," Margravines above spoken of, "were opposite to her,"—all in a standing posture, as is proper.
"The Czarina was a little stumpy body, very brown, and had neither air nor grace: you needed only look at her, to guess her low extraction." It is no secret, she had been a kitchen-wench in her Lithuanian native country; afterwards a female of the kind called unfortunate, under several figures: however, she saved the Czar once, by her ready-wit and courage, from a devouring Turkish Difficulty, and he made her fortunate and a Czarina, to sit under the dais as now. "With her huddle of clothes, she looked for all the world like a German Play-actress; her dress, you would have said, had been bought at a second-hand shop; all was out of fashion, all was loaded with silver and greasy dirt. The front of her bodice she had ornamented with jewels in a very singular pattern: A double-eagle in embroidery, and the plumes of it set with poor little diamonds, of the smallest possible carat, and very ill mounted. All along the facing of her gown were Orders and little things of metal; a dozen Orders, and as many Portraits of saints, of relics and the like; so that when she walked, it was with a jingling, as if you heard a mule with bells to its harness."—Poor little Czarina; shifty nutbrown fellow-creature, strangely chased about from the bottom to the top of this world; it is evident she does not succeed at Queen Sophie Dorothee's Court!—
"The Czar, on the other hand, was very tall, and might be called handsome," continues Wilhelmina: "his countenance was beautiful, but had something of savage in it which put you in fear." Partly a kind of Milton's-Devil physiognomy? The Portraits give it rather so. Archangel not quite ruined, yet in sadly ruinous condition; its heroism so bemired,—with a turn for strong drink, too, at times! A physiognomy to make one reflect. "His dress was of sailor fashion, coat, altogether plain."
"The Czarina, who spoke German very ill herself, and did not understand well what the Queen said, beckoned to her Fool to come near,"—a poor female creature, who had once been a Princess Galitzin, but having got into mischief, had been excused to the Czar by her high relations as mad, and saved from death or Siberia, into her present strange harbor of refuge. With her the Czarina talked in unknown Russ, evidently "laughing much and loud," till Supper was announced.
"At table," continues Wilhelmina, "the Czar placed himself beside the Queen. It is understood this Prince was attempted with poison in his youth, and that something of it had settled on his nerves ever after. One thing is certain, there took him very often a sort of convulsion, like Tic or St.-Vitus, which it was beyond his power to control. That happened at table now. He got into contortions, gesticulations; and as the knife was in his hand, and went dancing about within arm's-length of the Queen, it frightened her, and she motioned several times to rise. The Czar begged her not to mind, for he would do her no ill; at the same time he took her by the hand, which he grasped with such violence that the Queen was forced to shriek out. This set him heartily laughing; saying she had not bones of so hard a texture as his Catherine's. Supper done, a grand Ball had been got ready; but the Czar escaped at once, and walked home by himself to Monbijou, leaving the others to dance."
Wilhelmina's story of the Cabinet of Antiques; of the Indecent little Statue there, and of the orders Catherine got to kiss it, with a "KOPF AB (Head off, if you won't)!" from the bantering Czar, whom she had to obey,—is not incredible, after what we have seen. It seems, he begged this bit of Antique Indecency from Friedrich Wilhelm; who, we may fancy, would give him such an article with especial readiness. That same day, fourth of the Visit, Thursday, 23d of the month, the august Party went its ways again; Friedrich Wilhelm convoying "as far as Potsdam;" Czar and Suite taking that route towards Mecklenburg, where he still intends some little pause before proceeding homeward. Friedrich Wilhelm took farewell; and never saw the Czar again.
It was on this Journey, best part of which is now done, that the famous Order bore, "Do it for six thousand thalers; won't allow you one other penny (nit einen Pfennig gebe mehr dazu ); but give out to the world that it costs me thirty or forty thousand!" Nay, it is on record that the sum proved abundant, and even superabundant, near half of it being left as overplus. [Forster, i. 215.] The hospitalities of Berlin, Friedrich Wilhelm took upon himself, and he has done them as we see. You shall defray his Czarish Majesty, to the last Prussian milestone; punctually, properly, though with thrift!
Peter's, VIATICUM, the Antique Indecency, Friedrich Wilhelm did not grudge to part with; glad to purchase the Czar's good-will by coin of that kind. Last year, at Havelberg, he had given the Czar an entire Cabinet of Amber Articles, belonging to his late Father. Amber Cabinet, in the lump; and likewise such a Yacht, for shape, splendor and outfit, as probably Holland never launched before;—Yacht also belonging to his late Father, and without value to Friedrich Wilhelm. The old King had got it built in Holland, regardless of expense,—15,000 pounds, they say, perhaps as good as 50,000 pounds now;—and it lay at Potsdam: good for what? Friedrich Wilhelm sent it down the Havel, down the Elbe, silk sailors and all, towards Hamburg and Petersburg, with a great deal of pleasure. For the Czar, and peace and good-will with the Czar, was of essential value to him. Neither, at any rate, is the Czar a man to take gifts without return. Tall fellows for soldiers: that is always one prime object with Friedrich Wilhelm; for already these Potsdam Guards of his are getting ever more gigantic. Not less an object, though less an ideal or POETIC one (as we once defined), was this other, to find buyers for the Manufactures, new and old, which he was so bent on encouraging. "It is astonishing, what quantities of cloth, of hardware, salt, and all kinds of manufactured articles the Russians buy from us," say the old Books;—"see how our 'Russian Company' flourishes!" In both these objects, not to speak of peace and good-will in general, the Czar is our man.
Thus, this very Autumn, there arrive, astonished and astonishing, no fewer than a hundred and fifty human figures (one half MORE than were promised), probably from seven to eight feet high; the tallest the Czar could riddle out from his Dominions: what a windfall to the Potsdam Guard and its Colonel-King! And all succeeding Autumns the like, so long as Friedrich Wilhelm lived; every Autumn, out of Russia a hundred of the tallest mortals living. Invaluable,—to a "man of genius" mounted on his hobby! One's "stanza" can be polished at this rate.
In return for these Russian sons of Anak, Friedrich Wilhelm grudged not to send German smiths, millwrights, drill-sergeants, cannoneers, engineers; having plenty of them. By whom, as Peter well calculated, the inert opaque Russian mass might be kindled into luminosity and vitality; and drilled to know the Art of War, for one thing. Which followed accordingly. And it is observable, ever since, that the Russian Art of War has a tincture of GERMAN in it (solid German, as contradistinguished from unsolid Revolutionary-French); and hints to us of Friedrich Wilhelm and the Old Dessauer, to this hour.—EXEANT now the Barbaric semi-fabulous Sovereignties, till wanted again.
Chapter VIII. — THE CROWN-PRINCE IS PUT TO HIS SCHOOLING.
In his seventh year, young Friedrich was taken out of the hands of the women; and had Tutors and Sub-Tutors of masculine gender, who had been nominated for him some time ago, actually set to work upon their function. These we have already heard of; they came from Stralsund Siege, all the principal hands.
Duhan de Jandun, the young French gentleman who had escaped from grammar-lessons to the trenches, he is the practical teacher. Lieutenant-General Graf Fink von Finkenstein and Lieutenant-Colonel von Kalkstein, they are Head Tutor (OBERHOFMEISTER) and Sub-Tutor; military men both, who had been in many wars besides Stralsund. By these three he was assiduously educated, subordinate schoolmasters working under them when needful, in such branches as the paternal judgment would admit; the paternal object and theirs being to infuse useful knowledge, reject useless, and wind up the whole into a military finish. These appointments, made at different precise dates, took effect, all of them, in the year 1719.
Duhan, independently of his experience in the trenches, appears to have been an accomplished, ingenious and conscientious man; who did credit to Friedrich Wilhelm's judgment; and to whom Friedrich professed himself much indebted in after life. Their progress in some of the technical branches, as we shall perceive, was indisputably unsatisfactory. But the mind of the Boy seems to have been opened by this Duhan, to a lively, and in some sort genial, perception of things round him;—of the strange confusedly opulent Universe he had got into; and of the noble and supreme function which Intelligence holds there; supreme in Art as in Nature, beyond all other functions whatsoever. Duhan was now turned of thirty: a cheerful amiable Frenchman; poor, though of good birth and acquirements; originally from Champagne. Friedrich loved him very much; always considered him his spiritual father; and to the end of Duhan's life, twenty years hence, was eager to do him any good in his power. Anxious always to repair, for poor Duhan, the great sorrows he came to on his account, as we shall see.
Of Graf Fink von Finkenstein, who has had military experiences of all kinds and all degrees, from marching as prisoner into France, "wounded and without his hat," to fighting at Malplaquet, at Blenheim, even at Steenkirk, as well as Stralsund; who is now in his sixtieth year, and seems to have been a gentleman of rather high solemn manners, and indeed of undeniable perfections,—of this supreme Count Fink we learn almost nothing farther in the Books, except that his little Pupil did not dislike him either. The little Pupil took not unkindly to Fink; welcoming any benignant human ray, across these lofty gravities of the OBERHOFMEISTER; went often to his house in Berlin; and made acquaintance with two young Finks about his own age, whom he found there, and who became important to him, especially the younger of them, in the course of the future. [Zedlitz-Neukirch, Preussisches Adels-Lexikon (Leipzig, 1836), ii. 168. Militair-Lexicon, i. 420.] This Pupil, it may be said, is creditably known for his attachment to his Teachers and others; an attached and attaching little Boy. Of Kalkstein, a rational, experienced and earnest kind of man, though as yet but young, it is certain also that the little Fritz loved him; and furthermore that the Great Friedrich was grateful to him, and had a high esteem of his integrity and sense. "My master, Kalkstein," used to be his designation of him, when the name chanced to be mentioned in after times. They continued together, with various passages of mutual history, for forty years afterwards, till Kalkstein's death. Kalkstein is at present twenty-eight, the youngest of the three Tutors; then, and ever after, an altogether downright correct soldier and man. He is of Preussen, or Prussia Proper, this Kalkstein;—of the same kindred as that mutinous Kalkstein, whom we once heard of, who was "rolled in a carpet," and kidnapped out of Warsaw, in the Great Elector's time. Not a direct descendant of that beheaded Kalkstein's but, as it were, his NEPHEW so many times removed. Preussen is now far enough from mutiny; subdued, with all its Kalksteins, into a respectful silence, not lightly using the right even of petition, or submissive remonstrance, which it may still have. Nor, except on the score of parliamentary eloquence and newspaper copyright, does it appear that Preussen has suffered by the change.
How these Fink-Kalkstein functionaries proceeded in the great task they had got,—very great task, had they known what Pupil had fallen to them,—is not directly recorded for us, with any sequence or distinctness. We infer only that everything went by inflexible routine; not asking at all, WHAT pupil?—nor much, Whether it would suit any pupil? Duhan, with the tendencies we have seen in him, who is willing to soften the inflexible when possible, and to "guide Nature" by a rather loose rein, was probably a genial element in the otherwise strict affair. Fritz had one unspeakable advantage, rare among princes and even among peasants in these ruined ages: that of NOT being taught, or in general not, by the kind called "Hypocrites, and even Sincere-Hypocrites,"—fatalest species of the class HYPOCRITE. We perceive he was lessoned, all along, not by enchanted Phantasms of that dangerous sort, breathing mendacity of mind, unconsciously, out of every look; but by real Men, who believed from the heart outwards, and were daily doing what they taught. To which unspeakable advantage we add a second, likewise considerable; That his masters, though rigorous, were not unlovable to him;—that his affections, at least, were kept alive; that whatever of seed (or of chaff and hail, as was likelier) fell on his mind, had SUNSHINE to help in dealing with it. These are two advantages still achievable, though with difficulty, in our epoch, by an earnest father in behalf of his poor little son. And these are, at present, nearly all; with these well achieved, the earnest father and his son ought to be thankful. Alas, in matter of education, there are no high-roads at present; or there are such only as do NOT lead to the goal. Fritz, like the rest of us, had to struggle his way, Nature and Didactic Art differing very much from one another; and to do battle, incessant partial battle, with his schoolmasters for any education he had.
A very rough Document, giving Friedrich Wilhelm's regulations on this subject, from his own hand, has come down to us. Most dull, embroiled, heavy Document; intricate, gnarled, and, in fine, rough and stiff as natural bull-headedness helped by Prussian pipe-clay can make it;—contains some excellent hints, too; and will show us something of Fritzchen and of Friedrich Wilhelm both at once. That is to say, always, if it can be read! If by aid of abridging, elucidating and arranging, we can get the reader engaged to peruse it patiently;—which seems doubtful. The points insisted on, in a ponderous but straggling confused manner, by his didactic Majesty, are chiefly these:—
1. Must impress my Son with a proper love and fear of God, as the foundation and sole pillar of our temporal and eternal welfare. No false religions, or sects of Atheist, Arian (ArRian), Socinian, or whatever name the poisonous things have, which can so easily corrupt a young mind, are to be even named in his hearing: on the other hand, a proper abhorrence (ABSCHEU) of Papistry, and insight into its baselessness and nonsensicality (UNGRUND UND ABSURDITAT), is to be communicated to him:—Papistry, which is false enough, like the others, but impossible to be ignored like them; mention that, and give him due abhorrence for it. For we are Protestant to the bone in this country; and cannot stand ABSURDITAT, least of all hypocritically religious ditto! But the grand thing will be, "To impress on him the true religion, which consists essentially in this, That Christ died for all men," and generally that the Almighty's justice is eternal and omnipresent,—"which consideration is the only means of keeping a sovereign person (SOUVERAINE MACHT), or one freed from human penalties, in the right way."
2. "He is to learn no Latin;" observe that, however it may surprise you. What has a living German man and King, of the eighteenth Christian SOECULUM, to do with dead old Heathen Latins, Romans, and the lingo THEY spoke their fraction of sense and nonsense in? Frightful, how the young years of the European Generations have been wasted, for ten centuries back; and the Thinkers of the world have become mere walking Sacks of Marine-stores, "GELEHRTEN, Learned," as they call themselves; and gone LOST to the world, in that manner, as a set of confiscated Pedants;—babbling about said Heathens, and THEIR extinct lingo and fraction of sense and nonsense, for the thousand years last past! Heathen Latins, Romans;—who perhaps were no great things of Heathen, after all, if well seen into? I have heard judges say, they were INferior, in real worth and grist, to German home-growths we have had, if the confiscated Pedants could have discerned it! At any rate, they are dead, buried deep, these two thousand years; well out of our way;—and nonsense enough of our own left, to keep sweeping into corners. Silence about their lingo and them, to this new Crown-Prince! "Let the Prince learn French and German," so as to write and speak, "with brevity and propriety," in these two languages, which may be useful to him in life. That will suffice for languages,—provided he have anything effectually rational to say in them. For the rest,
3. "Let him learn Arithmetic, Mathematics, Artillery,—Economy to the very bottom." And, in short, useful knowledge generally; useless ditto not at all. "History in particular;—Ancient History only slightly (NUR UBERHIN);—but the History of the last hundred and fifty Years to the exactest pitch. The JUS NATURALE and JUS GENTIUM," by way of hand-lamp to History, "he must be completely master of; as also of Geography, whatever is remarkable in each Country. And in Histories, most especially the History of the house of Brandenburg; where he will find domestic examples, which are always of more force than foreign. And along with Prussian History, chiefly that of the Countries which have been connected with it, as England, Brunswick, Hessen and the others. And in reading of wise History-books there must be considerations made (sollen beym Lesen kluger Historiarum Betrachtungen gemacht werden) upon the causes of the events."—Surely, O King!
4. "With increasing years, you will more and more, to a most especial degree, go upon Fortification,"—mark you!—"the Formation of a Camp, and the other War-Sciences; that the Prince may, from youth upwards, be trained to act as Officer and General, and to seek all his glory in the soldier profession." This is whither it must all tend. You, Finkenstein and Kalkstein, "have both of you, in the highest measure, to make it your care to infuse into my Son [EINZUPRAGEN, stamp into him] a true love for the Soldier business, and to impress on him that, as there is nothing in the world which can bring a Prince renown and honor like the sword, so he would be a despised creature before all men, if he did not love it, and seek his sole glory (DIE EINZIGE GLORIA) therein." [Preuss, i. 11-14 (of date 13th August, 1718).] Which is an extreme statement of the case; showing how much we have it at heart.
These are the chief Friedrich-Wilhelm traits; the rest of the document corresponds in general to what the late Majesty had written for Friedrich Wilhelm himself on the like occasion. [Stenzel, iii. 572.] Ruthless contempt of Useless Knowledge; and passionate insight into the distinction between Useful and Useless, especially into the worth of Soldiering as a royal accomplishment, are the chief peculiarities here. In which latter point too Friedrich Wilhelm, himself the most pacific of men, unless you pulled the whiskers of him, or broke into his goods and chattels, knew very well what he was meaning,—much better than we of the "Peace Society" and "Philanthropic Movement" could imagine at first sight! It is a thing he, for his part, is very decided upon.
Already, a year before this time, [1st September, 1717: Preuss, i. 13.] there had been instituted, for express behoof of little Fritz, a miniature Soldier Company, above a hundred strong; which grew afterwards to be near three hundred, and indeed rose to be a permanent Institution by degrees; called Kompagnie der Kronprinzlichen Kadetten (Company of Crown-Prince Cadets). A hundred and ten boys about his own age, sons of noble families, had been selected from the three Military Schools then extant, as a kind of tiny regiment for him; where, if he was by no means commander all at once, he might learn his exercise in fellowship with others. Czar Peter, it is likely, took a glance of this tiny regiment just getting into rank and file there; which would remind the Czar of his own young days. An experienced Lieutenant-Colonel was appointed to command in chief. A certain handy and correct young fellow, Rentsel by name, about seventeen, who already knew his fugling to a hair's-breadth, was Drill-master; and exercised them all, Fritz especially, with due strictness; till, in the course of time and of attainments, Fritz could himself take the head charge. Which he did duly, in a year or two: a little soldier thenceforth; properly strict, though of small dimensions; in tight blue bit of coat and cocked-hat:—miniature image of Papa (it is fondly hoped and expected), resembling him as a sixpence does a half-crown. In 1721 the assiduous Papa set up a "little arsenal" for him, "in the Orange Hall of the Palace:" there let him, with perhaps a chosen comrade or two, mount batteries, fire exceedingly small brass ordnance,—his Engineer-Teacher, one Major von Senning, limping about (on cork leg), and superintending if needful.
Rentzel, it is known, proved an excellent Drill-sergeant;—had good talents every way, and was a man of probity and sense. He played beautifully on the flute too, and had a cheerful conversible turn; which naturally recommended him still farther to Fritz; and awoke or encouraged, among other faculties, the musical faculty in the little Boy. Rentzel continued about him, or in sight of him, through life; advancing gradually, not too fast, according to real merit and service (Colonel in 1759); and never did discredit to the choice Friedrich Wilhelm had made of him. Of Senning, too, Engineer-Major von Senning, who gave Fritz his lessons in Mathematics, Fortification and the kindred branches, the like, or better, can be said. He was of graver years; had lost a leg in the Marlborough Campaigns, poor gentleman; but had abundant sense, native worth and cheery rational talk, in him: so that he too could never be parted with by Friedrich, but was kept on hand to the last, a permanent and variously serviceable acquisition.
Thus, at least, is the military education of our Crown-Prince cared for. And we are to fancy the little fellow, from his tenth year or earlier, going about in miniature soldier figure, for most part; in strict Spartan-Brandenburg costume, of body as of mind. Costume little flattering to his own private taste for finery; yet by no means unwholesome to him, as he came afterwards to know, In October, 1723, it is on record, when George I. came to visit his Son-in-law and Daughter at Berlin, his Britannic Majesty, looking out from his new quarters on the morrow, saw Fritzchen "drilling his Cadet Company;" a very pretty little phenomenon. Drilling with clear voice, military sharpness, and the precision of clock-work on the Esplanade (LUSTGARTEN) there;—and doubtless the Britannic Majesty gave some grunt of acquiescence, perhaps even a smile, rare on that square heavy-laden countenance of his. That is the record: [Forster, i. 215.] and truly it forms for us by far the liveliest little picture we have got, from those dull old years of European History. Years already sunk, or sinking, into lonesome unpeopled Dusk for all men; and fast verging towards vacant Oblivion and eternal Night;—which (if some few articles were once saved out of them) is their just and inevitable portion from afflicted human nature.
Of riding-masters, fencing-masters, swimming-masters; much less of dancing-masters, music-masters (celebrated Graun, "on the organ," with Psalm-tunes), we cannot speak; but the reader may be satisfied they were all there, good of their kind, and pushing on at a fair rate. Nor is there lack anywhere of paternal supervision to our young Apprentice, From an early age, Papa took the Crown-Prince with him on his annual Reviews. From utmost Memel on the Russian border, down to Wesel on the French, all Prussia, in every nook of it, garrison, marching-regiment, board of management, is rigorously reviewed by Majesty once a year. There travels little military Fritz, beside the military Majesty, amid the generals and official persons, in their hardy Spartan manner; and learns to look into everything like a Rhadamanthine Argus, and how the eye of the master, more than all other appliances, fattens the cattle.
On his hunts, too, Papa took him. For Papa was a famous hunter, when at Wusterhausen in the season:—hot Beagle-chase, hot Stag-hunt, your chief game deer; huge "Force-Hunt" (PARFORCE-JAGD, the woods all beaten, and your wild beasts driven into straits and caudine-forks for you); Boar-hunting (SAUHETZE, "sow-baiting," as the Germans call it), Partridge-shooting, Fox- and Wolf-hunting;—on all grand expeditions of such sort, little Fritz shall ride with Papa and party. Rough furious riding; now on swift steed, now at places on WURSTWAGEN,—WURSTWAGEN, "Sausage-Car" so called, most Spartan of vehicles, a mere STUFFED POLE or "sausage" with wheels to it, on which you sit astride, a dozen or so of you, and career;—regardless of the summer heat and sandy dust, of the winter's frost-storms and muddy rain. All this the little Crown-Prince is bound to do;—but likes it less and less, some of us are sorry to observe! In fact he could not take to hunting at all, or find the least of permanent satisfaction in shooting partridges and baiting sows,—"with such an expenditure of industry and such damage to the seedfields," he would sometimes allege in extenuation. In later years he has been known to retire into some glade of the thickets, and hold a little Flute-Hautbois Concert with his musical comrades, while the sows were getting baited. Or he would converse with Mamma and her Ladies, if her Majesty chanced to be there, in a day for open driving. Which things by no means increased his favor with Papa, a sworn hater of "effeminate practices."
He was "nourished on beer-soup," as we said before. Frugality, activity, exactitude were lessons daily and hourly brought home to him, in everything he did and saw. His very sleep was stingily meted out to him: "Too much sleep stupefies a fellow!" Friedrich Wilhelm was wont to say;—so that the very doctors had to interfere, in this matter, for little Fritz. Frugal enough, hardy enough; urged in every way to look with indifference on hardship, and take a Spartan view of life.
Money-allowance completely his own, he does not seem to have had till he was seventeen. Exiguous pocket-money, counted in GROSCHEN (English PENCE, or hardly more), only his Kalkstein and Finkenstein could grant as they saw good;—about eighteenpence in the month, to start with, as would appear. The other small incidental moneys, necessary for his use, were likewise all laid out under sanction of his Tutors, and accurately entered in Day-books by them, audited by Friedrich Wilhelm; of which some specimens remain, and one whole month, September, 1719 (the Boy's eighth year), has been published. Very singular to contemplate, in these days of gold-nuggets and irrational man-mountains fattened by mankind at such a price! The monthly amount appears to have been some 3 pounds 10 shillings:—and has gone, all but the eighteenpence of sovereign pocket-money, for small furnishings and very minute necessary luxuries;—as thus:— "To putting his Highness's shoes on the last;" for stretching them to the little feet,—and only one "last," as we perceive. "To twelve yards of Hairtape,"—HAARBAND, for our little queue, which becomes visible here. "For drink-money to the Postilions." "For the Housemaids at Wusterhausen," Don't I pay them myself? objects the auditing Papa, at that latter kind of items: No more of that. "For mending the flute, four GROSCHEN [or pence];" "Two Boxes of Colors, sixteen ditto;" "For a live snipe, twopence;" "For grinding the hanger [little swordkin];" "To a Boy whom the dog bit;" and chiefly of all, "To the KLINGBEUTEL,"—Collection-plate, or bag, at Church,—which comes upon us once, nay twice, and even thrice a week, eighteenpence each time, and eats deep into our straitened means. [Preuss, i. 17.]
On such terms can a little Fritz be nourished into a Friedrich the Great; while irrational man-mountains, of the beaverish or beaverish-vulpine sort, take such a price to fatten them into monstrosity! The Art-manufacture of your Friedrich can come very cheap, it would appear, if once Nature have done her part in regard to him, and there be mere honest will on the part of the by-standers. Thus Samuel Johnson, too, cost next to nothing in the way of board and entertainment in this world. And a Robert Burns, remarkable modern Thor, a Peasant-god of these sunk ages, with a touch of melodious RUNES in him (since all else lay under ban for the poor fellow), was raised on frugal oatmeal, at an expense of perhaps half a crown a week. Nuggets and ducats are divine; but they are not the most divine. I often wish the Devil had the lion's share of them,—at once, and not circuitously as now. It would be an unspeakable advantage to the bewildered sons of Adam, in this epoch!
But with regard to our little Crown-Prince's intellectual culture, there is another Document, specially from Papa's hand, which, if we can redact, adjust and abridge it, as in the former case, may be worth the reader's notice, and elucidate some things for him. It is of date, Wusterhausen, 3d September, 1721; little Fritz now in his tenth year, and out there, with his Duhans and Finkensteins, while Papa is rusticating for a few weeks. The essential title is, or might be:—
To Head-Governor van Finkenstein, Sub-Governor von Kalkstein, Preceptor Jacques Egide Duhan de Jandun, and others whom it may concern: Regulations for schooling, at Wusterhausen, 3d September, 1721; [Preuss, i. 19.]—in greatly abridged form.
SUNDAY. "On Sunday he is to rise at 7; and as soon as he has got his slippers on, shall kneel down at his bedside, and pray to God, so as all in the room may hear it [that there be no deception or short measure palmed upon us], in these words: 'Lord God, blessed Father, I thank thee from my heart that thou hast so graciously preserved me through this night. Fit me for what thy holy will is; and grant that I do nothing this day, nor all the days of my life, which can divide me from thee. For the Lord Jesus my Redeemer's sake. Amen.' After which the Lord's Prayer. Then rapidly and vigorously (GESCHWINDE UND HURTIG) wash himself clean, dress and powder and comb himself [we forget to say, that while they are combing and queuing him, he breakfasts, with brevity, on tea]: Prayer, with washing, breakfast and the rest, to be done pointedly within fifteen minutes [that is, at a quarter past 7].
"This finished, all his Domestics and Duhan shall come in, and do family worship (das grosse Gebet zu halten): Prayer on their knees, Duhan withal to read a Chapter of the Bible, and sing some proper Psalm or Hymn [as practised in well-regulated families]:—It will then be a quarter to 8. All the Domestics then withdraw again; and Duhan now reads with my Son the Gospel of the Sunday; expounds it a little, adducing the main points of Christianity;—questioning from Noltenius's Catechism [which Fritz knows by heart]:—it will then be 9 o'clock.
"At 9 he brings my Son down to me; who goes to Church, and dines, along with me [dinner at the stroke of Noon]: the rest of the day is then his own [Fritz's and Duhan's]. At half-past 9 in the evening, he shall come and bid me goodnight. Shall then directly go to his room; very rapidly (SEHR GESCHWIND) get off his clothes, wash his hands [get into some tiny dressing-gown or CASSAQUIN, no doubt]; and so soon as that is done, Duhan makes a prayer on his knees, and sings a hymn; all the Servants being again there. Instantly after which, my Son shall get into bed; shall be in bed at half-past 10;"—and fall asleep how soon, your Majesty? This is very strict work.
MONDAY. "On Monday, as on all weekdays, he is to be called at 6; and so soon as called he is to rise; you are to stand to him (ANHALTEN) that he do not loiter or turn in bed, but briskly and at once get up; and say his prayers, the same as on Sunday morning. This done, he shall as rapidly as possible get on his shoes and spatterdashes; also wash his face and hands, but not with soap. Farther shall put on his CASSAQUIN [short dressing-gown], have his hair combed out and queued, but not powdered. While getting combed and queued, he shall at the same time take breakfast of tea, so that both jobs go on at once; and all this shall be ended before half-past 6." Then enter Duhan and the Domestics, with worship, Bible, Hymn, all as on Sunday; this is done by 7, and the Servants go again.
"From 7 till 9 Duhan takes him on History; at 9 comes Noltenius [a sublime Clerical Gentleman from Berlin] with the Christian Religion, till a quarter to 11. Then Fritz rapidly (GESCHWIND) washes his face with water, hands with soap-and-water; clean shirt; powders, and puts on his coat;—about 11 comes to the King. Stays with the King till 2,"—perhaps promenading a little; dining always at Noon; after which Majesty is apt to be slumberous, and light amusements are over.
"Directly at 2, he goes back to his room. Duhan is there, ready; takes him upon the Maps and Geography, from 2 to 3,—giving account [gradually!] of all the European Kingdoms; their strength and weakness; size, riches and poverty of their towns. From 3 to 4, Duhan treats of Morality (soll die Moral tractiren ). From 4 to 5, Duhan shall write German Letters with him, and see that he gets a good STYLUM [which he never in the least did]. About 5, Fritz shall wash his hands, and go to the King;—ride out; divert himself, in the air and not in his room; and do what he likes, if it is not against God."
There, then, is a Sunday, and there is one Weekday; which latter may serve for all the other five:—though they are strictly specified in the royal monograph, and every hour of them marked out: How, and at what points of time, besides this of HISTORY, of MORALITY, and WRITING IN GERMAN, of Maps and GEOGRAPHY with the strength and weakness of Kingdoms, you are to take up ARITHMETIC more than once; WRITING OF FRENCH LETTERS, so as to acquire a good STYLUM: in what nook you may intercalate "a little getting by heart of something, in order to strengthen the memory;" how instead of Noltenius, Panzendorf (another sublime Reverend Gentleman from Berlin, who comes out express) gives the clerical drill on Tuesday morning;—with which two onslaughts, of an hour-and-half each, the Clerical Gentlemen seem to withdraw for the week, and we hear no more of them till Monday and Tuesday come round again.
On Wednesday we are happy to observe a liberal slice of holiday come in. At half-past 9, having done his HISTORY, and "got something by heart to strengthen the memory [very little, it is to be feared], Fritz shall rapidly dress himself, and come to the King. And the rest of the day belongs to little Fritz (gehort vor Fritzchen)." On Saturday, too, there is some fair chance of half-holiday:—
"SATURDAY, forenoon till half-past 10, come History, Writing and Ciphering; especially repetition of what was done through the week, and in MORALITY as well [adds the rapid Majesty], to see whether he has profited. And General Graf von Finkenstein, with Colonel von Kalkstein, shall be present during this. If Fritz has profited, the afternoon shall be his own. If he has not profited, he shall, from 2 to 6, repeat and learn rightly what he has forgotten on the past days." And so the laboring week winds itself up. Here, however, is one general rule which cannot be too much impressed upon YOU, with which we conclude:—
"In undressing and dressing, you must accustom him to get out of, and into, his clothes as fast as is humanly possible ( hurtig so viel als menschenmoglich ist). You will also look that he learn to put on and put off his clothes himself, without help from others; and that he be clean and neat, and not so dirty (nicht so schmutzig)." "Not so dirty," that is my last word; and here is my sign-manual,
"FRIEDRICH WILHELM." [Preuss, i. 21.]
Chapter IX. — WUSTERHAUSEN.
Wusterhausen, where for the present these operations go on, lies about twenty English miles southeast of Berlin, as you go towards Schlesien (Silesia);—on the old Silesian road, in a flat moory country made of peat and sand;—and is not distinguished for its beauty at all among royal Hunting-lodges. The Gohrde at Hanover, for example, what a splendor there in comparison! But it serves Friedrich Wilhelm's simple purposes: there is game abundant in the scraggy woodlands, otter-pools, fish-pools, and miry thickets, of that old "Schenkenland" (belonged all once to the "SCHENKEN Family," till old King Friedrich bought it for his Prince); retinue sufficient find nooks for lodgment in the poor old Schloss so called; and Noltenius and Panzendorf drive out each once a week, in some light vehicle, to drill Fritz in his religious exercises.
One Zollner, a Tourist to Silesia, confesses himself rather pleased to find even Wusterhausen in such a country of sandy bent-grass, lean cattle, and flat desolate languor.
"Getting to the top of the ridge" (most insignificant "ridge," made by hand; Wilhelmina satirically says), Tourist Zollner can discern with pleasure "a considerable Brook,"—visible, not audible, smooth Stream, or chain of meres and lakelets, flowing languidly northward towards Kopenik. Inaudible big Brook or Stream; which, we perceive, drains a slightly hollowed Tract; too shallow to be called valley,—of several miles in width, of several yards in depth;—Tract with wood here and there on it, and signs of grass and culture, welcome after what you have passed. On the foreground close to you is the Hamlet of Konigs-Wusterhausen, with tolerable Lime-tree Avenue leading to it, and the air of something sylvan from your Hill-top. Konigs-Wusterhausen was once WENDISH-Westerhausen, and not far off is DEUTSCH-Wusterhausen, famed, I suppose, by faction-fights in the Vandalic times: both of them are now KING'S-Wusterhausen (since the King came thither), to distinguish them from other Wusterhausens that there are.
Descending, advancing through your Lime-tree Avenue, you come upon the backs of office-houses, out-houses, stables or the like,—on your left hand I have guessed,—extending along the Highway. And in the middle of these you come at last to a kind of Gate or vaulted passage (ART VON THOR, says Zollner), where, if you have liberty, you face to the left, and enter. Here, once through into the free light again, you are in a Court: four-square space, not without prospect; right side and left side are lodgings for his Majesty's gentlemen; behind you, well in their view, are stables and kitchens: in the centre of the place is a Fountain "with hewn steps and iron railings;" where his simple Majesty has been known to sit and smoke, on summer evenings. The fourth side of your square, again, is a palisade; beyond which, over bridge and moat and intervening apparatus, you perceive, on its trim terraces, the respectable old Schloss itself. A rectangular mass, not of vast proportions, with tower in the centre of it (tower for screw-stair, the general roadway of the House); and looking though weather-beaten yet weather-tight, and as dignified as it can. This is Wusterhausen; Friedrich Wilhelm's Hunting-seat from of old.
A dreadfully crowded place, says Wilhelmina, where you are stuffed into garrets, and have not room to turn. The terraces are of some magnitude, trimmed all round with a row of little clipped trees, one big lime-tree at each corner;—under one of these big lime-trees, aided by an awning: it is his Majesty's delight to spread his frugal but substantial dinner, four-and-twenty covers, at the stroke of 12, and so dine SUB DIO. If rain come on, says Wilhelmina, you are wet to mid-leg, the ground being hollow in that place,—and indeed in all weathers your situation every way, to a vehement young Princess's idea, is rather of the horrible sort. After dinner, his Majesty sleeps, stretched perhaps on some wooden settle or garden-chair, for about an hour; regardless of the flaming heat, under his awning or not; and we poor Princesses have to wait, praying all the Saints that they would resuscitate him soon. This is about 2 p.m.; happier Fritz is gone to his lessons, in the interim.
These four Terraces, this rectangular Schloss with the four big lindens at the corners, are surrounded by a Moat; black abominable ditch, Wilhelmina calls it; of the hue of Tartarean Styx, and of a far worse smell, in fact enough to choke one, in hot days after dinner, thinks the vehement Princess. Three Bridges cross this Moat or ditch, from the middle of three several Terraces or sides of the Schloss; and on the fourth it is impassable. Bridge first, coming from the palisade and Office-house Court, has not only human sentries walking at it; but two white Eagles perch near it, and two black ditto, symbols of the heraldic Prussian Eagle, screeching about in their littery way; item two black Bears, ugly as Sin, which are vicious wretches withal, and many times do passengers a mischief. As perhaps we shall see, on some occasion. This is Bridge first, leading to the Court and to the outer Highway; a King's gentleman, going to bed at night, has always to pass these Bears. Bridge second leads us southward to a common Mill which is near by; its clacking audible upon the common Stream of the region, and not unpleasant to his Majesty, among its meadows fringed with alders, in a country of mere and moor. Bridge third, directly opposite to Bridge first and its Bears, leads you to the Garden; whither Mamma, playing tocadille all day with her women, will not, or will not often enough, let us poor girls go. [Zollner, Briefe uber Schlesien (Berlin, 1792), i. 2, 3; Wilhelmina, i. 364, 365.]
Such is Wusterhausen, as delineated by a vehement Princess, some years hence,—who becomes at last intelligible, by study and the aid of our Silesian Tourist. It is not distinguished among Country Palaces: but the figure of Friedrich Wilhelm asleep there after dinner, regardless of the flaming sun (should he sleep too long and the shadow of his Linden quit him),—this is a sight which no other Palace in the world can match; this will long render Wusterhausen memorable to me. His Majesty, early always as the swallows, hunts, I should suppose, in the morning; dines and sleeps, we may perceive, till towards three, or later. His Official business he will not neglect, nor shirk the hours due to it; towards sunset there may be a walk or ride with Fritz, or Feekin and the womankind: and always, in the evening, his Majesty holds TABAGIE, TABAKS-COLLEGIUM (Smoking College, kind of Tobacco-Parliament, as we might name it), an Institution punctually attended to by his Majesty, of which we shall by and by speak more. At Wusterhausen his Majesty holds his Smoking Session mostly in the open air, oftenest "on the steps of the Great Fountain" (how arranged, as to seating and canvas-screening, I cannot say);—smokes there, with his Grumkows, Derschaus, Anhalt-Dessaus, and select Friends, in various slow talk; till Night kindle her mild starlights, shake down her dark curtains over all Countries, and admonish weary mortals that it is now bedtime.
Not much of the Picturesque in this autumnal life of our little Boy. But he has employments in abundance; and these make the permitted open air, under any terms, a delight. He can rove about with Duhan among the gorse and heath, and their wild summer tenantry winged and wingless. In the woodlands are wild swine, in the meres are fishes, otters; the drowsy Hamlets, scattered round, awaken in an interested manner at the sound of our pony-hoofs and dogs. Mittenwalde, where are shops, is within riding distance; we could even stretch to Kopenik, and visit in the big Schloss there, if Duhan were willing, and the cattle fresh. From some church-steeple or sand-knoll, it is to be hoped, some blue streak of the Lausitz Hills may be visible: the Sun and the Moon and the Heavenly Hosts, these full certainly are visible; and on an Earth which everywhere produces miracles of all kinds, from the daisy or heather-bell up to the man, one place is nearly equal to another for a brisk little Boy.
Fine Palaces, if Wusterhausen be a sorry one, are not wanting to our young Friend: whatsoever it is in the power of architecture and upholstery to do for him, may be considered withal as done. Wusterhausen is but a Hunting-lodge for some few Autumn weeks: the Berlin Palace and the Potsdam, grand buildings both, few Palaces in the world surpass them; and there, in one or the other of these, is our usual residence.—Little Fritz, besides his young Finkensteins and others of the like, has Cousins, children of his Grandfather's Half-brothers, who are comrades of his. For the Great Elector, as we saw, was twice wedded, and had a second set of sons and daughters: two of the sons had children; certain of these are about the Crown-Prince's own age, "Cousins" of his (strictly speaking, Half-cousins of HIS FATHER'S), who are much about him in his young days,—and more or less afterwards, according to the worth they proved to have. Margraves and Margravines of Schwedt,—there are five or six of such young Cousins. Not to mention the eldest, Friedrich Wilhelm by name, who is now come to manhood (born 1700);—who wished much in after years to have had Wilhelmina to wife; but had to put up with a younger Princess of the House, and ought to have been thankful. This one has a younger Brother, Heinrich, slightly Fritz's senior, and much his comrade at one time; of whom we shall transiently hear again. Of these two the Old Dessauer is Uncle: if both his Majesty and the Crown-Prince should die, one of these would be king. A circumstance which Wilhelmina and the Queen have laid well to heart, and build many wild suspicions upon, in these years! As that the Old Dessauer, with his gunpowder face, has a plot one day to assassinate his Majesty,—plot evident as sunlight to Wilhelmina and Mamma, which providentially came to nothing;—and other spectral notions of theirs. [Wilhelmina, i. 35, 41.] The Father of these two Margraves (elder of the two Half-brothers that have children) died in the time of Old King Friedrich, eight or nine years ago. Their Mother, the scheming old Margravine, whom I always fancy to dress in high colors, is still living,—as Wilhelmina well knows!
Then, by another, the younger of those old Half-brothers, there is a Karl, a second Friedrich Wilhelm, Cousin Margraves: plenty of Cousins;—and two young Margravines among them, [Michaelis, i. 425.] the youngest about Fritz's own age. [NOTE OF THE COUSIN MARGRAVES.—Great Elector, by his Second Wife, had five Sons, two of whom left Children;]—as follows (so far as they concern us,—he others omitted):— 1. Son PHILIP'S Children (Mother the Old Dessauer's Sister) are: Friedrich Wilhelm (1700), who wished much, but in vain, to marry Wilhelmina. Heinrich Friedrich (1709), a comrade of Fritz's in youth; sometimes getting into scrapes;—misbehaved, some way, at the Battle of Molwits (first of Friedrich's Battles), 1741, and was inexorably CUT by the new King, and continued under a cloud thenceforth .—This PHILIP ("Philip Wilhelm") died 1711, his forty-third year; Widow long survived him. 2. Son ALBERT'S Children (Mother a Courland Princess) are: Karl (1705); lived near Custrin; became a famed captain, in the Silesian Wars, under his Cousin. Friedrich (1701); fell at Molwitz, 1741. Friedrich Wilhelm (a Margraf Friedrich Wilhelm "No. 2,"—NAMESAKE of his now Majesty, it is like); born 1714; killed at Prag, by a cannon-shot (at King Friedrich's hand, reconnoitring the place), 1744.—[This ALBERT ("Albert Friedrich" ) died suddenly 1731, age fifty-nine.] No want of Cousins; the Crown-Prince seeing much of them all; and learning pleasantly their various qualities, which were good in most, in some not so good, and did not turn out supreme in any case. But, for the rest, Sister Wilhelmina is his grand confederate and companion; true in sport and in earnest, in joy and in sorrow. Their truthful love to one another, now and till death, is probably the brightest element their life yielded to either of them.
What might be the date of Fritz's first appearance in the Roucoulles "Soiree held on Wednesdays," in the Finkenstein or any other Soiree, as an independent figure, I do not know. But at the proper time, he does appear there, and with distinction not extrinsic alone;—talks delightfully in such places; can discuss, even with French Divines, in a charmingly ingenious manner. Another of his elderly consorts I must mention: Colonel Camas, a highly cultivated Frenchman (French altogether by parentage and breeding, though born on Prussian land), who was Tutor, at one time, to some of those young Margraves. He has lost an arm,—left it in those Italian Campaigns, under Anhalt-Dessau and Eugene;—but by the aid of a cork substitute, dexterously managed, almost hides the want. A gallant soldier, fit for the diplomacies too; a man of fine high ways. [Militair-Lexicon, i. 308.] And then his Wife—In fact, the Camas House, we perceive, had from an early time been one of the Crown-Prince's haunts. Madam Camas is a German Lady; but for genial elegance, for wit and wisdom and goodness, could not readily be paralleled in France or elsewhere. Of both these Camases there will be honorable and important mention by and by; especially of the Lady, whom he continues to call "Mamma" for fifty years to come, and corresponds with in a very beautiful and human fashion.
Under these auspices, in such environment, dimly visible to us, at Wusterhausen and elsewhere, is the remarkable little Crown-Prince of his century growing up,—prosperously as yet.
Chapter X. — THE HEIDELBERG PROTESTANTS.
Friedrich Wilhelm holds Tabagie nightly; but at Wusterhausen or wherever he may be, there is no lack of intricate Official Labor, which, even in the Tabagie, Friedrich Wilhelm does not forget. At the time he was concocting those Instructions for his little Prince's Schoolmasters, and smoking meditative under the stars, with Magdeburg "RITTER-DIENST" and much else of his own to think of,—there is an extraneous Political Intricacy, making noise enough in the world, much in his thoughts withal, and no doubt occasionally murmured of amid the tobacco-clouds. The Business of the Heidelberg Protestants; which is just coming to a height in those Autumn months of 1719.
Indeed this Year 1719 was a particularly noisy one for him. This is the year of the "nephritic colic," which befell at Brandenburg on some journey of his Majesty's; with alarm of immediate death; Queen Sophie sent for by express; testament made in her favor; and intrigues, very black ones, Wilhelmina thinks, following thereupon. [Memoires de Bareith, i. 26-29.] And the "Affair of Clement," on which the old Books are so profuse, falls likewise, the crisis of it falls, in 1719. Of Clement the "Hungarian Nobleman," who was a mere Hungarian Swindler, and Forger of Royal Letters; sowing mere discords, black suspicions, between Friedrich Wilhelm and the neighboring Courts, Imperial and Saxon: "Your Majesty to be snapt up, some day, by hired ruffians, and spirited away, for behoof of those treacherous Courts:" so that Friedrich Wilhelm fell into a gloom of melancholy, and for long weeks "never slept but with a pair of loaded pistols under his pillow:"—of this Clement, an adroit Phenomenon of the kind, and intensely agitating to Friedrich Wilhelm;—whom Friedrich Wilhelm had at last to lay hold of, try, this very year, and ultimately hang, [Had arrived in Berlin, "end of 1717;" stayed about a year, often privately in the King's company, poisoning the royal mind; withdrew to the Hague, suspecting Berlin might soon grow dangerous;—is wiled out of that Territory into the Prussian, and arrested, by one of Friedrich Wilhelm's Colonels, "end of 1718;" lies in Spandau, getting tried, for seventeen months; hanged, with two Accomplices, 18th April, 1720. (See, in succession, Stenzel, iii. 298, 302; Fassmann, p. 321; Forster, ii. 272, and iii. 320-324.)] amid the rumor and wonder of mankind:—of him, noisy as he was, and still filling many pages of the old Books, a hint shall suffice, and we will say nothing farther. But this of the Heidelberg Protestants, though also rather an extinct business, has still some claims on us. This, in justice to the "inarticulate man of genius," and for other reasons, we must endeavor to resuscitate a little.
OF KUR-PFALZ KARL PHILIP: HOW HE GOT A WIFE LONG SINCE, AND DID FEATS IN THE WORLD.
There reigns, in these years, at Heidelberg, as Elector Palatine, a kind-tempered but abrupt and somewhat unreasonable old gentleman, now verging towards sixty, Karl Philip by name; who has come athwart the Berlin Court and its affairs more than once; and will again do so, in a singularly disturbing way. From before Friedrich Wilhelm's birth, all through Friedrich Wilhelm's life and farther, this Karl Philip is a stone-of-stumbling there. His first feat in life was that of running off with a Prussian Princess from Berlin; the rumor of which was still at its height when Friedrich Wilhelm, a fortnight after, came into the world,—the gossips still talking of it, we may fancy, when Friedrich Wilhelm was first swaddled. An unheard-of thing; the manner of which was this.
Readers have perhaps forgotten, that old King Friedrich I. once had a Brother; elder Brother, who died, to the Father's great sorrow, and made way for Friedrich as Crown-Prince. This Brother had been married a short time; he left a Widow without children; a beautiful Lithuanian Princess, born Radzivil, and of great possessions in her own country: she, in her crapes and close-cap, remained an ornament to the new Berlin Court for some time;—not too long. The mourning-year once out, a new marriage came on foot for the brilliant widow; the Bridegroom, a James Sobieski, eldest Prince of the famous John, King Sobieski; Prince with fair outlooks towards Polish Sovereignty, and handy for those Lithuanian Possessions of hers: altogether an eligible match.
This marriage was on foot, not quite completed; when Karl Philip, Cadet of the Pfalz, came to Berlin;—a rather idle young man, once in the clerical way; now gone into the military, with secular outlooks, his elder Brother, Heir-Apparent of the Pfalz, "having no children:"—came to Berlin, in the course of visiting, and roving about. The beautiful Widow-Princess seemed very charming to Karl Philip; he wooed hard; threw the Princess into great perplexity. She had given her Yes to James Sobieski; inevitable wedding-day was coming on with James; and here was Karl Philip wooing so:—in brief, the result was, she galloped off with Karl Philip, on the eve of said wedding-day; married Karl Philip (24th July, 1688); and left Prince James standing there, too much like Lot's Wife, in the astonished Court of Berlin. [Michaelis, ii. 93.] Judge if the Berlin public talked,—unintelligible to Friedrioh Wilhelm, then safe in swaddling-clothes.
King Sobieski, the Father, famed Deliverer of Vienna, was in high dudgeon. But Karl Philip apologized, to all lengths; made his peace at last, giving a Sister of his own to be Wife to the injured James. This was Karl Philip's first outbreak in life; and it was not his only one. A man not ill-disposed, all grant; but evidently of headlong turn, with a tendency to leap fences in this world. He has since been soldiering about, in a loose way, governing Innspruck, fighting the Turks. But, lately, his elder Brother died childless (year 1716); and left him Kurfurst of the Pfalz. His fair Radzivil is dead long ago; she, and a successor, or it may be two. Except one Daughter, whom the fair Radzivil left him, he has no children; and in these times, I think, lives with a third Wife, of the LEFT-HAND kind.
His scarcity of progeny is not so indifferent to my readers as they might suppose. This new KUR-PFALZ (Elector-Palatine) Karl Philip is by genealogy—who, thinks the reader? Pfalz-NEUBURG by line; own Grandson of that Wolfgang Wilhelm, who got the slap on the face long since, on account of the Cleve-Julich matter! So it has come round. The Line of Simmern died out, Winter-King's Grandson the last of that; and then, as right was, the Line of Neuburg took the top place, and became Kur-Pfalz. The first of these was this Karl Philip's Father, son of the Beslapped; an old man when he succeeded. Karl Philip is the third Kur-Pfalz of the Neuburg Line; his childless elder Brother (he who collected the Pictures at Dusseldorf, once notable there) was second of the Neuburgs. They now, we say, are Electors-Palatine, Head of the House;—and, we need not add, along with their Electorate and Neuburg Country, possess the Cleve-Julioh Moiety of Heritage, about which there was such worrying in time past. Nay the last Kur-Pfalz resided there, and collected the "Dusseldorf Gallery," as we have just said; though Karl Philip prefers Heidelberg hitherto.
To Friedrich Wilhelm the scarcity of progeny is a thrice-interesting fact. For if this actual Neuburg should leave no male heir, as is now humanly probable,—the Line of Neuburg too is out; and then great things ought to follow for our Prussian House. Then, by the last Bargain, made in 1666, with all solemnity, between the Great Elector, our Grandfather of famous memory, and your serene Father the then Pfalz-Neuburg, subsequently Kur-Pfalz, likewise of famous memory, son of the Beslapped,—the whole Heritage falls to Prussia, no other Pfalz Branch having thenceforth the least claim to it. Bargain was express; signed, sealed, sanctioned, drawn out on the due extent of sheepskin, which can still be read. Bargain clear enough: but will this Karl Philip incline to keep it?
That may one day be the interesting question. But that is not the question of controversy at present: not that, but another; for Karl Philip, it would seem, is to be a frequent stone-of-stumbling to the Prussian House. The present question is of a Protestant-Papist matter; into which Friedrich Wilhelm has been drawn by his public spirit alone.
KARL PHILIP AND HIS HEIDELBERG PROTESTANTS.
The Pfalz population was, from of old, Protestant-Calvinist; the Electors-Palatine used to be distinguished for their forwardness in that matter. So it still is with the Pfalz population; but with the Electors, now that the House of Simmern is out, and that of Neuburg in, it is not so. The Neuburgs, ever since that slap, on the face, have continued Popish; a sore fact for this Protestant population, when it got them for Sovereigns. Karl Philip's Father, an old soldier at Vienna, and the elder Brother, a collector of Pictures at Dusseldorf, did not outwardly much molest the creed of their subjects. Protestants, and the remnant of Catholics (remnant naturally rather expanding now that the Court shone on it), were allowed to live in peace, according to the Treaty of Westphalia, or nearly so; dividing the churches and church-revenues equitably between them, as directed there. But now that Karl Philip is come in, there is no mistaking his procedures. He has come home to Heidelberg with a retinue of Jesuits about him; to whom the poor old gentleman, looking before and after on this troublous world, finds it salutary to give ear.
His nibblings at Protestant rights, his contrivances to slide Catholics into churches which were not theirs, and the like foul-play in that matter, had been sorrowful to see, for some time past. The Elector of Mainz, Chief-Priest of Germany, is busy in the same bad direction; he and others. Indeed, ever since the Peace of Ryswick, where Louis XIV. surreptitiously introduced a certain "Clause," which could never be got rid of again, ["CLAUSE OF THE FOURTH ARTICLE" is the technical name of it. FOURTH ARTICLE stipulates that King Louis XIV. shall punctually restore all manner of towns and places, in the Palatinate &c. (much BURNT, somewhat BE-JESUITED too, in late Wars, by the said King, during his occupancy): CLAUSE OF FOURTH ARTICLE (added to it, by a quirk, "at midnight," say the Books) contains merely these words, "Religione tamen Catholica Romana, in locis sic restitutis, in statu quo nunc est remanente: Roman-Catholic religion to continue as it now is [as WE have made it to be] in such towns and places."—Which CLAUSE gave rise to very great but ineffectual lamenting and debating. (Scholl, Traites de Paix (Par. 1817), i. 433-438; Buchholz; Spittler, Geschichte Wurtembergs; &c).] nibbling aggressions of this kind have gone on more and more. Always too sluggishly resisted by the CORPUS EVANGELICORUM, in the Diets or otherwise, the "United Protestant Sovereigns" not being an active "Body" there. And now more sluggishly than ever;—said CORPUS having August Elector of Saxony, Catholic (Sham-Catholic) King of Poland, for its Official Head; "August the Physically Strong," a man highly unconcerned for matters Evangelical! So that the nibblings go on worse and worse. An offence to all Protestant Rulers who had any conscience; at length an unbearable on to Friedrich Wilhelm, who, alone of them all, decided to intervene effectually, and say, at whatever risk there might be, We will not stand it!
Karl Philip, after some nibblings, took up the Heidelberg Catechism (which candidly calls the Mass "idolatrous"), and ordered said Catechism, an Authorized Book, to cease in his dominions. Hessen-Cassel, a Protestant neighbor, pleaded, remonstrated, Friedrich Wilhelm glooming in the rear; but to no purpose. Our old gentleman, his Priests being very diligent upon him, decided next to get possession of the HEILIGE-GEIST KIRCHE (Church of the Holy Ghost, principal Place of Worship at Heidelberg), and make it his principal Cathedral Church there. By Treaty of Westphalia, or peaceably otherwise, the Catholics are already in possession of the Choir: but the whole Church would be so much better. "Was it not Catholic once?" thought Karl Philip to himself: "built by our noble Ancestor Kaiser Rupert of the Pfalz, Rupert KLEMM ['Pincers,' so named for his firmness of mind]:—why should these Heretics have it? I will build them another!" These thoughts, in 1719, the third year of Karl Philip's rule, had broken out into open action (29th August, 4th September the consummation of it) [Mauvillon, i. 340-345.] and precisely in the ime when Friedrich Wilhelm was penning that first Didactic Morsel which we read, grave clouds from the Palatinate were beginning to overshadow the royal mind more or less.
For the poor Heidelberg Consistorium, as they could not undertake to give up their Church on request of his Serenity,—"How dare we, or can we?" answered they,—had been driven out by compulsion and stratagem. Partly strategic was the plan adopted, to avoid violence; smith's picklocks being employed, and also mason's crowbars: but the end was, On the 31st of August, 1719, Consistorium and Congregation found themselves fairly in the street, and the HEILIGE-GEIST KIRCHE clean gone from them. Screen of the Choir is torn down; one big Catholic edifice now; getting decorated into a Court Church, where Serene Highness may feel his mind comfortable.
The poor Heidelbergers, thus thrown into the street, made applications, lamentations; but with small prospect of help: to whom apply with any sure prospect? Remonstrances from Hessen-Cassel have proved unavailing with his bigoted Serene Highness. CORPS EVANGELICORUM, so presided over as at present, what can be had of such a Corpus? Long-winded lucubrations at the utmost; real action, in such a matter; none. Or will the Kaiser, his Jesuits advising him, interfere to do us justice? Kur-Mainz and the rest;—it is everywhere one story. Everywhere unhappy Protestantism getting bad usage, and ever worse; and no Corpus Evangelicorum, or appointed Watchdog, doing other than hang its ears, and look sorry for itself and us!—
The Heidelbergers, however, had applied to Friedrich Wilhelm among others. Friedrich Wilhelm, who had long looked on these Anti-Protestant phenomena with increasing anger, found now that this of the Heidelberg Catechism and HEILIGE-GEIST KIRCHE was enough to make one's patience run over. Your unruly Catholic bull, plunging about, and goring men in that mad absurd manner, it will behoove that somebody take him by the horns, or by the tail, and teach him manners. Teach him, not by vocal precepts, it is likely, which would avail nothing on such a brute, but by practical cudgelling and scourging to the due pitch. Pacific Friedrich Wilhelm perceived that he himself would have to do that disagreeable feat:—the growl of him, on coming to such resolution, must have been consolatory to these poor Heidelbergers, when they applied!—His plan is very simple, as the plans of genius are; but a plan leading direct to the end desired, and probably the only one that would have done so, in the circumstances. Cudgel in hand, he takes the Catholic bull,—shall we say, by the horns?—more properly perhaps by the tail; and teaches him manners.
FRIEDRICH WILHELM'S METHOD;—PROVES REMEDIAL IN HEIDELBERG.
Friedrich Wilhelm's first step, of course, was to remonstrate pacifically with his Serene Highness on the Heidelberg-Church affair: from this he probably expected nothing; nor did he get anything. Getting nothing from this, and the countenance of external Protestant Powers, especially of George I. and the Dutch, being promised him in ulterior measures, he directed his Administrative Officials in Magdeburg, in Minden, in Hamersleben, where are Catholic Foundations of importance, to assemble the Catholic Canons, Abbots, chief Priests and all whom it might concern in these three Places, and to signify to them as follows:—
"From us, your Protestant Sovereign, you yourselves and all men will witness, you have hitherto had the best of usage, fair-play, according to the Laws of the REICH, and even-more. With the Protestants at Heidelberg, on the part of the Catholic Powers, it is different. It must cease to be different; it must become the same. And to make it do so, you are the implement I have. Sorry for it, but there is no other handy. From this day your Churches also are closed, your Public Worship ceases, and furthermore your Revenues cease; and all makes dead halt, and falls torpid in respect of you. From this day; and so continues, till the day (may it be soon!) when the Heidelberg Church of the Holy Ghost is opened again, and right done in that question. Be it yours to speed such day: it is you that can and will, you who know those high Catholic regions, inaccessible to your Protestant Sovereign. Till then you are as dead men; temporarily fallen dead for a purpose. And herewith God have you in his keeping!" [Mauvillon, i. 347, 349.]
That was Friedrich Wilhelm's plan; the simplest, but probably the one effectual plan. Infallible this plan, if you dare stand upon it; which Friedrich Wilhelm does. He has a formidable Army, ready for fight; a Treasury or Army-chest in good order. George I. seconds, according to bargain; shuts the Catholic Church at Zelle in his Luneburg Country, in like fashion; Dutch, too, and Swiss will endorse the matter, should it grow too serious. All which, involving some diplomacy and correspondence, is managed with the due promptitude, moreover. [Church of Zelle shut up, 4th November; Minden, 28th November; Monastery of Hamersleben, 3d December, &c. (Putter, Historische Entwickelung der hautigen Staatsverfassung des Teutschen Reichs, Gottingen, 1788, ii. 384, 390).] And so certain doors are locked; and Friedrich Wilhelm's word, unalterable as gravitation, has gone forth. In this manner is the mad Catholic bull taken by the TAIL: keep fast hold, and apply your cudgel duly in that attitude, he will not gore you any more!
The Magdeburg-Hamersleben people shrieked piteously; not to Friedrich Wilhelm, whom they knew to be deaf on that side of his head, but to the Kaiser, to the Pope, to the Serenity of Heidelberg. Serene Highness of Heidelberg was much huffed; Kaiser dreadfully so, and wrote heavy menacing rebukes. To which Friedrich Wilhelm listened with a minimum of reply; keeping firm hold of the tail, in such bellowing of the animal. The end was, Serene Highness had to comply; within three months, Kaiser, Serene Highness and the other parties interested, found that there would be nothing for it but to compose themselves, and do what was just. April 16th, 1720, the Protestants are reinstated in their HEILIGE-GEIST KIRCHE; Heidelberg Catechism goes its free course again, May 16th; and one Baron Reck [Michaelis, ii. 95; Putter, ii. 384, 390; Buchholz, pp. 61-63.] is appointed Commissioner, from the CORPUS EVANGELICORUM, to Heidelberg; who continues rigorously inspecting Church matters there for a considerable time, much to the grief of Highness and Jesuits, till he can report that all is as it should be on that head. Karl Philip felt so disgusted with these results, he removed his Court, that same year, to Mannheim; quitted Heidelberg; to the discouragement and visible decay of the place; and, in spite of humble petitions and remonstrances, never would return; neither he nor those that followed him would shift from Mannheim again, to this day.
PRUSSIAN MAJESTY HAS DISPLEASED THE KAISER AND THE KING OF POLAND.
Friedrich Wilhelm's praises from the Protestant public were great, on this occasion. Nor can we, who lie much farther from it in every sense, refuse him some grin of approval. Act, and manner of doing the act, are creditably of a piece with Friedrich Wilhelm; physiognomic of the rugged veracious man. It is one of several such acts done by him: for it was a duty apt to recur in Germany, in his day. This duty Friedrich Wilhelm, a solid Protestant after his sort, and convinced of the "nothingness and nonsensicality (UNGRUND UND ABSURDITAT) of Papistry," was always honorably prompt to do. There is an honest bacon-and-greens conscience in the man; almost the one conscience you can find in any royal man of that day. Promptly, without tremulous counting of costs, he always starts up, solid as oak, on the occurrence of such a thing, and says, "That is unjust; contrary to the Treaty of Westphalia; you will have to put down that!"—And if words avail not, his plan is always the same: Clap a similar thumbscrew, pressure equitably calculated, on the Catholics of Prussia; these can complain to their Popes and Jesuit Dignitaries: these are under thumbscrew till the Protestant pressure be removed. Which always did rectify the matter in a little time. One other of these instances, that of the Salzburg Protestants, the last such instance, as this of Heidelberg was the first, will by and by claim notice from us.
It is very observable, how Friedrich Wilhelm, hating quarrels, was ever ready to turn out for quarrel on such an occasion; though otherwise conspicuously a King who stayed well at home, looking after his own affairs; meddling with no neighbor that would be at peace with him. This properly is Friedrich Wilhelm's "sphere of political activity" among his contemporaries; this small quasi-domestic sphere, of forbidding injury to Protestants. A most small sphere, but then a genuine one: nor did he seek even this, had it not forced itself upon him. And truly we might ask, What has become of the other more considerable "spheres" in that epoch? The supremest loud-trumpeting "political activities" which then filled the world and its newspapers, what has the upshot of them universally been? Zero, and oblivion; no other. While this poor Friedrich-Wilhelm sphere is perhaps still a countable quantity. Wise is he who stays well at home, and does the duty he finds lying there!—
Great favor from the Protestant public: but, on the other hand, his Majesty had given offence in high places. What help for it? The thing was a point of conscience with him; natural to the surly Royal Overseer, going his rounds in the world, stick in hand! However, the Kaiser was altogether gloomy of brow at such disobedience. A Kaiser unfriendly to Friedrich Wilhelm: witness that of the RITTER-DIENST (our unreasonable Magdeburg Ritters, countenanced by him, on such terms, in such style too), and other offensive instances that could be given. Perhaps the Kaiser will not always continue gloomy of brow; perhaps the thoughts of the Imperial breast may alter, on our behalf or his own, one day?—
Nor could King August the Physically Strong be glad to see his "Director" function virtually superseded, in this triumphant way. A year or two ago, Friedrich Wilhelm had, with the due cautions and politic reserves, inquired of the CORPUS EVANGELICORUM, "If they thought the present Directorship (that of August the Physically Strong) a good one?" and "Whether he, Friedrich Wilhelm, ought not perhaps himself to be Director?"—To which, though the answer was clear as noonday, this poor Corpus had only mumbled some "QUIETA NON MOVERE," or other wise-foolish saw; and helplessly shrugged its shoulders. [1717-1719, when August's KURPRINZ, Heir-Apparent, likewise declared himself Papist, to the horror and astonishment of poor Saxony, and wedded the late Kaiser Joseph's Daughter:—not to Father August's horror; who was steering towards "popularity in Poland," "hereditary Polish Crown," &c. with the young man. (Buchholz, i. 53-56.)] But King August himself,—though a jovial social kind of animal, quite otherwise occupied in the world; busy producing his three hundred and fifty-four Bastards there, and not careful of Church matters at all,—had expressed his indignant surprise. And now, it would seem nevertheless, though the title remains where it was, the function has fallen to another, who actually does it: a thing to provoke comparisons in the public.
Clement, the Hungarian forger, vender of false state-secrets, is well hanged; went to the gallows (18th April, 1720) with much circumstance, just two days before that Heidelberg Church was got reopened. But the suspicions sown by Clement cannot quite be abolished by the hanging of him: Forger indisputably; but who knows whether he had not something of fact for his? What with Clement, what with this Heidelberg business, the Court of Berlin has fallen wrong with Dresden, with Vienna itself, and important clouds have risen.
There is an absurd Flame of War, blown out by Admiral Byng; and a new Man of Genius announces himself to the dim Populations.
The poor Kaiser himself is otherwise in trouble of his own, at this time. The Spaniards and he have fallen out, in spite of Utrecht Treaty and Rastadt ditto; the Spaniards have taken Sicily from him; and precisely in those days while Karl Philip took to shutting up the HEILIGE-GEIST Church at Heidelberg, there was, loud enough in all the Newspapers, silent as it now is, a "Siege of Messina" going on; Imperial and Piedmontese troops doing duty by land, Admiral Byng still more effectively by sea, for the purpose of getting Sicily back. Which was achieved by and by, though at an extremely languid pace. [Byng's Sea-fight, 10th August, 1718 (Campbell's Lives of the Admirals, iii. 468); whereupon the Spaniards, who had hardly yet completed their capture of Messina, are besieged in it;—29th October, 1719, Messina retaken (this is the "Siege of Messina"): February, 1720, Peace is clapt up (the chief article, that Alberoni shall be packed away), and a "Congress of Cambrai" is to meet, and settle everything.] One of the most tedious Sieges; one of the paltriest languid Wars (of extreme virulence and extreme feebleness, neither party having any cash left), and for an object which could not be excelled in insignificance. Object highly interesting to Kaiser Karl VI. and Elizabeth Farnese Termagant Queen of Spain. These two were red, or even were pale, with interest in it; and to the rest of Adam's Posterity it was not intrinsically worth an ounce of gunpowder, many tons of that and of better commodities as they had to spend upon it. True, the Spanish Navy got well lamed in the business; Spanish Fleet blown mostly to destruction,—"Roads of Messina, 10th August, 1718," by the dexterous Byng (a creditable handy figure both in Peace and War) and his considerable Sea-fight there:—if that was an object to Spain or mankind, that was accomplished. But the "War," except that many men were killed in it, and much vain babble was uttered upon it, ranks otherwise with that of Don Quixote, for conquest of the enchanted Helmet of Mambrino, which when looked into proved to be a Barber's Basin.
Congress of Cambrai, and other high Gatherings and convulsive Doings, which all proved futile, and look almost like Lapland witchcraft now to us, will have to follow this futility of a War. It is the first of a long series of enchanted adventures, on which Kaiser Karl,—duelling with that Spanish Virago, Satan's Invisible World in the rear of her,—has now embarked, to the woe of mankind, for the rest of his life. The first of those terrifico-ludicrous paroxysms of crisis into which he throws the European Universe; he with his Enchanted Barber's-Basin enterprises;—as perhaps was fit enough, in an epoch presided over by the Nightmares. Congress of Cambrai is to follow; and much else equally spectral. About all which there will be enough to say anon! For it was a fearful operation, though a ludicrous one, this of the poor Kaiser; and it tormented not the big Nations only, and threw an absurd Europe into paroxysm after paroxysm; but it whirled up, in its wide-weeping skirts, our little Fritz and his Sister, and almost dashed the lives out of them, as we shall see! Which last is perhaps the one claim it now has to a cursory mention from mankind.
Byng's Sea-fight, done with due dexterity of manoeuvring, and then with due emphasis of broadsiding, decisive of that absurd War, and almost the one creditable action in it, dates itself 10th August, 1718. And about three months later, on the mimic stage at Paris there came out a piece, OEDIPE the title of it, [18th November, 1718.] by one Francois Arouet, a young gentleman about twenty-two; and had such a run as seldom was;—apprising the French Populations that, to all appearance, a new man of genius had appeared among them (not intimating what work he would do); and greatly angering old M. Arouet of the Chamber of Accouuts; who thereby found his Son as good as cast into the whirlpools, and a solid Law-career thenceforth impossible for the young fool.—The name of that "M. Arouet junior" changes itself, some years hence, into M. DE VOLTAIRE; under which latter designation he will conspicuously reappear in this Narrative.
And now we will go to our little Crown-Prince again;—ignorant, he, of all this that is mounting up in the distance, and that it will envelop him one day.
Chapter XI. — ON THE CROWN-PRINCE'S PROGRESS IN HIS SCHOOLING.
Wilhelmina says, [Memoires, i. 22.] her Brother was "slow" in learning: we may presume, she means idle, volatile, not always prompt in fixing his attention to what did not interest him. Moreover, he was often weakly in health, as she herself adds; so that exertion was not recommendable for him. Herr von Loen (a witty Prussian Official, and famed man-of-letters once, though forgotten now) testifies expressly that the Boy was of bright parts, and that he made rapid progress. "The Crown-Prince manifests in this tender age [his seventh year] an uncommon capacity; nay we may say, something quite extraordinary (etwas ganz Ausserordentliches). He is a most alert and vivacious Prince; he has fine and sprightly manners; and shows a certain kindly sociality, and so affectionate a disposition that all things may be hoped of him. The French Lady who [under Roucoulles] has had charge of his learning hitherto, cannot speak of him without enthusiasm. 'C'est un esprit ange'lique (a little angel),' she is wont to say. He takes up, and learns, whatever is put before him, with the greatest facility." [Van Loen, Kleine Schriften, ii. 27 (as cited in Rodenbeck, No. iv. 479).]
For the rest, that Friedrich Wilhelm's intentions and Rhadamanthine regulations, in regard to him, were fulfilled in every point, we will by no means affirm. Rules of such exceeding preciseness, if grounded here and there only on the SIC-VOLO, how could they be always kept, except on the surface and to the eye merely? The good Duhan, diligent to open his pupil's mind, and give Nature fair-play, had practically found it inexpedient to tie him too rigorously to the arbitrary formal departments where no natural curiosity, but only order from without, urges the ingenious pupil. What maximum strictness in school-drill there can have been, we may infer from one thing, were there no other: the ingenious Pupil's mode of SPELLING. Fritz learned to write a fine, free-flowing, rapid and legible business-hand; "Arithmetic" too, "Geography," and many other Useful Knowledges that had some geniality of character, or attractiveness in practice, were among his acquisitions; much, very much he learned in the course of his life; but to SPELL, much more to punctuate, and subdue the higher mysteries of Grammar to himself, was always an unachievable perfection. He did improve somewhat in after life; but here is the length to which he had carried that necessary art in the course of nine years' exertion, under Duhan and the subsidiary preceptors; it is in the following words and alphabetic letters that he gratefully bids Duhan farewell,—who surely cannot have been a very strict drill-sergeant in the arbitrary branches of schooling!
"Mon cher Duhan Je Vous promais (PROMETS) que quand j'aurez (J'AURAI) mon propre argent en main, je Vous donnerez (DONNERAI) enuelement (ANNUELLEMENT) 2400 ecu (ECUS) par an, et je vous aimerais (AIMERAI) toujour encor (TOUJORS ENCORE) un peu plus q'asteure (QU'A CETTE HEURE) s'il me l'est (M'EST) posible (POSSIBLE)."
"MY DEAR DUHAN,—I promise to you, that when I shall have my money in my own hands, I will give you annually 2400 crowns [say 350 pounds] EVERY YEAR; and that I will love you always even a little more than at present, if that be possible.
"FRIDERIC P.R. [Prince-Royal]."
"POTSDAM, le 20 de juin, 1727." [Preuss, i. 22.]
The Document has otherwise its beauty; but such is the spelling of it. In fact his Grammar, as he would himself now and then regretfully discern, in riper years, with some transient attempt or resolution to remedy or help it, seems to have come mainly by nature; so likewise his "STYLUS" both in French and German,—a very fair style, too, in the former dialect:—but as to his spelling, let him try as he liked, he never came within sight of perfection.
The things ordered with such rigorous minuteness, if but arbitrary things, were apt to be neglected; the things forbidden, especially in the like case, were apt to become doubly tempting. It appears, the prohibition of Latin gave rise to various attempts, on the part of Friedrich, to attain that desirable Language. Secret lessons, not from Duhan, but no doubt with Duhan's connivance, were from time to time undertaken with this view: once, it is recorded, the vigilant Friedrich Wilhelm, going his rounds, came upon Fritz and one of his Preceptors (not Duhan but a subaltern) actually engaged in this illicit employment. Friedrich himself was wont to relate this anecdote in after life. [Busching, Beitrage zu der Lebensgeschichte denkwurdiger Personen, v. 33. Preuss, i. 24.] They had Latin books, dictionaries, grammars on the table, all the contraband apparatus; busy with it there, like a pair of coiners taken in the fact. Among other Books was a copy of the Golden Bull of Kaiser Karl IV.,—Aurea Bulla, from the little golden BULLETS or pellets hung to it,—by which sublime Document, as perhaps we hinted long ago, certain so-called Fundamental Constitutions, or at least formalities and solemn practices, method of election, rule of precedence, and the like, of the Holy Roman Empire, had at last been settled on a sure footing, by that busy little Kaiser, some three hundred and fifty years before; a Document venerable almost next to the Bible in Friedrich Wilhelm's loyal eyes, "What is this; what are you venturing upon here?" exclaims Paternal Vigilance, in an astonished dangerous tone. "Ihro Majestat, ich explicire dem Prinzen Auream Bullam," exclaimed the trembling pedagogue: "Your Majesty, I am explaining AUREA BULLA [Golden Bull] to the Prince!"—"Dog, I will Golden-Bull you!" said his Majesty, flourishing his rattan, "Ich will dich, Schurke, be-auream-bullam!" which sent the terrified wretch off at the top of his speed, and ended the Latin for that time. [Forster, i. 356.]
Friedrich's Latin could never come to much, under these impediments. But he retained some smatterings of it in mature life; and was rather fond of producing his classical scraps,—often in an altogether mouldy, and indeed hitherto inexplicable condition. "De gustibus non est disputandus," "Beati possEdentes," "CompIlle intrare," "BeatUS pauperes spiritus;" the meaning of these can be guessed: but "Tot verbas tot spondera," for example,—what can any commentator make of that? "Festina lente," "Dominus vobiscum," "Flectamus genua," "Quod bene notandum;" these phrases too, and some three or four others of the like, have been riddled from his Writings by diligent men: [Preuss (i. 24) furnishes the whole stock of them.] "O tempora, O mores! You see, I don't forget my Latin," writes he once.
The worst fruit of these contraband operations was, that they involved the Boy in clandestine practices, secret disobediences, apt to be found out from time to time, and tended to alienate his Father from him. Of which sad mutual humor we already find traces in that early Wusterhausen Document: "Not to be so dirty," says the reproving Father. And the Boy does not take to hunting at all, likes verses, story-books, flute-playing better; seems to be of effeminate tendencies, an EFFEMINIRTER KERL; affects French modes, combs out his hair like a cockatoo, the foolish French fop, instead of conforming to the Army-regulation, which prescribes close-cropping and a club!
This latter grievance Friedrich Wilhelm decided, at last, to abate, and have done with; this, for one. It is an authentic fact, though not dated,—dating perhaps from about Fritz's fifteenth year. "Fritz is a QUERPFEIFER UND POET," not a Soldier! would his indignant Father growl; looking at those foreign effeminate ways of his. QUERPFEIFE, that is simply "German-flute," "CROSS-PIPE" (or FIFE of any kind, for we English have thriftily made two useful words out of the Deutsch root); "Cross-pipe," being held across the mouth horizontally. Worthless employment, if you are not born to be of the regimental band! thinks Friedrich Wilhelm. Fritz is celebrated, too, for his fine foot; a dapper little fellow, altogether pretty in the eyes of simple female courtiers, with his blond locks combed out at the temples, with his bright eyes, sharp wit, and sparkling capricious ways. The cockatoo locks, these at least we will abate! decides the Paternal mind.
And so, unexpectedly, Friedrich Wilhelm has commanded these bright locks, as contrary to military fashion, of which Fritz has now unworthily the honor of being a specimen, to be ruthlessly shorn away. Inexorable: the HOF-CHIRURGUS (Court-Surgeon, of the nature of Barber-Surgeon), with scissors and comb, is here; ruthless Father standing by. Crop him, my jolly Barber; close down to the accurate standard; soaped club, instead of flowing locks; we suffer no exceptions in this military department: I stand here till it is done. Poor Fritz, they say, had tears in his eyes; but what help in tears? The judicious Chirurgus, however, proved merciful. The judicious Chirurgus struck in as if nothing loath, snack, snack; and made a great show of clipping. Friedrich Wilhelm took a newspaper till the job were done; the judicious Barber, still making a great show of work, combed back rather than cut off these Apollo locks; did Fritz accurately into soaped club, to the cursory eye; but left him capable of shaking out his chevelure again on occasion,—to the lasting gratitude of Fritz. [Preuss, i. 16.]
THE NOLTENIUS-AND-PANZENDORF DRILL-EXERCISE.
On the whole, as we said, a youth needs good assimilating power, if he is to grow in this world! Noltenius aud Panzendorf, for instance, they were busy "teaching Friedrich religion." Rather a strange operation this too, if we were to look into it. We will not look too closely. Another pair of excellent most solemn drill-sergeants, in clerical black serge; they also are busy instilling dark doctrines into the bright young Boy, so far as possible; but do not seem at any time to have made too deep an impression on him. May we not say that, in matter of religion too, Friedrich was but ill-bested? Enlightened Edict-of-Nantes Protestantism, a cross between Bayle and Calvin: that was but indifferent babe's milk to the little creature. Nor could Noltenius's Catechism, and ponderous drill-exercise in orthodox theology, much inspire a clear soul with pieties, and tendencies to soar Heavenward.
Alas, it is a dreary litter indeed, mere wagon-load on wagon-load of shot-rubbish, that is heaped round this new human plant, by Noltenius and Company, among others. A wonder only that they did not extinguish all Sense of the Highest in the poor young soul, and leave only a Sense of the Dreariest and Stupidest. But a healthy human soul can stand a great deal. The healthy soul shakes off, in an unexpectedly victorious manner, immense masses of dry rubbish that have been shot upon it by its assiduous pedagogues and professors. What would become of any of us otherwise! Duhan, opening the young soul, by such modest gift as Duhan had, to recognize black from white a little, in this embroiled high Universe, is probably an exception in some small measure. But, Duhan excepted, it may be said to have been in spite of most of his teachers, and their diligent endeavors, that Friedrich did acquire some human piety; kept the sense of truth alive in his mind; knew, in whatever words he phrased it, the divine eternal nature of Duty; and managed, in the muddiest element and most eclipsed Age ever known, to steer by the heavenly loadstars and (so we must candidly term it) to FOLLOW God's Law; in some measure, with or without Noltenius for company. Noltenius's CATECHISM, or ghostly Drill-manual for Fritz, at least the Catechism he had plied Wilhelmina with, which no doubt was the same, is still extant. [Preuss, i. 15;—specimens of it in Rodenbeck.] A very abstruse Piece; orthodox Lutheran-Calvinist, all proved from Scripture; giving what account it can of this unfathomable Universe, to the young mind. To modern Prussians it by no means shines as the indubitablest Theory of the Universe. Indignant modern Prussians produce excerpts from it, of an abstruse nature; and endeavor to deduce therefrom some of Friedrich's aberrations in matters of religion, which became notorious enough by and by. Alas, I fear, it would not have been easy, even for the modern Prussian, to produce a perfect Catechism for the use of Friedrich; this Universe still continues a little abstruse!
And there is another deeper thing to be remarked: the notion of "teaching" religion, in the way of drill-exercise; which is a very strange notion, though a common one, and not peculiar to Noltenius and Friedrich Wilhelm. Piety to God, the nobleness that inspires a human soul to struggle Heavenward, cannot be "taught" by the most exquisite catechisms, or the most industrious preachings and drillings. No; alas, no. Only by far other methods,—chiefly by silent continual Example, silently waiting for the favorable mood and moment, and aided then by a kind of miracle, well enough named "the grace of God,"—can that sacred contagion pass from soul into soul. How much beyond whole Libraries of orthodox Theology is, sometimes, the mute action, the unconscious look of a father, of a mother, who HAD in them "Devoutness, pious Nobleness"! In whom the young soul, not unobservant, though not consciously observing, came at length to recognize it; to read it, in this irrefragable manner: a seed planted thenceforth in the centre of his holiest affections forevermore!
Noltenius wore black serge; kept the corners of his mouth well down; and had written a Catechism of repute; but I know not that Noltenius carried much seed of living piety about with him; much affection from, or for, young Fritz he could not well carry. On the whole, it is a bad outlook on the religious side; and except in Apprenticeship to the rugged and as yet repulsive Honesties of Friedrich Wilhelm, I see no good element in it. Bayle-Calvin, with Noltenius and Catechisms of repute: there is no "religion" to be had for a little Fritz out of all that. Endless Doubt will be provided for him out of all that, probably disbelief of all that;—and, on the whole, if any form at all, a very scraggy form of moral existence; from which the Highest shall be hopelessly absent; and in which anything High, anything not Low and Lying, will have double merit.
It is indeed amazing what quantities and kinds of extinct ideas apply for belief, sometimes in a menacing manner, to the poor mind of man, and poor mind of child, in these days. They come bullying in upon him, in masses, as if they were quite living ideas; ideas of a dreadfully indispensable nature, the evident counterpart, and salutary interpretation, of Facts round him, which, it is promised the poor young creature, he SHALL recognize to correspond with them, one day. At which "correspondence," when the Facts are once well recognized, he has at last to ask himself with amazement, "Did I ever recognize it, then?" Whereby come results incalculable; not good results any of them;—some of them unspeakably bad! The ease of Crown-Prince Friedrich in Berlin is not singular; all cities and places can still show the like. And when it will end, is not yet clear. But that it ever should have begun, will one day be the astonishment. As if the divinest function of a human being were not even that of believing; of discriminating, with his God-given intellect, what is from what is not; and as if the point were, to render that either an impossible function, or else what we must sorrowfully call a revolutionary, rebellious and mutinous one. O Noltenius, O Panzendorf, do for pity's sake take away your Catechetical ware; and say either nothing to the poor young Boy, or some small thing he will find to be BEYOND doubt when he can judge of it! Fever, pestilence, are bad for the body; but Doubt, impious mutiny, doubly impious hypocrisy, are these nothing for the mind? Who would go about inculcating Doubt, unless he were far astray indeed, and much at a loss for employment!
But the sorest fact in Friedrich's schooling, the forest, for the present, though it ultimately proved perhaps the most beneficent one, being well dealt with by the young soul, and nobly subdued to his higher uses, remains still to be set forth. Which will be a long business, first and last!
Chapter XII. — CROWN-PRINCE FALLS INTO DISFAVOR WITH PAPA.
Those vivacities of young Fritz, his taste for music, finery, those furtive excursions into the domain of Latin and forbidden things, were distasteful and incomprehensible to Friedrich Wilhelm: Where can such things end? They begin in disobedience and intolerable perversity; they will be the ruin of Prussia and of Fritz!—Here, in fact, has a great sorrow risen. We perceive the first small cracks of incurable divisions in the royal household; the breaking out of fountains of bitterness, which by and by spread wide enough. A young sprightly, capricions and vivacious Boy, inclined to self-will, had it been permitted; developing himself into foreign tastes, into French airs and ways; very ill seen by the heavy-footed practical Germanic Majesty.
The beginnings of this sad discrepancy are traceable from Friedrich's sixth or seventh year: "Not so dirty, Boy!" And there could be no lack of growth in the mutual ill-humor, while the Boy himself continued growing; enlarging in bulk and in activity of his own. Plenty of new children come, to divide our regard withal, and more are coming; five new Princesses, wise little Ulrique the youngest of them (named of Sweden and the happy Swedish Treaty), whom we love much for her grave staid ways. Nay, next after Ulrique comes even a new Prince; August Wilhelm, ten years younger than Friedrich; and is growing up much more according to the paternal heart. Pretty children, all of them, more or less; and towardly, and comfortable to a Father;—and the worst of them a paragon of beauty, in comparison to perverse, clandestine, disobedient Fritz, with his French fopperies, flutings, and cockatoo fashions of hair!—
And so the silent divulsion, silent on Fritz's part, exploding loud enough now and then on his Father's part, goes steadily on, splitting ever wider; new offences ever superadding themselves. Till, at last, the rugged Father has grown to hate the son; and longs, with sorrowful indignation, that it were possible to make August Wilhelm Crown-Prince in his stead. This Fritz ought to fashion himself according to his Father's pattern, a well-meant honest pattern; and he does not! Alas, your Majesty, it cannot be. It is the new generation come; which cannot live quite as the old one did. A perennial controversy in human life; coeval with the genealogies of men. This little Boy should have been the excellent paternal Majesty's exact counterpart; resembling him at all points, "as a little sixpence does a big half-crown:" but we perceive he cannot. This is a new coin, with a stamp of its own. A surprising FRIEDRICH D'OR this; and may prove a good piece yet; but will never be the half-crown your Majesty requires!—
Conceive a rugged thick-sided Squire Western, of supreme degree,—or this Squire Western is a hot Hohenzollern, and wears a crown royal;—conceive such a burly NE-PLUS-ULTRA of a Squire, with his broad-based rectitudes and surly irrefragabilities; the honest German instincts of the man, convictions certain as the Fates, but capable of no utterance, or next to none, in words; and that he produces a Son who takes into Voltairism, piping, fiddling and belles-lettres, with apparently a total contempt for Grumkow and the giant-regiment! Sulphurous rage, in gusts or in lasting tempests, rising from a fund of just implacability, is inevitable. Such as we shall see.
The Mother, as mothers will, secretly favors Fritz; anxious to screen him in the day of high-wind. Withal she has plans of her own in regard to Fritz, and the others; being a lady of many plans. That of the "Double-Marriage," for example; of marrying her Prince and Princess to a Princess and Prince of the English-Hanoverian House; it was a pleasant eligible plan, consented to by Papa and the other parties; but when it came to be perfected by treaty, amid the rubs of external and internal politics, what new amazing discrepancies rose upon her poor children and her! Fearfully aggravating the quarrel of Father and Son, almost to the fatal point. Of that "Double-Marriage," whirled up in a universe of intriguing diplomacies, in the "skirts of the Kaiser's huge Spectre-Hunt," as we have called it, there will be sad things to say by and by.
Plans her Majesty has; and silently a will of her own. She loves all her children, especially Fritz, and would so love that they loved her.—For the rest, all along, Fritz and Wilhelmina are sure allies. We perceive they have fallen into a kind of cipher-speech; [Memoires de Bareith, i. 168.] they communicate with one another by telegraphic signs. One of their words, "RAGOTIN (Stumpy)," whom does the reader think it designates? Papa himself, the Royal Majesty of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm I., he to his rebellious children is tyrant "Stumpy," and no better; being indeed short of stature, and growing ever thicker, and surlier in these provocations!—
Such incurable discrepancies have risen in the Berlin Palace: fountains of bitterness flowing ever wider, till they made life all bitter for Son and for Father; necessitating the proud Son to hypocrisies towards his terrible Father, which were very foreign to the proud youth, had there been any other resource. But there was none, now or afterwards. Even when the young man, driven to reflection and insight by intolerable miseries, had begun to recognize the worth of his surly Rhadamanthine Father, and the intrinsic wisdom of much that he had meant with him, the Father hardly ever could, or could only by fits, completely recognize the Son's worth. Rugged suspicious Papa requires always to be humored, cajoled, even when our feeling towards him is genuine and loyal. Friedrich, to the last, we can perceive, has to assume masquerade in addressing him, in writing to him,—and in spite of real love, must have felt it a relief when such a thing was over. That is, all along, a sad element of Friedrich's education! Out of which there might have come incalculable damage to the young man, had his natural assimilative powers, to extract benefit from all things, been less considerable. As it was, he gained self-help from it; gained reticence, the power to keep his own counsel; and did not let the hypocrisy take hold of him, or be other than a hateful compulsory masquerade. At an uncommonly early age, he stands before us accomplished in endurance, for one thing; a very bright young Stoic of his sort; silently prepared for the injustices of men and things. And as for the masquerade, let us hope it was essentially foreign even to the skin of the man! The reader will judge as he goes on. "Je n'ai jamais trompe personne durant ma vie, I have never deceived anybody during my life; still less will I deceive posterity," [ Memoires depuis la Paix de Huberrtsbourg, 1763-1774 (Avant-Propos), OEUVRES, vii. 8.] writes Friedrich when his head was now grown very gray.
Chapter XIII. — RESULTS OF THE CROWN-PRINCE'S SCHOOLING.
Neither as to intellectual culture, in Duhan's special sphere, and with all Duhan's good-will, was the opportunity extremely golden. It cannot be said that Friedrich, who spells in the way we saw, "ASTEURE" for "A CETTE HEURE," has made shining acquisitions on the literary side. However, in the long-run it becomes clear, his intellect, roving on devious courses, or plodding along the prescribed tram-roads, had been wide awake; and busy all the while, bringing in abundant pabulum of an irregular nature.
He did learn "Arithmetic," "Geography," and the other useful knowledges that were indispensable to him. He knows History extensively; though rather the Roman, French, and general European as the French have taught it him, than that of "Hessen, Brunswick, England," or even the "Electoral and Royal House of Brandenburg," which Papa had recommended. He read History, where he could find it readable, to the end of his life; and had early begun reading it,—immensely eager to learn, in his little head, what strange things had been, and were, in this strange Planet he was come into.
We notice with pleasure a lively taste for facts in the little Boy; which continued to be the taste of the Man, in an eminent degree. Fictions he also knows; an eager extensive reader of what is called Poetry, Literature, and himself a performer in that province by and by: but it is observable how much of Realism there always is in his Literature; how close, here as elsewhere, he always hangs on the practical truth of things; how Fiction itself is either an expository illustrative garment of Fact, or else is of no value to him. Romantic readers of his Literature are much disappointed in consequence, and pronounce it bad Literature;—and sure enough, in several senses, it is not to be called good! Bad Literature, they say; shallow, barren, most unsatisfactory to a reader of romantic appetites. Which is a correct verdict, as to the romantic appetites and it. But to the man himself, this quality of mind is of immense moment and advantage; and forms truly the basis of all he was good for in life. Once for all, he has no pleasure in dreams, in parti-colored clouds and nothingnesses. All his curiosities gravitate towards what exists, what has being and reality round him. That is the significant thing to him; that he would right gladly know, being already related to that, as friend or as enemy; and feeling an unconscious indissoluble kinship, who shall say of what importance, towards all that. For he too is a little Fact, big as can be to himself; and in the whole Universe there exists nothing as fact but is a fellow-creature of his.
That our little Fritz tends that way, ought to give Noltenius, Finkenstein and other interested parties, the very highest satisfaction. It is an excellent symptom of his intellect, this of gravitating irresistibly towards realities. Better symptom of its quality (whatever QUANTITY there be of it), human intellect cannot show for itself. However it may go with Literature, and satisfaction to readers of romantic appetites, this young soul promises to become a successful Worker one day, and to DO something under the Sun. For work is of an extremely unfictitious nature; and no man can roof his house with clouds and moonshine, so as to turn the rain from him.
It is also to be noted that his style of French, though he spelt it so ill, and never had the least mastery of punctuation, has real merit. Rapidity, easy vivacity, perfect clearness, here and there a certain quaint expressiveness: on the whole, he had learned the Art of Speech, from those old French Governesses, in those old and new French Books of his. We can also say of his Literature, of what he hastily wrote in mature life, that it has much more worth, even as Literature, than the common romantic appetite assigns to it. A vein of distinct sense, and good interior articulation, is never wanting in that thin-flowing utterance. The true is well riddled out from amid the false; the important and essential are alone given us, the unimportant and superfluous honestly thrown away. A lean wiry veracity (an immense advantage in any Literature, good or bad!) is everywhere beneficently observable; the QUALITY of the intellect always extremely good, whatever its quantity may be.
It is true, his spelling—"ASTEURE" for "A CETTE HEURE"—is very bad. And as for punctuation, he never could understand the mystery of it; he merely scatters a few commas and dashes, as if they were shaken out of a pepper-box upon his page, and so leaves it. These are deficiencies lying very bare to criticism; and I confess I never could completely understand them in such a man. He that would have ordered arrest for the smallest speck of mud on a man's buff-belt, indignant that any pipe-clayed portion of a man should not be perfectly pipeclayed: how could he tolerate false spelling, and commas shaken as out of a pepper-box over his page? It is probable he cared little about Literature, after all; cared, at least, only about the essentials of it; had practically no ambition for himself, or none considerable, in that kind;—and so might reckon exact obedience and punctuality, in a soldier, more important than good spelling to an amateur literary man: He never minded snuff upon his own chin, not even upon his waistcoat and breeches: A merely superficial thing, not worth bothering about, in the press of real business!—
That Friedrich's Course of Education did on the whole prosper, in spite of every drawback, is known to all men. He came out of it a man of clear and ever-improving intelligence; equipped with knowledge, true in essentials, if not punctiliously exact, upon all manner of practical and speculative things, to a degree not only unexampled among modern Sovereign Princes so called, but such as to distinguish him even among the studious class. Nay many "Men-of-Letters" have made a reputation for themselves with but a fraction of the real knowledge concerning men and things, past and present, which Friedrich was possessed of. Already at the time when action came to be demanded of him, he was what we must call a well-informed and cultivated man; which character he never ceased to merit more and more; and as for the action, and the actions,—we shall see whether he was fit for these or not.
One point of supreme importance in his education was all along made sure of, by the mere presence and presidence of Friedrich Wilhelm in the business: That there was an inflexible law of discipline everywhere active in it; that there was a Spartan rigor, frugality, veracity inculcated upon him. "Economy he is to study to the bottom;" and not only so, but, in another sense of the word, he is to practise economy; and does, or else suffers for not doing it. Economic of his time, first of all: generally every other noble economy will follow out of that, if a man once understand and practise that. Here was a truly valuable foundation laid; and as for the rest, Nature, in spite of shot-rubbish, had to do what she could in the rest.
But Nature had been very kind to this new child of hers. And among the confused hurtful elements of his Schooling, there was always, as we say, this eminently salutary and most potent one, of its being, in the gross, APPRENTICESHIP TO FRIEDRICH WILHELM the Rhadamanthine Spartan King, who hates from his heart all empty Nonsense, and Unveracity most of all. Which one element, well aided by docility, by openness and loyalty of mind, on the Pupil's part, proved at length sufficient to conquer the others; as it were to burn up all the others, and reduce their sour dark smoke, abounding everywhere, into flame and illumination mostly. This radiant swift-paced Son owed much to the surly, irascible, sure-footed Father that bred him. Friedrich did at length see into Friedrich Wilhelm, across the abstruse, thunderous, sulphurous embodiments and accompaniments of the man;—and proved himself, in all manner of important respects, the filial sequel of Friedrich Wilhelm. These remarks of a certain Editor are perhaps worth adding:—
"Friedrich Wilhelm, King of Prussia, did not set up for a Pestalozzi; and the plan of Education for his Son is open to manifold objections. Nevertheless, as Schoolmasters go, I much prefer him to most others we have at present. The wild man had discerned, with his rugged natural intelligence (not wasted away in the idle element of speaking and of being spoken to, but kept wholesomely silent for most part), That human education is not, and cannot be, a thing of VOCABLES. That it is a thing of earnest facts; of capabilities developed, of habits established, of dispositions well dealt with, of tendencies confirmed and tendencies repressed:—a laborious separating of the character into two FIRMAMENTS; shutting down the subterranean, well down and deep; an earth and waters, and what lies under them; then your everlasting azure sky, and immeasurable depths of aether, hanging serene overhead. To make of the human soul a Cosmos, so far as possible, that was Friedrich Wilhelm's dumb notion: not to leave the human soul a mere Chaos;—how much less a Singing or eloquently Spouting Chaos, which is ten times worse than a Chaos left MUTE, confessedly chaotic and not cosmic! To develop the man into DOING something; and withal into doing it as the Universe and the Eternal Laws require,—which is but another name for really doing and not merely seeming to do it:—that was Friedrich Wilhelm's dumb notion: and it was, I can assure you, very far from being a foolish one, though there was no Latin in it, and much of Prussian pipe-clay!"
But the Congress of Cambrai is met, and much else is met and parted: and the Kaiser's Spectre-Hunt, especially his Duel with the She-Dragon of Spain, is in full course; and it is time we were saying something of the Double-Marriage in a directly narrative way.
END OF BOOK IV,