HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH II. OF PRUSSIA
FREDERICK THE GREAT
By Thomas Carlyle
Chapter I. — CHAPLAIN MULLER WAITS ON THE CROWN-PRINCE.
Chapter II. — CROWN-PRINCE TO REPENT AND NOT PERISH.
Chapter III. — WILHELMINA IS TO WED THE PRINCE OF BAIREUTH.
Chapter IV. — CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN PREUSSEN AND ELSEWHERE.
CASE OF THE CRIMINAL-COLLEGIUM ITSELF.
SKIPPER JENKINS IN THE GULF OF FLORIDA.
BABY CARLOS GETS HIS APANAGE.
Chapter V. — INTERVIEW OF MAJESTY AND CROWN-PRINCE AT CUSTRIN.
SCHULENBURG'S THREE LETTERS TO GRUMKOW, ON VISITS TO THE CROWN-PRINCE, DURING THE CUSTRIN TIME.
HIS MAJESTY'S BUILDING OPERATIONS.
Chapter VI. — WILHELMINA'S WEDDING.
BOOK VIII. — CROWN-PRINCE REPRIEVED: LIFE AT CUSTRIN — November, 1730-February, 1732.
Chapter I. — CHAPLAIN MULLER WAITS ON THE CROWN-PRINCE.
Friedrich's feelings at this juncture are not made known to us by himself in the least; or credibly by others in any considerable degree. As indeed in these confused Prussian History-Books, copulent in nugatory pedantisms and learned marine-stores, all that is human remains distressingly obscure to us; so seldom, and then only as through endless clouds of ever-whirling idle dust, can we catch the smallest direct feature of the young man, and of his real demeanor or meaning, on the present or other occasions! But it is evident this last phenomenon fell upon him like an overwhelming cataract; crushed him down under the immensity of sorrow, confusion and despair; his own death not a theory now, but probably a near fact,—a welcome one in wild moments, and then anon so unwelcome. Frustrate, bankrupt, chargeable with a friend's lost life, sure enough he, for one, is: what is to become of him? Whither is he to turn, thoroughly beaten, foiled in all his enterprises? Proud young soul as he was: the ruling Powers, be they just, be they unjust, have proved too hard for him! We hear of tragic vestiges still traceable of Friedrich, belonging to this time: texts of Scripture quoted by him, pencil-sketches of his drawing; expressive of a mind dwelling in Golgothas, and pathetically, not defiantly, contemplating the very worst.
Chaplain Muller of the Gens-d'Armes, being found a pious and intelligent man, has his orders not to return at once from Custrin; but to stay there, and deal with the Prince, on that horrible Predestination topic and his other unexampled backslidings which have ended so. Muller stayed accordingly, for a couple of weeks, intensely busy on the Predestination topic, and generally in assuaging, and mutually mollifying, paternal Majesty and afflicted Son. In all which he had good success; and especially on the Predestination point was triumphantly successful. Muller left a little Book in record of his procedures there; which, had it not been bound over to the official tone, might have told us something. His Correspondence with the King, during those two weeks, has likewise been mostly printed; [Forster, i. 376-379.] and is of course still more official,—teaching us next to nothing, except poor Friedrich Wilhelm's profoundly devotional mood, anxieties about "the claws of Satan" and the like, which we were glad to hear of above. In Muller otherwise is small help for us.
But, fifty years afterwards, there was alive a Son of this Muller's; an innocent Country Parson, not wanting in sense, and with much simplicity and veracity; who was fished out by Nicolai, and set to recalling what his Father used to say of this adventure, much the grandest of his life. In Muller Junior's Letter of Reminiscences to Nicolai we find some details, got from his Father, which are worth gleaning:—
"When my Father first attempted, by royal order, to bring the Crown-Prince to acknowledgment and repentance of the fault committed, Crown-Prince gave this excuse or explanation: 'As his Father could not endure the sight of him, he had meant to get out of the way of his displeasure, and go to a Court with which his Father was in friendship and relationship,'"—clearly indicating England, think the Mullers Junior and Senior.
"For proof that the intention was towards England this other circumstance serves, that the one confidant—Herr van Keith, if I mistake not [no, you don't mistake], had already bespoken a ship for passage out."—Here is something still more unexpected:—
"My Father used to say, he found an excellent knowledge and conviction of the truths of religion in the Crown-Prince. By the Prince's arrangement, my Father, who at first lodged with the Commandant, had to take up his quarters in the room right above the Prince; who daily, often as early as six in the morning, rapped on the ceiling for him to come down; and then they would dispute and discuss, sometimes half-days long, about the different tenets of the Christian Sects;—and my Father said, the Prince was perfectly at home in the Polemic Doctrines of the Reformed (Calvinistic) Church, even to the minutest points. As my Father brought him proofs from Scripture, the Prince asked him one time, How he could keep chapter and verse so exactly in his memory? Father drew from his pocket a little Hand-Concordance, and showed it him as one help. This he had to leave with the Prince for some days. On getting it back, he found inside on the fly-leaf, sketched in pencil,"—what is rather notable to History,—"the figure of a man on his knees, with two swords hanging crosswise over his head; and at the bottom these words of Psalm Seventy-third (verses 25, 26), Whom have I in Heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart fainteth and faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."—Poor Friedrich, this is a very unexpected pen-sketch on his part; but an undeniable one; betokening abstruse night-thoughts and forebodings in the present juncture!—
"Whoever considers this fine knowledge of religion, and reflects on the peculiar character and genius of the young Herr, which was ever struggling towards light and clearness (for at that time he had not become indifferent to religion, he often prayed with my Father on his knees),—will find that it was morally impossible this young Prince could have thought [as some foolish persons have asserted] of throwing himself into the arms of Papal Superstition [seeking help at Vienna, marrying an Austrian Archduchess, and I know not what] or allow the intrigues of Catholic Priests to"—Oh no, Herr Muller, nobody but very foolish persons could imagine such a thing of this young Herr.
"When my Father, Herr von Katte's execution being ended, hastened to the Crown-Prince; he finds him miserably ill (SEHR ALTERIRT); advises him to take a cooling-powder in water, both which materials were ready on the table. This he presses on him: but the Prince always shakes his head." Suspects poison, you think? "Hereupon my Father takes from his pocket a paper, in which he carried cooling-powder for his own use; shakes out a portion of it into his hand, and so into his mouth; and now the Crown-Prince grips at my Father's powder, and takes that." Privately to be made away with; death resolved upon in some way! thinks the desperate young man? [Nicolai, Anekdoten, vi. 183-189.]
That scene of Katte's execution, and of the Prince's and other people's position in regard to it, has never yet been humanly set forth, otherwise the response had been different. Not humanly set forth,—and so was only barked at, as by the infinitude of little dogs, in all countries; and could never yet be responded to in austere VOX HUMANA, deep as a DE PROFUNDIS, terrible as a Chorus of AEschylus,—for in effect that is rather the character of it, had the barking once pleased to cease. "King of Prussia cannot sleep," writes Dickens: "the officers sit up with him every night, and in his slumbers he raves and talks of spirits and apparitions." [Despatch, 3d October, 1730.] We saw him, ghost-like, in the night-time, gliding about, seeking shelter with Feekin against ghosts; Ginkel by daylight saw him, now clad in thunderous tornado, and anon in sorrowful fog. Here, farther on, is a new item,—and joined to it and the others, a remarkable old one:—
"In regard to Wilhelmina's marriage, and whether a Father cannot give his daughter in wedlock to whom he pleases, there have been eight Divines consulted, four Lutheran, four Reformed (Calvinist); who, all but one [he of the Garrison Church, a rhadamanthine fellow in serge], have answered, 'No, your Majesty!' It is remarkable that his Majesty has not gone to bed sober for this month past." [Dickens, 9th and 19th December, 1730.]
What Seckendorf and Grumkow thought of all these phenomena? They have done their job too well. They are all for mercy; lean with their whole weight that way,—in black qualms, one of them withal, thinking tremulously to himself, "What if his now Majesty were to die upon us, in the interim!"
Chapter II. — CROWN-PRINCE TO REPENT AND NOT PERISH.
In regard to Friedrich, the Court-Martial needs no amendment from the King; the sentence on Friedrich, a Lieutenant-Colonel guilty of desertion, is, from President and all members except two, Death as by law. The two who dissented, invoking royal clemency and pardon, were Major-Generals by rank,—Schwerin, as some write, one of them, or if not Schwerin, then Linger; and for certain, Donhof,—two worthy gentlemen not known to any of my readers, nor to me, except as names, The rest are all coldly of opinion that the military code says Death. Other codes and considerations may say this and that, which it is not in their province to touch upon; this is what the military code says: and they leave it there.
The Junius Brutus of a Royal Majesty had answered in his own heart grimly, Well then! But his Councillors, Old Dessauer, Grumkow, Seckendorf, one and all interpose vehemently. "Prince of the Empire, your Majesty, not a Lieutenant-Colonel only! Must not, cannot;"—nay good old Buddenbrock, in the fire of still unsuccessful pleading, tore open his waistcoat: "If your Majesty requires blood, take mine; that other you shall never get, so long as I can speak!" Foreign Courts interpose; Sweden, the Dutch; the English in a circuitous way, round by Vienna to wit; finally the Kaiser himself sends an Autograph; [Date, 11th October, 1730 (Forster, i. 380).] for poor Queen Sophie has applied even to Seckendorf, will be friends with Grumkow himself, and in her despair is knocking at every door. Junius Brutus is said to have had paternal affections withal. Friedrich Wilhelm, alone against the whispers of his own heart and the voices of all men, yields at last in this cause. To Seckendorf, who has chalked out a milder didactic plan of treatment, still rigorous enough, [His Letter to the King, 1st November, 1730 (in Forster, i. 375, 376).] he at last admits that such plan is perhaps good; that the Kaiser's Letter has turned the scale with him; and the didactic method, not the beheading one, shall be tried. That Donhof and Schwerin, with their talk of mercy, with "their eyes upon the Rising Sun," as is evident, have done themselves no good, and shall perhaps find it so one day. But that, at any rate, Friedrich's life is spared; Katte's execution shall suffice in that kind. Repentance, prostrate submission and amendment,—these may do yet more for the prodigal, if he will in heart return. These points, some time before the 8th of November, we find to be as good as settled.
The unhappy prodigal is in no condition to resist farther. Chaplain Muller had introduced himself with Katte's dying admonition to the Crown-Prince to repent and submit. Chaplain Muller, with his wholesome cooling-powders, with his ghostly counsels, and considerations of temporal and eternal nature,—we saw how he prospered almost beyond hope. Even on Predestination, and the real nature of Election by Free Grace, all is coming right, or come, reports Muller. The Chaplain's Reports, Friedrich Wilhelm's grimly mollified Responses on the same: they are written, and in confused form have been printed; but shall be spared the English reader. And Grumkow has been out at Custrin, preaching to the same purport from other texts: Grumkow, with the thought ever present to him, "What if Friedrich Wilhelm should die?" is naturally an eloquent preacher. Enough, it has been settled (perhaps before the day of Katte's death, or at the latest three days after it, as we can see), That if the Prince will, and can with free conscience, take an Oath ("no mental reservation," mark you!) of contrite repentance, of perfect prostrate submission, and purpose of future entire obedience and conformity to the paternal mind in all things, "GNADENWAHL" included,—the paternal mind may possibly relax his durance a little, and put him gradually on proof again. [King's Letter to Muller, 8th November (Forster, i. 379).]
Towards which issue, as Chaplain Muller reports, the Crown-Prince is visibly gravitating, with all his weight and will. The very GNADENWAHL is settled; the young soul (truly a lover of Truth, your Majesty) taps on his ceiling, my floor being overhead, before the winter sun rises, as a signal that I must come down to him; so eager to have error and darkness purged away. Believes himself, as I believe him, ready to undertake that Oath; desires, however, to see it first, that he may maturely study every clause of it.—Say you verily so? answers Majesty. And MAY my ursine heart flow out again, and blubber gratefully over a sinner saved, a poor Son plucked as brand from the burning?"God, the Most High, give His blessing on it, then!" concludes the paternal Majesty: "And as He often, by wondrous guidances, strange paths and thorny steps, will bring men into the Kingdom of Christ, so may our Divine Redeemer help that this prodigal son be brought into His communion. That his godless heart be beaten till it is softened and changed; and so he be snatched from the claws of Satan. This grant us the Almighty God and Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ and His passion and death's sake! Amen!—I am, for the rest, your well-affectioned King, FRIEDRICH WILHELM (WUSTERHAUSEN, 8th NOVEMBER, 1730)." [Forster, i. 379.]
CROWN-PRINCE BEGINS A NEW COURSE.
It was Monday, 6th November, when poor Katte died. Within a fortnight, on the second Sunday after, there has a Select Commission, Grumkow, Borck, Buddenbrock, with three other Soldiers, and the Privy Councillor Thulmeyer, come out to Custrin: there and then, Sunday, November 19th, [Nicolai, exactest of men, only that Documents were occasionally less accessible in his time, gives (ANEKDOTEN, vi. 187), "Saturday, November 25th," as the day of the Oath; but, no doubt, the later inquirers, Preuss (i. 56) and others, have found him wrong in this small instance.] these Seven, with due solemnity, administer the Oath (terms of Oath conceivable by readers); Friedrich being found ready. He signs the Oath, as well as audibly swears it: whereupon his sword is restored to him, and his prison-door opened. He steps forth to the Town Church with his Commissioners; takes the sacrament; listens, with all Custrin, to an illusive Sermon on the subject; "text happily chosen, preacher handling it well." Text was Psalm Seventy-seventh, verse eleventh (tenth of our English version), And I said, This is my infirmity; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Host High; or, as Luther's version more intelligibly gives it, This I have to suffer; the right hand of the Most High can change all. Preacher (not Muller but another) rose gradually into didactic pathos; Prince, and all Custrin, were weeping, or near weeping, at the close of the business. [Preuss, i. 56.]
Straight from Church the Prince is conducted, not to the Fortress, but to a certain Town Mansion, which he is to call his own henceforth, under conditions: an erring Prince half liberated, and mercifully put on proof again. His first act here is to write, of his own composition, or helped by some official hand, this Letter to his All-serenest Papa; which must be introduced, though, except to readers of German who know the "DERE" (TheirO), "ALLERDURCHLAUCHTIGSTER," and strange pipe-clay solemnity of the Court-style, it is like to be in great part lost in any translation:—
"CUSTRIN, 19th November, 1730.
"ALL-SERENEST AND ALL-GRACIOUSEST FATHER,—To your Royal Majesty, my All-graciousest Father, have,"—I.E. "I have," if one durst write the "I,"—"by my disobedience as TheirO [YourO] subject and soldier, not less than by my undutifulness as TheirO Son, given occasion to a just wrath and aversion against me. With the All-obedientest respect I submit myself wholly to the grace of my most All-gracious Father; and beg him, Most All-graciously to pardon me; as it is not so much the withdrawal of my liberty in a sad arrest (MALHEUREUSEN ARREST), as my own thoughts of the fault I have committed, that have brought me to reason: Who, with all-obedientest respect and submission, continue till my end,
"My All-graciousest King's and Father's faithfully obedientest Servant and Son,
[Preuss, i. 56, 57; and Anonymous, Friedrichs des Grossen Briefe an seinen Vater (Berlin, Posen und Bromberg, 1838), p. 3.]
This new House of Friedrich's in the little Town of Custrin, he finds arranged for him on rigorously thrifty principles, yet as a real Household of his own; and even in the form of a Court, with Hofmarschall, Kammerjunkers, and the other adjuncts;—Court reduced to its simplest expression, as the French say, and probably the cheapest that was ever set up. Hafmarschall (Court-marshal) is one Wolden, a civilian Official here. The Kammerjunkers are Rohwedel and Natzmer; Matzmer Junior, son of a distinguished Feldmarschall: "a good-hearted but foolish forward young fellow," says Wilhelmina; "the failure of a coxcomb (PETIT-MAITRE MANQUE)." For example, once, strolling about in a solemn Kaiser's Soiree in Vienna, he found in some quiet corner the young Duke of Lorraine, Franz, who it is thought will be the divine Maria Theresa's husband, and Kaiser himself one day. Foolish Natzmer found this noble young gentleman in a remote corner of the Soiree; went up, nothing loath, to speak graciosities and insipidities to him: the noble young gentleman yawned, as was too natural, a wide long yawn; and in an insipid familiar manner, foolish Natzmer (Wilhelmina and the Berlin circles know it) put his finger into the noble young gentleman's mouth, and insipidly wagged it there. "Sir, you seem to forget where you are!" said the noble young gentleman; and closing his mouth with emphasis, turned away; but happily took no farther notice. [Wilhelmina, i. 310.] This is all we yet know of the history of Natzmer, whose heedless ways and slap-dash speculations, tinted with natural ingenuity and good-humor, are not unattractive to the Prince.
Hofmarschall and these two Kammerjunkers are of the lawyer species; men intended for Official business, in which the Prince himself is now to be occupied. The Prince has four lackeys, two pages, one valet. He wears his sword, but has no sword-tash (PORTE EPEE), much less an officer's uniform: a mere Prince put upon his good behavior again; not yet a soldier of the Prussian Army, only hoping to become so again. He wears a light-gray dress, "HECHTGRAUER (pike-gray) frock with narrow silver cordings;" and must recover his uniform, by proving himself gradually a new man.
For there is, along with the new household, a new employment laid out for him in Custrin; and it shall be seen what figure he makes in that, first of all. He is to sit in the DOMANEN-KAMMER or Government Board here, as youngest Rath; no other career permitted. Let him learn Economics and the way of managing Domain Lands (a very principal item of the royal revenues in this Country): humble work, but useful; which he had better see well how he will do. Two elder Raths are appointed to instruct him in the Economic Sciences and Practices, if he show faculty and diligence;—which in fact he turns out to do, in a superior degree, having every motive to try.
This kind of life lasted with him for the next fifteen months, all through the year 1731 and farther; and must have been a very singular, and was probably a highly instructive year to him, not in the Domain Sciences alone. He is left wholly to himself. All his fellow-creatures, as it were, are watching him. Hundred-eyed Argus, or the Ear of Dionysius, that is to say, Tobacco-Parliament with its spies and reporters,—no stirring of his finger can escape it here. He has much suspicion to encounter: Papa looking always sadly askance, sadly incredulous, upon him. He is in correspondence with Grumkow; takes much advice from Grumkow (our prompter-general, president in the Dionysius'-Ear, and not an ill-wisher farther); professes much thankfulness to Grumkow, now and henceforth. Thank you for flinging me out of the six-story window, and catching me by the coat-skirts!—Left altogether to himself, as we said; has in the whole Universe nothing that will save him but his own good sense, his own power of discovering what is what, and of doing what will be behooveful therein.
He is to quit his French literatures and pernicious practices, one and all. His very flute, most innocent "Princess," as he used to call his flute in old days, is denied him ever since he came to Custrin;—but by degrees he privately gets her back, and consorts much with her; wails forth, in beautiful adagios, emotions for which there is no other utterance at present. He has liberty of Custrin and the neighborhood; out of Custrin he is not to lodge, any night, without leave had of the Commandant. Let him walk warily; and in good earnest study to become a new creature, useful for something in the Domain Sciences and otherwise.
Chapter III. — WILHELMINA IS TO WED THE PRINCE OF BAIREUTH.
Crown-Prince Friedrich being settled so far, his Majesty takes up the case of Wilhelmina, the other ravelled skein lying on hand. Wilhelmina has been prisoner in her Apartment at Berlin all this while: it is proper Wilhelmina be disposed of; either in wedlock, filially obedient to the royal mind; or in some much sterner way, "within four walls," it is whispered, if disobedient.
Poor Wilhelmina never thought of disobeying her parents: only, which of them to obey? King looks towards the Prince of Baireuth again, agreed on before those hurly-burlies now past; Queen looks far otherwards. Queen Sophie still desperately believes in the English match for Wilhelmina; and has subterranean correspondences with that Court; refusing to see that the negotiation is extinct there. Grumkow himself, so over-victorious in his late task, is now heeling towards England; "sincere in his wish to be well with us," thinks Dickens: Grumkow solaces her Majesty with delusive hopes in the English quarter: "Be firm, child; trust in my management; only swear to me, on your eternal salvation, that never, on any compulsion, will you marry another than the Prince of Wales;—give me that oath!" [Wilhelmina, i. 314.] Such was Queen Sophie's last proposal to Wilhelmina,—night of the 27th of January, 1731, as is computable,—her Majesty to leave for Potsdam on the morrow. They wept much together that night, but Wilhelmina dexterously evaded the oath, on a religious ground. Prince of Baireuth, whom Papa may like or may not like, has never yet personally made appearance: who or what will make appearance, or how things can or will turn, except a bad road, is terribly a mystery to Wilhelmina.
What with chagrin and confinement, what with bad diet (for the very diet is bad, quality and quantity alike unspeakable), Wilhelmina sees herself "reduced to a skeleton;" no company but her faithful Sonsfeld, no employment but her Books and Music;—struggles, however, still to keep heart. One day, it is in February, 1731, as I compute, they are sitting, her Sonsfeld and she, at their sad mess of so-called dinner, in their remote upper story of the Berlin Schloss, tramp of sentries the one thing audible; and were "looking mournfully at one another, with nothing to eat but a soup of salt and water, and a ragout of old bones full of hairs and slopperies [nothing else; that was its real quality, whatever fine name they might give it, says the vehement Princess], we heard a sharp tapping at the window; and started up in surprise, to see what it could be. It was a raven, carrying in its beak a bit of bread, which it left on the window-sill, and flew away." [Ib. i. 316.]
"Tears came into our eyes at this adventure." Are we become as Hebrew Elijahs, then; so that the wild ravens have to bring us food? Truth is, there was nothing miraculous, as Wilhelmina found by and by. It was a tame raven,—not the soul of old George I., which lives at Isleworth on good pensions; but the pet raven of a certain Margravine, which lost its way among the intricate roofs here. But the incident was touching. "Well," exclaimed Wilhelmina, "in the Roman Histories I am now reading, it is often said those creatures betoken good luck." All Berlin, such the appetite for gossip, and such the famine of it in Berlin at present, talked of this minute event: and the French Colony—old Protestant Colony, practical considerate people—were so struck by it, they brought baskets of comfortable things to us, and left them daily, as if by accident, on some neutral ground, where the maid could pick them up, sentries refusing to see unless compelled. Which fine procedure has attached Wilhelmina to the French nation ever since, as a dexterous useful people, and has given her a disposition to help them where she could.
The omen of the raven did not at once bring good luck: however, it did chance to be the turning-point, solstice of this long Greenland winter; after which, amid storms and alarms, daylight came steadily nearer. Storms and alarms: for there came rumors of quarrels out at Potsdam, quarrels on the old score between the Royal Spouses there; and frightful messages, through one Eversmann, an insolent royal lackey, about wedding Weissenfels, about imprisonment for life and other hard things; through all which Wilhelmina studied to keep her poor head steady, and answer with dignity yet discreetly. On the other hand, her Sisters are permitted to visit her, and perceptible assuagements come. At length, on the 11th of May, there came solemn Deputation, Borck, Grumkow, Thulmeyer in it, old real friends and pretended new; which set poor Wilhelmina wringing her hands (having had a Letter from Mamma overnight); but did bring about a solution. It was Friday, 11th of May; a day of crisis in Wilhelmina's history; Queen commanding one thing, King another, and the hour of decision come.
Entering, announcing themselves, with dreadful solemnity, these gentlemen, Grumkow the spokesman, in soft phrase, but with strict clearness, made it apparent to her, That marry she must,—the Hereditary Prince of Baireuth,—and without the consent of both her parents, which was unattainable at present, but peremptorily under the command of one of them, whose vote was the supreme. Do this (or even say that you will do it, whisper some of the well-affected), his Majesty's paternal favor will return upon you like pent waters;—and the Queen will surely reconcile herself (or perhaps turn it all her own way yet! whisper the well-affected). Refuse to do it, her Majesty, your Royal Brother, you yourself Royal Highness, God only knows what the unheard-of issue will be for you all! Do it, let us advise you: you must, you must!—Wilhelmina wrung her hands; ran distractedly to and fro; the well-affected whispering to her, the others "conversing at a window." At length she did it. Will marry whom her all-gracious Papa appoints; never wished or meant the least disobedience; hopes, beyond all things, his paternal love will now return, and make everybody blessed;—and oh, reconcile Mamma to me, ye well-affected! adds she.—Bravissimo! answer they: her Majesty, for certain, will reconcile herself; Crown-Prince get back from Custrin, and all will be well. [Wilhelmina, i. 327-333.]
Friedrich Wilhelm was overjoyed; Queen Sophie Dorothee was in despair. With his Majesty, who "wept" like a paternal bear, on re-embracing Wilhelmina the obedient some days hence, it became a settled point, and was indicated to Wilhelmina as such, That the Crown-Prince would, on her actual wedding, probably get back from Custrin. But her Majesty's reconcilement,—this was very slow to follow. Her Majesty was still in flames of ire at their next interview; and poor Wilhelmina fainted, on approaching to kiss her hand. "Disgraced, vanquished, and my enemies triumphing!" said her Majesty; and vented her wrath on Wilhelmina; and fell ill (so soon as there was leisure), ill, like to die, and said, "Why pretend to weep, when it is you that have killed me!"—and indeed was altogether hard, bitter, upon the poor Princess; a chief sorrow to her in these trying months. Can there be such wrath in celestial minds, venting itself so unreasonably?—At present there is no leisure for illness; grand visitors in quantity have come and are coming; and the Court is brilliant exceedingly;—his Majesty blazing out into the due magnificence, which was very great on this occasion, domestic matters looking up with him again. The Serenities of Brunswick are here, young and old; much liked by Friedrich Wilhelm; and almost reckoned family people,—ever since their Eldest Son was affianced to the Princess Charlotte here, last visit they made. To Princess Charlotte, Wilhelmina's second junior,—mischievous, coquettish creature she, though very pretty and insinuating, who seems to think her Intended rather a phlegmatic young gentleman, as Wilhelmina gradually discovers. Then there is old Duke Eberhard Ludwig, of Wurtemberg, whom we saw at Ludwigsburg last year, in an intricate condition with his female world and otherwise, he too announces himself,—according to promise then given. Old Duke Eberhard Ludwig comes, stays three weeks in great splendor of welcome;—poor old gentleman, his one son is now dead; and things are getting earnest with him. On his return home, this time, he finds, according to order, the foul witch Gravenitz duly cleared away; reinstates his injured Duchess, with the due feelings, better late than never; and dies in a year or two, still childless.—
These are among the high guests at Berlin; and there are plenty of others whom we do not name. Magnificent dining; with "six-and-twenty blackamoors," high-colored creatures, marching up the grand staircase, round the table, round it, and then down again, melodious, doing "janizary music," if you happen to prefer that kind;—trained creatures these blackamoors, all got when boys, and set to cymballing and fifing betimes, adds my authority. [Fassmann, p. 726, &c.] Dining, boar-hunting (if the boar be huntable), especially reviewing, fail not in those fine summer days.
One evening, it is Sunday, 27th of May, latish, while the high guests, with Queen and Wilhelmina, are just passing in to supper (King's Majesty having "gone to bed at seven," to be well astir for the review to-morrow), a sound of wheels is heard in the court. Modest travelling-equipage rolls up into the inner court; to the foot of the grand staircase there, whither only Princes come:—who can it be? The Queen sends to inquire. Heavens, it is the Hereditary Prince of Baireuth! "Medusa's Head never produced such effect as did this bit of news: Queen sat petrified; and I," by reflex, was petrified too! Wilhelmina passed the miserablest night, no wink of sleep; and felt quite ill in the morning;—in dread, too, of Papa's rough jests,—and wretched enough. She had begged much, last night! to be excused from the review. But that could not be: "I must go," said the Queen after reflection, "and you with me." Which they did;—and diversified the pomp and circumstance of mock-war by a small unexpected scene.
Queen, Princess and the proper Dames had, by his Majesty's order, to pass before the line: Princess in much trouble, "with three caps huddled on me, to conceal myself," poor soul. Margraf of Schwedt, at the head of his regiment, "looked swollen with rage," high hopes gone in this manner;—and saluted us with eyes turned away. As for his Mother, the Dessau Margravine in high colors, she was "blue in the face" all day. Lines passed, and salutations done, her Majesty and Dames withdrew to the safe distance, to look on:—Such a show, for pomp and circumstance, Wilhelmina owns, as could not be equalled in the world. Such wheeling, rhythmic coalescing and unfolding; accurate as clock-work, far and wide; swift big column here, hitting swift big column there, at the appointed place and moment; with their volleyings and trumpeting, bright uniforms and streamers and field-music,—in equipment and manoeuvre perfect all, to the meanest drummer or black kettle-drummer:—supreme drill-sergeant playing on the thing, as on his huge piano, several square miles in area! Comes of the Old Dessauer, all this; of the "equal step;" of the abstruse meditations upon tactics, in that rough head of his. Very pretty indeed.—But in the mean while an Official steps up: cap in hand, approaches the Queen's carriage; says, He is ordered to introduce his Highness the Prince of Baireuth. Prince comes up accordingly; a personable young fellow; intelligent-looking, self-possessed; makes obeisance to her Majesty, who answers in frosty politeness; and—and Wilhelmina, faint, fasting, sleepless all night, fairly falls aswoon. Could not be helped: and the whole world saw it; and Guy Dickens and the Diplomatists wrote home about it, and there rose rumor and gossip enough! [Dickens, of 2d June, 1731 (in pathetic terms); Wilhelmina, i. 341 (without pathos).] But that was the naked truth of it: hot weather, agitation, want of sleep, want of food; not aversion to the Hereditary Prince, nothing of that. Rather the contrary, indeed; and, on better acquaintance, much the contrary. For he proved a very rational, honorable and eligible young Prince: modest, honest, with abundance of sense and spirit; kind too and good, hot temper well kept, temper hot not harsh; quietly holds his own in all circles; good discourse in him, too, and sharp repartee if requisite,—though he stammered somewhat in speaking. Submissive Wilhelmina feels that one might easily have had a worse husband. What glories for you in England! the Queen used to say to her in old times: "He is a Prince, that Frederick, who has a good heart, and whose genius is very small. Rather ugly than handsome; slightly out of shape even (UN PEU CONTREFAIT). But provided you have the complaisance to suffer his debaucheries, you will quite govern him; and you will be more King than he, when once his Father is dead. Only see what a part you will play! It will be you that decide on the weal or woe of Europe, and give law to the Nation," [Wilhelmina, i. 143.]—in a manner! Which Wilhelmina did not think a celestial prospect even then. Who knows but, of all the offers she had, "four" or three "crowned heads" among them, this final modest honest one may be intrinsically the best? Take your portion, if inevitable, and be thankful!—
The Betrothal follows in about a week: Sunday, 3d June, 1731; with great magnificence, in presence of the high guests and all the world: and Wilhelmina is the affianced Bride of Friedrich of Baireuth:—and that enormous Double-Marriage Tragi-comedy, of Much Ado about Nothing, is at last ended. Courage, friends; all things do end!—
The high guests hereupon go their ways again; and the Court of Berlin, one cannot but suppose, collapses, as after a great effort finished. Do not Friedrich Wilhelm and innumerable persons—the readers and the writer of this History included—feel a stone rolled off their hearts?—It is now, and not till now, that Queen Sophie falls sick, and like to die; and reproaches Wilhelmina with killing her. Friedrich Wilhelm hopes confidently, not; waits out at Potsdam, for a few days, till this killing danger pass; then departs, with double impetuosity, for Preussen, and despatch of Public Business; such a mountain of Domestic Business being victoriously got under.
Poor King, his life, this long while, has been a series of earthquakes and titanic convulsions. Narrow miss he has had, of pulling down his house about his ears, and burying self, son, wife, family and fortunes, under the ruin-heap,—a monument to remote posterity. Never was such an enchanted dance, of well-intentioned Royal Bear with poetic temperament, piped to by two black-artists, for the Kaiser's and Pragmatic Sanction's sake! Let Tobacco-Parliament also rejoice; for truly the play was growing dangerous, of late. King and Parliament, we may suppose, return to Public Business with double vigor.
Chapter IV. — CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN PREUSSEN AND ELSEWHERE.
Not that his Majesty, while at the deepest in domestic intricacies, ever neglects Public Business. This very summer he is raising Hussar Squadrons; bent to introduce the Hussar kind of soldiery into his Army;—a good deal of horse-breaking and new sabre-exercise needed for that object. [Fassmann, pp. 417, 418.] The affairs of the Reich have at no moment been out of his eye; glad to see the Kaiser edging round to the Sea-Powers again, and things coming into their old posture, in spite of that sad Treaty of Seville.
Nay, for the last two years, while the domestic volcanoes were at their worst, his Majesty has been extensively dealing with a new question which has risen, that of the SALZBURG PROTESTANTS; concerning which we shall hear more anon. Far and wide, in the Diets and elsewhere, he has been diligently, piously and with solid judgment, handling this question of the poor Salzburgers; and has even stored up moneys in intended solace of them (for he foresees what the end will be);—moneys which, it appears about this time, a certain Official over in Preussen has been peculating! In the end of June, his Majesty sets off to Preussen on the usual Inspection Tour; which we should not mention, were it not in regard to that same Official, and to something very rhadamanthine and particular which befell him; significant of what his Majesty can do in the way of prompt justice.
CASE OF SCHLUBHUT.
The Konigsberg Domain-Board (KRIEGS-UND DOMANEN-KAMMER) had fallen awry, in various points, of late; several things known to be out-at-elbows in that Country; the Kammer Raths evidently lax at their post; for which reason they have been sharply questioned, and shaken by the collar, so to speak. Nay there is one Rath, a so-called Nobleman of those parts, by name Schlubhut, who has been found actually defaulting; peculating from that pious hoard intended for the Salzburgers: he is proved, and confesses, to have put into his own scandalous purse no less than 11,000 thalers, some say 30,000 (almost 5,000 pounds), which belonged to the Public Treasury and the Salzburg Protestants! These things, especially this latter unheard-of Schlubhut thing, the Supreme Court at Berlin (CRIMINAL-COLLEGIUM) have been sitting on, for some time; and, in regard to Schlubhut, they have brought out a result, which Friedrich Wilhelm not a little admires at. Schlubhut clearly guilty of the defamation, say they; but he has moneys, landed properties: let him refund, principal and interest; and have, say, three or four years' imprisonment, by way of memento. "Years' imprisonment? Refund? Is theft in the highest quarters a thing to be let off for refunding?" growls his Majesty; and will not confirm this sentence of his Criminal-Collegium; but leaves it till he get to the spot, and see with his own eyes. Schlubhut, in arrest or mild confinement all this while, ought to be bethinking himself more than he is!
Once on the spot, judge if the Konigsberg Domain-Kammer had not a stiff muster to pass; especially if Schlubhut's drill-exercise was gentle! Schlubhut, summoned to private interview with his Majesty, carries his head higher than could be looked for: Is very sorry; knows not how it happened; meant always to refund; will refund, to the last penny, and make all good.—"Refund? Does He (ER) know what stealing means, then? How the commonest convicted private thief finds the gallows his portion; much more a public Magistrate convicted of theft? Is He aware that He, in a very especial manner, deserves hanging, then?"—Schlubhut looks offended dignity; conscious of rank, if also of quasi-theft: "ES IST NICHT MANIER (it is not the polite thing) to hang a Prussian Nobleman on those light terms!" answers Schlubhut, high mannered at the wrong time: "I can and will pay the money back!"—NOBLE-man? Money back? "I will none of His scoundrelly money." To strait Prison with this SCHURKE!—And thither he goes accordingly: unhappiest of mortals; to be conscious of rank, not at the right place, when about to steal the money, but at the wrong, when answering to Rhadamanthus on it!
And there, sure enough, Schlubhut lies, in his prison on the SCHLOSSPLATZ, or Castle Square, of Konigsberg, all night; and hears, close by the DOMANEN-KAMMER, which is in the same Square, DOMANEN-KAMMER where his Office used to be, a terrible sound of carpentering go on;—unhappiest of Prussian Noblemen. And in the morning, see, a high gallows built; close in upon the Domain-Kammer, looking into the very windows of it;—and there, sure enough, the unfortunate Schlubhut dies the thief's death, few hours hence, speaking or thinking what, no man reports to me. Death was certain for him; inevitable as fate. And so he vibrates there, admonitory to the other Raths for days,—some say for weeks,—till by humble petition they got the gallows removed. The stumps of it, sawed close by the stones, were long after visible in that Schlossplatz of Konigsberg. Here is prompt justice with a witness! Did readers ever hear of such a thing? There is no doubt about the fact, [Benekendorf (Anonymous), Karakterzuge aus dem Leben Konig Friedrich Wilhelm I. (Berlin, 1788), vii. 15-20; Forster (ii. 268), &c. &c.] though in all Prussian Books it is loosely smeared over, without the least precision of detail; and it was not till after long searching that I could so much as get it dated: July, 1731, while Friedrich Crown-Prince is still in eclipse at Custrin, and some six weeks after Wilhelmina's betrothal. And here furthermore, direct from the then Schlubhut precincts, is a stray Note, meteorological chiefly; but worth picking up, since it is authentic. "Wehlau," we observe, is on the road homewards again,—on our return from uttermost Memel,—a day's journey hitherwards of that place, half a day's thitherwards of Konigsberg:—
"TUESDAY, 10th JULY, 1731. King dining with General Dockum at Wehlau,"—where he had been again reviewing, for about forty hours, all manner of regiments brought to rendezvous there for the purpose, poor "General Katte with his regiment" among them;—King at dinner with General Dockum after all that, "took the resolution to be off to Konigsberg; and arrived here at the stroke of midnight, in a deluge of rain." This brings us within a day, or two days, of Schlubhut's death, Terrible "combat of Bisons (URI, or AUEROCHSEN, with such manes, such heads), of two wild Bisons against six wild Bears," then ensued; and the Schlubhut human tragedy; I know not in what sequence,—rather conjecture the Schlubhut had gone FIRST. Pillau, road to Dantzig, on the narrow strip between the Frische Haf and Baltic, is the next stage homewards; at Pillau, General Finkenstein (excellent old Tutor of the Crown-Prince) is Commandant, and expects his rapid Majesty, day and hour given, to me not known, Majesty goes in three carriages; Old Dessauer, Grumkow, Seckendorf, Ginkel are among his suite; weather still very electric:—
"At Fischhausen, half-way to Pillau, Majesty had a bout of elk-hunting; killed sixty elks [Melton-Mowbray may consider it],—creatures of the deer sort, nimble as roes, but strong as bulls, and four palms higher than the biggest horse,—to the astonishment of Seckendorf, Ginkel and the strangers there. Half an hour short of Pillau, furious electricity again; thunder-bolt shivered an oak-tree fifteen yards from Majesty's carriage. And at Pillau itself, the Battalion in Garrison there, drawn out in arms, by Count Finkenstein, to receive his Majesty [rain over by this time, we can hope], had suddenly to rush forward and take new ground; Frische Haf, on some pressure from the elements, having suddenly gushed out, two hundred paces beyond its old watermark in that place." [See Mauvillon, ii. 293-297;—CORRECTING by Fassmann, p. 422.]
Pillau, Fischhausen,—this is where the excellent old Adalbert stamped the earth with his life "in the shape of a crucifix" eight hundred years ago: and these are the new phenomena there!—The General Dockum, Colonel of Dragoons, whom his Majesty dined with at Wehlau, got his death not many months after. One of Dockum's Dragoon Lieutenants felt insulted at something, and demanded his discharge: discharge given, he challenged Dockum, duel of pistols, and shot him dead. [7th April, 1732 (Militair-Lexikon, i. 365).] Nothing more to be said of Dockum, nor of that Lieutenant, in military annals.
CASE OF THE CRIMINAL-COLLEGIUM ITSELF.
And thus was the error of the Criminal-Collegium rectified IN RE Schlubhut. For it is not in name only, but in fact, that this Sovereign is Supreme Judge, and bears the sword in God's stead,—interfering now and then, when need is, in this terrible manner. In the same dim authentic Benekendorf (himself a member of the Criminal-Collegium in later times), and from him in all the Books, is recorded another interference somewhat in the comic vein; which also we may give. Undisputed fact, again totally without precision or details; not even datable, except that, on study, we perceive it may have been before this Schlubhut's execution, and after the Criminal-Collegium had committed their error about him,—must have been while this of Schlubhut was still vividly in mind; Here is the unprecise but indubitable fact, as the Prussian Dryasdust has left us his smear of it:—
"One morning early" (might be before Schlubhut was hanged, and while only sentence of imprisonment and restitution lay on him), General Graf von Donhof, Colonel of a Musketeer Regiment, favorite old soldier,—who did vote on the mild side in that Court-Martial on the Crown-Prince lately; but I hope has been forgiven by his Majesty, being much esteemed by him these long years past;—this Donhof, early one morning, calls upon the King, with a grimly lamenting air. "What is wrong, Herr General?"—"Your Majesty, my best musketeer, an excellent soldier, and of good inches, fell into a mistake lately,—bad company getting round the poor fellow; they, he among them, slipt into a house and stole something; trifle and without violence: pay is but three halfpence, your Majesty, and the Devil tempts men! Well, the Criminal-Collegium have condemned him to be hanged; an excellent soldier and of good inches, for that one fault. Nobleman Schlubhut was 'to make restitution,' they decreed: that was their decree on Schlubhut, one of their own set; and this poor soldier, six feet three, your Majesty, is to dance on the top of nothing for a three-halfpenny matter!"—So would Donhof represent the thing,—"fact being," says my Dryasdust, "it was a case of house-breaking with theft to the value of 6,000 thalers and this musketeer the ringleader!"—Well; but was Schlubhut sentenced to hanging? Do you keep two weights and two measures, in that Criminal-Collegium of yours, then?
Friedrich Wilhelm feels this sad contrast very much; the more, as the soldier is his own chattel withal, and of superlative inches: Friedrich Wilhelm flames up into wrath; sends off swift messengers to bring these Judges, one and all instantly into his presence. The Judges are still in their dressing-gowns, shaving, breakfasting; they make what haste they can. So soon as the first three or four are reported to be in the anteroom, Friedrich Wilhelm, in extreme impatience has them called in; starts discoursing with them upon the two weights and two measures. Apologies, subterfuges do but provoke him farther; it is not long till he starts up, growling terribly: "IHR SCHURKEN (Ye Scoundrels), how could you?" and smites down upon the crowns of them with the Royal Cudgel itself. Fancy the hurry-scurry, the unforensic attitudes and pleadings! Royal Cudgel rains blows, right and left: blood is drawn, crowns cracked, crowns nearly broken; and "several Judges lost a few teeth, and had their noses battered," before they could get out. The second relay meeting them in this dilapidated state, on the staircases, dashed home again without the honor of a Royal interview. [Benekendorf, vii. 33; Forster, ii. 270.] Let them learn to keep one balance, and one set of weights, in their Law-Court hence forth.—This is an actual scene, of date Berlin, 1731, or thereby; unusual in the annals of Themis. Of which no constitutional country can hope to see the fellow, were the need never so pressing.—I wish his Majesty had been a thought more equal, when he was so rhadamanthine! Schlubhut he hanged, Schlubhut being only Schlubhut's chattel; this musketeer, his Majesty's own chattel, he did not hang, but set him shouldering arms again, after some preliminary dusting!—
His Majesty was always excessively severe on defalcations; any Chancellor, with his Exchequer-bills gone wrong, would have fared ill in that country. One Treasury dignitary, named Wilke (who had "dealt in tall recruits," as a kind of by-trade, and played foul in some slight measure), the King was clear for hanging; his poor Wife galloped to Potsdam, shrieking mercy; upon which Friedrich Wilhelm had him whipt by the hangman, and stuck for life into Spandau. Still more tragical—was poor Hesse's case. Hesse, some domain Rath out at Konigsberg, concerned with moneys, was found with account-books in a state of confusion, and several thousands short, when the outcome was cleared up. What has become of these thousands, Sir? Poor old Hesse could not tell: "God is my witness, no penny of them eyer stuck to me," asseverated poor old Hesse; "but where they are—? My account-books are in such a state;—alas, and my poor old memory is not what it was!" They brought him to Berlin; in the end they actually hanged the poor old soul;—and then afterwards in his dusty lumber-rooms, hidden in pots, stuffed into this nook and that, most or all of the money was found! [Forster (ii. 269), &c. &c.] Date and document exist for all these cases, though my Dryasdust gives none; and the cases are indubitable; very rhadamanthine indeed. The soft quality of mercy,—ah, yes, it is beautiful and blessed, when permissible (though thrice-accursed, when not): but it is on the hard quality of justice, first of all, that Empires are built up, and beneficent and lasting things become achievable to mankind, in this world!—
SKIPPER JENKINS IN THE GULF OF FLORIDA.
A couple of weeks before Schlubhut's death, the English Newspapers are somewhat astir,—in the way of narrative merely, as yet. Ship Rebecca, Captain Robert Jenkins Master, has arrived in the Port of London, with a strange story in her log-book. Of which, after due sifting, this is accurately the substance:—
"LONDON, 23d-27th JUNE, 1731. Captain Jenkins left this Port with the Rebecca, several months ago; sailed to Jamaica, for a cargo of sugar. He took in his cargo at Jamaica; put to sea again, 6th April, 1731, and proceeded on the Voyage homewards; with indifferent winds for the first fortnight. April 20th, with no wind or none that would suit, he was hanging about in the entrance of the Gulf of Florida, not far from the Havana,"—almost too near it, I should think; but these baffling winds!—"not far from the Havana, when a Spanish Guarda-Costa hove in sight; came down on Jenkins, and furiously boarded him: 'Scoundrel, what do YOU want; contrabanding in these seas? Jamaica, say you? Sugar? Likely! Let us see your logwood, hides, Spanish pieces-of-eight!' And broke in upon Jenkins, ship and person, in a most extraordinary manner. Tore up his hatches; plunged down, seeking logwood, hides, pieces-of-eight; found none,—not the least trace of contraband on board of Jenkins. They brought up his quadrants, sextants, however; likewise his stock of tallow candles: they shook and rummaged him, and all things, for pieces-of-eight; furiously advised him, cutlass in hand, to confess guilt. They slashed the head of Jenkins, his left ear almost off. Order had been given, 'Scalp him!'—but as he had no hair, they omitted that; merely brought away the wig, and slashed:—still no confession, nor any pieces-of-eight. They hung him up to the yard-arm,—actual neck-halter, but it seems to have been tarry, and did not run:—still no confession. They hoisted him higher, tied his cabin-boy to his feet; neck-halter then became awfully stringent upon Jenkins; had not the cabin-boy (without head to speak of) slipt through, noose being tarry; which was a sensible relief to Jenkins. Before very death, they lowered Jenkins, 'Confess, scoundrel, then!' Scoundrel could not confess; spoke of 'British Majesty's flag, peaceable English subject on the high seas.'—'British Majesty; high seas!' answered they, and again hoisted. Thrice over they tried Jenkins in this manner at the yard-arm, once with cabin-boy at his feet: never had man such a day, outrageous whiskerando cut-throats tossing him about, his poor Rebecca and him, at such rate! Sun getting low, and not the least trace of contraband found, they made a last assault on Jenkins; clutched the bloody slit ear of him; tore it mercilessly off; flung it in his face, 'Carry that to your King, and tell him of it!' Then went their way; taking Jenkins's tallow candles, and the best of his sextants with them; so that he could hardly work his passage home again, for want of latitudes;—and has lost in goods 112 pounds, not to speak of his ear. Strictly true all this; ship's company, if required, will testify on their oath." [Daily Journal (and the other London Newspapers), 12th-17th June (o.s.), 1731. Coxe's Walpole, i. 579, 560 (indistinct, and needing correction).]
These surely are singular facts; calculated to awaken a maritime public careful of its honor. Which they did,—after about eight years, as the reader will see! For the present, there are growlings in the coffee-houses; and, "THURSDAY, 28th JUNE," say the Newspapers, "This day Captain Jenkins with his Owners," ear in his pocket, I hope, "went out to Hampton Court to lay the matter before his Grace of Newcastle:" "Please your Grace, it is hardly three months since the illustrious Treaty of Vienna was signed; Dutch and we leading in the Termagant of Spain, and nothing but halcyon weather to be looked for on that side!" Grace of Newcastle, anxious to avoid trouble with Spain, answers I can only fancy what; and nothing was done upon Jenkins and his ear; ["The Spaniards own they did a witty thing, Who cropt our ears, and sent them to the King." —POPE (date not given me).]
—may "keep it in cotton," if he like; shall have "a better ship" for some solacement. This is the first emergence of Jenkins and his ear upon negligent mankind. He and it will marvellously re-emerge, one day!—
BABY CARLOS GETS HIS APANAGE.
But in regard to that Treaty of Vienna, seventh and last of the travail-throes for Baby Carlos's Apanage, let the too oblivious reader accept the following Extract, to keep him on a level with Public "Events," as they are pleased to denominate themselves:—
"By that dreadful Treaty of Seville, Cardinal Fleury and the Spaniards should have joined with England, and coerced the Kaiser VI ET ARMIS to admit Spanish Garrisons [instead of neutral] into Parma and Piacenza, and so secure Baby Carlos his heritage there, which all Nature was in travail till he got. 'War in Italy to a certainty!' said all the Newspapers, after Seville: and Crown-Prince Friedrich, we saw, was running off to have a stroke in said War;—inevitable, as the Kaiser still obstinately refused. And the English, and great George their King, were ready. Nevertheless, no War came. Old Fleury, not wanting war, wanting only to fish out something useful for himself,—Lorraine how welcome, and indeed the smallest contributions are welcome!—Old Fleury manoeuvred, hung back; till the Spaniards and Termagant Elizabeth lost all patience, and the very English were weary, and getting auspicious. Whereupon the Kaiser edged round to the Sea-Powers again, or they to him; and comfortable AS-YOU-WERE was got accomplished: much to the joy of Friedrich Wilhelm and others. Here are some of the dates to these sublime phenomena:
"MARCH 16th, 1731, Treaty of Vienna, England and the Kaiser coalescing again into comfortable AS-YOU-WERE. Treaty done by Robinson [Sir Thomas, ultimately Earl of Grantham, whom we shall often hear of in time coming]; was confirmed and enlarged by a kind of second edition, 22d July, 1731; Dutch joining, Spain itself acceding, and all being now right. Which could hardly have been expected.
"For before the first edition of that Treaty, and while Robinson at Vienna was still laboring like Hercules in it,—the poor Duke of Parma died. Died; and no vestige of a 'Spanish Garrison' yet there, to induct Baby Carlos according to old bargain. On the contrary, the Kaiser himself took possession,—'till once the Duke's Widow, who declares herself in the family-way, be brought to bed! If of a Son, of course he must have the Duchies; if of a Daughter only, then Carlos SHALL get them, let not Robinson fear.' The due months ran, but neither son nor daughter came; and the Treaty of Vienna, first edition and also second, was signed; and, "OCTOBER 20th, 1731, Spanish Garrisons, no longer an but a bodily fact, 6,000 strong, 'convoyed by the British Fleet,' came into Leghorn, and proceeded to lodge themselves in the long-litigated Parma and Piacenza;—and, in fine, the day after Christmas, blessed be Heaven.
"DECEMBER 26th, Baby Carlos in highest person came in: Baby Carlos (more power to him!) got the Duchies, and we hope there was an end. No young gentleman ever had such a pother to make among his fellow-creatures about a little heritable property. If Baby Carlos's performance in it be anything in proportion, he will be a supereminent sovereign!—
"There is still some haggle about Tuscany, the Duke of which is old and heirless; Last of the Medici, as he proved. Baby Carlos would much like to have Tuscany too; but that is a Fief of the Empire, and might easily be better disposed of, thinks the Kaiser. A more or less uncertain point, that of Tuscany; as many points are! Last of the Medici complained, in a polite manner, that they were parting his clothes before he had put them off: however, having no strength, he did not attempt resistance, but politely composed himself, 'Well, then!' [Scholl, ii. 219-221; Coxe's Walpole, i. 346; Coxe's House of Austria (London, 1854), iii. 151.] Do readers need to be informed that this same Baby Carlos came to be King of Naples, and even ultimately to be Carlos III. of Spain, leaving a younger Son to be King of Naples, ancestor of the now Majesty there?"
And thus, after such Diplomatic earthquakes and travail of Nature, there is at last birth; the Seventh Travail-throe has been successful, in some measure successful. Here actually is Baby Carlos's Apanage; there probably, by favor of Heaven and of the Sea-Powers, will the Kaiser's Pragmatic Sanction be, one day. Treaty of Seville, most imminent of all those dreadful Imminencies of War, has passed off as they all did; peaceably adjusts itself into Treaty of Vienna: A Termagant, as it were, sated; a Kaiser hopeful to be so, Pragmatic Sanction and all: for the Sea-Powers and everybody mere halcyon weather henceforth,—not extending to the Gulf of Florida and Captain Jenkins, as would seem! Robinson, who did the thing,—an expert man, bred to business as old Horace Walpole's Secretary, at Soissons and elsewhere, and now come to act on his own score,—regards this Treaty of Vienna (which indeed had its multiform difficulties) as a thing to immortalize a man.
Crown-Prince has, long since, by Papa's order, written to the Kaiser, to thank Imperial Majesty for that beneficent intercession, which has proved the saving of his life, as Papa inculcates. We must now see a little how the saved Crown-Prince is getting on, in his eclipsed state, among the Domain Sciences at Custrin.
Chapter V. — INTERVIEW OF MAJESTY AND CROWN-PRINCE AT CUSTRIN.
Ever since the end of November last year, Crown-Prince Friedrich, in the eclipsed state, at Custrin, has been prosecuting his probationary course, in the Domain Sciences and otherwise, with all the patience, diligence and dexterity he could. It is false, what one reads in some foolish Books, that Friedrich neglected the functions assigned him as assessor in the KRIEGS-UND DOMANEN-KAMMER. That would not have been the safe course for him! The truth still evident is, he set himself with diligence to learn the Friedrich-Wilhelm methods of administering Domains, and the art of Finance in general, especially of Prussian Finance, the best extant then or since;—Finance, Police, Administrative Business;—and profited well by the Raths appointed as tutors to him, in the respective branches. One Hille was his Finance-tutor; whose "KOMPENDIUM," drawn up and made use of on this occasion, has been printed in our time; and is said to be, in brief compass, a highly instructive Piece; throwing clear light on the exemplary Friedrich-Wilhelm methods. [Preuss, i. 59 n.] These the Prince did actually learn; and also practise, all his life,—"essentially following his Father's methods," say the Authorities,—with great advantage to himself, when the time came.
Solid Nicolai hunted diligently after traces of him in the Assessor business here; and found some: Order from Papa, to "make Report, upon the Glass-works of the Neumark:" Autograph signatures to common Reports, one or two; and some traditions of his having had a hand in planning certain Farm-Buildings still standing in those parts:—but as the Kammer Records of Custrin, and Custrin itself, were utterly burnt by the Russians in 1758, such traces had mostly vanished thirty years before Nicolai's time. [Nicolai, Anekdoten, vi. 193.] Enough have turned up since, in the form of Correspondence with the King and otherwise: and it is certain the Crown-Prince did plan Farm-Buildings;—"both Carzig and Himmelstadt (Carzig now called FRIEDRICHSFELDE in consequence)," [See Map] dim mossy Steadings, which pious Antiquarianism can pilgrim to if it likes, were built or rebuilt by him:—and it is remarkable withal how thoroughly instructed Friedrich Wilhelm shows himself in such matters; and how paternally delighted to receive such proposals of improvement introducible at the said Carzig and Himmelstadt, and to find young Graceless so diligent, and his ideas even good. [Forster, ii. 390, 387, 391.] Perhaps a momentary glance into those affairs may be permitted farther on.
The Prince's life, in this his eclipsed state, is one of constraint, anxiety, continual liability; but after the first months are well over, it begins to be more supportable than we should think. He is fixed to the little Town; cannot be absent any night, without leave from the Commandant; which, however, and the various similar restrictions, are more formal than real. An amiable Crown-Prince, no soul in Custrin but would run by night or by day to serve him. He drives and rides about, in that green peaty country, on Domain business, on visits, on permissible amusement, pretty much at his own modest discretion. A green flat region, made of peat and sand; human industry needing to be always busy on it: raised causeways with incessant bridges, black sedgy ditch on this hand and that; many meres, muddy pools, stagnant or flowing waters everywhere; big muddy Oder, of yellowish-drab color, coming from the south, big black Warta (Warthe) from the Polish fens in the east, the black and yellow refusing to mingle for some miles. Nothing of the picturesque in this country; but a good deal of the useful, of the improvable by economic science; and more of fine productions in it, too, of the floral, and still more interesting sorts, than you would suspect at first sight. Friedrich's worst pinch was his dreadful straitness of income; checking one's noble tendencies on every hand: but the gentry of the district privately subscribed gifts for him (SE COTISIRENT, says Wilhelmina); and one way and other he contrived to make ends meet. Munchow, his President in the Kammer, next to whom sits Friedrich, "King's place standing always ready but empty there," is heartily his friend; the Munchows are diligent in getting up balls, rural gayeties, for him; so the Hilles,—nay Hille, severe Finance Tutor, has a Mamsell Hille whom it is pleasant to dance with; [Preuss, i. 59.] nor indeed is she the only fascinating specimen, or flower of loveliness, in those peaty regions, as we shall see. On the whole, his Royal Highness, after the first paroxysms of Royal suspicion are over, and forgiveness beginning to seem possible to the Royal mind, has a supportable time of it; and possesses his soul in patience, in activity and hope.
Unpermitted things, once for all, he must avoid to do: perhaps he will gradually discover that many of them were foolish things better not done. He walks warily; to this all things continually admonish. We trace in him some real desire to be wise, to do and learn what is useful if he can here. But the grand problem, which is reality itself to him, is always, To regain favor with Papa. And this, Papa being what he is, gives a twist to all other problems the young man may have, for they must all shape themselves by this; and introduces something of artificial,—not properly of hypocritical, for that too is fatal if found out,—but of calculated, reticent, of half-sincere, on the Son's part: an inevitable feature, plentifully visible in their Correspondence now and henceforth. Corresponding with Papa and his Grumkow, and watched, at every step, by such an Argus as the Tobacco-Parliament, real frankness of speech is not quite the recommendable thing; apparent frankness may be the safer! Besides mastery in the Domain Sciences, I perceive the Crown-Prince had to study here another art, useful to him in after life: the art of wearing among his fellow-creatures a polite cloak-of-darkness. Gradually he becomes master of it as few are: a man politely impregnable to the intrusion of human curiosity; able to look cheerily into the very eyes of men, and talk in a social way face to face, and yet continue intrinsically invisible to them. An art no less essential to Royalty than that of the Domain Sciences itself; and,—if at all consummately done, and with a scorn of mendacity for help, as in this case,—a difficult art. It is the chief feature in the Two or Three Thousand LETTERS we yet have of Friedrich's to all manner of correspondents: Letters written with the gracefulest flowing rapidity; polite, affable,—refusing to give you the least glimpse into his real inner man, or tell you any particular you might impertinently wish to know.
As the History of Friedrich, in this Custrin epoch, and indeed in all epochs and parts, is still little other than a whirlpool of simmering confusions, dust mainly, and sibylline paper-shreds, in the pages of poor Dryasdust, perhaps we cannot do better than snatch a shred or two (of the partly legible kind, or capable of being made legible) out of that hideous caldron; pin them down at their proper dates; and try if the reader can, by such means, catch a glimpse of the thing with his own eyes. Here is shred first; a Piece in Grumkow's hand.
This treats of a very grand incident; which forms an era or turning-point in the Custrin life. Majesty has actually, after hopes long held out of such a thing, looked in upon the Prodigal at Custrin, in testimony of possible pardon in the distance;—sees him again, for the first time since that scene at Wesel with the drawn sword, after year and day. Grumkow, for behoof of Seckendorf and the Vienna people, has drawn a rough "Protocol" of it; and here it is, snatched from the Dust-whirlwinds, and faithfully presented to the English reader. His Majesty is travelling towards Sonnenburg, on some grand Knight-of-Malta Ceremony there; and halts at Custrin for a couple of hours as he passes:—
GRUMKOW'S "PROTOKOLL" OF THE 15th AUGUST, 1731; OR SUMMARY OF WHAT TOOK PLACE AT CUSTRIN THAT DAY.
"His Majesty arrived at Custrin yesterday [GESTERN Monday 15th,—hour not mentioned], and proceeded at once to the Government House, with an attendance of several hundred persons. Major-General Lepel," Commandant of Custrin, "Colonel Derschau and myself are immediately sent for to his Majesty's apartment there. Privy-Councillor Walden," Prince's Hofmarschall, a solid legal man, "is ordered by his Majesty to bring the Crown-Prince over from his house; who accordingly in a few minutes, attended by Rohwedel and Natzmer," the two Kammerjunkers, "entered the room where his Majesty and we were.
"So soon as his Majesty, turning round, had sight of him, the Crown-Prince fell at his feet. Having bidden him rise, his Majesty said with a severe mien:—
"'You will now bethink yourself what passed year and day ago; and how scandalously you saw fit to behave yourself, and what a godless enterprise you took in hand. As I have had you about me from the beginning, and must know you well, I did all in the world that was in my power, by kindness and by harshness, to make an honorable man of you. As I rather suspected your evil purpose, I treated you in the harshest and sharpest way in the Saxon Camp,' at Radewitz, in those gala days, 'in hopes you would consider yourself, and take another line of conduct; would confess your faults to me, and beg forgiveness. But all in vain; you grew ever more stiffnecked. When a young man gets into follies with women, one may try to overlook it as the fault of his age: but to do with forethought basenesses (LACHETEEN) and ugly actions; 'that is unpardonable. You thought to carry it through with your headstrong humor: but hark ye, my lad (HORE, MEIN KERL), if thou wert sixty or seventy instead of eighteen, thou couldst not cross my resolutions.' It would take a bigger man to do that, my lad! 'And as, up to this date (BIS DATO) I have managed to sustain myself against any comer, there will be methods found of bringing thee to reason too!—
"'How have not I, on all occasions, meant honorably by you! Last time I got wind of your debts, how did I, as a Father, admonish you to tell me all; I would pay all, you were only to tell me the truth. Whereupon you said, There were still two thousand thalers beyond the sum named. I paid these also at once; and fancied I had made peace with you. And then it was found, by and by, you owed many thousands more; and as you now knew you could not pay, it was as good as if the money had been stolen;—not to reckon how the French vermin, Montholieu and partner, cheated you with their new loans.' Pfui!—'Nothing touched me so much [continues his Majesty, verging towards the pathetic], as that you had not any trust in me. All this that I was doing for aggrandizement of the House, the Army and Finances, could only be for you, if you made yourself worthy of it! I here declare I have done all things to gain your friendship;—and all has been in vain!' At which words the Crown-Prince, with a very sorrowful gesture, threw himself at his Majesty's feet,"—tears (presumably) in both their eyes by this time.
"'Was it not your intention to go to England?' asked his Majesty farther on. The Prince answered 'JA!'—'Then hear what the consequences would have been. Your Mother would have got into the greatest misery; I could not but have suspected she was the author of the business. Your Sister I would have cast, for life, into a place where she never would have seen sun and moon again. Then on with my Army into Hanover, and burn and ravage; yes, if it had cost me life, land and people. Your thoughtless and godless conduct, see what it was leading to. I intended to employ you in all manner of business, civil, military; but how, after such an action, could I show the face of you to my Officers (soldiers) and other servants?—The one way of repairing all this is, That you seek, regardless of your very life in comparison, to make the fault good again!' At which words the Crown-Prince mournfully threw himself at his Royal Majesty's feet; begging to be put upon the hardest proofs: He would endure all things, so as to recover his Majesty's grace and esteem.
"Whereupon the King asked him: 'Was it thou that temptedst Katte; or did Katte tempt thee?' The Crown-Prince without hesitation answered, 'I tempted him.'—'I am glad to hear the truth from you, at any rate.'"
The Dialogue now branches out, into complex general form; out of which, intent upon abridging, we gather the following points. King LOQUITUR:—
"How do you like your Custrin life? Still as much aversion to Wusterhausen, and to wearing your shroud [STERBEKITTEL, name for the tight uniform you would now be so glad of, and think quite other than a shroud!] as you called it?" Prince's answer wanting.—"Likely enough my company does not suit you: I have no French manners, and cannot bring out BON-MOTS in the PETIT-MAITRE way; and truly regard all that as a thing to be flung to the dogs. I am a German Prince, and mean to live and die in that character. But you can now say what you have got by your caprices and obstinate heart; hating everything that I liked; and if I distinguished any one, despising him! If an Officer was put in arrest, you took to lamenting about him. Your real friends, who intended your good, you hated and calumniated; those that flattered you, and encouraged your bad purpose, you caressed. You see what that has come to. In Berlin, in all Prussia for some time back, nobody asks after you, Whether you are in the world or not; and were it not one or the other coming from Custrin who reports you as playing tennis and wearing French hair-bags, nobody would know whether you were alive or dead."
Hard sayings; to which the Prince's answers (if there were any beyond mournful gestures) are not given. We come now upon Predestination, or the GNADENWAHL; and learn (with real interest, not of the laughing sort alone) how his "Majesty, in the most conclusive way, set forth the horrible results of that Absolute-Decree notion; which makes out God to be the Author of Sin, and that Jesus Christ died only for some! Upon which the Crown-Prince vowed and declared (HOCH UND THEUER), he was now wholly of his Majesty's orthodox opinion."
The King, now thoroughly moved, expresses satisfaction at the orthodoxy; and adds with enthusiasm, "When godless fellows about you speak against your duties to God, the King and your Country, fall instantly on your knees, and pray with your whole soul to Jesus Christ to deliver you from such wickedness, and lead you on better ways. And if it come in earnest from your heart, Jesus, who would have all men saved, will not leave you unheard." No! And so may God in his mercy aid you, poor son Fritz. And as for me, in hopes the time coming will show fruits, I forgive you what is past.—To which the Crown-Prince answered with monosyllables, with many tears; "kissing his Majesty's feet;"—and as the King's eyes were not dry, he withdrew into another room; revolving many things in his altered soul.
"It being his Majesty's birthday [4th August by OLD STYLE, 15th by NEW, forty-third birthday], the Prince, all bewept and in emotion, followed his Father; and, again falling prostrate, testified such heartfelt joy, gratitude and affection over this blessed anniversary, as quite touched the heart of Papa; who at last clasped him in his arms [poor soul, after all!], and hurried out to avoid blubbering quite aloud. He stept into his carriage," intending for Sonnenburg (chiefly by water) this evening, where a Serene Cousin, one of the Schwedt Margraves, Head Knight of Malta, has his establishment.
"The Crown-Prince followed his Majesty out; and, in the presence of many hundred people, kissed his Majesty's feet" again (linen gaiters, not Day-and-Martin shoes); "and was again embraced by his Majesty, who said, 'Behave well, as I see you mean, and I will take care of you,' which threw the Crown-Prince into such an ecstasy of joy as no pen can express;" and so the carriages rolled away,—towards the Knights-of-Malta business and Palace of the Head Knight of Malta, in the first place. [Forster, iii. 50-54.]
These are the main points, says Grumkow, reporting next day; and the reader must interpret them as he can, A Crown-Prince with excellent histrionic talents, thinks the reader. Well; a certain exaggeration, immensity of wish becoming itself enthusiasm; somewhat of that: but that is by no means the whole or even the main part of the phenomenon, O reader. This Crown-Prince has a real affection to his Father, as we shall in time convince ourselves. Say, at lowest, a Crown-Prince loyal to fact; able to recognize overwhelming fact, and aware that he must surrender thereto. Surrender once made, the element much clears itself; Papa's side of the question getting fairly stated for the first time. Sure enough, Papa, is God's Vicegerent in several undeniable respects, most important some of them: better try if we can obey Papa.
Dim old Fassmann yields a spark or two,—as to his Majesty's errand at Sonnenburg. Majesty is going to preside to-morrow "at the Installation of young Margraf Karl, new HERRMEISTER (Grand-Master) of the Knights of St. John" there; "the Office having suddenly fallen vacant lately." Office which is an heirloom;—usually held by one of the Margraves, half-uncles of the King,—some junior of them, not provided for at Schwedt or otherwise. Margraf Albert, the last occupant, an old gentleman of sixty, died lately, "by stroke of apoplexy while at dinner;" [21st June, 1731: Fassmann, p. 423; Pollnitz, ii. 390.]—and his eldest Son, Margraf Karl, with whom his Majesty lodges to-night, is now Herrmeister. "Majesty came at 6 P.M. to Sonnenburg [must have left Custrin about five]; forty-two Ritters made at Sonnenburg next day,"—a certain Colonel or Lieutenant-General von Wreech, whom we shall soon see again, is one of them; Seckendorf another. "Fresh RITTER-SCHLAG ["Knight-stroke," Batch of Knights dubbed] at Sonnenburg, 29th September next," which shall not the least concern us. Note Margraf Karl, however, the new Herrmeister; for he proves a soldier of some mark, and will turn up again in the Silesian Wars;—as will a poor Brother of his still more impressively, "shot dead beside the King," on one occasion there.
We add this of Dickens, for all the Diplomatists, and a discerning public generally, are much struck with the Event at Custrin; and take to writing of it as news;—and "Mr. Ginkel," Dutch Ambassador here, an ingenious, honest and observant man, well enough known to us, has been out to sup with the Prince, next day; and thus reports of him to Dickens: "Mr. Ginkel, who supped with the Prince on Thursday last," day after the Interview, "tells me that his Royal Highness is extremely improved since he had seen him; being grown much taller; and that his conversation is surprising for his age, abounding in good sense and the prettiest turns of expression." [Despatch, 18th August, 1731.]
Here are other shreds, snatched from the Witch-Caldron, and pinned down, each at its place; which give us one or two subsequent glimpses:—
POTSDAM, 21st AUGUST, 1731 (King to Wolden the Hofmarschall).... "Crown-Prince shall travel over, and personally inspect, the following Domains: Quartschen, Himmelstadt, Carzig, Massin, Lebus, Gollow and Wollup," dingy moor-farms dear to Antiquarians; "travel over these and not any other. Permission always to be asked, of his Royal Majesty, in writing, and mention made to which of them the Crown-Prince means to go. Some one to be always in attendance, who can give him fit instruction about the husbandry; and as the Crown-Prince has yet only learned the theory, he must now be diligent to learn the same practically. For which end it must be minutely explained to him, How the husbandry is managed,—how ploughed, manured, sown, in every particular; and what the differences of good and bad husbandry are, so that he may be able of himself to know and judge the same. Of Cattle-husbandry too, and the affairs of Brewing (VIEHZUCHT UND BRAUWESEN), the due understanding to be given him; and in the matter of Brewing, show him how things are handled, mixed, the beer drawn off, barrelled, and all how they do with it (WIE UBERALL DABEI VERFAHREN); also the malt, how it must be prepared, and what like, when good. Useful discourse to be kept up with him on these journeys; pointing out how and why this is and that, and whether it could not be better:"—O King of a thousand!—"Has liberty to shoot stags, moorcocks (HUHNER) and the like; and a small-hunt [KLEINE JAGD, not a PARFORCE or big one] can be got up for his amusement now and then;" furthermore "a little duck-shooting from boat," on the sedgy waters there,—if the poor soul should care about it. Wolden, or one of the Kammerjunkers, to accompany always, and be responsible. "No MADCHEN or FRAUENSMENSCH," no shadow of womankind;—"keep an eye on him, you three!"
These things are in the Prussian Archives; of date the week after that interview. In two weeks farther, follows the Prince's speculation about Carzig and the Building of a Farmstead there; with Papa's "real contentment that you come upon such proposals, and seek to make improvements. Only"—
WUSTERHAUSEN, 11th SEPTEMBER (King to Crown-Prince).... "Only you must examine whether there is meadow-ground enough, and how many acres can actually be allotted to that Farm. [Hear his Majesty!] Take a Land-surveyor with you; and have all well considered; and exactly inform yourself what kind of land it is, whether it can only grow rye, or whether some of it is barley-land: you must consider it YOURSELF, and do it all out of your own head, though you may consult with others about it. In grazing-ground (HUTHUNG) I think it will not fail; if only the meadow-land"—in fact, it fails in nothing; and is got all done ("wood laid out to season straightway," and "what digging and stubbing there is, proceeded with through the winter"): done in a successful and instructive manner, both Carzig and Himmelstadt, though we will say nothing farther of them. [Forster, i. 387-392.]
CUSTRIN, 22d SEPTEMBER (Crown-Prince to Papa).... "Have been at Lebus; excellent land out there; fine weather for the husbandman." "Major Roder," unknown Major, "passed this way; and dined with me, last Wednesday. He has got a pretty fellow (SCHONEN KERL) for my Most All-Gracious Father's regiment [the Potsdam Giants, where I used to be]; whom I could not look upon without bleeding heart. I depend on my Most All-Gracious Father's Grace, that he will be good to me: I ask for nothing and no happiness in the world but what comes from You; and hope You will, some day, remember me in grace, and give me the Blue Coat to put on again!" [BRIEFWECHSEL MIT VATER (OEuvres, xxvii. part 3d, p. 27).]—To which Papa answers nothing, or only "Hm, na, time MAY come!"
Carzig goes on straightway; Papa charmed to grant the moneys; "wood laid out to season," and much "stubbing and digging" set on foot, before the month ends. Carzig; and directly on the heel of it, on like terms, Himmelstadt,—but of all this we must say no more. It is clear the Prince is learning the Domain Sciences; eager to prove himself a perfect son in the eyes of Papa. Papa, in hopeful moments, asks himself: "To whom shall we marry him, then; how settle him?" But what the Prince, in his own heart, thought of it all; how he looked, talked, lived, in unofficial times? Here has a crabbed dim Document turned up, which, if it were not nearly undecipherable to the reader and me, would throw light on the point:—
SCHULENBURG'S THREE LETTERS TO GRUMKOW, ON VISITS TO THE CROWN-PRINCE, DURING THE CUSTRIN TIME.
The reader knows Lieutenant-General Schulenburg; stiff little military gentleman of grave years, nephew of the maypole EMERITA who is called Duchess of Kendal in England. "Had a horse shot under him at Malplaquet;" battlings and experiences enough, before and since. Has real sense, abundant real pedantry; a Prussian soldier every inch. He presided in the Copenick Court-martial; he is deeply concerned in these Crown-Prince difficulties. His Majesty even honors him by expecting he should quietly keep a monitorial eye upon the Crown-Prince;—being his neighbor in those parts; Colonel-Commandant of a regiment of Horse at Landsberg not many miles off. He has just been at Vienna [September, 1731 (Militair-Lexikon, iii. 433).] on some "business", (quasi-diplomatic probably, which can remain unknown to us); and has reported upon it, or otherwise finished it off, at Berlin;—whence rapidly home to Landsberg again. On the way homewards, and after getting home, he writes these three Letters; off-hand and in all privacy, and of course with a business sincerity, to Grumkow;—little thinking they would one day get printed, and wander into these latitudes to be scanned and scrutinized! Undoubtedly an intricate crabbed Document to us; but then an indubitable one. Crown-Prince, Schulenburg himself, and the actual figure of Time and Place, are here mirrored for us, with a business sincerity, in the mind of Schulenburg,—as from an accidental patch of water; ruffled bog-water, in sad twilight, and with sedges and twigs intervening; but under these conditions we do look with our own eyes!
Could not one, by any conceivable method, interpret into legibility this abstruse dull Document; and so pick out here and there a glimpse, actual face-to-face view, of Crown-Prince Friedrich in his light-gray frock with the narrow silver tresses, in his eclipsed condition there in the Custrin region? All is very mysterious about him; his inward opinion about all manner of matters, from the GNADENWAHL to the late Double-Marriage Question. Even his outward manner of life, in its flesh-and-blood physiognomy,—we search in vain through tons of dusty lucubration totally without interest, to catch here and there the corner of a feature of it. Let us try Schulenburg. We shall know at any rate that to Grumkow, in the Autumn 1731, these words were luculent and significant: consciously they tell us something of young Friedrich; unconsciously a good deal of Lieutenant-General Schulenburg, who with his strict theologies, his military stiffnesses, his reticent, pipe-clayed, rigorous and yet human ways, is worth looking at, as an antique species extinct in our time. He is just home from Vienna, getting towards his own domicile from Berlin, from Custrin, and has seen the Prince. He writes in a wretched wayside tavern, or post-house, between Custrin and Landsberg,—dates his letter "WIEN (Vienna)," as if he were still in the imperial City, so off-hand is he.
No. 1. TO HIS EXCELLENZ (add a shovelful of other titles) LIEUTENANT-GENERAL HERR BARON VON GRUMKOW, PRESIDENT OF THE KRIEGES-UND DOMANEN-DIRECTORIUM, OF THE (in fact, Vice-President of the Tobacco-Parliament) IN BERLIN.
"WIEN [properly Berlin-Landsberg Highway, other side of Custrin], 4th October, 1731.
"I regret much to have missed the pleasure of seeing your Excellency again before I left Berlin. I set off between seven and eight in the morning yesterday, and got to Custrin [seventy miles or so] before seven at night. But the Prince had gone, that day, to the Bailliage of Himmelstadt" (up the Warta Country, eastward some five-and-thirty miles, much preparatory digging and stubbing there); and he "slept at Massin [circuitous road back], where he shot a few stags this morning. As I was told he might probably dine at Kammin [still nearer Custrin, twelve miles from it; half that distance east of Zorndorf,—mark that, O reader (see Map)] with Madam Colonel Schoning, I drove thither. He had arrived there a moment before me." And who is Madam Schoning, lady of Kammin here?—Patience, reader.
"I found him much grown; an air of health and gayety about him. He caressed me greatly (ME GRACIEUSA FORT); afterwards questioned me about my way of life in Vienna; and asked, if I had diverted myself well there? I told him what business had been the occasion of my journey, and that this rather than amusements had occupied me; for the rest, that there had been great affluence of company, and no lack of diversions. He spoke a long time to Madam de Wreech "—
"Wrochem" Schulenburg calls her: young Wife of Lieutenant-General von Wreech, a Marlborough Campaigner, made a Knight of Malta the other day; [Militair-Lexikon, iv. 269.]—HIS charming young Wife, and Daughter of Madam Colonel Schoning our hostess here; lives at Tamsel, in high style, in these parts: mark the young Lady well,—"who did not appear indifferent to him." No!—"and in fact she was in all her beauty; a complexion of lily and rose."
Charming creature; concerning whom there are anecdotes still afloat, and at least verses of this Prince's writing; not too well seen by Wreech, lately made a Knight of Malta, who, though only turning forty, is perhaps twice her age. The beautifulest, cleverest,—fancy it; and whether the peaty Neumark produces nothing in the floral kind!
"We went to dinner; he asked me to sit beside him. The conversation fell, among other topics, on the Elector Palatine's Mistress," crotchety old gentleman, never out of quarrels, with Heidelberg Protestants, heirs of Julich and Berg, and in general with an unreasonable world, whom we saw at Mannheim last year; has a Mistress,—"Elector Valatine's Mistress, called Taxis. Crown-Prince said: 'I should like to know what that good old gentleman does with a Mistress?' I answered, that the fashion had come so much in vogue, Princes did not think they were Princes unless they had mistresses; and that I was amazed at the facility of women, how they could shut their eyes on the sad reverse of fortune nearly inevitable for them;—and instanced the example of Madam Gravenitz"—
"Gravenitz;" example lately fallen out at Wurtemberg, as we predicted. Prayers of the Country, "Deliver us from evil," are now answered there: Gravenitz quite over with it! Alas, yes; lately fallen from her high estate in Wurtemberg, and become the topic of dinner-tables; seized by soldiers in the night-time; vain her high refusals, assurances of being too unwell to dress, "Shall go in your shift, then,"—is in prison, totally eclipsed. [Michaelis, iii. 440; Pollnitz, i. 297.] Calming her fury, she will get out; and wearisomely wander about in fashionable capitals, TOUJOURS UN LAVEMENT A SES TROUSSES!
"There were other subjects touched upon; and I always endeavored to deduce something of moral instruction from them," being a military gentleman of the old school.
"Among other things, he said, He liked the great world, and was charmed to observe the ridiculous weak side of some people. 'That is excellent,' said I, 'if one profit by it oneself: but if it is only for amusement, such a motive is worth little; we should rather look out for our own ridiculous weak side.' On rising, Hofmarschall Wolden said to me," without much sincerity, "'YOU have done well to preach a little morality to him.' The Prince went to a window, and beckoned me thither.
"'You have learned nothing of what is to become of me?' said he. I answered: 'It is supposed your Royal Highness will return to Berlin, when the Marriage [Wilhelmina's] takes place; but as to what will come next, I have heard nothing. But as your Highness has friends, they will not fail to do their endeavor; and M. de Grumkow has told me he would try to persuade the King to give you a regiment, in order that your Highness might have something to do.' It seemed as if that would give him pleasure. I then took the liberty of saying: 'Monseigneur, the most, at present, depends on yourself.—'How so?' asked he. I answered, 'It is only by showing good conduct, and proofs of real wisdom and worth, that the King's entire favor can be gained First of all, to fear God'"—And, in fact, I launched now into a moral preachment, or discursive Dialogue, of great length; much needing to have the skirts of it tucked up, in a way of faithful abridgment, for behoof of poor English readers. As follows:—
"SCHULENBURG: If your Highness behave well, the King will accord what you want: but it is absolutely necessary to begin by that.—PRINCE: I do nothing that can displease the King.—SCHULENBURG: It would be a little soon yet! But I speak of the future. Your Highness, the grand thing I recommend is to fear God! Everybody says, you have the sentiments of an honest man; excellent, that, for a beginning; but without the fear of God, your Highness, the passions stifle the finest sentiments. Must lead a life clear of reproach; and more particularly on the chapter of women! Need not imagine you can do the least thing without the King's knowing it: if your Highness take the bad road, he will wish to correct it; the end will be, he will bring you back to live beside him; which will not be very agreeable.—PRINCE: Hmph, No!—SCHULENBURG: Of the ruin to health I do not speak; I—PRINCE: Pooh, one is young, one is not master of that;"—and, in fact, on this delicate chapter, which runs to some length, Prince answers as wildish young fellows will; quizzing my grave self, with glances even at his Majesty, on alleged old peccadilloes of ours. Which allegations or inferences I rebutted with emphasis. "But, I confess, though I employed all my rhetoric, his mind did not seem to alter; and it will be a miracle if he change on this head." Alas, General! Can't be helped, I fear!
"He said he was not afraid of anything so much as of living constantly beside the King.—SCHULENBURG: Arm yourself with patience, Monseigneur, if that happen. God has given you sense enough; persevere to use it faithfully on all occasions, you will gain the good graces of the King.—PRINCE: Impossible; beyond my power, indeed, said he; and made a thousand objections.—SCHULENBURG: Your Highness is like one that will not learn a trade because you do not already know it. Begin; you will certainly never know it otherwise! Before rising in the morning, form a plan for your day,"—in fact, be moral, oh, be moral!
His Highness now got upon the marriages talked of for him; an important point for the young man. He spoke, hopefully rather, of the marriage with the Princess of Mecklenburg,—Niece of the late Czar Peter the Great; Daughter of that unhappy Duke who is in quarrel with his Ritters, and a trouble to all his neighbors, and to us among the number. Readers recollect that young Lady's Serene Mother, and a meeting she once had with her Uncle Peter,—at Magdeburg, a dozen years ago, in a public drawing-room with alcove near; anecdote not lightly to be printed in human types, nor repeated where not necessary. The Mother is now dead; Father still up to the eyes in puddle and trouble: but as for the young Lady herself, she is Niece to the now Czarina Anne; by law of primogeniture Heiress of all the Russias; something of a match truly!
"But there will be difficulties; your Highness to change your religion, for one thing?—PRINCE: Won't, by any means:—SCHULENBURG: And give up the succession to Prussia?—PRINCE: A right fool if I did!—SCHULENBURG: Then this marriage comes to nothing.—Thereupon next he said, If the Kaiser is so strong for us, let him give me his second Daughter;" lucky Franz of Lorraine is to get the first.—"SCHULENBURG: Are you serious?—PRINCE: Why not? with a Duchy or two it would do very well.—SCHULENBURG: No Duchies possible under the Pragmatic Sanction, your Highness: besides, your change of religion?—PRINCE: Oh, as to that, never!—Then this marriage also comes to nothing Of the English, and their Double-Marriage, and their Hotham brabble, he spoke lightly, as of an extinct matter,—in terms your Excellency will like.
"But, said I, since you speak so much of marriages, I suppose you wish to be married?—PRINCE: No; but if the King absolutely will have it, I will marry to obey him. After that, I will shove my wife into the corner (PLANTERAI LA MA FEMME), and live after my own fancy.—SCHULENBURG: Horrible to think of! For, in the first place, your Highness, is it not written in the Law of God, Adulterers shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven?" And in the second place; and in the third and fourth place!—To all which he answered as wild young fellows do, especially if you force marriage on them. "I can perceive, if he marries, it will only be to have more liberty than now. It is certain, if he had his elbows free, he would strike out (S'EN DONNERAIT A GAUCHE). He said to me several times: 'I am young; I want to profit by my youth.'" A questionable young fellow, Herr General; especially if you force marriage on him.
"This conversation done," continues the General, "he set to talking with the Madam Wreech," and her complexion of lily and rose; "but he did not stay long; drove off about five [dinner at the stroke of twelve in those countries], inviting me to see him again at Custrin, which I promised."
And so the Prince is off in the Autumn sunset, driving down the peaty hollow of the Warta, through unpicturesque country, which produces Wreechs and incomparable flowers nevertheless. Yes; and if he look a six miles to the right, there is the smoke of the evening kettles from Zorndorf, rising into the sky; and across the River, a twenty miles to the left, is Kunersdorf: poor sleepy sandy hamlets; where nettles of the Devil are to be plucked one day!—
"The beautiful Wreech drove off to Tamsel," her fine house; I to this wretched tavern; where, a couple of hours after that conversation, I began writing it all down, and have nothing else to do for the night. Your Excellency's most moral, stiff-necked, pipe-clayed and extremely obedient,
[Forster, iii. 65-71.]
This young man may be orthodox on Predestination, and outwardly growing all that a Papa could wish; but here are strange heterodoxies, here is plenty of mutinous capricious fire in the interior of him, Herr General! In fact, a young man unfortunately situated; already become solitary in Creation; has not, except himself, a friend in the world available just now. Tempestuous Papa storms one way, tempestuous Mamma Nature another; and between the outsids and the inside there are inconsistencies enough.
Concerning the fair Wreech of Tamsel, with her complexion of lily and rose, there ensued by and by much whispering, and rumoring underbreath; which has survived in the apocryphal Anecdote-Books, not in too distinct a form. Here, from first hand, are three words, which we may take to be the essence of the whole. Grumkow reporting, in a sordid, occasionally smutty, spy manner, to his Seckendorf, from Berlin, eight or ten months hence, has this casual expression: "He [King Friedrich Wilhelm] told me in confidence that Wreech, the Colonel's Wife, is—to P. R. (Prince-Royal); and that Wreech vowed he would not own it for his. And his Majesty in secret is rather pleased," adds the smutty spy. [Grumkow to Seckendorf, Berlin, 20th August, 1732 (Forster, iii. 112).] Elsewhere I have read that the poor object, which actually came as anticipated (male or female, I forget), did not live long;—nor had Friedrich, by any opportunity, another child in this world. Domestic Tamsel had to allay itself as it best could; and the fair Wreech became much a stranger to Friedrich,—surprisingly so to Friedrich the KING, as perhaps we may see.—
Predestination, GNADENWAHL, Herr General: what is orthodoxy on Predestination, with these accompaniments! [For Wreech, see Benekendorf, v. 94; for Schulenburg, ib. 26;—and Militair-Lexikon, iii. 432, 433, and iv. 268, 269. Vacant on the gossiping points; cautiously official, both these.] We go now to the Second Letter and the Third,—from Landsberg about a fortnight later:—
No. 2. TO HIS EXCELLENCY (shovelful of titles) VON GRUMKOW, IN BERLIN.
"LANDSBERG, 19th October, 1731.
"The day before yesterday [that is, Wednesday, 17th October] I received an Order, To have only fifty Horse at that post, and"—Order which shows us that there has fallen out some recruiting squabble on the Polish Frontier hereabouts; that the Polack gentlemen have seized certain Corporals of ours, but are about restoring them; Order and affair which we shall omit. "Corporals will be got back: but as these Polack gentlemen: will see, by the course taken, that we have no great stomach for BITING, I fancy they will grow more insolent; then, 'ware who tries to recruit there for the future!
"On the same day I was apprised, from Custrin, That the Prince-Royal had resolved on an excursion to Carzig, and thence to the Bailliage of Himmelstadt [digging and stubbing now on foot at Himmelstadt too], which is but a couple of miles ["DEMI-MILLE" German.] from this; that there would be a little hunt between the two Bailliages; and that if I chose to come, I might, and the Prince would dine with me."—Which I did; and so, here again, Thursday, 18th October, 1731, in those remote Warta-Oder Countries, is a glimpse of his Royal Highness at first hand. Schulenburg continues; not even taking a new paragraph, which indeed he never does:—
"They had shut up a couple of SPIESSER (young roes), and some stags, in the old wreck of a SAUGARTEN [Boar-park, between Carzig and Himmelstadt; FAST RUINIRTEN SAUGARTEN, he calls it, daintily throwing in a touch of German here]: the Prince shot one or two of them, and his companions the like; but it does not seem as if this amusement were much to his taste. He went on to Himmelstadt; and at noon he arrived here," in my poor Domicile at Landsberg.
"At one o'clock we went to table, and sat till four. He spoke only of very indifferent things; except saying to me: 'Do you know, the King has promised 400,000 crowns (60,000 pounds) towards disengaging those Bailliages of the Margraf of Baireuth's,'"—old Margraf, Bailliages pawned to raise ready cash; readers remember what interminable Law-pleading there was, till Friedrich Wilhelm put it into a liquid state, "Pay me back the moneys, then!" [Supra, pp. 161-163.]—"'400,000 thalers to the old Margraf, in case his Prince (Wilhelmina's now Bridegroom) have a son by my Sister.' I answered, I had heard nothing of it.—'But,' said he, 'that is a great deal of money! And some hundred thousands more have gone the like road, to Anspach, who never will be able to repay. For all is much in disorder at Anspach. Give the Margraf his Heron-hunt (CHASSE AU HERON), he cares for nothing; and his people pluck him at no allowance.' I said: That if these Princes would regulate their expenditure, they might, little by little, pay off their debts; that I had been told at Vienna the Baireuth Bailliages were mortgaged on very low terms, those who now held them making eight or ten per cent of their money;"—that the Margraf ought to make an effort; and so on. "I saw very well that these Loans the King makes are not to his mind.
"Directly on rising from table, he went away; excusing himself to me, That he could not pass the night here; that the King would not like his sleeping in the Town; besides that he had still several things to complete in a Report he was sending off to his Majesty. He went to Nassin, and slept there. For my own share, I did not press him to remain; what I did was rather in the way of form. There were with him President Munchow," civil gentleman whom we know, "an Engineer Captain Reger, and the three Gentlemen of his Court," Wolden, Rohwedel, Katzmer who once twirled his finger in a certain mouth, the insipid fellow.
[MAP GOES HERE————————missing]
"He is no great eater; but I observed he likes the small dishes (PETITS PLATS) and the high tastes: he does not care for fish; though I had very fine trouts, he never touched them. He does not take brown soup (SOUPE AU BOUILLON). It did not seem to me he cared for wine: he tastes at all the wines; but commonly stands by burgundy with water.
"I introduced to him all the Officers of my Regiment who are here; he received them in the style of a king [EN ROI, plenty of quiet pride in him, Herr General]. It is certain he feels what he is born to; and if ever he get to it, will stand on the top of it. As to me, I mean to keep myself retired; and shall see of him as little as I can. I perceive well he does not like advice," especially when administered in the way of preachment, by stiff old military gentlemen of the all-wise stamp;—"and does not take pleasure except with people inferior to him in mind. His first aim is to find out the ridiculous side of every one, and he loves to banter and quiz. It is a fault in a Prince: he ought to know people's faults, and not to make them known to anybody whatever,"—which, we perceive, is not quite the method with private gentlemen of the all-wise type!—
"I speak to your Excellency as a friend; and assure you he is a Prince who has talent, but who will be the slave of his passions (SE FERA DOMINER PAR SES PASSIONS,"—not a felicitous prophecy, Herr General); "and will like nobody but such as encourage him therein. For me, I think all Princes are cast in the same mould; there is only a more and a less.
"At parting, he embraced me twice; and said, 'I am sorry I cannot stay longer; but another time I will profit better.' Wolden [one of the Three] told me he could not describe how well-intentioned for your Excellency the Prince-Royal is [cunning dog!], who says often to Wolden [doubtless guessing it will be re-said], 'If I cannot show him my gratitude, I will his posterity:'"—profoundly obliged to the Grumkow kindred first and last!—"I remain your Excellency's" most pipe-clayed
[Forster, iii. 71-73.]
And so, after survey of the spademen at Carzig and Himmelstadt (where Colonel Wreech, by the way, is AMTS-HAUPTMANN, official Head-Man), after shooting a SPIESSER or two, and dining and talking in this sort, his Royal Highness goes to sleep at Massin; and ends one day of his then life. We proceed to Letter No. 3.
A day or two after No. 2, it would appear, his Majesty, who is commonly at Wusterhausen hunting in this season, has been rapidly out to Crossen, in these Landsberg regions (to south, within a day's drive of Landsberg), rapidly looking after something; Grumkow and another Official attending him;—other Official, "Truchsess," is Truchsess von Waldburg, a worthy soldier and gentleman of those parts, whom we shall again hear of. In No. 3 there is mention likewise of the "Kurfurst of Koln,"—Elector of Cologne; languid lanky gentleman of Bavarian breed, whom we saw last year at Bonn, richest Pluralist of the Church; whom doubtless our poor readers have forgotten again. Mention of him; and also considerable sulky humor, of the Majesty's-Opposition kind, on Schulenburg's part; for which reason, and generally as a poor direct reflex of time and place,—reflex by ruffled bog-water, through sedges, and in twilight; dim but indubitable,—we give the Letter, though the Prince is little spoken of in it:—
No. 3. TO THE EXCELLENCY GRUMKOW (as above), IN BERLIN.
"LANDSBERG, 22d October (Monday), 1731.
"MONSIEUR,—I trust your Excellency made your journey to Crossen with all the satisfaction imaginable. Had I been warned sooner, I would have come; not only to see the King, but for your Excellency's sake and Truchsess's: but I received your Excellency's Letter only yesterday morning; so I could not have arrived before yesternight, and that late; for it is fifty miles off, and one has to send relays beforehand; there being no post-horses on that road.
"We are,—not to make comparisons,—like Harlequin! No sooner out of one scrape, than we get into another; and all for the sake of those Big Blockheads (L'AMOUR DE CES GRANDS COLOSSES). What the Kurfurst of Koln has done, in his character of Bishop of Osnabruck,"—a deed not known to this Editor, but clearly in the way of snubbing our recruiting system,—"is too droll: but if we avenge ourselves, there will be high play, and plenty of it, all round our borders! If such things would make any impression on the spirit, of our Master: but they do not; they"—in short, this recruiting system is delirious, thinks the stiff Schulenburg; and scruples not to say so, though not in his place in Parliament, or even Tobacco-Parliament. For there is a Majesty's Opposition in all lands and times. "We ruin the Country," says the Honorable Member, "sending annually millions of money out of it, for a set of vagabond fellows (GENS A SAC ET A CORDE), who will never do us the least service. One sees clearly it is the hand of God," darkening some people's understanding; "otherwise it might be possible their eyes would open, one time or another!"—A stiff pipe-clayed gentleman of great wisdom, with plenty of sulphur burning in the heart of him. The rest of his Letter is all in the Opposition strain (almost as if from his place in Parliament, only far briefer than is usual "within these walls"); and winds up with a glance at Victor Amadeus's strange feat, or rather at the Son's feat done upon Victor, over in Sardinia; preceded by this interjectionary sentence on a Prince nearer home:—
"As to the Prince-Royal, depend on it he will do whatever is required of him [marry anybody you like &c.], if you give him more elbow-room, for that is whither he aims.—Not a bad stroke that, of the King of Sardinia"—Grand news of the day, at that time; now somewhat forgotten, and requiring a word from us:
Old King Victor Amadeus of Sardinia had solemnly abdicated in favor of his Son; went, for a twelvemonth or more, into private felicity with an elderly Lady-love whom he had long esteemed the first of women;—tired of such felicity, after a twelvemonth; demanded his crown back, and could not get it! Lady-love and he are taken prisoners; lodged in separate castles: [2d September, 1730 abdicated, went to Chambery; reclaims, is locked in Rivoli, 8th October, 1731 (news of it just come to Schulenburg); dies there, 31st October, 1732, his 67th year.] and the wrath of the proud old gentleman is Olympian in character,—split an oak table, smiting it while he spoke (say the cicerones);—and his silence, and the fiery daggers he looks, are still more emphatic. But the young fellow holds out; you cannot play handy-dandy with a king's crown, your Majesty! say his new Ministers. Is and will continue King. "Not a bad stroke of him," thinks Schulenburg,——"especially if his Father meant to play him the same trick," that is, clap him in prison. Not a bad stroke;—which perhaps there is another that could imitate, "if HIS Papa gave him the opportunity! But THIS Papa will take good care; and the Queen will not forget the Sardinian business, when he talks again of abdicating," as he does when in ill-humor.—
"But now had not we better have been friends with England, should war rise upon that Sardinian business? General Schulenburg,"—the famed Venetian Field-marshal, bruiser of the Turks in Candia, [Same who was beaten by Charles XII. before; a worthy soldier nevertheless, say the Authorities: LIFE of him by Varnhagen von Ense (Biographische Denkmale, Berlin, 1845).] my honored Uncle, who sometimes used to visit his Sister the Maypole, now EMERITA, in London, and sip beer and take tobacco on an evening, with George I. of famous memory,—he also "writes me this Victor-Amadeus news, from Paris;" so that it is certain; Ex-King locked in Rivoli near a fortnight ago: "he, General Schulenburg, says farther, To judge by the outside, all appears very quiet; but many think, at the bottom of the bag it will not be the same."—
"I am, with respect," your Excellency's much in buckram,
"LE COMTE DE SCHOULENBOURG."
[Forster, iii. 73-75.]
So far Lieutenant-General Schulenburg; whom we thank for these contemporary glimpses of a young man that has become historical, and of the scene he lived in. And with these three accidental utterances, as if they (which are alone left) had been the sum of all he said in the world, let the Lieutenant-General withdraw now into silence: he will turn up twice again, after half a score of years, once in a nobler than talking attitude, the close-harnessed, stalwart, slightly atrabiliar military gentleman of the old Prussian school.
These glimpses of the Crown-Prince, reflected on us in this manner, are not very luculent to the reader,—light being indifferent, and mirror none of the best:—but some features do gleam forth, good and not so good; which, with others coming, may gradually coalesce into something conceivable. A Prince clearly of much spirit, and not without petulance; abundant fire, much of it shining and burning irregularly at present; being sore held down from without, and anomalously situated. Pride enough, thinks Schulenburg, capricious petulance enough,—likely to go into "a reign of the passions," if we live. As will be seen!—
Wilhelmina was betrothed in June last: Wilhelmina, a Bride these six months, continues to be much tormented by Mamma. But the Bridegroom, Prince of Baireuth, is gradually recommending himself to persons of judgment, to Wilhelmina among others. One day he narrowly missed an unheard-of accident: a foolish servant, at some boar-hunt, gave him a loaded piece on the half-cock; half-cock slipped in the handling; bullet grazed his Majesty's very temple, was felt twitching the hair there;—ye Heavens! Whereupon impertinent remarks from some of the Dessau people (allies of Schwedt and the Margravine in high colors); which were well answered by the Prince, and noiselessly but severely checked by a well-bred King. [Wilhelmina, i. 356.] King has given the Prince of Baireuth a regiment; and likes him tolerably, though the young man will not always drink as could be wished. Wedding, in spite of clouds from her Majesty, is coming steadily on.
HIS MAJESTY'S BUILDING OPERATIONS.
"This year," says Fassmann, "the building operations both in Berlin and Stettin,"—in Stettin where new fortifications are completed, in Berlin where gradually whole new quarters are getting built,—"were exceedingly pushed forward (AUSSERST POUSSIRT)." Alas, yes; this too is a questionable memorable feature of his Majesty's reign. Late Majesty, old King Friedrich I., wishful,—as others had been, for the growth of Berlin, laid out a new Quarter, and called it Friedrichs Stadt; scraggy boggy ground, planned out into streets, Friedrichs Strasse the chief street, with here and there a house standing lonesomely prophetic on it. But it is this present Majesty, Friedrich Wilhelm, that gets the plan executed, and the Friedrichs Strasse actually built, not always in a soft or spontaneous manner. Friedrich Wilhelm was the AEdile of his Country, as well as the Drill-sergeant; Berlin City did not rise of its own accord, or on the principle of leave-alone, any more than the Prussian Army itself. Wreck and rubbish Friedrich Wilhelm will not leave alone, in any kind; but is intent by all chances to sweep them from the face of the Earth, that something useful, seemly to the Royal mind, may stand there instead. Hence these building operations in the Friedrich Street and elsewhere, so "exceedingly pushed forward."
The number of scraggy waste places he swept clear, first and last, and built tight human dwellings upon, is almost uncountable. A common gift from him (as from his Son after him) to a man in favor, was that of a new good House,—an excellent gift. Or if the man is himself able to build, Majesty will help him, incite him: "Timber enough is in the royal forests; stone, lime are in the royal quarries; scraggy waste is abundant: why should any man, of the least industry or private capital, live in a bad house?" By degrees, the pressure of his Majesty upon private men to build with encouragement became considerable, became excessive, irresistible; and was much complained of, in these years now come. Old Colonel Derschau is the King's Agent, at Berlin, in this matter; a hard stiff man; squeezes men, all manner of men with the least capital, till they build.
Nussler, for example, whom we once saw at Hanover, managing a certain contested Heritage for Friedrich Wilhelm; adroit Nussler, though he has yet got no fixed appointment, nor pay except by the job, is urged to build;—second year hence, 1733, occurs the case of Nussler, and is copiously dwelt upon by Busching his biographer: "Build yourself a house in the Friedrichs Strasse!" urges Derschau. "But I have no pay, no capital!" pleads Nussler.—"Tush, your Father-in-law, abstruse Kanzler von Ludwig, in Halle University, monster of law-learning there, is not he a monster of hoarded moneys withal? He will lend you, for his own and his Daughter's sake. [Busching, Beitrage, i. 324.] Or shall his Majesty compel him?" urges Derschau. And slowly, continually turns the screw upon Nussler, till he too raises for himself a firm good house in the Friedrichs Stadt,—Friedrichs Strasse, or STREET, as they now call it, which the Tourist of these days knows. Substantial clear ashlar Street, miles or half-miles long; straight as a line:—Friedrich Wilhelm found it scrag and quagmire; and left it what the Tourist sees, by these hard methods. Thus Herr Privy-Councillor Klinggraf too, Nussler's next neighbor: he did not want to build; far from it; but was obliged, on worse terms than Nussler. You have such work, founding your house;—for the Nussler-Klinggraf spot was a fish-pool, and "carps were dug up" in founding;—such piles, bound platform of solid beams; "4,000 thalers gone before the first stone is laid:" and, in fact, the house must be built honestly, or it will be worse for the house and you. "Cost me 12,000 thalers (1,800 pounds) in all, and is worth perhaps 2,000!" sorrowfully ejaculates Nussler, when the job is over. Still worse with Privy-Councillor Klinggraf: his house, the next to Nussler's, is worth mere nothing to him when built; a soap-boiler offers him 800 thalers (120 pounds) for it; and Nussler, to avoid suffocation, purchases it himself of Klinggraf for that sum. Derschau, with his slow screw-machinery, is very formidable;—and Busching knows it for a fact, "that respectable Berlin persons used to run out of the way of Burgermeister Koch and him, when either of them turned up on the streets!"
These things were heavy to bear. Truly, yes; where is the liberty of private capital or liberty of almost any kind, on those terms? Liberty to ANNIHILATE rubbish and chaos, under known conditions, you may have; but not the least liberty to keep them about you, though never so fond of doing it! What shall we say? Nussler and the Soap-boiler do both live in houses more human than they once had. Berlin itself, and some other things, did not spring from Free-trade. Berlin City would, to this day, have been a Place of SCRUBS ("the BERLIN," a mere appellative noun to that effect), had Free-trade always been the rule there. I am sorry his Majesty transgresses the limits;—and we, my friends, if we can make our Chaos into Cosmos by firing Parliamentary eloquence into it, and bombarding it with Blue-Books, we will much triumph over his Majesty, one day!—
Thus are the building operations exceedingly pushed forward, the Ear of Jenkins torn off, and Victor Amadeus locked in ward, while our Crown-Prince, in the eclipsed state, is inspected by a Sage in pipe-clay, and Wilhelmina's wedding is coming on.
Chapter VI. — WILHELMINA'S WEDDING.
Tuesday, 20th November, 1731, Wilhelmina's wedding-day arrived, after a brideship of eight months; and that young Lady's troublesome romance, more happily than might have been expected, did at last wind itself up. Mamma's unreasonable humors continued, more or less; but these also must now end. Old wooers and outlooks, "the four or three crowned heads,"—they lie far over the horizon; faded out of one's very thoughts, all these. Charles XII., Peter II. are dead; Weissenfels is not, but might as well be. Prince Fred, not yet wedded elsewhere, is doing French madrigals in Leicester House; tending forwards the "West Wickham" set of Politicians, the Pitt-Lyttelton set; stands ill with Father and Mother, and will not come to much. August the Dilapidated-Strong is deep in Polish troubles, in Anti-Kaiser politics, in drinking-bouts;—his great-toe never mended, never will mend. Gone to the spectral state all these: here, blooming with life in its cheeks, is the one practical Fact, our good Hereditary Prince of Baireuth,—privately our fate all along;—which we will welcome cheerfully; and be thankful to Heaven that we have not died in getting it decided for us!—
Wedding was of great magnificence; Berlin Palace and all things and creatures at their brightest: the Brunswick-Beverns here, and other high Guests; no end of pompous ceremonials, solemnities and splendors,—the very train of one's gown was "twelve yards long." Eschewing all which, the reader shall commodiously conceive it all, by two samples we have picked out for him: one sample of a Person, high Guest present; one of an Apartment where the sublimities went on.
The Duchess Dowager of Sachsen-Meiningen, who has come to honor us on this occasion, a very large Lady, verging towards sixty; she is the person. A living elderly Daughter of the Great Elector himself; half-sister to the late King, half-aunt to Friedrich Wilhelm; widow now of her third husband: a singular phenomenon to look upon, for a moment, through Wilhelmina's satirical spectacles. One of her three husbands, "Christian Ernst of Baireuth" (Margraf there, while the present Line was but expectant), had been a kind of Welsh-Uncle to the Prince now Bridegroom; so that she has a double right to be here. "She had found the secret of totally ruining Baireuth," says Wilhelmina; "Baireuth, and Courland as well, where her first wedlock was;"—perhaps Meiningen was done to her hand? Here is the Portrait of "my Grand-Aunt;" dashed off in very high colors, not by a flattering pencil:—
"It is said she was very fond of pleasing, in her youth; one saw as much still by her affected manners. She would have made an excellent actress, to play fantastic parts of that kind. Her flaming red countenance, her shape, of such monstrous extent that she could hardly walk, gave her the air of a Female Bacchus. She took care to expose to view her"—a part of her person, large but no longer beautiful,—"and continually kept patting it with her hands, to attract attention thither. Though sixty gone,"—fifty-seven in point of fact,—"she was tricked out like a girl; hair done in ribbon-locks (MARRONNES), all filled with gewgaws of rose-pink color, which was the prevailing tint in her complexion, and so loaded with colored jewels, you would have taken her for the rainbow." [Wilhelmina, i. 375.]
This charming old Lady, daughter of the GROSSE KURFURST, and so very fat and rubicund, had a Son once: he too is mentionable in his way,—as a milestone (parish milestone) in the obscure Chronology of those parts. Her first husband was the Duke of Courland; to him she brought an heir, who became Duke in his turn,—and was the final Duke, LAST of the "Kettler" or native Line of Dukes there. The Kettlers had been Teutsch Ritters, Commandants in Courland; they picked up that Country, for their own behoof, when the Ritterdom went down; and this was the last of them. He married Anne of Russia with the big cheek (Czar Peter's Niece, who is since become Czarina); and died shortly after, twenty years ago; with tears doubtless from the poor rose-pink Mother, far away in Baireuth and childless otherwise; and also in a sense to the sorrow of Courland, which was hereby left vacant, a prey to enterprising neighbors. And on those terms it was that Saxons Moritz (our dissolute friend, who will be MARECHAL DE SAXE one day) made his clutch at Courland, backed by moneys of the French actress; rumor of which still floats vaguely about. Moritz might have succeeded, could he have done the first part of the feat, fallen in love with Swoln-cheeked Anne, Dowager there; but he could not; could only pretend it: Courland therefore (now that the Swoln-cheek is become Czarina) falls to one Bieren, a born Courlander, who could. [Last Kettler, Anne's Husband, died (leaving only an old Uncle, fallen Into Papistry and other futility, who, till his death some twenty years after, had to reside abroad and be nominal merely), 1711; Moritz's attempt with Adrienne Lecouvreur's cash was, 1726; Anne became Sovereign of all the Russias (on her poor Cousin Peter II.'s death), 1730; Bieren (BIRON as he tried to write himself, being of poor birth) did not get installed till 1737; and had, he and Courland both, several tumbles after that before getting to stable equilibrium.]—We hurry to the "Grand Apartment" in Berlin Schloss, and glance rapidly, with Wilhelmina (in an abridged form), how magnificent it is:—
Royal Apartment, third floor of the Palace at Berlin, one must say, few things equal it in the world. "From the Outer Saloon or Antechamber, called SALLE DES SUISSES [where the halberdier and valet people wait] you pass through six grand rooms, into a saloon magnificently decorated: thence through two rooms more, and so into what they call the Picture-Gallery, a room ninety feet long. All this is in a line." Grand all this; but still only common in comparison. From the Picture-Gallery you turn (to right or left is not said, nor does it matter) into a suite of fourteen great rooms, each more splendid than the other: lustre from the ceiling of the first room, for example, is of solid silver; weighs, in pounds avoirdupois I know not what, but in silver coin "10,000 crowns:" ceilings painted as by Correggio; "wall-mirrors between each pair of windows are twelve feet high, and their piers (TRUMEAUX) are of massive silver; in front of each mirror, table can be laid for twelve;" twelve Serenities may dine there, flanked by their mirror, enjoying the Correggiosities above, and the practical sublimities all round. "And this is but the first of the fourteen;" and you go on increasing in superbness, till, for example, in the last, or superlative Saloon, you find "a lustre weighing 50,000 crowns; the globe of it big enough to hold a child of eight years; and the branches (GUERIDONS) of it," I forget how many feet or fathoms in extent: silver to the heart. Nay the music-balcony is of silver; wearied fiddler lays his elbow on balustrades of that precious metal. Seldom if ever was seen the like. In this superlative Saloon the Nuptial Benediction was given. [Wilhelmina, i. 381; Nicolai, ii. 881.]
Old King Friedrich, the expensive Herr, it was he that did the furnishing and Correggio-painting of these sublime rooms: but this of the masses of wrought silver, this was done by Friedrich Wilhelm,—incited thereto by what he saw at Dresden in August the Strong's Establishment; and reflecting, too, that silver is silver, whether you keep it in barrels in a coined form, or work it into chandeliers, mirror-frames and music-balconies.—These things we should not have mentioned, except to say that the massive silver did prove a hoard available, in after times, against a rainy day. Massive silver (well mixed with copper first) was all melted down, stamped into current coins, native and foreign, and sent wandering over the world, before a certain Prince got through his Seven-Years Wars and other pinches that are ahead!—
In fine, Wilhelmina's Wedding was magnificent; though one had rubs too; and Mamma was rather severe. "Hair went all wrong, by dint of overdressing; and hung on one's face like a boy's. Crown-royal they had put (as indeed was proper) on one's head: hair was in twenty-four locks the size of your arm: such was the Queen's order. Gown was of cloth-of-silver, trimmed with Spanish gold-lace (AVEC UN POINT D'ESPAGNE D'OR); train twelve yards long;—one was like to sink to the earth in such equipment." Courage, my Princess!—In fact, the Wedding went beautifully off; with dances and sublimities, slow solemn Torch-dance to conclude with, in those unparalleled upper rooms; Grand-Aunt Meiningen and many other stars and rainbows witnessing; even the Margravine of Schwedt, in her high colors, was compelled to be there. Such variegated splendor, such a dancing of the Constellations; sublunary Berlin, and all the world, on tiptoe round it! Slow Torchdance, winding it up, melted into the shades of midnight, for this time; and there was silence in Berlin.
But, on the following nights, there were Balls of a less solemn character; far pleasanter for dancing purposes. It is to these, to one of these, that we direct the attention of all readers. Friday, 23d, there was again Ball and Royal Evening Party—"Grand Apartment" so called. Immense Ball, "seven hundred couples, all people of condition:" there were "Four Quadrilles," or dancing places in the big sea of quality-figures; each at its due distance in the grand suite of rooms: Wilhelmina presides in Quadrille NUMBER ONE; place assigned her was in the room called Picture-Gallery; Queen and all the Principalities were with Wilhelmina, she is to lead off their quadrille, and take charge of it. Which she did, with her accustomed fire and elasticity;—and was circling there, on the light fantastic toe, time six in the evening, when Grumkow, whom she had been dunning for his bargain about Friedrich the day before, came up:—
"I liked dancing," says she, "and was taking advantage of my chances. Grumkow came up, and interrupted me in the middle of a minuet: 'EH, MON DIEU MADAME!' said Grumkow, 'you seem to have got bit by the tarantula! Don't you see those strangers who have just come in?' I stopt short; and looking all round, I noticed at last a young man dressed in gray, whom I did not know. 'Go, then, embrace the Priuce-Royal; there he is before you!' said Grumkow. All the blood in my body went topsy-turvy for joy. 'O Heaven, my Brother?' cried I: 'But I don't see him; where is he? In God's name, let me see him!' Grumkow led me to the young man in gray. Coming near, I recognized him, though with difficulty: he had grown amazingly stouter (PRODIGIEUSEMENT ENGRAISSE), shortened about the neck; his face too had much changed, and was no longer so beautiful as it had been. I sprang upon him with open arms (SAUTAI AU COU); I was in such a state, I could speak nothing but broken exclamations: I wept, I laughed, like one gone delirious. In my life I have never felt so lively a joy.
"The first sane step was to throw myself at the feet of the King: King said, 'Are you content with me? You see I have kept my word!' I took my Brother by the hand; and entreated the King to restore him his friendship. This scene was so touching, it drew tears from the eyes of everybody. I then approached the Queen. She was obliged to embrace me, the King being close opposite; but I remarked that her joy was only affected."—Why then, O Princess? Guess, if you can, the female humors of her Majesty!—
"I turned to my Brother again; I gave him a thousand caresses, and said the tenderest things to him: to all which he remained cold as ice, and answered only in monosyllables. I presented the Prince (my Husband); to whom he did not say one word. I was astonished at this fashion of procedure! But I laid the blame of it on the King, who was observing us, and who I judged might be intimidating my Brother. But even his countenance surprised me: he wore a proud air, and seemed to look down on everybody."
A much-changed Crown-Prince. What can be the meaning of it? Neither King nor he appeared at supper: they were supping elsewhere, with a select circle; and the whisper ran among us, His Majesty was treating him with great friendliness. At which the Queen, contrary to hope, could not conceal her secret pique. "In fact," says Wilhelmina, again too hard on Mamma, "she did not love her children except as they served her ambitious views." The fact that it was I, and not she, who had achieved the Prince's deliverance, was painful to her Majesty: alas, yes, in some degree!
"Ball having recommenced, Grumkow whispered to me, 'That the King was pleased with my frank kind ways to my Brother; and not pleased with my Brother's cold way of returning it: Does he simulate, and mean still to deceive me? Or IS that all the thanks he has for Wilhelmina? thinks his Majesty. Go on with your sincerity, Madam; and for God's sake admonish the Crown-Prince to avoid finessing!' Crown-Prince, when I did, in some interval of the dance, report this of Grumkow, and say, Why so changed and cold, then, Brother of my heart? answered, That he was still the same; and that he had his reasons for what he did." Wilhelmina continues; and cannot understand her Crown-Prince at all:—
"Next morning, by the King's order, he paid me a visit. The Prince," my Husband, "was polite enough to withdraw, and left me and Sousfeld alone with him. He gave me a recital of his misfortunes; I communicated mine to him,"—and how I had at last bargained to get him free again by my compliance. "He appeared much discountenanced at this last part of my narrative. He returned thanks for the obligations I had laid on him,—with some caressings, which evidently did not proceed from the heart. To break this conversation, he started some indifferent topic; and, under pretence of seeing my Apartment, moved into the next room, where the Prince my Husband was. Him he ran over with his eyes from head to foot, for some time; then, after some constrained civilities to him, went his way. "What to make of all this?" Madam Sonsfeld shrugged her shoulders; no end of Madam Sousfeld's astonishment at such a Crown-Prince.
Alas, yes, poor Wilhelmina; a Crown-Prince got into terrible cognizance of facts since we last met him! Perhaps already sees, not only what a Height of place is cut out for him in this world, but also in a dim way what a solitude of soul, if he will maintain his height? Top of the frozen Schreckhorn;—have you well considered such a position! And even the way thither is dangerous, is terrible in this case. Be not too hard upon your Crown-Prince. For it is certain he loves you to the last!
Captain Dickens, who alone of all the Excellencies was not at the Wedding,—and never had believed it would be a wedding, but only a rumor to bring England round,—duly chronicles this happy reappearance of the Prince-Royal: "about six, yesterday evening, as the company was dancing,—to the great joy and surprise of the whale Court;"—and adds: "This morning the Prince came to the public Parade; where crowds of people of all ranks flocked to see his Royal Highness, and gave the most open demonstrations of pleasure." [Despatch 24th November, 1731.]
Wilhelmina, these noisy tumults, not all of them delightful, once done, gets out of the perplexed hurly-burly, home towards still Baireuth, shortly after New-year. [11th January, 1732 (Wilhelmina, ii. 20.] "Berlin was become as odious to me as it had once been dear. I flattered myself that, renouncing grandeurs, I might lead a soft and tranquil life in my new Home, and begin a happier year than the one that had just ended." Mamma was still perverse; but on the edge of departure Wilhelmina contrived to get a word of her Father, and privately open her heart to him. Poor Father, after all that has come and gone:—
"My discourse produced its effect; he melted into tears, could not answer me for sobs; he explained his thoughts by his embracings of me. Making an effort, at length, he said: 'I am in despair that I did not know thee. They had told me such horrible tales, I hated thee as much as I now love thee. If I had addressed myself direct to thee, I should have escaped much trouble, and thou too. But they hindered me from speaking; said thou wert ill-natured as the Devil, and wouldst drive me to extremities I wanted to avoid. Thy Mother, by her intriguings, is in part the cause of the misfortunes of the family; I have been deceived and duped on every side. But my hands are tied; and though my heart is torn in pieces, I must leave these iniquities unpunished!'"—The Queen's intentions were always good, urged Wilhelmina. "Let us not enter into that detail," answered he: "what is past is past; I will try to forget it;" and assured Wilhelmina that she was the dearest to him of the family, and that he would do great things for her still,—only part of which came to effect in the sequel. "I am too sad of heart to take leave of you," concluded he: "embrace your Husband on my part; I am so overcome that I must not see him." [Wilhelmina, ii. 4; who dates 11th January, 1732.] And so they rolled away.
Crown-Prince was back to Custrin again, many weeks before. Back to Custrin; but under totally changed omens: his history, after that first emergence in Wilhelmina's dance "23d November about six P.M.," and appearance at Parade on the morrow (Saturday morning), had been as follows. (Monday November 26th) there was again grand Ball, and the Prince there, not in gray this time. Next day, the old Dessauer and all the higher Officers in Berlin petitioned, "Let us have him in the Army again, your Majesty!" Majesty consented: and so, Friday, 30th, there was grand dinner at Seckendorf's, Crown-Prince there, in soldier's uniform again; a completely pardoned youth. His uniform is of the Goltz Regiment, Infantry: Goltz Regiment, which lies at Ruppin,—at and about, in that moory Country to the Northeast, some thirty or forty miles from Berlin;—whither his destination now is.
Crown-Prince had to resume his Kammer work at Custrin, and see the Buildings at Carzig, for a three months longer, till some arrangements in the Regiment Goltz were perfected, and finishing improvements given to it. But "on the last day of February" (29th) (1732 being leap-year), his Royal Highness's Commission to be Colonel Commandant of said Regiment is made out; and he proceeds, in discharge of the same, to Ruppin, where his men lie. And so puts off the pike-gray coat, and puts on the military blue one, [Preuss, i. 69.]—never to quit it again, as turned out.
Ruppin is a little Town, in that northwest Fehrbellin region: Regiment Goltz had lain in detached quarters hitherto; but is now to lie at Ruppin, the first Battalion of it there, and the rest within reach. Here, in Ruppin itself, or ultimately at Reinsberg in the neighborhood, was Friedrich's abode, for the next eight years. Habitual residence: with transient excursions, chiefly to Berlin in Carnival time, or on other great occasions, and always strictly on leave; his employment being that of Colonel of Foot, a thing requiring continual vigilance and industry in that Country. Least of all to be neglected, in any point, by one in his circumstances. He did his military duties to a perfection satisfactory even to Papa; and achieved on his own score many other duties and improvements, for which Papa had less value. These eight years, it is always understood, were among the most important of his life to him.
END OF BOOK VIII.