"As to Friedrich himself, who of course says nothing of the ANTI-MACHIAVEL in public, he privately, to Voltaire, disowns all these editions; and intends to give a new one of his own, which shall be the right article; but never did it, having far other work cut out for him in the months that came. But how zealous the worlds humor was in that matter, no modern reader can conceive to himself. In the frightful Compilation called HELDEN-GESCHICHTE, which we sometimes cite, there are, excerpted from the then 'Bibliotheques' (NOUVELLE BIBLIOTHEQUE and another; shining Periodicals of the time, now gone quite dead), two 'reviews' of the ANTI-MACHIAVEL, which fill modern readers with amazement: such a DOMINE DIMITTAS chanted over such an article!—These details, in any other than the Biographical point of view, are now infinitely unimportant."
Truly, yes! The Crown-Prince's ANTI-MACHIAVEL, final correct edition (in two forms, Voltaire's as corrected, and the Prince's own as written), stands now in clear type; [Preuss, OEuvres de Frederic, viii. 61-163.] and, after all that jumble of printing and counter-printing, we can any of us read it in a few hours; but, alas, almost none of us with the least interest, or, as it were, with any profit whatever. So different is present tense from past, in all things, especially in things like these! It is sixscore years since the ANTI-MACHIAVEL appeared. The spectacle of one who was himself a King (for the mysterious fact was well known to Van Duren and everybody) stepping forth to say with conviction, That Kingship was not a thing of attorney mendacity, to be done under the patronage of Beelzebub, but of human veracity, to be set about under quite Other patronage; and that, in fact, a King was the "born servant of his People" (DOMESTIQUE Friedrich once calls it), rather than otherwise: this, naturally enough, rose upon the then populations, unused to such language, like the dawn of a new day; and was welcomed with such applauses as are now incredible, after all that has come and gone! Alas, in these sixscore years, it has been found so easy to profess and speak, even with sincerity! The actual Hero-Kings were long used to be silent; and the Sham-Hero kind grow only the more desperate for us, the more they speak and profess!—This ANTI-MACHIAVEL of Friedrich's is a clear distinct Treatise; confutes, or at least heartily contradicts, paragraph by paragraph, the incredible sophistries of Machiavel. Nay it leaves us, if we sufficiently force our attention, with the comfortable sense that his Royal Highness is speaking with conviction, and honestly from the heart, in the affair: but that is all the conquest we get of it, in these days. Treatise fallen more extinct to existing mankind it would not be easy to name.
Perhaps indeed mankind is getting weary of the question altogether. Machiavel himself one now reads only by compulsion. "What is the use of arguing with anybody that can believe in Machiavel?" asks mankind, or might well ask; and, except for Editorial purposes, eschews any ANTI-MACHIAVEL; impatient to be rid of bane and antidote both. Truly the world has had a pother with this little Nicolo Machiavelli and his perverse little Book:—pity almost that a Friedrich Wilhelm, taking his rounds at that point of time, had not had the "refuting" of him; Friedrich Wilhelm's method would have been briefer than Friedrich's! But let us hope the thing is now, practically, about completed. And as to the other question, "Was the Signor Nicolo serious in this perverse little Book; or did he only do it ironically, with a serious inverse purpose?" we will leave that to be decided, any time convenient, by people who are much at leisure in the world!—
The printing of the ANTI-MACHIAVEL was not intrinsically momentous in Friedrich's history; yet it might as well have been dispensed with. He had here drawn a fine program, and needlessly placarded it for the street populations: and afterwards there rose, as could not fail on their part, comparison between program and performance; scornful cry, chiefly from men of weak judgment, "Is this King an ANTI-Machiavel, then? Pfui!" Of which,—though Voltaire's voice, too, was heard in it, in angry moments,—we shall say nothing: the reader, looking for himself, will judge by and by. And herewith enough of the ANTI-MACHIAVEL. Composition of ANTI-MACHIAVEL and speculation of the Pine HENRIADE lasted, both of them, all through this Year 1739, and farther: from these two items, not to mention any other, readers can figure sufficiently how literary a year it was.
FRIEDRICH IN PREUSSEN AGAIN; AT THE STUD OF TRAKEHNEN. A TRAGICALLY GREAT EVENT COMING ON.
In July this year the Crown-Prince went with Papa on the Prussian Review-journey. ["Set out, 7th July" (OEuvres, xxvii. part 1st, 67 n.).] Such attendance on Review-journeys, a mark of his being well with Papa, is now becoming usual; they are agreeable excursions, and cannot but be instructive as well. On this occasion, things went beautifully with him. Out in those grassy Countries, in the bright Summer, once more he had an unusually fine time;—and two very special pleasures befell him. First was, a sight of the Emigrants, our Salzburgers and other, in their flourishing condition, over in Lithuania yonder. Delightful to see how the waste is blossoming up again; busy men, with their industries, their steady pious husbandries, making all things green and fruitful: horse-droves, cattle-herds, waving cornfields;—a very "SCHMALZGRUBE (Butter-pit)" of those Northern parts, as it is since called. [Busching, Erdbeschreibung, ii. 1049.] The Crown-Prince's own words on this matter we will give; they are in a Letter of his to Voltaire, perhaps already known to some readers;—and we can observe he writes rather copiously from those localities at present, and in a cheerful humor with everybody.
"INSTERBURG, 27th JULY, 1739 (Crown-Prince to Voltaire).... Prussian Lithuania is a Country a hundred and twenty miles long, by from sixty to forty broad; ["Miles ENGLISH," we always mean, UNLESS &c.] it was ravaged by Pestilence at the beginning of this Century; and they say three hundred thousand people died of disease and famine." Ravaged by Pestilence and the neglect of King Friedrich I.; till my Father, once his hands were free, made personal survey of it, and took it up, in earnest.
"Since that time," say twenty years ago, "there is no expense that the King has been afraid of, in order to succeed in his salutary views. He made, in the first place, regulations full of wisdom; he rebuilt wherever the Pestilence had desolated: thousands of families, from the ends of Europe," seventeen thousand Salzburgers for the last item, "were conducted hither; the Country repeopled itself; trade began to flourish again;—and now, in these fertile regions, abundance reigns more than it ever did.
"There are above half a million of inhabitants in Lithuania; there are more towns than there ever were, more flocks than formerly, more wealth and more productiveness than in any other part of Germany. And all this that I tell you of is due to the King alone: who not only gave the orders, but superintended the execution of them; it was he that devised the plans, and himself got them carried to fulfilment; and spared neither care nor pains, nor immense expenditures, nor promises nor recompenses, to secure happiness and life to this half-million of thinking beings, who owe to him alone that they have possessions and felicity in the world.
"I hope this detail does not weary you. I depend on your humanity extending itself to your Lithuanian brethren, as well as to your French, English, German, or other,—all the more as, to my great astonishment, I passed through villages where you hear nothing spoken but French.—I have found something so heroic, in the generous and laborious way in which the King addressed himself to making this desert flourish with inhabitants and happy industries and fruits, that it seemed to me you would feel the same sentiments in learning the circumstances of such a re-establishment. I daily expect news of you from Enghien" [in those Dutch-Lawsuit Countries].... The divine Emilie;... the Duke [D'Aremberg, Austrian Soldier, of convivial turn,—remote Welsh-Uncle to a certain little Prince de Ligne, now spinning tops in those parts; [Born 23d May, 1735, this latter little Prince; lasted till 13th December, 1814 ("DANSE, MAIS IL NE MARCHE PAS").] not otherwise interesting], whom Apollo contends for against Bacchues.... Adieu. NE M'OUBLIEZ PAS, MON CHER AMI." [OEuvres, xxi. 304, 305.]
This is one pleasant scene, to the Crown-Prince and us, in those grassy localities. And now we have to mention that, about a fortnight later, at Konigsberg one day, in reference to a certain Royal Stud or Horse-breeding Establishment in those same Lithuanian regions, there had a still livelier satisfaction happened him; satisfaction of a personal and filial nature. The name of this Royal Stud, inestimable on such ground, is Trakehnen,—lies south of Tilsit, in an upper valley of the Pregel river;—very extensive Horse-Establishment, "with seven farms under it," say the Books, and all "in the most perfect order," they need hardly add, Friedrich Wilhelm being master of it. Well, the Royal Party was at Konigsberg, so far on the road homewards again from those outlying parts, when Friedrich Wilhelm said one day to his Son, quite in a cursory manner, "I give thee that Stud of Trakehnen; thou must go back and look to it;" which struck Fritz quite dumb at the moment.
For it is worth near upon 2,000 pounds a year (12,000 thalers); a welcome new item in our impoverished budget; and it is an undeniable sign of Papa's good-humor with us, which is more precious still. Fritz made his acknowledgments, eloquent with looks, eloquent with voice, on coming to himself; and is, in fact, very proud of his gift, and celebrates it to his Wilhelmina, to Camas and others who have a right to know such a thing. Grand useful gift; and handed over by Papa grandly, in three business words, as if it had been a brace of game: "I give it thee, Fritz!" A thing not to be forgotten. "At bottom, Friedrich Wilhelm was not avaricious" (not a miser, only a man grandly abhorring waste, as the poor vulgar cannot do), "not avaricious," says Pollnitz once; "he made munificent gifts, and never thought of them more." This of Trakehnen,—perhaps there might be a whiff of coming Fate concerned in it withal: "I shall soon be dead, not able to give thee anything, poor Fritz!" To the Prince and us it is very beautiful; a fine effulgence of the inner man of Friedrich Wilhelm. The Prince returned to Trakehnen, on this glad errand; settled the business details there; and, after a few days, went home by a route of his own;—well satisfied with this Prussian-Review journey, as we may imagine.
[SEE EARLIER—-Prussian Review-journey (placing of hyphen)]
One sad thing there was, though Friedrich did not yet know how sad, in this Review-journey: the new fit of illness that overtook his Majesty. From Pollnitz, who was of the party, we have details on that head. In his Majesty's last bad illness, five years ago, when all seemed hopeless, it appears the surgeons had relieved him,—in fact recovered him, bringing off the bad humors in quantity,—by an incision in the foot or leg. In the course of the present fatigues, this old wound broke out again; which of course stood much in the way of his Majesty; and could not be neglected, as probably the causes of it were. A regimental surgeon, Pollnitz says, was called in; who, in two days, healed the wound,—and declared all to be right again; though in fact, as we may judge, it was dangerously worse than before. "All well here," writes Friedrich; "the King has been out of order, but is now entirely recovered (TOUT A FAIT REMIS)." ["Konigsberg, 30th July, 1739," to his Wife (OEuvres, xxvi. 6).]
Much reviewing and heavy business followed at Konigsberg;—gift of Trakehnen, and departure of the Crown-Prince for Trakehnen, winding it up. Directly on the heel of which, his Majesty turned homewards, the Crown-Prince not to meet him till once at Berlin again. Majesty's first stage was at Pillau, where we have been. At Pillau, or next day at Dantzig, Pollnitz observed a change in his Majesty's humor, which had been quite sunshiny all this journey hitherto. At Dantzig Pollnitz first noticed it; but at every new stage it grew worse, evil accidents occurring to worsen it; and at Berlin it was worst of all;—and, alas, his poor Majesty never recovered his sunshine in this world again! Here is Pollnitz's account of the journey homewards:—
"Till now," till Pillau and Dantzig, "his Majesty had been in especially good humor; but in Dantzig his cheerfulness forsook him;—and it never came back. He arrived about ten at night in that City [Wednesday, 12th August, or thereby]; slept there; and was off again next morning at five. He drove only thirty miles this day; stopped in Lupow [coast road through Pommern], with Herr von Grumkow [the late Grumkow's Brother], Kammer President in this Pommern Province. From Lupow he went to a poor Village near Belgard, EIGHTY miles farther;"—last village on the great road, Belgard lying to left a little, on a side road;—"and stayed there overnight.
"At Belgard, next morning, he reviewed the Dragoon Regiment von Platen; and was very ill content with it. And nobody, with the least understanding of that business, but must own that never did Prussian Regiment manoeuvre worse. Conscious themselves how bad it was, they lost head, and got into open confusion. The King did all that was possible to help them into order again. He withdrew thrice over, to give the Officers time to recover themselves; but it was all in vain. The King, contrary to wont, restrained himself amazingly, and would not show his displeasure in public. He got into his carriage, and drove away with the Furst of Anhalt," Old Dessauer, "and Von Winterfeld," Captain in the Giant Regiment, "who is now Major-General von Winterfeld; [Major-General since 1743, of high fame; fell in fight, 7th September, 1757.] not staying to dine with General von Platen, as was always his custom with Commandants whom he had reviewed. He bade Prince Wilhelm and the rest of us stay and dine; he himself drove away,"—towards the great road again, and some uncertain lodging there.
"We stayed accordingly; and did full justice to the good cheer,"—though poor Platen would certainly look flustered, one may fancy. "But as the Prince was anxious to come up with his Majesty again, and knew not where he would meet him, we had to be very swift with the business.
"We found the King with Anhalt and Winterfeld, by and by; sitting in a village, in front of a barn, and eating a cold pie there, which the Furst of Anhalt had chanced to have with him; his Majesty, owing to what he had seen on the parade-ground, was in the utmost ill-humor (HOCHST UBLER LAUNE). Next day, Saturday, he went a hundred and fifty or two hundred miles; and arrived in Berlin at ten at night. Not expected there till the morrow; so that his rooms were locked,—her Majesty being over in Monbijou, giving her children a Ball;" [Pollnitz, ii. 534-537.]—and we can fancy what a frame of mind there was!
Nobody, not at first even the Doctors, much heeded this new fit of illness; which went and came: "changed temper," deeper or less deep gloom of "bad humor," being the main phenomenon to by-standers. But the sad truth was, his Majesty never did recover his sunshine; from Pillau onwards he was slowly entering into the shadows of the total Last Eclipse; and his journeyings and reviewings in this world were all done. Ten months hence, Pollnitz and others knew better what it had been!—
Chapter VII. — LAST YEAR OF REINSBERG: TRANSIT OF BALTIMORE AND OTHER PERSONS AND THINGS.
Friedrich had not been long home again from Trakehnen and Preussen, when the routine of things at Reinsberg was illuminated by Visitors, of brilliant and learned quality; some of whom, a certain Signor Algarotti for one, require passing mention here. Algarotti, who became a permanent friend or satellite, very luminous to the Prince, and was much about him in coming years, first shone out upon the scene at this time,—coming unexpectedly, and from the Eastward as it chanced.
On his own score, Algarotti has become a wearisome literary man to modern readers: one of those half-remembered men; whose books seem to claim a reading, and do not repay it you when given. Treatises, of a serious nature, ON THE OPERA; setting forth, in earnest, the potential "moral uses" of the Opera, and dedicated to Chatham; Neutonianismo per le Donne (Astronomy for Ladies): the mere Titles of such things are fatally sufficient to us; and we cannot, without effort, nor with it, recall the brilliancy of Algarotti and them to his contemporary world.
Algarotti was a rich Venetian Merchant's Son, precisely about the Crown-Prince's age; shone greatly in his studies at Bologna and elsewhere; had written Poesies (RIME); written especially that Newtonianism for the Dames (equal to Fontenelle, said Fame, and orthodox Newtonian withal, not heterodox or Cartesian); and had shone, respected, at Paris, on the strength of it, for three or four years past: friend of Voltaire in consequence, of Voltaire and his divine Emilie, and a welcome guest at Cirey; friend of the cultivated world generally, which was then laboring, divine Emilie in the van of it, to understand Newton and be orthodox in this department of things. Algarotti did fine Poesies, too, once and again; did Classical Scholarships, and much else: everywhere a clear-headed, methodically distinct, concise kind of man. A high style of breeding about him, too; had powers of pleasing, and used them: a man beautifully lucent in society, gentle yet impregnable there; keeping himself unspotted from the world and its discrepancies,—really with considerable prudence, first and last.
He is somewhat of the Bielfeld type; a Merchant's Son, we observe, like Bielfeld; but a Venetian Merchant's, not a Hamburg's; and also of better natural stuff than Bielfeld. Concentrated himself upon his task with more seriousness, and made a higher thing of it than Bielfeld; though, after all, it was the same task the two had. Alas, our "Swan of Padua" (so they sometimes called him) only sailed, paddling grandly, no-whither,—as the Swan-Goose of the Elbe did, in a less stately manner! One cannot well bear to read his Books. There is no light upon Friedrich to tempt us; better light than Bielfeld's there could have been, and much of it: but he prudently, as well as proudly, forbore such topics. He approaches very near fertility and geniality in his writings, but never reaches it. Dilettantism become serious and strenuous, in those departments—Well, it was beautiful to young Friedrich and the world at that time, though it is not to us!—Young Algarotti, twenty-seven this year, has been touring about as a celebrity these four years past, on the strength of his fine manners and Newtonianism for the Dames.
It was under escort of Baltimore, "an English Milord," recommended from Potsdam itself, that Algarotti came to Reinsberg; the Signor had much to do with English people now and after. Where Baltimore first picked him up, I know not: but they have been to Russia together; Baltimore by twelve years the elder of the two: and now, getting home towards England again, they call at Reinsberg in the fine Autumn weather;—and considerably captivate the Crown-Prince, Baltimore playing chief, in that as in other points. The visit lasted five days: [20th-25th September, 1739 (OEuvres de Frederic, xiv. p. xiv).] there was copious speech on many things;—discussion about Printing of the ANTI MACHIAVEL; Algarotti to get it printed in England, Algarotti to get Pine and his Engraved HENRIADE put under way; neither of which projects took effect;—readers can conceive what a charming five days these were. Here, in the Crown-Prince's own words, are some brief glimmerings which will suffice us:—
REINSBERG, 25th SEPT. 1739 (Crown-Prince to Papa).... that "nothing new has occurred in the Regiment, and we have few sick. Here has the English Milord, who was at Potsdam, passing through [stayed five days, though we call it passing, and suppress the Algarotti, Baltimore being indeed chief]. He is gone towards Hamburg, to take ship for England there. As I heard that my Most All-gracious Father wished I should show him courtesy, I have done for him what I could. The Prince of Mirow has also been here,"—our old Strelitz friend. Of Baltimore nothing more to Papa. But to another Correspondent, to the good Suhm (who is now at Petersburg, and much in our intimacy, ready to transact loans for us, translate Wolf, or do what is wanted), there is this passage next day:—
REINSBERG, 26th SEPTEMBER, 1739 (to Suhm). "We have had Milord Baltimore here, and the young Algarotti; both of them men who, by their accomplishments, cannot but conciliate the esteem and consideration of all who see them. We talked much of you [Suhm], of Philosophy, of Science, Art; in short, of all that can be included in the taste of cultivated people (HONNETES GENS)." [OEuvres de Frederic, xvi. 378.] And again to another, about two weeks hence:—
REINSBERG, 10th OCTOBER, 1739 (to Voltaire). "We have had Milord Baltimore and Algarotti here, who are going back to England. This Milord is a very sensible man (HOMME TRESSENSE); who possesses a great deal of knowledge, and thinks, like us, that sciences can be no disparagement to nobility, nor degrade an illustrious rank. I admired the genius of this ANGLAIS, as one does a fine face through a crape veil. He speaks French very ill, yet one likes to hear him speak it; and as for his English, he pronounces it so quick, there is no possibility of following him. He calls a Russian 'a mechanical animal.' He says 'Petersburg is the eye of Russia, with which it keeps civilized countries in sight; if you took this eye from it, Russia would fall again into barbarism, out of which it is just struggling.' [Ib. xxi. 326, 327.]... Young Algarotti, whom you know, pleased me beyond measure. He promised that he"—But Baltimore, promise or not, is the chief figure at present.
Evidently an original kind of figure to us, CET ANGLAIS. And indeed there is already finished a rhymed EPISTLE to Baltimore; Epitre sur la Liberte (copy goes in that same LETTER, for Voltaire's behoof), which dates itself likewise October 10th; beginning,—"L'esprit libre, Milord, qui regne en Angleterre," which, though it is full of fine sincere sentiments, about human dignity, papal superstition, Newton, Locke, and aspirations for progress of culture in Prussia, no reader could stand at this epoch.
What Baltimore said in answer to the EPITRE, we do not know; probably not much: it does not appear he ever saw or spoke to Friedrich a second time. Three weeks after, Friedrich writing to Algarotti, has these words: "I pray you make my friendships to Milord Baltimore, whose character and manner of thinking I truly esteem. I hope he has, by this time, got my EPITRE on the English Liberty of Thought." [29th October 1739, To Algarotti in London (OEuvres, xviii. 5).] And so Baltimore passes on, silent in History henceforth,—though Friedrich seems to have remembered him to late times, as a kind of type-figure when England came into his head. For the sake of this small transit over the sun's disk, I have made some inquiry about Baltimore; but found very little;—perhaps enough:—
"He was Charles, Sixth Lord Baltimore, it appears; Sixth, and last but one. First of the Baltimores, we know, was Secretary Calvert (1618-1624), who colonized Maryland; last of them (1774) was the Son of this Charles; something of a fool, to judge by the face of him in Portraits, and by some of his doings in the world. He, that Seventh Baltimore, printed one or two little Volumes "now of extreme rarity"—(cannot be too rare); and winded up by standing an ugly Trial at Kingston Assizes (plaintiff an unfortunate female). After which he retired to Naples, and there ended, 1774, the last of these Milords. [Walpole (by Park), Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors (London, 1806), v. 278.]
"He of the Kingston Assizes, we say, was not this Charles; but his Son, whom let the reader forget. Charles, age forty at this time, had travelled about the Continent a good deal: once, long ago, we imagined we had got a glimpse of him (but it was a guess merely) lounging about Luneville and Lorraine, along with Lyttelton, in the Congress-of-Soissons time? Not long after that, it is certain enough, he got appointed a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to Prince Fred; who was a friend of speculative talkers and cultivated people. In which situation Charles Sixth Baron Baltimore continued all his days after; and might have risen by means of Fred, as he was anxious enough to do, had both of them lived; but they both died; Baltimore first, in 1751, a year before Fred. Bubb Doddington, diligent laborer in the same Fred vineyard, was much infested by this Baltimore,—who, drunk or sober (for he occasionally gets into liquor), is always putting out Bubb, and stands too well with our Royal Master, one secretly fears! Baltimore's finances, I can guess, were not in too good order; mostly an Absentee; Irish Estates not managed in the first style, while one is busy in the Fred vineyard! 'The best and honestest man in the world, with a good deal of jumbled knowledge,' Walpole calls him once: 'but not capable of conducting a party.'" [Walpole's Letters to Mann (London, 1843), ii. 175; 27th January, 1747. See ib. i. 82.] Oh no;—and died, at any rate, Spring 1751: [Peerage of Ireland (London, 1768), ii. 172-174.] and we will not mention him farther.
BIELFELD, WHAT HE SAW AT REINSBERG AND AROUND.
Directly on the rear of these fine visitors, came, by invitation, a pair of the Korn's-Hotel people; Masonic friends; one of whom was Bielfeld, whose dainty Installation Speech and ways of procedure had been of promise to the Prince on that occasion. "Baron von Oberg" was the other:—Hanoverian Baron: the same who went into the Wars, and was a "General von Oberg" twenty years hence? The same or another, it does not much concern us. Nor does the visit much, or at all; except that Bielfeld, being of writing nature, professes to give ocular account of it. Honest transcript of what a human creature actually saw at Reinsberg, and in the Berlin environment at that date, would have had a value to mankind: but Bielfeld has adopted the fictitious form; and pretty much ruined for us any transcript there is. Exaggeration, gesticulation, fantastic uncertainty afflict the reader; and prevent comfortable belief, except where there is other evidence than Bielfeld's.
At Berlin the beautiful straight streets, Linden Avenues (perhaps a better sample than those of our day), were notable to Bielfeld; bridges, statues very fine; grand esplanades, and such military drilling and parading as was never seen. He had dinner-invitations, too, in quantity; likes this one and that (all in prudent asterisks),—-likes Truchsess von Waldburg very much, and his strange mode of bachelor housekeeping, and the way he dines and talks among his fellow-creatures, or sits studious among his Military Books and Paper-litters. But all is loose far-off sketching, in the style of Anacharsis the Younger; and makes no solid impression.
Getting to Reinsberg, to the Town, to the Schloss, he crosses the esplanade, the moat; sees what we know, beautiful square Mansion among its woods and waters;—and almost nothing that we do not know, except the way the moat-bridge is lighted: "Bridge furnished," he says, "with seven Statues representing the seven Planets, each holding in her hand a glass lamp in the form of a globe;"—which is a pretty object in the night-time. The House is now finished; Knobelsdorf rejoicing in his success; Pesne and others giving the last touch to some ceilings of a sublime nature. On the lintel of the gate is inscribed FREDERICO TRANQUILLITATEM COLENTI (To Friedrich courting Tranquillity). The gardens, walks, hermitages, grottos, are very spacious, fine: not yet completed,—perhaps will never be. A Temple of Bacchus is just now on hand, somewhere in those labyrinthic woods: "twelve gigantic Satyrs as caryatides, crowned by an inverted Punch-bowl for dome;" that is the ingenious Knobelsdorf's idea, pleasant to the mind. Knobelsdorf is of austere aspect; austere, yet benevolent and full of honest sagacity; the very picture of sound sense, thinks Bielfeld. M. Jordan is handsome, though of small stature; agreeable expression of face; eye extremely vivid; brown complexion, bushy eyebrows as well as beard are black. [Bielfeld (abridged), i. 45.]
Or did the reader ever hear of "M. Fredersdorf," Head Valet at this time? Fredersdorf will become, as it were, Privy-Purse, House-Friend, and domestic Factotum, and play a great part in coming years. "A tall handsome man;" much "silent sense, civility, dexterity;" something "magnificently clever in him," thinks Bielfeld (now, or else twenty years afterwards); whom we can believe. [Ib. p. 49.] He was a gift from General Schwerin, this Fredersdorf; once a Private in Schwerin's regiment, at Frankfurt-on-Oder,—excellent on the flute, for one quality. Schwerin, who had an eye for men, sent him to Friedrich, in the Custrin time; hoping he might suit in fluting and otherwise. Which he conspicuously did. Bielfeld's account, we must candidly say, appears to be an afterthought; but readers can make their profit of it, all the same.
As to the Crown-Prince and Princess, words fail to express their gracious perfections, their affabilities, polite ingenuities:—Bielfeld's words do give us some pleasant shadowy conceivability of the Crown-Princess:—
"Tall, and perfect in shape; bust such as a sculptor might copy; complexion of the finest; features ditto; nose, I confess, smallish and pointed, but excellent of that kind; hair of the supremest flaxen, 'shining' like a flood of sunbeams, when the powder is off it. A humane ingenuous Princess; little negligences in toilet or the like, if such occur, even these set her off, so ingenuous are they. Speaks little; but always to the purpose, in a simple, cheerful and wise way. Dances beautifully; heart (her soubrette assures me) is heavenly;—and 'perhaps no Princess living has a finer set of diamonds.'"
Of the Crown-Princess there is some pleasant shadow traced as on cobweb, to this effect. But of the Crown-Prince there is no forming the least conception from what he says:—this is mere cobweb with Nothing elaborately painted on it. Nor do the portraits of the others attract by their verisimilitude. Here is Colonel Keyserling, for instance; the witty Courlander, famous enough in the Friedrich circle; who went on embassy to Cirey, and much else: he "whirls in with uproar (FRACAS) like Boreas in the Ballet;" fowling-piece on shoulder, and in his "dressing-gown" withal, which is still stranger; snatches off Bielfeld, unknown till that moment, to sit by him while dressing; and there, with much capering, pirouetting, and indeed almost ground-and-lofty tumbling, for accompaniment, "talks of Horses, Mathematics, Painting, Architecture, Literature, and the Art of War," while he dresses. This gentleman was once Colonel in Friedrich Wilhelm's Army; is now fairly turned of forty, and has been in troubles: we hope he is not LIKE in the Bielfeld Portrait;—otherwise, how happy that we never had the honor of knowing him! Indeed, the Crown-Prince's Household generally, as Bielfeld paints it in flourishes of panegyric, is but unattractive; barren to the modern on-looker; partly the Painter's blame, we doubt not. He gives details about their mode of dining, taking coffee, doing concert;—and describes once an incidental drinking-bout got up aforethought by the Prince; which is probably in good part fiction, though not ill done. These fantastic sketchings, rigorously winnowed into the credible and actual, leave no great residue in that kind; but what little they do leave is of favorable and pleasant nature.
Bielfeld made a visit privately to Potsdam, too: saw the Giants drill; made acquaintance with important Captains of theirs (all in ASTERISKS) at Potsdam; with whom he dined, not in a too credible manner, and even danced. Among the asterisks, we easily pick out Captain Wartensleben (of the Korn's-Hotel operation), and Winterfeld, a still more important Captain, whom we saw dining on cold pie with his Majesty, at a barn-door in Pommern, not long since. Of the Giants, or their life at Potsdam, Bielfeld's word is not worth hearing,—worth suppressing rather; his knowledge being so small, and hung forth in so fantastic a way. This transient sight he had of his Majesty in person; this, which is worth something to us,—fact being evidently lodged in it, "After church-parade," Autumn Sunday afternoon (day uncertain, Bielfeld's date being fictitious, and even impossible), Majesty drove out to Wusterhausen, "where the quantities of game surpass all belief;" and Bielfeld had one glimpse of him:—
"I saw his Majesty only, as it were, in passing. If I may judge by his Portraits, he must have been of a perfect beauty in his young time; but it must be confessed there is nothing left of it now. His eyes truly are fine; but the glance of them is terrible: his complexion is composed of the strongest tints of red, blue, yellow, green,"—not a lovely complexion at all; "big head; the thick neck sunk between the shoulders; figure short and heavy (COURTE ET RAMASSEE)." [Bielfeld, p. 35.]
"Going out to Wusterhausen," then, that afternoon, "October, 1739." How his Majesty is crushed down; quite bulged out of shape in that sad way, by the weight of time and its pressures: his thoughts, too, most likely, of a heavy-laden and abstruse nature! The old Pfalz Controversy has misgone with him: Pfalz, and so much else in the world;—the world in whole, probably enough, near ending to him; the final shadows, sombre, grand and mournful, closing in upon him!
TURK WAR ENDS; SPANISH WAR BEGINS. A WEDDING IN PETERSBURG.
Last news come to Potsdam in these days is, The Kaiser has ended his disastrous Turk War; been obliged to end it; sudden downbreak, and as it were panic terror, having at last come upon his unfortunate Generals in those parts. Duke Franz was passionate to be out of such a thing; Franz, General Neipperg and others; and now, "2d September, 1739," like lodgers leaping from a burning house, they are out of it. The Turk gets Belgrade itself, not to mention wide territories farther east,—Belgrade without shot fired;—nay the Turk was hardly to be kept from hanging the Imperial Messenger (a General Neipperg, Duke Franz's old Tutor, and chief Confidant, whom we shall hear more of elsewhere), whose passport was not quite right on this occasion!—Never was a more disgraceful Peace. But also never had been worse fighting; planless, changeful, powerless, melting into futility at every step:—not to be mended by imprisonments in Gratz, and still harsher treatment of individuals. "Has all success forsaken me, then, since Eugene died?" said the Kaiser; and snatched at this Turk Peace; glad to have it, by mediation of France, and on any terms.
Has not this Kaiser lost his outlying properties at a fearful rate? Naples is gone; Spanish Bourbon sits in our Naples; comparatively little left for us in Italy. And now the very Turk has beaten us small; insolently fillips the Imperial nose of us,—threatening to hang our Neipperg, and the like. Were it not for Anne of Russia, whose big horse-whip falls heavy on this Turk, he might almost get to Vienna again, for anything we could do! A Kaiser worthy to be pitied;—whom Friedrich Wilhelm, we perceive, does honestly pity. A Kaiser much beggared, much disgraced, in late years; who has played a huge life-game so long, diplomatizing, warring; and, except the Shadow of Pragmatic Sanction, has nothing to retire upon.
The Russians protested, with astonishment, against such Turk Peace on the Kaiser's part. But there was no help for it. One ally is gone, the Kaiser has let go this Western skirt of the Turk; and "Thamas Kouli Khan" (called also Nadir Shah, famed Oriental slasher and slayer of that time) no longer stands upon the Eastern skirt, but "has entered India," it appears: the Russians—their cash, too, running low—do themselves make peace, "about a month after;" restoring Azoph and nearly all their conquests; putting off the ruin of the Turk till a better time.
War is over in the East, then; but another in the West, England against Spain (Spain and France to help), is about beginning. Readers remember how Jenkins's Ear re-emerged, Spring gone a year, in a blazing condition? Here, through SYLVANUS URBAN himself, are two direct glimpses, a twelve-month nearer hand, which show us how the matter has been proceeding since:—
"LONDON, 19th FEBRUARY, 1739. The City Authorities,"—laying or going to lay "the foundation of the Mansion-House" (Edifice now very black in our time), and doing other things of little moment to us, "had a Masquerade at the Guildhall this night. There was a very splendid appearance at the Masquerade; but among the many humorous and whimsical characters, what seemed most to engage attention was a Spaniard, who called himself 'Knight of the Ear;' as Badge of which Order he wore on his breast the form of a Star, with its points tinged in blood; and on the body of it an Ear painted, and in capital letters the word JENKINS encircling it. Across his shoulder there hung, instead of ribbon, a large Halter; which he held up to several persons dressed as English Sailors, who seemed in great terror of him, and falling on their knees suffered him to rummage their pockets; which done, he would insolently dismiss them with strokes of his halter. Several of the Sailors had a bloody Ear hanging down from their heads; and on their hats were these words, EAR FOR EAR; on others, NO SEARCH OR NO TRADE; with the like sentences." [Gentleman's Magazine for 1739, p. 103;—our DATES, as always, are N. 8.] The conflagration evidently going on; not likely to be damped down again, by ministerial art!—
"LONDON, 19th MARCH, 1739." Grand Debate in Parliament, on the late "Spanish Convention," pretended Bargain of redress lately got from Spain: Approve the Convention, or Not approve? "A hundred Members were in the House of Commons before seven, this morning; and four hundred had taken their seat by ten; which is an unheard-of thing. Prince of Wales," Fred in person, "was in the gallery till twelve at night, and had his dinner sent to him. Sir Robert Walpole rose: 'Sir, the great pains that have been taken to influence all ranks and degrees of men in this Nation—... But give me leave to'"—apply a wet cloth to Honorable Gentlemen. Which he does, really with skill and sense. France and the others are so strong, he urges; England so unprepared; Kaiser at such a pass; 'War like to be, about the Palatinate Dispute [our friend Friedrich Wilhelm's]: Where is England to get, allies?'—and hours long of the like sort. A judicious wet cloth; which proved unavailing.
For "William Pitts" (so they spell the great Chatham that is to be) was eloquent on the other side: "Despairing Merchants," "Voice of England," and so on. And the world was all in an inflamed state. And Mr. Pulteney exclaimed: Palatinate? Allies? "We need no allies; the case of Mr. Jenkins will raise us volunteers everywhere!" And in short,—after eight months more of haggling, and applying wet cloths,—Walpole, in the name of England, has to declare War against Spain; ["3d November (23d October), 1739."] the public humor proving unquenchable on that matter. War; and no Peace to be, "till our undoubted right," to roadway on the oceans of this Planet, become permanently manifest to the Spanish Majesty.
Such the effect of a small Ear, kept about one in cotton, from ursine piety or other feelings. Has not Jenkins's Ear re-emerged, with a vengeance? It has kindled a War: dangerous for kindling other Wars, and setting the whole world on fire,—as will be too evident in the sequel! The EAR OF JENKINS is a singular thing. Might have mounted to be a constellation, like BERENICE'S HAIR, and other small facts become mythical, had the English People been of poetic turn! Enough of IT, for the time being.—
This Summer, Anton Ulrich, at Petersburg, did wed his Serene Mecklenburg Princess, Heiress of all the Russias: "July 14th, 1739,"—three months before that Drive to Wusterhausen, which we saw lately. Little Anton Ulrich, Cadet of Brunswick; our Friedrich's Brother-in-Law;—a noticeably small man in comparison to such bulk of destiny, thinks Friedrich, though the case is not without example! [A Letter of his to Suhm; touching on Franz of Lorraine and this Anton Ulrich.]
"Anton Ulrich is now five-and-twenty," says one of my Notebooks; "a young gentleman of small stature, shining courage in battle, but somewhat shy and bashful; who has had his troubles in Petersburg society, till the trial came,—and will have. Here are the stages of Anton Ulrich's felicity:—
"WINTER, 1732-1733. He was sent for to Petersburg (his Serene Aunt the German Kaiserinn, and Kaiser Karl's diplomatists, suggesting it there), with the view of his paying court to the young Mecklenburg Princess, Heiress of all the Russias, of whom we have often heard. February, 1733, he arrived on this errand;—not approved of at all by the Mecklenburg Princess, by Czarina Anne or anybody there: what can be done with such an uncomfortable little creature? They gave him the Colonelcy of Cuirassiers: 'Drill there, and endure.'
"SPRING, 1737. Much-enduring, diligently drilling, for four years past, he went this year to the Turk War under Munnich;—much pleased Munnich, at Oczakow and elsewhere; who reports in the War-Office high things of him. And on the whole,—the serene Vienna people now again bestirring themselves, with whom we are in copartnery in this Turk business,—little Anton Ulrich is encouraged to proceed. Proceeds; formally demands his Mecklenburg Princess; and,
"JULY 14th, 1739, weds her; the happiest little man in all the Russias, and with the biggest destiny, if it prosper. Next year, too, there came a son and heir; whom they called Iwan, in honor of his Russian Great-grandfather. Shall we add the subsequent felicities of Anton Ulrich here; or wait till another opportunity?"
Better wait. This is all, and more than all, his Prussian Majesty, rolling out of Wusterhausen that afternoon, ever knew of them, or needed to know!—
Chapter VIII. — DEATH OF FRIEDRICH WILHELM.
At Wusterhausen, this Autumn, there is game as usual, but little or no hunting for the King. He has to sit drearily within doors, for most part; listening to the rustle of falling leaves, to dim Winter coming with its rains and winds. Field-sports are a rumor from without: for him now no joyous sow-baiting, deer-chasing;—that, like other things, is past.
In the beginning of November, he came to Berlin; was worse there, and again was better;—strove to do the Carnival, as had been customary; but, in a languid, lamed manner. One night he looked in upon an evening-party which General Schulenburg was giving: he returned home, chilled, shivering, could not, all night, be brought to heat again. It was the last evening-party Friedrich Wilhelm ever went to. [Pollnitz (ii. 538); who gives no date.] Lieutenant-General Schulenburg: the same who doomed young Friedrich to death, as President of the Court-Martial; and then wrote the Three Letters about him which we once looked into: illuminates himself in this manner in Berlin society,—Carnival season, 1740, weather fiercely cold. Maypole Schulenburg the lean Aunt, Ex-Mistress of George I., over in London,—I think she must now be dead? Or if not dead, why not! Memory, for the tenth time, fails me, of the humanly unmemorable, whom perhaps even flunkies should forget; and I will try it no more. The stalwart Lieutenant-General will reappear on us once, twice at the utmost, and never again. He gave the last evening-party Friedrich Wilhelm ever went to.
Poor Friedrich Wilhelm is in truth very ill; tosses about all day, in and out of bed,—bed and wheeled-chair drearily alternating; suffers much;—and again, in Diplomatic circles, the rumors are rife and sinister. Ever from this chill at Schulenburg's the medicines did him no good, says Pollnitz: if he rallied, it was the effect of Nature, and only temporary. He does daily, with punctuality, his Official business; perhaps the best two hours he has of the four-and-twenty, for the time hangs heavy on him. His old Generals sit round his bed, talking, smoking, as it was five years ago; his Feekin and his Children much about him, out and in: the heavy-laden, weary hours roll round as they can. In general there is a kind of constant Tabaks-Collegium, old Flans, Camas, Hacke, Pollnitz, Derschau, and the rest by turns always there; the royal Patient cannot be left alone, without faces he likes: other Generals, estimable in their way, have a physiognomy displeasing to the sick man; and will smart for it if they enter,—"At sight of HIM every pain grows painfuler!"—the poor King being of poetic temperament, as we often say. Friends are encouraged to smoke, especially to keep up a stream of talk; if at any time he fall into a doze and they cease talking, the silence will awaken him.
He is worst off in the night; sleep very bad: and among his sore bodily pains, ennui falls very heavy to a mind so restless. He can paint, he can whittle, chisel: at last they even mount him a table, in his bed, with joiner's tools, mallets, glue-pots, where he makes small carpentry,—the talk to go on the while;—often at night is the sound of his mallet audible in the Palace Esplanade; and Berlin townsfolk pause to listen, with many thoughts of a sympathetic or at least inarticulate character: "HM, WEH, IHRO MAJESTAT: ACH GOTT, pale Death knocks with impartial foot at the huts of poor men and the Palaces of Kings!" [Pollnitz, ii. 539.] Reverend Herr Roloff, whom they call Provost (PROBST, Chief Clergyman) Roloff, a pious honest man and preacher, he, I could guess, has already been giving spiritual counsel now and then; later interviews with Roloff are expressly on record: for it is the King's private thought, ever and anon borne in upon him, that death itself is in this business.
Queen and Children, mostly hoping hitherto, though fearing too, live in much anxiety and agitation. The Crown-Prince is often over from Reinsberg; must not come too often, nor even inquire too much: his affectionate solicitude might be mistaken for solicitude of another kind! It is certain he is in no haste to be King; to quit the haunts of the Muses, and embark on Kingship. Certain, too, he loves his Father; shudders at the thought of losing HIM. And yet again there will gleams intrude of a contrary thought; which the filial heart disowns, with a kind of horror, "Down, thou impious thought!"—We perceive he manages in general to push the crisis away from him; to believe that real danger is still distant. His demeanor, so far as we can gather from his Letters or other evidence, is amiable, prudent, natural; altogether that of a human Son in those difficult circumstances. Poor Papa is heavy-laden: let us help to bear his burdens;—let us hope the crisis is still far off!—
Once, on a favorable evening, probably about the beginning of April, when he felt as if improving, Friedrich Wilhelm resolved to dress, and hold Tobacco-Parliament again in a formal manner, Let us look in there, through the eyes of Pollnitz, who was of it, upon the last Tobacco-Parliament:—
"A numerous party; Schwerin, Hacke, Derschau, all the chiefs and commandants of the Berlin Garrison are there; the old circle full; social human speech once more, and pipes alight; pleasant to the King. He does not himself smoke on this occasion; but he is unusually lively in talk; much enjoys the returning glimpse of old days; and the Tobacco circle was proceeding through its phases, successful beyond common. All at once the Crown-Prince steps in; direct from Reinsberg: [12th April, 1740? (OEuvres, xxvii. part lst, p. 29); Pollnitz is dateless] an unexpected pleasure. At sight of whom the Tobacco circle, taken on the sudden, simultaneously started up, and made him a bow. Rule is, in Tobacco-Parliament you do not rise—for anybody; and they have risen. Which struck the sick heart in a strange painful way. 'Hm, the Rising Sun?' thinks he; 'Rules broken through, for the Rising Sun. But I am not dead yet, as you shall know!' ringing for his servants in great wrath; and had himself rolled out, regardless of protestations and excuses. 'Hither, you Hacke!' said he.
"Hacke followed; but it was only to return on the instant, with the King's order, 'That you instantly quit the Palace, all of you, and don't come back!' Solemn respectful message to his Majesty was of no effect, or of less; they had to go, on those terms; and Pollnitz, making for his Majesty's apartment next morning as usual, was twitched by a Gens-d'arme, 'No admittance!' And it was days before the matter would come round again, under earnest protestations from the one side, and truculent rebukes from the other." [Pollnitz (abridged), ii. 50.] Figure the Crown-Prince, figure the poor sick Majesty; and what a time in those localities!
With the bright spring weather he seemed to revive; towards the end of April he resolved for Potsdam, everybody thinking him much better, and the outer Public reckoning the crisis of the illness over. He himself knew other. It was on the 27th of the month that he went; he said, "Fare thee well, then, Berlin; I am to die in Potsdam, then (ICH WERDE IN POTSDAM STERBEN)!" The May-flowers came late; the weather was changeful, ungenial for the sick man: this winter of 1740 had been the coldest on record; it extended itself into the very summer; and brought great distress of every kind;—of which some oral rumor still survives in all countries. Friedrich Wilhelm heard complaints of scarcity among the people; admonitions to open his Corn-granaries (such as he always has in store against that kind of accident); but he still hesitated and refused; unable to look into it himself, and fearing deceptions.
For the rest, he is struggling between death and life; in general persuaded that the end is fast hastening on. He sends for Chief Preacher Roloff out to Potsdam; has some notable dialogues with Roloff, and with two other Potsdam Clergymen, of which there is record still left us. In these, as in all his demeanor at this supreme time, we see the big rugged block of manhood come out very vividly; strong in his simplicity, in his veracity. Friedrich Wilhelm's wish is to know from Roloff what the chances are for him in the other world,—which is not less certain than Potsdam and the giant grenadiers to Friedrich Wilhelm; and where, he perceives, never half so clearly before, he shall actually peel off his Kinghood, and stand before God Almighty, no better than a naked beggar. Roloff's prognostics are not so encouraging as the King had hoped. Surely this King "never took or coveted what was not his; kept true to his marriage-vow, in spite of horrible examples everywhere; believed the Bible, honored the Preachers, went diligently to Church, and tried to do what he understood God's commandments were?" To all which Roloff, a courageous pious man, answers with discreet words and shakings of the head, "Did I behave ill, then; did I ever do injustice?" Roloff mentions Baron Schlubhut the defalcating Amtmann, hanged at Konigsberg without even a trial. "He had no trial; but was there any doubt he had justice? A public thief, confessing he had stolen the taxes he was set to gather; insolently offering, as if that were all, to repay the money, and saying, It was not MANIER (good manners) to hang a nobleman!" Roloff shakes his head, Too violent, your Majesty, and savoring of the tyrannous. The poor King must repent.
"Well,—is there anything more? Out with it, then; better now than too late!"—Much oppression, forcing men to build in Berlin.—"Oppression? was it not their benefit, as well as Berlin's and the Country's? I had no interest in it other. Derschau, you who managed it?" and his Majesty turned to Derschau. For all the smoking generals and company are still here; nor will his Majesty consent to dismiss them from the presence and be alone with Roloff: "What is there to conceal? They are people of honor, and my friends." Derschau, whose feats in the building way are not unknown even to us, answers with a hard face, It was all right and orderly; nothing out of square in his building operations. To which Roloff shakes his head: "A thing of public notoriety, Herr General."—"I will prove everything before a Court," answers the Herr General with still harder face; Roloff still austerely shaking his head. Hm!—And then there is forgiveness of enemies; your Majesty is bound to forgive all men, or how can you ask to be forgiven? "Well, I will, I do; you Feekin, write to your Brother (unforgivablest of beings), after I am dead, that I forgave him, died in peace with him."—Better her Majesty should write at once, suggests Roloff.—"No, after I am dead," persists the Son of Nature,—that will be safer! [Wrote accordingly, "not able to finish without many tears;" honest sensible Letter (though indifferently spelt), "Berlin, 1st June, 1740;"—lies now in State-Paper Office: "ROYAL LETTERS, vol. xciv., Prussia, 1689-1777."] An unwedgeable and gnarled big block of manhood and simplicity and sincerity; such as we rarely get sight of among the modern sons of Adam, among the crowned sons nearly never. At parting he said to Roloff, "You (ER, He) do not spare me; it is right. You do your duty like an honest Christian man." [Notata ex ore Roloffi ("found among the Seckendorf Papers," no date but "May 1740"), in Forster, ii. 154, 155; in a fragmentary state: completed in Pollnitz, ii. 545-549.]
Roloff, I perceive, had several Dialogues with the King; and stayed in Potsdam some days for that object. The above bit of jotting is from the Seckendorf Papers (probably picked up by Seckendorf Junior), and is dated only "May." Of the two Potsdam Preachers, one of whom is "Oesfeld, Chaplain of the Giant Grenadiers," and the other is "Cochius, Calvinist Hofprediger," each published on his own score some Notes of dialogue and circumstance; [Cochius the HOFPREDIGER'S (Calvinist Court-Chaplain's) ACCOUNT of his Interviews (first of them "Friday, 27th May, 1740, about 9 P.M."); followed by ditto from Oesfeld (Chaplain of the Giants), who usually accompanied Cochius,—are in Seyfarth, Geschichte Friedrich des Grossen (Leipzig, 1783-1788), i. (Beylage) 24-40. Seyfarth was "Regiments-Auditor" in Halle: his Work, solid though stupid, consists nearly altogether of multifarious BEYLAGEN (Appendices) and NOTES; which are creditably accurate, and often curious; and, as usual, have no Index for an unfortunate reader.] which are to the same effect, so far as they concern us; and exhibit the same rugged Son of Nature, looking with all his eyesight into the near Eternity, and sinking in a human and not inhuman manner amid the floods of Time. "Wa, Wa, what great God is this, that pulls down the strength of the strongest Kings!"—
The poor King's state is very restless, fluctuates from day to day; he is impatient of bed; sleeps very ill; is up whenever possible; rolls about in his wheeled-chair, and even gets into the air: at one time looking strong, as if there were still months in him, and anon sunk in fainting weakness, as if he had few minutes to live. Friedrich at Reinsberg corresponds very secretly with Dr. Eller; has other friends at Potsdam whose secret news he very anxiously reads. To the last he cannot bring himself to think it "serious." [Letter to Eller, 25th May, 1740 (OEuvres ), xvi. 184.]
On Thursday, 26th of May, an express from Eller, or the Potsdam friends, arrives at Reinsberg: He is to come quickly, if he would see his Father again alive! The step may have danger, too; but Friedrich, a world of feelings urging him, is on the road next morning before the sun. His journey may be fancied; the like of it falls to all men. Arriving at last, turning hastily a corner of the Potsdam Schloss, Friedrich sees some gathering in the distance: it is his Father in his ROLLWAGEN (wheeled-chair),—not dying; but out of doors, giving orders about founding a House, or seeing it done. House for one Philips, a crabbed Englishman he has; whose tongue is none of the best, not even to Majesty itself, but whose merits as a Groom, of English and other Horses, are without parallel in those parts. Without parallel, and deserve a House before we die. Let us see it set agoing, this blessed Mayday! Of Philips, who survived deep into Friedrich's time, and uttered rough sayings (in mixed intelligible dialect) when put upon in his grooming, or otherwise disturbed, I could obtain no farther account: the man did not care to be put in History (a very small service to a man); cared to have a house with trim fittings, and to do his grooming well, the fortunate Philips.
At sight of his Son, Friedrich Wilhelm threw out his arms; the Son kneeling sank upon his breast, and they embraced with tears. My Father, my Father; My Son, my Son! It was a scene to make all by-standers and even Philips weep.—Probably the emotion hurt the old King; he had to be taken in again straightway, his show of strength suddenly gone, and bed the only place for him. This same Friday he dictated to one of his Ministers (Boden, who was in close attendance) the Instruction for his Funeral; a rude characteristic Piece, which perhaps the English reader knows. Too long and rude for reprinting here. [Copy of it, in Seyfarth (ubi supra), i. 19-24. Translated in Mauvillon (ii. 432-437); in &c. &c.]
He is to be buried in his uniform, the Potsdam Grenadiers his escort; with military decorum, three volleys fired (and take care they be well fired, "NICHT PLACKEREN"), so many cannon-salvos;—and no fuss or flaunting ceremony: simplicity and decency is what the tenant of that oak coffin wants, as he always did when owner of wider dominions. The coffin, which he has ready and beside him in the Palace this good while, is a stout piece of carpentry, with leather straps and other improvements; he views it from time to time; solaces his truculent imagination with the look of it: "I shall sleep right well there," he would say. The image he has of his Burial, we perceive, is of perfect visuality, equal to what a Defoe could do in imagining. All is seen, settled to the last minuteness: the coffin is to be borne out by so and so, at such and such a door; this detachment is to fall-in here, that there, in the attitude of "cover arms" (musket inverted under left arm); and the band is to play, with all its blackamoors, O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden (O Head, all bleeding wounded); a Dirge his Majesty had liked, who knew music, and had a love for it, after his sort. Good Son of Nature: a dumb Poet, as I say always; most dumb, but real; the value of him great, and unknown in these babbling times. It was on this same Friday night that Cochius was first sent for; Cochius, and Oesfeld with him, "about nine o'clock."
For the next three days (Saturday to Monday) when his cough and many sufferings would permit him, Friedrich Wilhelm had long private dialogues with his Son; instructing him, as was evident, in the mysteries of State; in what knowledge, as to persons and to things, he reckoned might be usefulest to him. What the lessons were, we know not; the way of taking them had given pleasure to the old man: he was heard to say, perhaps more than once, when the Generals were called in, and the dialogue interrupted for a while: "Am not I happy to have such a Son to leave behind me!" And the grimly sympathetic Generals testified assent; endeavored to talk a little, could at least smoke, and look friendly; till the King gathered strength for continuing his instructions to his Successor. All else was as if settled with him; this had still remained to do. This once done (finished, Monday night), why not abdicate altogether; and die disengaged, be it in a day or in a month, since that is now the one work left? Friedrich Wilhelm does so purpose.
His state, now as all along, was fluctuating, uncertain, restless. He was heard murmuring prayers; he would say sometimes, "Pray for me; BETET BETET." And more than once, in deep tone: "Lord, enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified!" The wild Son of Nature, looking into Life and Death, into Judgment and Eternity, finds that these things are very great. This too is a characteristic trait: In a certain German Hymn (Why fret or murmur, then? the title of it), which they often sang to him, or along with him, as he much loved it, are these words, "Naked I came into the world, and naked shall I go,"—"No," said he "always with vivacity," at this passage; "not quite nakid, I shall have my uniform on:" Let us be exact, since we are at it! After which the singing proceeded again. "The late Graf Alexander von Wartenberg"—Captain Wartenberg, whom we know, and whose opportunities—"was wont to relate this." [Busching (in 1786), Beitrage, iv. 100.]
Tuesday, 31st May, "about one in the morning," Cochius was again sent for. He found the King in very pious mood, but in great distress, and afraid he might yet have much pain to suffer. Cochius prayed with him; talked piously. "I can remember nothing," said the King; "I cannot pray, I have forgotten all my prayers."—"Prayer is not in words, but in the thought of the heart," said Cochius; and soothed the heavy-laden man as he could. "Fare you well," said Friedrich Wilhelm, at length; "most likely we shall not meet again in this world." Whereat Cochius burst into tears, and withdrew. About four, the King was again out of bed; wished to see his youngest Boy, who had been ill of measles, but was doing well: "Poor little Ferdinand, adieu, then, my little child!" This is the Father of that fine Louis Ferdinand, who was killed at Jena; concerning whom Berlin, in certain emancipated circles of it, still speaks with regret. He, the Louis Ferdinand, had fine qualities; but went far a-roving, into radicalism, into romantic love, into champagne; and was cut down on the threshold of Jena, desperately fighting,—perhaps happily for him.
From little Ferdinand's room Friedrich Wilhelm has himself rolled into Queen Sophie's. "Feekin, O my Feekin, thou must rise this day, and help me what thou canst. This day I am going to die; thou wilt be with me this day!" The good Wife rises: I know not that it was the first time she had been so called; but it did prove the last. Friedrich Wilhelm has decided, as the first thing he will do, to abdicate; and all the Official persons and companions of the sick-room, Pollnitz among them, not long after sunrise, are called to see it done. Pollnitz, huddling on his clothes, arrived about five: in a corridor he sees the wheeled-chair and poor sick King; steps aside to let him pass: "'It is over (DAS IST VOLLBRACHT),' said the King, looking up to me as he passed: he had on his nightcap, and a blue mantle thrown round him." He was wheeled into his anteroom; there let the company assemble; many of them are already there.
The royal stables are visible from this room: Friedrich Wilhelm orders the horses to be ridden out: you old Furst of Anhalt-Dessau my oldest friend, you Colonel Hacke faithfulest of Adjutant-Generals, take each of you a horse, the best you can pick out: it is my last gift to you. Dessau, in silence, with dumb-show of thanks, points to a horse, any horse: "You have chosen the very worst," said Friedrich Wilhelm: "Take that other, I will warrant him a good one!" The grim old Dessauer thanks in silence; speechless grief is on that stern gunpowder face, and he seems even to be struggling with tears. "Nay, nay, my friend," Friedrich Wilhelm said, "this is a debt we have all to pay."
The Official people, Queen, Friedrich, Minister Boden, Minister Podewils, and even Pollnitz, being now all present, Friedrich Wilhelm makes his Declaration, at considerable length; old General Bredow repeating it aloud, [Pollnitz, ii. 561.] sentence by sentence, the King's own voice being too weak; so that all may hear: "That he abdicates, gives up wholly, in favor of his good Son Friedrich; that foreign Ambassadors are to be informed; that you are all to be true and loyal to my Son as you were to me"—and what else is needful. To which the judicious Podewils makes answer, "That there must first be a written Deed of his high Transaction executed, which shall be straightway set about; the Deed once executed, signed and sealed,—the high Royal will, in all points, takes effect." Alas, before Podewils has done speaking, the King is like falling into a faint; does faint, and is carried to bed: too unlikely any Deed of Abdication will be needed.
Ups and downs there still were; sore fluctuating labor, as the poor King struggles to his final rest, this morning. He was at the window again, when the WACHT-PARADE (Grenadiers on Guard) turned out; he saw them make their evolutions for the last time. [Pauli, viii. 280.] After which, new relapse, new fluctuation. It was about eleven o'clock, when Cochius was again sent for. The King lay speechless, seemingly still conscious, in bed; Cochius prays with fervor, in a loud tone, that the dying King may hear and join. "Not so loud!" says the King, rallying a little. He had remembered that it was the season when his servants got their new liveries; they had been ordered to appear this day in full new costume: "O vanity! O vanity!" said Friedrich Wilhelm, at sight of the ornamented plush. "Pray for me, pray for me; my trust is in the Saviour!" he often said. His pains, his weakness are great; the cordage of a most tough heart rending itself piece by piece. At one time, he called for a mirror: that is certain:—rugged wild man, son of Nature to the last. The mirror was brought; what he said at sight of his face is variously reported: "Not so worn out as I thought," is Pollnitz's account, and the likeliest;—though perhaps he said several things, "ugly face," "as good as dead already;" and continued the inspection for some moments. [Pollnitz, ii. 564; Wilhelmina, ii. 321.] A grim, strange thing.
"Feel mv pulse, Pitsch," said he, noticing the Surgeon of his Giants: "tell me how long this will last."—"Alas, not long," answered Pitsch.—"Say not, alas; but how do you (He) know?"—"The pulse is gone!"—"Impossible," said he, lifting his arm: "how could I move my fingers so, if the pulse were gone?" Pitsch looked mournfully steadfast. "Herr Jesu, to thee I live; Herr Jesu, to thee I die; in life and in death thou art my gain (DU BIST MEIN GEWINN)." These were the last words Friedrich Wilhelm spoke in this world. He again fell into a faint. Eller gave a signal to the Crown-Prince to take the Queen away. Scarcely were they out of the room, when the faint had deepened into death; and Friedrich Wilhelm, at rest from all his labors, slept with the primeval sons of Thor.
No Baresark of them, nor Odin's self, I think, was a bit of truer human stuff;—I confess his value to me, in these sad times, is rare and great. Considering the usual Histrionic, Papin's-Digester, Truculent-Charlatan and other species of "Kings," alone attainable for the sunk flunky populations of an Era given up to Mammon and the worship of its own belly, what would not such a population give for a Friedrich Wilhelm, to guide it on the road BACK from Orcus a little? "Would give," I have written; but alas, it ought to have been "SHOULD give." What THEY "would" give is too mournfully plain to me, in spite of ballot-boxes: a steady and tremendous truth from the days of Barabbas downwards and upwards!—Tuesday, 31st May, 1740, between one and two o'clock in the afternoon, Friedrich Wilhelm died; age fifty-two, coming 15th August next. Same day, Friedrich his Son was proclaimed at Berlin; quilted heralds, with sound of trumpet and the like, doing what is customary on such occasions.
On Saturday, 4th June, the King's body is laid out in state; all Potsdam at liberty to come and see. He lies there, in his regimentals, in his oaken coffin, on a raised place in the middle of the room; decent mortuary draperies, lamps, garlands, banderols furnishing the room and him: at his feet, on a black-velvet TABOURET (stool), are the chivalry emblems, helmet, gauntlets, spurs; and on similar stools, at the right hand and the left, lie his military insignia, hat and sash, sword, guidon, and what else is fit. Around, in silence, sit nine veteran military dignitaries; Buddenbrock, Waldau, Derschau, Einsiedel, and five others whom we omit to name. Silent they sit. A grim earnest sight in the shine of the lamplight, as you pass out of the June sun. Many went, all day; looked once again on the face that was to vanish. Precisely at ten at night, the coffin-lid is screwed down: twelve Potsdam Captains take the coffin on their shoulders; four-and-twenty Corporals with wax torches, four-and-twenty Sergeants with inverted halberts lowered; certain Generals on order, and very many following as volunteers; these perform the actual burial,—carry the body to the Garrison Church, where are clergy waiting, which is but a small step off; see it lodged, oak coffin and all, in a marble coffin in the side vault there, which is known to Tourists. [Pauli, viii. 281.] It is the end of the week, and the actual burial is done,—hastened forward for reasons we can guess.
Filial piety by no means intends to defraud a loved Father of the Spartan ceremonial contemplated as obsequies by him: very far from it. Filial piety will conform to that with rigor; only adding what musical and other splendors are possible, to testify his love still more. And so, almost three weeks hence, on the 23d of the month, with the aid of Dresden Artists, of Latin Cantatas and other pomps (not inexcusable, though somewhat out of keeping), the due Funeral is done, no Corpse but a Wax Effigy present in it;—and in all points, that of the Potsdam Grenadiers not forgotten, there was rigorous conformity to the Instruction left. In all points, even to the extensive funeral dinner, and drinking of the appointed cask of wine, "the best cask in my cellar." Adieu, O King.
The Potsdam Grenadiers fired their three volleys (not "PLACKERING," as I have reason to believe, but well); got their allowance, dinner-liquor, and appointed coin of money: it was the last service required of them in this world. That same night they were dissolved, the whole Four Thousand of them, at a stroke; and ceased to exist as Potsdam Grenadiers. Colonels, Captains, all the Officers known to be of merit, were advanced, at least transferred. Of the common men, a minority, of not inhuman height and of worth otherwise, were formed into a new Regiment on the common terms: the stupid splay-footed eight-feet mass were allowed to stalk off whither they pleased, or vegetate on frugal pensions; Irish Kirkman, and a few others neither knock-kneed nor without head, were appointed HEYDUCS, that is, porters to the King's or other Palaces; and did that duty in what was considered an ornamental manner.
Here are still two things capable of being fished up from the sea of nugatory matter; and meditated on by readers, till the following Books open.
The last breath of Friedrich Wilhelm having fled, Friedrich hurried to a private room; sat there all in tears; looking back through the gulfs of the Past, upon such a Father now rapt away forever. Sad all, and soft in the moonlight of memory,—the lost Loved One all in the right as we now see, we all in the wrong!—this, it appears, was the Son's fixed opinion. Seven years hence, here is how Friedrich concludes the HISTORY of his Father, written with a loyal admiration throughout: "We have left under silence the domestic chagrins of this great Prince: readers must have some indulgence for the faults of the Children, in consideration of the virtues of such a Father." [OEuvres, i. 174 (Memoires de Brandebourg: finished about 1747).] All in tears he sits at present, meditating these sad things.
In a little while the Old Dessauer, about to leave for Dessau, ventures in to the Crown-Prince, Crown-Prince no longer; "embraces his knees;" offers, weeping, his condolence, his congratulation;—hopes withal that his sons and he will be continued in their old posts, and that he, the Old Dessauer, "will have the same authority as in the late reign." Friedrich's eyes, at this last clause, flash out tearless, strangely Olympian. "In your posts I have no thought of making change: in your posts, yes;—and as to authority, I know of none there can be but what resides in the King that is sovereign!" Which, as it were, struck the breath out of the Old Dessauer; and sent him home with a painful miscellany of feelings, astonishment not wanting among them.
At an after hour, the same night, Friedrich went to Berlin; met by acclamation enough. He slept there, not without tumult of dreams, one may fancy; and on awakening next morning, the first sound he heard was that of the Regiment Glasenap under his windows, swearing fealty to the new King. He sprang out of bed in a tempest of emotion; bustled distractedly to and fro, wildly weeping. Pollnitz, who came into the anteroom, found him in this state, "half-dressed, with dishevelled hair, in tears, and as if beside himself." "These huzzaings only tell me what I have lost!" said the new King.—"HE was in great suffering," suggested Pollnitz; "he is now at rest." "True, he suffered; but he was here with us: and now—!" [Ranke (ii. 46, 47)], from certain Fragments, still, in manuscript, of Pollnits's Memoiren.