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Title: History of Friedrich II of Prussia — Volume 11
Author: Carlyle, Thomas, 1795-1881
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of Friedrich II of Prussia — Volume 11" ***

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By Thomas Carlyle

Volume XI.



In Berlin, from Tuesday, 31st May, 1740, day of the late King's death,
till the Thursday following, the post was stopped and the gates closed;
no estafette can be despatched, though Dickens and all the Ambassadors
are busy writing. On the Thursday, Regiments, Officers, principal
Officials having sworn, and the new King being fairly in the saddle,
estafettes and post-boys shoot forth at the top of their speed; and
Rumor, towards every point of the compass, apprises mankind what immense
news there is. [Dickens (in State-Paper Office), 4th June, 1740.]

A King's Accession is always a hopeful phenomenon to the public; more
especially a young King's, who has been talked of for his talents
and aspirings,--for his sufferings, were it nothing more,--and whose
ANTI-MACHIAVEL is understood to be in the press. Vaguely everywhere
there has a notion gone abroad that this young King will prove
considerable. Here at last has a Lover of Philosophy got upon the
throne, and great philanthropies and magnanimities are to be expected,
think rash editors and idle mankind. Rash editors in England and
elsewhere, we observe, are ready to believe that Friedrich has not only
disbanded the Potsdam Giants; but means to "reduce the Prussian Army one
half" or so, for ease (temporary ease which we hope will be lasting)
of parties concerned; and to go much upon emancipation, political
rose-water, and friendship to humanity, as we now call it.

At his first meeting of Council, they say, he put this question, "Could
not the Prussian Army be reduced to 45,000?" The excellent young man.
To which the Council had answered, "Hardly, your Majesty! The
Julich-and-Berg affair is so ominous hitherto!" These may be secrets,
and dubious to people out of doors, thinks a wise editor; but one thing
patent to the day was this, surely symbolical enough: On one of his
Majesty's first drives to Potsdam or from it, a thousand children,--in
round numbers a thousand of them, all with the RED STRING round their
necks, and liable to be taken for soldiers, if needed in the regiment of
their Canton,--a thousand children met this young King at a turn of
his road; and with shrill unison of wail, sang out: "Oh, deliver us from
slavery,"--from the red threads, your Majesty. Why should poor we be
liable to suffer hardship for our Country or otherwise, your Majesty!
Can no one else be got to do it? sang out the thousand children. And
his Majesty assented on the spot, thinks the rash editor. [_Gentleman's
Magazine_ (London, 1740), x. 318; Newspapers, &c.] "Goose, Madam?"
exclaimed a philanthropist projector once, whose scheme of sweeping
chimneys by pulling a live goose down through them was objected to:
"Goose, Madam? You can take two ducks, then, if you are so sorry for the
goose!"--Rash editors think there is to be a reign of Astraea Redux in
Prussia, by means of this young King; and forget to ask themselves, as
the young King must by no means do, How far Astraea may be possible, for
Prussia and him?

At home, too, there is prophesying enough, vague hope enough, which for
most part goes wide of the mark. This young King, we know, did prove
considerable; but not in the way shaped out for him by the public;--it
was in far other ways! For no public in the least knows, in such cases:
nor does the man himself know, except gradually and if he strive to
learn. As to the public,--"Doubtless," says a friend of mine, "doubtless
it was the Atlantic Ocean that carried Columbus to America; lucky for
the Atlantic, and for Columbus and us: but the Atlantic did not quite
vote that way from the first; nay ITS votes, I believe, were very
various at different stages of the matter!" This is a truth which kings
and men, not intending to be drift-logs or waste brine obedient to the
Moon, are much called to have in mind withal, from perhaps an early
stage of their voyage.

Friedrich's actual demeanor in these his first weeks, which is still
decipherable if one study well, has in truth a good deal of the
brilliant, of the popular-magnanimous; but manifests strong solid
quality withal, and a head steadier than might have been expected. For
the Berlin world is all in a rather Auroral condition; and Friedrich too
is,--the chains suddenly cut loose, and such hopes opened for the young
man. He has great things ahead; feels in himself great things, and
doubtless exults in the thought of realizing them. Magnanimous enough,
popular, hopeful enough, with Voltaire and the highest of the world
looking on:--but yet he is wise, too; creditably aware that there are
limits, that this is a bargain, and the terms of it inexorable. We
discern with pleasure the old veracity of character shining through
this giddy new element; that all these fine procedures are at least
unaffected, to a singular degree true, and the product of nature, on his
part; and that, in short, the complete respect for Fact, which used to
be a quality of his, and which is among the highest and also rarest in
man, has on no side deserted him at present.

A trace of airy exuberance, of natural exultancy, not quite repressible,
on the sudden change to freedom and supreme power from what had
gone before: perhaps that also might be legible, if in those opaque
bead-rolls which are called Histories of Friedrich anything human could
with certainty be read! He flies much about from place to place; now at
Potsdam, now at Berlin, at Charlottenburg, Reinsberg; nothing loath
to run whither business calls him, and appear in public: the gazetteer
world, as we noticed, which has been hitherto a most mute world, breaks
out here and there into a kind of husky jubilation over the great things
he is daily doing, and rejoices in the prospect of having a Philosopher
King; which function the young man, only twenty-eight gone, cannot but
wish to fulfil for the gazetteers and the world. He is a busy man; and
walks boldly into his grand enterprise of "making men happy," to the
admiration of Voltaire and an enlightened public far and near.

Bielfeld speaks of immense concourses of people crowding about
Charlottenburg, to congratulate, to solicit, to &c.; tells us how he
himself had to lodge almost in outhouses, in that royal village of hope,
His emotions at Reinsberg, and everybody's, while Friedrich Wilhelm
lay dying, and all stood like greyhounds on the slip; and with what
arrow-swiftness they shot away when the great news came: all this he has
already described at wearisome length, in his fantastic semi-fabulous
way. [Bielfeld, i. 68-77; ib. 81.]' Friedrich himself seemed moderately
glad to see Bielfeld; received his high-flown congratulations with a
benevolent yet somewhat composed air; and gave him afterwards, in the
course of weeks, an unexpectedly small appointment: To go to Hanover,
under Truchsess von Waldburg, and announce our Accession. Which is but
a simple, mostly formal service; yet perhaps what Bielfeld is best equal

The Britannic Majesty, or at least his Hanover people have been
beforehand with this civility; Baron Munchhausen, no doubt by orders
given for such contingency, had appeared at Berlin with the due
compliment and condolence almost on the first day of the New Reign;
first messenger of all on that errand; Britannic Majesty evidently in a
conciliatory humor,--having his dangerous Spanish War on hand. Britannic
Majesty in person, shortly after, gets across to Hanover; and Friedrich
despatches Truchsess, with Bielfeld adjoined, to return the courtesy.

Friedrich does not neglect these points of good manners; along with
which something of substantial may be privately conjoined. For example,
if he had in secret his eye on Julich and Berg, could anything be fitter
than to ascertain what the French will think of such an enterprise?
What the French; and next to them what the English, that is to say,
Hanoverians, who meddle much in affairs of the Reich. For these reasons
and others he likewise, probably with more study than in the Bielfeld
case, despatches Colonel Camas to make his compliment at the French
Court, and in an expert way take soundings there. Camas, a fat sedate
military gentleman, of advanced years, full of observation, experience
and sound sense,--"with one arm, which he makes do the work of two, and
nobody can notice that the other arm resting in his coat-breast is
of cork, so expert is he,"--will do in this matter what is feasible;
probably not much for the present. He is to call on Voltaire, as he
passes, who is in Holland again, at the Hague for some months back; and
deliver him "a little cask of Hungary Wine," which probably his Majesty
had thought exquisite. Of which, and the other insignificant
passages between them, we hear more than enough in the writings and
correspondences of Voltaire about this time.

In such way Friedrich disposes of his Bielfelds; who are rather numerous
about him now and henceforth. Adventurers from all quarters, especially
of the literary type, in hopes of being employed, much hovered round
Friedrich through his whole reign. But they met a rather strict judge
on arriving; it cannot be said they found it such a Goshen as they

Favor, friendly intimacy, it is visible from the first, avails nothing
with this young King; beyond and before all things he will have his
work done, and looks out exclusively for the man ablest to do it. Hence
Bielfeld goes to Hanover, to grin out euphuisms, and make graceful
courtbows to our sublime little Uncle there. On the other hand,
Friedrich institutes a new Knighthood, ORDER OF MERIT so called; which
indeed is but a small feat, testifying mere hope and exuberance as yet;
and may even be made worse than nothing, according to the Knights he
shall manage to have. Happily it proved a successful new Order in this
last all-essential particular; and, to the end of Friedrich's life,
continued to be a great and coveted distinction among the Prussians.

Beyond doubt this is a radiant enough young Majesty; entitled to
hope, and to be the cause of hope. Handsome, to begin with; decidedly
well-looking, all say, and of graceful presence, though hardly five feet
seven, and perhaps stouter of limb than the strict Belvedere standard.
[Height, it appears, was five feet five inches (Rhenish), which in
English measure is five feet seven or a hair's-breadth less. Preuss,
twice over, by a mistake unusual with him, gives "five feet two inches
three lines" as the correct cipher (which it is of NAPOLEON'S measure in
FRENCH feet); then settles on the above dimensions from unexceptionable
authority (Preuss, _Buch fur Jedermann,_ i. 18; Preuss, _Fredrich der
Grosse,_ i. 39 and 419).] Has a fine free expressive face; nothing
of austerity in it; not a proud face, or not too proud, yet rapidly
flashing on you all manner of high meanings. [Wille's Engraving after
Pesne (excellent, both Picture and Engraving) is reckoned the best
Likeness in that form.] Such a man, in the bloom of his years; with such
a possibility ahead, and Voltaire and mankind waiting applausive!--Let
us try to select, and extricate into coherence and visibility out of
those Historical dust-heaps, a few of the symptomatic phenomena, or
physiognomic procedures of Friedrich in his first weeks of Kingship, by
way of contribution to some Portraiture of his then inner-man.


On the day after his Accession, Officers and chief Ministers taking the
Oath, Friedrich, to his Officers, "on whom he counts for the same zeal
now which he had witnessed as their comrade," recommends mildness of
demeanor from the higher to the lower, and that the common soldier be
not treated with harshness when not deserved: and to his Ministers he
is still more emphatic, in the like or a higher strain. Officially
announcing to them, by Letter, that a new Reign has commenced, he uses
these words, legible soon after to a glad Berlin public: "Our grand care
will be, To further the Country's well-being, and to make every one of
our subjects (EINEN JEDEN UNSERER UNTERTHANEN) contented and happy. Our
will is, not that you strive to enrich Us by vexation of Our subjects;
but rather that you aim steadily as well towards the advantage of the
Country as Our particular interest, forasmuch as We make no difference
between these two objects," but consider them one and the same. This
is written, and gets into print within the month; and his Majesty, that
same day (Wednesday, 2d June), when it came to personal reception, and
actual taking of the Oath, was pleased to add in words, which also were
printed shortly, this comfortable corollary: "My will henceforth is, If
it ever chance that my particular interest and the general good of my
Countries should seem to go against each other,--in that case, my will
is, That the latter always be preferred." [Dickens, Despatch, 4th June,
1740: Preuss, _Friedrichs Jugend und Thronbesteigung_ (Berlin, 1840), p.
325;--quoting from the Berlin Newspapers of 28th June and 2d July,

This is a fine dialect for incipient Royalty; and it is brand-new at
that time. It excites an admiration in the then populations, which
to us, so long used to it and to what commonly comes of it, is
not conceivable at once. There can be no doubt the young King does
faithfully intend to develop himself in the way of making men happy; but
here, as elsewhere, are limits which he will recognize ahead, some of
them perhaps nearer than was expected.

Meanwhile his first acts, in this direction, correspond to these fine
words. The year 1740, still grim with cold into the heart of summer,
bids fair to have a late poor harvest, and famine threatens to add
itself to other hardships there have been. Recognizing the actualities
of the case, what his poor Father could not, he opens the Public
Granaries,--a wise resource they have in Prussian countries against the
year of scarcity;--orders grain to be sold out, at reasonable rates, to
the suffering poor; and takes the due pains, considerable in some cases,
that this be rendered feasible everywhere in his dominions. "Berlin, 2d
June," is the first date of this important order; fine program to his
Ministers, which, we read, is no sooner uttered, than some performance
follows. An evident piece of wisdom and humanity; for which doubtless
blessings of a very sincere kind rise to him from several millions of
his fellow-mortals.

Nay furthermore, as can be dimly gathered, this scarcity continuing,
some continuous mode of management was set on foot for the Poor;
and there is nominated, with salary, with outline of plan and other
requisites, as "Inspector of the Poor," to his own and our surprise, M.
Jordan, late Reader to the Crown-Prince, and still much the intimate of
his royal Friend. Inspector who seems to do his work very well. And in
the November coming this is what we see: "One thousand poor old women,
the destitute of Berlin, set to spin," at his Majesty's charges;
vacant houses, hired for them in certain streets and suburbs, have been
new-planked, partitioned, warmed; and spinning is there for any diligent
female soul. There a thousand of them sit, under proper officers, proper
wages, treatment;--and the hum of their poor spindles, and of their poor
inarticulate old hearts, is a comfort, if one chance to think of it.--Of
"distressed needlewomen" who cannot sew, nor be taught to do it; who, in
private truth, are mutinous maid-servants come at last to the net upshot
of their anarchies; of these, or of the like incurable phenomena, I
hear nothing in Berlin; and can believe that, under this King, Indigence
itself may still have something of a human aspect, not a brutal or
diabolic as is commoner in some places.--This is one of Friedrich's
first acts, this opening of the Corn-magazines, and arrangements for
the Destitute; [_Helden-Geschichte,_ i. 367. Rodenbeck, _Tagebuch aus
Friedrichs des Grossen Regentenleben_ (Berlin, 1840), i. 2, 26 (2d June,
October, 1740): a meritorious, laborious, though essentially chaotic
Book, unexpectedly futile of result to the reader; settles for each Day
of Friedrich's Reign, so far as possible, where Friedrich was and what
doing; fatally wants all index &c., as usual.] and of this there can
be no criticism. The sound of hungry pots set boiling, on judicious
principles; the hum of those old women's spindles in the warm rooms:
gods and men are well pleased to hear such sounds; and accept the same
as part, real though infinitesimally small, of the sphere-harmonies of
this Universe!


Friedrich makes haste, next, to strike into Law-improvements. It is but
the morrow after this of the Corn-magazines, by KABINETS-ORDRE (Act
of Parliament such as they can have in that Country, where the Three
Estates sit all under one Three-cornered Hat, and the debates are kept
silent, and only the upshot of them, more or less faithfully, is made
public),--by Cabinet Order, 3d June, 1740, he abolishes the use
of Torture in Criminal Trials. [Preuss, _Friedrichs Jugend und
Thronbesteigung_ (Berlin, 1840,--a minor Book of Preuss's), p. 340.
Rodenbeck, i. 14 ("3d June").] Legal Torture, "Question" as they mildly
call it, is at an end from this date. Not in any Prussian Court shall
a "question" try for answer again by that savage method. The use of
Torture had, I believe, fallen rather obsolete in Prussia; but now the
very threat of it shall vanish,--the threat of it, as we may remember,
had reached Friedrich himself, at one time. Three or four years ago, it
is farther said, a dark murder happened in Berlin: Man killed one night
in the open streets; murderer discoverable by no method,--unless he were
a certain CANDIDATUS of Divinity to whom some trace of evidence pointed,
but who sorrowfully persisted in absolute and total denial. This poor
Candidatus had been threatened with the rack; and would most likely have
at length got it, had not the real murderer been discovered,--much
to the discredit of the rack in Berlin. This Candidatus was only
threatened; nor do I know when the last actual instance in Prussia was;
but in enlightened France, and most other countries, there was as yet
no scruple upon it. Barbier, the Diarist at Paris, some time after
this, tells us of a gang of thieves there, who were regularly put to
the torture; and "they blabbed too, ILS ONT JASE," says Barbier with
official jocosity. [Barbier, _Journal Historique du Regne de Louis XV._
(Paris, 1849), ii. 338 (date "Dec. 1742").]

Friedrich's Cabinet Order, we need not say, was greeted everywhere, at
home and abroad, by three rounds of applause;--in which surely all of
us still join; though the PER CONTRA also is becoming visible to some
of us, and our enthusiasm grows less complete than formerly. This
was Friedrich's first step in Law-Reform, done on his fourth day of
Kingship. A long career in that kind lies ahead of him; in reform of
Law, civil as well as criminal, his efforts ended with life only. For
his love of Justice was really great; and the mendacities and wiggeries,
attached to such a necessary of life as Law, found no favor from him at
any time.


To neglect the Philosophies, Fine Arts, interests of Human Culture, he
is least of all likely. The idea of building up the Academy of Sciences
to its pristine height, or far higher, is evidently one of those that
have long lain in the Crown-Prince's mind, eager to realize themselves.
Immortal Wolf, exiled but safe at Marburg, and refusing to return
in Friedrich Wilhelm's time, had lately dedicated a Book to the
Crown-Prince; indicating that perhaps, under a new Reign, he might
be more persuadable. Friedrich makes haste to persuade; instructs the
proper person, Reverend Herr Reinbeck, Head of the Consistorium at
Berlin, to write and negotiate. "All reasonable conditions shall be
granted" the immortal Wolf,--and Friedrich adds with his own hand as
Postscript: "I request you (IHN) to use all diligence about Wolf. A man
that seeks truth, and loves it, must be reckoned precious in any human
society; and I think you will make a conquest in the realm of truth if
you persuade Wolf hither again." [In _OEuvres de Frederic_ (xxvii. ii.
185), the Letter given.] This is of date June 6th; not yet a week since
Friedrich came to be King. The Reinbeck-Wolf negotiation which ensued
can be read in Busching by the curious. [Busching's _Beitrage_ (?
Freiherr von Wolf), i. 63-137.] It represents to us a croaky, thrifty,
long-headed old Herr Professor, in no haste to quit Marburg except for
something better: "obliged to wear woollen shoes and leggings;" "bad at
mounting stairs;" and otherwise needing soft treatment. Willing, though
with caution, to work at an Academy of Sciences;--but dubious if the
French are so admirable as they seem to themselves in such operations.
Veteran Wolf, one dimly begins to learn, could himself build a German
Academy of Sciences, to some purpose, if encouraged! This latter was
probably the stone of stumbling in that direction. Veteran Wolf did
not get to be President in the New Academy of Sciences; but was brought
back, "streets all in triumph," to his old place at Halle; and there,
with little other work that was heard of, but we hope in warm shoes and
without much mounting of stairs, lived peaceably victorious the rest of
his days. Friedrich's thoughts are not of a German home-built Academy,
but of a French one: and for this he already knows a builder; has
silently had him in his eye, these two years past,--Voltaire giving
hint, in the LETTER we once heard of at Loo. Builder shall be that
sublime Maupertuis; scientific lion of Paris, ever since his feat in the
Polar regions, and the charming Narrative he gave of it. "What a feat,
what a book!" exclaimed the Parisian cultivated circles, male and
female, on that occasion; and Maupertuis, with plenty of bluster in him
carefully suppressed, assents in a grandly modest way. His Portraits are
in the Printshops ever since; one very singular Portrait, just coming
out (at which there is some laughing): a coarse-featured, blusterous,
rather triumphant-looking man, blusterous, though finely complacent for
the nonce; in copious dressing-gown and fur cap; comfortably SQUEEZING
the Earth and her meridians flat (as if HE had done it), with his left
hand; and with the other, and its outstretched finger, asking mankind,
"Are not you aware, then?"--"Are not we!" answers Voltaire by and
by, with endless waggeries upon him, though at present so reverent.
Friedrich, in these same days, writes this Autograph; which who of men
or lions could resist?


(No date;--datable, June, 1740.)

"My heart and my inclination excited in me, from the moment I mounted
the throne, the desire of having you here, that you might put our Berlin
Academy into the shape you alone are capable of giving it. Come, then,
come and insert into this wild crab-tree the graft of the Sciences, that
it may bear fruit. You have shown the Figure of the Earth to mankind;
show also to a King how sweet it is to possess such a man as you.

"Monsieur de Maupertuis,--votre tres-affectionne

"FEDERIC" (SIC). [_OEuvres,_ xvii. i. 334. The fantastic "Federic,"
instead of "Frederic," is, by this time, the common signature to French

This Letter--how could Maupertuis prevent some accident in such a
case?--got into the Newspapers; glorious for Friedrich, glorious for
Maupertuis; and raised matters to a still higher pitch. Maupertuis is on
the road, and we shall see him before long.


Here is another little fact which had immense renown at home and abroad,
in those summer months and long afterwards.

June 22d, 1740, the GEISTLICHE DEPARTEMENT (Board of Religion, we may
term it) reports that the Roman-Catholic Schools, which have been in
use these eight years past, for children of soldiers belonging to that
persuasion, "are, especially in Berlin, perverted, directly in the teeth
of Royal Ordinance, 1732, to seducing Protestants into Catholicism;"
annexed, or ready for annexing, "is the specific Report of
Fiscal-General to this effect:"--upon which, what would it please his
Majesty to direct us to do?

His Majesty writes on the margin these words, rough and ready, which we
give with all their grammatical blotches on them; indicating a mind
made up on one subject, which was much more dubious then, to most other
minds, than it now is:--

"Die Religionen Musen (MUSSEN) alle Tollerirt (TOLERIRT) werden, und Mus
(MUSS) der Fiscal nuhr (NUR) das Auge darauf haben, das (DASS) keine der
andern abrug Tuhe (ABBRUCH THUE), den (DENN) hier mus (MUSS) ein
jeder nach seiner Fasson Selich (FACON SELIG) werden." [Preuss,
_Thronbesteigung,_ p. 333; Rodenbeck, IN DIE.]

Which in English might run as follows:--

"All Religions must be tolerated (TOLLERATED), and the Fiscal must have
an eye that none of them make unjust encroachment on the other; for in
this Country every man must get to Heaven in his own way."

Wonderful words; precious to the then leading spirits, and which (the
spelling and grammar being mended) flew abroad over all the world: the
enlightened Public everywhere answering his Majesty, once more, with its
loudest "Bravissimo!" on this occasion. With what enthusiasm of admiring
wonder, it is now difficult to fancy, after the lapse of sixscore years!
And indeed, in regard to all these worthy acts of Human Improvement
which we are now concerned with, account should be held (were it
possible) on Friedrich's behalf how extremely original, and bright with
the splendor of new gold, they then were: and how extremely they are
fallen dim, by general circulation, since that. Account should be held;
and yet it is not possible, no human imagination is adequate to it, in
the times we are now got into.


Toleration, in Friedrich's spiritual circumstances, was perhaps no
great feat to Friedrich: but what the reader hardly expected of him
was Freedom of the Press, or an attempt that way! From England, from
Holland, Friedrich had heard of Free Press, of Newspapers the best
Instructors: it is a fact that he hastens to plant a seed of that kind
at Berlin; sets about it "on the second day of his reign," so eager
is he. Berlin had already some meagre INTELLIGENZ-BLATT (Weekly or
Thrice-Weekly Advertiser), perhaps two; but it is a real Newspaper,
frondent with genial leafy speculation, and food for the mind, that
Friedrich is intent upon: a "Literary-Political Newspaper," or were it
even two Newspapers, one French, one German; and he rapidly makes the
arrangements for it; despatches Jordan, on the second day, to seek some
fit Frenchman. Arrangements are soon made: a Bookselling Printer, Haude,
Bookseller once to the Prince-Royal,--whom we saw once in a domestic
flash-of-lightning long ago, [Antea, Book vi. c. 7.]--is encouraged
to proceed with the improved German article, MERCURY or whatever they
called it; vapid Formey, a facile pen, but not a forcible, is the Editor
sought out by Jordan for the French one. And, in short, No. 1 of
Formey shows itself in print within a month; ["2d July, 1740:" Preuss,
_Thronbesteigung,_ p. 330; and Formey, _Souvenirs,_ i. 107, rectified by
the exact Herr Preuss.] and Haude and he, Haude picking up some grand
Editor in Hamburg, do their best for the instruction of mankind.

In not many months, Formey, a facile and learned but rather vapid
gentleman, demitted or was dismissed; and the Journals coalesced into
one, or split into two again; and went I know not what road, or roads,
in time coming,--none that led to results worth naming. Freedom of the
Press, in the case of these Journals, was never violated, nor was any
need for violating it. General Freedom of the Press Friedrich did not
grant, in any quite Official or steady way; but in practice, under him,
it always had a kind of real existence, though a fluctuating, ambiguous
one. And we have to note, through Friedrich's whole reign, a marked
disinclination to concern himself with Censorship, or the shackling
of men's poor tongues and pens; nothing but some officious report that
there was offence to Foreign Courts, or the chance of offence, in a poor
man's pamphlet, could induce Friedrich to interfere with him or it,--and
indeed his interference was generally against his Ministers for having
wrong informed him, and in favor of the poor Pamphleteer appealing at
the fountain-head. [Anonymous (Laveaux), _Vie de Frederic II., Roi de
Prusse_ (Strasbourg, 1787), iv. 82. A worthless, now nearly forgotten
Book; but competent on this point, if on any; Laveaux (a handy fellow,
fugitive Ex-Monk, with fugitive Ex-Nun attached) having lived much at
Berlin, always in the pamphleteering line.] To the end of his life,
disgusting Satires against him, _Vie Privee_ by Voltaire, _Matinees du
Roi de Prusse,_ and still worse Lies and Nonsenses, were freely sold
at Berlin, and even bore to be printed there, Friedrich saying nothing,
caring nothing. He has been known to burn Pamphlets publicly,--one
Pamphlet we shall ourselves see on fire yet;--but it was without the
least hatred to them, and for official reasons merely. To the last, he
would answer his reporting Ministers, "LE PRESSE EST LIBRE (Free press,
you must consider)!"--grandly reluctant to meddle with the press, or go
down upon the dogs barking at his door. Those ill effects of Free Press
(first stage of the ill effects) he endured in this manner; but the good
effects seem to have fallen below his expectation. Friedrich's enthusiam
for freedom of the press, prompt enough, as we see, never rose to the
extreme pitch, and it rather sank than increased as he continued his
experiences of men and things. This of Formey and the two Newspapers
was the only express attempt he made in that direction; and it proved a
rather disappointing one. The two Newspapers went their way thenceforth,
Friedrich sometimes making use of them for small purposes, once or twice
writing an article himself, of wildly quizzical nature, perhaps to
be noticed by us when the time comes; but are otherwise, except for
chronological purposes, of the last degree of insignificance to gods or

"Freedom of the Press," says my melancholic Friend, "is a noble
thing; and in certain Nations, at certain epochs, produces glorious
effects,--chiefly in the revolutionary line, where that has grown
indispensable. Freedom of the Press is possible, where everybody
disapproves the least abuse of it; where the 'Censorship' is, as it
were, exercised by all the world. When the world (as, even in the freest
countries, it almost irresistibly tends to become) is no longer in
a case to exercise that salutary function, and cannot keep down loud
unwise speaking, loud unwise persuasion, and rebuke it into silence
whenever printed, Freedom of the Press will not answer very long, among
sane human creatures: and indeed, in Nations not in an exceptional case,
it becomes impossible amazingly soon!"--

All these are phenomena of Friedrich's first week. Let these suffice as
sample, in that first kind. Splendid indications surely; and shot forth
in swift enough succession, flash following flash, upon an attentive
world. Betokening, shall we say, what internal sea of splendor,
struggling to disclose itself, probably lies in this young King; and
how high his hopes go for mankind and himself? Yes, surely;--and
introducing, we remark withal, the "New Era," of Philanthropy,
Enlightenment and so much else; with French Revolution, and a "world
well suicided" hanging in the rear! Clearly enough, to this young
ardent Friedrich, foremost man of his Time, and capable of DOING its
inarticulate or dumb aspirings, belongs that questionable honor; and a
very singular one it would have seemed to Friedrich, had he lived to see
what it meant!

Friedrich's rapidity and activity, in the first months of his reign,
were wonderful to mankind; as indeed through life he continued to be
a most rapid and active King. He flies about; mustering Troops,
Ministerial Boards, passing Edicts, inspecting, accepting Homages of
Provinces;--decides and does, every day that passes, an amazing number
of things. Writes many Letters, too; finds moments even for some verses;
and occasionally draws a snatch of melody from his flute.

His Letters are copiously preserved; but, as usual, they are in swift
official tone, and tell us almost nothing. To his Sisters he writes
assurances; to his friends, his Suhms, Duhans, Voltaires, eager
invitations, general or particular, to come to him. "My state has
changed," is his phrase to Voltaire and other dear intimates; a tone of
pensiveness, at first even of sorrow and pathos traceable in it; "Come
to me,"--and the tone, in an old dialect, different from Friedrich's,
might have meant, "Pray for me." An immense new scene is opened, full of
possibilities of good and bad. His hopes being great, his anxieties,
the shadow of them, are proportionate. Duhan (his good old Tutor) does
arrive, Algarotti arrives, warmly welcomed, both: with Voltaire there
are difficulties; but surely he too will, before long, manage to arrive.
The good Suhm, who had been Saxon Minister at Petersburg to his sorrow
this long while back, got in motion soon enough; but, alas, his lungs
were ruined by the Russian climate, and he did not arrive. Something
pathetic still in those final LETTERS of Suhm. Passionately speeding on,
like a spent steed struggling homeward; he has to pause at Warsaw, and
in a few days dies there,--in a way mournful to Friedrich and us! To
Duhan, and Duhan's children afterwards, he was punctually, not too
lavishly, attentive; in like manner to Suhm's Nephews, whom the dying
man had recommended to him.--We will now glance shortly at a second and
contemporaneous phasis of Friedrich's affairs.


Friedrich is far indeed from thinking to reduce his Army, as the Foreign
Editor imagines. On the contrary, he is, with all industry, increasing
it. He changed the Potsdam Giants into four regiments of the usual
stature; he is busy bargaining with his Brother-in-law of Brunswick,
and with other neighbors, for still new regiments;--makes up, within the
next few months, Eight Regiments, an increase of, say, 16,000 men. It
would appear he means to keep an eye on the practicalities withal; means
to have a Fighting-Apparatus of the utmost potentiality, for one thing!
Here are other indications.

We saw the Old Dessauer, in a sad hour lately, speaking beside the mark;
and with what Olympian glance, suddenly tearless, the new King flashed
out upon him, knowing nothing of "authority" that could reside in any
Dessauer. Nor was that a solitary experience; the like befell wherever
needed. Heinrich of Schwedt, the Ill Margraf, advancing with jocose
countenance in the way of old comradeship, in those first days, met
unexpected rebuff, and was reduced to gravity on the sudden: "JETZT
BIN ICH KONIG,--My Cousin, I am now King!" a fact which the Ill Margraf
could never get forgotten again. Lieutenant-General Schulenburg, too,
the didactic Schulenburg, presuming, on old familiarity, and willing
to wipe out the misfortune of having once condemned us to death, which
nobody is now upbraiding him with, rushes up from Landsberg, unbidden,
to pay his congratulations and condolences, driven by irresistible
exuberance of loyalty: to his astonishment, he is reminded (thing
certain, manner of the thing not known), That an Officer cannot quit his
post without order; that he, at this moment, ought to be in Landsberg!
[Stenzel, iv. 41; Preuss, _Thronbesteigung;_ &c.] Schulenburg has a
hard old military face; but here is a young face too, which has grown
unexpectedly rigorous. Fancy the blank look of little Schulenburg; the
light of him snuffed out in this manner on a sudden. It is said he had
thoughts of resigning, so indignant was he: no doubt he went home to
Landsberg gloomily reflective, with the pipe-clay of his mind in such a
ruinous condition. But there was no serious anger, on Friedrich's part;
and he consoled his little Schulenburg soon after, by expediting some
promotion he had intended him. "Terribly proud young Majesty this,"
exclaim the sweet voices. And indeed, if they are to have a Saturnian
Kingdom, by appearance it will be on conditions only!

Anticipations there had been, that old unkindnesses against the
Crown-Prince, some of which were cruel enough, might be remembered now:
and certain people had their just fears, considering what account stood
against them; others, VICE VERSA, their hopes. But neither the fears nor
the hopes realized themselves; especially the fears proved
altogether groundless. Derschau, who had voted Death in that Copenick
Court-Martial, upon the Crown-Prince, is continued in his functions,
in the light of his King's countenance, as if nothing such had been.
Derschau, and all others so concerned; not the least question was
made of them, nor of what they had thought or had done or said, on an
occasion once so tragically vital to a certain man.

Nor is reward much regulated by past services to the Crown-Prince, or
even by sufferings endured for him. "Shocking ingratitude!" exclaim
the sweet voices here too,--being of weak judgment, many of them! Poor
Katte's Father, a faithful old Soldier, not capable of being more, he
does, rather conspicuously, make Feldmarschall, make Reichsgraf; happy,
could these honors be a consolation to the old man. The Munchows of
Custrin,--readers remember their kindness in that sad time; how the
young boy went into petticoats again, and came to the Crown-Prince's
cell with all manner of furnishings,--the Munchows, father and sons,
this young gentleman of the petticoats among them, he took immediate
pains to reward by promotion: eldest son was advanced into the General
Directorium; two younger sons, to Majorship, to Captaincy, in their
respective Regiments; him of the petticoats "he had already taken
altogether to himself," [Preuss, i. 66.] and of him we shall see a
glimpse at Wilhelmina's shortly, as a "milkbeard (JEUNE MORVEUX)" in
personal attendance on his Majesty. This was a notable exception. And
in effect there came good public service, eminent some of it, from these
Munchows in their various departments. And it was at length perceived to
have been, in the main, because they were of visible faculty for doing
work that they had got work to do; and the exceptional case of the
Munchows became confirmatory of the rule.

Lieutenant Keith, again, whom we once saw galloping from Wesel to save
his life in that bad affair of the Crown-Prince's and his, was nothing
like so fortunate. Lieutenant Keith, by speed on that Wesel occasion,
and help of Chesterfield's Secretary, got across to England; got into
the Portuguese service; and has there been soldiering, very silently,
these ten years past,--skin and body safe, though his effigy was cut in
four quarters and nailed to the gallows at Wesel;--waiting a time that
would come. Time being come, Lieutenant Keith hastened home; appealed
to his effigy on the gallows;--and was made a Lieutenant-Colonel merely,
with some slight appendages, as that of STALLMEISTER (Curator of the
Stables) and something else; income still straitened, though enough to
live upon. [Preuss, _Friedrich mit Verwandten und Freunden,_ p. 281.]
Small promotion, in comparison with hope, thought the poor Lieutenant;
but had to rest satisfied with it; and struggle to understand that
perhaps he was fit for nothing bigger, and that he must exert himself to
do this small thing well. Hardness of heart in high places! Friedrich,
one is glad to see, had not forgotten the poor fellow, could he have
done better with him. Some ten years hence, quite incidentally, there
came to Keith, one morning, a fine purse of money from his Majesty, one
pretty gift in Keith's experience;--much the topic in Berlin, while a
certain solemn English gentleman happened to be passing that way (whom
we mean to detain a little by and by), who reports it for us with all
the circumstances. [Sir Jonas Hanway, _Travels,_ &c. (London, 1753), ii.
202. Date of the Gift is 1750.]

Lieutenant Spaen too had got into trouble for the Crown-Prince's sake,
though we have forgotten him again; had "admitted Katte to interviews,"
or we forget what;--had sat his "year in Spandau" in consequence; been
dismissed the Prussian service, and had taken service with the Dutch.
Lieutenant Spaen either did not return at all, or disliked the aspects
when he did, and immediately withdrew to Holland again. Which probably
was wise of him. At a late period, King Friedrich, then a great King,
on one of his Cleve Journeys, fell in with Spaen; who had become a Dutch
General of rank, and was of good manners and style of conversation:
King Friedrich was charmed to see him; became his guest for the night;
conversed delightfully with him, about old Prussian matters and about
new; and in the colloquy never once alluded to that interesting passage
in his young life and Spaen's. [Nicolai, _Anekdoten,_ vi. 178.] Hard as
polished steel! thinks Spaen perhaps; but, if candid, must ask himself
withal, Are facts any softer, or the Laws of Kingship to a man that
holds it?--Keith silently did his Lieutenant-Colonelcy with the
appendages, while life lasted: of the Page Keith, his Brother, who
indeed had blabbed upon the Prince, as we remember, and was not entitled
to be clamorous, I never heard that there was any notice taken; and
figure him to myself as walking with shouldered firelock, a private
Fusileer, all his life afterwards, with many reflections on things
bygone. [These and the other Prussian Keiths are all of Scotch
extraction; the Prussians, in natural German fashion, pronounce their
name KAH-IT (English "KITE" with nothing of the Y in it), as may be
worth remembering in a more important instance.]

Old friendship, it would seem, is without weight in public appointments
here: old friends are somewhat astonished to find this friend of theirs
a King every inch! To old comrades, if they were useless, much more if
they were worse than useless, how disappointing! "One wretched Herr [name
suppressed, but known at the time, and talked of, and whispered of], who
had, like several others, hoping to rise that way, been industrious in
encouraging the Crown-Prince's vices as to women, was so shocked at
the return he now met, that in despair he hanged himself in LobeJun."
(Lobegun, Magdeburg Country): here is a case for the humane! [Kuster,
_Characterzuge des &c. von Saldern_ (Berlin, 1793), p. 63.]

Friend Keyserling himself, "Caesarion" that used to be, can get nothing,
though we love him much; being an idle topsy-turvy fellow with revenues
of his own. Jordan, with his fine-drawn wit, French logics, LITERARY
TRAVELS, thin exactitude; what can be done for Jordan? Him also his new
Majesty loves much; and knows that, without some official living, poor
Jordan has no resource. Jordan, after some waiting and survey, is
made "Inspector of the Poor;"--busy this Autumn looking out for vacant
houses, and arrangements for the thousand spinning women;--continues
to be employed in mixed literary services (hunting up of Formey, for
Editor, was one instance), and to be in much real intimacy. That also
was perhaps about the real amount of amiable Jordan. To get Jordan a
living by planting him in some office which he could not do; to warm
Jordan by burning our royal bed for him: that had not entered into the
mind of Jordan's royal friend. The Munchows he did promote; the Finks,
sons of his Tutor Finkenstein: to these and other old comrades, in whom
he had discovered fitness, it is no doubt abundantly grateful to him
to recognize and employ it. As he notably does, in these and in other
instances. But before all things he has decided to remember that he is
King; that he must accept the severe laws of that trust, and do IT, or
not have done anything.

An inverse sign, pointing in the same way, is the passionate search he
is making in Foreign Countries for such men as will suit him. In these
same months, for example, he bethinks him of two Counts Schmettau, in
the Austrian Service, with whom he had made acquaintance in the Rhine
Campaign; of a Count von Rothenburg, whom he saw in the French Camp
there; and is negotiating to have them if possible. The Schmettaus are
Prussian by birth, though in Austrian Service; them he obtains under
form of an Order home, with good conditions under it; they came, and
proved useful men to him. Rothenburg, a shining kind of figure in
Diplomacy as well as Soldiership, was Alsatian German, foreign to
Prussia; but him too Friedrich obtained, and made much of, as will be
notable by and by. And in fact the soul of all these noble tendencies
in Friedrich, which surely are considerable, is even this, That he loves
men of merit, and does not love men of none; that he has an endless
appetite for men of merit, and feels, consciously and otherwise, that
they are the one thing beautiful, the one thing needful to him.

This, which is the product of all fine tendencies, is likewise their
centre or focus out of which they start again, with some chance of
fulfilment;--and we may judge in how many directions Friedrich was
willing to expand himself, by the multifarious kinds he was inviting,
and negotiating for. Academicians,--and not Maupertuis only, but all
manner of mathematical geniuses (Euler whom he got, at Gravesande,
Muschenbroek whom he failed of); and Literary geniuses innumerable,
first and last. Academicians, Musicians, Players, Dancers even; much
more Soldiers and Civil-Service men: no man that carries any honest "CAN
DO" about with him but may expect some welcome here. Which continued
through Friedrich's reign; and involved him in much petty trouble,
not always successful in the lower kinds of it. For his Court was the
cynosure of ambitious creatures on the wing, or inclined for taking
wing: like a lantern kindled in the darkness of the world;--and many
owls impinged upon him; whom he had to dismiss with brevity.

Perhaps it had been better to stand by mere Prussian or German
merit, native to the ground? Or rather, undoubtedly it had! In some
departments, as in the military, the administrative, diplomatic,
Friedrich was himself among the best of judges: but in various others
he had mainly (mainly, by no means blindly or solely) to accept noise of
reputation as evidence of merit; and in these, if we compute with rigor,
his success was intrinsically not considerable. The more honor to him
that he never wearied of trying. "A man that does not care for merit,"
says the adage, "cannot himself have any." But a King that does not care
for merit, what shall we say of such a King!--


One other fine feature, significant of many, let us notice: his
affection for his Mother. When his Mother addressed him as "Your
Majesty," he answered, as the Books are careful to tell us: "Call me
Son; that is the Title of all others most agreeable to me!" Words which,
there can be no doubt, came from the heart. Fain would he shoot forth
to greatness in filial piety, as otherwise; fain solace himself in doing
something kind to his Mother. Generously, lovingly; though again with
clear view of the limits. He decrees for her a Title higher than had
been customary, as well as more accordant with his feelings; not "Queen
Dowager," but "Her Majesty the Queen Mother." He decides to build her a
new Palace; "under the Lindens" it is to be, and of due magnificence:
in a month or two, he had even got bits of the foundation dug, and the
Houses to be pulled down bought or bargained for; [Rodenbeck, p.
15 (30th June-23d Aug. 1740); and correct Stenzel (iv. 44).]--which
enterprise, however, was renounced, no doubt with consent, as the
public aspects darkened. Nothing in the way of honor, in the way of real
affection heartily felt and demonstrated, was wanting to Queen Sophie
in her widowhood. But, on the other hand, of public influence no vestige
was allowed, if any was ever claimed; and the good kind Mother lived in
her Monbijou, the centre and summit of Berlin society; and restricted
herself wisely to private matters. She has her domesticities, family
affections, readings, speculations; gives evening parties at Monbijou.
One glimpse of her in 1742 we get, that of a perfectly private royal
Lady; which though it has little meaning, yet as it is authentic, coming
from Busching's hand, may serve as one little twinkle in that total
darkness, and shall be left to the reader and his fancy:--

A Count Henkel, a Thuringian gentleman, of high speculation, high
pietistic ways, extremely devout, and given even to writing of religion,
came to Berlin about some Silesian properties,--a man I should think of
lofty melancholic aspect; and, in severe type, somewhat of a lion, on
account of his Book called "DEATH-BED SCENES, in four Volumes." Came
to Berlin; and on the 15th August, 1742, towards evening (as the
ever-punctual Busching looking into Henkel's Papers gives it), "was
presented to the Queen Mother; who retained him to supper; supper
not beginning till about ten o'clock. The Queen Mother was extremely
gracious to Henkel; but investigated him a good deal, and put a great
many questions," not quite easy to answer in that circle, "as, Why he
did not play? What he thought of comedies and operas? What Preachers
he was acquainted with in Berlin? Whether he too was a Writer of
Books? [covertly alluding to the DEATH-BED SCENES, notes Busching].
And abundance of other questioning. She also recounted many fantastic
anecdotes (VIEL ABENTEUERLICHES) about Count von Zinzendorf [Founder of
HERNNHUTH, far-shining spiritual Paladin of that day, whom her Majesty
thinks rather a spiritual Quixote]; and declared that they were strictly
true." [Busching's _Beitrage,_ iv. 27.]' Upon which, EXIT Henkel, borne
by Busching, and our light is snuffed out.

This is one momentary glance I have met with of Queen Sophie in her
Dowager state. The rest, though there were seventeen years of it in all,
is silent to mankind and me; and only her death, and her Son's great
grief about it, so great as to be surprising, is mentioned in the Books.

Actual painful sorrow about his Father, much more any new outburst of
weeping and lamenting, is not on record, after that first morning.
Time does its work; and in such a whirl of occupations, sooner than
elsewhere: and the loved Dead lie silent in their mausoleum in our
hearts,--serenely sad as Eternity, not in loud sorrow as of Time.
Friedrich was pious as a Son, however he might be on other heads. To
the last years of his life, as from the first days of his reign, it was
evident in what honor he held Friedrich Wilhelm's memory; and the words
"my Father," when they turned up in discourse, had in that fine voice of
his a tone which the observers noted. "To his Mother he failed no day,
when in Berlin, however busy, to make his visit; and he never spoke to
her, except hat in hand."

With his own Queen, Friedrich still consorts a good deal, in these first
times; is with her at Charlottenburg, Berlin, Potsdam, Reinsberg, for a
day or two, as occasion gives; sometimes at Reinsberg for weeks running,
in the intervals of war and business: glad to be at rest amid his old
pursuits, by the side of a kind innocent being familiar to him. So it
lasts for a length of time. But these happy intervals, we can remark,
grow rarer: whether the Lady's humor, as they became rarer, might not
sink withal, and produce an acceleration in the rate of decline? She was
thought to be capable of "pouting (FAIRE LA FACHEE)," at one period! We
are left to our guesses; there is not anywhere the smallest whisper
to guide us. Deep silence reigns in all Prussian Books.--To feel or to
suspect yourself neglected, and to become MORE amiable thereupon (in
which course alone lies hope), is difficult for any Queen! Enough, we
can observe these meetings, within two or three years, have become
much rarer; and perhaps about the end of the third or fourth year, they
altogether cease; and pass merely into the formal character. In
which state they continued fixed, liable to no uncertainty; and were
transacted, to the end of Friedrich's life, with inflexible regularity
as the annual reviews were. This is a curious section of his life;
which there will be other opportunities of noticing. But there is yet
no thought of it anywhere, nor for years to come; though fables to the
contrary were once current in Books. [Laveaux, &c.]


In the old mode of Administration, in the Ministries, Government Boards,
he made no change. These administrative methods of his wise Father's are
admirable to Friedrich, who knows them well; and they continue to be so.
These men of his Father's, them also Friedrich knows, and that they were
well chosen. In methods or in men, he is inclined to make the minimum of
alteration at present. One Finance Hofrath of a projecting turn, named
Eckart, who had abused the last weak years of Friedrich Wilhelm, and
much afflicted mankind by the favor he was in: this Eckart Friedrich
appointed a commission to inquire into; found the public right in
regard to Eckart, and dismissed him with ignominy, not with much
other punishment. Minister Boden, on the contrary, high in the Finance
Department, who had also been much grumbled at, Friedrich found to be a
good man: and Friedrich not only retained Boden, but advanced him; and
continued to make more and more use of him in time coming. His love of
perfection in work done, his care of thrift, seemed almost greater than
his late Father's had been,--to the disappointment of many. In the
other Departments, Podewils, Thulmeyer and the rest went on as
heretofore;--only in general with less to do, the young King doing more
himself than had been usual. Valori, "MON GROS VALORI (my fat Valori),"
French Minister here, whom we shall know better, writes home of the new
King of Prussia: "He begins his government, as by all appearance he
will carry it on, in a highly satisfactory way: everywhere traits of
benevolence, sympathy for his subjects, respect shown to the memory
of the Deceased," [_Memoires des Negociations du Marquis de Valori_ (a
Paris, 1820), i. 20 ("June 13th, 1740"). A valuable Book, which we shall
often have to quote: edited in a lamentably ignorant manner.]--no change
made, where it evidently is not for the better.

Friedrich's "Three principal Secretaries of State," as we should
designate them, are very remarkable. Three Clerks he found, or had known
of, somewhere in the Public Offices; and now took, under some
advanced title, to be specially his own Private Clerks: three vigorous
long-headed young fellows, "Eichel, Schuhmacher, Lautensack" the obscure
names of them; [Rodenbeck, 15th June, 1740.] out of whom, now and all
along henceforth, he got immensities of work in that kind. They lasted
all his life; and, of course, grew ever more expert at their function.
Close, silent; exact as machinery: ever ready, from the smallest clear
hint, marginal pencil-mark, almost from a glance of the eye, to clothe
the Royal Will in official form, with the due rugged clearness and
thrift of words. "Came punctually at four in the morning in summer, five
in winter;" did daily the day's work; and kept their mouths well shut. A
very notable Trio of men; serving his Majesty and the Prussian Nation
as Principal Secretaries of State, on those cheap terms;--nay almost as
Houses of Parliament with Standing Committees and appendages, so many
Acts of Parliament admittedly rather wise, being passed daily by his
Majesty's help and theirs!--Friedrich paid them rather well; they saw no
society; lived wholly to their work, and to their own families. Eichel
alone of the three was mentioned at all by mankind, and that obscurely;
an "abstruse, reserved, long-headed kind of man;" and "made a great deal
of money in the end," insinuates Busching, [_Beitrage,_ v. 238, &c.] no
friend of Friedrich's or his.

In superficial respects, again, Friedrich finds that the Prussian King
ought to have a King's Establishment, and maintain a decent splendor
among his neighbors,--as is not quite the case at present. In this
respect he does make changes. A certain quantity of new Pages, new
Goldsticks; some considerable, not too considerable, new furbishing of
the Royal Household,--as it were, a fair coat of new paint, with gilding
not profuse,--brought it to the right pitch for this King, About "a
hundred and fifty" new figures of the Page and Goldstick kind, is the
reckoning given. [_Helden Geschichte,_ i. 353.] So many of these; and
there is an increase of 16,000 to one's Army going on: that is the
proportion noticeable. In the facts as his Father left them Friedrich
persisted all his life; in the semblances or outer vestures he changed,
to this extent for the present.--These are the Phenomena of Friedrich's
Accession, noted by us.

Readers see there is radiance enough, perhaps slightly in excess, but of
intrinsically good quality, in the Aurora of this new Reign. A brilliant
valiant young King; much splendor of what we could call a golden or
soft nature (visible in those "New-Era" doings of his, in those strong
affections to his Friends); and also, what we like almost better in him,
something of a STEEL-BRIGHT or stellar splendor (meaning, clearness
of eyesight, intrepidity, severe loyalty to fact),--which is a fine
addition to the softer element, and will keep IT and its philanthropies
and magnanimities well under rule. Such a man is rare in this world; how
extremely rare such a man born King! He is swift and he is persistent;
sharply discerning, fearless to resolve and perform; carries his great
endowments lightly, as if they were not heavy to him. He has known hard
misery, been taught by stripes; a light stoicism sits gracefully on him.

"What he will grow to?" Probably to something considerable. Very
certainly to something far short of his aspirations; far different
from his own hopes; and the world's concerning him. It is not we, it is
Father Time that does the controlling and fulfilling of our hopes; and
strange work he makes of them and us. For example, has not Friedrich's
grand "New Era," inaugurated by him in a week, with the leading spirits
all adoring, issued since in French Revolution and a "world well
suicided,"--the leading spirits much thrown out in consequence! New
Era has gone to great lengths since Friedrich's time; and the leading
spirits do not now adore it, but yawn over it, or worse! Which changes
to us the then aspect of Friedrich, and his epoch and his aspirations,
a good deal.--On the whole, Friedrich will go his way, Time and the
leading spirits going theirs; and, like the rest of us, will grow
to what he can. His actual size is not great among the Kingdoms: his
outward resources are rather to be called small. The Prussian Dominion
at that date is, in extent, about four-fifths of an England Proper, and
perhaps not one-fifth so fertile: subject Population is well under Two
Millions and a Half; Revenue not much above One Million Sterling,'
[The exact statistic cipher is, at Friedrich's Accession: PRUSSIAN
TERRITORIES, 2,275 square miles German (56,875 English); POPULATION,
2,240,000; ANNUAL REVENUE, 7,371,707 thalers 7 groschen (1,105,756
pounds without the pence). See Prenss, _Buch fur Jedermann,_ i. 49;
Stenzel, iii. 692; &c.]--very small, were not thrift such a VECTIGAL.

This young King is magnanimous; not much to be called ambitious, or not
in the vulgar sense almost at all,--strange as it may sound to readers.
His hopes at this time are many;--and among them, I perceive, there is
not wanting secretly, in spite of his experiences, some hope that he
himself may be a good deal "happier" than formerly. Nor is there any
ascetic humor, on his part, to forbid trial. He is much determined
to try. Probably enough, as we guess and gather, his agreeablest
anticipations, at this time, were of Reinsberg: How, in the intervals of
work well done, he would live there wholly to the Muses; have his chosen
spirits round him, his colloquies, his suppers of the gods. Why not?
There might be a King of Intellects conceivable withal; protecting,
cherishing, practically guiding the chosen Illuminative Souls of this
world. A new Charlemagne, the smallest new Charlemagne of Spiritual
type, with HIS Paladins round him; how glorious, how salutary in the
dim generations now going!--These too were hopes which proved signally
futile. Rigorous Time could not grant these at all;--granted, in his own
hard way, other things instead. But, all along, the Life-element,
the Epoch, though Friedrich took it kindly and never complained, was
ungenial to such a man.

"Somewhat of a rotten Epoch, this into which Friedrich has been born, to
shape himself and his activities royal and other!"--exclaims Smelfungus
once: "In an older earnest Time, when the eternally awful meanings of
this Universe had not yet sunk into dubieties to any one, much less
into levities or into mendacities, into huge hypocrisies carefully
regulated,--so luminous, vivid and ingenuous a young creature had not
wanted divine manna in his Pilgrimage through Life. Nor, in that case,
had he come out of it in so lean a condition. But the highest man of us
is born brother to his Contemporaries; struggle as he may, there is no
escaping the family likeness. By spasmodic indignant contradiction of
them, by stupid compliance with them,--you will inversely resemble, if
you do not directly; like the starling, you can't get out!--Most surely,
if there do fall manna from Heaven, in the given Generation, and nourish
in us reverence and genial nobleness day by day, it is blessed and well.
Failing that, in regard to our poor spiritual interests, there is sure
to be one of two results: mockery, contempt, disbelief, what we may call
SHORT-DIET to the length of very famine (which was Friedrich's case);
or else slow-poison, carefully elaborated and provided by way of daily

"Unhappy souls, these same! The slow-poison has gone deep into them.
Instead of manna, this long while back, they have been living on mouldy
corrupt meats sweetened by sugar-of-lead; or perhaps, like Voltaire,
a few individuals prefer hunger, as the cleaner alternative; and in
contemptuous, barren, mocking humor, not yet got the length of geniality
or indignation, snuff the east-wind by way of spiritual diet. Pilgriming
along on such nourishment, the best human soul fails to become very
ruddy!--Tidings about Heaven are fallen so uncertain, but the Earth and
her joys are still Interesting: 'Take to the Earth and her joys;--let
your soul go out, since it must; let your five senses and their
appetites be well alive.' That is a dreadful 'Sham-Christian
Dispensation' to be born under! You wonder at the want of heroism in
the Eighteenth Century. Wonder rather at the degree of heroism it had;
wonder how many souls there still are to be met with in it of some
effective capability, though dieting in that way,--nothing else to be
had in the shops about. Carterets, Belleisles, Friedrichs, Voltaires;
Chathams, Franklins, Choiseuls: there is an effective stroke of work,
a fine fire of heroic pride, in this man and the other; not yet
extinguished by spiritual famine or slow-poison; so robust is Nature the
mighty Mother!--

"But in general, that sad Gospel, 'Souls extinct, Stomachs well alive!'
is the credible one, not articulately preached, but practically believed
by the abject generations, and acted on as it never was before. What
immense sensualities there were, is known; and also (as some small
offset, though that has not yet begun in 1740) what immense quantities
of Physical Labor and contrivance were got out of mankind, in that
Epoch and down to this day. As if, having lost its Heaven, it had struck
desperately down into the Earth; as if it were a BEAVER-kind, and not a
mankind any more. We had once a Barbaossa; and a world all grandly true.
But from that to Karl VI., and HIS Holy Romish Reich in such a state of
'Holiness'--!" I here cut short my abstruse Friend.

Readers are impatient to have done with these miscellaneous preludings,
and to be once definitely under way, such a Journey lying ahead. Yes,
readers; a Journey indeed! And, at this point, permit me to warn
you that, where the ground, where Dryasdust and the Destinies, yield
anything humanly illustrative of Friedrich and his Work, one will have
to linger, and carefully gather it, even as here. Large tracts occur,
bestrewn with mere pedantisms, diplomatic cobwebberies, learned
marine-stores, and inhuman matter, over which we shall have to skip
empty-handed: this also was among the sad conditions of our Enterprise,
that it has to go now too slow and again too fast; not in proportion to
natural importance of objects, but to several inferior considerations
withal. So busy has perverse Destiny been on it; perverse Destiny,
edacious Chance;--and the Dryasdusts, too, and Nightmares, in Prussia as
elsewhere, we know how strong they are!

Friedrich's character in old age has doubtless its curious affinities,
its disguised identities, with these prognostic features and indications
of his youth: and to our readers,--if we do ever get them to the goal,
of seeing Friedrich a little with their own eyes and judgments,--there
may be pleasant contrasts and comparisons of that kind in store, one
day. But the far commoner experience (which also has been my own),--here
is Smelfungus's stern account of that:--

"My friend, you will be luckier than I, if, after ten years, not to
say, in a sense, twenty years, thirty years, of reading and rummaging
in those sad Prussian Books, ancient and new (which often are laudably
authentic, too, and exact as to details), you can gather any character
whatever of Friedrich, in any period of his life, or conceive him as a
Human Entity at all! It is strange, after such thousand-fold writing,
but it is true, his History is considerably unintelligible to mankind at
this hour; left chaotic, enigmatic, in a good many points,--the military
part of it alone being brought to clearness, and rendered fairly
conceivable and credible to those who will study. And as to the Man
himself, or what his real Physiognomy can have been--! Well, it must be
owned few men were of such RAPIDITY of face and aspect; so difficult to
seize the features of. In his action, too, there was such rapidity, such
secrecy, suddenness: a man that could not be read, even by the candid,
except as in flashes of lightning. And then the anger of by-standers,
uncandid, who got hurt by him; the hasty malevolences, the stupidities,
the opacities: enough, in modern times, what is saying much, perhaps
no man's motives, intentions, and procedure have been more belied,
misunderstood, misrepresented, during his life. Nor, I think, since
that, have many men fared worse, by the Limner or Biographic class, the
favorable to him and the unfavorable; or been so smeared of and
blotched of, and reduced to a mere blur and dazzlement of cross-lights,
incoherences, incredibilities, in which nothing, not so much as a human
nose, is clearly discernible by way of feature!"--Courage, reader,
nevertheless; on the above terms let us march according to promise.


Young Friedrich, as his Father had done, considers it unnecessary to be
crowned. Old Friedrich, first of the name, and of the King series, we
did see crowned, with a pinch of snuff tempering the solemnities. That
Coronation once well done suffices all his descendants hitherto. Such an
expense of money,--of diluted mendacity too! Such haranguing, gesturing,
symbolic fugling, all grown half false:--avoid lying, even with your
eyes, or knees, or the coat upon your back, so far as you easily can!

Nothing of Coronation: but it is thought needful to have the HULDIGUNGEN
(Homagings) done, the Fealties sworn; and the young Majesty in due
course goes about, or gives directions, now here now there, in his
various Provinces, getting that accomplished. But even in that,
Friedrich is by no means strait-laced or punctilious; does it commonly
by Deputy: only in three places, Konigsberg, Berlin, Cleve, does he
appear in person. Mainly by deputy; and always with the minimum of fuss,
and no haranguing that could be avoided. Nowhere are the old STANDE
(Provincial Parliaments) assembled, now or afterwards: sufficient
for this and for every occasion are the "Permanent Committees of the
STANDE;" nor is much speaking, unessential for despatch of business,
used to these.

"STANDE--of Ritterschaft mainly, of Gentry small and great--existed once
in all those Countries, as elsewhere," says one Historian; "and some of
them, in Preussen, for example, used to be rather loud, and inclined to
turbulence, till the curb, from a judicious bridle-hand, would admonish
them. But, for a long while past,--especially since the Great Elector's
time, who got an 'Excise Law' passed, or the foundations of a good
Excise Law laid; [Preuss, iv. 432; and _Thronbesteigung,_ pp. 379-383.]
and, what with Excise, what with Domain-Farms, had a fixed Annual
Budget, which he reckoned fair to both parties,--they have been dying
out for want of work; and, under Friedrich Wilhelm, may be said to have
gone quite dead. What work was left for them? Prussian Budget is fixed,
many things are fixed: why talk of them farther? The Prussian King,
nothing of a fool like certain others,"--which indeed is the cardinal
point, though my Author does not say so,--"is respectfully aware of the
facts round him; and can listen to the rumors too, so far as he finds
good. The King sees himself terribly interested to get into the right
course in all things, and avoid the wrong one! Probably he does, in his
way, seek 'wise Advice concerning the arduous matters of the Kingdom;'
nay I believe he is diligent to have it of the wisest:--who knows if
STANDE would always give it wiser; especially STANDE in the haranguing
condition?"--Enough, they are not applied to. There is no Freedom in
that Country. "No Freedom to speak of," continues he: "but I do a little
envy them their Fixed Budget, and some other things. What pleasure there
can be in having your household arrangements tumbled into disorder every
new Year, by a new-contrived scale of expenses for you, I never could

Friedrich is not the man to awaken Parliamentary sleeping-dogs well
settled by his Ancestors. Once or twice, out of Preussen, in Friedrich
Wilhelm's time, there was heard some whimper, which sounded like the
beginning of a bark. But Friedrich Wilhelm was on the alert for it: Are
you coming in with your NIE POZWALAM (your LIBERUM VETO), then? None of
your Polish vagaries here. "TOUT LE PAYS SERA RUINE (the whole Country
will be ruined)," say you? (Such had been the poor Marshal or Provincial
SPEAKER'S Remonstrance on one occasion): "I don't believe a word of
that. But I do believe the Government by JUNKERS [Country Squires]
and NIE POZWALAM will be ruined,"--as it is fully meant to be! "I am
establishing the King's Sovereignty like a rock of bronze (ICH STABILIRE
kind of rock! [Forster, b. iii. (_Urkundenbuch,_ i. 50); Preuss, iv.
420 n. "NIE POZWALAM" (the formula of LIBERUM VETO) signifies "I Don't
Permit!"] This was one of Friedrich Wilhelm's marginalia in response
to such a thing; and the mutinous whimper died out again. Parliamentary
Assemblages are sometimes Collective Wisdoms, but by no means always
so. In Magdeburg we remember what trouble Friedrich Wilhelm had with his
unreasonable Ritters. Ritters there, in their assembled capacity, had
the Reich behind them, and could not be dealt with like Preussen: but
Friedrich Wilhelm, by wise slow methods, managed Magdeburg too, and
reduced it to silence, or to words necessary for despatch of business.

In each Province, a Permanent Committee--chosen, I suppose, by King
and Knights assenting; chosen I know not how, but admitted to be wisely
chosen--represents the once Parliament or STANDE; and has its potency
for doing good service in regard to all Provincial matters, from roads
and bridges upwards, and is impotent to do the least harm. Roads and
bridges, Church matters, repartition of the Land-dues, Army matters,--in
fact they are an effective non-haranguing Parliament, to the King's
Deputy in every such Province; well calculated to illuminate and forward
his subaltern AMTmen and him. Nay, we observe it is oftenest in the way
of gifts and solacements that the King articulately communicates with
these Committees or their Ritterschafts. Projects for Draining of
Bogs, for improved Highways, for better Husbandry; loans granted
them, Loan-Banks established for the Province's behoof:--no need
of parliamentary eloquence on such occasions, but of something far

It is from this quiescent, or busy but noiseless kind of STANDE
and Populations that Friedrich has his HULDIGUNG to take;--and the
operation, whether done personally or by deputy, must be an abundantly
simple one. He, for his part, is fortunate enough to find everywhere the
Sovereignty ESTABLISHED; "rock of bronze" not the least shaken in his
time. He will graciously undertake, by Written Act, which is read before
the STANDE, King or King's Deputy witnessing there, "To maintain the
privileges" of his STANDE and Populations; the STANDE answer, on oath,
with lifted hand, and express invocation of Heaven, That they will
obey him as true subjects; And so--doubtless with something of dining
superadded, but no whisper of it put on record--the HULDIGUNG will
everywhere very quietly transact itself.

The HULDIGUNG itself is nothing to us, even with Friedrich there,--as
at Konigsberg, Berlin, Cleve, the three exceptional places. To which,
nevertheless, let us briefly attend him, for the sake of here and
there some direct glimpse we may get of the then Friedrich's actual
physiognomy and ways. Other direct view, or the chance of such, is not
conceded us out of those sad Prussian Books; which are very full on
this of the HULDIGUNG, if silent on so many other points. [Preuss,
_Thronbesteigung,_ p. 382.]


To Konigsberg is his first excursion on this errand. Preussen has
perhaps, or may be suspected of having, some remnants of sour humors
left in it, and remembrances of STANDE with haranguings and even
mutinies: there if anywhere the King in person may do good on such an
occasion, He left Berlin, July 7th, bound thitherward; here is Note of
that first Royal Tour,--specimen of several hundreds such, which he had
to do in the course of the next forty-five years.

"Friend Algarotti, charming talker, attended him; who else, official
and non-official, ask not. The Journey is to be circuitous; to combine
various businesses, and also to have its amusements. They went by
Custrin; glancing at old known Country, which is at its greenest in this
season. By Custrin, across the Neumark, into Pommern; after that by an
intricate winding route; reviewing regiments, inspecting garrisons,
now here now there; doing all manner of inspections; talking I know not
what; oftenest lodging with favored Generals, if it suited. Distance to
Konigsberg, by the direct road, is about 500 miles; by this winding one,
it must have been 800: Journey thither took nine days in all. Obliquely
through Pommern, almost to the coast of the Baltic; their
ultimatum there a place called Coslin, where they reviewed with
strictness,--omitting Colberg, a small Sea-Fortress not far rearward,
time being short. Thence into West-Preussen, into Polish Territory, and
swiftly across that; keeping Dantzig and its noises wide enough to the
left: one night in Poland; and the next they are in Ost-Preussen, place
called Liebstadt,--again on home-ground, and diligently reviewing there.

"The review at Liebstadt is remarkable in this, That the regiments, one
regiment especially, not being what was fit, a certain Grenadier-Captain
got cashiered on the spot; and the old Commandant himself was soon after
pensioned, and more gently sent his ways. So strict is his Majesty.
Contrariwise, he found Lieutenant-General von Katte's Garrison, at
Angerburg, next day, in a very high perfection; and Colonel Posadowsky's
regiment specially so; with which latter gentleman he lodged that night,
and made him farther happy by the ORDER OF MERIT: Colonel Posadowsky,
Garrison of Angerburg, far off in East-Preussen, Chevalier of the
Order of Merit henceforth, if we ever meet him again. To the good old
Lieutenant-General von Katte, who no doubt dined with them, his Majesty
handed, on the same occasion, a Patent of Feldmarschall;--intends soon
to make him Graf; and did it, as readers know. Both Colonel and General
attended him thenceforth, still by a circuitous route, to Konigsberg, to
assist in the solemnities there. By Gumbinnen, by Trakehnen,--the Stud
of Trakehnen: that also his Majesty saw, and made review of; not without
emotion, we can fancy, as the sleek colts were trotted out on those
new terms! At Trakehnen, Katte and the Colonel would be his Majesty's
guests, for the night they stayed. This is their extreme point eastward;
Konigsberg now lies a good way west of them. But at Trakehnen they turn;
and, Saturday, 16th July, 1740, after another hundred miles or so, along
the pleasant valley of the Pregel, get to Konigsberg: ready to begin
business on Monday morning,--on Sunday if necessary." [From Preuss,
_Thronbesteigung,_ pp. 382, 385; Rodenbeck, p. 16; &c.]

On Sunday there did a kind of memorability occur: The HULDIGUNGS-PREDIGT
(Homage Sermon)--by a reverend Herr Quandt, chief Preacher there. Which
would not be worth mentioning, except for this circumstance, that his
Majesty exceedingly admired Quandt, and thought him a most Demosthenic
genius, and the best of all the Germans. Quandt's text was in these
words: _"Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou Son of Jesse; Peace,
peace be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth
thee." _[_First Chronicles,_ xii. 18.] Quandt began, in a sonorous
voice, raising his face with respectful enthusiasm to the King, "Thine
are we, O Friedrich, and on thy side, thou Son of Friedrich Wilhelm;"
and so went on: sermon brief, sonorous, compact, and sticking close to
its text. Friedrich stood immovable, gazing on the eloquent Demosthenic
Quandt, with admiration heightened by surprise;--wrote of Quandt to
Voltaire; and, with sustained enthusiasm, to the Public long afterwards;
and to the end of his days was wont to make Quandt an exception, if
perhaps almost the only one, from German barbarism, and disharmony of
mind and tongue. So that poor Quandt cannot ever since get entirely
forgotten, but needs always to be raked up again, for this reason when
others have ceased: an almost melancholy adventure for poor Quandt and

The HULDIGUNG was rather grand; Harangue and Counter-harangue permitted
to the due length, and proper festivities following: but the STANDE
could not manage to get into vocal covenanting or deliberating at all;
Friedrich before leaving Berlin had answered their hint or request that
way, in these words: "We are likewise graciously inclined to give to the
said STANDE, before their Homaging, the same assurance which they got
from our Herr Father's Majesty, who is now with God,"--general assurance
that their, and everybody's, "Rights shall be maintained [as we see they
are],--with which, it is hoped (HOFFENTLICH), they will be content, and
get to peace upon this matter (SICH DABEI BERUHIGEN WERDEN)." [Preuss,
_Thronbesteigung,_ p. 380.] It will be best for them!

Friedrich gave away much corn here; that is, opened his Corn-Granaries,
on charitable terms, and took all manner of measures, here as in other
places, for relief of the scarcity there was. Of the illuminations,
never so grand, the reader shall hear nothing. A "Torch-Procession
of the Students" turned out a pretty thing:--Students marching with
torches, with fine wind-music, regulated enthusiasm, fine succinct
address to his Majesty; and all the world escorting, with its "Live
Forever!" Friedrich gave the Students "a TRINK-GELAG (Banquet of
Liquors)," how arranged I do not know: and to the Speaker of the
Address, a likely young gentleman with VON to his name, he offered an
Ensigncy of Foot ("in Camas's Fusileer Regiment,"--Camas now gone to
Paris, embassying), which was joyfully accepted. Joyfully accepted;--and
it turned out well for all parties; the young gentleman having
risen, where merit was the rule of rising, and become Graf and
Lieutenant-General, in the course of the next fifty years. [Preuss,
_Thronbesteigung,_ p. 387.]

Huldigung and Torch-Procession over, the Royal Party dashed rapidly off,
next morning (21st July), homewards by the shortest route; and, in three
days more, by Frankfurt-on-Oder (where a glimpse of General Schwerin,
a favorite General, was to be had), were safe in Berlin; received with
acclamation, nay with "blessings and even tears" some say, after this
pleasant Fortnight's Tour. General Schwerin, it is rumored, will be made
Feldmarschall straightway, the Munchows are getting so promoted as we
said; edicts are coming out, much business speeding forward, and the
tongues of men keep wagging.

Berlin HULDIGUNG--and indeed, by Deputy, that of nearly all the other
Towns--was on Tuesday, August 2d. At Berlin his Majesty was present in
the matter: but, except the gazing multitudes, and hussar regiments,
ranked in the Schloss-Platz and streets adjoining, there was little of
notable in it; the upholstery arrangements thrifty in the extreme. His
Majesty is prone to thrift in this of the Huldigung, as would appear;
perhaps regarding the affair as scenic merely. Here, besides this of
Berlin, is another instance just occurring. It appears, the Quedlinburg
people, shut out from the light of the actual Royal Countenance, cannot
do their Homaging by Deputy, without at least a Portrait of the King and
of the Queen: How manage? asks the Official Person. "Have a Couple of
Daubs done in Berlin, three guineas apiece; send them these," answers
the King! [_"On doit faire barbouiller de mauvaises copies a Berlin, la
piece a 20 ecus._--FR." Preuss, ii. (_Urkundenbuch,_ s. 222).]

Here in the Berlin Schloss, scene the Large Hall within doors, there is
a "platform raised three steps; and on this, by way of a kind of throne,
an arm-chair covered with old black velvet;" the whole surmounted by a
canopy also of old black velvet: not a sublime piece of upholstery; but
reckoned adequate. Friedrich mounted the three steps; stood before the
old chair, his Princes standing promiscuously behind it; his Ritters in
quantity, in front and to right and left, on the floor. Some Minister of
the Interior explains suitably, not at too great length, what they are
met for; some junior Official, junior but of quality, responded
briefly, for himself and his order, to the effect, "Yea, truly:" the
HULDIGUNGENS-URKUNDE (Deed of Homage) was then read by the proper Clerk,
and the Ritters all swore; audibly, with lifted hands. This is the
Ritter Huldigung.

His Majesty then steps out to the Balcony, for Oath and Homage of the
general Population. General population gave its oath, and "three great
shouts over and above." "ES LEBE DER KONIG!" thrice, with all their
throats. Upon which a shower of Medals, "Homage-Medals," gold and silver
(quantity not mentioned) rained down upon them, in due succession; and
were scrambled for, in the usual way. "His Majesty," they write, and
this is perhaps the one point worth notice, "his Majesty, contrary to
custom and to etiquette, remained on the Balcony, some time after the
ceremony, perhaps a full half-hour;"--silent there, "with his look fixed
attentively on the immeasurable multitude before the Schloss; and seemed
sunk in deep reflection (BETRACHTUNG):"--an almost awfully eloquent
though inarticulate phenomenon to his Majesty, that of those multitudes
scrambling and huzzaing there! [Preuss, _Thronbesteigung,_ p. 389.]

These, with the Cleve one, are all the Hornagings Friedrich was
personally present at; the others he did by Deputy, all in one day (2d
August); and without fuss. Scenic matters these; in which, except
where he can, as in the Konigsberg case, combine inspections and grave
businesses with them, he takes no interest. However, he is now, for the
sake chiefly of inspections and other real objects, bent on a Journey
to Cleve;--the fellow of that to Konigsberg: Konigsberg, Preussen, the
easternmost outlying wing of his long straggling Dominions; and then
Cleve-Julich, its counterpart on the southwestern side,--there also,
with such contingencies hanging over Cleve-Julich, it were proper to
make some mustering of the Frontier garrisons and affairs. [In regard to
the Day of HULDIGUNG at Cleve, which happily is not of the least moment
to us, Preuss (_Thronbesteigung,_ p, 390) and _Helden-Geschichte,_ (i.
423) seem to be in flat contradiction.] His Majesty so purposes: and we
purpose again to accompany,--not for inspection and mustering, but for
an unexpected reason. The grave Journey to Cleve has an appendage, or
comic side-piece, hanging to it; more than one appendage; which the
reader must not miss!--Before setting out, read these two Fractions,
snatched from the Diplomatist Wastebag; looking well, we gain there some
momentary view of Friedrich on the business side. Of Friedrich, and also
of Another:--

Sunday, 14th August, 1740, Dickens, who has been reporting hitherto in a
favorable, though in a languid exoteric manner, not being in any height
of favor, England or he,--had express Audience of his Majesty;
being summoned out to Potsdam for that end: "Sunday evening, about 7
P.M."--Majesty intending to be off on the Cleve Journey to-morrow.
Let us accompany Dickens. Readers may remember, George II. has been at
Hanover for some weeks past; Bielfeld diligently grinning euphemisms
and courtly graciosities to him; Truchsess hinting, on opportunity, that
there are perhaps weighty businesses in the rear; which, however, on the
Britannic side, seem loath to start. Britannic Majesty is much at a loss
about his Spanish War, so dangerous for kindling France and the whole
world upon him. In regard to which Prussia might be so important, for or
against.--This, in compressed form, is what Dickens witnesses at Potsdam
that Sunday evening from 7 P.M.:--

"Audience lasted above an hour: King turned directly upon business;
wishes to have 'Categorical Answers' as to Three Points already
submitted to his Britannic Majesty's consideration. Clear footing
indispensable between us. What you want of me? say it, and be plain.
What I want of you is, These three things:--

"1. Guarantee for Julich and Berg. All the world knows WHOSE these
Duchies are. Will his Britannic Majesty guarantee me there? And if so,
How, and to what lengths, will he proceed about it?

"2. Settlement about Ost-Friesland. Expectancy of Ost-Friesland soon
to fall heirless, which was granted me long since, though Hanover makes
hagglings, counter-claimings: I must have some Settlement about that.

"3. The like about those perplexities in Mecklenburg. No difficulty
there if we try heartily, nor is there such pressing haste about it.

"These are my three claims on England; and I will try to serve England
as far in return, if it will tell me how. 'Ah, beware of throwing
yourself into the arms of France!' modestly suggests Dickens.--'Well, if
France will guarantee me those Duchies, and you will not do anything?'
answers his Majesty with a fine laugh: 'England I consider my most
natural friend and ally; but I must know what there is to depend
on there. Princes are ruled by their interest; cannot follow their
feelings. Let me have an explicit answer; say, at Wesel, where I am to
be on the 24th,'" ten days hence. Britannic Majesty is at Hanover, and
can answer within that time. "This he twice told me, 'Wesel, 24th,' in
the course of our interview. Permit me to recommend the matter to your
Lordship,"--my Lord Harrington, now attending the Britannic Majesty.

"During the whole audience," adds Dickens, "the King was in extreme
good humor; and not only heard with attention all the considerations I
offered, but was not the least offended at any objections I made to
what he said. It is undoubtedly the best way to behave with frankness
to him." These last are Dickens's own words; let them modestly be a
memorandum to your Lordship. This King goes himself direct to the
point; and straightforwardness, as a primary condition, will profit your
Lordship with him. [Dickens (in State-Paper Office, 17th August, 1740).]

Most true advice, this;--and would perhaps be followed, were it quite
easy! But things are very complicated. And the Britannic Majesty,
much plagued with Spanish War and Parliamentary noises in that unquiet
Island, is doubtless glad to get away to Hanover for a little; and
would fain be on holiday in these fine rural months. Which is not well
possible either. Jenkins's Ear, rising at last like a fiery portent,
has kindled the London Fog over yonder, in a strange way, and the murky
stagnancy is all getting on fire; the English intent, as seldom any
Nation was, to give the Spaniards an effectual beating. Which they hope
they can,--though unexpected difficulties will occur. And, in the mean
while, what a riddle of potentialities for his poor Majesty to read, and
pick his way from!--

Bielfeld, in spite of all this, would fain be full of admiration for the
Britannic Majesty. Confesses he is below the middle size, in fact a
tiny little creature, but then his shape is perfect; leg much to be
commended,--which his Majesty knows, standing always with one leg
slightly advanced, and the Order of the Garter on it, that mankind may
take notice. Here is Bielfeld's description faithfully abridged:--

"Big blue eyes, perhaps rather of parboiled character, though proud
enough; eyes flush with his face or more, rather IN RELIEF than on a
level with it,"--A FLEUR DE TETE, after the manner of a fish, if one
might say so, and betokening such an intellect behind them! "Attitude
constrained, leg advanced in that way; his courtiers call it majestic.
Biggish mouth, strictly shut in the crescent or horse-shoe form (FERMEE
EN CROISSANT); curly wig (A NOEUDS, reminding you of lamb's-wool, color
not known); eyebrows, however, you can see are ashy-blond; general tint
is fundamentally livid; but when in good case, the royal skin will take
tolerably bright colors (PREND D'ASSEZ BELLES COULEURS). As to the
royal mind and understanding, what shall Bielfeld say? That his Majesty
sometimes makes ingenious and just remarks, and is laudably serious at
all times, and can majestically hold his tongue, and stand with advanced
leg, and eyes rather more than flush. Sense of his dignity is high,
as it ought to be; on great occasions you see pride and a kind of joy
mantling in the royal countenance. Has been known to make explosions,
and to be very furious to Prince Fred and others, when pricked
into:--but, my friend, what mortal is exempt from failings? Majesty
reads the English Newspapers every morning in bed, which are often
biting. Majesty has his Walmoden, a Hanoverian Improper Female, Countess
of Yarmouth so called; quiet, autumnal, fair complexioned, stupid; who
is much a comfort to him. She keeps out of mischief, political or other;
and gives Bielfeld a gracious nod now and then." [Bielfeld, i. 158.]
Harrington is here too;--and Britannic Majesty and he are busy governing
the English Nation on these terms.--We return now to the Prussian

About six weeks after that of Dickens,--Cleve Journey and much else now
ended,--Praetorius the Danish Envoy, whom we slightly knew at Reinsberg
once, gives this testimony; writing home to an Excellency at Copenhagen,
whose name we need not inquire into:--

"To give your Excellency a just idea of the new Government here, I must
observe that hitherto the King of Prussia does as it were everything
himself; and that, excepting the Finance Minister von Boden, who
preaches frugality, and finds for that doctrine uncommon acceptance,
almost greater even than in the former reign, his Majesty allows no
counselling from any Minister; so that Herr von Podewils, who is now the
working hand in the department of Foreign Affairs, has nothing given
him to do but to expedite the orders he receives from the Cabinet, his
advice not being asked upon any matter; and so it is with the other
Ministers. People thought the loss of Herr von Thulmeyer,"
veteran Foreign Minister whom we have transiently heard of in the
Double-Marriage time, and perhaps have even seen at London or elsewhere,
[Died 4th August (Rodenbeck, p. 20).] "would be irreparable; so expert
was he, and a living archive in that business: however, his post seems
to have vanished with himself. His salary is divided between Herr von
Podewils," whom the reader will sometimes hear of again, "Kriegsrath
(Councillor of War) von Ilgen," son of the old gentleman we used to
know, "and Hofrath Sellentin who is RENDANT OF THE LEGATIONS-KASSE"
(Ambassadors' Paymaster, we could guess, Ambassador Body having
specialty of cash assigned it, comparable with the specialty of value
received from it, in this strict frugal Country),--neither of which two
latter names shall the reader be troubled with farther. "A good many
resolutions, and responses by the King, I have seen: they combine
laconic expression with an admirable business eye (GESCHAFTSBLICK).
Unhappily,"--at least for us in the Diplomatic line, for your Excellency
and me unhappily,--"there is nobody about the King who possesses
his complete confidence, or whom we can make use of in regard to the
necessary introductions and preliminary movements. Hereby it comes
that,--as certain things can only be handled with cautious foresight and
circumlocution, and in the way of beginning wide,--an Ambassador here
is more thrown out of his course than in any other Court; and knows not,
though his object were steadily in sight, what road to strike into for
getting towards it." [Preuss, _Thronbesteigung,_ p. 377 (2d October,


King Friedrich did not quite keep his day at Wesel; indeed this 24th was
not the first day, but the last of several, he had appointed to himself
for finis to that Journey in the Cleve Countries; Journey rather complex
to arrange. He has several businesses ahead in those parts; and, as
usual, will group them with good judgment, and thrift of time. Not
inspections merely, but amusements, meetings with friends, especially
French friends: the question is, how to group them with skill, so that
the necessary elements may converge at the right moment, and one shot
kill three or four birds. This is Friedrich's fine way, perceptible in
all these Journeys. The French friends, flying each on his own track,
with his own load of impediments, Voltaire with his Madame for instance,
are a difficult element in such problem; and there has been, and
is, much scheming and corresponding about it, within the last month

Voltaire is now at Brussels, with his Du Chatelet, prosecuting that
endless "lawsuit with the House of Honsbruck,"--which he, and we, are
both desirous to have done with. He is at the Hague, too, now and then;
printing, about to print, the ANTI-MACHIAVEL; corresponding, to right
and left, quarrelling with Van Duren the Printer; lives, while there, in
the VIEILLE COUR, in the vast dusky rooms with faded gilding, and grand
old Bookshelves "with the biggest spider-webs in Europe." Brussels is
his place for Law-Consultations, general family residence; the Hague and
that old spider-web Palace for correcting Proof-sheets; doing one's own
private studies, which we never quite neglect. Fain would Friedrich
see him, fain he Friedrich; but there is a divine Emilie, there is a
Maupertuis, there are--In short, never were such difficulties, in the
cooking of an egg with water boiling; and much vain correspondence
has already been on that subject, as on others equally extinct.
Correspondence which is not pleasant reading at this time; the rather
as no reader can, without endless searching, even understand it.
Correspondence left to us, not in the cosmic, elucidated or legible
state; left mainly as the Editorial rubbish-wagons chose to shoot it;
like a tumbled quarry, like the ruins of a sacked city;--avoidable by
readers who are not forced into it! [Herr Preuss's edition (_OEuvres
de Frederic,_ vols. xxi. xxii. xxiii.) has come out since the above
was written: it is agreeably exceptional; being, for the first time,
correctly printed, and the editor himself having mostly understood
it,--though the reader still cannot, on the terms there allowed.]
Take the following select bricks as sample, which are of some use; the
general Heading is,

KING FRIEDERIC TO M. DE VOLTAIRE (at the Hague, or at Brussels).

"CHARLOTTENBURG, 12th JUNE, 1740.--... My dear Voltaire, resist no
longer the eagerness I have to see you. Do in my favor whatever your
humanity allows. In the end of August, I go to Wesel, and perhaps
farther. Promise that you will come and join me; for I could not
live happy, nor die tranquil, without having embraced you! Thousand
compliments to the Marquise," divine Emilie. "I am busy with both hands
[Corn-Magazines, Free Press, Abolition of Torture, and much else];
working at the Army with the one hand, at the People and the Fine Arts
with the other."

"BERLIN, 5th AUGUST, 1740.--... I will write to Madame du Chatelet, in
compliance with your wish:" mark it, reader. "To speak to you frankly
concerning her journey, it is Voltaire, it is you, it is my Friend that
I desire to see; and the divine Emilie with all her divinity is only the
Accessory of the Apollo Newtonized.

"I cannot yet say whether I shall travel [incognito into foreign parts a
little] or not travel;" there have been rumors, perhaps private wishes;
but--... "Adieu, dear friend; sublime spirit, first-born of thinking
beings. Love me always sincerely, and be persuaded that none can love
and esteem you more than I. VALE. FEDERIC."

"BERLIN, 6th AUGUST [which is next day].--You will have received a
Letter from me dated yesterday; this is the second I write to you from
Berlin; I refer you to what was in the other. If it must be (FAUT) that
Emilie accompany Apollo, I consent; but if I could see you alone, that
is what I would prefer. I should be too much dazzled; I could not stand
so much splendor all at once; it would overpower me. I should need the
veil of Moses to temper the united radiance of your two divinities."...
In short, don't bring her, if you please.

"REMUSBERG [poetic for REINSBERG], 8th AUGUST, 1740.--... My dear
Voltaire, I do believe Van Duren costs you more trouble and pains than
you had with HENRI QUATRE. In versifying the Life of a Hero, you wrote
the history of your own thoughts; but in coercing a scoundrel you fence
with an enemy who is not worthy of you." To punish him, and cut
short his profits, "PRINT, then, as you wish [your own edition of the
ANTI-MACHIAVEL, to go along with his, and trip the feet from it]. FAITES
ROULER LA PRESSE; erase, change, correct; do as you see best; your
judgment about it shall be mine."--"In eight days I leave for [where
thinks the reader? "DANTZIG" deliberately print all the Editors, careful
Preuss among them; overturning the terrestrial azimuths for us, and
making day night!]--for Leipzig, and reckon on being at Frankfurt on the
22d. In case you could be there, I expect, on my passage, to give you
lodging! At Cleve or in Holland, I depend for certain on embracing you."
[Preuss, _OEuvres de Frederic,_ xx. pp. 5, 19-21; Voltaire, _OEuvres,_
lxxii. 226, &c. (not worth citing, in comparison).]

Intrinsically the Friedrich correspondence at this time, with Voltaire
especially, among many friends now on the wing towards Berlin and
sending letters, has,--if you are forced into struggling for some
understanding of it, and do get to read parts of it with the eyes of
Friedrich and Voltaire,--has a certain amiability; and is nothing like
so waste and dreary as it looks in the chaotic or sacked-city condition.
Friedrich writes with brevity, oftenest on practicalities (the
ANTI-MACHIAVEL, the coming Interview, and the like), evidently no time
to spare; writes always with considerable sincerity; with friendliness,
much admiration, and an ingenuous vivacity, to M. de Voltaire. Voltaire,
at his leisure in Brussels or the Old Palace and its spider-webs, writes
much more expansively; not with insincerity, he either;--with endless
airy graciosities, and ingenious twirls, and touches of flattering
unction, which latter, he is aware, must not be laid on too thick. As

In regard to the ANTI-MACHIAVEL,--Sire, deign to give me your
permissions as to the scoundrel of a Van Duren; well worth while,
Sire,--"IT is a monument for the latest posterity; the only Book worthy
of a King for these fifteen hundred years."

This is a strongish trowelful, thrown on direct, with adroitness; and
even this has a kind of sincerity. Safer, however, to do it in the
oblique or reflex way,--by Ambassador Cumas, for example:--

"I will tell you boldly, Sir [you M. de Camas], I put more value on this
Book (ANTI-MACHIAVEL) than on the Emperor Julian's CAESAR, or on the
MAXIMS of Marcus Aurelius,"--I do indeed, having a kind of property in
it withal! [Voltaire, _OEuvres,_ lxxii. 280 (to Camas, 18th October,

In fact, Voltaire too is beautiful, in this part of the Correspondence;
but much in a twitter,--the Queen of Sheba, not the sedate Solomon, in
prospect of what is coming. He plumes himself a little, we perceive, to
his d'Argentals and French Correspondents, on this sublime intercourse
he has got into with a Crowned Head, the cynosure of mankind:---Perhaps
even you, my best friend, did not quite know me, and what merits I had!
Plumes himself a little; but studies to be modest withal; has not much
of the peacock, and of the turkey has nothing, to his old friends. All
which is very naive and transparent; natural and even pretty, on the
part of M. de Voltaire as the weaker vessel.--For the rest, it is
certain Maupertuis is getting under way at Paris towards the Cleve
rendezvous. Brussels, too, is so near these Cleve Countries; within
two days' good driving:--if only the times and routes would rightly

Friedrich's intention is by no means for a straight journey towards
Cleve: he intends for Baireuth first, then back from Baireuth to
Cleve,--making a huge southward elbow on the map, with Baireuth for apex
or turning-point:--in this manner he will make the times suit, and have
a convergence at Cleve. To Baireuth;--who knows if not farther? All
summer there has gone fitfully a rumor, that he wished to see France;
perhaps Paris itself incognito? The rumor, which was heard even at
Petersburg, [Raumer's _Beitrage_ (English Translation, London, 1837),
p. 15 (Finch's Despatch, 24th June, 1740).] is now sunk dead again; but
privately, there is no doubt, a glimpse of the sublime French Nation
would be welcome to Friedrich. He could never get to Travelling in his
young time; missed his Grand Tour altogether, much as he wished it; and
he is capable of pranks!--Enough, on Monday morning, 15th August, 1740,
[Rodenbeck, p. 15, slightly in error: see Dickens's Interview, supra, p.
187.] Friedrich and Suite leave Potsdam; early enough; go, by Leipzig,
by the route already known to readers, through Coburg and the Voigtland
regions; Wilhelmina has got warning, sits eagerly expecting her Brother
in the Hermitage at Baireuth, gladdest of shrill sisters; and full of
anxieties how her Brother would now be. The travelling party consisted,
besides the King, of seven persons: Prince August Wilhelm, King's next
Brother, Heir-apparent if there come no children, now a brisk youth of
eighteen; Leopold Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, Old Dessauer's eldest, what
we may call the "Young Dessauer;" Colonel von Borck, whom we shall hear
of again; Colonel von Stille, already heard of (grave men of fifty,
these two); milk-beard Munchow, an Adjutant, youngest of the promoted
Munchows; Algarotti, indispensable for talk; and Fredersdorf, the
House-Steward and domestic Factotum, once Private in Schwerin's
Regiment, whom Bielfeld so admired at Reinsberg, foreseeing what
he would come to. One of Friedrich's late acts was to give Factotum
Fredersdorf an Estate of Land (small enough, I fancy, but with
country-house on it) for solace to the leisure of so useful a
man,--studious of chemistry too, as I have heard. Seven in all, besides
the King. [Rodenbeck, p. 19 (and for Chamberlain Fredersdorf's estate,
p. 15).] Direct towards Baireuth, incognito, and at the top of their
speed. Wednesday, 17th, they actually arrive. Poor Wilhelmina, she finds
her Brother changed; become a King in fact, and sternly solitary; alone
in soul, even as a King must be! [Wilhelmina, ii. 322, 323.]--

"Algarotti, one of the first BEAUX-ESPRITS of this age," as Wilhelmina
defines him,--Friend Algarotti, the young Venetian gentleman of
elegance, in dusky skin, in very white linen and frills, with his fervid
black eyes, "does the expenses of the conversation." He is full of
elegant logic, has speculations on the great world and the little,
on Nature, Art, Papistry, Anti-Papistry, and takes up the Opera in an
earnest manner, as capable of being a school of virtue and the moral
sublime. His respectable Books on the Opera and other topics are now
all forgotten, and crave not to be mentioned. To me he is not supremely
beautiful, though much the gentleman in manners as in ruffles, and
ingeniously logical:--rather yellow to me, in mind as in skin, and
with a taint of obsolete Venetian Macassar. But to Friedrich he is
thrice-dear; who loves the Sharp faceted cut of the man, and does not
object to his yellow or Extinct-Macassar qualities of mind. Thanks to
that wandering Baltimore for picking up such a jewel and carrying
him Northward! Algarotti himself likes the North: here in our hardy
climates,--especially at Berlin, and were his loved Friedrich NOT a
King,--Algarotti could be very happy in the liberty allowed. At
London, where there is no King, or none to speak of, and plenty of free
Intelligences, Carterets, Lytteltons, young Pitts and the like, he is
also well, were it not for the horrid smoke upon one's linen, and the
little or no French of those proud Islanders.

Wilhelmina seems to like him here; is glad, at any rate, that he does
the costs of conversation, better or worse. In the rest is no hope.
Stille, Borck are accomplished military gentlemen; but of tacit
nature, reflective, practical, rather than discursive, and do not
waste themselves by incontinence of tongue. Stille, by his military
Commentaries, which are still known to soldiers that read, maintains
some lasting remembrance of himself: Borck we shall see engaged in a
small bit of business before long. As to Munchow, the JEUNE MORVEUX
of an Adjutant, he, though his manners are well enough, and he wears
military plumes in his hat, is still an unfledged young creature, "bill
still yellow," so to speak;--and marks himself chiefly by a visible
hankering after that troublesome creature Marwitz, who is always
coquetting. Friedrich's conversation, especially to me Wilhelmina, seems
"GUINDE, set on stilts," likewise there are frequent cuts of banter in
him; and it is painfully evident he distinguishes my Sister of Anspach
and her foolish Husband, whom he has invited over hither in a most eager
manner, beyond what a poor Wilhelmina with her old love can pretend to.
Patience, my shrill Princess, Beauty of Baireuth and the world; let us
hope all will come right again! My shrill Princess--who has a melodious
strength like that of war-fifes, too--knows how to be patient; and veils
many things, though of a highly unhypocritical nature.

These were Three great Days at Baireuth; Wilhelmina is to come soon,
and return the visit at Berlin. To wait upon the King, known
though incognito, "the Bishop of Bamberg" came driving over:
[_Helden-Geschichte,_ i. 419.] Schonborn, Austrian Kanzler, or who? His
old City we once saw (and plenty of hanged malefactors swinging round
it, during that JOURNEY TO THE REICH);--but the Bishop himself never to
our knowledge, Bishop being absent then, I hope it is the same Bishop
of Bamberg, whom a Friend of Busching's, touring there about that
same time, saw dining in a very extraordinary manner, with medieval
trumpeters, "with waiters in spurs and buff-belts;" [Busching's
_Beitrage;_--Schlosser (_History of the Eighteenth Century_) also
quotes the scene.] if it is not, I have not the slightest shadow of
acquaintance with him,--there have been so many Bishops of Bamberg with
whom one wishes to have none! On the third day Friedrich and his company
went away, towards Wurzburg; and Wilhelmina was left alone with her
reflections. "I had had so much to say to him; I had got nothing said
at all:" alas, it is ever so. "The King was so changed, grown so much
bigger (GRANDI), you could not have known him again;" stands finely
erect and at full breadth, every inch a King; his very stature, you
would say, increased.--Adieu, my Princess, pearl of Princesses; all
readers will expect your return-visit at Berlin, which is to be soon.


Through Wurzburg, Frankfurt-on-Mayn, speeds Friedrich;--Wilhelmina and
mankind understand that it is homewards and to Cleve; but at Frankfurt,
in deepest privacy, there occurs a sudden whirl southward,--up the
Rhine-Valley; direct towards Strasburg, for a sight of France in that
quarter! So has Friedrich decided,--not quite suddenly, on new Letters
here, or new computations about Cleve; but by forethought taken at
Baireuth, as rather appears. From Frankfurt to Strasburg, say 150 miles;
from Strasburg home, is not much farther than from Frankfurt home: it
can be done, then; husht!

The incognito is to be rigorous: Friedrich becomes COMTE DUFOUR,
a Prussian-French gentleman; Prince August Wilhelm is Graf von
Schaffgotsch, Algarotti is Graf von Pfuhl, Germans these two; what
Leopold, the Young Dessauer, called himself,--still less what the
others, or whether the others were there at all, and not shoved on,
direct towards Wesel, out of the way as is likelier,--can remain
uncertain to readers and me. From Frankfurt, then, on Monday morning,
22d August, 1740, as I compute, through old known Philipsburg Campaign
country, and the lines of Ettlingen and Stollhofen; there the Royal
Party speeds eagerly (weather very bad, as appears): and it is certain
they are at Kehl on Tuesday evening; looking across the long Rhine
Bridge, Strasburg and its steeples now close at hand.

This looks to be a romantic fine passage in the History of the young
King;--though in truth it is not, and proves but a feeble story either
to him or us. Concerning which, however, the reader, especially if
he should hear that there exists precise Account of it, Two Accounts
indeed, one from the King's own hand, will not fail of a certain craving
to become acquainted with details. This craving, foolish rather than
wise, we consider it thriftiest to satisfy at once; and shall give the
King's NARRATIVE entire, though it is a jingling lean scraggy Piece,
partly rhyme, "in the manner of Bachaumont and La Chapelle;" written at
the gallop, a few days hence, and despatched to Voltaire:--"You," dear
Voltaire, "wish to know what I have been about, since leaving
Berlin; annexed you will find a description of it," writes Friedrich.
[_OEuvres,_ xxii. 25 (Wesel, 2d Septemher, 1740).] Out of Voltaire's and
other people's waste-baskets, it has at length been fished up, patch by
patch, and pasted together by victorious modern Editors; and here it is
again entire. The other Narrative, which got into the Newspapers soon
after, is likewise of authentic nature,--Fassmann, our poor old friend,
confirming it, if that were needful,--and is happily in prose. [Given
in _Helden-Geschichte,_ i. 420-423;--see likewise Fassmann's
_Merkwurdigster Regierungs-Antritt_ (poor old Book on FRIEDRICH'S
ACCESSION); Preuss (_Thronbesteigung,_ pp. 395-400); &c. &c.] Holding
these two Pieces well together, and giving the King's faithfully
translated, in a complete state, it will be possible to satisfy foolish
cravings, and make this Strasburg Adventure luminous enough.

KING FRIEDRICH TO VOLTAIRE (from Wesel, 2d September, 1740), CHIEFLY IN

Part of it, incorrect, in Voltaire, _OEuvres_ (scandalous Piece now
called _Memoires,_ once _Vie Privee du Roi de Prusse_), ii. 24-26;
finally, in Preuss, _OEuvres de Frederic,_ xiv. 156-161, the real and
complete affair, as fished up by victorious Preuss and others.

"I have just finished a Journey, intermingled with singular adventures,
sometimes pleasant, sometimes the reverse. You know I had set out for
Baireuth,"--BRUXELLES the beautiful French Editor wrote, which makes
Egyptian darkness of the Piece!--"to see a Sister whom I love no less
than esteem. On the road [thither or thence; or likeliest, THERE],
Algarotti and I consulted the map, to settle our route for returning by
Wesel. Frankfurt-on-Mayn comes always as a principal stage;--Strasburg
was no great roundabout: we chose that route in preference. The
INCOGNITO was decided, names pitched upon [Comte Dufour, and the
others]; story we were to tell: in fine, all was arranged and concerted
to a nicety as well as possible. We fancied we should get to Strasburg
in three days [from Baireuth].

     But Heaven, which disposes of all things,
     Differently regulated this thing.
     With lank-sided coursers,
     Lineal descendants from Rosinante,
     With ploughmen in the dress of postilions,
     Blockheads of impertinent nature;
     Our carriages sticking fast a hundred times in the road,
     We went along with gravity at a leisurely pace,
     Knocking against the crags.
     The atmosphere in uproar with loud thunder,
     The rain-torrents streaming over the Earth
     Threatened mankind with the Day of Judgment [VERY BAD WEATHER],
     And in spite of our impatience,
     Four good days are, in penance,
     Lost forever in these jumblings.

     Mais le ciel, qui de tout dispose,
     Regla differemment la chose.
     Avec de coursiers efflanques,
     En ligne droites issus de Rosinante,
     Et des paysans en postillons masques,
     Dutors de race impertinente,
     Notre carrosse en cent lieux accroche,
     Nous allions gravement, d'une allure indolente,
     Gravitant contre les rochers.
     Les airs emus par le bruyant tonnerre,
     Les torrents d'eau repandus sur la terre,
     Du dernier jour menacaient les humains;
     Et malgre notre impatience,
     Quatre bons jours en penitence
     Sont pour jamais perdus dans les charrains.

"Had all our fatalities been limited to stoppages of speed on the
journey, we should have taken patience; but, after frightful roads, we
found lodgings still frightfuler.

     For greedy landlords
     Seeing us pressed by hunger
     Did, in a more than frugal manner,
     In their infernal hovels,
     Poisoning instead of feeding,
     Steal from us our crowns.
     O age different [in good cheer] from that of Lucullus!

     Car des hotes interesses,
     De la faim nous voyant presses,
     D'une facon plus que frugale,
     Dans une chaumiere infernale,
     En nous empoisonnant,
     Nous volaient nos ecus.
     O siecle different des temps de Lucullus!

"Frightful roads; short of victual, short of drink: nor was that all. We
had to undergo a variety of accidents; and certainly our equipage must
have had a singular air, for in every new place we came to, they took us
for something different.

     Some took us for Kings,
     Some for pickpockets well disguised;
     Others for old acquaintances.
     At times the people crowded out,
     Looked us in the eyes,
     Like clowns impertinently curious.
     Our lively Italian [Algarotti] swore;
     For myself I took patience;
     The young Count [my gay younger Brother, eighteen at present]
      quizzed and frolicked;
     The big Count [Heir-apparent of Dessau] silently swung his head,
     Wishing this fine Journey to France,
     In the bottom of his heart, most christianly at the Devil.

     Les uns nous prenaient pour des rois,
     D'autres pour des filous courtois,
     D'autrespour gens de connaissance;
     Parfois le peuple s'attroupait,
     Entre les yeux nous regardait
     En badauds curieux, remplis d'impertinence.
     Notre vif Italien jurait,
     Pour moi je prenais patience,
     Le jeune Comte folatrait,
     Le grand Comte se dandinait,
     Et ce beau vogage de France
     Dans le fond de son coeur chretiennement damnait.

"We failed not, however, to struggle gradually along; at last we arrived
in that Stronghold, where [as preface to the War of 1734, known to some
of us]--

     Where the garrison, too supple,
     Surrendered so piteously
     After the first blurt of explosion
     From the cannon of the French.

     Ou a garrison, troupe flasque,
     Se rendit si piteusement
     Apres la premiere bourasque
     Du canon francais foudroyant.

You recognize Kehl in this description. It was in that fine
Fortress,--where, by the way, the breaches are still lying unrepaired
[Reich being a slow corpus in regard to such things],--that the
Postmaster, a man of more foresight than we, asked If we had got

     No, said I to him; of passports
     We never had the whim.
     Strong ones I believe it would need
     To recall, to our side of the limit,
     Subjects of Pluto King of the Dead:
     But, from the Germanic Empire
     Into the gallant and cynical abode
     Of Messieurs your pretty Frenchmen,--A jolly and beaming air,
     Rubicund faces, not ignorant of wine,
     These are the passports which, legible if you look on us,
     Our troop produces to you for that end.

     Non, lui dis-je, des passe-ports
     Nous n'eumes jamais la folie.
     Il en faudrait, je crois, de forts
     Pour ressusciter a la vie
     De chez Pluton le roi des morts;
     Mais de l'empire germanique
     Au sejour galant et cynique
     De Messieurs vos jolis Francais,
     Un air rebondissant et frais,
     Une face rouge et bachique,
     Sont les passe-ports qu'en nos traits
     Vous produit ici notre clique.

"No, Messieurs, said the provident Master of Passports; no salvation
without passport. Seeing then that Necessity had got us in the dilemma
of either manufacturing passports ourselves or not entering Strasburg,
we took the former branch of the alternative and manufactured one;--in
which feat, the Prussian arms, which I had on my seal, were marvellously

This is a fact, as the old Newspapers and confirmatory Fassmann more
directly apprise us. "The Landlord [or Postmaster] at Kehl, having
signified that there was no crossing without Passport," Friedrich, at
first, somewhat taken aback, bethought him of his watch-seal with the
Royal Arms on it; and soon manufactured the necessary Passport, signeted
in due form;--which, however, gave a suspicion to the Innkeeper as to
the quality of his Guest. After which, Tuesday evening, 23d August,
"they at once got across to Strasburg," says my Newspaper Friend, "and
put up at the SIGN OF THE RAVEN, there." Or in Friedrich's own jingle:--

"We arrived at Strasburg; and the Custom-house corsair, with his
inspectors, seemed content with our evidences.

     These scoundrels spied us,
     With one eye reading our passport,
     With the other ogling our purse.
     Gold, which was always a resource,
     Which brought, Jove to the enjoyment
     Of Danae whom he caressed;
     Gold, by which Caesar governed
     The world happy under his sway;
     Gold, more a divinity than Mars or Love;
     Wonder-working Gold introduced us
     That evening, within the walls of Strasburg."

[Given thus far, with several slight errors, in Voltaire, ii.
24-26;--the remainder, long unknown, had to be fished up, patch by patch
(Preuss, _OEuvres de Frederic,_ xiv. 159-161).]

     Ces scelerats nous epiaient,
     D'un oeil le passe-port lisaient,
     De l'autre lorgnaient notre bourse.
     L'or, qui toujours fut de ressource,
     Par lequel Jupin jouissait
     De Danae, qu'il caressait;
     L'or, par qui Cesar gouvernait
     Le monde heureux sous son empire;
     L'or, plus dieu que Mars et l'Amour,
     Le soir, dans les murs de Strasbourg.

Sad doggerel; permissible perhaps as a sample of the Friedrich
manufacture, surely not otherwise! There remains yet more than half
of it; readers see what their foolish craving has brought upon them!
Doggerel out of which no clear story, such story as there is, can be
had; though, except the exaggeration and contortion, there is nothing
of fiction in it. We fly to the Newspaper, happily at least a prose
composition, which begins at this point; and shall use the
Doggerel henceforth as illustration only or as repetition in the
Friedrich-mirror, of a thing OTHERWISE made clear to us:--

Having got into Strasburg and the RAVEN HOTEL; Friedrich now on French
ground at last, or at least on Half-French, German-French, is intent to
make the most of circumstances. The Landlord, with one of Friedrich's
servants, is straightway despatched into the proper coffee-houses to
raise a supper-party of Officers; politely asks any likely Officer,
"If he will not do a foreign Gentleman [seemingly of some distinction,
signifies Boniface] the honor to sup with him at the Raven?"--"No, by
Jupiter!" answer the most, in their various dialects: "who is he that
we should sup with him?" Three, struck by the singularity of the thing,
undertake; and with these we must be content. Friedrich--or call him
M. le Comte Dufour, with Pfuhl, Schaffgotsch and such escort as we
see--politely apologizes on the entrance of these officers: "Many
pardons, gentlemen, and many thanks. Knowing nobody; desirous
of acquaintance:--since you are so good, how happy, by a little
informality, to have brought brave Officers to keep me company, whom I
value beyond other kinds of men!"

The Officers found their host a most engaging gentleman: his supper was
superb, plenty of wine, "and one red kind they had never tasted before,
and liked extremely;"--of which he sent some bottles to their lodging
next day. The conversation turned on military matters, and was enlivened
with the due sallies. This foreign Count speaks French wonderfully; a
brilliant man, whom the others rather fear: perhaps something more than
a Count? The Officers, loath to go, remembered that their two battalions
had to parade next morning, that it was time to be in bed: "I will go to
your review," said the Stranger Count: the delighted Officers undertake
to come and fetch him, they settle with him time and method; how happy!

On the morrow, accordingly, they call and fetch him; he looks at the
review; review done, they ask him to supper for this evening: "With
pleasure!" and "walks with them about the Esplanade, to see the guard
march by." Before parting, he takes their names, writes them in his
tablets; says, with a smile, "He is too much obliged ever to forget
them." This is Wednesday, the 24th of August, 1740; Field-Marshal
Broglio is Commandant in Strasburg, and these obliging Officers are "of
the regiment Piedmont,"--their names on the King's tablets I never heard
mentioned by anybody (or never till the King's Doggerel was fished up
again). Field-Marshal Broglio my readers have transiently seen, afar
off;--"galloping with only one boot," some say "almost in his shirt,"
at the Ford of Secchia, in those Italian campaigns, five years ago, the
Austrians having stolen across upon him:--he had a furious gallop, with
no end of ridicule, on that occasion; is now Commandant here; and we
shall have a great deal more to do with him within the next year or two.

"This same day, 24th, while I [the Newspaper volunteer Reporter or Own
Correspondent, seemingly a person of some standing, whose words carry
credibility in the tone of them] was with Field-Marshal Broglio our
Governor here, there came two gentlemen to be presented to him; 'German
Cavaliers' they were called; who, I now find, must have been the Prince
of Prussia and Algarotti. The Field-Marshal,"--a rather high-stalking
white-headed old military gentleman, bordering on seventy, of
Piedmontese air and breed, apt to be sudden and make flounderings, but
the soul of honor, "was very polite to the two Cavaliers, and kept them
to dinner. After dinner there came a so-styled 'Silesian Nobleman,' who
likewise was presented to the Field-Marshal, and affected not to know
the other two: him I now find to have been the Prince of Anhalt."

Of his Majesty's supper with the Officers that Wednesday, we are left
to think how brilliant it was: his Majesty, we hear farther, went to the
Opera that night,--the Polichinello or whatever the "Italian COMODIE"
was;--"and a little girl came to his box with two lottery-tickets
fifteen pence each, begging the foreign Gentleman for the love of Heaven
to buy them of her; which he did, tearing them up at once, and giving
the poor creature four ducats," equivalent to two guineas, or say in
effect even five pounds of the present British currency. The fame of
this foreign Count and his party at The Raven is becoming very loud
over Strasburg, especially in military circles. Our volunteer Own
Correspondent proceeds (whom we mean to contrast with the Royal Doggerel
by and by):--

"Next morning," Thursday, 25th August, "as the Marshal with above two
hundred Officers was out walking on the Esplanade, there came a soldier
of the Regiment Luxemburg, who, after some stiff fugling motions, of the
nature of salutation partly, and partly demand for privacy, intimated to
the Marshal surprising news: That the Stranger in The Raven was the
King of Prussia in person; he, the soldier, at present of the Regiment
Luxemburg, had in other days, before he deserted, been of the Prussian
Crown-Prince's regiment; had consequently seen him in Berlin, Potsdam
and elsewhere a thousand times and more, and even stood sentry where
he was: the fact is beyond dispute, your Excellency! said this

Whereupon a certain Colonel, Marquis de Loigle, with or without a hint
from Broglio, makes off for The Raven; introduces himself, as was easy;
contrives to get invited to stay dinner, which also was easy. During
dinner the foreign Gentleman expressed some wish to see their fortress.
Colonel Loigle sends word to Broglio; Broglio despatches straightway an
Officer and fine carriage: "Will the foreign Gentleman do me the honor?"
The foreign Gentleman, still struggling for incognito, declines the
uppermost seat of honor in the carriage; the two Officers, Loigle and
this new one, insist on taking the inferior place. Alas, the incognito
is pretty much out. Calling at some coffee-house or the like on the
road, a certain female, "Madame de Fienne," named the foreign Gentleman
"Sire,"--which so startled him that, though he utterly declined such
title, the two Officers saw well how it was.

"After survey of the works, the two attendant Officers had returned to
the Field-Marshal; and about 4 P.M. the high Stranger made appearance
there. But the thing had now got wind, 'King of Prussia here incognito!'
The place was full of Officers, who came crowding about him: he escaped
deftly into the Marechal's own Cabinet; sat there, an hour, talking to
the Marechal [little admiring the Marechal's talk, as we shall find],
still insisting on the incognito,"--to which Broglio, put out in his
high paces by this sudden thing, and apt to flounder, as I have heard,
was not polite enough to conform altogether. "What shall I do, in this
sudden case?" poor Broglio is thinking to himself: "must write to Court;
perhaps try to detain--?" Friedrioh's chief thought naturally is, One
cannot be away out of this too soon. "Sha'n't we go to the Play, then,
Monsieur le Marechal? Play-hour is come!"--Own Correspondent of the
Newspaper proceeds:--

"The Marechal then went to the Play, and all his Officers with him;
thinking their royal prize was close at their heels. Marechal and
Officers fairly ahead, coast once clear, their royal prize hastened
back to The Raven, paid his bill; hastily summoning Schaffgotsch and
the others within hearing; shot off like lightning; and was seen in
Strasburg no more. Algarotti, who was in the box with Broglio, heard the
news in the house; regretful rumor among the Officers, 'He is gone!' In
about a quarter of an hour Algarotti too slipped out; and vanished by
extra post"--straight towards Wesel; but could not overtake the King
(whose road, in the latter part of it, went zigzag, on business as
is likely), nor see him again till they met in that Town. [From
_Helden-Geschichte_ (i. 420-424), &c.]

This is the Prose Truth of those fifty or eight-and-forty hours in
Strasburg, which were so mythic and romantic at that time. Shall we now
apply to the Royal Doggerel again, where we left off, and see the other
side of the picture? Once settled in The Raven, within Strasburg's
walls, the Doggerel continues:--

"You fancy well that there was now something to exercise my curiosity;
and what desire I had to know the French Nation in France itself.

     There I saw at length those French,
     Of whom you have sung the glories;
     A people despised by the English,
     Whom their sad rationality fills with black bile;
     Those French, whom our Germans
     Reckon all to be destitute of sense;
     Those French, whose History consists of Love-stories,
     I mean the wandering kind of Love, not the constant;
     Foolish this People, headlong, high-going,
     Which sings beyond endurance;
     Lofty in its good fortune, crawling in its bad;
     Of an unpitying extent of babble,
     To hide the vacancy of its ignorant mind.
     Of the Trifling it is a tender lover;
     The Trifling alone takes possession of its brain.
     People flighty, indiscreet, imprudent,
     Turning like the weathercock to every wind.
     Of the ages of the Caesars those of the Louises are the shadow;
     Paris is the ghost, of Rome, take it how you will.
     No, of those vile French you are not one:
     You think; they do not think at all.

     La je vis enfin ces Francais
     Dont vous avez chante la gloire;
     Peuple meprise' des Anglais,
     Que leur triste raison remplit de bile noire;
     Ces Francais, que nos Allemands
     Pensent tous prives de bon sens;
     Ces Francais, do nt l'amour pourrait dicter l'histoire,
     Je dis l'amour volage, et non l'amour constant;
     Ce peuple fou, brusque et galant,
     Chansonnier insupportable,
     Superbe en sa fortune, en son malheur rampant,
     D'un bavardage impitoyable,
     Pour cacher le creux d'un esprit ignorant,
     Tendre amant de la bagatelle,
     Elle entre seule en sa cervelle;
     Leger, indiscret, imprudent,
     Comme ume girouette il revire a tout vent.
     Des siecles des Cesars ceux des Louis sont l'ombre;
     Rome efface Paris en tout sens, en tout point.
     Non, des vils Francais vous n'etes pas du nombre;
     Vous pensez, ils ne pensent point.

"Pardon, dear Voltaire, this definition of the French; at worst, it is
only of those in Strasburg I speak. To scrape acquaintance, I had to
invite some Officers on our arrival, whom of course I did not know.

     Three of them came at once,
     Gayer, more content than Kings;
     Singing with rusty voice.
     In verse, their amorous exploits,
     Set to a hornpipe.

     Trois d'eux s'en vinrent a la fois,
     Plus gais, plus contents que des rois,
     Chantant d'une voix enrouee,
     En vers, leurs amoureux exploits,
     Ajustes sur une bourree.

"M. de la Crochardiere and M. Malosa [two names from the tablets, third
wanting] had just come from a dinner where the wine had not been spared.

     Of their hot friendship I saw the flame grow,
     The Universe would have taken us for perfect friends:
     But the instant of good-night blew out the business;
     Friendship disappeared without regrets,
     With the games, the wine, the table and the viands.

     De leur chaude amitie je vis croitre le flamme,
     L'univers nous eut pris pour des amis parfaits;
     Mais l'instant des adieux en detruisit la trame,
     L'amitie disparut, ssns causer des regrets,
     Avec le jeu, le vin, et la table, et les mets.

"Next day, Monsieur the Gouverneur of the Town and Province, Marechal of
France, Chevalier of the Orders of the King, &c. &c.,--Marechal Duc de
Broglio, in fact," who was surprised at Secchia in the late War,--

     This General always surprised.
     Whom with regret, young Louis [your King]
     Saw without breeches in Italy

["With only one boot," was the milder rumor; which we adopted (supra,
vol. vi. p. 472), but this sadder one, too, was current; and "Broglio's
breeches," or the vain aspiration after them, like a vanished ghost of
breeches, often enough turn up in the old Pamphlets.]

     Galloping to hide away his life
     From the Germans, unpolite fighters;--

     Ce general toujours surpris,
     Qu'a regret le jeune Louis
     Vit sans culottes en Italie,
     Courir pour derober sa vie
     Aux Germains, guerriers impolis.

this General wished to investigate your Comte Dufour,--foreign Count,
who the instant he arrives sets about inviting people to supper that are
perfect strangers. He took the poor Count for a sharper; and prudently
advised M. de la Crochardiere not to be duped by him. It was unluckily
the good Marechal that proved to be duped.

     He was born for surprise.
     His white hair, his gray beard,
     Formed a reverend exterior.
     Outsides are often deceptive:
     He that, by the binding, judges
     Of a Book and its Author
     May, after a page of reading,
     Chance to recognize his mistake.

     Il etait ne pour la surprise.
     Ses cheveux blancs, sa barbe grise,
     Formaient un sage exterieur.
     Le dehors est souvent trompeur;
     Qui juge par la reliure
     D'un ouvrage et de son auteur
     Dans une page de lecture
     Peut reconnaitre son erreur.

"That was my own experience; for of wisdom I could find nothing except
in his gray hair and decrepit appearance. His first opening betrayed
him; no great well of wit this Marechal,

     Who, drunk with his own grandeur,
     Informs you of his name and his titles,
     And authority as good as unlimited.
     He cited to me all the records
     Where his name is registered,
     Babbled about his immense power,
     About his valor, his talents
     So salutary to France;--He forgot that, three years ago

[Six to a nearness,--"15th September, 1734," if your Majesty will be

     Men did not praise his prudence.

     Qui, de sa grandeur enivre;
     Decline son nom et ses titres,
     Et son pouvoir a rien borne.
     Il me cita tous les registres
     Ou son nom est enregistre;
     Bavard de son pouvoir immense,
     De sa valeur, de ces talents
     Si salutaires a la France:
     Il oubliait, passe trois ans,
     Qu'on ne louait pas sa prudence.

"Not satisfied with seeing the Marechal, I saw the guard mounted

     By these Frenchmen, burning with glory,
     Who, on four sous a day,
     Will make of Kings and of Heroes the memory flourish:
     Slaves crowned by the hands of Victory,
     Unlucky herds whom the Court
     Tinkles hither and thither by the sound of fife and drum.

     A ces Francais brulants de gloire,
     Dotes de quatre sous par jour,
     Qui des rois, des heros font fleurir la memoire,
     Esclaves couronnes des mains de la victoire,
     Troupeaux malheureux que la cour
     Dirige au seul bruit du tambour.

"That was my fated term. A deserter from our troops got eye on me,
recognised me and denounced me.

     This wretched gallows-bird got eye on me;
     Such is the lot of all earthly things;
     And so of our fine mystery
     The whole secret came to light."

     Ce malheureux pendard me vit,
     C'est le sort de toutes les choses;
     Ainsi de motre pot aux roses
     Tout le secret se decouvrit.

Well; we must take this glimpse, such as it is, into the interior of the
young man,--fine buoyant, pungent German spirit, roadways for it very
bad, and universal rain-torrents falling, yet with coruscations from
a higher quarter;--and you can forget, if need be, the "Literature"
of this young Majesty, as you would a staccato on the flute by him! In
after months, on new occasion rising, "there was no end to his gibings
and bitter pleasantries on the ridiculous reception Broglio had given
him at Strasburg," says Valori, [_Memoires,_ i. 88.]--of which this
Doggerel itself offers specimen.

"Probably the weakest Piece I ever translated?" exclaims one, who has
translated several such. Nevertheless there is a straggle of pungent
sense in it,--like the outskirts of lightning, seen in that dismally wet
weather, which the Royal Party had. Its wit is very copious, but slashy,
bantery, and proceeds mainly by exaggeration and turning topsy-turvy;
a rather barren species of wit. Of humor, in the fine poetic sense, no
vestige. But there is surprising veracity,--truthfulness unimpeachable,
if you will read well. What promptitude, too;--what funds for
conversation, when needed! This scraggy Piece, which is better than the
things people often talk to one another, was evidently written as fast
as the pen could go.--"It is done, if such a Hand could have DONE it, in
the manner of Bachaumont and La Chapelle," says Voltaire scornfully, in
that scandalous VIE PRIVEE;--of which phrase this is the commentary, if
readers need one:--

"Some seventy or eighty years before that date, a M. Bachaumont and a
M. la Chapelle, his intimate, published, in Prose skipping off into
dancings of Verse every now and then, 'a charming RELATION of a certain
VOYAGE or Home Tour' (whence or whither, or correctly when, this Editor
forgets), ["First printed in 1665," say the Bibliographies; "but known
to La Fontaine some time before." Good!--Bachaumont, practically an
important and distinguished person, not literary by trade, or indeed
otherwise than by ennui, was he that had given (some fifteen years
before) the Nickname FRONDE (Bickering of Schoolboys) to the wretched
Historical Object which is still so designated in French annals.] which
they had made in partnership. 'RELATION' capable still of being read, if
one were tolerably idle;--it was found then to be charming, by all the
world; and gave rise to a new fashion in writing; which Voltaire often
adopts, and is supremely good at; and in which Friedrich, who is also
fond of it, by no means succeeds so well."

Enough, Friedrich got to Wesel, back to his business, in a day or two;
and had done, as we forever have, with the Strasburg Escapade and its


Friedrich got to Wesel on the 29th; found Maupertuis waiting there,
according to appointment: an elaborately polite, somewhat sublime
scientific gentleman; ready to "engraft on the Berlin crab-tree,"
and produce real apples and Academics there, so soon as the King, the
proprietor, may have leisure for such a thing. Algarotti has already
the honor of some acquaintance with Maupertuis. Maupertuis has been
at Brussels, on the road hither; saw Voltaire and even Madame,--which
latter was rather a ticklish operation, owing to grudges and tiffs of
quarrel that had risen, but it proved successful under the delicate
guidance of Voltaire. Voltaire is up to oiling the wheels: "There you
are, Monsieur, like the [don't name What, though profane Voltaire does,
writing to Maupertuis a month ago]--Three Kings running after you!" A
new Pension to you from France; Russia outbidding France to have you;
and then that LETTER of Friedrich's, which is in all the Newspapers:
"Three Kings,"--you plainly great man, Trismegistus of the Sciences
called Pure! Madame honors you, has always done: one word of apology
to the high female mind, it will work wonders;--come now! [Voltaire,
_OEuvres,_ lxxii. 217, 216, 230 (Hague, 21st July, 1740, and Brussels,
9th Aug. &c).]

No reader guesses in our time what a shining celestial body the
Maupertuis, who is now fallen so dim again, then was to mankind. In
cultivated French society there is no such lion as M. Maupertuis since
he returned from flattening the Earth in the Arctic regions. "The Exact
Sciences, what else is there to depend on?" thinks French cultivated
society: "and has not Monsieur done a feat in that line?" Monsieur,
with fine ex-military manners, has a certain austere gravity, reticent
loftiness and polite dogmatism, which confirms that opinion. A studious
ex-military man,--was Captain of Dragoons once, but too fond of
study,--who is conscious to himself, or who would fain be conscious,
that he is, in all points, mathematical, moral and other, the man. A
difficult man to live with in society. Comes really near the limit of
what we call genius, of originality, poetic greatness in thinking;--but
never once can get fairly over said limit, though always struggling
dreadfully to do so. Think of it! A fatal kind of man; especially if
you have made a lion of him at any time. Of his envies, deep-hidden
splenetic discontents and rages, with Voltaire's return for them, there
will be enough to say in the ulterior stages. He wears--at least ten
years hence he openly wears, though I hope it is not yet so flagrant--"a
red wig with yellow bottom (CRINIERE JAUNE);" and as Flattener of the
Earth, is, with his own flattish red countenance and impregnable stony
eyes, a man formidable to look upon, though intent to be amiable if
you do the proper homage. As to the quarrel with Madame take this Note;
which may prove illustrative of some things by and by:--

Maupertuis is well known at Cirey; such a lion could not fail there. All
manner of Bernouillis, Clairauts, high mathematical people, are frequent
guests at Cirey: reverenced by Madame,--who indeed has had her
own private Professor of Mathematics; one Konig from Switzerland
(recommended by those Bernouillis), diligently teaching her the Pure
Sciences this good while back, not without effect; and has only just
parted with him, when she left on this Brussels expedition. A BON
GARCON, Voltaire says; though otherwise, I think, a little noisy on
occasion. There has been no end of Madame's kindness to him, nay to his
Brother and him,--sons of a Theological Professorial Syriac-Hebrew kind
of man at Berne, who has too many sons;--and I grieve to report that
this heedless Konig has produced an explosion in Madame's feelings,
such as little beseemed him. On the road to Paris, namely, as we drove
hitherward to the Honsbruck Lawsuit by way of Paris, in Autumn last,
there had fallen out some dispute, about the monads, the VIS VIVA,
the infinitely little, between Madame and Konig; dispute which rose
CRESCENDO in disharmonious duet, and "ended," testifies M. de Voltaire,
"in a scene TRESDESAGREABLE." Madame, with an effort, forgave the
thoughtless fellow, who is still rather young, and is without malice.
But thoughtless Konig, strong in his opinion about the infinitely
little, appealed to Maupertuis: "Am not I right, Monsieur?" "HE is right
beyond question!" wrote Maupertuis to Madame; "somewhat dryly," thinks
Voltaire: and the result is, there is considerable rage in one celestial
mind ever since against another male one in red wig and yellow bottom;
and they are not on speaking terms, for a good many months past.
Voltaire has his heart sore ("J'EN AI LE COEUR PERCE") about it, needs
to double-dose Maupertuis with flattery; and in fact has used the utmost
diplomacy to effect some varnish of a reconcilement as Maupertuis
passed on this occasion. As for Konig, who had studied in some Dutch
university, he went by and by to be Librarian to the Prince of Orange;
and we shall not fail to hear of him again,--once more upon the
infinitely little. [From _OEuvres de Voltaire,_ ii. 126, lxxii. (20,
216, 230), lxiii. (229-239), &c. &c.]

Voltaire too, in his way, is fond of these mathematical people; eager
enough to fish for knowledge, here as in all elements, when he has the
chance offered: this is much an interest of his at present. And he
does attain sound ideas, outlines of ideas, in this province,--though
privately defective in the due transcendency of admiration for it;--was
wont to discuss cheerily with Konig, about VIS VIVA, monads, gravitation
and the infinitely little; above all, bows to the ground before the
red-wigged Bashaw, Flattener of the Earth, whom for Madame's sake and
his own he is anxious to be well with. "Fall on your face nine times, ye
esoteric of only Impure Science!"--intimates Maupertuis to mankind. "By
all means!" answers M. de Voltaire, doing it with alacrity; with a kind
of loyalty, one can perceive, and also with a hypocrisy grounded on love
of peace. If that is the nature of the Bashaw, and one's sole mode of
fishing knowledge from him, why not? thinks M. de Voltaire. His patience
with M. de Maupertuis, first and last, was very great. But we shall find
it explode at length, a dozen years hence, in a conspicuous manner!--

"Maupertuis had come to us to Cirey, with Jean Bernouilli," says
Voltaire; "and thenceforth Maupertuis, who was born the most jealous of
men, took me for the object of this passion, which has always been very
dear to him." [VIE PRIVEE.] Husht, Monsieur!--Here is a poor rheumatic
kind of Letter, which illustrates the interim condition, after that
varnish of reconcilement at Brussels:--

VOLTAIRE TO M. DE MAUPERTUIS (at Wesel, waiting for the King, or with
him rather).

"BRUSSELS, 29th August (1740), _3d year since the world flattened._

"How the Devil, great Philosopher, would you have had me write to you at
Wesel? I fancied you gone from Wesel, to seek the King of Sages on his
Journey somewhere. I had understood, too, they were so delighted to have
you in that fortified lodge (BOUGE FORTIFIE) that you must be taking
pleasure there, for he that gives pleasure gets it.

"You have already seen the jolly Ambassador of the amiablest Monarch in
the world,"--Camas, a fattish man, on his road to Versailles (who called
at Brussels here, with fine compliments, and a keg of Hungary Wine, as
YOU may have heard whispered). "No doubt M. de Camas is with you. For my
own share, I think it is after you that he is running at present. But
in truth, at the hour while I say this, you are with the King;"--a lucky
guess; King did return to Wesel this very day. "The Philosopher and the
Prince perceive already that they are made for each other. You and M.
Algarotti will say, FACIAMUS HIC TRIA TABERNACULA: as to me, I can only
make DUO TABERNACULA,"--profane Voltaire!

"Without doubt I would be with you if I were not at Brussels; but my
heart is with you all the same; and is the subject, all the same, of a
King who is, formed to reign over every thinking and feeling being. I do
not despair that Madame du Chatelet will find herself somewhere on
your route: it will be a scene in a fairy tale;--she will arrive with a
SUFFICIENT REASON [as your Leibnitz says] and with MONADS. She does not
love you the less though she now believes the universe a PLENUM, and has
renounced the notion of VOID. Over her you have an ascendant which you
will never lose. In fine, my dear Monsieur, I wish as ardently as she to
embrace you the soonest possible. I recommend myself to your friendship
in the Court, worthy of you, where you now are."--TOUT A VOUS, somewhat
rheumatic! [Voltaire, lxxii. p. 243.]

Always an anxious almost tremulous desire to conciliate this big glaring
geometrical bully in red wig. Through the sensitive transparent being of
M. de Voltaire, you may see that feeling almost painfully busy in every
Letter he writes to the Flattener of the Earth.


At Wesel, in the rear of all this travelling and excitement, Friedrich
falls unwell; breaks down there into an aguish feverish distemper,
which, for several months after, impeded his movements, would he have
yielded to it. He has much business on hand, too,--some of it of prickly
nature just now;--but is intent as ever on seeing Voltaire, among
the first things. Diligently reading in the Voltaire-Friedrich
Correspondence (which is a sad jumble of misdates and opacities, in
the common editions), [Preuss (the recent latest Editor, and the only
well-informed one, as we said) prints with accuracy; but cannot be read
at all (in the sense of UNDERSTOOD) without other light.] this of
the aguish condition frequently turns up; "Quartan ague," it seems;
occasionally very bad; but Friedrich struggles with it; will not be
cheated of any of his purposes by it.

He had a busy fortnight here; busier than we yet imagine. Much
employment there naturally is of the usual Inspection sort; which fails
in no quarter of his Dominions, but which may be particularly important
here, in these disputed Berg-Julich Countries, when the time of decision
falls. How he does his Inspections we know;--and there are still
weightier matters afoot here, in a silent way, of which we shall have to
speak before long, and all the world will speak. Business enough,
parts of it grave and silent, going on, and the much that is public,
miscellaneous, small: done, all of it, in a rapid-punctual precise
manner;--and always, after the crowded day, some passages of Supper
with the Sages, to wind up with on melodious terms. A most alert and
miscellaneously busy young King, in spite of the ague.

It was in these Cleve Countries, and now as probably as afterwards,
that the light scene recorded in Laveaux's poor HISTORY, and in all the
Anecdote-Books, transacted itself one day. Substance of the story is
true; though the details of it go all at random,--somewhat to this

"Inspecting his Finance Affairs, and questioning the parties interested,
Friedrich notices a certain Convent in Cleve, which appears to have,
payable from the Forest-dues, considerable revenues bequeathed by the
old Dukes, 'for masses to be said on their behalf.' He goes to look at
the place; questions the Monks on this point, who are all drawn out
in two rows, and have broken into TE-DEUM at sight of him: 'Husht! You
still say those Masses, then?' 'Certainly, your Majesty!'--'And what
good does anybody get of them?' 'Your Majesty, those old Sovereigns are
to obtain Heavenly mercy by them, to be delivered out of Purgatory by
them.'--'Purgatory? It is a sore thing for the Forests, all this while!
And they are not yet out, those poor souls, after so many hundred years
of praying?' Monks have a fatal apprehension, No. 'When will they be
out, and the thing complete?' Monks cannot say. 'Send me a courier
whenever it is complete!' sneers the King, and leaves them to their
TE-DEUM." [C. Hildebrandt's Modern Edition of the (mostly dubious)
_Anekdoten und Charakterzuge aus dem Leben Friedrichs des Grossen_ (and
a very ignorant and careless Edition it is; 6 vols. 12mo, Halberstadt,
1829), ii. 160; Laveaus (whom we already cited), _Vie de Frederic;_
&c. &c. Nicolai's _Anekdoten_ alone, which are not included in this
Hildebrandt Collection, are of sure authenticity; the rest, occasionally
true, and often with a kind of MYTHIC truth in them worth attending to,
are otherwise of all degrees of dubiety, down to the palpably false and

Mournful state of the Catholic Religion so called! How long must
these wretched Monks go on doing their lazy thrice-deleterious torpid
blasphemy; and a King, not histrionic but real, merely signify that he
laughs at them and it? Meseems a heavier whip than that of satire might
be in place here, your Majesty? The lighter whip is easier;--Ah yes,
undoubtedly! cry many men. But horrible accounts are running up, enough
to sink the world at last, while the heavier whip is lazily withheld,
and lazy blasphemy, fallen torpid, chronic, and quite unconscious of
being blasphemous, insinuates itself into the very heart's-blood of
mankind! Patience, however; the heavy whip too is coming,--unless
universal death be coming. King Friedrich is not the man to wield such
whip. Quite other work is in store for King Friedrich; and Nature will
not, by any suggestion of that terrible task, put him out in the one
he has. He is nothing of a Luther, of a Cromwell; can look upon fakirs
praying by their rotatory calabash, as a ludicrous platitude; and grin
delicately as above, with the approval of his wiser contemporaries.
Speed to him on his own course!

What answer Friedrich found to his English proposals,--answer due here
on the 24th from Captain Dickens,--I do not pointedly learn; but can
judge of it by Harrington's reply to that Despatch of Dickens's,
which entreated candor and open dealing towards his Prussian Majesty.
Harrington is at Herrenhausen, still with the Britannic Majesty there;
both of them much at a loss about their Spanish War, and the French
and other aspects upon it: "Suppose his Prussian Majesty were to give
himself to France against us!" We will hope, not. Harrington's reply
is to the effect, "Hum, drum:--Berg and Julich, say you? Impossible to
answer; minds not made up here:--What will his Prussian Majesty do for
US?" Not much, I should guess, till something more categorical come
from you! His Prussian Majesty is careful not to spoil anything by
over-haste; but will wait and try farther to the utmost, Whether England
or France is the likelier bargain for him.

Better still, the Prussian Majesty is intent to do something for himself
in that Berg-Julich matter: we find him silently examining these Wesel
localities for a proper "entrenched Camp," Camp say of 40,000, against a
certain contingency that may be looked for. Camp which will much occupy
the Gazetteers when they get eye on it. This is one of the concerns
he silently attends to, on occasion, while riding about in the Cleve
Countries. Then there is another small item of business, important to
do well, which is now in silence diligently getting under way at Wesel;
which also is of remarkable nature, and will astonish the Gazetteer and
Diplomatic circles. This is the affair with the Bishop of Liege, called
also the Affair of Herstal, which his Majesty has had privately laid up
in the corner of his mind, as a thing to be done during this Excursion.
Of which the reader shall hear anon, to great lengths,--were a certain
small preliminary matter, Voltaire's Arrival in these parts, once off
our hands.

Friedrich's First Meeting with Voltaire! These other high things were
once loud in the Gazetteer and Diplomatic circles, and had no doubt
they were the World's History; and now they are sunk wholly to the
Nightmares, and all mortals have forgotten them,--and it is such a task
as seldom was to resuscitate the least memory of them, on just cause
of a Friedrich or the like, so impatient are men of what is putrid and
extinct:--and a quite unnoticed thing, Voltaire's First Interview,
all readers are on the alert for it, and ready to demand of me
impossibilities about it! Patience, readers. You shall see it, without
and within, in such light as there was, and form some actual notion
of it, if you will co-operate. From the circumambient inanity of Old
Newspapers, Historical shot-rubbish, and unintelligible Correspondences,
we sift out the following particulars, of this First Meeting, or actual
Osculation of the Stars.

The Newspapers, though their eyes were not yet of the Argus quality now
familiar to us, have been intent on Friedrich during this Baireuth-Cleve
Journey, especially since that sudden eclipse of him at Strasburg
lately; forming now one scheme of route for him, now another;
Newspapers, and even private friends, being a good deal uncertain
about his movements. Rumor now ran, since his reappearance in the Cleve
Countries, that Friedrich meant to have a look at Holland before going
home, And that had, in fact, been a notion or intention of Friedrich's.
"Holland? We could pass through Brussels on the way, and see Voltaire!"
thought he.

In Brussels this was, of course, the rumor of rumors. As Voltaire's
Letters, visibly in a twitter, still testify to us. King of
Prussia coming! Madame du Chatelet, the "Princess Tour" (that is,
Tour-and-Taxis), all manner of high Dames are on the tiptoe. Princess
Tour hopes she shall lodge this unparalleled Prince in her Palace: "You,
Madame?" answers the Du Chatelet, privately, with a toss of her head:
"His Majesty, I hope, belongs more to M. de Voltaire and me: he shall
lodge here, please Heaven!" Voltaire, I can observe, has sublime
hostelry arrangements chalked out for his Majesty, in case he go to
Paris; which he does n't, as we know. Voltaire is all on the alert,
awake to the great contingencies far and near; the Chatelet-Voltaire
breakfast-table,--fancy it on those interesting mornings, while the post
comes round! [Voltaire, xxii. 238-256 (Letters 22d August-22d September,

Alas, in the first days of September,--Friedrich's Letter is dated
"Wesel, 2d" (and has the STRASBURD DOGGEREL enclosed in it),--the
Brussels Postman delivers far other intelligence at one's door; very
mortifying to Madame: "That his Majesty is fallen ill at Wesel; has
an aguish fever hanging on him, and only hopes to come:" VOILA,
Madame!--Next Letter, Wesel, Monday, 5th September, is to the effect:
"Do still much hope to come; to-morrow is my trembling day; if that
prove to be off!"--Out upon it, that proves not to be off; that is on:
next Letter, Tuesday, September 6th, which comes by express (Courier
dashing up with it, say on the Thursday following) is,--alas,
Madame!--here it is:--


"WESEL, 6th September, 1740. "MY DEAR VOLTAIRE,--In spite of myself,
I have to yield to the Quartan Fever, which is more tenacious than a
Jansenist; and whatever desire I had of going to Antwerp and Brussels, I
find myself not in a condition to undertake such a journey without risk.
I would ask of you, then, if the road from Brussels to Cleve would not
to you seem too long for a meeting; it is the one means of seeing you
which remains to me. Confess that I am unlucky; for now when I could
dispose of my person, and nothing hinders me from seeing you, the fever
gets its hand into the business, and seems to intend disputing me that

"Let us deceive the fever, my dear Voltaire; and let me at least have
the pleasure of embracing you. Make my best excuses [polite, rather than
sincere] to Madame the MARQUISE, that I cannot have the satisfaction of
seeing her at Brussels. All that are about me know the intention I was
in; which certainly nothing but the fever could have made me change.

"Sunday next I shall be at a little Place near Cleve,"--Schloss of
Moyland, which, and the route to which, this Courier can tell you
of;--"where I shall be able to possess you at my ease. If the sight of
you don't cure me, I will send for a Confessor at once. Adieu; you know
my sentiments and my heart. [Preuss, _OEuvres de Frederic,_ xxii. 27.]

After which the Correspondence suddenly extinguishes itself; ceases for
about a fortnight,--in the bad misdated Editions even does worse;--and
we are left to thick darkness, to our own poor shifts; Dryasdust being
grandly silent on this small interest of ours. What is to be done?


Here, from a painful Predecessor whose Papers I inherit, are some old
documents and Studies on the subject,--sorrowful collection, in fact,
of what poor sparks of certainty were to be found hovering in that
dark element;--which do at last (so luminous are certainties always,
or "sparks" that will shine steady) coalesce into some feeble general
twilight, feeble but indubitable; and even show the sympathetic reader
how they were searched out and brought together. We number and label
these poor Patches of Evidence on so small a matter; and leave them to
the curious:--

No. 1. DATE OF THE FIRST INTERVIEW. It is certain Voltaire did arrive at
the little Schloss of Moyland, September 11th, Sunday night,--which is
the "Sunday" just specified in Friedrich's Letter. Voltaire had at once
decided on complying,--what else?--and lost no time in packing himself:
King's Courier on Thursday late; Voltaire on the road on Saturday early,
or the night before. With Madame's shrill blessing (not the most
musical in this vexing case), and plenty of fuss. "Was wont to travel
in considerable style," I am told; "the innkeepers calling him 'Your
Lordship' (M. LE COMTE)." Arrives, sure enough, Sunday night; old Schloss
of Moyland, six miles from Cleve; "moonlight," I find,--the Harvest
Moon. Visit lasted three days. [Rodenbeck, p. 21; Preuss, &c. &c.]

No. 2. VOLTAIRE'S DRIVE THITHER. Schloss Moyland: How far from Brussels,
and by what route? By Louvain, Tillemont, Tongres to Maestricht; then
from Maestricht up the Maas (left bank) to Venlo, where cross; through
Geldern and Goch to Cleve: between the Maas and Rhine this last portion.
Flat damp country; tolerably under tillage; original constituents bog
and sand. Distances I guess to be: To Tongres 60 miles and odd; to
Maestricht 12 or 15, from Maestricht 75; in all 150 miles English. Two
days' driving? There is equinoctial moon, and still above twelve hours
of sunlight for "M. le Comte."

No. 3. OF THE PLACE WHERE. Voltaire, who should have known, calls it
"PETIT CHATEAU DE MEUSE;" which is a Castle existing nowhere but in
Dreams. Other French Biographers are still more imaginary. The little
Schloss of Moyland--by no means "Meuse," nor even MORS, which Voltaire
probably means in saying CHATEAU DE MEUSE--was, as the least inquiry
settles beyond question, the place where Voltaire and Friedrich first
met. Friedrich Wilhelm used often to lodge there in his Cleve journeys:
he made thither for shelter, in the sickness that overtook him in friend
Ginkel's house, coming home from the Rhine Campaign in 1734; lay there
for several weeks after quitting Ginkel's. Any other light I can
get upon it, is darkness visible. Busching pointedly informs me,
[_Erdbeschreibung_, v. 659, 677.] "It is a Parish [or patch of country
under one priest], and Till AND it are a Jurisdiction" (pair of patches
under one court of justice):--which does not much illuminate the
inquiring mind. Small patch, this of Moyland, size not given; "was
bought," says he, "in 1695, by Friedrich afterwards First King, from
the Family of Spaen,"--we once knew a Lieutenant Spaen, of those Dutch
regions,--"and was named a Royal Mansion ever thereafter." Who lived in
it; what kind of thing was it, is it? ALTUM SILENTIUM, from Busching and
mankind. Belonged to the Spaens, fifty years ago;--some shadow of
our poor banished friend the Lieutenant resting on it? Dim enough old
Mansion, with "court" to it, with modicum of equipment; lying there in
the moonlight;--did not look sublime to Voltaire on stepping out. So
that all our knowledge reduces itself to this one point: of finding
Moyland in the Map, with DATE, with REMINISCENCE to us, hanging by
it henceforth! Good. [Stieler's _Deutschland_ (excellent Map in 25
Pieces), Piece 12.--Till is a mile or two northeast from Moyland;
Moyland about 5 or 6 southeast from Cleve.]

Mors--which is near the Town of Ruhrort, about midway between Wesel
and Dusseldorf--must be some forty miles from Moyland, forty-five from
Cleve; southward of both. So that the place, "A DEUX LIEUES DE CLEVES,"
is, even by Voltaire's showing, this Moyland; were there otherwise any
doubt upon it. "CHATEAU DE MEUSE"--hanging out a prospect of MORS
to us--is bad usage to readers. Of an intelligent man, not to say a
Trismegistus of men, one expects he will know in what town he is, after
three days' experience, as here. But he does not always; he hangs out a
mere "shadow of Mars by moonlight," till we learn better. Duvernet, his
Biographer, even calls it "SLEUS-MEUSE;" some wonderful idea of Sluices
and a River attached to it, in Duvernet's head! [Duvernet (2d FORM of
him,--that is, _Vie de Voltaire_ par T. J. D. V.), p. 117.]


Of the Interview itself, with general bird's-eye view of the Visit
combined (in a very incorrect state), there is direct testimony by
Voltaire himself. Voltaire himself, twenty years after, in far other
humor, all jarred into angry sarcasm, for causes we shall see by and
by,--Voltaire, at the request of friends, writes down, as his Friedrich
Reminiscences, that scandalous VIE PRIVEE above spoken of, a most sad
Document; and this is the passage referring to "the little Place in
the neighborhood of Cleve," where Friedrich now waited for him: errors
corrected by our laborious Friend. After quoting something of that
Strasburg Doggerel, the whole of which is now too well known to us,
Voltaire proceeds:--

"From Strasburg he," King Friedrich, "went to see his Lower German
Provinces; he said he would come and see me incognito at Brussels. We
prepared a fine house for him,"--were ready to prepare such hired
house as we had for him, with many apologies for its slight degree
of perfection (ERROR FIRST),--"but having fallen ill in the little
Mansion-Royal of Meuse (CHATEAU DE MEUSE), a couple of leagues from
Cleve,"--fell ill at Wesel; and there is no Chateau de MEUSE in the
world (ERRORS 2d AND 3d),--"he wrote to me that he expected I would
make the advances. I went, accordingly, to present my profound homages.
Maupertuis, who already had his views, and was possessed with the rage
of being President to an Academy, had of his own accord,"--no, being
invited, and at my suggestion (ERROR 4th),--"presented himself there;
and was lodged with Algarotti and Keyserling [which latter, I suppose,
had come from Berlin, not being of the Strasburg party, he] in a garret
of this Palace.

"At the door of the court, I found, by way of guard, one soldier.
Privy-Councillor Rambonet, Minister of State--[very subaltern man; never
heard of him except in the Herstal Business, and here] was walking in
the court; blowing in his fingers to keep them warm." Sunday night,
11th September, 1740; world all bathed in moonshine; and mortals mostly
shrunk into their huts, out of the raw air. "He" Rambonet "wore big
linen ruffles at his wrists, very dirty [visibly so in the moonlight?
ERROR 5th extends AD LIBITUM over all the following details]; a holed
hat; an old official periwig,"--ruined into a totally unsymmetric state,
as would seem,--"one side of which hung down into one of his pockets,
and the other scarcely crossed his shoulder. I was told, this man
was now intrusted with an affair of importance here; and that proved
true,"--the Herstal Affair.

"I was led into his Majesty's apartment. Nothing but four bare walls
there. By the light of a candle, I perceived, in a closet, a little
truckle-bed two feet and a half broad, on which lay a man muffled up in
a dressing-gown of coarse blue duffel: this was the King, sweating and
shivering under a wretched blanket there, in a violent fit of fever. I
made my reverence, and began the acquaintance by feeling his pulse, as
if I had been his chief physician. The fit over, he dressed himself,
and took his place at table. Algarotti, Keyserling, Maupertuis, and the
King's Envoy to the States-General"--one Rasfeld (skilled in HERSTAL
matters, I could guess),--"we were of this supper, and discussed,
naturally in a profound manner, the Immortality of the Soul, Liberty,
Fate, the Androgynes of Plato [the ANDROGYNOI, or Men-Women, in
Plato's CONVIVIUM; by no means the finest symbolic fancy of the divine
Plato],--and other small topics of that nature." [Voltaire, _OEuvres,_
(Piece once called VIE PRIVEE), ii. 26, 27.]

This is Voltaire's account of the Visit,--which included three
"Suppers," all huddled into one by him here;--and he says nothing
more of it; launching off now into new errors, about HERSTAL, the
ANTI-MACHIAVEL, and so forth: new and uglier errors, with much more of
mendacity and serious malice in them, than in this harmless half-dozen
now put on the score against him.

Of this Supper-Party, I know by face four of the guests: Maupertuis,
Voltaire, Algarotti, Keyserling;--Rasfeld, Rambonet can sit as simulacra
or mute accompaniment. Voltaire arrived on Sunday evening; stayed till
Wednesday. Wednesday morning, 14th of the month, the Party broke up:
Voltaire rolling off to left hand, towards Brussels, or the Hague; King
to right, on inspection business, and circuitously homewards. Three
Suppers there had been, two busy Days intervening; discussions about
Fate and the Androgynoi of Plato by no means the one thing done by
Voltaire and the rest, on this occasion. We shall find elsewhere, "he
declaimed his MAHOMET" (sublime new Tragedy, not yet come out), in the
course of these three evenings, to the "speechless admiration" of his
Royal Host, for one; and, in the daytime, that he even drew his pen
about the Herstal Business, which is now getting to its crisis, and
wrote one of the Manifestoes, still discoverable. And we need not doubt,
in spite of his now sneering tone, that things ran high and grand here,
in this paltry little Schloss of Moyland; and that those three were
actually Suppers of the Gods, for the time being.

"Councillor Rambonet," with the holed hat and unsymmetric wig,
continues Voltaire in the satirical vein, "had meanwhile mounted a hired
hack (CHEVAL DE LOUAGE;" mischievous Voltaire, I have no doubt he went
on wheels, probably of his own): "he rode all night; and next morning
arrived at the gates of Liege; where he took Act in the name of the
King his Master, whilst 2,000 men of the Wesel Troops laid Liege under
contribution. The pretext of this fine Marching of Troops,"--not a
pretext at all, but the assertion, correct in all points, of just claims
long trodden down, and now made good with more spirit than had been
expected,--"was certain rights which the King pretended to, over a
suburb of Liege. He even charged me to work at a Manifesto; and I made
one, good or bad; not doubting but a King with whom I supped, and who
called me his friend, must be in the right. The affair soon settled
itself by means of a million of ducats,"--nothing like the sum, as we
shall see,--"which he exacted by weight, to clear the costs of the Tour
to Strasburg, which, according to his complaint in that Poetic Letter
[Doggerel above given], were so heavy."

That is Voltaire's view; grown very corrosive after Twenty Years. He
admits, with all the satire: "I naturally felt myself attached to him;
for he had wit, graces; and moreover he was a King, which always forms
a potent seduction, so weak is human nature. Usually it is we of the
writing sort that flatter Kings: but this King praised me from head to
foot, while the Abbe Desfontaines and other scoundrels (GREDINS) were
busy defaming me in Paris at least once a week."


But let us take the contemporary account, which also we have at first
hand; which is almost pathetic to read; such a contrast between ruddy
morning and the storms of the afternoon! Here are two Letters from
Voltaire; fine transparent human Letters, as his generally are: the
first of them written directly on getting back to the Hague, and to the
feeling of his eclipsed condition.

September, 1740.

"I serve you, Monsieur, sooner than I promised; and that is the way you
ought to be served. I send you the answer of M. Smith,"--probably some
German or Dutch SCHMIDT, spelt here in English, connected with the
Sciences, say with water-carriage, the typographies, or one need not
know what; "you will see where the question stands.

"When we both left Cleve,"--14th of the month, Wednesday last; 18th
is Sunday, in this old cobwebby Palace, where I am correcting
ANTI-MACHIAVEL,--"and you took to the right,"--King, homewards, got to
HAM that evening,--"I could have thought I was at the Last Judgment,
where the Bon Dieu separates the elect from the damned. DIVUS FREDERICUS
said to you, 'Sit down at my right hand in the Paradise of Berlin;' and
to me, 'Depart, thou accursed, into Holland.'

"Here I am accordingly in this phlegmatic place of punishment, far
from the divine fire which animates the Friedrichs, the Maupertuis, the
Algarottis. For God's love, do me the charity of some sparks in these
stagnant waters where I am,"--stiffening, cooling,--"stupefying
to death. Instruct me of your pleasures, of your designs. You will
doubtless see M. de Valori,"--readers know de Valori; his Book has been
published; edited, as too usual, by a Human Nightmare, ignorant of his
subject and indeed of almost all other things, and liable to mistakes
in every page; yet partly readable, if you carry lanterns, and love "MON
GROS VALORI:"--"offer him, I pray you, my respects. If I do not write to
him, the reason is, I have no news to send: I should be as exact as I am
devoted, if my correspondence could be useful or agreeable to him.

"Won't you have me send you some Books? If I be still in Holland when
your orders come, I will obey in a moment. I pray you do not forget me
to M. de Keyserling,"--Caesarion whom we once had at Cirey; a headlong
dusky little man of wit (library turned topsy-turvy, as Wilhelmina
called him), whom we have seen.

"Tell me, I beg, if the enormous monad of Volfius--[Wolf, would the
reader like to hear about him? If so, he has only to speak!] is arguing
at Marburg, at Berlin, or at Hall [HALLE, which is a very different

"Adieu, Monsieur: you can address your orders to me 'At the Hague:'
they will be forwarded wherever I am; and I shall be, anywhere on
earth,--Yours forever (A VOUS POUR JAMAIS)." [Voltaire, lxxii. 252.]

Letter Second, of which a fragment may be given, is to one Cideville, a
month later; all the more genuine as there was no chance of the King's
hearing about this one. Cideville, some kind of literary Advocate at
Rouen (who is wearisomely known to the reader of Voltaire's Letters),
had done, what is rather an endemical disorder at this time, some Verses
for the King of Prussia, which he wished to be presented to his Majesty.
The presentation, owing to accidents, did not take place; hear how
Voltaire, from his cobweb Palace at the Hague, busy with ANTI-MACHIAVEL,
Van Duren and many other things,--18th October, 1740, on which day we
find him writing many Letters,--explains the sad accident:--



"... This is my case, dear Cideville. When you sent me, enclosed in
your Letter, those Verses (among which there are some of charming and
inimitable turn) for our Marcus Aurelius of the North, I did well design
to pay my court to him with them. He was at that time to have come to
Brussels incognito: we expected him there; but the Quartan Fever, which
unhappily he still has, deranged all his projects. He sent me a courier
to Brussels,"--mark that point, my Cideville;--"and so I set out to find
him in the neighborhood of Cleve.

"It was there I saw one of the amiablest men in the world, who forms the
charm of society, who would be everywhere sought after if he were not
King; a philosopher without austerity; full of sweetness, complaisance
and obliging ways (AGREMENS); not remembering that he is King when he
meets his friends; indeed so completely forgetting it that he made me
too almost forget it, and I needed an effort of memory to recollect that
I here saw sitting at the foot of my bed a Sovereign who had an Army
of 100,000 men. That was the moment to have read your amiable Verses to
him:"--yes; but then?--"Madame du Chatelet, who was to have sent them
to me, did not, NE L'A PA FAIT." Alas, no, they are still at Brussels,
those charming Verses; and I, for a month past, am here in my cobweb
Palace! But I swear to you, the instant I return to Brussels, I, &c. &c.
[Voltaire, lxii. 282.]

Finally, here is what Friedrich thought of it, ten days after parting
with Voltaire. We will read this also (though otherwise ahead of us as
yet); to be certified on all sides, and sated for the rest of our lives,
concerning the Friedrich-Voltaire First Interview.


POTSDAM, 24th September, 1740.

"Most respectable Inspector of the poor, the invalids, orphans, crazy
people and Bedlams,--I have read with mature meditation the very
profound Jordanic Letter which was waiting here;"--and do accept your
learned proposal.

"I have seen that Voltaire whom I was so curious to know; but I saw him
with the Quartan hanging on me, and my mind as unstrung as my body. With
men of his kind one ought not to be sick; one ought even to be specially
well, and in better health than common, if one could.

"He has the eloquence of Cicero, the mildness of Pliny, the wisdom of
Agrippa; he combines, in short, what is to be collected of virtues and
talents from the three greatest men of Antiquity. His intellect is at
work incessantly; every drop of ink is a trait of wit from his pen.
He declaimed his MAHOMET to us, an admirable Tragedy which he has
done,"--which the Official people smelling heresies in it ("toleration,"
"horrors of fanaticism," and the like) will not let him act, as readers
too well know:--"he transported us out of ourselves; I could only admire
and hold my tongue. The Du Chatelet is lucky to have him: for of the
good things he flings out at random, a person who had no faculty but
memory might make a brilliant Book. That Minerva has just published her
Work on PHYSICS: not wholly bad. It was Konig"--whom we know, and whose
late tempest in a certain teapot--"that dictated the theme to her: she
has adjusted, ornamented here and there with some touch picked from
Voltaire at her Suppers. The Chapter on Space is pitiable; the"--in
short, she is still raw in the Pure Sciences, and should have waited....

"Adieu, most learned, most scientific, most profound Jordan,--or rather
most gallant, most amiable, most jovial Jordan;--I salute thee, with
assurance of all those old feelings which thou hast the art of inspiring
in every one that knows thee. VALE.

"I write the moment of my arrival: be obliged to me, friend; for I have
been working, I am going to work still, like a Turk, or like a Jordan."
[_OEuvres de Frederic,_ xvii. 71.]

This is hastily thrown off for Friend Jordan, the instant after his
Majesty's circuitous return home. Readers cannot yet attend his
Majesty there, till they have brought the Affair of Herstal, and other
remainders of the Cleve Journey, along with them.


This Rambonet, whom Voltaire found walking in the court of the old
Castle of Moyland, is an official gentleman, otherwise unknown to
History, who has lately been engaged in a Public Affair; and is now
off again about it, "on a hired hack" or otherwise,--with very good
instructions in his head. Affair which, though in itself but small,
is now beginning to make great noise in the world, as Friedrich wends
homewards out of his Cleve Journey. He has set it fairly alight,
Voltaire and he, before quitting Moyland; and now it will go of itself.
The Affair of Herstal, or of the Bishop of Liege; Friedrich's first
appearance on the stage of politics. Concerning which some very brief
notice, if intelligible, will suffice readers of the present day.

Heristal, now called Herstal, was once a Castle known to all mankind;
King Pipin's Castle, who styled himself "Pipin of Heristal," before he
became King of the Franks and begot Charlemagne. It lies on the Maas, in
that fruitful Spa Country; left bank of the Maas, a little to the north
of Liege; and probably began existence as a grander place than Liege
(LUTTICH), which was, at first, some Monastery dependent on secular
Herstal and its grandeurs:--think only how the race has gone between
these two entities; spiritual Liege now a big City, black with the
smoke of forges and steam-mills; Herstal an insignificant Village,
accidentally talked of for a few weeks in 1740, and no chance ever to be
mentioned again by men.

Herstal, in the confused vicissitudes of a thousand years, had passed
through various fortunes, and undergone change of owners often enough.
Fifty years ago it was in the hands of the Nassau-Orange House; Dutch
William, our English Protestant King, who probably scarce knew of his
possessing it, was Lord of Herstal till his death. Dutch William had no
children to inherit Herstal: he was of kinship to the Prussian House, as
readers are aware; and from that circumstance, not without a great deal
of discussion, and difficult "Division of the Orange Heritage," this
Herstal had, at the long last, fallen to Friedrich Wilhelm's share;
it and Neuchatel, and the Cobweb Palace, and some other places and

For Dutch William was of kin, we say; Friedrich I. of Prussia, by his
Mother the noble Wife of the Great Elector, was full cousin to Dutch
William: and the Marriage Contracts were express,--though the High
Mightinesses made difficulties, and the collateral Orange branches were
abundantly reluctant, when it came to the fulfilling point. For indeed
the matter was intricate. Orange itself, for example, what was to be
done with the Principality of Orange? Clearly Prussia's; but it lies
imbedded deep in the belly of France, that will be a Caesarean-Operation
for you! Had not Neuchatel happened just then to fall home to France (or
in some measure to France) and be heirless, Prussia's Heritage of Orange
would have done little for Prussia! Principality of Orange was, by
this chance, long since, mainly in the First King's time, got settled:
[Neuchatel, 3d November, 1707, to Friedrich I., natives preferring him
to "Fifteen other Claimants;" Louis XIV. loudly protesting: not till
Treaty of Utrecht (14th March 1713, first month of Friedrich Wilhelm's
reign) would Louis XIV., on cession of Orange, consent and sanction.]
but there needed many years more of good waiting, and of good pushing,
on Friedrich Wilhelm's part; and it was not till 1732 that Friedrich
Wilhelm got the Dutch Heritages finally brought to the square: Neuchatel
and Valengin, as aforesaid, in lieu of Orange; and now furthermore,
the Old Palace at Loo (that VIEILLE COUR and biggest cobwebs), with
pertinents, with Garden of Honslardik; and a string of items, bigger and
less, not worth enumerating. Of the items, this Herstal was one;--and
truly, so far as this went, Friedrich Wilhelm often thought he had
better never have seen it, so much trouble did it bring him.


The Herstal people, knowing the Prussian recruiting system and other
rigors, were extremely unwilling to come under Friedrich Wilhelm's sway,
could they have helped it. They refused fealty, swore they never would
swear: nor did they, till the appearance, or indubitable foreshine, of
Friedrich Wilhelm's bayonets advancing on them from the East, brought
compliance. And always after, spite of such quasi-fealty, they showed
a pig-like obstinacy of humor; a certain insignificant, and as it were
impertinent, deep-rooted desire to thwart, irritate and contradict the
said Friedrich Wilhelm. Especially in any recruiting matter that might
arise, knowing that to be the weak side of his Prussian Majesty.
All this would have amounted to nothing, had it not been that their
neighbor, the Prince Bishop of Liege, who imagined himself to have some
obscure claims of sovereignty over Herstal, and thought the present a
good opportunity for asserting these, was diligent to aid and abet the
Herstal people in such their mutinous acts. Obscure claims; of which
this is the summary, should the reader not prefer to skip it:--

"The Bishop of Liege's claims on Herstal (which lie wrapt from mankind
in the extensive jungle of his law-pleadings, like a Bedlam happily
fallen extinct) seem to me to have grown mainly from two facts more or
less radical.

"FACT FIRST. In Kaiser Barbarossa's time, year 1171, Herstal had
been given in pawn to the Church of Liege, for a loan, by the then
proprietor, Duke of Lorraine and Brabant. Loan was repaid, I do not
learn when, and the Pawn given back; to the satisfaction of said Duke,
or Duke's Heirs; never quite to the satisfaction of the Church, which
had been in possession, and was loath to quit, after hoping to continue.
'Give us back Herstal; it ought to be ours!' Unappeasable sigh or
grumble to this effect is heard thenceforth, at intervals, in the
Chapter of Liege, and has not ceased in Friedrich's time. But as the
world, in its loud thoroughfares, seldom or never heard, or could hear,
such sighing in the Chapter, nothing had come of it,--till--

"FACT SECOND. In Kaiser Karl V.'s time, the Prince Bishop of Liege
happened to be a Natural Son of old Kaiser Max's;--and had friends at
headquarters, of a very choice nature. Had, namely, in this sort, Kaiser
Karl for Nephew or Half-Nephew; and what perhaps was still better, as
nearer hand, had Karl's Aunt, Maria Queen of Hungary, then Governess of
the Netherlands, for Half-Sister. Liege, in these choice circumstances,
and by other good chances that turned up, again got temporary clutch
or half-clutch of Herstal, for a couple of years (date 1546-1548, the
Prince of Orange, real proprietor, whose Ancestor had bought it for
money down, being then a minor); once, and perhaps a second time in like
circumstance; but had always to renounce it again, when the Prince of
Orange came to maturity. And ever since, the Chapter of Liege sighs as
before, 'Herstal is perhaps in a sense ours. We had once some kind of
right to it!'--sigh inaudible in the loud public thoroughfares. That is
the Bishop's claim. The name of him, if anybody care for it, is 'Georg
Ludwig, titular COUNT OF BERG,' now a very old man: Bishop of Liege, he,
and has been snatching at Herstal again, very eagerly by any skirt or
tagrag that might happen to fly loose, these eight years past, in a
rash and provoking manner; [_Delices du Pais de Liege_ (Liege, 1738);
_Helden-Geschichte,_ ii. 57-62.]--age eighty-two at present; poor old
fool, he had better have sat quiet. There lies a rod in pickle for him,
during these late months; and will be surprisingly laid on, were the
time come!"

"I have Law Authority over Herstal, and power of judging there in the
last appeal," said this Bishop:--"You!" thought Friedrich Wilhelm, who
was far off, and had little time to waste.--"Any Prussian recruiter that
behaves ill, bring him to me!" said the Bishop, who was on the spot.
And accordingly it had been done; one notable instance two years ago:
a Prussian Lieutenant locked in the Liege jail, on complaint of riotous
Herstal; thereupon a Prussian Officer of rank (Colonel Kreutzen, worthy
old Malplaquet gentleman) coming as Royal Messenger, not admitted to
audience, nay laid hold of by the Liege bailiff instead; and other
unheard-of procedures. [_Helden-Geschichte,_ ii. 63-73.] So that
Friedrich Wilhelm had nothing but trouble with this petty Herstal, and
must have thought his neighbor Bishop a very contentious high-flying
gentleman, who took great liberties with the Lion's whiskers, when he
had the big animal at an advantage.

The episcopal procedures, eight years ago, about the First Homaging of
Herstal, had been of similar complexion; nor had other such failed in
the interim, though this last outrage exceeded them all. This last began
in the end of 1738; and span itself out through 1739, when Friedrich
Wilhelm lay in his final sickness, less able to deal with it than
formerly. Being a peaceable man, unwilling to awaken conflagrations for
a small matter, Friedrich Wilhelm had offered, through Kreutzen on
this occasion, to part with Herstal altogether; to sell it, for 100,000
thalers, say 16,000 pounds, to the high-flying Bishop, and honestly wash
his hands of it. But the high-flying Bishop did not consent, gave no
definite answer; and so the matter lay,--like an unsettled extremely
irritating paltry little matter,--at the time Friedrich Wilhelm died.

The Gazetteers and public knew little about these particulars, or had
forgotten them again; but at the Prussian Court they were in lively
remembrance. What the young Friedrich's opinion about them had been we
gather from this succinct notice of the thing, written seven or eight
years afterwards, exact in all points, and still carrying a breath of
the old humor in it. "A miserable Bishop of Liege thought it a proud
thing to insult the late King. Some subjects of Herstal, which belongs
to Prussia, had revolted; the Bishop gave them his protection. Colonel
Kreutzen was sent to Liege, to compose the thing by treaty; credentials
with him, full power, and all in order. Imagine it, the Bishop would not
receive him! Three days, day after day, he saw this Envoy apply at his
Palace, and always denied him entrance. These things had grown past
endurance." [Preuss, _OEuvres (Memoires de Brandebourg)_, end ii. 53.]
And Friedrich had taken note of Herstal along with him, on this Cleve
Journey; privately intending to put Herstal and the high-flying Bishop
on a suitabler footing, before his return from those countries.

For indeed, on Friedrich's Accession, matters had grown worse, not
better. Of course there was Fealty to be sworn; but the Herstal people,
abetted by the high-flying Bishop, have declined swearing it. Apology
for the past, prospect of amendment for the future, there is less than
ever. What is the young King to do with this paltry little Hamlet
of Herstal? He could, in theory, go into some Reichs-Hofrath,
some Reichs-Kammergericht (kind of treble and tenfold English
Court-of-Chancery, which has lawsuits 250 years old),--if he were
a theoretic German King. He can plead in the Diets, and the Wetzlar
Reichs-Kammergericht without end: "All German Sovereigns have power
to send their Ambassador thither, who is like a mastiff chained in the
back-yard [observes Friedrich elsewhere] with privilege of barking at
the Moon,"--unrestricted privilege of barking at the Moon, if that will
avail a practical man, or King's Ambassador. Or perhaps the Bishop of
Liege will bethink him, at last, what considerable liberty he is taking
with some people's whiskers? Four months are gone; Bishop of Liege has
not in the least bethought him: we are in the neighborhood in person,
with note of the thing in our memory.


Accordingly the Rath Rambonet, whom Voltaire found at Moyland that
Sunday night, had been over at Liege; went exactly a week before; with
this message of very peremptory tenor from his Majesty:--


"WESEL, 4th September, 1740.

"MY COUSIN,--Knowing all the assaults (ATTEINTES) made by you upon
my indisputable rights over my free Barony of Herstal; and how
the seditious ringleaders there, for several years past, have been
countenanced (BESTARKET) by you in their detestable acts of disobedience
against me,--I have commanded my Privy Councillor Rambonet to repair to
your presence, and in my name to require from you, within two days, a
distinct and categorical answer to this question: Whether you are still
minded to assert your pretended sovereignty over Herstal; and whether
you will protect the rebels at Herstal, in their disorders and
abominable disobedience?

"In case you refuse, or delay beyond the term, the Answer which I hereby
of right demand, you will render yourself alone responsible, before the
world, for the consequences which infallibly will follow. I am, with
much consideration,--My Cousin,--

"Your very affectionate Cousin,

"FRIEDRICH." [_Helden-Geschichte,_ ii. 75, 111.]

Rambonet had started straightway for Liege, with this missive; and had
duly presented it there, I guess on the 7th,--with notice that he would
wait forty-eight hours, and then return with what answer or no-answer
there might be. Getting no written answer, or distinct verbal one;
getting only some vague mumblement as good as none, Rambonet had
disappeared from Liege on the 9th; and was home at Moyland when Voltaire
arrived that Sunday evening,--just walking about to come to heat again,
after reporting progress to the above effect.

Rambonet, I judge, enjoyed only one of those divine Suppers at Moyland;
and dashed off again, "on hired hack" or otherwise, the very next
morning; that contingency of No-answer having been the anticipated one,
and all things put in perfect readiness for it. Rambonet's new errand
was to "take act," as Voltaire calls it, "at the Gates of Liege,"--to
deliver at Liege a succinct Manifesto, Pair of Manifestoes, both in
Print (ready beforehand), and bearing date that same Sunday, "Wesel,
11th September;" much calculated to amaze his Reverence at Liege.
Succinct good Manifestoes, said to be of Friedrich's own writing; the
essential of the two is this:--

_Exposition of the Reasons which have induced his Majesty the King of
Prussia to make just Reprisals on the Prince Bishop of Liege._

"His Majesty the King of Prussia, being driven beyond bounds by the rude
proceedings of the Prince Bishop of Liege, has with regret seen himself
forced to recur to the Method of Arms, in order to repress the violence
and affront which the Bishop has attempted to put upon him. This
resolution has cost his Majesty much pain; the rather as he is, by
principle and disposition, far remote from whatever could have the least
relation to rigor and severity.

"But seeing himself compelled by the Bishop of Liege to take new
methods, he had no other course but to maintain the justice of his
rights (LA JUSTICE DE SES DROITS), and demand reparation for the
indignity done upon his Minister Von Kreuzen, as well as for the
contempt with which the Bishop of Liege has neglected even to answer the
Letter of the King.

"As too much rigor borders upon cruelty, so too much patience resembles
weakness. Thus, although the King would willingly have sacrificed his
interests to the public peace and tranquillity, it was not possible to
do so in reference to his honor; and that is the chief motive which has
determined him to this resolution, so contrary to his intentions.

"In vain has it been attempted, by methods of mildness, to come to a
friendly agreement: it has been found, on the contrary, that the King's
moderation only increased the Prince's arrogance; that mildness of
conduct on one side only furnished resources to pride on the other; and
that, in fine, instead of gaining by soft procedure, one was insensibly
becoming an object of vexation and disdain.

"There being no means to have justice but in doing it for oneself, and
the King being Sovereign enough for such a duty,--he intends to make
the Prince of Liege feel how far he was in the wrong to abuse such
moderation so unworthily. But in spite of so much unhandsome behavior on
the part of this Prince, the King will not be inflexible; satisfied with
having shown the said Prince that he can punish him, and too just
to overwhelm him. FREDERIC. "WESEL, September 11th, 1740."
[_Helden-Geschichte,_ ii. 77. Said to be by Friedrich himself (Stenzel,
iv. 59).]

Whether Rambonet insinuated his Paper-Packet into the Palace of Seraing,
left it at the Gate of Liege (fixed by nail, if he saw good), or in what
manner he "took act," I never knew; and indeed Rambonet vanishes
from human History at this point: it is certain only that he did his
Formality, say two days hence;--and that the Fact foreshadowed by it is
likewise in the same hours, hour after hour, getting steadily done.

For the Manifestoes printed beforehand, dated Wesel, 11th September,
were not the only thing ready at Wesel; waiting, as on the slip, for the
contingency of No-answer. Major-General Borck, with the due Battalions,
squadrons and equipments, was also ready. Major-General Borck, the same
who was with us at Baireuth lately, had just returned from that journey,
when he got orders to collect 2,000 men, horse and foot, with the due
proportion of artillery, from the Prussian Garrisons in these parts;
and to be ready for marching with them, the instant the contingency of
No-answer arrives,--Sunday, 11th, as can be foreseen. Borck knows his
route: To Maaseyk, a respectable Town of the Bishop's, the handiest for
Wesel; to occupy Maaseyk and the adjoining "Counties of Lotz and Horn;"
and lie there at the Bishop's charge till his Reverence's mind alter.

Borck is ready, to the last pontoon, the last munition-loaf; and no
sooner is signal given of the No-answer come, than Borck, that same
"Sunday, 11th," gets under way; marches, steady as clock-work, towards
Maaseyk (fifty miles southwest of him, distance now lessening every
hour); crosses the Maas, by help of his pontoons; is now in the Bishop's
Territory, and enters Maaseyk, evening of "Wednesday, 14th,"--that
very day Voltaire and his Majesty had parted, going different ways from
Moyland; and probably about the same hour while Rambonet was "taking act
at the Gate of Liege," by nail-hammer or otherwise. All goes punctual,
swift, cog hitting pinion far and near, in this small Herstal Business;
and there is no mistake made, and a minimum of time spent.

Borck's management was throughout good: punctual, quietly exact, polite,
mildly inflexible. Fain would the Maaseyk Town-Baths have shut their
gates on him; desperately conjuring him, "Respite for a few hours, till
we send to Liege for instructions!" But it was to no purpose. "Unbolt,
IHR HERREN; swift, or the petard will have to do it!" Borck publishes
his Proclamation, a mild-spoken rigorous Piece; signifies to the Maaseyk
Authorities, That he has to exact a Contribution of 20,000 thalers
(3,000 pounds) here, Contribution payable in three days; that he
furthermore, while he continues in these parts, will need such and such
rations, accommodations, allowances,--"fifty LOUIS (say guineas) daily
for his own private expenses," one item;--and, in mild rhadamanthine
language, waves aside all remonstrance, refusal or delay, as superfluous
considerations: Unless said Contribution and required supplies come in,
it will be his painful duty to bring them in. [_Helden-Geschichte,_ i.
427; ii. 113.]

The high-flying Bishop, much astonished, does now eagerly answer his
Prussian Majesty, "Was from home, was ill, thought he had answered; is
the most ill-used of Bishops;" and other things of a hysteric character.
[Ib. ii. 85, 86 (date, 16th September).] And there came forth, as
natural to the situation, multitudinous complainings, manifestoings,
applications to the Kaiser, to the French, to the Dutch, of a very
shrieky character on the Bishop of Liege's part; sparingly, if at all
noticed on Friedrich's: the whole of which we shall consider ourselves
free to leave undisturbed in the rubbish-abysses, as henceforth
conceivable to the reader. "SED SPEM STUPENDE FEFELLIT EVENTUS," shrieks
the poor old Bishop, making moan to the Kaiser: "ECCE ENIM, PRAEMISSA
DUNTAXAT UNA LITERA, one Letter," and little more, "the said King of
Borussia has, with about 2,000 horse and foot, and warlike engines,
in this month of September, entered the Territory of Liege;"
[_Helden-Geschichte,_ ii. 88.] which is an undeniable truth, but an
unavailing. Borck is there, and "2,000 good arguments with him,"
as Voltaire defines the phenomenon. Friedrich, except to explain
pertinently what my readers already know, does not write or speak
farther on the subject; and readers and he may consider the Herstal
Affair, thus set agoing under Borck's auspices, as in effect finished;
and that his Majesty has left it on a satisfactory footing, and may
safely turn his back on it, to wait the sure issue at Berlin before


Voltaire told us he himself "did one Manifesto, good or bad," on this
Herstal business:--where is that Piece, then, what has become of it?
Dig well in the realms of Chaos, rectifying stupidities more or less
enormous, the Piece itself is still discoverable; and, were pieces by
Voltaire much a rarity instead of the reverse, might be resuscitated
by a good Editor, and printed in his WORKS. Lies buried in the lonesome
rubbish-mountains of that _Helden-Geschichte,_--let a SISTE VIATOR,
scratched on the surface, mark where. [Ib. ii. 98-98.] Apparently that
is the Piece by Voltaire? Yes, on reading that, it has every internal
evidence; distinguishes itself from the surrounding pieces, like a slab
of compact polished stone, in a floor rammed together out of ruinous old
bricks, broken bottles and mortar-dust;--agrees, too, if you examine
by the microscope, with the external indications, which are sure and
at last clear, though infinitesimally small; and is beyond doubt
Voltaire's, if it were now good for much.

It is not properly a Manifesto, but an anonymous memoir published in the
Newspapers, explaining to impartial mankind, in a legible brief manner,
what the old and recent History of Herstal, and the Troubles of Herstal,
have been, and how chimerical and "null to the extreme of nullity
(NULLES DE TOUT NULLITE)" this poor Bishop's pretensions upon it are.
Voltaire expressly piques himself on this Piece; [Letter to Friedrich:
dateless, datable "soon after 17th September;" which the rash dark
Editors have by guess misdated "August; "or, what was safer for them,
omitted it altogether. _OEuvres de Voltaire_ (Paris, 1818, 40 vols.)
gives the Letter, xxxix. 442 (see also ibid. 453, 463); later Editors,
and even Preuss, take the safer course.] brags also how he settled "M.
de Fenelon [French Ambassador at the Hague], who came to me the day
before yesterday," much out of square upon the Herstal Business, till
I pulled him straight. And it is evident (beautifully so, your Majesty)
how Voltaire busied himself in the Gazettes and Diplomatic circles,
setting Friedrich's case right; Voltaire very loyal to Friedrich and
his Liege Cause at that time;--and the contrast between what his
contemporary Letters say on the subject, and what his ulterior Pasquil
called VIE PRIVEE says, is again great.

The dull stagnant world, shaken awake by this Liege adventure, gives
voice variously; and in the Gazetteer and Diplomatic circles it is much
criticised, by no means everywhere in the favorable tone at this first
blush of the business. "He had written an ANTI-Machiavel," says the Abbe
St. Pierre, and even says Voltaire (in the PASQUIL, not the contemporary
LETTERS), "and he acts thus!" Truly he does, Monsieur de Voltaire; and
all men, with light upon the subject, or even with the reverse upon it,
must make their criticisms. For the rest, Borck's "2,000 arguments" are
there; which Borck handles well, with polite calm rigor: by degrees the
dust will fall, and facts everywhere be seen for what they are.

As to the high-flying Bishop, finding that hysterics are but wasted on
Friedrich and Borck, and produce no effect with their 2,000 validities,
he flies next to the Kaiser, to the Imperial Diet, in shrill-sounding
Latin obtestations, of which we already gave a flying snatch: "Your
HUMILISSIMUS and FIDELISSIMUS VASSALLUS, and most obsequient Servant,
Georgius Ludovicus; meek, modest, and unspeakably in the right: Was ever
Member of the Holy Roman Empire so snubbed, and grasped by the windpipe,
before? Oh, help him, great Kaiser, bid the iron gripe loosen itself!"
[_Helden-Geschichte,_ ii, 86-116.] The Kaiser does so, in heavy
Latin rescripts, in German DEHORTATORIUMS more than one, of a sulky,
imperative, and indeed very lofty tenor; "Let Georgius Ludovicus go,
foolish rash young Dilection (LIEBDEN, not MAJESTY, we ourselves being
the only Majesty), and I will judge between you; otherwise--!" said the
Kaiser, ponderously shaking his Olympian wig, and lifting his gilt cane,
or sceptre of mankind, in an Olympian manner. Here are some touches of
his second sublimest DEHORTATORIUM addressed to Friedrich, in a very
compressed state: [_Helden-Geschichte,_ ii. 127; a FIRST and milder
(ibid. 73).]--

We Karl the Sixth, Kaiser of (TITLES ENOUGH),... "Considering these, in
the Holy Roman Reich, almost unheard-of violent Doings (THATLICHKEITEN),
which We, in Our Supreme-Judge Office, cannot altogether justify, nor
will endure... We have the trust that you yourself will magnanimously
see How evil counsellors have misled your Dilection to commence your
Reign, not by showing example of Obedience to the Laws appointed for all
members of the Reich, for the weak and for the strong alike, but by such
Doings (THATHANDLUNGEN) as in all quarters must cause a great surprise.

"We give your Dilection to know, therefore, That you must straightway
withdraw those troops which have broken into the Liege Territory; make
speedy restitution of all that has been extorted;--especially General
von Borck to give back at once those 50 louis d'or daily drawn by him,
to renounce his demand of the 20,000 thalers, to make good all damage
done, and retire with his whole military force (MILITZ) over the Liege
boundaries;--and in brief, that you will, by law or arbitration, manage
to agree with the Prince Bishop of Liege, who wishes it very much. These
things We expect from your Dilection, as Kurfurst of Brandenburg, within
the space of Two Months from the Issuing of this; and remain,"--Yours as
you shall demean yourself,--KARL.

"Given at Wien, 4th of October, 1740."--The last Dehortatorium ever
signed by Karl VI. In two weeks after he ate too many mushrooms,--and
immense results followed!

Dehortatoriums had their interest, at Berlin and elsewhere, for the
Diplomatic circles; but did not produce the least effect on Borck or
Friedrich; though Friedrich noted the Kaiser's manner in these things,
and thought privately to himself, as was evident to the discerning,
"What an amount of wig on that old gentleman!" A notable Kaiser's
Ambassador, Herr Botta, who had come with some Accession compliments,
in these weeks, was treated slightingly by Friedrich; hardly admitted
to Audience; and Friedrich's public reply to the last Dehortatorium had
almost something of sarcasm in it: Evil counsellors yourself, Most Dread
Kaiser! It is you that are "misled by counsellors, who might chance to
set Germany on fire, were others as unwise as they!" Which latter phrase
was remarkable to mankind.--There is a long account already run up
between that old gentleman, with his Seckendorfs, Grumkows, with his
dull insolencies, wiggeries, and this young gentleman, who has nearly
had his heart broken and his Father's house driven mad by them! Borck
remains at his post; rations duly delivered, and fifty louis a day for
his own private expenses; and there is no answer to the Kaiser, or in
sharp brief terms (about "chances of setting Germany on fire"), rather
worse than none.

Readers see, as well as Friedrich did, what the upshot of this affair
must be;--we will now finish it off, and wash our hands of it, before
following his Majesty to Berlin. The poor Bishop had applied, shrieking,
to the French for help;--and there came some colloquial passages between
Voltaire and Fenelon, if that were a result. He had shrieked in like
manner to the Dutch, but without result of any kind traceable in that
quarter: nowhere, except from the Kaiser, is so much as a DEHORTATORIUM
to be got. Whereupon the once high-flying, now vainly shrieking Bishop
discerns clearly that there is but one course left,--the course which
has lain wide open for some years past, had not his flight gone too high
for seeing it. Before three weeks are over, seeing how Dehortatoriums
go, he sends his Ambassadors to Berlin, his apologies, proposals:
[Ambassadors arrived 28th September; last Dehortatorium not yet out.
Business was completed 20th October (Rodenbeck, IN DIEBUS).] "Would not
your Majesty perhaps consent to sell this Herstal, as your Father of
glorious memory was pleased to be willing once?"--

Friedrich answers straightway to the effect: "Certainly! Pay me the
price it was once already offered for: 100,000 thalers, PLUS the
expenses since incurred. That will be 180,000 thalers, besides what you
have spent already on General Borck's days' wages. To which we will add
that wretched little fraction of Old Debt, clear as noon, but never paid
nor any part of it; 60,000 thalers, due by the See of Liege ever since
the Treaty of Utrecht; 60,000, for which we will charge no interest:
that will make 240,000 thalers,--36,000 pounds, instead of the old sum
you might have had it at. Produce that cash; and take Herstal, and all
the dust that has risen out of it, well home with you." [Stenzel, iv.
60, who counts in gulden, and is not distinct.] The Bishop thankfully
complies in all points; negotiation speedily done ("20th Oct." the final
date): Bishop has not, I think, quite so much cash on hand; but will pay
all he has, and 4 per centum interest till the whole be liquidated. His
Ambassadors "get gold snuffboxes;" and return mildly glad!

And thus, in some six weeks after Borck's arrival in those parts,
Borck's function is well done. The noise of Gazettes and Diplomatic
circles lays itself again; and Herstal, famous once for King Pipin, and
famous again for King Friedrich, lapses at length into obscurity, which
we hope will never end. Hope;--though who can say? ROUCOUX, quite close
upon it, becomes a Battle-ground in some few years; and memorabilities
go much at random in this world!


Friedrich spent ten days on his circuitous journey home; considerable
inspection to be done, in Minden, Magdeburg, not to speak of other
businesses he had. The old Newspapers are still more intent upon him,
now that the Herstal Affair has broken into flame: especially the
English Newspapers; who guess that there are passages of courtship going
on between great George their King and him. Here is one fact, correct in
every point, for the old London Public: "Letters from Hanover say, that
the King of Prussia passed within a small distance of that City the
16th inst. N.S., on his return to Berlin, but did not stop at
Herrenhausen;"--about which there has been such hoping and speculating
among us lately. [_Daily Post,_ 22d September, 1740; other London
Newspapers from July 31st downwards.] A fact which the extinct Editor
seems to meditate for a day or two; after which he says (partly in
ITALICS), opening his lips the second time, like a Friar Bacon's Head
significant to the Public: "Letters from Hanover tell us that the
Interview, which it was said his Majesty was to have with the King of
Prussia, did not take place, for certain PRIVATE REASONS, which our
Correspondent leaves us to guess at!"

It is well known Friedrich did not love his little Uncle, then or
thenceforth; still less his little Uncle him: "What is this Prussia,
rising alongside of us, higher and higher, as if it would reach our own
sublime level!" thinks the little Uncle to himself. At present there is
no quarrel between them; on the contrary, as we have seen, there is a
mutual capability of helping one another, which both recognize; but
will an interview tend to forward that useful result? Friedrich, in
the intervals of an ague, with Herstal just broken out, may have wisely
decided, No. "Our sublime little Uncle, of the waxy complexion, with the
proudly staring fish-eyes,--no wit in him, not much sense, and a great
deal of pride,--stands dreadfully erect, 'plumb and more,' with the
Garter-leg advanced, when one goes to see him; and his remarks are
not of an entertaining nature. Leave him standing there: to him let
Truchsess and Bielfeld suffice, in these hurries, in this ague that is
still upon us." Upon which the dull old Newspapers, Owls of Minerva
that then were, endeavor to draw inferences. The noticeable fact is,
Friedrich did, on this occasion, pass within a mile or two of his
royal Uncle, without seeing him; and had not, through life, another
opportunity; never saw the sublime little man at all, nor was again so
near him.

I believe Friedrich little knows the thick-coming difficulties of
his Britannic Majesty at this juncture; and is too impatient of these
laggard procedures on the part of a man with eyes A FLEUR-DE-TETE.
Modern readers too have forgotten Jenkins's Ear; it is not till
after long study and survey that one begins to perceive the anomalous
profundities of that phenomenon to the poor English Nation and its poor
George II.

The English sent off, last year, a scanty Expedition, "six ships of the
line," only six, under Vernon, a fiery Admiral, a little given to be
fiery in Parliamentary talk withal; and these did proceed to Porto-Bello
on the Spanish Main of South America; did hurl out on Porto-Bello such
a fiery destructive deluge, of gunnery and bayonet-work, as quickly
reduced the poor place to the verge of ruin, and forced it to surrender
with whatever navy, garrison, goods and resources were in it, to the
discretion of fiery Vernon,--who does not prove implacable, he or his,
to a petitioning enemy. Yes, humble the insolent, but then be merciful
to them, say the admiring Gazetteers. "The actual monster," how cheering
to think, "who tore off Mr. Jenkins's Ear, was got hold of [actual
monster, or even three or four different monsters who each did it, the
"hold got" being mythical, as readers see], and naturally thought he
would be slit to ribbons; but our people magnanimously pardoned him,
magnanimously flung him aside out of sight;" [_Gentleman's Magazine,_ x.
124, 145 (date of the Event is 3d December N.S., 1739).] impossible to
shoot a dog in cold blood.

Whereupon Vernon returned home triumphant; and there burst forth such a
jubilation, over the day of small things, as is now astonishing to
think of. Had the Termagant's own Thalamus and Treasury been bombarded
suddenly one night by red-hot balls, Madrid City laid in ashes, or Baby
Carlos's Apanage extinguished from Creation, there could hardly have
been greater English joy (witness the "Porto-Bellos" they still have,
new Towns so named); so flamy is the murky element growing on that
head. And indeed had the cipher of tar-barrels burnt, and of ale-barrels
drunk, and the general account of wick and tallow spent in illuminations
and in aldermanic exertions on the matter, been accurately taken, one
doubts if Porto-Bello sold, without shot fired, to the highest bidder,
at its floweriest, would have covered such a sum. For they are a
singular Nation, if stirred up from their stagnancy; and are much in
earnest about this Spanish War.

It is said there is now another far grander Expedition on the stocks:
military this time as well as naval, intended for the Spanish Main;--but
of that, for the present, we will defer speaking. Enough, the Spanish
War is a most serious and most furious business to those old English;
and, to us, after forced study of it, shines out like far-off
conflagration, with a certain lurid significance in the then night of
things. Night otherwise fallen dark and somniferous to modern mankind.
As Britannic Majesty and his Walpoles have, from the first, been dead
against this Spanish War, the problem is all the more ominous, and the
dreadful corollaries that may hang by it the more distressing to the
royal mind.

For example, there is known, or as good as known, to be virtually some
Family Compact, or covenanted Brotherhood of Bourbonism, French and
Spanish: political people quake to ask themselves, "How will the French
keep out of this War, if it continue any length of time? And in that
case, how will Austria, Europe at large? Jenkins's Ear will have kindled
the Universe, not the Spanish Main only, and we shall be at a fine
pass!" The Britannic Majesty reflects that if France take to fighting
him, the first stab given will probably be in the accessiblest quarter
and the intensely most sensitive,--our own Electoral Dominions where
no Parliament plagues us, our dear native country, Hanover. Extremely
interesting to know what Friedrich of Prussia will do in such

Well, truly it might have been King George's best bargain to close
with Friedrich; to guarantee Julich and Berg, and get Fredrich to stand
between the French and Hanover; while George, with an England behind
him, in such humor, went wholly into that Spanish Business, the one
thing needful to them at present. Truly; but then again, there are
considerations: "What is this Friedrich, just come out upon the world?
What real fighting power has he, after all that ridiculous drilling and
recruiting Friedrich Wilhelm made? Will he be faithful in bargain; is
not, perhaps, from of old, his bias always toward France rather? And
the Kaiser, what will the Kaiser say to it?" These are questions for
a Britannic Majesty! Seldom was seen such an insoluble imbroglio of
potentialities; dangerous to touch, dangerous to leave lying;--and his
Britannic Majesty's procedures upon it are of a very slow intricate
sort; and will grow still more so, year after year, in the new
intricacies that are coming, and be a weariness to my readers and me.
For observe the simultaneous fact. All this while, Robinson at Vienna
is dunning the Imperial Majesty to remember old Marlborough days and the
Laws of Nature; and declare for us against France, in case of the
worst. What an attempt! Imperial Majesty has no money; Imperial Majesty
remembers recent days rather, and his own last quarrel with France
(on the Polish-Election score), in which you Sea-Powers cruelly stood
neuter! One comfort, and pretty much one only, is left to a nearly
bankrupt Imperial heart; that France does at any rate ratify Pragmatic
Sanction, and instead of enemy to that inestimable Document has become
friend,--if only she be well let alone. "Let well alone," says the sad
Kaiser, bankrupt of heart as well as purse: "I have saved the Pragmatic,
got Fleury to guarantee it; I will hunt wild swine and not shadows
any more: ask me not!" And now this Herstal business; the Imperial
Dehortatoriums, perhaps of a high nature, that are like to come? More
hopeless proposition the Britannic Majesty never made than this to the
Kaiser. But he persists in it, orders Robinson to persist; knocks at the
Austrian door with one hand, at the Prussian or Anti-Austrian with
the other; and gazes, with those proud fish-eyes, into perils and
potentialities and a sea of troubles. Wearisome to think of, were
not one bound to it! Here, from a singular CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF
ENGLAND, not yet got into print, are two Excerpts; which I will request
the reader to try if he can take along with him, in view of much that is

1. A JUST WAR.--"This War, which posterity scoffs at as the WAR OF
JENKINS'S EAR, was, if we examine it, a quite indispensable one; the
dim much-bewildered English, driven into it by their deepest instincts,
were, in a chaotic inarticulate way, right and not wrong in taking it as
the Commandment of Heaven. For such, in a sense, it was; as shall by and
by appear. Not perhaps since the grand Reformation Controversy, under
Oliver Cromwell and Elizabeth, had there, to this poor English People
(who are essentially dumb, inarticulate, from the weight of meaning
they have, notwithstanding the palaver one hears from them in certain
epochs), been a more authentic cause of War. And, what was the fatal
and yet foolish circumstance, their Constitutional Captains, especially
their King, would never and could never regard it as such; but had to be
forced into it by the public rage, there being no other method left in
the case.

"I say, a most necessary War, though of a most stupid appearance; such
the fatality of it:--begun, carried on, ended, as if by a People in a
state of somnambulism! More confused operation never was. A solid
placid People, heavily asleep (and snoring much, shall we say,
and inarticulately grunting and struggling under indigestions,
Constitutional and other? Do but listen to the hum of those extinct
Pamphlets and Parliamentary Oratories of theirs!),--yet an honestly
intending People; and keenly alive to any commandment from Heaven, that
could pierce through the thick skin of them into their big obstinate
heart. Such a commandment, then and there, was that monition about
Jenkins's Ear. Upon which, so pungent was it to them, they started
violently out of bed, into painful sleep-walking; and went, for twenty
years and more, clambering and sprawling about, far and wide, on the
giddy edge of precipices, over house-tops and frightful cornices and
parapets; in a dim fulfilment of the said Heaven's command. I reckon
that this War, though there were intervals, Treaties of Peace more than
one, and the War had various names,--did not end till 1763. And then, by
degrees, the poor English Nation found that (at, say, a thousand times
the necessary expense, and with imminent peril to its poor head, and all
the bones of its body) it had actually succeeded,--by dreadful exertions
in its sleep! This will be more apparent by and by; and may be a kind of
comfort to the sad English reader, drearily surveying such somnambulisms
on the part of his poor ancestors."

2. TWO DIFFICULTIES.--"There are Two grand Difficulties in this
Farce-Tragedy of a war; of which only one, and that not the worst of
the Pair, is in the least surmised by the English hitherto. Difficulty
First, which is even worse than the other, and will surprisingly
attend the English in all their Wars now coming, is: That their
fighting-apparatus, though made of excellent material, cannot
fight,--being in disorganic condition; one branch of it, especially the
'Military' one as they are pleased to call it, being as good as totally
chaotic, and this in a quiet habitual manner, this long while back.
With the Naval branch it is otherwise; which also is habitual there.
The English almost as if by nature can sail, and fight, in ships; cannot
well help doing it. Sailors innumerable are bred to them; they are
planted in the Ocean, opulent stormy Neptune clipping them in all
his moods forever: and then by nature, being a dumb, much-enduring,
much-reflecting, stout, veracious and valiant kind of People, they
shine in that way of life, which specially requires such. Without much
forethought, they have sailors innumerable, and of the best quality.
The English have among them also, strange as it may seem to the cursory
observer, a great gift of organizing; witness their Arkwrights and
others: and this gift they may often, in matters Naval more than
elsewhere, get the chance of exercising. For a Ship's Crew, or even a
Fleet, unlike a land Army, is of itself a unity, its fortunes disjoined,
dependent on its own management; and it falls, moreover, as no land army
can, to the undivided guidance of one man,--who (by hypothesis, being
English) has now and then, from of old, chanced to be an organizing man;
and who is always much interested to know and practise what has been
well organized. For you are in contact with verities, to an unexampled
degree, when you get upon the Ocean, with intent to sail on it, much
more to fight on it;--bottomless destruction raging beneath you and on
all hands of you, if you neglect, for any reason, the methods of keeping
it down, and making it float you to your aim!

"The English Navy is in tolerable order at that period. But as to the
English Army,--we may say it is, in a wrong sense, the wonder of
the world, and continues so throughout the whole of this History and
farther! Never before, among the rational sons of Adam, were Armies
sent out on such terms,--namely without a General, or with no General
understanding the least of his business. The English have a notion that
Generalship is not wanted; that War is not an Art, as playing Chess is,
as finding the Longitude, and doing the Differential Calculus are (and
a much deeper Art than any of these); that War is taught by Nature, as
eating is; that courageous soldiers, led on by a courageous Wooden Pole
with Cocked-hat on it, will do very well. In the world I have not found
opacity of platitude go deeper among any People. This is Difficulty
First, not yet suspected by an English People, capable of great opacity
on some subjects.

"Difficulty Second is, That their Ministry, whom they had to force into
this War, perhaps do not go zealously upon it. And perhaps even, in the
above circumstances, they totally want knowledge how to go upon it, were
they never so zealous; Difficulty Second might be much helped, were it
not for Difficulty First. But the administering of War is a thing
also that does not come to a man like eating.--This Second Difficulty,
suspicion that Walpole and perhaps still higher heads want zeal, gives
his Britannic Majesty infinite trouble; and"----And so, in short,
he stands there, with the Garter-leg advanced, looking loftily into a
considerable sea of troubles,--that day when Friedrich drove past him,
Friday, 16th September, 1740, and never came so near him again.

The next business for Friedrich was a Visit at Brunswick, to the
Affinities and Kindred, in passing; where also was an important
little act to be done: Betrothal of the young Prince, August Wilhelm,
Heir-Presumptive whom we saw in Strasburg, to a Princess of that
House, Louisa Amelia, younger Sister of Friedrich's own Queen. A modest
promising arrangement; which turned out well enough,--though the young
Prince, Father to the Kings that since are, was not supremely fortunate
otherwise. [Betrothal was 20th September, 1740; Marriage, 5th January,
1742 (Buchholz, i. 207).] After which, the review at Magdeburg; and home
on the 24th, there to "be busy as a Turk or as a M. Jordan,"--according
to what we read long since.


By this Herstal token, which is now blazing abroad, now and for a month
to come, it can be judged that the young King of Prussia intends to
stand on his own footing, quite peremptorily if need be; and will by
no means have himself led about in Imperial harness, as his late Father
was. So that a dull Public (Herrenhausen very specially), and Gazetteer
Owls of Minerva everywhere, may expect events. All the more indubitably,
when that spade-work comes to light in the Wesel Country. It is
privately certain (the Gazetteers not yet sure about it, till they see
the actual spades going), this new King does fully intend to assert his
rights on Berg-Julich; and will appear there with his iron ramrods, the
instant old Kur-Pfalz shall decease, let France and the Kaiser say No
to it or say Yes. There are, in fact, at a fit place, "Buderich in
the neighborhood of Wesel," certain rampart-works, beginnings as of
an Entrenched Camp, going on;--"for Review purposes merely," say the
Gazetteers, IN ITALICS. Here, it privately is Friedrich's resolution,
shall a Prussian Army, of the due strength (could be well-nigh 100,000
strong if needful), make its appearance, directly on old Kur-Pfalz's
decease, if one live to see such event. [Stenzel, iv. 61.] France and
the Kaiser will probably take good survey of that Buderich phenomenon
before meddling.

To do his work like a King, and shun no peril and no toil in the course
of what his work may be, is Friedrich's rule and intention. Nevertheless
it is clear he expects to approve himself magnanimous rather in the
Peaceable operations than in the Warlike; and his outlooks are, of all
places and pursuits, towards Reinsberg and the Fine Arts, for the time
being. His Public activity meanwhile they describe as "prodigious,"
though the ague still clings to him; such building, instituting,
managing: Opera-House, French Theatre, Palace for his Mother;--day by
day, many things to be recorded by Editor Formey, though the rule about
them here is silence except on cause.

No doubt the ague is itself privately a point of moment. Such a
vexatious paltry little thing, in this bright whirl of Activities,
Public and other, which he continues managing in spite of it; impatient
to be rid of it. But it will not go: there IT reappears always, punctual
to its "fourth day,"--like a snarling street-dog, in the high Ball-room
and Work-room. "He is drinking Pyrmont water;" has himself proposed
Quinquina, a remedy just come up, but the Doctors shook their heads; has
tried snatches of Reinsberg, too short; he intends soon to be out there
for a right spell of country, there to be "happy," and get quit of his
ague. The ague went,--and by a remedy which surprised the whole world,
as will be seen!


Monday, 17th October, came the Baireuth Visitors; Wilhelmina all in a
flutter, and tremor of joy and sorrow, to see her Brother again, her old
kindred and the altered scene of things. Poor Lady, she is perceptibly
more tremulous than usual; and her Narrative, not in dates only, but in
more memorable points, dances about at a sad rate; interior agitations
and tremulous shrill feelings shivering her this way and that, and
throwing things topsy-turvy in one's recollection. Like the magnetic
needle, shaky but steadfast (AGITEE MAI CONSTANTE). Truer nothing can
be, points forever to the Pole; but also what obliquities it makes; will
shiver aside in mad escapades, if you hold the paltriest bit of old iron
near it,--paltriest clack of gossip about this loved Brother of mine!
Brother, we will hope, silently continues to be Pole, so that the needle
always comes back again; otherwise all would go to wreck. Here, in
abridged and partly rectified form, are the phenomena witnessed:--

"We arrived at Berlin the end of October [Monday, 17th, as above said].
My younger Brothers, followed by the Princes of the Blood and by all
the Court, received us at the bottom of the stairs. I was led to my
apartment, where I found the Reigning Queen, my Sisters [Ulrique,
Amelia], and the Princesses [of the Blood, as above, Schwedt and the
rest]. I learned with much chagrin that the King was ill of tertian ague
[quartan; but that is no matter]. He sent me word that, being in his
fit, he could not see me; but that he depended on having that pleasure
to-morrow. The Queen Mother, to whom I went without delay, was in a dark
condition; rooms all hung with their lugubrious drapery; everything yet
in the depth of mourning for my Father. What a scene for me! Nature has
her rights; I can say with truth, I have almost never in my life been so
moved as on this occasion." Interview with Mamma--we can fancy it--"was
of the most touching." Wilhelmina had been absent eight years. She
scarcely knows the young ones again, all so grown;--finds change on
change: and that Time, as he always is, has been busy. That night the
Supper-Party was exclusively a Family one.

Her Brother's welcome to her on the morrow, though ardent enough, she
found deficient in sincerity, deficient in several points; as indeed a
Brother up to the neck in business, and just come out of an ague-fit,
does not appear to the best advantage. Wilhelmina noticed how ill he
looked, so lean and broken-down (MAIGRE ET DEFAIT) within the last two
months; but seems to have taken no account of it farther, in striking
her balances with Friedrich. And indeed in her Narrative of this Visit,
not, we will hope, in the Visit itself, she must have been in a high
state of magnetic deflection,--pretty nearly her maximum of such,
discoverable in those famous MEMOIRS,--such a tumult is there in her
statements, all gone to ground-and-lofty tumbling in this place; so
discrepant are the still ascertainable facts from this topsy-turvy
picture of them, sketched by her four years hence (in 1744). The truest
of magnetic needles; but so sensitive, if you bring foreign iron near

Wilhelmina was loaded with honors by an impartial Berlin Public that is
Court Public; "but, all being in mourning, the Court was not brilliant.
The Queen Mother saw little company, and was sunk in sorrow;--had not
the least influence in affairs, so jealous was the new King of his
Authority,--to the Queen Mother's surprise," says Wilhelmina. For the
rest, here is a King "becoming truly unpopular [or, we fancy so, in
our deflected state, and judging by the rumor of cliques]; a general
discontent reigning in the Country, love of his subjects pretty much
gone; people speaking of him in no measured terms [in certain cliques].
Cares nothing about those who helped him as Prince Royal, say some;
others complain of his avarice [meaning steady vigilance in outlay]
as surpassing the late King's; this one complained of his violences of
temper (EMPORTEMENS); that one of his suspicions, of his distrust, his
haughtinesses, his dissimulation" (meaning polite impenetrability
when he saw good). Several circumstances, known to Wilhelmina's own
experience, compel Wilhelmina's assent on those points. "I would
have spoken to him about them, if my Brother of Prussia [young August
Wilhelm, betrothed the other day] and the Queen Regnant had
not dissuaded me. Farther on I will give the explanation of all
this,"--never did it anywhere. "I beg those who may one day read these
MEMOIRS, to suspend their judgment on the character of this great Prince
till I have developed it." [Wilhelmina, ii. 326.] O my Princess, you
are true and bright, but you are shrill; and I admire the effect of
atmospheric electricity, not to say, of any neighboring marine-store
shop, or miserable bit of broken pan, on one of the finest magnetic
needles ever made and set trembling!

Wilhelmina is incapable of deliberate falsehood; and this her impression
or reminiscence, with all its exaggeration, is entitled to be heard in
evidence so far. From this, and from other sources, readers will assure
themselves that discontents were not wanting; that King Friedrich was
not amiable to everybody at this time,--which indeed he never grew to be
at any other time. He had to be a King; that was the trade he followed,
not the quite different one of being amiable all round. Amiability is
good, my Princess; but the question rises, "To whom?--for example,
to the young gentleman who shot himself in Lobegun?" There are young
gentlemen and old sometimes in considerable quantities, to whom, if you
were in your duty, as a King of men (or even as a "King of one man and
his affairs," if that is all your kingdom), you should have been
hateful instead of amiable! That is a stern truth; too much forgotten by
Wilhelmina and others. Again, what a deadening and killing circumstance
is it in the career of amiability, that you are bound not to be
communicative of your inner man, but perpetually and strictly the
reverse! It may be doubted if a good King can be amiable; certainly he
cannot in any but the noblest ages, and then only to a select few. I
should guess Friedrich was at no time fairly loved, not by those nearest
to him. He was rapid, decisive; of wiry compact nature; had nothing of
his Father's amplitudes, simplicities; nothing to sport with and fondle,
far from it. Tremulous sensibilities, ardent affections; these we
clearly discover in him, in extraordinary vivacity; but he wears them
under his polished panoply, and is outwardly a radiant but metallic
object to mankind. Let us carry this along with us in studying him;
and thank Wilhelmina for giving us hint of it in her oblique
way.--Wilhelmima's love for her Brother rose to quite heroic pitch in
coming years, and was at its highest when she died. That continuation
of her MEMOIRS in which she is to develop her Brother's character,
was never written: it has been sought for in modern times; and a few
insignificant pages, with evidence that there is not, and was not, any
more, are all that has turned up. [Pertz, _Ueber die Denkwurdigkeiten
der Markgrafin van Bayreuth_ (Paper read in the _Akademie der
Wissenschaften,_ Berlin, 25th April, 1850)].

Incapable of falsity prepense, we say; but the known facts, which stand
abundantly on record if you care to search them out, are merely as
follows: Friedrich, with such sincerity as there might be, did welcome
Wilhelmina on the morrow of her arrival; spoke of Reinsberg, and of air
and rest, and how pleasant it would be; rolled off next morning, having
at last gathered up his businesses, and got them well in hand, to
Reinsberg accordingly; whither Wilhelmina, with the Queen Regnant and
others of agreeable quality, followed in two days; intending a long and
pleasant spell of country out there. Which hope was tolerably fulfilled,
even for Wilhelmina, though there did come unexpected interruptions, not
of Friedrich's bringing.


Friedrich's pursuits and intended conquests, for the present, are of
peaceable and even gay nature. French Theatre, Italian Opera-House,
these are among the immediate outlooks. Voltaire, skilled in French
acting, if anybody ever were, is multifariously negotiating for a
Company of that kind,--let him be swift, be successful. [Letters of
Voltaire (PASSIM, in these months).] An Italian Opera there shall
be; the House is still to be built: Captain Knobelsdorf, who built
Reinsberg, whom we have known, is to do it. Knobelsdorf has gone
to Italy on that errand; "went by Dresden, carefully examining the
Opera-House there, and all the famed Opera-Houses on his road." Graun,
one of the best judges living, is likewise off to Italy, gathering
singers. Our Opera too shall be a successful thing, and we hope, a
speedy. Such are Friedrich's outlooks at this time.

A miscellaneous pleasant company is here; Truchsess and Bielfeld, home
from Hanover, among them; Wilhelmina is here;--Voltaire himself perhaps
coming again. Friedrich drinks his Pyrmont waters; works at his public
businesses all day, which are now well in hand, and manageable by
couriers; at evening he appears in company, and is the astonishment of
everybody; brilliant, like a new-risen sun, as if he knew of no illness,
knew of no business, but lived for amusement only. "He intends Private
Theatricals withal, and is getting ready Voltaire's MORT DE CESAR."
[Preuss, _Thronbesteigung,_ p. 415.] These were pretty days at
Reinsberg. This kind of life lasted seven or eight weeks,--in spite of
interruptions of subterranean volcanic nature, some of which were surely
considerable. Here, in the very first week, coming almost volcanically,
is one, which indeed is the sum of them all.

Tuesday forenoon, 25th October, 1740, Express arrives at Reinsberg;
direct from Vienna five days ago; finds Friedrich under eclipse, hidden
in the interior, laboring under his ague-fit: question rises, Shall
the Express be introduced, or be held back? The news he brings is huge,
unexpected, transcendent, and may agitate the sick King. Six or seven
heads go wagging on this point,--who by accident are namable, if readers
care: "Prince August Wilhelm," lately betrothed; "Graf Truchsess,"
home from Hanover; "Colonel Graf von Finkenstein," old Tutor's Son, a
familiar from boyhood upwards; "Baron Pollnitz" kind of chief Goldstick
now, or Master of the Ceremonies, not too witty, but the cause of wit;
"Jordan, Bielfeld," known to us; and lastly, "Fredersdorf," Major-domo
and Factotum, who is grown from Valet to be Purse-Keeper, confidential
Manager, and almost friend,--a notable personage in Friedrich's History.
They decide, "Better wait!"

They wait accordingly; and then, after about an hour, the trembling-fit
being over, and Fredersdorf having cautiously preluded a little, and
prepared the way, the Despatch is delivered, and the King left with his
immense piece of news. News that his Imperial Majesty Karl VI. died,
after short illness, on Thursday, the 20th last. Kaiser dead: House
of Hapsburg, and its Five Centuries of tough wrestling, and
uneasy Dominancy in this world, ended, gone to the distaff:--the
counter-wrestling Ambitions and Cupidities not dead; and nothing but
Pragmatic Sanction left between the fallen House and them! Friedrich
kept silence; showed no sign how transfixed he was to hear such tidings;
which, he foresaw, would have immeasurable consequences in the world.

One of the first was, that it cured Friedrich of his ague. It braced
him (it, and perhaps "a little quinquina which he now insisted on") into
such a tensity of spirit as drove out his ague like a mere hiccough;
quite gone in the course of next week; and we hear no more of that
importunate annoyance. He summoned Secretary Eichel, "Be ready in
so many minutes hence;" rose from his bed, dressed himself; [Preuss,
_Thronbesteigung,_ p. 416.]--and then, by Eichel's help, sent off e
 for Schwerin his chief General, and Podewils his chief Minister. A
resolution, which is rising or has risen in the Royal mind, will be
ready for communicating to these Two by the time they arrive, on the
second day hence. This done, Friedrich, I believe, joined his company in
the evening; and was as light and brilliant as if nothing had happened.


The Kaiser's death came upon the Public unexpectedly; though not quite
so upon observant persons closer at hand. He was not yet fifty-six
out; a firm-built man; had been of sound constitution, of active, not
intemperate habits: but in the last six years, there had come such
torrents of ill luck rolling down on him, he had suffered immensely, far
beyond what the world knew of; and to those near him, and anxious for
him, his strength seemed much undermined. Five years ago, in summer
1735, Robinson reported, from a sure hand: "Nothing can equal the
Emperor's agitation under these disasters [brought upon him by Fleury
and the Spaniards, as after-clap to his Polish-Election feat]. His
good Empress is terrified, many times, he will die in the course of
the night, when singly with her he gives a loose to his affliction,
confusion and despair." Sea-Powers will not help; Fleury and mere ruin
will engulf! "What augments this agitation is his distrust in every one
of his own Ministers, except perhaps Bartenstein," [Robinson to Lord
Warrington, 5th July, 1735 (in State-Paper Office).]--who is not much
of a support either, though a gnarled weighty old stick in his way
("Professor at Strasburg once"): not interesting to us here. The rest
his Imperial Majesty considers to be of sublimated blockhead type,
it appears. Prince Eugene had died lately, and with Eugene all good

And then, close following, the miseries of that Turk War, crashing
down upon a man! They say, Duke Franz, Maria Theresa's Husband, nominal
Commander in those Campaigns, with the Seckendorfs and Wallises under
him going such a road, was privately eager to have done with the
Business, on any terms, lest the Kaiser should die first, and leave it
weltering. No wonder the poor Kaiser felt broken, disgusted with the
long Shadow-Hunt of Life; and took to practical field-sports rather.
An Army that cannot fight, War-Generals good only to be locked in
Fortresses, an Exchequer that has no money; after such wagging of the
wigs, and such Privy-Councilling and such War-Councilling:--let us hunt
wild swine, and not think of it! That, thank Heaven, we still have;
that, and Pragmatic Sanction well engrossed, and generally sworn to by
mankind, after much effort!--

The outer Public of that time, and Voltaire among them more deliberately
afterwards, spoke of "mushrooms," an "indigestion of mushrooms;" and
it is probable there was something of mushrooms concerned in the event,
Another subsequent Frenchman, still more irreverent, adds to this of
the "excess of mushrooms," that the Kaiser made light of it. "When the
Doctors told him he had few hours to live, he would not believe it; and
bantered his Physicians on the sad news. 'Look me in the eyes,' said he;
'have I the air of one dying? When you see my sight growing dim, then
let the sacraments be administered, whether I order or not.'" Doctors
insisting, the Kaiser replied: "'Since you are foolish fellows, who know
neither the cause nor the state of my disorder, I command that, once
I am dead, you open my body, to know what the matter was; you can then
come and let me know!"' [_Anecdotes Germaniques_ (Paris, 1769), p.
692.]--in which also there is perhaps a glimmering of distorted truth,
though, as Monsieur mistakes even the day ("18th October," says he, not
20th), one can only accept it as rumor from the outside.

Here, by an extremely sombre domestic Gentleman of great punctuality
and great dulness, are the authentic particulars, such as it was good to
mention in Vienna circles. [(Anonymous) _Des &c. Romischen Kaisers Carl
VI. Leben und Thaten_ (Frankfurt und Leipzig, 1741), pp. 220-227.] An
extremely dull Gentleman, but to appearance an authentic; and so little
defective in reverence that he delicately expresses some astonishment at
Death's audacity this year, in killing so many Crowned Heads. "This
year 1740," says he, "though the weather throughout Europe had been
extraordinarily fine," or fine for a cold year, "had already witnessed
several Deaths of Sovereigns: Pope Clement XII., Friedrich Wilhelm of
Prussia, the Queen Dowager of Spain [Termagant's old stepmother, not
Termagant's self by a great way]. But that was not enough:
unfathomable Destiny ventured now on Imperial Heads (WAGTE SICH AUCH AN
KAISER-KRONEN): Karl VI., namely, and Russia's great, Monarchess;"--an
audacity to be remarked. Of Russia's great Monarchess (Czarina Anne,
with the big cheek) we will say nothing at present; but of Karl VI.
only,--abridging much, and studying arrangement.

"Thursday, October 13th, returning from Halbthurn, a Hunting Seat of
his," over in Hungary some fifty miles, "to the Palace Favorita at
Vienna, his Imperial Majesty felt slightly indisposed,"--indigestion of
mushrooms or whatever it was: had begun AT Halbthurn the night before,
we rather understand, and was the occasion of his leaving. "The Doctors
called it cold on the stomach, and thought it of no consequence. In
the night of Saturday, it became alarming;" inflammation, thought the
Doctors, inflammation of the liver, and used their potent appliances,
which only made the danger come and go; "and on the Tuesday, all day,
the Doctors did not doubt his Imperial Majesty was dying. ["Look me
in the eyes; pack of fools; you will have to dissect me, you will then
know:" Any truth in all that? No matter.]

"At noon of that Tuesday he took the Sacrament, the Pope's Nuncio
administering. His Majesty showed uncommonly great composure of soul,
and resignation to the Divine Will;" being indeed "certain,"--so
he expressed it to "a principal Official Person sunk in grief"
(Bartenstein, shall we guess?), who stood by him--"certain of his
cause," not afraid in contemplating that dread Judgment now near: "Look
at me! A man that is certain of his cause can enter on such a Journey
with good courage and a composed mind (MIT GUTEM UND DELASSENEM MUTH)."
To the Doctors, dubitating what the disease was, he said, "If Gazelli"
my late worthy Doctor, "were still here, you would soon know; but as it
is, you will learn it when you dissect me;"--and once asked to be shown
the Cup where his heart would lie after that operation.

"Sacrament being over," Tuesday afternoon, "he sent for his Family, to
bless them each separately. He had a long conversation with Grand Duke
Franz," titular of Lorraine, actual of Tuscany, "who had assiduously
attended him, and continued to do so, during the whole illness."
The Grand Duke's Spouse,--Maria Theresa, the noble-hearted and the
overwhelmed; who is now in an interesting state again withal; a little
Kaiserkin (Joseph II.) coming in five months; first child, a little
girl, is now two years old;--"had been obliged to take to bed three days
ago; laid up of grief and terror (VOR SCHMERZEN UND SCHRECKEN), ever
since Sunday the 16th. Nor would his Imperial Majesty permit her to
enter this death-room, on account of her condition, so important to the
world; but his Majesty, turning towards that side where her apartment
was, raised his right hand, and commanded her Husband, and the
Archduchess her younger Sister, to tell his Theresa, That he blessed her
herewith, notwithstanding her absence." Poor Kaiser, poor Theresa! "Most
distressing of all was the scene with the Kaiserin. The night before,
on getting knowledge of the sad certainty, she had fainted utterly away
(STARKE OHNMACHT), and had to be carried into the Grand Duchess's [Maria
Theresa's] room. Being summoned now with her Children, for the last
blessing, she cried as in despair, 'Do not leave me, Your Dilection,
"Her Imperial Majesty would not quit the room again, but remained to the

"Wednesday, 19th, all day, anxiety, mournful suspense;" poor weeping
Kaiserin and all the world waiting; the Inevitable visibly struggling
on. "And in the night of that day [night of 19th-20th Oct., 1740],
between one and two in the morning, Death snatched away this most
invaluable Monarch (DEN PREISWURDIGSTEN MONARCHEN) in the 66th year of
his life;" and Kaiser Karl VI., and the House of Hapsburg and its Five
tough Centuries of good and evil in this world had ended. The poor
Kaiserin "closed the eyes" that could now no more behold her; "kissed
his hands, and was carried out more dead than alive." [Anonymous, UT
SUPRA, pp. 220-227.--Adelung, _Pragmatische Staatsgeschichte_ (Gotha,
1762-1767), ii. 120. JOHANN CHRISTOPH Adelung; the same who did the
DICTIONARY and many other deserving Books; here is the precise Title:
_"Pragmatische Staatsgeschichte Europens,"_ that is, "Documentary
History of Europe, from Kaiser Karl's Death, 1740, till Peace of Paris,
1763." A solid, laborious and meritorious Work, of its kind; extremely
extensive (9 vols. 4to, some of which are double and even treble),
mostly in the undigested, sometimes in the quite uncooked or raw
condition; perhaps about a fifth part of it consists of "Documents"
proper, which are shippable. It cannot help being dull, waste, dreary,
but is everywhere intelligible (excellent Indexes too),--and offers an
unhappy reader by far the best resource attainable for survey of that
sad Period.]

A good affectionate Kaiserin, I do believe; honorable, truthful, though
unwitty of speech, and converted by Grandpapa in a peculiar manner,
For her Kaiser too, after all, I have a kind of love. Of brilliant
articulate intellect there is nothing; nor of inarticulate (as
in Friedrich Wilhelm's case) anything considerable: in fact his
Shadow-Hunting, and Duelling with the Termagant, seemed the reverse of
wise. But there was something of a high proud heart in it, too, if we
examine; and even the Pragmatic Sanction, though in practice not
worth one regiment of iron ramrods, indicates a profoundly fixed
determination, partly of loyal nature, such as the gods more or less
reward. "He had been a great builder," say the Histories; "was a great
musician, fit to lead orchestras, and had composed an Opera,"--poor
Kaiser. There came out large traits of him, in Maria Theresa again,
under an improved form, which were much admired by the world. He looks,
in his Portraits, intensely serious; a handsome man, stoically grave;
much the gentleman, much the Kaiser or Supreme Gentleman. As, in life
and fact, he was; "something solemn in him, even when he laughs," the
people used to say. A man honestly doing his very best with his poor
Kaisership, and dying of chagrin by it. "On opening the body, the
liver-region proved to be entirely deranged; in the place where the
gall-bladder should have been, a stone of the size of a pigeon's egg was
found grown into the liver, and no gall-bladder now there."

That same morning, with earliest daylight, "Thursday, 20th, six A.M.,"
Maria Theresa is proclaimed by her Heralds over Vienna: "According
to Pragmatic Sanction, Inheritress of all the," &c. &c.;--Sovereign
Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, for chief items.
"At seven her Majesty took the Oath from the Generals and Presidents
of Tribunals,--said, through her tears, 'All was to stand on the old
footing, each in his post,'"--and the other needful words. Couriers
shoot forth towards all Countries;--one express courier to Regensburg,
and the enchanted Wiggeries there, to say That a new Kaiser will be
needed; REICHS-Vicar or Vicars (Kur-Sachsen and whoever more, for
they are sometimes disagreed about it) will have to administer in the

A second courier we saw arrive at Reinsberg; he likewise may be
important. The Bavarian Minister, Karl Albert Kur-Baiern's man, shot off
his express, like the others; answer is, by return of courier, or even
earlier (for a messenger was already on the road), Make protest! "We
Kur-Baiern solemnly protest against Pragmatic Sanction, and the
assumption of such Titles by the Daughter of the late Kaiser. King of
Bohemia, and in good part even of Austria, it is not you, Madam, but
of right WE; as, by Heaven's help, it is our fixed resolution to make
good!" Protest was presented, accordingly, with all the solemnities,
without loss of a moment. To which Bartenstein and the Authorities
answered "Pooh-pooh," as if it were nothing. It is the first ripple of
an immeasurable tide or deluge in that kind, threatening to submerge
the new Majesty of Hungary;--as had been foreseen at Reinsberg; though
Bartenstein and the Authorities made light of it, answering "Pooh-pooh,"
or almost "Ha-ha," for the present.

Her Hungarian Majesty's chief Generals, Seckendorf, Wallis, Neipperg,
sit in their respective prison-wards at this time (from which she soon
liberates them): Kur-Baiern has lodged protest; at Reinsberg there will
be an important resolution ready:--and in the Austrian Treasury (which
employs 40,000 persons, big and little) there is of cash or available,
resource, 100,000 florins, that is to say, 10,000 pounds net. [Mailath,
_Geschichte des Oestreichischen Kaiserstaats_ (Hamburg, 1850), v. 8.]
And unless Pragmatic sheepskin hold tighter than some persons
expect, the affairs of Austria and of this young Archduchess are in a
threatening way.

His Britannic Majesty was on the road home, about Helvoetsluys or on
the sea for Harwich, that night the Kaiser died; of whose illness he
had heard nothing. At London, ten days after, the sudden news struck
dismally upon his Majesty and the Political Circles there: "No help,
then, from that quarter, in our Spanish War; perhaps far other than
help!"--Nay, certain Gazetteers were afraid the grand new Anti-Spanish
Expedition itself, which was now, at the long last, after such
confusions and delays, lying ready, in great strength, Naval and
Military, would be countermanded,--on Pragmatic-Sanction considerations,
and the crisis probably imminent. [London Newspapers (31st Oct.-6th
Nov., 1740)]. But it was not countermanded; it sailed all the same,
"November 6th" (seventh day after the bad news); and made towards--Shall
we tell the reader, what is Officially a dead secret, though by this
time well guessed at by the Public, English and also Spanish?--towards
Carthagena, to reinforce fiery Vernon, in the tropical latitudes; and
overset Spanish America, beginning with that important Town!

Commodore Anson, he also, after long fatal delays, is off, several weeks
ago; [29th (18th) September, 1740.] round Cape Horn; hoping (or
perhaps already not hoping) to co-operate from the Other Ocean, and be
simultaneous with Vernon,--on these loose principles of keeping time!
Commodore Anson does, in effect, make a Voyage which is beautiful, and
to mankind memorable; but as to keeping tryst with Vernon, the very gods
could not do it on those terms!


Thursday, 27th October, two days after the Expresses went for them,
Schwerin and Podewils punctually arrived at Reinsberg. They were carried
into the interior privacies, "to long conferences with his Majesty that
day, and for the next four days; Majesty and they even dining privately
together;" grave business of state, none guesses how grave, evidently
going on. The resolution Friedrich laid before them, fruit of these two
days since the news from Vienna, was probably the most important ever
formed in Prussia, or in Europe during that Century: Resolution to make
good our Rights on Silesia, by this great opportunity, the best that
will ever offer. Resolution which had sprung, I find, and got to sudden
fixity in the head of the young King himself; and which met with little
save opposition from all the other sons of Adam, at the first blush and
for long afterwards. And, indeed, the making of it good (of it, and of
the immense results that hung by it) was the main business of this young
King's Life henceforth; and cost him Labors like those of Hercules, and
was in the highest degree momentous to existing and not yet existing
millions of mankind,--to the readers of this History especially.

It is almost touching to reflect how unexpectedly, like a bolt out of
the blue, all this had come upon Friedrich; and how it overset his fine
program for the winter at Reinsberg, and for his Life generally. Not
the Peaceable magnanimities, but the Warlike, are the thing appointed
Friedrich this winter, and mainly henceforth. Those "GOLDEN or soft
radiances" which we saw in him, admirable to Voltaire and to Friedrich,
and to an esurient philanthropic world,--it is not those, it is "the
STEEL-BRIGHT or stellar kind," that are to become predominant in
Friedrich's existence: grim hail-storms, thunders and tornado for
an existence to him, instead of the opulent genialities and halcyon
weather, anticipated by himself and others! Indisputably enough to us,
if not yet to Friedrich, "Reinsberg and Life to the Muses" are done.
On a sudden, from the opposite side of the horizon, see, miraculous
Opportunity, rushing hitherward,--swift, terrible, clothed with
lightning like a courser of the gods: dare you clutch HIM by the
thundermane, and fling yourself upon him, and make for the Empyrean by
that course rather? Be immediate about it, then; the time is now, or
else never!--No fair judge can blame the young man that he laid hold
of the flaming Opportunity in this manner, and obeyed the new omen. To
seize such an opportunity, and perilously mount upon it, was the part of
a young magnanimous King, less sensible to the perils, and more to the
other considerations, than one older would have been.

Schwerin and Podewils were, no doubt, astonished to learn what the Royal
purpose was; and could not want for commonplace objections many and
strong, had this been the scene for dwelling on them, or dressing them
out at eloquent length. But they knew well this was not the scene for
doing more than, with eloquent modesty, hint them; that the Resolution,
being already taken, would not alter for commonplace; and that the
question now lying for honorable members was, How to execute it? It is
on this, as I collect, that Schwerin and Podewils in the King's company
did, with extreme intensity, consult during those four days; and were,
most probably, of considerable use to the King, though some of their
modifications adopted by him turned out, not as they had predicted,
but as he. On all the Military details and outlines, and on all the
Diplomacies of this business, here are two Oracles extremely worth
consulting by the young King.

To seize Silesia is easy: a Country open on all but the south side; open
especially on our side, where a battalion of foot might force it; the
three or four fortresses, of which only two, Glogau and Neisse, can
be reckoned strong, are provided with nothing as they ought to be;
not above 3,000 fighting men in the whole Province, and these little
expecting fight. Silesia can be seized: but the maintaining of it?--We
must try to maintain it, thinks Friedrich.

At Reinsberg it is not yet known that Kur-Baiern has protested; but it
is well guessed he means to do so, and that France is at his back in
some sort. Kur-Baiern, probably Kur-Sachsen, and plenty more, France
being secretly at their back. What low condition Austria stands in, all
its ready resources run to the lees, is known; and that France, getting
lively at present with its Belleisles and adventurous spirits not
restrainable by Fleury, is always on the watch to bring Austria lower;
capable, in spite of Pragmatic Sanction, to snatch the golden moment,
and spring hunter-like on a moribund Austria, were the hunting-dogs once
out and in cry. To Friedrich it seems unlikely the Pragmatic Sanction
will be a Law of Nature to mankind, in these circumstances. His opinion
is, "the old political system has expired with the Kaiser." Here
is Europe, burning in one corner of it by Jenkins's Ear, and such a
smoulder of combustible material awakening nearer hand: will not Europe,
probably, blaze into general War; Pragmatic Sanction going to waste
sheepskin, and universal scramble ensuing? In which he who has 100,000
good soldiers, and can handle them, may be an important figure in urging
claims, and keeping what he has got hold of!--

Friedrich's mind, as to the fact, is fixed: seize Silesia we will: but
as to the manner of doing it, Schwerin and Podewils modify him. Their
counsel is: "Do not step out in hostile attitude at the very first,
saying, 'These Duchies, Liegnitz, Brieg, Wohlau, Jagerndorf, are
mine, and I will fight for them;' say only, 'Having, as is well known,
interests of various kinds in this Silesia, I venture to take charge of
it in the perilous times now come, and will keep it safe for the real
owner.' Silesia seized in this fashion," continue they, "negotiate
with the Queen of Hungary; offer her help, large help in men and
money, against her other enemies; perhaps she will consent to do us
right?"--"She never will consent," is Friedrich's opinion. "But it is
worth trying?" urge the Ministers.--"Well," answers Friedrich, "be it in
that form; that is the soft-spoken cautious form: any form will do, if
the fact be there." That is understood to have been the figure of
the deliberation in this conclave at Reinsberg, during the four days.
[Stenzel (from what sources he does not clearly say, no doubt from
sources of some authenticity) gives this as summary of it, iv. 61-65.]
And now it remains only to fix the Military details, to be ready in
a minimum of time; and to keep our preparations and intentions in
impenetrable darkness from all men, in the interim. Adieu, Messieurs.

And so, on the 1st of November, fifth morning since they came, Schwerin
and Podewils, a world of new business silently ahead of them, return to
Berlin, intent to begin the same. All the Kings will have to take their
resolution on this matter; wisely, or else unwisely. King Friedrich's,
let it prove the wisest or not, is notably the rapidest,--complete, and
fairly entering upon action, on November 1st. At London the news of
the Kaiser's death had arrived the day before; Britannic Majesty and
Ministry, thrown much into the dumps by it, much into the vague, are
nothing like so prompt with their resolution on it. Somewhat sorrowfully
in the vague. In fact, they will go jumbling hither and thither for
about three years to come, before making up their minds to a resolution:
so intricate is the affair to the English Nation and them! Intricate
indeed; and even imaginary,--definable mainly as a bottomless abyss of
nightmare dreams to the English Nation and them! Productive of strong
somnambulisms, as my friend has it!--


Podewils and Schwerin gone, King Friedrich, though still very busy in
working-hours, returns to his society and its gayeties and brilliancies;
apparently with increased appetite after these four days of abstinence.
Still busy in his working-hours, as a King must be; couriers coming and
going, hundreds of businesses despatched each day; and in the evening
what a relish for society,--Praetorius is quite astonished at it. Music,
dancing, play-acting, suppers of the gods, "not done till four in the
morning sometimes," these are the accounts Praetorius hears at Berlin.
"From all persons who return from Reinsberg," writes he, "the unanimous
report is, That the King works, the whole day through, with an assiduity
that is unique; and then, in the evening, gives himself to the pleasures
of society, with a vivacity of mirth and sprightly humor which makes
those Evening-Parties charming." [Excerpt, in Preuss, _Thronbesteigung,
_ p. 418.] So it had to last, with frequent short journeys on
Friedrich's part, and at last with change to Berlin as head-quarters,
for about seven weeks to come,--till the beginning of December, and the
day of action, namely. A notable little Interim in Friedrich's History
and that of Europe.

Friedrich's secret, till almost the very end, remained impenetrable;
though, by degrees, his movements excited much guessing in the Gazetteer
and Diplomatic world everywhere. Military matters do seem to be getting
brisk in Prussia; arsenals much astir; troops are seen mustering,
marching, plainly to a singular degree. Marching towards the Austrian
side, towards Silesia, some note. Yes; but also towards Cleve,
certain detachments of troops are marching,--do not men see? And
the Intrenchment at Buderich in those parts, that is getting forward
withal,--though privately there is not the least prospect of using it,
in these altered circumstances. Friedrich already guesses that if
he could get Silesia, so invaluable on the one skirt of him, he mill
probably have to give up his Berg-Julich claims on the other; I fancy
he is getting ready to do so, should the time come for such alternative.
But he labors at Buderich, all the same, and "improves the roads in that
quarter,"--which at least may help to keep an inquisitive public at
bay. These are seven busy weeks on Friedrich's part, and on the world's:
constant realities of preparation, on the one part, industriously
veiled; on the other part, such shadows, guessings, spyings, spectral
movements above ground and below; Diplomatic shadows fencing, Gazetteer
shadows rumoring;--dreams of a world as if near awakening to something
great! "All Officers on furlough have been ordered to their posts,"
writes Bielfeld, on those vague terms of his: "On arriving at Berlin,
you notice a great agitation in all departments of the State. The
regiments are ordered to prepare their equipages, and to hold themselves
in readiness for marching. There are magazines being formed at
Frankfurt-on-Oder and at Crossen,"--handy for Silesia, you would
say? "There are considerable trains of Artillery getting ready, and the
King has frequent conferences with his Generals." [Bielfeld, i. 165
(Berlin, 30th November, is the date he puts to it).] The authentic fact
is: "By the middle of November, Troops, to the extent of 30,000 and
more, had got orders to be ready for marching in three weeks hence;
their public motions very visible ever since, their actual purpose a
mystery to all mortals except three."

Towards the end of November, it becomes the prevailing guess that the
business is immediate, not prospective; that Silesia may be in the wind,
not Julich and Berg. Which infinitely quickens the shadowy rumorings and
Diplomatic fencings of mankind. The French have their special Ambassador
here; a Marquis de Beauvau, observant military gentleman, who came with
the Accession Compliment some time ago, and keeps his eyes well open,
but cannot see through mill-stones. Fleury is intensely desirous to know
Friedrich's secret; but would fain keep his own (if he yet have one),
and is himself quite tacit and reserved. To Fleury's Marquis de
Beauvau Friedrich is very gracious; but in regard to secrets, is for
a reciprocal procedure. Could not Voltaire go and try? It is thought
Fleury had let fall some hint to that effect, carried by a bird of the
air. Sure enough Voltaire does go; is actually on visit to his royal
Friend; "six days with him at Reinsberg;" perhaps near a fortnight in
all (20 November-2 December or so), hanging about those Berlin regions,
on the survey. Here is an unexpected pleasure to the parties;--but in
regard to penetrating of secrets, an unproductive one!

Voltaire's ostensible errand was, To report progress about the
ANTI-MACHIAVEL, the Van Duren nonsense; and, at any rate, to settle the
Money-accounts on these and other scores; and to discourse Philosophies,
for a day or two, with the First of Men. The real errand, it is pretty
clear, was as above. Voltaire has always a wistful eye towards political
employment, and would fain make himself useful in high quarters. Fleury
and he have their touches of direct Correspondence now and then; and
obliquely there are always intermediates and channels. Small hint,
the slightest twinkle of Fleury's eyelashes, would be duly speeded
to Voltaire, and set him going. We shall see him expressly missioned
hither, on similar errand, by and by; though with as bad success as at

Of this his First Visit to Berlin, his Second to Friedrich, Voltaire in
the VIE PRIVEE says nothing. But in his SIECLE DE LOUIS XV. he drops,
with proud modesty, a little foot-note upon it: "The Author was with the
King of Prussia at that time; and can affirm that Cardinal de Fleury was
totally astray in regard to the Prince he had now to do with." To
which a DATE slightly wrong is added; the rest being perfectly correct.
[_OEuvres_ (Siecle de Louis XV., c. 6), xxviii. 74.] No other details
are to be got anywhere, if they were of importance; the very dates of it
in the best Prussian Books are all slightly awry. Here, by accident,
are two poor flint-sparks caught from the dust whirlwind, which yield
a certain sufficing twilight, when put in their place; and show us both
sides of the matter, the smooth side and the seamy:--

1. FRIEDRICH TO ALGAROTTI, AT BERLIN. From "Reinsberg, 21st Nov.,"
showing the smooth side.

"MY DEAR SWAN OF PADUA,--Voltaire has arrived; all sparkling with new
beauties, and far more sociable than at Cleve. He is in very good humor;
and makes less complaining about his ailments than usual. Nothing can be
more frivolous than our occupations here:" mere verse-making, dancing,
philosophizing, then card-playing, dining, flirting; merry as birds on
the bough (and Silesia invisible, except to oneself and two others).
[_OEuvres de Frederic,_ xviii. 25.]

2. FRIEDRICH TO JORDAN, AT BERLIN. "RUPPIN, 28th November."... Thy
Miser [Voltaire, now gone to Berlin, of whom Jordan is to send news, as
of all things else], thy Miser shall drink to the lees of his insatiable
desire (SIC) to enrich himself: he shall have the 3,000 thalers (450
pounds). He was with me six days: that will be at the rate of 500
thalers (75 pounds) a day. That is paying dear for one's merry-andrew
(C'EST BIEN PAYER UN FOU); never had court-fool such wages before." [Ib.
xvii. 72. Particulars of the money-payment (travelling expenses chiefly,
rather exorbitant, and THIS journey added to the list; and no whisper of
the considerable Van-Duren moneys, and copyright of ANTI-MACHIAVEL, in
abatement) are in Rodenbeck, i. 27. Exact sum paid is 3,300 thalers;
2,000 a good while ago, 1,300 at this time, which settles the greedy

Which latter, also at first hand, shows us the seamy side. And here,
finally, with date happily appended, is a poetic snatch, in Voltaire's
exquisite style, which with the response gives us the medium view:--

VOLTAIRE'S ADIEU (_"Billet de Conge,_ 2 December, 1740").

    "Non, malgre vos vertus, non, malgre vos appas,
     Mon ame n'est point satisfaite;
     Non, vous n'etes qu'une coquette,
     Qui subjuguez les coeurs, et ne rous donnez pas."


     "Mon ame sent le prix de vos divins appas;
     Mais ne presumez point qu'elle soit satisfaite.
     Traitre, vous me quittez pour suivre une coquette;
     Moi je ne vous quitterais pas."

[_OEuvres de Frederic_ (xiv. 167); _OEuvres de Voltaire;_ &c. &c.]

--Meaning, perhaps, in brief English: V. "Ah, you are but a beautiful
coquette; you charm away our hearts, and do not give your own [won't
tell me your secret at all]!" F. "Treacherous Lothario, it is you that
quit me for a coquette [your divine Emilie; and won't stay here, and be
of my Academy]; but however--!" Friedrich looked hopingly on the French,
but could not give his secret except by degrees and with reciprocity.
Some days hence he said to Marquis de Beauvau, in the Audience of leave,
a word which was remembered.


As to Friedrich himself, since about the middle of November his plans
seem to have been definitely shaped out in all points; Troops so many,
when to be on march, and how; no important detail uncertain since then.
November 17th, he jots down a little Note, which is to go to Vienna,
were the due hour come, by a special Ambassador, one Count Gotter,
acquainted with the ground there; and explain to her Hungarian Majesty,
what his exact demands are, and what the exact services he will render.
Of which important little Paper readers shall hear again. Gotter's
demands are at first to be high: Our Four Duchies, due by law so long;
these and even more, considering the important services we propose; this
is to be his first word;--but, it appears, he is privately prepared to
put up with Two Duchies, if he can have them peaceably: Duchies of Sagan
and Glogau, which are not of the Four at all, but which lie nearest us,
and are far below the value of the Four, to Austria especially. This
intricate point Friedrich has already settled in his mind. And indeed it
is notably the habit of this young King to settle matters with himself
in good time: and in regard to all manner of points, he will be found,
on the day of bargaining about them, to have his own resolution formed
and definitely fixed;--much to his advantage over conflicting parties,
who have theirs still flying loose.

Another thing of much concernment is, To secure himself from danger
of Russian interference. To this end he despatches Major Winterfeld to
Russia, a man well known to him;--day of Winterfeld's departure is not
given; day of his arrival in Petersburg is "19th December" just coming.
Russia, at present, is rather in a staggering condition; hopeful for
Winterfeld's object. On the 28th of October last, only eight days after
the Kaiser, Czarina Anne of Russia, she with the big cheek, once of
Courland, had died; "audacious Death," as our poor friend had it,
"venturing upon another Crowned Head" there. Bieren her dear
Courlander, once little better than a Horse-groom, now Duke of Courland,
Quasi-Husband to the late Big Cheek, and thereby sovereign of Russia,
this long while past, is left Official Head in Russia. Poor little
Anton Ulrich and his august Spouse, well enough known to us, have indeed
produced a Czar Iwan, some months ago, to the joy of mankind: but Czar
Iwan is in his cradle: Father and Mother's function is little other than
to rock the cradle of Iwan; Bieren to be Regent and Autocrat over him
and them in the interim. To their chagrin, to that of Feldmarschall
Munnich and many others: the upshot of which will be visible before
long. Czarina Anne's death had seemed to Friedrich the opportune removal
of a dangerous neighbor, known to be in the pay of Austria: here now are
new mutually hostile parties springing up; chance, surely, of a bargain
with some of them? He despatches Winterfeld on this errand;--probably
the fittest man in Prussia for it. How soon and perfectly Winterfeld
succeeded, and what Winterfeld was, and something of what a Russia he
found it, we propose to mention by and by.

These, and all points of importance, Friedrich has settled with himself
some time ago. What his own private thoughts on the Silesian Adventure
are, readers will wish to know, since they can at first hand. Hear
Friedrich himself, whose veracity is unquestionable to such as know
anything of him:--

"This Silesian Project fulfilled all his (the King's) political
views,"--summed them all well up into one head. "It was a means of
acquiriug reputation; of increasing the power of the State; and
of terminating what concerned that long-litigated question of the
Berg-Julich Succession;"--can be sure of getting that, at lowest;
intends to give that up, if necessary.

"Meanwhile, before entirely determining, the King weighed the risks
there were in undertaking such a War, and the advantages that were to
be hoped from it. On one side, presented itself the potent House of
Austria, not likely to want resources with so many vast Provinces under
it; an Emperor's Daughter attacked, who would naturally find allies in
the King of England, in the Dutch Republic, and so many Princes of the
Empire who had signed the Pragmatic Sanction." Russia was--or had
been, and might again be--in the pay of Vienna. Saxony might have some
clippings from Bohemia thrown to it, and so be gained over. Scanty
Harvest, 1740, threatened difficulties as to provisioning of troops.
"The risks were great. One had to apprehend the vicissitudes of war. A
single battle lost might be decisive. The King had no allies; and his
troops, hitherto without experience, would have to front old Austrian
soldiers, grown gray in harness, and trained to war by so many

"On the other side were hopeful considerations,"--four in number: FIRST,
Weak condition of the Austrian Court, Treasury empty, War-Apparatus
broken in pieces; inexperienced young Princess to defend a disputed
succession, on those terms. SECOND, There WILL be allies; France and
England always in rivalry, both meddling in these matters, King is sure
to get either the one or the other.--THIRD, Silesian War lies handy to
us, and is the only kind of Offensive War that does; Country bordering
on our frontier, and with the Oder running through it as a sure
high-road for everything. FOURTH, "What suddenly turned the balance,"
or at least what kept it steady in that posture,--"news of the Czarina's
death arrives:" Russia has ceased to count against us; and become a
manageable quantity. On, therefore!--

"Add to these reasons," says the King, with a candor which has not been
well treated in the History Books, "Add to these reasons, an Army ready
for acting; Funds, Supplies all found [lying barrelled in the Schloss at
Berlin];--and perhaps the desire of making oneself a name," from which
few of mortals able to achieve it are exempt in their young time: "all
this was cause of the War which the King now entered upon." [_OEuvres de
Frederic_ (Histoire de mon Temps), i. 128.]

"Desire to make himself a name; how shocking!" exclaim several
Historians. "Candor of confession that he may have had some such desire;
how honest!" is what they do not exclaim. As to the justice of his
Silesian Claims, or even to his own belief about their justice,
Friedrich affords not the least light which can be new to readers here.
He speaks, when business requires it, of "those known rights" of his,
and with the air of a man who expects to be believed on his word; but
it is cursorily, and in the business way only; and there is not here
or elsewhere the least pleading:--a man, you would say, considerably
indifferent to our belief on that head; his eyes set on the practical
merely. "Just Rights? What are rights, never so just, which you cannot
make valid? The world is full of such. If you have rights and can assert
them into facts, do it; that is worth doing!"--

We must add two Notes, two small absinthine drops, bitter but wholesome,
administered by him to the Old Dessauer, whose gloomy wonder over all
this military whirl of Prussian things, and discontent that he, lately
the head authority, has never once been spoken to on it, have been
great. Guessing, at last, that it was meant for Austria, a Power rather
dear to Leopold, he can suppress himself no longer; but breaks out into
Cassandra prophesyings, which have piqued the young King, and provoke
this return:--

1. "REINSBERG, 24th November, 1740.--I have received your Letter, and
seen with what inquietude you view the approaching march of my Troops.
I hope you will set your mind at ease on that score; and wait
with patience what I intend with them and you. I have made all my
dispositions; and Your Serenity will learn, time enough, what my orders
are, without disquieting yourself about them, as nothing has been
forgotten or delayed."--FRIEDRICH.

Old Dessauer, cut to the bone, perceives he will have to quit that
method and never resume it; writes next how painful it is to an old
General to see himself neglected, as if good for nothing, while his
scholars are allowed to gather laurels. Friedrich's answer is of
soothing character:--

2. "BERLIN, 2d DECEMBER, 1740.--You may be assured I honor your merits
and capacity as a young Officer ought to honor an old one, who has given
the world so many proofs of his talent (DEXTERITAT); nor will I neglect
Your Serenity on any occasion when you can help me by your good Counsel
and co-operation." But it is a mere "bagatelle" this that I am now upon;
though, next year, it may become serious.

For the rest, Saxony being a neighbor whose intentions one does not
know, I have privately purposed Your Serenity should keep an outlook
that way, in my absence. Plenty of employment coming for Your Serenity.
"But as to this present Expedition, I reserve it for myself alone; that
the world may not think the King of Prussia marches with a Tutor to
the Field."--FRIEDRICH. [Orlich, _Geschichte der Schlesischen Kriege_
(Berlin, 1841), i. 38, 39.]

And therewith Leopold, eagerly complying, has to rest satisfied; and
beware of too much freedom with this young King again.

"Berlin, December 2d," is the date of that last Note to the Dessauer;
date also of Voltaire's ADIEU with the RESPONSE;--on which same day,
"Friday, December 2d," as I find from the Old Books, his Majesty,
quitting the Reinsberg sojourn, "had arrived in Berlin about 2 P.M.;
accompanied by Prince August Wilhelm [betrothed at Brunswick lately];
such a crowd on the streets as if they had never seen him before." He
continued at Berlin or in the neighborhood thenceforth. Busy days these;
and Berlin a much whispering City, as Regiment after Regiment marches
away. King soon to follow, as is thought,--"who himself sometimes
deigns to take the Regiments into highest own eyeshine, HOCHST-EIGENEN
AUGENSCHEIN" (that is, to review them), say the reverential Editors.
December 6th--But let us follow the strict sequence of Phenomena at


Of course her Hungarian Majesty, and her Bartensteins and Ministries,
heard enough of those Prussian rumors, interior Military activities,
and enigmatic movements; but they seem strangely supine on the matter;
indeed, they seem strangely supine on such matters; and lean at ease
upon the Sea-Powers, upon Pragmatic Sanction and other Laws of Nature.
But at length even they become painfully interested as to Friedrich's
intentions; and despatch an Envoy to sift him a little: an expert
Marchese di Botta, Genoese by birth, skilful in the Russian and
other intricacies; who was here at Berlin lately, doing the Accession
Compliment (rather ill received at that time), and is fit for the job.
Perhaps Botta will penetrate him? That is becoming desirable, in spite
of the gay Private Theatricals at Reinsberg, and the Berlin Carnival
Balls he is so occupied with.

England is not less interested, and the diligent Sir Guy is doing his
best; but can make out nothing satisfactory;--much the reverse indeed;
and falls into angry black anticipations. "Nobody here, great or small,"
says his Excellency, "dares make any representation to this young Prince
against the measures he is pursuing; though all are sensible of the
confusion which must follow. A Prince who had the least regard to honor,
truth and justice, could not act the part he is going to do." Alas, no,
Excellency Dickens! "But it is plain his only view was, to deceive us
all, and conceal for a while his ambitious and mischievous designs."
[Despatch, 29th November-3d December, 1740: Raumer, p. 58.] "Never was
such dissimulation!" exclaims the Diplomatic world everywhere, being
angered at it, as if it were a vice on the part of a King about to
invade Silesia. Dissimulation, if that mean mendacity, is not the name
of the thing; it is the art of wearing a polite cloak of darkness, and
the King is little disturbed what name they call it.

Botta did not get to Berlin till December 1st, had no Audience till the
5th;--by which time it is becoming evident to Excellency Dickens, and to
everybody, that Silesia is the thing meant. Botta hints as much in that
first Audience, December 5th: "Terrible roads, those Silesian ones, your
Majesty!" says Botta, as if historically merely, but with a glance of the
eye. "Hm," answers his Majesty in the same tone, "the worst that comes
of them is a little mud!"--Next day, Dickens had express Audience,
"Berlin, Tuesday 6th:" a smartish, somewhat flurried Colloquy with the
King; which, well abridged, may stand as follows:--

DICKENS.... "Indivisibility of the Austrian Monarchy, Sire!"--KING.
"Indivisibility? What do you mean?"--DICKENS. "The maintenance of the
Pragmatic Sanction."--KING. "Do you intend to support it? I hope not;
for such is not my intention." (There is for you!)...

DICKENS. "England and Holland will much wonder at the measures your
Majesty was taking, at the moment when your Majesty proposed to join
with them, and were making friendly proposals!" (Has been a deceitful
man, Sir Guy, at least an impenetrable;--but this latter is rather
strong on your part!) "What shall I write to England?" ("When I
mentioned this," says Dickens, "the King grew red in the face," eyes
considerably flashing, I should think.)

KING. "You can have no instructions to ask that question! And if you
had, I have an answer ready for you. England has no right to inquire
into my designs. Your great Sea-Armaments, did I ask you any questions
about them? No; I was and am silent on that head; only wishing you
good luck, and that you may not get beaten by the Spaniards." (Dickens
hastily draws in his rash horns again; after a pass or two, King's
natural color returns.)...

KING. "Austria as a Power is necessary against the Turks. But in
Germany, what need of Austria being so superlative? Why should not, say,
Three Electors united be able to oppose her?... Monsieur, I find it
is your notion in England, as well as theirs in France, to bring other
Sovereigns under your tutorage, and lead them about. Understand that
I will not be led by either.... Tush, YOU are like the Athenians, who,
when Philip of Macedon was ready to invade them, spent their time in

DICKENS.... "Berg and Julich, if we were to guarantee them?"--KING. "Hm.
Don't so much mind that Rhine Country: difficulties there,--Dutch always
jealous of one. But, on the other Frontier, neither England nor Holland
could take umbrage,"--points clearly to Silesia, then, your Excellency
Dickens? [Raumer, (from State-Paper Office), pp. 63, 64.]

Alas, yes! Troops and military equipments are, for days past, evidently
wending towards Frankfurt, towards Crossen, and even the Newspapers
now hint that something is on hand in that quarter. Nay, this same day,
TUESDAY, 6th DECEMBER, there has come out brief Official Announcement,
to all the Foreign Ministers at Berlin, Excellency Dickens among them,
"That his Royal Majesty, our most all-gracious Herr, has taken the
resolution to advance a Body of Troops into Schlesien,"--rather out of
friendly views towards Austria (much business lying between us about
Schlesien), not out of hostile views by any means, as all Excellencies
shall assure their respective Courts. [Copy of the Paper in
_Helden-Geschichte,_ i. 447.] Announcement which had thrown the
Excellency Dickens into such a frame of mind, before he got his Audience

SATURDAY following, which was December 10th, Marquis de Beauvau had his
Audience of leave; intending for Paris shortly: Audience very gracious;
covertly hinting, on both sides, more than it said; ending in these
words, on the King's side, which have become famous: "Adieu, then, M. le
Marquis. I believe I am going to play your game; if the aces fall to
me, we will share (_Je vais, je crois, jouer votre jeu: si les as me
viennent, nous partagerons)!_" [Voltaire, _OEuvres_ (Siecle de Louis XV.,
c. 6), xxviii. 74.]

To Botta, all this while, Friedrich strove to be specially civil; took
him out to Charlottenburg, that same Saturday, with the Queen and other
guests; but Botta, and all the world, being now certain about Silesia,
and that no amount of mud, or other terror on the roads, would be
regarded, Botta's thoughts in this evening party are not of cheerful
nature. Next day, Sunday, December 11th, he too gets his Audience of
leave; and cannot help bursting out, when the King plainly tells him
what is now afoot, and that the Prussian Ambassador has got instructions
what to offer upon it at Vienna. "Sire, you are going to ruin the House
of Austria," cried Botta, "and to plunge yourself into destruction (VOUS
ABIMER) at the same time!"--"Depends on the Queen," said Friedrich,
"to accept the Offers I have made her." Botta sank silent, seemed to
reflect, but gathering himself again, added with an ironical air and
tone of voice, "They are fine Troops, those of yours, Sire. Ours have
not the same splendor of appearance; but they have looked the wolf in
the face. Think, I conjure you, what you are getting into!" Friedrich
answered with vivacity, a little nettled at the ironical tone of Botta,
and his mixed sympathy and menace: "You find my troops are beautiful;
perhaps I shall convince you they are good too." Yes, Excellency Botta,
goodish troops; and very capable "to look the wolf in the face,"--or
perhaps in the tail too, before all end! "Botta urged and entreated that
at least there should be some delay in executing this project. But
the King gave him to understand that it was now too late, and that the
Rubicon was passed." [Friedrich's own Account (_OEuvres,_ ii. 57).]

The secret is now out, therefore; Invasion of Silesia certain and close
at hand. "A day or two before marching," may have been this very day
when Botta got his audience, the King assembled his Chief Generals, all
things ready out in the Frankfurt-Crossen region yonder; and spoke to
them as follows; briefly and to the point:--

"Gentlemen, I am undertaking a War, in which I have no allies but your
valor and your good-will. My cause is just; my resources are what we
ourselves can do; and the issue lies in Fortune. Remember continually
the glory which your Ancestors acquired in the plains of Warsaw, at
Fehrbellin, and in the Expedition to Preussen [across the Frische Haf on
ice, that time]. Your lot is in your own hands: distinctions and rewards
wait upon your fine actions which shall merit them.

"But what need have I to excite you to glory? It is the one thing you
keep before your eyes; the sole object worthy of your labors. We
are going to front troops who, under Prince Eugene, had the highest
reputation. Though Prince Eugene is gone, we shall have to measure our
strength against brave soldiers: the greater will be the honor if we
can conquer. Adieu, go forth. I will follow you straightway to the
rendezvous of glory which awaits us." [_OEuvres de Frederic,_ ii.58.]


On the evening of Monday, 12th, there was, as usual, Masked (or
Half-Masked) Ball, at the Palace. As usual; but this time it has become
mentionable in World-History. Bielfeld, personally interested, gives
us a vivid glance into it;--which, though pretending to be real and
contemporaneous, is unfortunately MYTHICAL only, and done at a great
interval of years (dates, and even slight circumstances of fact,
refusing to conform);--which, however, for the truth there is in it,
we will give, as better than nothing. Bielfeld's pretended date is,
"Berlin, 15th December;" should have been 14th,--wrong by a day, after
one's best effort!

"BERLIN, 15th DECEMBER, 1740. As for me, dear Sister, I am like a
shuttlecock whom the Kings of Prussia and of England hit with their
rackets, and knock to and fro. The night before last, I was at the
Palace Evening Party (ASSEMBLEE); which is a sort of Ball, where you go
in domino, but without mask on the face. The Queen was there, and all
the Court. About eight o'clock the King also made his appearance. His
Majesty, noticing M. de G---[that is DE GUIDIKEN, or Guy Dickens],
English Minister, addressed him; led him into the embrasure of a window,
and talked alone with him for more than an hour [uncertain, probably
apocryphal this]. I threw, from time to time, a stolen glance at this
dialogue, which appeared to me to be very lively. A moment after, being
just dancing with Madame the Countess de--THREE ASTERISKS,--I felt
myself twitched by the domino; and turning, was much surprised to see
that it was the King; who took me aside, and said, 'Are your boots
oiled (VOS BOTTES SONT-ELLES GRAISSIES, Are you ready for a journey)?'
I replied, 'Sire, they will always be so for your Majesty's
service.'--'Well, then, Truchsess and you are for England; the day after
to-morrow you go. Speak to M. de Podewils!'--This was said like a flash
of lightning. His Majesty passed into another apartment; and I, I went
to finish my minuet with the Lady; who had been not less astonished to
see me disappear from her eyes, in the middle of the dance, than I was
at what the King said to me." [Bielfeld, i. 167, 168.] Next morning, I--

The fact is, next morning, Truchsess and I began preparation for the
Court of London,--and we did there, for many months afterwards, strive
our best to keep the Britannic Majesty in some kind of tune, amid the
prevailing discord of events;--fact interesting to some. And the other
fact, interesting to everybody, though Bielfeld has not mentioned it,
is, That King Friedrich, the same next morning, punctually "at the
stroke of 9," rolled away Frankfurt-ward,--into the First Silesian War!
Tuesday, "13th December, this morning, the King, privately quitting the
Ball, has gone [after some little snatch of sleep, we will hope] for
Frankfurt, to put himself at the head of his Troops." [Dickens (in
State-Paper Office), 13th December, 1740; see also _Helden-Geschichte,_
i. 452; &c. &c.] Bellona his companion for long years henceforth,
instead of Minerva and the Muses, as he had been anticipating.

Hereby is like to be fulfilled (except that Friedrich himself is perhaps
this "little stone") what Friedrich prophesied to his Voltaire, the
day after hearing of the Kaiser's death: "I believe there will, by June
next, be more talk of cannon, soldiers, trenches, than of actresses, and
dancers for the ballet. This small Event changes the entire system of
Europe. It is the little stone which Nebuchadnezzar saw, in his dream,
loosening itself, and rolling down on the Image made of Four Metals,
which it shivers to ruin." [Friedrich to Voltaire, busy gathering actors
at that time, 26th October, 1740 (_OEuvres de Frederic,_ xxii. 49).]

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