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History of Friedrich II of Prussia V 5 by Thomas Carlyle

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Tall Herr von Bentenrieder accepted the prostrate apology of these
Guard-house Officials. But he naturally spoke of the matter to
George I.; whose patience, often fretted by complaints on that
head, seems to have taken fire at this transcendent instance of
Prussian insolency. In consequence of this adventure, he
commenced, says Pollnitz, a system of decisive measures;
of reprisals even, and of altogether peremptory, minatory
procedures, to clear Hanover of this nuisance; and to make it
cease, in very fact, and not in promise and profession merely.
These were the first rubs Queen Sophie met with, in pushing on the
Double-Marriage; and sore rubs they were, though she at last got
over them. Coming on the back of that fine Charlottenburg Visit,
almost within year and day, and directly in the teeth of such
friendly aspects and prospects, this conduct on the part of his
Britannic Majesty much grieved and angered Friedrich Wilhelm;
and in fact involved him in considerable practical troubles.

For it was the signal of a similar set of loud complaints, and
menacing remonstrances (with little twinges of fulfilment here and
there) from all quarters of Germany; a tempest of trouble and
public indignation rising everywhere, and raining in upon
Friedrich Wilhelm and this unfortunate Hobby of his. No riding of
one's poor Hobby in peaoe henceforth. Friedrich Wilhelm always
answered, what was only superficially the fact, That HE knew
nothing of these violences and acts of ill-neighborship; he, a
just King, was sorrier than any man to hear of them; and would
give immediate order that they should end. But they always went on
again, much the same; and never did end. I am sorry a just King,
led astray by his Hobby, answers thus what is only superficially
the fact. But it seems he cannot help it: his Hobby is too strong
for him; regardless of curb and bridle in this instance. Let us
pity a man of genius, mounted on so ungovernable a Hobby;
leaping the barriers, in spite of his best resolutions.
Perhaps the poetic temperament is more liable to such morbid
biases, influxes of imaginative crotchet, and mere folly that
cannot he cured? Friedrich Wilhelm never would or could dismount
from his Hobby: but he rode him under much sorrow henceforth;
under showers of anger and ridicule;--contumelious words and
procedures, as it were SAXA ET FAECES, battering round him,
to a heavy extent; the rider a victim of Tragedy and Farce both
at once.


Queen Sophie had, by delicate management, got over those first
rubs, aud arrived at a Treaty of Hanover, and clear ground again;
far worse rubs lay ahead; but smooth travelling, towards such a
goal, was not possible for this Queen. Poor Lady, her Court, as we
discern from Wilhelmina and the Books, is a sad welter of
intrigues, suspicions; of treacherous chambermaids, head-valets,
pickthank scouts of official gentlemen and others striving to
supplant one another. Satan's Invisible World very busy against
Queen Sophie! Under any terms, much more under those of the
Double-Marriage, her place in a kindly but suspicious Husband's
favor was difficult to maintain. Restless aspirants, climbing this
way or that, by ladder-steps discoverable in this abstruse
element, are never wanting, and have the due eavesdropping
satellites, now here, now there. Queen Sophie and her party have
to walk warily, as if among precipices and pitfalls. Of all which
wide welter of extinct contemptibilities, then and there so
important, here and now become minus quantities, we again notice
the existence, but can undertake no study or specification
whatever. Two Incidents, the latter of them dating near the point
where we now are, will sufficiently instruct the reader what a
welter this was, in which Queen Sophie and her bright little Son,
the new Major of the Potsdam Giants, had to pass their existence.

Incident First fell out some six years ago or more,--in 1719, year
of the Heidelberg Protestants, of Clement the Forger, when his
Majesty "slept for weeks with a pistol under his pillow," and had
other troubles. His Majesty, on one of his journeys, which were
always many, was taken suddenly ill at Brandenburg, that year:
so violently ill, that thinking himself about to die, he sent for
his good Queen, and made a Will appointing her Regent in case of
his decease. His Majesty quite recovered before long. But Grumkow
and the old Dessauer, main aspirants; getting wind of this Will,
and hunting out the truth of it,--what a puddling of the waters
these two made in consequence; stirring up mire and dirt round the
good Queen, finding she had been preferred to them! [Wilhelmina,
i. 26, 29.] Nay Wilhelmina, in her wild way, believes they had,
not long after, planned to "fire a Theatre" about the King, one
afternoon, in Berlin City, and take his life, thereby securing for
themselves such benefit in prospect as there might be! Not a doubt
of it, thinks Wilhelmina: "The young Margraf, [Born 1700 (see
vol. v. p. 393.] our precious Cousin, of Schwedt, is not he
Sister's-son of that Old Dessauer? Grandson of the Great Elector,
even as Papa is. Papa once killed (and our poor Crown-Prince also
made away with),--that young Margraf, and his blue Fox-tiger of an
Uncle over him, is King in Prussia! Obviously they meant to burn
that Theatre, and kill Papa!" This is Wilhelmina's distracted
belief; as, doubtless, it was her Mother's on the day in question:
a jealous, much-suffering, transcendently exasperated Mother, as
we see.

Incident Second shows us those, two rough Gentlemen fallen out of
partnership, into open quarrel and even duel. "Duel at the
Copenick Gate," much noised of in the dull old Prussian Books,--
though always in a reserved manner; not even the DATE, as if that
were dangerous, being clearly given! It came in the wake of that
Hanover Treaty, as is now guessed; the two having taken opposite
sides on that measure, and got provoked into ripping up old sores
in general. Dessau was AGAINST King George and the Treaty, it
appears; having his reasons, family-reasons of old standing:
Grumkow, a bribable gentleman, was FOR,--having also perhaps his
reasons. Enough, it came to altercations, objurgations between
the two; which rose ever higher,--rose at length to
wager-of-battle. Indignant challenge on the part of the Old
Dessauer; which, however, Grumkow, not regarded as a BARESARK in
the fighting way, regrets that his Christian principles do not,
forsooth, allow him to accept. The King is appealed to; the King,
being himself, though an orthodox Christian, yet a still more
orthodox Soldier, decides That, on the whole, General Grumkow
cannot but accept this challenge from the Field-marshal Prince
of Dessau.

Dessau is on the field, at the Copenick Gate, accordingly,--
late-autumn afternoon (I calculate) of the year 1725;--waits
patiently till Grumkow make his appearance. Grumkow, with a chosen
second, does at last appear; advances pensively with slow steps.
Gunpowder Dessau, black as a silent thunder-cloud, draws his
sword: and Grumkow--does not draw his; presents it undrawn, with
unconditional submission and apology: "Slay me, if you like, old
Friend, whom I have injured!" Whereat Dessau, uttering no word,
uttering only some contemptuous snort, turns his back on the
phenomenon; mounts his horse and rides home. [Pollnitz, ii. 212,
214.] A divided man from this Grumkow henceforth. The Prince
waited on her Majesty; signified his sorrow for past
estrangements; his great wish now to help her, but his total
inability, being ousted by Grumkow: We are for Halle, Madam, where
our Regiment is; there let us serve his Majesty, since we cannot
here! [Wilhelmina, i. 90, 93.] --And in fact the Old Dessauer
lives mostly there in time coming; sunk inarticulate in tactics of
a truly deep nature, not stranding on politics of a shallow;--
a man still memorable in the mythic traditions of that place.
Better to drill men to perfection, and invent iron ramrods,
against the day they shall be needed, than go jostling, on such
terms, with cattle of the Grumkow kind! And thus, we perceive,
Grumkow is in, and the Old Dessauer out; and there has been
"a change of Ministry," change of "Majesty's-Advisers," brought
about;--may the Advice going be wiser now!

What the young Crown-Prince did, said, thought, in such
environment, of backstairs diplomacies, female sighs and
aspirations, Grumkow duels, drillings in the Giant Regiment, is
not specified for us in the smallest particular, in the extensive
rubbish-books that have been written about him. Ours is, to
indicate that such environment was: how a lively soul, acted on by
it, did not fail to react, chameleon-like taking color from it,
and contrariwise taking color against it, must be left to the
reader's imagination--One thing we have gathered and will not
forget, That the Old Dessauer is out, and Grumkow in, that the
rugged Son of Gunpowder, drilling men henceforth at Halle, and in
a dumb way meditating tactics as few ever did, has no share in the
foul enchantments that now supervene at court.

Chapter VI.


The Kaiser's terror and embarrassment at the conclusion of the
Hanover Treaty, as we saw, were extreme. War possible or likely;
and nothing but the termagant caprices of Elizabeth Farnese to
depend on: no cash from the Sea-Powers; only cannonshot, invasion
and hostility, from their cash and them: What is to be done?
To "caress the pride of Spain;" to keep alive the hopes, in that
quarter, of marrying their Don Carlos, the supplementary Infant,
to our eldest Archduchess; which indeed has set the Sea-Powers
dreadfully on fire, but which does leave Parma and Piacenza quiet
for the present, and makes the Pragmatic Sanction too an affair of
Spain's own: this is one resource, though a poor one, and a
dangerous. Another is, to make alliance with Russia, by well
flattering the poor little brown Czarina there: but is not that a
still poorer? And what third is there!--

There is a third worth both the others, could it be got done:
To detach Friedrich Wilhelm from those dangerous Hanover
Confederates, and bring him gently over to ourselves. He has an
army of 60,000, in perfect equipment, and money to maintain them
so. Against us or for us,--60,000 PLUS or 60,000 MINUS;--that will
mean 120,000 fighting men; a most weighty item in any field there
is like to be. If it lie in the power of human art, let us gain
this wild irritated King of Prussia. Dare any henchman of ours
venture to go, with honey-cakes, with pattings and cajoleries, and
slip the imperial muzzle well round the snout of that rugged
ursine animal? An iracund bear, of dangerous proportions, and
justly irritated against us at present? Our experienced
FELDZEUGMEISTER, Ordnance-Master and Diplomatist, Graf von
Seckendorf, a conscientious Protestant, and the cunningest of men,
able to lie to all lengths,--dare he try it? He has fought in all
quarters of the world; and lied in all, where needful; and saved
money in all: he will try it, and will succeed in it too!
[Pollnitz, ii. 235; Stenzel, iii. 544; Forster, ii. 59,
iii. 235, 239.]

The Second Act, therefore, of this foolish World-Drama of the
Double-Marriage opens,--on the 11th May, 1726, towards sunset, in
the TABAGIE of the Berlin Palace, as we gather from laborious
comparison of windy Pollnitz with other indistinct witnesses of a
dreary nature,--in the following manner:--

Prussian Majesty sits smoking at the window; nothing particular
going on. A square-built shortish steel-gray Gentleman, of
military cut, past fifty, is strolling over the SCHLOSSPLATZ
(spacious Square in front of the Palace), conspicuous amid the
sparse populations there; pensively recreating himself, in the
yellow sunlight and long shadows, as after a day's hard labor or
travel. "Who is that?" inquires Friedrich Wilhelm, suspending his
tobacco. Grumkow answers cautiously, after survey: He thinks it
must be Ordnance-Master Seckendorf; who was with him to-day;
passing on rapidly towards Denmark, on business that will not
wait.--"Experienced Feldzeugmeister Graf von Seckendorf, whom we
stand in correspondence with, of late, and were expecting about
this time? Whom we have known at the Siege of Stralsund, nay
ever since the Marlborough times and the Siege of Menin, in war
and peace; and have always reckoned a solid reasonable man and
soldier: Why has he not come to us?"--"Your Majesty," confesses
Grumkow, "his business is so pressing! Business in Denmark will
not wait. Seckendorf owned he had come slightly round, in his
eagerness to see our grand Review at Tempelhof the day after
to-morrow: What soldier would omit the sight (so he was pleased to
intimate) of soldiering carried to the non-plus-ultra? But he
hoped to do it quite incognito, among the general public;--and
then to be at the gallop again: not able to have the honor of
paying his court at this time."--"Court? NARREN-POSSEN
(Nonsense)!" answers Friedrich Wilhelm,--and opening the window,
beckons Seckendorf up, with his own royal head and hand.
The conversation of a man who had rational sense, and could tell
him anything, were it only news af foreign parts in a rational
manner, was always welcome to Friedrich Wilhelm.

And so Seckendorf, how can he help it, is installed in the
Tabagie; glides into pleasant conversation there. A captivating
talker; solid for religion, for the rights of Germany against
intrusive French and others: such insight, orthodoxy, sense and
ingenuity; pleasant to hear; and all with the due quantity of oil,
though he "both snuffles and lisps;" and has privately, in case of
need, a capacity of lying,--for he curiously distils you any lie,
in his religious alembics, till it become tolerable to his
conscience, or even palatable, as elixirs are;--capacity of
double-distilled lying probably the greatest of his day.--
Seckendorf assists at the grand Review, 13th May, 1726; witnesses
with unfeigned admiration the non-plus-ultra of manoeuvring, and,
in fact, the general management, military and other, of this
admirable King. [Pollnitz, ii. 235; Fassmann, pp. 367, 368.]
Seckendorf, no question of it, will do his Denmark business
swiftly, then, since your Majesty is pleased so to wish.
Seckendorf, sure enough, will return swiftly to such a King, whose
familiar company, vouchsafed him in this noble manner, he likes,--
oh, how he likes it!

In a week or two, Seckendorf is back to Berlin; attends his
Majesty on the annual Military Tour through Preussen; attends him
everywhere, becoming quite a necessary of life to his Majesty;
and does not go away at all. Seckendorf's business, if his Majesty
knew it, will not lead him "away;" but lies here on this spot;
and is now going on; the magic-apparatus, Grumkow the mainspring
of it, getting all into gear! Grumkow was once clear for King
George and the Hanover Treaty, having his reasons then; but now he
has other reasons, and is clear against those foreign connections.
"Hm, hah--Yes, my estimable, justly powerful Herr von Grumkow,
here is a little Pension of 1,600 ducats (only 500 pounds as yet),
which the Imperial Majesty, thinking of the service you may do
Prussia and Germany and him, graciously commands me to present;--
only 500 pounds by the year as yet; but there shall be no lack of
money if we prosper!" [Forster, iii. 233, 232; see also iv. 172,
121, 157, &c.]

And so there are now two Black-Artists, of the first quality, busy
on the unconscious Friedrich Wilhelm; and Seckendorf, for the next
seven years, will stick to Friedrich Wilhelm like his shadow;
and fascinate his whole existence and him, as few wizards could
have done. Friedrich Wilhelm, like St. Paul in Melita, warming his
innocent hands at the fire of dry branches here kindled for him,--
that miracle of a venomous serpent is this that has fixed itself
upon his finger? To Friedrich Wilhelm's enchanted sense it seems a
bird-of-paradise, trustfully perching there; but it is of the
whip-snake kind, or a worse; and will stick to him tragically, if
also comically, for years to come. The world has seen the comedy
of it, and has howled scornful laughter upon Friedrich Wilhelm for
it: but there is a tragic side, not so well seen into, where tears
are due to the poor King; and to certain others horsewhips, and
almost gallows-ropes, are due!--Yes, had Seckendorf and Grumkow
both been well hanged, at this stage of the affair, whereby the
affair might have soon ended on fair terms, it had been welcome to
mankind; welcome surely to the present Editor; for one; such a
saving to him, of time wasted, of disgust endured! And indeed it
is a solacement he has often longed for, in these dreary
operations of his. But the Fates appointed otherwise; we have all
to accept our Fate!--

Grumkow is sworn to Imperial orthodoxy, then,--probably the
vulpine MIND (so to term it) went always rather that way, and only
his interest the other;--Grumkow is well bribed, supplied for
bribing others where needful; stands orthodox now, under peril of
his very head. All things have been got distilled into the
palatable state, spiritual and economic, for oneself and one's
grand Trojan-Horse of a Grumkow; and the adventure proceeds apace.
Seckendorf sits nightly in the TABAGIE (a kind of "Smoking
Parliament," as we shall see anon); attends on all promenades and
journeys: one of the wisest heads, and so pleasant in discourse,
he is grown indispensable, and a necessary of life to us.
Seckendorf's Biographer computes, "he must have ridden, in those
seven years, continually attending his Majesty, above 5,000 German
miles," [Anonymous (Seckendorf's Grand-Nephew) Versuch
einer Lebensbeschreibung des Feldmarschalls Grafen von Seckendorf
(Leipzig, 1792, 1794), i. 6.]--that is 25,000
English miles; or a trifle more than the length of the
Terrestrial Equator.

In a month or two, [13th August, 1726 (Preuss, i. 37).]
Seckendorf--since Majesty vouchsafes to honor us by wishing it--
contrives to get nominated Kaiser's Minister at Berlin: unlimited
prospects of Tabagie, and good talk, now opening on Majesty.
And impartial Grumkow, in Tabagie or wherever we are, cannot but
admit, now and then, that the Excellenz Herr Graf Ordnance-Master
has a deal of reason in what he says about Foreign Politics, about
intrusive French and other points. "Hm, Na," muses Friedrich
Wilhelm to himself, "if the Kaiser had not been so lofty on us in
that Heidelberg-Protestant affair, in the Ritter-Dienst business,
in those damned 'recruiting' brabbles; always a very high-sniffing
surly Kaiser to us!" For in fact the Kaiser has, all along, used
Friedrich Wilhelm bitterly ill; and contemplates no better usage
of him, except in show. Usage? thinks the Kaiser: A big Prussian
piece of Cannon, whom we wish to enchant over to us! Did LAZY PEG
complain of her "usage"?--So that the Excellenz and Grumkow have a
heavy problem of it; were they not so diligent, and the Cannon
itself well disposed. "Those BLITZ FRANZOSEN (blasted French)!"
growls Friedrich Wilhelm sometimes, in the Tobacco-Parliament:
[Forster, ii. 12, &c.] for he hates the French, and would fain
love his Kaiser; being German to the bone, and of right loyal
heart, though counted only a piece of cannon by some. For one
thing, his Prussian Majesty declines signing that Treaty of
Hanover a second time: now when the Dutch accede to it, after
almost a year's trouble with them, the Prussian Ambassador,
singular to observe, "has no orders to sign;" leaves the English
with their Hollanders and Blitz Franzosen to sign by themselves,
this time. [9th August, 1726. (Boyer, The Political State
of Great Rrilain, a monthly periodical, vol. xxxii.
p. 77, which is the number for July, 1726.)] "We will wait, we
will wait!" thinks his Prussian Majesty:--"Who knows?"

"But then Julich and Berg!" urges he always; "Britannic Majesty
and the Blitz Franzosen were to secure me the reversion there.
That was the essential point!"--For this too Excellenz has a
remedy; works out gradually a remedy from headquarters, the
amiable dexterous man: "Kaiser will do the like, your Majesty;
Kaiser himself will secure it you!"--In brief, some three months
after Seckendorf's instalment as Kaiser's Minister, not yet five
months since his appearance in the Schlossplatz that May evening,
--it is now Hunting-season, and we are at Wusterhausen;
Majesty, his two Black-Artists and the proper satellites on both
sides all there,--a new and opposite Treaty, in extreme privacy,
on the 12th of October, 1726, is signed at that sequestered
Hunting-Schloss: "Treaty of Wusterhausen" so called; which was
once very famous and mysterious, and caused many wigs to wag.
Wigs to wag, in those days especially, when knowledge of it was
first had; the rather as only half knowledge could be had of it;--
or can, mourns Dryasdust, who has still difficulties about some
"secret articles" in the Document. [Buchholz, i. 94 n.] Courage,
my friend; they are now of no importance to any creature.

The essential purport of this Treaty, [Given IN EXTENSO (without
the secret articles) in Forster, iv. 159-166.] legible to all
eyes, is, "That Friedrich Wilhelm silently drops the Hanover
Treaty and Blitz Franzosen; and explicitly steps over to the
Kaiser's side; stipulates to assist the Kaiser with so many
thousand, if attacked in Germany by any Blitz Franzose or
intrusive Foreigner whatever. In return for which, the Kaiser,
besides assisting Prussia in the like case with a like quotity of
thousands, engages, in circuitous chancery language, To be
helpful, and humanly speaking effectua1, in that grand matter of
Julich and Berg;--somewhat in the following strain: 'To our
Imperial mind it does appear the King of Prussia has manifest
right to the succession in Julich and Berg; right grounded on
express ERBVERGLEICH of 1624, not to speak of Deeds subsequent:
the Imperial mind, as supreme judge of such matters in the Reich,
will not fail to decide this Cause soon and justly, should it come
to that. But we hope it may take a still better course: for the
Imperial mind will straightway set about persuading Kur-Pfalz to
comply peaceably; and even undertakes to have something done, that
way, before six months pass.'" [Art. v. in Forster, ubi supra.]

Humanly speaking, surely the Imperial mind will be effectual in
the Julich and Berg matter. But it was very necessary to use
circuitous chancery language,--inasmuch as the Imperial mind,
desirous also to secure Kur-Pfalz's help in this sore crisis, had,
about three months ago, [Treaty with Kur-Pfalz, 16th August, 1726
(Forster, ii. 71).] expressly engaged to Kur-Pfalz, That Julich
and Berg should NOT go to Friedrich Wilhelm in terms of the old
Deed, but to Kur-Pfalz's Cousins of Sulzbach, whom the old
gentleman (in spite of Deeds) was obstinate to prefer! There is no
doubt about that fact, about that self-devouring pair of facts.
To such straits is a Kaiser driven when he gets deep into

This is the once famous, now forgotten, "Treaty of Wusterhausen,
12th October, 1726;" which proved so consolatory to the Kaiser in
that dread crisis of his Spectre-Hunt; and the effects of which
are very visible in this History, if nowhere else. It caught up
the Prussian-English Double-Marriage; launched it into the huge
tide of Imperial Spectre Politics, into the awful swaggings and
swayings of the Terrestrial LIBRA in general; and nearly broke the
heart of several Royal persons; of a memorable Crown-Prince, among
others. Which last is now, pretty much, its sole claim to be ever
mentioned again by mankind. As there was no performance, nor an
intention of any, in that Julich-Berg matter, Excellenz Seckendorf
had the task henceforth of keeping, by art-magic or the
PRETERnatural method,--that is, by mere help of Grumkow and the
Devil,--his Prussian Majesty steady to the Kaiser nevertheless.
Always well divided from the English especially. Which the
Excellency Seckendorf managed to do. For six or seven years
coming; or, in fact, till these Spectre-chasings ended, or ran
else-whither for consummation. Steady always, jealous of the
English; sometimes nearly mad, but always ready as a primed
cannon: so Friedrich Wilhelm was accordingly managed to be kept;--
his own Household gone almost into delirium; he himself looking
out, with loyally fierce survey, for any Anti-Kaiser War: "When do
we go off, then?"--though none ever came. And indeed nothing came;
and except those torments to young Friedrich and others, it was
all Nothing. One of the strangest pieces of Black-Art ever done.

Excellenz Seckendorf, whom Friedrich Wilhelm so loves, is by no
means a beautiful man; far the reverse. Bodily,--and the spirit
corresponds,--a stiff-backed, petrified, stony,
inscrutable-looking, and most unbeautiful old Intriguer.
Portraits of him, which are frequent, tell all one story.
The brow puckered together, in a wide web of wrinkles from each
temple, as if it meant to hide the bad pair of eyes, which look
suspicion; inquiry, apprehension, habit of double-distilled
mendacity; the indeterminate projecting chin, with its thick,
chapped under-lip, is shaken out, or shoved out, in mill-hopper
fashion,--as if to swallow anything there may be, spoken thing or
other, and grind it to profitable meal for itself. Spiritually he
was an old Soldier let for hire; an old Intriguer, Liar, Fighter,
what you like. What we may call a human Soul standing like a
hackney-coach, this half-century past, with head, tongue, heart,
conscience, at the hest of a discerning public and its shilling.

There is considerable faculty, a certain stiff-necked strength in
the old fellow; in fact, nature had been rather kind to him;
and certainly his Uncle and Guardian--the distinguished Seckendorf
who did the HISTORIA LUTHERANISMI, a RITTER, and man of good mark,
in Ernst THE PIOUS of Saxe-Gotha's time--took pains about his
education. But Nature's gifts have not prospered with him:
how could they, in that hackney-coach way of life?
Considerable gifts, we say; shrunk into a strange bankruptcy in
the development of them. A stiff-backed, close-fisted old
gentleman, with mill-hopper chin,--with puckery much-inquiring
eyes, which have never discovered any noble path for him in this
world. He is a strictly orthodox Protestant; zealous about
external points of moral conduct; yet scruples not, for the
Kaiser's shilling, to lie with energy to all lengths; and fight,
according to the Reichs-Hofrath code, for any god or man. He is
gone mostly to avarice, in these mature years; all his various
strengths turned into strength of grasping. He is now fifty-four;
a man public in the world, especially since he became the Kaiser's
man: but he has served various masters, in various capacities, and
been in many wars;--and for the next thirty years we shall still
occasionally meet him, seldom to our advantage.

He comes from Anspach originally; and has kindred Seckendorfs in
office there, old Ritters in that Country. He inherited a handsome
castle and estate, Meuselwitz, near Altenburg in the Thuringen
region, from that Uncle, Ernst of Saxe-Gotha's man, whom we spoke
of; and has otherwise gained wealth; all which he holds like a
vice. Once, at Meuselwitz, they say, he and some young secretary,
of a smartish turn, sat working or conversing, in a large room
with only one candle to illuminate it: the secretary, snuffing the
candle, snuffed it out: "Pshaw," said Seckendorf impatiently,
"where did you learn to handle snuffers?" "Excellenz, in a place
where there were two lights kept!" replied the 0ther. [
Sechendorje Leben (already cited), i. 4.]--For the
rest, he has a good old Wife at Meuselwitz, who is now old, and
had never any children; who loves him much, and is much loved by
him, it would appear: this is really the best fact I ever knew of
him,--poor bankrupt creature; gone all to spiritual rheumatism, to
strict orthodoxy, with unlimited mendacity; and avarice as the
general outcome! Stiff-backed, close-fisted strength, all grown
wooden or stony; yet some little well of human Sympathy does lie
far in the interior: one wishes, after all (since he could not be
got hanged in time for us), good days to his poor old Wife and
him! He both lisps and snuffles, as was mentioned; writes
cunningly acres of despatches to Prince Eugene; never swears,
though a military man, except on great occasions one oath,
JARNI-BLEU,--which is perhaps some flash-note version of
CHAIR-DE-DIEU, like PARBLEU, 'Zounds and the rest of them, which
the Devil cannot prosecute you for; whereby an economic man has
the pleasure of swearing on cheap terms.

Herr Pollnitz's account of Seckendorf is unusually emphatic;
babbling Pollnitz rises into a strain of pulpit eloquence,
inspired by indignation, on this topic: "He affected German
downrightness, to which he was a stranger; and followed, under a
deceitful show of piety, all the principles of Machiavel. With the
most sordid love of money he combined boorish manners. Lies [of
the distilled kind chiefly] had so become a habit with him, that
he had altogether lost notion of employing truth in speech. It was
the soul of a usurer, inhabiting now the body of a war-captain,
now transmigrating into that of a huckster. False oaths, and the
abominablest basenesses, cost him nothing, so his object might be
reached. He was miserly with his own, but lavish with his Master's
money; daily he gave most striking proofs of both these habitudes.
And this was the man whom we saw, for a space of time, at the head
of the Kaiser's Armies, and at the helm of the State and of the
German Empire," [Pollnitz, ii. 238.]--having done the Prussian
affair so well.

This cunning old Gentleman, to date from the autumn of 1726, may
be said to have taken possession of Friedrich Wilhelm; to have
gone into him, Grumkow and he, as two devils would have done in
the old miraculous times: and, in many senses, it was they, not
the nominal proprietor, that lived Friedrich Wilhelm's life.
For the next seven years, a figure went about, not doubting it was
Friedrich Wilhelm; but it was in reality Seckendorf-and-Grumkow
much more. These two, conjurer and his man, both invisible, have
caught their royal wild Bear; got a rope round his muzzle;--and so
dance him about; now terrifying, now exhilarating all the market
by the pranks he plays! Grumkow, a very Machiavel after his sort,
knew the nature of the royal animal as no other did. Grumkow,
purchased by his Pension of 500 pounds, is dog-cheap at the Money,
as Seckendorf often urges at Vienna, Is he not? And they add a
touch of extraordinary gift now and then, 40,000 florins (4,000
pounds) on one occasion: [In 1732: Forster, iii. 232.] for
"Grumkow DIENET EHRLICH (serves honorably)," urges Seckendorf;
and again, "If anybody deserves favor [GNADE, meaning extra pay],
it is this gentleman;"--WAHRLICH! Purchased Grumkow has ample
money at command, to purchase other people needed; and does
purchase; so that all things and persons can be falsified and
enchanted, as need is. By and by it has got so far, that Friedrich
Wilhelm's Ambassador at London maintains a cipher-correspondence
with Grumkow; and writes to Friedrich Wilhelm, not what is passing
in city or court there, but what Grumkow wishes Friedrich Wilhelm
to think is passing.

Of insinuations, by assent or contradiction, potent if you know
the nature of the beast; of these we need not speak.
Tabaks-Collegium has become a workshop:--human nature can fancy
it! Nay human nature can still read it in the British State-Paper
Office, to boundless stupendous extent;--but ought mostly to
suppress it when read.

This is a very strange part of Friedrich Wilhelm's history;
and has caused much wonder in the world: Wilhelmina's Book rather
aggravating than assuaging that feeling, on the part of
intelligent readers. A Book written long afterwards, from her
recollections, from her own oblique point of view; in a
beautifully shrill humor; running, not unnaturally, into confused
exaggerations and distortions of all kinds. Not mendaciously
written anywhere, yet erroneously everywhere. Wilhelmina had no
knowledge of the magical machinery that was at work: she vaguely
suspects Grumkow and Seckendorf; but does not guess, in the mad
explosions of Papa, that two devils have got into Papa, and are
doing the mischief. Trusting to memory alone, she misdates,
mistakes, misplaces; jumbles all things topsy-turvy;--giving, on
the whole, an image of affairs which is altogether oblique,
dislocated, exaggerative; and which, in fine, proves
unintelligible, if you try to construe it into a fact or thing
DONE. Yet her Human Narrative, in that wide waste of merely Pedant
Maunderings, is of great worth to us. A green tree, a leafy grove,
better or worse, in the wilderness of dead bones and sand,--how
welcome! Many other Books have been written on the matter; but
these to my experience, only darken it more and more.
Pull Wilhelmina STRAIGHT, the best you can; deduct a twenty-five
or sometimes even a seventy-five per cent, from the exaggerative
portions of her statement; you will find her always true, lucid,
charmingly human; and by far the best authority on this part of
her Brother's History. State-Papers to some extent have also been
printed on the matter; and of written State-Papers, here in
England and elsewhere, this Editor has, had several
hundred-weights distilled for him: but except as lights hung out
over Wilhelmina, nothing yet known, of published or manuscript,
can be regarded as good for much.

O Heavens, had one but seven-league boots, to get across that
inane country,--a bottomless whirlpool of dust and cobwebs in many
places;--where, at any rate, we had so little to do! Elucidating,
rectifying, painfully contrasting, comparing, let us try to work
out some conceivable picture of this strange Imperial MUCH ADO
ABOUT NOTHING; and get our unfortunate Crown-Prince, and our
unfortunate selves, alive through it.

Chapter VII.


In these distressing junctures, it may cheer the reader's spirits,
and will tend to explain for him what is coming, if we glance a
little into the Friedrich-Wilhelm TABAGIE (TABAKS-COLLEGIUM or
Smoking College), more worthy to be called Tobacco-Parliament, of
which there have already been incidental notices. Far too
remarkable an Institution of the country to be overlooked
by us here.

Friedrich Wilhelm, though an absolute Monarch, does not dream of
governing without Law, still less without Justice, which he knows
well to be the one basis for him and for all Kings and men.
His life-effort, prosecuted in a grand, unconscious, unvarying and
instinctive way, may be defined rather as the effort to find out
everywhere in his affairs what was justice; to make regulations,
laws in conformity with that, and to guide himself and his Prussia
rigorously by these. Truly he is not of constitutional turn;
cares little about the wigs and formalities of justice, pressing
on so fiercely towards the essence and fact of it; he has been
known to tear asunder the wigs and formalities, in a notably
impatient manner, when they stood between him and the fact.
But Prussia has its Laws withal, tolerably abundant, tolerably
fixed and supreme: and the meanest Prussian man that could find
out a definite Law, coming athwart Friedrich Wilhelm's wrath,
would check Friedrich Wilhelm in mid-volley,--or hope with good
ground to do it. Hope, we say; for the King is in his own and his
people's eyes, to some indefinite extent, always himself the
supreme ultimate Interpreter, and grand living codex, of the
Laws,--always to some indefinite extent;--and there remains for a
subject man nothing but the appeal to PHILIP SOBER, in some rash
cases! On the whole, however, Friedrich Wilhelm is by no means a
lawless Monarch; nor are his Prussians slaves by any means:
they are patient, stout-hearted, subject men, with a very
considerable quantity of radical fire, very well covered in;
prevented from idle explosions, bound to a respectful demeanor,
and especially to hold their tongues as much as possible.

Friedrich Wilhelm has not the least shadow of a Constitutional
Parliament, nor even a Privy-Council, as we understand it;
his Ministers being in general mere Clerks to register and execute
what he had otherwise resolved upon: but he had his
TABAKS-COLLEGIUM, Tobacco-College, Smoking Congress, TABAGIE,
which has made so much noise in the world, and which, in a rough
natural way: affords him the uses of a Parliament, on most cheap
terms, and without the formidable inconveniences attached to that
kind of Institution. A Parliament reduced to its simplest
expression, and, instead of Parliamentary eloquence, provided with
Dutch clay-pipes and tobacco: so we may define this celebrated
Tabagie of Friedrich Wilhelm's.

Tabagies were not uncommon among German Sovereigns of that epoch:
George I. at Hanover had his Smoking-room, and select smoking
Party on an evening; and even at London, as we noticed, smoked
nightly, wetting his royal throat with thin beer, in presence of
his fat and of his lean Mistress, if there were no other company.
Tobacco,--introduced by the Swedish soldiers in the Thirty-Years
War, say some; or even by the English soldiers in the Bohemian or
Palatinate beginnings of said War, say others;--tobacco, once
shown them, was enthusiastically adopted by the German
populations, long in want of such an article; and has done
important multifarious functions in that country ever since.
For truly, in Politics, Morality, and all departments of their
Practical and Speculative affairs, we may trace its influences,
good and bad, to this day.

Influences generally bad; pacificatory but bad, engaging you in
idle cloudy dreams;--still worse, promoting composure among the
palpably chaotic and discomposed; soothing all things into lazy
peace; that all things may be left to themselves very much, and to
the laws of gravity and decomposition. Whereby German affairs are
come to be greatly overgrown with funguses in our Time; and give
symptoms of dry and of wet rot, wherever handled. George I., we
say, had his Tabagie; and other German Sovereigns had: but none of
them turned it to a Political Institution, as Friedrich Wilhelm
did. The thrifty man; finding it would serve in that capacity
withal. He had taken it up as a commonplace solace and amusement:
it is a reward for doing strenuously the day's heavy labors, to
wind them up in this manner, in quiet society of friendly human
faces, into a contemplative smoke-canopy, slowly spreading into
the realm of sleep and its dreams. Friedrich Wilhelm was a man of
habitudes; his evening Tabagie became a law of Nature to him,
constant as the setting of the sun. Favorable circumstances,
quietly noticed and laid hold of by the thrifty man, developed
this simple evening arrangement of his into a sort of Smoking
Parliament, small but powerful, where State-consultations, in a
fitful informal way, took place; and the weightiest affairs might,
by dexterous management, cunning insinuation and manoeuvring from
those that understood the art and the place, be bent this way or
that, and ripened towards such issue as was desirable.

To ascertain what the true course in regard to this or the other
high matter will be; what the public will think of it; and, in
short, what and how the Executive-Royal shall DO therein:
this, the essential function of a Parliament and Privy-Council,
was here, by artless cheap methods, under the bidding of mere
Nature, multifariously done; mere taciturnity and sedative smoke
making the most of what natural intellect there might be.
The substitution of Tobacco-smoke for Parliamentary eloquence is,
by some, held to be a great improvement. Here is Smelfungus's
opinion, quaintly expressed, with a smile in it, which perhaps is
not all of joy:--

"Tobacco-smoke is the one element in which, by our European
manners, men can sit silent together without embarrassment, and
where no man is bound to speak one word more than he has actually
and veritably got to say. Nay, rather every man is admonished and
enjoined by the laws of honor, and even of personal ease, to stop
short of that point; at all events, to hold his peace and take to
his pipe again, the instant he has spoken his meaning, if he
chance to have any. The results of which salutary practice, if
introduced into Constitutional Parliaments, might evidently be
incalculable. The essence of what little intellect and insight
there is in that room: we shall or can get nothing more out of any
Parliament; and sedative, gently soothing, gently clarifying
tobacco-smoke (if the room were well ventilated, open atop, and
the air kept good), with the obligation to a MINIMUM of speech,
surely gives human intellect and insight the best chance they can
have. Best chance, instead of the worst chance as at present:
ah me, ah me, who will reduce fools to silence again in any
measure? Who will deliver men from this hideous nightmare of
Stump-Oratory, under which the grandest Nations are choking to a
nameless death, bleeding (too truly) from mouth and nose and ears,
in our sad days?"

This Tobacco-College is the Grumkow-and-Seckendorf chief field of
action. These two gentlemen understand thoroughly the nature of
the Prussian Tobacco-Parliament; have studied the conditions of it
to the most intricate cranny: no English Whipper-in or eloquent
Premier knows his St. Stephen's better, or how to hatch a measure
in that dim hot element. By hint, by innuendo; by contemplative
smoke, speech and forbearance to speak; often looking one way and
rowing another,--they can touch the secret springs, and guide in a
surprising manner the big dangerous Fireship (for such every
State-Parliament is) towards the haven they intend for it.
Most dexterous Parliament-men (Smoke-Parliament); no Walpole, no
Dundas, or immortal Pitt, First or Second, is cleverer in
Parliamentary practice. For their Fireship, though smaller than
the British, is very dangerous withal. Look at this, for instance:
Seckendorf, one evening, far contrary to his wont, which was
prostrate respect in easy forms, and always judicious submission
of one's own weaker judgment, towards his Majesty,--has got into
some difficult defence of the Kaiser; defence very difficult, or
in reality impossible. The cautious man is flustered by the
intricacies of his position, by his Majesty's indignant
counter-volleys, and the perilous necessity there is to do the
impossible on the spur of the instant;--gets into emphasis,
answers his Majesty's volcanic fire by incipient heat of his own;
and, in short, seems in danger of forgetting himself, and kindling
the Tobacco-Parliament into a mere conflagration. That will be an
issue for us! And yet who dare interfere? Friedrich Wilhelm's
words, in high clangorous metallic plangency, and the pathos of a
lion raised by anger into song, fall hotter and hotter;
Seckendorf's puckered brow is growing of slate-color;
his shelf-lip, shuttling violently, lisps and snuffles mere
unconciliatory matter:--What on earth will become of us?--"Hoom!
Boom!" dexterous Grumkow has drawn a Humming-top from his pocket,
and suddenly sent it spinning. There it hums and caracoles,
through the bottles and glasses; reckless what dangerous breakage
and spilth it may occasion. Friedrich Wilhelm looked aside to it
indignantly. "What is that?" inquired he, in metallic tone still
high. "Pooh, a toy I bought for the little Prince August, your
Majesty: am only trying it!" His Majesty understood the hint,
Seckendorf still better; and a jolly touch of laughter, on both
sides, brought the matter back into the safe tobacco-clouds again.
[Forster, ii. 110.]

This Smoking Parliament or (TABAKS-COLLEGIUM of his Prussian
Majesty was a thing much talked of in the world; but till
Seckendorf and Grumkow started their graud operations there, its
proceedings are not on record; nor indeed till then had its
political or parliamentary function become so decidedly evident.
It was originally a simple Smoking-Club; got together on hest of
Nature, without ulterior intentions:--thus English PARLIAMENTA
themselves are understood to have been, in the old Norman time,
mere royal Christmas-Festivities, with natural colloquy or
PARLEYING between King and Nobles ensuing thereupon, and what
wisest consultation concerning the arduous things of the realm the
circumstances gave rise to. Such parleyings or consultations,--
always two in number in regard to every matter, it would seem, or
even three; one sober, one drunk, and one just after being drunk,
--proving of extreme service in practice, grew to be Parliament,
with its three readings, and what not.

A Smoking-room,--with wooden furniture, we can suppose,--in each
of his Majesty's royal Palaces, was set apart for this evening
service, and became the Tabagie of his Majesty. A Tabagie-room in
the Berlin Schloss, another in the Potsdam, if the cicerone had
any knowledge, could still be pointed out:--but the Tobacco-PIPES
that are shown as Friedrich Wilhelm's in the KUNSTKAMMER or Museum
of Berlin, pipes which no rational smoker, not compelled to it,
would have used, awaken just doubt as to the cicerones; and you
leave the Locality of the Tabagie a thing conjectural. In summer
season, at Potsdam and in country situations, Tabagie could be
held under a tent: we expressly know, his Majesty held Tabagie at
Wusterhausen nightly on the Steps of the big Fountain, in the
Outer Court there. Issuing from Wusterhausen Schloss, and its
little clipped lindens, by the western side; passing the sentries,
bridge and black ditch, with live Prussian eagles, vicious black
bears, you come upon the royal Tabagie of Wusterhausen; covered by
an awning, I should think; sending forth its bits of smoke-clouds,
and its hum of human talk, into the wide free Desert round.
Any room that was large enough, and had height of ceiling, and
air-circulation and no cloth-furniture, would do: and in each
Palace is one, or more than one, that has been fixed upon and
fitted out for that object.

A high large Room, as the Engravings (mostly worthless) give it
us: contented saturnine human figures, a dozen or so of them,
sitting round a large long Table, furnished for the occasion;
long Dutch pipe in the mouth of each man; supplies of knaster
easily accessible; small pan of burning peat, in the Dutch fashion
(sandy native charcoal, which burns slowly without smoke), is at
your left hand; at your right a jug, which I find to consist of
excellent thin bitter beer. Other costlier materials for drinking,
if you want such, are not beyond reach. On side-tables stand
wholesome cold-meats, royal rounds of beef not wanting, with bread
thinly sliced and buttered: in a rustic but neat and abundant way,
such innocent accommodations, narcotic or nutritious, gaseous,
fluid and solid, as human nature, bent on contemplation and an
evening lounge, can require. Perfect equality is to be the rule;
no rising, or notice taken, when anybody enters or leaves. Let the
entering man take his place and pipe, without obligatory remarks:
if he cannot smoke, which is Seckendorf's case for instance, let
him at least affect to do so, and not ruffle the established
stream of things. And so, Puff, slowly Pff!--and any comfortable
speech that is in you; or none, if you authentically have not any.

Old official gentlemen, military for most part; Grumkow, Derschau,
Old Dessauer (when at hand), Seckendorf, old General Flans (rugged
Platt-Deutsch specimen, capable of TOCADILLE or backgammon,
capable of rough slashes of sarcasm when he opens his old beard
for speech): these, and the like of these, intimate confidants of
the King, men who could speak a little, or who could be socially
silent otherwise,--seem to have been the staple of the
Institution. Strangers of mark, who happened to be passing, were
occasional guests; Ginckel the Dutch Ambassador, though foreign
like Seckendorf, was well seen there; garrulous Pollnitz, who has
wandered over all the world, had a standing invitation.
Kings, high Princes on visit, were sure to have the honor.
The Crown-Prince, now and afterwards, was often present;
oftener than he liked,--in such an atmosphere, in such an element.
"The little Princes were all wont to come in," doffing their bits
of triangular hats, "and bid Papa good-night. One of the old
Generals would sometimes put them through their exercise; and the
little creatures were unwilling to go away to bed."

In such Assemblage, when business of importance, foreign or
domestic, was not occupying the royal thoughts,--the Talk, we can
believe, was rambling and multifarious: the day's hunting, if at
Wusterhausen; the day's news, if at Berlin or Potsdam;
old reminiscences, too, I can fancy, turning up, and talk, even in
Seckendorf's own time, about Siege of Menin (where your Majesty
first did me the honor of some notice), Siege of Stralsund, and--
duly on September 11th at least--Malplaquet, with Marlborough and
Eugene: what Marlborough said, looked: and especially Lottum, late
Feldmarschall Lottum; [Died 1719.] and how the Prussian Infantry
held firm, like a wall of rocks, when the horse were swept away,--
rocks highly volcanic, and capable of rolling forward too;
and "how a certain Adjutant [Derschau smokes harder, and blushes
brown] snatched poor Tettau on his back, bleeding to death, amid
the iron whirlwinds, and brought him out of shot-range." [
Militair-Lexikon, iv. 78, ? Major-General von Tettau,
and i. 348, ? Derschau. This was the beginning of Derschau's favor
with Friedrich Wilhelm, who had witnesssd this piece of faithful
work.]--"Hm, na, such a Day, that, Herr Feldzeugmeister, as we
shall not see again till the Last of the Days!"

Failing talk, there were Newspapers in abundance; scraggy Dutch
Courants, Journals of the Rhine, FAMAS, Frankfurt ZEITUNGS;
with which his Majesty exuberantly supplied himself;--being
willing to know what was passing in the high places of the world,
or even what in the dark snuffy Editor's thoughts was passing.
This kind of matter, as some picture of the actual hour, his
Majesty liked to have read to him, even during meal-time.
Some subordinate character, with clear windpipe,--all the better
too, if he be a book-man, cognizant of History, Geography, and can
explain everything,--usually reads the Newspaper from some high
seat behind backs, while his Majesty and Household dine. The same
subordinate personage may be worth his place in the Tabagie,
should his function happen to prove necessary there.
Even book-men, though generally pedants and mere bags of wind and
folly, are good for something, more especially if rich mines of
quizzability turn out to be workable in them.


Friedrich Wilhelm had, in succession or sometimes simultaneously,
a number of such Nondescripts, to read his Newspapers and season
his Tabagie;--last evanescent phasis of the old Court-Fool
species;--who form a noticeable feature of his environment.
One very famous literary gentleman of this description, who
distanced every competitor, in the Tabagie and elsewhere, for
serving his Majesty's occasions, was Jakob Paul Gundling; a name
still laughingly remembered among the Prussian People.
Gundling was a Country-Clergyman's son, of the Nurnberg quarter;
had studied, carrying off the honors, in various Universities;
had read, or turned over, whole cartloads of wise and foolish
Books (gravitating, I fear, towards the latter kind); had gone the
Grand Tour as travelling tutor, "as companion to an English
gentleman." He had seen courts, perhaps camps, at lowest cities
and inns; knew in a manner, practically and theoretically, all
things, and had published multifarious Books of his own. [List of
them, Twenty-one in number, mostly on learned Antiquarian
subjects,--in Forster, ii. 255, 256.] The sublime long-eared
erudition of the man was not to be contested; manifest to
everybody; thrice and four times manifest to himself, in the
first place.

In the course of his roamings, and grand and little tours, he had
come to Berlin in old King Friedrich's time; had thrown powder in
the eyes of men there, and been appointed to Professorships in the
Ritter-Academy, to Chief-Heraldships,--"Historiographer Royal,"
and perhaps other honors and emoluments. The whole of which were
cut down by the ruthless scythe of Friedrich Wilhelm, ruthlessly
mowing his field clear, in the manner we saw at his Accession.
Whereby learned grandiloquent Gundling, much addicted to liquor by
this time, and turning the corner of forty, saw himself cast forth
into the general wilderness; that is to say, walking the streets
of Berlin, with no resources but what lay within himself and his
own hungry skin. Much given to liquor too. How he lived, for a
year or two after this,--erudite pen and braggart tongue his only
resources,--were tragical to say. At length a famous
Tavern-keeper, the "LEIPZIGE POLTER-HANS (Leipzig Kill-Cow, or
BOISTEROUS-JACK)," as they call him, finding what a dungeon of
erudite talk this Gundling was, and how gentlemen got entertained
by him, gave Gundling the run of his Tavern (or, I fear, only a
seat in the drinking-room); and it was here that General Grumkow
found him, talking big, and disserting DE OMNI SCIBILI, to the
ancient Berlin gentlemen over their cups. A very Dictionary of a
man; who knows, in a manner, all things; and is by no means
ignorant that he knows them: Would not this man suit his Majesty?
thought Grumkow; and brought him to Majesty, to read the
Newspapers and explain everything. Date is not given, or hinted
at; but incidentally we find Gundling in full blast "in the year
1718;" [Von Loen, Kleine Schriften, i. 201 (cited in
Forster, i. 260).] and conclude his instalment was a year or two
before. Gundling came to his Majesty from the Tap-room of
Boisterous-Jack; read the Newspapers, and explained everything:
such a Dictionary-in-breeches (much given to liquor) as his
Majesty had got, was never seen before. Working into the man, his
Majesty, who had a great taste for such things, discovered in him
such mines of college-learning, court-learning, without end;
self-conceit, and depth of appetite, not less considerable:
in fine, such Chaotic Blockheadism with the consciousness of being
Wisdom, as was wondrous to behold,--as filled his Majesty,
especially, with laughter and joyful amazement. Here are mines of
native Darkness and Human Stupidity, capable of being made to
phosphoresce and effervesce,--are there not, your Majesty?
Omniscient Gundling was a prime resource in the Tabagie, for many
years to come. Man with sublimer stores of long-eared Learning
and Omniscience; man more destitute of Mother-wit, was nowhere to
be met with. A man, bankrupt of Mother-wit;--who has Squandered
any poor Mother-wit he had in the process of acquiring his sublime
long-eared Omniscience; and has retained only depth of appetite,--
appetite for liquor among other things, as the consummation and
bottomless cesspool of appetites:--is not this a discovery we have
made, in Boisterous-Jack's, your Majesty!

The man was an Eldorado for the peculiar quizzing humor of his
Majesty; who took immense delight in working him, when occasion
served. In the first years, he had to attend his Majesty on all
occasions of amusement; if you invite his Majesty to dinner,
Gundling too must be of the party. Daily, otherwise, Gundling was
at the Tabagie; getting drunk, if nothing better. Vein after vein,
rich in broad fun (very broad and Brobdignagian, such as suits
there), is discovered in him: without wit himself, but much the
cause of wit. None oftener shook the Tabagie with inextinguishable
Hahas: daily, by stirring into him, you could wrinkle the Tabagie
into grim radiance of banter and silent grins.

He wore sublime clothes: Friedrich Wilhelm, whom we saw dress up
his regimental Scavenger-Executioners in French costume, for Count
Rothenburg's behoof, made haste to load Gundling with Rathships,
Kammerherrships, Titles such as fools covet;--gave him tolerable
pensions too, poor devil, and even functions, if they were of the
imaginary or big insignificant sort. Above all things, his Majesty
dressed him, as the pink of fortunate ambitious courtiers.
Superfine scarlet coat, gold buttonholes, black-velvet facings and
embroideries without end: "straw-colored breeches; red silk
stockings," with probably blue clocks to them, "and shoes with red
heels:" on his learned head sat an immense cloud-periwig of white
goat's-hair (the man now growing towards fifty); in the hat a red
feather:--in this guise he walked the streets, the gold Key of
KAMMERHERR (Chamberlain) conspicuously hanging at his coat-breast;
and looked proudly down upon the world, when sober. Alas, he was
often not sober; and fiends in human shape were ready enough to
take advantage of his unguarded situation. No man suffered ruder
tarring-and-feathering;--and his only comfort was his bane withal,
that he had, under such conditions, the use of the royal cellars,
and could always command good liquor there.

His illustrious scarlet coat, by tumblings in the ditch, soon got
dirty to a degree; and exposed him to the biting censures of his
Majesty, anxious for the respectability of his Hofraths. One day,
two wicked Captains, finding him prostrate in some lone place, cut
off his Kammerherr KEY; and privately gave it to his Majesty.
Majesty, in Tabagie, notices Gundling's coat-breast: "Where is
your Key, then, Herr Kammerherr?" "Hm, hah--unfortunately lost it,
Ihro Majestat!"--"Lost it, say you?" and his Majesty looks
dreadfully grave.--"Key lost?" thinks Tabagie, grave Seckendorf
included: "JARNI-BLEU, that is something serious!" "As if a
Soldier were to drink his musket!" thinks his Majesty: "And what
are the laws, if an ignorant fellow is shot, and a learned wise
one escapes?" Here is matter for a deliberative Tabagie; and to
poor Gundling a bad outlook, fatal or short of fatal. He had
better not even drink much; but dispense with consolation, and
keep his wits about him, till this squall pass. After much
deliberating, it is found that the royal clemency can be extended;
and an outlet devised, under conditions. Next Tabagie, a servant
enters with one of the biggest trays in the world, and upon it a
"Wooden Key gilt, about an ell long;" this gigantic implement is
solemnly hung round the repentant Kammerherr; this he shall wear
publicly as penance, and be upon his behavior, till the royal mind
can relent. Figure the poor blockhead till that happen!
"On recovering his metal key, he goes to a smith, and has it fixed
on with wire."

What Gundling thought to himself, amid these pranks and hoaxings,
we do not know. The poor soul was not born a fool; though he had
become one, by college-learning, vanity, strong-drink, and the
world's perversity and his own. Under good guidance, especially if
bred to strict silence, he might have been in some measure a
luminous object,--not as now a phosphorescent one, shining by its
mere rottenness! A sad "Calamity of Authors" indeed, when it
overtakes a man!--Poor Gundling probably had lucid intervals now
and then; tragic fits of discernment, in the inner-man of him.
He had a Brother, also a learned man, who retained his senses;
and was even a rather famed Professor at Halle; whose Portrait,
looking very academic, solemn and well-to-do, turns up in old
printshops; whose Books, concerning "Henry the Fowler ( De
Henrico Aucupe )," "Kaiser Conrad I.," and other dim
Historical objects, are still consultable,--though with little
profit, to my experience. The name of this one was NICOLAUS
HIERONYMUS; ours is JAKOB PAUL, the senior brother,--once the hope
of the House, it is likely, and a fond Father's pride,--in that
poor old Nurnberg Parsonage long ago!

Jakob Paul likewise continued to write Books, on Brandenburg
Heraldries, Topography, Genealogies: even a "LIFE" or two of some
old Brandenburg Electors are still extant from his hand; but not
looked at now by any mortal. He had been, perhaps was again,
Historiographer Royal; and felt bound to write such Books: several
of them he printed; and we hear of others still manuscript, "in
five folio volumes written fair." He held innumerable half-mock
Titles and Offices; among others, was actual President of the
Berlin Royal Society, or ACADEMIE DES SCIENCES, Leibnitz's pet
daughter,--there Gundling actually sat in Office; and drew the
salary, for one certainty. "As good he as another," thought
Friedrich Wilhelm: "What is the use of these solemn fellows, in
their big perukes, with their crabbed X+Y's, and scientiflc
Pedler's-French; doing nothing that I can see, except annually the
Berlin Almanac, which they live upon?
Let them live upon it, and be thankful; with Gundling for their
head man."

Academy of Sciences makes its ALMANAC, and some peculium of profit
by it; lectures perhaps a little "on Anatomy" (good for something,
that, in his Majesty's mind); but languishes--without
encouragement during the present reign. Has his Majesty no prize
questions to propose, then? None, or worse. He once officially put
these learned Associates upon ascertaining for him "Why Champagne
foamed?" They, with a hidden vein of pleasantry, required
"material to experiment upon." Friedrich Wilhelm sent them a
dozen, or certain dozens; and the matter proved insoluble to this
day. No King, scarcely any man, had less of reverence for the
Sciences so called; for Academic culture, and the art of the
Talking-Schoolmaster in general! A King obtuse to the fine Arts,
especially to the vocal Arts, in a high degree. Literary fame
itself he regards as mountebank fame; the art of writing big
admirable folios is little better to him than that of vomiting
long coils of wonderful ribbon, for the idlers of the
market-place; and he bear-baits his Gundling, in this manner,
as phosphorescent blockhead of the first magnitude, worthy
of nothing better.

Nay, it is but lately (1723 the exact year) that he did his
ever-memorable feat in regard to Wolf and his Philosophy, at
Halle. Illustrious Wolf was recognized, at that time, as the
second greater Leibnitz, and Head-Philosopher of Nature, who "by
mathematical method" had as it were taken Nature in the fact, and
illuminated everything, so that whosoever ran might read,--which
all manner of people then tried to do, but, have now quite ceased
trying "by the Wolf-method:"--Immortal Wolf, somewhat of a stiff,
reserved humor, inwardly a little proud, and not wanting in
private contempt of the contemptible, had been accused of
heterodoxy by the Halle Theologians. Immortal Wolf, croakily
satirical withal, had of course defended himself; and of course
got into a shoreless sea of controversy with the Halle
Theologians; pestering his Majesty with mere wars, and rumors of
war, for a length of time, from that Halle University.
[In Busching ( Beitrage, i. l-140) is rough
authentic account of Wolf, and especially of all that,--with
several curious LETTERS of Wolf's.] So that Majesty, unable to
distinguish top or bottom in such a coil of argument; or to do
justice in the case, however willing and anxious, often
passionately asked: "What, in God's name, is the real truth of
it?" Majesty appointed Commissions to inquire; read Reports;
could for a long while make out nothing certain. At last came a
decision on the sudden;--royal mind suddenly illuminated, it is a
little uncertain how. Some give the credit of it to Gundling,
which is unlikely; others to "Two Generals" of piouis orthodox
turn, acquainted with Halle;--and I have heard obscurely that it
was the Old Dessauer, who also knew Halle; and was no doubt
wearied to hear nothing talked of there but injured Philosopher
Wolf, and injuring Theologian Lange, or VICE VERSA. Some practical
military man, not given to take up with shadows, it likeliest was.
"In God's name, what is the real truth of all that?" inquired his
Majesty, of the practical man: "DOES Wolf teach hellish doctrines;
as Lange says, or heavenly, as himself says?" "Teaches babble
mainly, I should think, and scientific Pedler's French," intimated
the practical man: "But they say he has one doctrine about oaths,
and what he calls foundation of duty, which I did not like. Not a
heavenly doctrine that. Follow out that, any of your Majesty's
grenadiers might desert, and say he had done no sin against God!"
[Busching, i. 8; Benekendorf, Karakterzilge aus dem Leben
Konig Friedrich Wilhelm I. (Anonymous, Berlin, 1787),
ii. 23.] Friedrich Wilhelm flew into a paroxysm of horror;
instantly redacted brief Royal Decree [15th November (Busching
says 8th), 1723.] (which is still extant among the curiosities of
the Universe), ordering Wolf to quit Halle and the Prussian
Dominions, bag and baggage, forevermore, within eighb-and-forty
hours, "BEY STRAFE DES STRANGES, under pain of the halter!"

Halter: the Head-Philosopher of Nature, found too late, will be
hanged, as if he were a sheep-stealer; hanged, and no mistake!
Poor Wolf gathered himself together, wife and baggage; girded up
his loins; and ran with the due despatch. He is now found
sheltered under Hessen-Darmstadt, at Marburg, professing something
there; and all the intellect of the world is struck with
astonishment, and with silent or vocal pity for the poor man.--
It is but fair to say, Friedrich Wilhelm, gradually taking notice
of the world's humor in regard to this, began to have his own
misgivings; and determined to read some of Wolf's Books for
himself. Reading in Wolf, he had sense to discern that here was a
man of undeniable talent and integrity; that the Practical
Military judgment, loading with the iron ramrod, had shot wide of
the mark, in this matter; and, in short, that a palpable bit of
foul-play had been done. This was in 1733;--ten years after the
shot, when his Majesty saw, with his own eyes, how wide it had
gone. He applied to Wolf earnestly, more than once, to come back
to him: Halle, Frankfurt, any Prussian University with a vacancy
in it, was now wide open to Wolf. But Wolf knew better: Wolf, with
bows down to the ground, answered always evadingly;--and never
would come back till the New Reign began.

Friedrich Wilhelm knew little of Book-learning or Book-writing;
and his notion of it is very shocking to us. But the fact is,
O reader, Book-writing is of two kinds: one wise, and may be among
the wisest of earthly things; the other foolish, sometimes far
beyond what can be reached by human nature elsewhere.
Blockheadism, Unwisdom, while silent, is reckoned bad;
but Blockheadism getting vocal, able to speak persuasively,--have
you considered that at all? Human Opacity falling into
Phosphorescence; that is to say, becoming luminous (to itself and
to many mortals) by the very excess of it, by the very bursting of
it into putrid fermentation;--all other forms of Chaos are cosmic
in comparison!--Our poor Friedrich Wilhelm had seen only Gundlings
among the Book-writing class: had he seen wiser specimens, he
might have formed, as he did in Wolf's case, another judgment.
Nay in regard to Gundling himself, it is observable how, with his
unutterable contempt, he seems to notice in him glimpses of the
admirable (such acquirements, such dictionary-faculties, though
gone distracted!),--and almost has a kind of love for the absurd
dog. Gundling's pensions amount to something like 150 pounds;
an immense sum in this Court. [Forster, i. 263, 284 (if you can
RECONCILE the two passages).] A blockhead admirable in some sorts;
and of immense resource in Tobaoco-Parliament when business
is slack!--

No end to the wild pranks, the Houyhnhnm horse-play they had with
drunken Gundling. He has staggered out in a drunk state, and
found, or not clearly FOUND till the morrow, young bears lying in
his bed;--has found his room-door walled up; been obliged to grope
about, staggering from door to door and from port to port, and
land ultimately in the big Bears' den, who hugged and squeezed him
inhumanly there. Once at Wusterhausen, staggering blind-drunk out
of the Schloss towards his lair, the sentries at the Bridge
(instigated to it by the Houyhnhnms, who look on) pretend to
fasten some military blame on him: Why has he omitted or committed
so-and-so? Gundling's drunk answer is unsatisfactory. "Arrest,
Herr Kammerrath, is it to be that, then!" They hustle him about,
among the Bears which lodge there;--at length they lay him
horizontally across two ropes;--take to swinging him hither and
thither, up and down, across the black Acherontic Ditch, which is
frozen over, it being the dead of winter: one of the ropes, LOWER
rope, breaks; Gundling comes souse upon the ice with his
sitting-part; breaks a big hole in the ice, and scarcely with
legs, arms and the remaining rope, can be got out undrowned.
[Forster (i. 254-280); founding, I suppose, on Leben und
Thaten des Freiherrn Paul von Gundling (Berlin,
1795); probably not one of the exactest Biographies.]

If, with natural indignation, he shut his door, and refuse to come
to the Tabagie, they knock in a panel of his door; and force him
out with crackers, fire-works, rockets and malodorous projectiles.
Once the poor blockhead, becoming human for a moment, went clean
away; to Halle where his Brother was, or to some safer place:
but the due inveiglements, sublime apologies, increase of titles,
salaries, were used; and the indispensable Phosphorescent
Blockhead, and President of the Academy of Pedler's-French, was
got back. Drink remained always as his consolation; drink, and the
deathless Volumes he was writing and printing. Sublime returns
came to him;--Kaiser's Portrait set in diamonds, on one occasion,
--for his Presentation-Copies in high quarters: immortal fame, is
it not his clear portion; still more clearly abundance of good
wine. Friedrich Wilhelm did not let him want for Titles;--raised
him at last to the Peerage; drawing out the Diploma and Armorial
Blazonry, in a truly Friedrich-Wilhelm manner, with his own hand.
The Gundlings, in virtue of the transcendent intellect and merits
of this Founder Gundling, are, and are hereby declared to be, of
Baronial dignity to the last scion of them; and in "all
RITTER-RENNEN (Tournaments), Battles, Fights, Camp-pitchings,
Sealings, Siguetings, shall and may use the above-said Shield of
Arms,"--if it can be of any advantage to them. A Prussian Majesty
who gives us 150 pounds yearly, with board and lodging and the run
of his cellar, and honors such as these, is not to be lightly
sneezed away, though of queer humors now and then. The highest
Personages, as we said, more than once made gifts to Gundling;
miniatures set in diamonds; purses of a hundred ducats:
even Gundling, it was thought, might throw in a word, mad or
otherwise, which would bear fruit. It was said of him, he never
spoke to harm anybody with his Majesty. The poor blown-up
blockhead was radically not ill-natured,--at least, if you let his
"phosphorescences" alone.

But the grandest explosious, in Tobacco-Parliament, were
producible, when you got Two literary fools; and, as if with
Leyden-jars, positive and negative, brought their vanities to bear
on one another. This sometimes happened, when Tobacbo-Parliament
was in luck. Friedrich Wilhelm had a variety of Merry-Andrew Raths
of the Gundling sort, though none ever came up to Gundling, or
approached him, in worth as a Merry-Andrew.

Herr Fassmann, who wrote Books, by Patronage or for the Leipzig
Booksellers, and wandered about the world as a star or comet of
some magnitude, is not much known to my readers:--but he is too
well known to me, for certain dark Books of his which I have had
to read. [ Life of Friedrich Wilhelm,
occasionally cited here; Life of August the Strong;
&c.] A very dim Literary Figure; undeniable,
indecipherable Human Fact, of those days; now fallen quite extinct
and obsolete; his garniture, equipment, environment all very dark
to us. Probably a too restless, imponderous creature, too much of
the Gundling type; structure of him GASEOUS, not solid; Perhaps a
little of the coxcomb naturally; much of the sycophant on
compulsion,--being sorely jammed into corners, and without
elbow-room at all, in this world. Has, for the rest, a
recognizable talent for "Magazine writing,"--for Newspaper
editing, had that rich mine, "California of the Spiritually
Vagabond," been opened in those days. Poor extinct Fassmann, one
discovers at last a vein of weak geniality in him; here and there,
real human sense and eyesight, under those strange conditions;
and his poor Books, rotted now to inanity, have left a small
seed-pearl or two, to the earnest reader. Alas, if he WAS to
become "spiritually vagabond" ("spiritually" and otherwise),
might it not perhaps be wholesome to him that the California
was NOT discovered?--

Fassmann was by no means such a fool as Gundling; but, he was much
of a fool too. He had come to Berlin, about this time, [1726, as
he himself says (supra p. 8).] in hopes of patronage from the King
or somebody; might say to himself, "Surely I am a better man than
Gundling, if the Berlin Court has eyesight." By the King, on some
wise General's recommending it, he was, as a preliminary,
introduced to the Tabagie at least. Here is the celebrated
Gundling; there is the celebrated Fassmann. Positive Leyden-jar,
with negative close by: in each of these two men lodges a
full-charged fiery electric virtue of self-conceit; destructive
each of the other;--could a conductor be discovered.
Conductors are discoverable, conductors are not wanting; and many
are the explosions between these mutually-destructive human
varieties;--welcomed with hilarious, rather vacant, huge
horse-laughter, in this Tobacco-Parliament and Synod of
the Houyhnhnms.

Of which take this acme; and then end. Fassmann, a fellow not
without sarcasm and sharpness, as you may still see, has one
evening provoked Gundling to the transcendent pitch,--till words
are weak, and only action will answer. Gundling, driven to the
exploding point, suddenly seizes his Dutch smoking-pan, of
peat-charcoal ashes and red-hot sand; and dashes it in the face of
Fassmann; who is of course dreadfully astonished thereby, and has
got his very eyebrows burnt, not to speak of other injuries.
Stand to him, Fassmann! Fassmann stands to him tightly, being the
better man as well as the more satirical; grasps Gundling by the
collar, wrenches him about, lays him at last over his knee,
sitting-part uppermost; slaps said sitting-part (poor sitting-part
that had broken the ice of Wusterhausen) with the hot pan,--nay
some say, strips it and slaps. Amid the inextinguishable
horse-laughter (sincere but vacant) of the Houyhnhnm Olympus.

After which, his Majesty, as epilogue to such play, suggests, That
feats of that nature are unseemly among gentlemen; that when
gentlemen have a quarrel, there is another way of settling it.
Fassmann thereupon challenges Gundling; Gundling accepts; time and
place are settled, pistols the weapon. At the appointed time and
place Gundling stands, accordingly, pistol in hand; but at sight
of Fassmann, throws his pistol away; will not shoot any man, nor
have any man shoot him. Fassmann sternly advances; shoots his
pistol (powder merely) into Gundling's sublime goat's-hair wig:
wig blazes into flame; Gundling falls shrieking, a dead man, to
the earth; and they quench and revive him with a bucket of water.
Was there ever seen such horse-play? Roaring laughter, huge, rude,
and somewhat vacant, as that of the Norse gods over their ale at
Yule time;--as if the face of the Sphinx were to wrinkle itself in
laughter; or the fabulous Houyhnhnms themselves were there to mock
in their peculiar fashion.

His Majesty at length gave Gundling a wine-cask, duly figured;
"painted black with a white cross," which was to stand in his room
as MEMENTO-MORI, and be his coffin. It stood for ten years;
Gundling often sitting to write in it; a good screen against
draughts. And the poor monster was actually buried in this cask;
[Died 11th April, 1731, age 58: description of the Burial "at
Bornstadt near Potsdam," in Forster, i. 276.] Fassmann pronouncing
some funeral oration,--and the orthodox clergy uttering, from the
distance, only a mute groan. "The Herr Baron von Gundling was a
man of many dignities, of much Book-learning; a man of great
memory," admits Fassmann, "but of no judgment," insinuates he,--
LOOKING FOR the Judgment (EXPECTANS JUDICIUM)," says Fassmann,
with a pleasant wit. Fassmann succeeded to all the emoluments and
honors; but did not hold them; preferred to run away before long:
and after him came one and the other, whom the reader is not to be
troubled with here. Enough if the patient reader have seen, a
little, into that background of Friedrich Wilhelm's existence;
and, for the didactic part, have caught up his real views or
instincts upon Spiritual Phosphorescence, or Stupidity grown
Vocal, which are much sounder than most of us suspect.

These were the sports of the Tobacco-Parliament; and it was always
meant primarily for sport, for recreation: but there is no doubt
it had a serious function as well. "Business matters," adds
Beneckendorf, who had means of knowing, [Benekendorf,
Karakterzuge, i. 137-149; vi. 37.] "were often a
subject of colloquy in the TABAKS-COLLEGIUM. Not that they were
there finished off, decided upon, or meant to be so. But Friedrich
Wilhelm often purposely brought up such things in conversation
there, that he might learn the different opinions of his generals
and chief men, without their observing it,"--and so might profit
by the Collective Wisdom, in short.

Chapter VIII.


The Treaty of Wusterhausen was not yet known to Queen Sophie, to
her Father George, or to any external creature: but that open
flinching, and gradual withdrawal, from the Treaty of Hanover was
too well known; and boded no good to her pet project. Female
sighs, male obduracies, and other domestic phenomena, are to be
imagined in consequence. "A grand Britannic Majesty indeed;
very lofty Father to us, Madam, ever since he came to be King of
England: Stalking along there, with his nose in the air;
not deigning the least notice of us, except as of a thing that may
be got to fight for him! And he does not sign the Double-Marriage
Treaty, Madam; only talks of signing it,--as if we were a starved
coach-horse, to be quickened along by a wisp of hay put upon the
coach-pole close ahead of us always!"--"JARNI-BLEU!" snuffles
Seckendorf with a virtuous zeal, or looks it; and things are not
pleasant at the royal dinner-table.

Excellenz Seckendorf, we find at this time, "often has his Majesty
to dinner:" and such dinners; fitting one's tastes in all points,
--no expense regarded (which indeed is the Kaiser's, if we knew
it)! And in return, Excellenz is frequently at dinner with his
Majesty; where the conversation; if it turn on England, which
often happens, is more and more an offence to Queen Sophie.
Seckendorf studies to be polite, reserved before the Queen's
Majesty at her own table; yet sometimes he lisps out, in his vile
snuffling tone, half-insinuations, remarks on our Royal Kindred,
which are irritating in the extreme. Queen Sophie, the politest of
women, did once, says Pollnitz, on some excessive pressure of that
lisping snuffling unendurability, lose her royal patience and
flame out. With human frankness, and uncommonly kindled eyes, she
signified to Seckendorf, That none who was not himself a kind of
scoundrel could entertain such thoughts of Kings and gentlemen!
Which hard saying kindled the stiff-backed rheumatic soul of
Seckendorf (Excellenz had withal a temper in him, far down in the
deeps); who answered: "Your Majesty, that is what no one else
thinks of me. That is a name I have never permitted any one to
give me with impunity." And verily, he kept his threat in that
latter point, says Pollnitz. [ii. 244.]

At this stage, it is becoming, in the nature of things, unlikely
that the projected Double-Marriage, or any union with England, can
ever realize itself for Queen Sophie and her House. The Kaiser has
decreed that it never shall. Here is the King already irritated,
grown indisposed to it; here is the Kaiser's Seckendorf, with
preternatural Apparatus, come to maintain him in that humor.
To Queen Sophie herself, who saw only the outside of Seckendorf
and his Apparatus, the matter doubtless seemed big with
difficulties; but to us, who see the interior, the difficulties
are plainly hopeless. Unless the Kaiser's mind change, unless many
fixed things change, the Double-Marriage is impossible.

One thing only is a sorrow; and this proved an immeasurable one:
That they did not, that Queen Sophie did not, in such case,
frankly give it up: Double-Marriage is not a law of Nature; it is
only a project at Hanover that has gone off again. There will be a
life for our Crown-Prince, and Princess, without a marriage with
England!-It is greatly wise to recognize the impossible, the
unreasonably difficult, when it presents itself: but who of men is
there, much more who of women that can always do it?

Queen Sophie Dorothee will have this Double-Marriage, and it shall
be possible. Pour Lady, she was very obstinate; and her Husband
was very arbitrary. A rough bear of a Husband, yet by no means an
unloving one; a Husband who might have been managed. She evidently
made a great mistake in deciding not to obey this man; as she had
once vowed. By perfect prompt obedience she might have had a very
tolerable life with the rugged Orson fallen to her lot; who was a
very honest-hearted creature. She might have done a pretty stroke
of female work, withal, in taming her Orson; might have led him by
the muzzle far enough in a private way,--by obedience.

But by disobedience, by rebellion open or secret? Friedrich
Wilhelm was a Husband; Friedrich Wilhelm was a King; and the most
imperative man then breathing. Disobedience to Friedrich Wilhelm
was a thing which, in the Prussian State, still more in the Berlin
Schloss and vital heart of said State, the laws of Heaven and of
Earth had not permitted, for any man's or any woman's sake, to be.
The wide overarching sky looks down on no more inflexible
Sovereign Man than him in the red-collared blue coat and white
leggings, with the bamboo in his hand. A peaceable, capacious, not
ill-given Sovereign Man, if you will let him have his way. But to
bar his way; to tweak the nose of his sovereign royalty, and
ignominiously force him into another way: that is an enterprise no
man or devil, or body of men or devils, need attempt.
Seckendorf and Grumkow, in Tobacco-Parliament, understand it
better. That attempt is impossible, once for all. The first step
in such attempt will require to be assassination of Friedrich
Wilhelm; for you may depend on it, royal Sophie, so long as he is
alive, the feat cannot be done. O royal Sophie, O pretty Feekin,
what a business you are making of it!

The year 1726 was throughout a troublous one to Queen Sophie.
Seckendorf's advent; King George's manifestoing; alarm of imminent
universal War, nay sputters of it actually beginning (Gibraltar
invested by the Spaniards, ready for besieging, it is said):
nor was this all. Sophie's poor Mother, worn to a tragic Megaera,
locked so long in the Castle of Ahlden, has taken up wild plans of
outbreak, of escape by means of secretaries, moneys in the Bank of
Amsterdam, and I know not what; with all which Sophie,
corresponding in double and triple mystery, has her own terrors
and sorrows, trying to keep it down. And now, in the depth of the
year, the poor old Mother suddenly dies. [13th November, 1726:
Memoirs of Sophia Dorothea, Consort of George I. italic> (i. 386),--where alao some of her concluding Letters
("edited" as if by the Nightmares) can be read, but next to no
sense made of them.] Burnt out in this manner, she collapses into
ashes and long rest; closing so her nameless tragedy of thirty
years' continuance:--what a Bluebeard-chamber in the mind of
Sophie! Nay there rise quarrels about the Heritage of the
Deceased, which will prove another sorrow.


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