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History of Friedrich II of Prussia V

Part 3 out of 5

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et promets de donner a Mr. de Voltaire dans le jour de
demain ou apres au plustard deux cent guatre-vingt frederics d'or
au lieu de deux cent quatre-vingt louis d'or, que je lui ai payez,
le tout pour quittance generale, ce 16 Decembre, 1750, a berlin

And promise to give M. de Voltaire, in the course of to-morrow, or
the day after to-morrow at latest, 280 FREDERICS D'OR, instead of
280 LOUIS D'OR [gold FREDERICS the preferabe coin, say experts]
which I have now paid him; whereby All will be settled.

[Hirsch again signs; but has again forgotten something, most
important thing. And]

je lui remettrai surtout les 40,000 livres de billets de
change sur paris qu'il mavoit donnez et fiez'
I will especially return him the Bill on Paris for 40,000 livres
(1,600 pounds) which he had given and trusted to me,'--but has
since protested, as is too evident.

[and Hirsch signs for the last time]." [Klein, pp. 258, 260.]--
Symptomatic, surely, of a haggly settlement, these THREE shots
instead of one!--"Voltaire's return is:--

"'Pour quittance generale de tout compte solde entre nous,
tout paye au sieur abraham hersch a berlin, 16 Decembre,
"'Account all settled between us, payment of the Sieur Abraham
Hirsch in full: Berlin, 16th Deember, 1750.'

[which Second Piece, we perceive, is to lie in Hirsch's hand, to
keep, if he find it valuable].

"This 'COMPLETE SETTLEMENT,'--little less than miraculous to
Voltaire and us,--one finds, after sifting, to have been the fruit
of Voltaire's exquisite skill in treating and tuning his Hirsch (no
harshness of rebuke, rather some gleam of hope, of future bargains,
help at Court): (Your expenses; compensation for protesting of that
Bill on Paris? Tush, cannot we make all that good! In the first
place, I will BUY of you these Jewels [this one discovers to have
been the essence of the operation!], all or the best part of them,
which I have here in pawn for Papa's Bill: 650 pounds was it not?
Well, suppose I on the instant take 450 pounds worth, or so, of
these Jewels (I want a great many jewels); and you to pay me down a
200 or so of gold LOUIS as balance,--gold LOUIS, no, we will say
FREDERICS rather. There now, that is settled. Nothing more between
us but settles itself, if we continue friends!' Upon which Hirsch
walked home, thankful for the good job in Jewels; wondering only
what the Allowance for Expenses and Compensation will be.
And Voltaire steps out, new-burnished, into the Royal Carnival
splendors, with a load rolled from his mind.

"This COMPLETE SETTLEMENT, meanwhile, rests evidently on two legs,
both of which are hollow. 'What will the handsome Compensation be,
I wonder?' thinks Hirsch;--and is horror-struck to find shortly,
that Voltaire considers 60 thalers (about 9 pounds) will be the
fair sum! 'More than ten times that!' is Hirsch's privately fixed
idea. On the other hand, Voltaire has been asking himself, 'My 450
pounds worth of Jewels, were they justly valued, though?'
Jew Ephraim (exaggerative and an enemy to this Hirsch House)
answers, 'Justly? I would give from 300 pounds to 250 pounds for
them!'--So that the legs both crumbling to powder, Complete
Settlement crashes down into chaos: and there ensues,"--But we must
endeavor to be briefer!

There ensues, for about a week following, such an inextricable
scramble between the Sieur Hirsch and M. de Voltaire as,--as no
reader, not himself in the Jew-Bill line, or paid for understanding
it, could consent to have explained to him. Voltaire, by way of
mending the bad jewel-bargain, will buy of Hirsch 200 pounds worth
more jewels; gets the new 200 pounds worth in hand, cannot quite
settle what articles will suit: "This, think you? That, think you?"
And intricately shuffles them about, to Hirsch and back.
Hirsch, singular to notice, holds fast by that Protested Paris
Bill; on frivolous pretexts, always forgets to bring that:
"May have its uses, that, in a Court of Justice yet!"
Meetings there are, almost daily, in the Voltaire Palace-Apartment;
DECEMBER 19th and DECEMBER 24th) there are Two DOCUMENTS (which we
must spare the reader, though he will hear of them again, as highly
notable, especially of one of them, as notable in the extreme!)--
indicating the abstrusest jewel-bargainings, scramblings,

"My Jewels are truly valued!" asseverates Hirsch always: "Ephraim
is my enemy; ask Herr Reklam, chief Jeweller in Berlin, an
impartial man!" The meetings are occasionally of stormy character;
Voltaire's patience nearly out: "But did n't I return you that
Topaz Ring, value 75 pounds? And you have NOT deducted it; you--!"
"One day, Picard and he pulled a Ring [doubtless this Topaz] off my
finger," says the pathetic Hirsch, "and violently shoved me out of
the room, slamming their door,"--and sent me home, along the
corridors, in a very scurvy humor! Thus, under a skin of second
settlement, there are two galvanic elements, getting ever more
galvanic, which no skin of settlement can prevent exploding
before long.

Explosion there accordingly was; most sad and dismal; which rang
through all the Court circles of Berlin; and, like a sound of
hooting and of weeping mixed, is audible over seas to this day.
But let not the reader insist on tracing the course of it
henceforth. Klein, though faithful and exact, is not a Pitaval;
and we find in him errors of the press. The acutest Actuary might
spend weeks over these distracted Money-accounts, and inconsistent
Lists of Jewels bought and not bought; and would be unreadable if
successful. Let us say, The business catches fire at this point;
the Voltaire-Hirsch theatre is as if blown up into mere whirlwinds
of igneous rum and smoky darkness. Henceforth all plunges into
Lawsuit, into chaos of conflicting lies,--undecipherable, not worth
deciphering. Let us give what few glimpses of the thing are clearly
discernible at their successive dates, and leave the rest to
picture itself in the reader's fancy.

It appears, that Meeting of DECEMBER 24th, above alluded to, was
followed by another on Christmas-day, which proved the final one.
Final total explosion took place at this new meeting;--which, we
find farther, was at Chasot's Lodging (the CHAPEAU of Hanbury), who
is now in Town, like all the world, for Carnival. Hirsch does not
directly venture on naming Chasot: but by implication, by glimmers
of evidence elsewhere, one sufficiently discovers that it is he:
Lieutenant-Colonel, King's Friend, a man glorious, especially ever
since Hohenfriedberg, and that haul of the "sixty-seven standards"
all at once. In the way of Arbitration, Voltaire thinks Chasot
might do something. In regard to those 450 pounds worth of bought
Jewels, there is not such a judge in the world! Hirsch says:
"Next morning [December 25th, morrow after that jumbly Account,
with probable slamming of the door, and still worse!], Voltaire
went to a Lieutenant-Colonel in the King's service; and ask him to
send for me." [Duvernet (Second), p. 172; Hirsch's Narrative (in
Tantale, p. 344).] This is Chasot; who knows
these jewels well. Duvernet,--who had talked a good deal with
D'Arget, in latter years, and alone of Frenchmen sometimes yields a
true particle of feature in things Prussian,--Duvernet tells us,
these Jewels were once Chasot's own: given him by a fond Duchess of
Mecklenburg,--musical old Duchess, verging towards sixty;
HONI SOIT, my friend! What Hirsch gave Chasot for these Jewels is
not a doubtful quantity; and may throw conviction into Hirsch,
hopes Voltaire.

DECEMBER 25th, 1750. The interview at Chasot's was not lengthy, but
it was decisive. Hirsch never brings that Paris Bill; privately
fixed, on that point. Hirsch's claims, as we gradually unravel the
intricate mule-mind of him, rise very high indeed. "And as to the
value of those Jewels, and what I allowed YOU for them, Monsieur
Chasot; that is no rule: trade-profits, you know"--Nay, the mule
intimates, as a last shift, That perhaps they are not the same
Jewels; that perhaps M. de Voltaire has changed some of them!
Whereupon the matter catches fire, irretrievably explodes.
M. de Voltaire's patience flies quite done; and, fire-eyed fury now
guiding, he springs upon the throat of Hirsch like a cat-o'-
mountain; clutches Hirsch by the windpipe; tumbles him about the
room: "Infamous canaille, do you know whom you have got to do with?
That it is in my power to stick you into a hole underground for the
rest of your life? Sirrah, I will ruin and annihilate you!"--and
"tossed me about the room with his fist on my throat," says Hirsch;
"offering to have pity nevertheless, if I would take back the
Jewels, and return all writings." [Narrative (in Tantale
).] Eyes glancing like a rattlesnake's, as we perceive;
and such a phenomenon as Hirsch had not expected, this Christmas!
In short, the matter has here fairly exploded, and is blazing
aloft, as a mass of intricate fuliginous ruin, not to be deciphered
henceforth. Such a scene for Chasot on the Christmas-day at Berlin!
And we have got to

PART II. THE LAWSUIT ITSELF (30th December, 1750-18th and
26th February, 1751).

Hirsch slunk hurriedly home, uncertain whether dead or alive.
Old Hirsch, hearing of such explosion, considered his house and
family ruined; and, being old and feeble, took to bed upon it,
threatening to break his heart. Voltaire writes to Niece Denis, on
the morrow; not hinting at the Hirsch matter, far from that; but in
uncommonly dreary humor: "My splendor here, my glory, never was the
like of it; MAIS, MAIS," BUT, and ever again BUT, at each new
item,--in fact, the humor of a glorious Phoenix-Peacock suddenly
douched and drenched in dirty water, and feeling frost at hand!
["To Madame Denis" (lxxiv. 279, "Berlin Palace, 26th December,
1750;"--and ib. 249, 257, &c. of other dates).] Humor intelligible
enough, when dates are compared.

Better than that, Voltaire is applying, on all points of the
compass, to Legal and Influential Persons, for help in a Court of
Law. To Chancellor Cocceji; to Jarriges (eminent Prussian
Frenchman), President of Court; to Maupertuis, who knows Jarriges,
but "will not meddle in a bad business;"--at last, even to dull
reverend Formey, whom he had not called on hitherto. Cocceji seems
to have answered, to the effect, "Most certainly: the Courts are
wide open;"--but as to "help"! December 30th, the Suit, Voltaire
VERSUS Hirsch, "comes to Protocol,"--that is, Cocceji, Jarriges,
Loper, three eminent men, have been named to try it; and Herr
Hofrath Bell, Advocate for Voltaire Plaintiff, hands in his First
Statement that day. Berlin resounds, we may fancy how!
Rumor, laughter and wonder are in all polite quarters;
and continue, more or less vivid, for above two months coming.
Here is one direct glimpse of Plaintiff, in this interim; which we
will give, though the eyes are none of the best: "The first visit
I," Formey, "had from Voltaire was in the afternoon of January 8th)
1751 [Suit begun ten days ago]. I had, at the time, a large party
of friends. Voltaire walked across the Apartment, without looking
at anybody; and, taking me by the hand, made me lead him to a
cabinet adjoining. His Lawsuit with a Jew was the matter on hand.
He talked to me at large about his Lawsuit, and with the greatest
vehemence; he wound up by asking me to speak to Law-President M. de
Jarriges (since Chancellor): I answered what was suitable;"--
probably did speak to Jarriges, but might as well have held my
tongue. "Voltaire then took his leave: stepping athwart the former
Apartment with some precipitation, he noticed my eldest little
girl, then in her fourth year, who was gazing at the diamonds on
his Cross of the Order of Merit. 'Bagatelles, bagatelles, MON
ENFANT!' said he, and disappeared." [Formey, i. 232.]

On New-Year's day, Friday, 1st January, 1751, Voltaire had legally
applied to Herr Minister von Bismark, for Warrant to arrest Hirsch,
as a person that will not give up Papers not belonging to him.
Warrant was granted, and Hirsch lodged in Limbo. Which worsens the
state of poor old Father Hirsch; threatening now really to die, of
heart-break and other causes. Hirsch Son, from the interior of
Limbo, appeals to Bismark, "Lord Chancellor Cocceji is seized of my
Plea, your gracious Lordship!"--"All the same," answers Bismark;
"produce CAUTION, or you can't get out." Hirsch produces caution;
and gets out, after a day or two;--and has been "brought to
Protocol January 4th." No delay in this Court: both parties,
through their Advocates, are now brought to book; the points they
agree in will be sifted out, and laid on this side as truth; what
they differ in, left lying on that side, as a mixture of lies to be
operated on by farther processes and protocols.

We will not detail the Lawsuit;--what I chiefly admire in it is its
brevity. Cocceji has not reformed in vain. Good Advocates, none
other allowed; and no Advocate talks; he merely endeavors to think,
see and discover; holds his tongue if he can discover nothing:
that doubtless is one source of the brevity!--Many lies are stated
by Hirsch, many by Voltaire: but the Judges, without difficulty,
shovel these aside; and come step by step upon the truth.
Hirsch says plainly, He was sent to buy STEUER-SCHEINE at 35 per
cent discount; Voltaire entirely denies the Steuer-Notes; says, It
was an affair of Peltries and Jewelries, originating in loans of
money to this ungrateful Jew. Which necessitates much wriggling on
the part of M. de Voltaire;--but he has himself written in a
Lawyer's Office, in his young days, and knows how to twist a turn
of expression. The Judges are not there to judge about Steuer-
Notes; but they give you to understand that Voltaire's Peltry-and-
Jewelry story is moonshine. Hirsch produces the Voltaire Scraps of
Writing, already known to our readers; Voltaire says, "Mere extinct
jottings; which Hirsch has furtively picked out of the grate,"--or
may be said to have picked; Papers annihilated by our Bargain of
December 16th, and which should have been in the grate, if they
were not; this felon never having kept his word in that respect.
Peltries and Jewelries, I say: he will not give me back that Paris
Bill which was protested; pays me the other 3,000 crowns (Draft of
650 pounds) in Jewels overvalued by half.--"Jewels furtively
changed since Plaintiff had them of me!" answers Hirsch;--and the
steady Judges keep their sieves going.

The only Documents produced by Voltaire are Two; of 19th DECEMBER
and of 24th DECEMBER;--which the reader has not yet seen, but ought
now to gain some notion of, if possible. They affect once more, as
that of December 16th had done, to be "Final Settlements" (or Final
Settlement of 19th, with CODICIL of 24th); and turn on confused
Lists of Jewels, bought, returned, re-bought (that "Topaz ring"
torn from one's hand, a conspicuous item), which no reader would
have patience to understand, except in the succinct form. Let all
readers note them, however,--at least the first of them, that of
December 19th; especially the words we mark in Italics, which have
merited a sad place for IT in the history of human sin and misery.
Klein has given both Documents in engraved fac-simile; we must help
ourselves by simpler methods. Berlin, December 19th, 1750;
Voltaire writes, Hirsch signs;--and the Italics are believed to be
words foisted in by M. de Voltaire, weeks after, while the Hirsch
pleadings were getting stringent! Read,--a very sad memorial of
M. de Voltaire,--

DOCUMENT FIFTH (in Voltaire's hand, written at two times; and the
old writing MENDED in parts, to suit the new!).--"FOR PAYMENT OF
3,000 THALERS BY ME DUE, I have sold to M. de Voltaire, at the
price costing by estimation and tax, with 2 per cent for my
commission ["OR GRATIFICATION," written above], the following
Diamonds, taxed [blotted into "TAXABLE"], as here adjoined; viz."--
seven pieces of jewelry, pendeloques, &c., with price affixed,
among which is the violated Topaz,--"the whole estimated by him
["him" crossed out, and "ME" written over it], being 3,640 thalers.
Whereupon, received from Monsieur de Voltaire [what is very
strange; not intelligible without study!] the sum of 2,940 thalers,
and he has given me back the Topaz, with 60 crowns for my trouble.
--Berlin, 19th December, 1750." (Hitherto in Voltaire's hand;
after which Hirsch writes:) "APROUVE, A. Hirschel." [Sic: that is
always his SIGNATURE; "Abraham HirschEL," so given by Klein, while
Klein and everybody CALL him Hirsch (STAG), as we have done,--if
only to save a syllable on the bad bargain.] And between these two
lines ("... 1750" and "APPROVED ..."), there is crushed in, as
afterthought, "VALUED BY MYSELF [Hirsch's self], 2,940, ADD 60, IS
3,000." And, in fine, below the Hirsch signature, on what may be
called the bottom margin, there is,--I think, avowedly Voltaire's
and subsequent,--this: "N.B. that Hirsch's valuing of all the
jewels [present lot and former lot] is, by real estimation, between
twice and thrice too high;" of which, it is hoped, your Lordships
will take notice!

Was there ever seen such a Paper; one end of it contradicting the
other? Payment TO M. de Voltaire, and payment BY M. de Voltaire;--
with other blottings and foistings, which print and italics will
not represent! Hirsch denies he ever signed this Paper. Is not that
your writing, then: "APROUVE, A. Hirschel"?--"No!" and they convict
him of falsity in that respect: the signature IS his, but the Paper
has been altered since he signed it. That is what the poor dark
mortal meant to express; and in his mulish way, he has expressed
into a falsity what was in itself a truth. There is not, on candid
examination of Klein's Fac-similes and the other evidence, the
smallest doubt but Voltaire altered, added and intercalated, in his
own privacy, those words which we have printed in italics;
TAXES changed into TAXABLES ("estimated at" into "estimable at"),
HIM for ME, and so on; and above all, the now first line of the
Paper, FOR PAYMENT OF 3,000 THALERS BY ME DUE, and in last line the
words VALUED BY MYSELF, &c., are palpable interpolations, sheer
falsifications, which Hirsch is made to continue signing after his
back is turned!

No fact is more certain; and few are sadder in the history of M. de
Voltaire. To that length has he been driven by stress of Fortune.
Nay, when the Judges, not hiding their surprise at the form of this
Document, asked, Will you swear it is all genuine? Voltaire
answered, "Yes, certainly!"--for what will a poor man not do in
extreme stress of Fortune? Hirsch, as a Jew, is not permitted to
make oath, where a Quasi-Christian will swear to the contrary, or
he gladly would; and might justly. The Judges, willing to prevent
chance of perjury, did not bring Voltaire to swearing, but
contrived a way to justice without that.

FEBRUARY 18th, 1751, the Court arrives at a conclusion. Hirsch's
Diamonds, whatever may have been written or forged, are not, nor
were, worth more than their value, think the Judges. The Paris Bill
is admitted to be Voltaire's, not Hirsch's, continue they;--and if
Hirsch can prove that Voltaire has changed the Diamonds, not a
likely fact, let him do so. The rest does not concern us. And to
that effect, on the above day, runs their Sentence: "You, Hirsch,
shall restore the Paris Bill; mutual Papers to be all restored, or
legally annihilated. Jewels to be valued by sworn Experts, and paid
for at that price. Hirsch, if he can prove that the Jewels were
changed, has liberty to try it, in a new Action. Hirsch, for
falsely denying his Signature, is fined ten thalers (thirty
shillings), such lie being a contempt of court, whatever more."

"Ha, fined, you Jew Villain!" hysterically shrieks Voltaire:
"in the wrong, weren't you, then; and fined thirty shillings?"
hysterically trying to believe, and make others believe, that he
has come off triumphant. "Beaten my Jew, haven't I?" says he to
everybody, though inwardly well enough aware how it stands, and
that he is a Phoenix douched, and has a tremor in the bones!
Chancellor Cocceji was far from thinking it triumphant to him.
Here is a small Note of Cocceji's, addressed to his two colleagues,
Jarriges and Loper, which has been found among the Law Papers:

"BERLIN, 20th FEBRUARY, 1751. The Herr President von Jarriges and
Privy-Councillor Loper are hereby officially requested to bring the
remainder of the Voltaire Sentence to its fulfilment: I am myself
not well, and can employ my time much better. The Herr von Voltaire
has given in a desperate Memorial (EIN DESPERATES MEMORIAL) to this
purport: 'I swear that what is charged to me [believed of me] in
the Sentence is true; and now request to have the Jewels valued.'
I have returned him this Paper, with notice that it must be signed
by an Advocate.--COCCEJI." [Klein, 256.]

So wrote Chancellor Cocceji, on the Saturday, washing his hands of
this sorry business. Voltaire is ready to make desperate oath, if
needful. We said once, M. de Voltaire was not given to lying;
far the reverse. But yet, see, if you drive him into a corner with
a sword at his throat,--alas, yes, he will lie a little!
Forgery lay still less in his habits; but he can do a stroke that
way, too (one stroke, unique in his life, I do believe), if a wild
boar, with frothy tusks, is upon him. Tell it not in Gath,--except
for scientific purposes! And be judicial, arithmetical, in passing
sentence on it; not shrieky, mobbish, and flying off into
the Infinite!

Berlin, of course, is loud on these matters. "The man whom the King
delighted to honor, this is he, then!" King Friedrich has quitted
Town, some while ago; returned to Potsdam "January 30th."
Glad enough, I suppose, to be out of all this unmusical blowing of
catcalls and indecent exposure. To Voltaire he has taken no notice;
silently leaves Voltaire, in his nook of the Berlin Schloss, till
the foul business get done. "VOLTAIRE FILOUTE LES JUIFS (picks Jew
pockets)," writes he once to Wilhelmina: "will get out of it by
some GAMBADE (summerset)," writes he another time; "but" ["31st
December, 1750" ( OEuvres de Frederic, xxvii,
i. 198); "3d February, 1751" (ib. 201).]-- And takes the matter
with boundless contempt, doubtless with some vexation, but with the
minimum of noise, as a Royal gentleman might. Jew Hirsch is busy
preparing for his new desperate Action; getting together proof that
the Jewels have been changed. In proof Jew Hirsch will be weak;
but in pleading, in public pamphlets, and keeping a winged Apollo
fluttering disastrously in such a mud-bath, Jew Hirsch will be
strong. Voltaire, "out of magnanimous pity to him," consents next
week to an Agreement. Agreement is signed on Thursday, 26th
February, 1751:--Papers all to be returned, Jewels nearly all,
except one or two, paid at Hirsch's own price. Whereby, on the
whole, as Klein computes, Voltaire lost about 150 pounds;--
elsewhere I have seen it computed at 187 pounds: not the least
matter which. Old Hirsch has died in the interim ("Of broken
heart!" blubbers the Son); day not known.

And, on these terms, Voltaire gets out of the business; glad to
close the intolerable rumor, at some cost of money. For all tongues
were wagging; and, in defect of a TIMES Newspaper, it appears,
there had Pamphlets come out; printed Satires, bound or in
broadside;--sapid, exhilarative, for a season, and interesting to
the idle mind. Of which, TANTALE EN PROCES may still, for the sake
of that PREFACE to it, be considered to have an obscure existence.
And such, reduced to its authenticities, was the Adventure of the
Steuer-Notes. A very bad Adventure indeed; unspeakably the worst
that Voltaire ever tried, who had such talent in the finance line.
On which poor History is really ashamed to have spent so much time;
sorting it into clearness, in the disgust and sorrow of her soul.
But perhaps it needed to be done. Let us hope, at least, it may not
now need to be done again. [Besides the KLEIN, the TANTALE EN
PROCES and the Voltaire LETTERS cited above, there is (in
OEuvres de Voltaire, lxiv. pp. 61-106, as SUPPLEMENT
there), written off-hand, in the very thick of the Hirsch Affair, a
considerable set of NOTES TO D'ARGET, which might have been still
more elucidative; but are, in their present dateless topsy-turvied
condition; a very wonder of confusion to the studious reader!]

This is the FIRST ACT of Voltaire's Tragic-Farce at the Court of
Berlin: readers may conceive to what a bleared frost-bitten
condition it has reduced the first Favonian efflorescence there.
He considerably recovered in the SECOND ACT, such the indelible
charm of the Voltaire genius to Friedrich. But it is well known,
the First Act rules all the others; and here, accordingly, the
Third Act failed not to prove tragical. Out of First Act into
Second the following EXTRACTS OF CORRESPONDENCE will guide the
reader, without commentary of ours.

Voltaire, left languishing at Berlin, has fallen sick, now that all
is over;--no doubt, in part really sick, the unfortunate Phoenix-
Peafowl, with such a tremor in his bones;--and would fain be near
Friedrich and warmth again; fain persuade the outside world that
all is sunshine with him. Voltaire's Letters to Friedrich, if he
wrote any, in this Jew time, are lost; here are Friedrich's Answers
to Two,--one lost, which had been written from Berlin AFTER the Jew
affair was out of Court; and to another (not lost) after the Jew
affair was done.


"POTSDAM, 24th February, 1751.
"I was glad to receive you in my house; I esteemed your genius,
your talents and acquirements; and I had reason to think that a man
of your age, wearied with fencing against Authors, and exposing
himself to the storm, came hither to take refuge as in a
safe harbor.

"But, on arriving, you exacted of me, in a rather singular manner,
Not to take Freron to write me news from Paris; and I had the
weakness, or the complaisance, to grant you this, though it is not
for you to decide what persons I shall take into my service.
D'Arnaud had faults towards you; a generous man would have pardoned
them; a vindictive man hunts down those whom he takes to hating.
In a word, though to me D'Arnaud had done nothing, it was on your
account that he had to go. You were with the Russian Minister,
speaking of things you had no concern with [Russian Excellency
Gross, off home lately, in sudden dudgeon, like an angry
sky-rocket, nobody can guess why! [Adelung, vii. 133 (about 1st
December, 1750).]--and it was thought I had given you Commission."
"You have had the most villanous affair in the world with a Jew.
It has made a frightful scandal all over Town. And that Steuer-
Schein business is so well known in Saxony, that they have made
grievous complaints of it to me.

"For my own share, I have preserved peace in my house till your
arrival: and I warn you, that if you have the passion of intriguing
and caballing, you have applied to the wrong hand. I like peaceable
composed people; who do not put into their conduct the violent
passions of Tragedy. In case you can resolve to live like a
Philosopher, I shall be glad to see you; but if you abandon
yourself to all the violences of your passions, and get into
quarrels with all the world, you will do me no good by coming
hither, and you may as well stay in Berlin." [Preuss, xxii. 262
(WANTING in the French Editions).]--F.

To which Voltaire sighing pathetically in response, "Wrong, ah yes,
your Majesty;--and sick to death" (see farther down),--here is
Friedrich's Second in Answer:--


"POTSDAM, 28th February, 1751.
"If you wish to come hither, you can do so. I hear nothing of
Lawsuits, not even of yours. Since you have gained it, I
congratulate you; and I am glad that this scurvy affair is done.
I hope you will have no more quarrels, neither with the OLD nor
with the New TESTAMENT. Such worryings (CES SORTES DE COMPROMIS)
leave their mark on a man; and with the talents of the finest
genius in France, you will not cover the stains which this conduct
would fasten on your reputation in the long-run. A Bookseller Gosse
[read JORE, your Majesty? Nobody ever heard of Gosse as an extant
quantity: Jore, of Rouen, you mean, and his celebrated Lawsuit,
about printing the HENRIADE, or I know not what, long since
[Unbounded details on the Jore Case, and from 1731 to 1738
continual LETTERS on it, in OEuvres de Voltaire; italic>--came to a head in 1736 (ib. lxix. 375); Jore penitent,
1738 (ib. i. 262), &c. &c.], a Bookseller Jore, an Opera Fiddler
[poor Travenol, wrong dog pincered by the ear], and a Jeweller Jew,
these are, of a surety, names which in no sort of business ought to
appear by the side of yours. I write this Letter with the rough
common-sense of a German, who speaks what he thinks, without
employing equivocal terms, and loose assuagements which disfigure
the truth: it is for you to profit by it.--F." [ OEuvres de
Frederic, xxii. 265.]

So that Voltaire will have to languish: "Wrong, yes;--and sick,
nigh dead, your Majesty! Ah, could not one get to some Country
Lodge near you, 'the MARQUISAT' for instance? Live silent there,
and see your face sometimes?" [In OEuvres de Frederic italic> (xxii. 259-261, 263-266) are Four lamenting and repenting,
wheedling and ultimately whining, LETTERS from Voltaire, none of
them dated, which have much about "my dreadful state of health," my
passion" for reposing in that MARQUISAT," &c.;--to one of which
Four, or perhaps to the whole together, the above No. 2 of
Friedrich seems to have been Answer. Of that indisputable
"MARQUISAT" no Nicolai says a word; even careful Preuss passes
"Gosse" and it with shut lips.] Languishing very much;--gives cosy
little dinners, however. Here are two other Excerpts; and these
will suffice:--

"Will you, Monsieur, come and eat the King's roast meat (ROT DU
ROI), to-day, Thursday, at two o'clock, in a philosophic, warm and
A couple of philosophers, without being courtiers, may dine in the
Palace of a Philosopher-King: I should even take the liberty of
sending one of his Majesty's Carriages for you,-at two precise.
After dinner, you would be at hand for your Academy meeting."
[Formey, i. 234.]--V. How cosy!--And King Friedrich has relented,
too; grants me the Marquisat; can refuse me nothing!

VOLTAIRE TO D'ARGENTAL (POTSDAM, 15th MARCH 1751). ... "I could not
accompany our Chamberlain [Von Ammon, gone as Envoy to Paris, on a
small matter ["Commercial Treaty;" which he got done. See
LONGCHAMP, if any one is curious otherwise about this Gentleman:
"D'Hamon" they call him, and sometimes "DAMON",--to whom Niece
Denis wanted to be Phyllis, according to Longchamp.]], through the
muds and the snows,--where I should have been buried; I was ill,"
and had to go to the MARQUISAT. "D'Arnaud and the pack of
Scribblers would have been too glad. D'Arnaud, animated with the
true love of glory, and not yet grown sufficiently illustrious by
his own immortal Works, has done ONE of that kind,"--by his
behavior here. Has behaved to me--oh, like a miserable, envious,
intriguing, lying little scoundrel; and made Berlin too hot for
him: seduced Tinois my Clerk, stole bits of the Pucelle (brief
SIGHT of bits, for Prince Henri's sake) to ruin me.

"D'Arnaud sent his lies to Freron for the Paris meridian [that is
his real crime]; delightful news from canaille to canaille:
'How Voltaire had lost a great Lawsuit, respectable Jew Banker
cheated by Voltaire; that Voltaire was disgraced by the King,' who
of course loves Jews; 'that Voltaire was ruined; was ill; nay at
last, that Voltaire was dead.'" To the joy of Freron, and the
scoundrels that are printing one's PUCELLE. "Voltaire is still in
life, however, my angels; and the King has been so good to me in my
sickness, I should be the ungratefulest of men if I didn't still
pass some months with him. When he left Berlin [30th January, six
weeks ago], and I was too ill to follow him, I was the sole animal
of my species whom he lodged in his Palace there [what a beautiful
bit of color to lay on!]--He left me equipages, cooks ET CETERA;
and his mules and horses carted out my temporary furniture (MEUBLES
DE PASSADE) to a delicious House of his, close by Potsdam
[MARQUISAT to wit, where I now stretch myself at ease; Niece Denis
coming to live with me there,--talks of coming, if my angels knew
it],--and he has reserved for me a charming apartment in his Palace
of Potsdam, where I pass a part of the week.

"And, on close view, I still admire this Unique Genius; and he
deigns to communicate himself to me;--and if I were not 300 leagues
from you, and had a little health, I should be the happiest of
men." [ OEuvres de Voltaire, lxxiv. 320.] ...
Oh, my angels--

And, in short, better or worse, my SECOND ACT is begun, as you
perceive!--And certain readers will be apt to look in again, before
all is over.

Chapter VIII.


Two Foreign Events, following on the heel of the Hirsch Lawsuit,
were of interest to our Berlin friends, though not now of much to
us or anybody. April 5th, 1751, the old King of Sweden, Landgraf of
Hessen-Cassel, died; whereby not only our friend Wilhelm, the
managing Landgraf, becomes Landgraf indeed (if he should ever turn
up on us again), but Princess Ulrique is henceforth Queen of
Sweden, her Husband the new King. No doubt a welcome event to
Princess Ulrique, the high brave-minded Lady; but which proved
intrinsically an empty one, not to say worse than empty, to herself
and her friends, in times following. Friedrich's connection with
Sweden, which he had been tightening lately by a Treaty of
Alliance, came in the long-run to nothing for him, on the Swedish
side; and on the Russian has already created umbrages, kindled
abstruse suspicions, indignations,--Russian Excellency Gross,
abruptly, at Berlin, demanding horses, not long since, and posting
home without other leave-taking, to the surprise of mankind;--
Russian Czarina evidently in the sullens against Friedrich, this
long while; dull impenetrable clouds of anger lodging yonder,
boding him no good. All which the Accession of Queen Ulrique will
rather tend to aggravate than otherwise. [Adelung, vii. 205
(Accession of Adolf Friedrich); ib. 133 (Gross's sudden Departure).]

The Second Foreign Event is English, about a week prior in date,
and is of still less moment: March 31st, 1751, Prince Fred, the
Royal Heir-Apparent, has suddenly died. Had been ill, more or less,
for an eight days past; was now thought better, though "still
coughing, and bringing up phlegm,"--when, on "Wednesday night
between nine and ten," in some lengthier fit of that kind, he clapt
his hand on his breast; and the terrified valet heard him say, "JE
SUIS MORT!"--and before his poor Wife could run forward with a
light, he lay verily dead. [Walpole, GEORGE THE SECOND, i. 71.]
The Rising Sun in England is vanished, then. Yes; and with him his
MOONS, and considerable moony workings, and slushings hither and
thither, which they have occasioned, in the muddy tide-currents of
that Constitutional Country. Without interest to us here; or indeed
elsewhere,--except perhaps that our dear Wilhelmina would hear of
it; and have her sad reflections and reminiscences awakened by it;
sad and many-voiced, perhaps of an almost doleful nature, being on
a sick-bed at this time, poor Lady. She quitted Berlin months ago,
as we observed,--her farewell Letter to Friedrich, written from the
first stage homewards, and melodious as the voice of sorrowful true
hearts to us and him, dates "November 24th," just while Voltaire
(whom she always likes, and in a beautiful way protects, "FRERE
VOLTAIRE," as she calls him) was despatching Hirsch on that ill-
omened Predatory STEUER-Mission. Her Brother is in real alarm for
Wilhelmina, about this time; sending out Cothenius his chief
Doctor, and the like: but our dear Princess re-emerges from her
eclipse; and we shall see her again, several times, if we be lucky.

And so poor Fred is ended;--and sulky people ask, in their cruel
way, "Why not?" A poor dissolute flabby fellow-creature; with a sad
destiny, and a sadly conspicuous too. Could write Madrigals; be set
to make Opposition cabals. Read this sudden Epitaph in doggerel;
an uncommonly successful Piece of its kind; which is now his main
monument with posterity. The "Brother" (hero of Culloden), the
"Sister" (Amelia, our Friedrich's first love, now growing gossipy
and spiteful, poor Princess), are old friends:--

"Here lies Prince Fred,
Who was alive and is dead:
Had it been his Father,
I had much rather;
Had it been his Brother,
Sooner than any other;

Had it been his Sister,
There's no one would have missed her;
Had it been his whole generation,
Best of all for the Nation:
But since it's only Fred,
There's no more to be said." [Walpole, i. 436.]


A thing of more importance to us, two months after that catastrophe
in London, is Friedrich's first Visit to Ost-Friesland. May 3lst,
having done his Berlin-Potsdam Reviews and other current affairs,
Friedrich sets out on this Excursion. With Ost-Friesland for goal,
but much business by the way. Towards Magdeburg, and a short visit
to the Brunswick Kindred, first of all. There is much reviewing in
the Magdeburg quarter, and thereafter in the Wesel; and reviewing
and visiting all along: through Minden, Bielfeld, Lingen: not till
July 13th does he cross the Ost-Friesland Border, and enter Embden.
His three Brothers, and Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, were with
him. [ Helden-Geschichte, iii. 506; Seyfarth,
ii. 145; Rodenbeck, i. 216 (who gives a foolish German myth, of
Voltaire's being passed off for the King's Baboon, &c.; Voltaire
not being there at all).] On catching view of Ost-Friesland Border,
see, on the Border-Line, what an Arch got on its feet: Triumphal
Arch, of frondent ornaments, inscriptions and insignia; "of quite
extraordinary magnificence;" Arch which "sets every one into the
agreeablest admiration." Above a hundred such Arches spanned the
road at different points; multitudinous enthusiasm reverently
escorting, "more than 20,000" by count: till we enter Embden;
where all is cannon-salvo, and three-times-three; the thunder-shots
continuing, "above 2,000 of them from the walls, not to speak of
response from the ships in harbor." Embden glad enough, as would
appear, and Ost-Friesland glad enough, to see their new King.
July 13th, 1751; after waiting above six years.

Next day, his Majesty gave audience to the new "Asiatic Shipping
Company" (of which anon), to the Stande, and Magisterial persons;--
with many questions, I doubt not, about your new embankments, new
improvements, prospects; there being much procedure that way, in
all manner of kinds, since the new Dynasty came in, now six years
ago. Embankments on your River, wide spaces changed from ooze to
meadow; on the Dollart still more, which has lain 500 years hidden
from the sun. Does any reader know the Dollart? Ost-Friesland has
awakened to wonderful new industries within these six years;
urged and guided by the new King, who has great things in view for
it, besides what are in actual progress.

That of dikes, sea-embankments, for example; to Ost-Friesland, as
to Holland, they are the first condition of existence; and, in the
past times, of extreme Parliamentary vitality, have been slipping a
good deal out of repair. Ems River, in those flat rainy countries,
has ploughed out for itself a very wide embouchure, as boundary
between Groningen and Ost-Friesland. Muddy Ems, bickering with the
German Ocean, does not forget to act, if Parliamentary
Commissioners do. These dikes, 120 miles of dike, mainly along both
banks of this muddy Ems River, are now water-tight again, to the
comfort of flax and clover: and this is but one item of the diking
now on foot. Readers do not know the Dollart, that uppermost round
gulf, not far from Embden itself, in the waste embouchure of Ems
with its continents of mud and tide. Five hundred years ago, that
ugly whirl of muddy surf, 100 square miles in area, was a fruitful
field, "50 Villages upon it, one Town, several Monasteries and
50,000 souls:" till on Christmas midnight A.D. 1277, the winds and
the storm-rains having got to their height, Ocean and Ems did,
"about midnight," undermine the place, folded it over like a
friable bedquilt or monstrous doomed griddle-cake, and swallowed it
all away. Most of it, they say, that night, the whole of it within
ten years coming; [Busching, Erdbeschreibung,
v. 845, 846; Preuss, i. 308, 309.]--and there it has hung, like an
unlovely GOITRE at the throat of Embden, ever since. One little dot
of an Island, with six houses on it, near the Embden shore, is all
that is left. Where probably his Majesty landed (July 15th, being
in a Yacht that day); but did not see, afar off, the "sunk steeple-
top," which is fabled to be visible at low-water.

Upon this Dollart itself there is now to be diking tried;
King's Domain-Kammer showing the example. Which Official Body did
accordingly (without Blue-Books, but in good working case
otherwise) break ground, few months hence; and victoriously
achieved a POLDER, or Diked Territory, "worth about 2,000 pounds
annually;" "which, in 1756, was sold to the STANDE;" at twenty-five
years purchase, let us say, or for 50,000 pounds. An example of a
convincing nature; which many others, and ever others, have
followed since; to gradual considerable diminution of the Dollart,
and relief of Ost-Friesland on this side. Furtherance of these
things is much a concern of Friedrich's. The second day after his
arrival, those audiences and ceremonials done, Friedrich and suite
got on board a Yacht, and sailed about all over this Dollart,
twenty miles out to sea; dined on board; and would have, if the
weather was bright (which I hope), a pleasantly edifying day.
The harbor is much in need of dredging, the building docks
considerably in disrepair; but shall be refitted if this King live
and prosper. He has declared Embden a "Free-Haven," inviting trade
to it from all peaceable Nations;--and readers do not know (though
Sir Jonas Hanway and the jealous mercantile world well did) what
magnificent Shipping Companies and Sea-Enterprises, of his
devising, are afoot there. Of which, one word, and no second
shall follow:

"September 1st, 1750, those Carrousel gayeties scarce done, 'The
Asiatic Trading Company' stept formally into existence; Embden the
Head-quarters of it; [Patent, or FREYHEITS-BRIEF in
Helden-Geschichte, iii. 457, 458.] chief Manager a
Ritter De la Touche; one of the Directors our fantastic Bielfeld,
thus turned to practical value. A Company patronized, in all ways,
by the King; but, for the rest, founded, not on his money;
founded on voluntary shares, which, to the regret of Hanway and
others, have had much popularity in commercial circles. Will trade
to China. A thing looked at with umbrage by the English, by the
Dutch. A shame that English people should encourage such schemes,
says Hanway. Which nevertheless many Dutch and many English private
persons do,--among the latter, one English Lady (name unknown, but
I always suspect 'Miss Barbara Wyndham, of the College,
Salisbury'), concerning whom there will be honorable notice by
and by.

"At the time of Friedrich's visit, the Asiatic Company is in full
vogue; making ready its first ship for Canton. First ship, KONIG
VON PREUSSEN (tons burden not given), actually sailed 17th February
next (1752); and was followed by a second, named TOWN OF EMBDEN, on
the 19th of September following; both of which prosperously reached
Canton, and prosperously returned with cargoes of satisfactory
profit. The first of them, KONIG VON PREUSSEN, had been boarded in
the Downs by an English Captain Thomson and his Frigate, and
detained some days,--till Thomson 'took Seven English seamen out of
her.' 'Act of Parliament, express!' said his Grace of Newcastle.
Which done, Thomson found that the English jealousies would have to
hold their hand; no farther, whatever one's wishes may be.

"Nay within a year hence, January 24th, 1753, Friedrich founded
which also sent out its pair of ships, perhaps oftener than once;
and pointed, as the other was doing, to wide fields of enterprise,
for some time. But luck was wanting. And, 'in part, mismanagement,'
and, in whole, the Seven-Years War put an end to both Companies
before long. Friedrich is full of these thoughts, among his other
Industrialisms; and never quits them for discouragement, but tries
again, when the obstacles cease to be insuperable. Ever since the
acquisition of Ost-Friesland, the furtherance of Sea-Commerce had
been one of Friedrich's chosen objects. 'Let us carry our own goods
at least, Silesian linens, Memel timbers, stock-fish; what need of
the Dutch to do it?' And in many branches his progress had been
remarkable,--especially in this carrying trade, while the War
lasted, and crippled all Anti-English belligerents. Upon which,
indeed, and the conduct of the English Privateers to him, there is
a Controversy going on with the English Court in those years (began
in 1747), most distressful to his Grace of Newcastle;--which in
part explains those stingy procedures of Captain Thomson ('Home,
you seven English sailors!') when the first Canton ship put to sea.
That Controversy is by no means ended after three years, but on the
contrary, after two years more, comes to a crisis quite shocking to
his Grace of Newcastle, and defying all solution on his Grace's
side,--the other Party, after such delays, five years waiting,
having settled it for himself!" Of which, were the crisis come, we
will give some account.

On the third day of his Visit, Friedrich drove to Aurich, the seat
of Government, and official little capital of Ost-Friesland;
where triumphal arches, joyful reverences, concourses,
demonstrations, sumptuous Dinner one item, awaited his Majesty:
I know not if, in the way thither or back, he passed those "Three
huge Oaks [or the rotted stems or roots of them] under which the
Ancient Frisians, Lords of all between Weser and Rhine, were wont
to assemble in Parliament" (WITHOUT Fourth Estate, or any Eloquence
except of the purely Business sort),--or what his thoughts on the
late Ost-Friesland Bandbox Parliaments may have been! He returned
to Embden that night; and on the morrow started homewards; we may
fancy, tolerably pleased with what he had seen.

"King Friedrich's main Objects of Pursuit in this Period," says a
certain Author, whom we often follow, "I define as being Three.
1. Reform of the Law; 2. Furtherance of Husbandry and Industry in
all kinds, especially of Shipping from Embden; 3. Improvement of
his own Domesticities and Household Enjoyments,"--renewal of the
Reinsberg Program, in short.

"In the First of these objects," continues he, "King Friedrich's
success was very considerable, and got him great fame in the world.
In his Second head of efforts, that of improving the Industries and
Husbandries among his People, his success, though less noised of in
foreign parts, was to the near observer still more remarkable.
A perennial business with him, this; which, even in the time of
War, he never neglects; and which springs out like a stemmed flood,
whenever Peace leaves him free for it. His labors by all methods to
awaken new branches of industry, to cherish and further the old,
are incessant, manifold, unwearied; and will surprise the
uninstructed reader, when he comes to study them. An airy,
poetizing, bantering, lightly brilliant King, supposed to be
serious mainly in things of War, how is he moiling and toiling,
like an ever-vigilant Land-Steward, like the most industrious City
Merchant, hardest-working Merchant's Clerk, to increase his
industrial Capital by any the smallest item!

"One day, these things will deserve to be studied to the bottom;
and to be set forth, by writing hands that are competent, for the
instruction and example of Workers,--that is to say, of all men,
Kings most of all, when there are again Kings. At present, I can
only say they astonish me, and put me to shame: the unresting
diligence displayed in them, and the immense sum-total of them,--
what man, in any the noblest pursuit, can say that he has stood to
it, six-and-forty years long, in the style of this man? Nor did the
harvest fail; slow sure harvest, which sufficed a patient Friedrich
in his own day; harvest now, in our day, visible to everybody: in a
Prussia all shooting into manufactures, into commerces, opulences,
--I only hope, not TOO fast, and on more solid terms than are
universal at present! Those things might be didactic, truly, in
various points, to this Generation; and worth looking back upon,
from its high LAISSEZ-FAIRE altitudes, its triumphant Scrip-
transactions and continents of gold-nuggets,--pleasing, it doubts
not, to all the gods. To write well of what is called 'Political
Economy' (meaning thereby increase of money's-worth) is reckoned
meritorious, and our nearest approach to the rational sublime.
But to accomplish said increase in a high and indisputable degree;
and indisputably very much by your own endeavors wisely regulating
those of others, does not that approach still nearer the sublime?

"To prevent disappointment, I ought to add that Friedrich is the
reverse of orthodox in 'Political Economy;' that he had not faith
in Free-Trade, but the reverse;--nor had ever heard of those
ultimate Evangels, unlimited Competition, fair Start, and perfervid
Race by all the world (towards 'CHEAP-AND-NASTY,' as the likeliest
winning-post for all the world), which have since been vouchsafed
us. Probably in the world there was never less of a Free-Trader!
Constraint, regulation, encouragement, discouragement, reward,
punishment; these he never doubted were the method, and that
government was good everywhere if wise, bad only if not wise.
And sure enough these methods, where human justice and the earnest
sense and insight of a Friedrich preside over them, have results,
which differ notably from opposite cases that can be imagined!
The desperate notion of giving up government altogether, as a
relief from human blockheadism in your governors, and their want
even of a wish to be just or wise, had not entered into the
thoughts of Friedrich; nor driven him upon trying to believe that
such, in regard to any Human Interest whatever, was, or could be
except for a little while in extremely developed cases, the true
way of managing it. How disgusting, accordingly, is the Prussia of
Friedrich to a Hanbury Williams; who has bad eyes and dirty
spectacles, and hates Friedrich: how singular and lamentable to a
Mirabeau Junior, who has good eyes, and loves him! No knave, no
impertinent blockhead even, can follow his own beautiful devices
here; but is instantly had up, or comes upon a turnpike strictly
shut for him. 'Was the like ever heard of?' snarls Hanbury
furiously (as an angry dog might, in a labyrinth it sees not the
least use for): 'What unspeakable want of liberty!'--and reads to
you as if he were lying outright; but generally is not, only
exaggerating, tumbling upside down, to a furious degree;
knocking against the labyrinth HE sees not the least use for.
Mirabeau's Gospel of Free-Trade, preached in 1788, [MONARCHIE
PRUSSIENNE he calls it (A LONDRES, privately Paris, 1788), 8 vols.
8vo; which is a Dead-Sea of Statistics, compiled by industrious
Major Mauvillon, with this fresh current of a "Gospel" shining
through it, very fresh and brisk, of few yards breadth;--dedicated
to Papa, the true PROTevangelist of the thing.]--a comparatively
recent Performance, though now some seventy or eighty years the
senior of an English (unconscious) Fac-simile, which we have all
had the pleasure of knowing,--will fall to be noticed afterwards
[not by this Editor, we hope!]

"Many of Friedrich's restrictive notions,--as that of watching with
such anxiety that 'money' (gold or silver coin) be not carried out
of the Country,--will be found mistakes, not in orthodox Dismal
Science as now taught, but in the nature of things; and indeed the
Dismal Science will generally excommunicate them in the lump,--too.
heedless that Fact has conspicuously vindicated the general sum-
total of them, and declared it to be much truer than it seems to
the Dismal Science. Dismal Science (if that were important to me)
takes insufficient heed, and does not discriminate between times
past and times present, times here and times there."

Certain it is, King Friedrich's success in National Husbandry was
very great. The details of the very many new Manufactures, new
successful ever-spreading Enterprises, fostered into existence by
Friedrich; his Canal-makings, Road-makings, Bog-drainings,
Colonizings and unwearied endeavorings in that kind, will require a
Technical Philosopher one day; and will well reward such study, and
trouble of recording in a human manner; but must lie massed up in
mere outline on the present occasion. Friedrich, as Land-Father,
Shepherd of the People, was great on the Husbandry side also;
and we are to conceive him as a man of excellent practical sense,
doing unweariedly his best in that kind, all his life long.
Alone among modern Kings; his late Father the one exception;
and even his Father hardly surpassing him in that particular.

In regard to Embden and the Shipping interests, Ost-Friesland
awakened very ardent speculations, which were a novelty in Prussian
affairs; nothing of Foreign Trade, except into the limited Baltic,
had been heard of there since the Great Elector's time. The Great
Elector had ships, Forts on the Coast of Africa; and tried hard for
Atlantic Trade,--out of this same Embden; where, being summoned to
protect in the troubles, he had got some footing as Contingent Heir
withal, and kept a "Prussian Battalion" a good while. And now, on
much fairer terms, not less diligently turned to account, it is his
Great-Grandson's turn. Friedrich's successes in this department,
the rather as Embden and Ost-Friesland have in our time ceased to
be Prussian, are not much worth speaking of; but they connect
themselves with some points still slightly memorable to us.
How, for example, his vigilantes and endeavors on this score
brought him into rubbings, not collisions, but jealousies and
gratings, with the English and Dutch, the reader will see anon.

Law-reform is gloriously prosperous; Husbandry the like, and
Shipping Interest itself as yet. But in the Third grand Head, that
of realizing the Reinsberg Program, beautifying his Domesticities,
and bringing his own Hearth and Household nearer the Ideal,
Friedrich was nothing like so successful; in fact had no success at
all. That flattering Reinsberg Program, it is singular how
Friedrich cannot help trying it by every new chance, nor cast the
notion out of him that there must be a kind of Muses'-Heaven
realizable on Earth! That is the Biographic Phenomenon which has
survived of those Years; and to that we will almost exclusively
address ourselves, on behalf of ingenuous readers.

Chapter IX.


Voltaire's Visit lasted, in all, about Thirty-two Months; and is
divisible into Three Acts or Stages. The first we have seen: how it
commenced in brightness as of the sun, and ended, by that Hirsch
business, in whirlwinds of smoke and soot,--Voltaire retiring, on
his passionate prayer, to that silent Country-house which he calls
the Marquisat; there to lie in hospital, and wash himself a little,
and let the skies wash themselves.

The Hirsch business having blown over, as all things do, Voltaire
resumed his place among the Court-Planets, and did his revolutions;
striving to forget that there ever was a Hirsch, or a soot-
explosion of that nature. In words nobody reminded him of it, the
King least of all: and by degrees matters were again tolerably
glorious, and all might have gone well enough; though the primal
perfect splendor, such fuliginous reminiscence being ineffaceable,
never could be quite re-attained. The diamond Cross of Merit, the
Chamberlain gold Key, hung bright upon the man; a man the admired
of men. He had work to do: work of his own which he reckoned
priceless (that immortal SIECLE DE LOUIS QUATORZE; which he stood
by, and honestly did, while here; the one fixed axis in those
fooleries and whirlings of his);--work for the King, "two hours,
one hour, a day," which the King reckoned priceless in its sort.
For Friedrich himself Voltaire has, with touches of real love
coming out now and then, a very sincere admiration mixed with fear;
and delights in shining to him, and being well with him, as the
greatest pleasure now left in life. Besides the King, he had
society enough, French in type, and brilliant enough: plenty of
society; or, at his wish, what was still better, none at all.
He was bedded, boarded, lodged, as if beneficent fairies had done
it for him; and for all these things no price asked, you might say,
but that he would not throw himself out of window! Had the man been
wise-- But he was not wise. He had, if no big gloomy devil in him
among the bright angels that were there, a multitude of ravening
tumultuary imps, or little devils very ILL-CHAINED; and was lodged,
he and his restless little devils, in a skin far too thin for him
and them!--

Reckoning up the matter, one cannot find that Voltaire ever could
have been a blessing at Berlin, either for Friedrich or himself;
and it is to be owned that Friedrich was not wise in so longing for
him, or clasping him so frankly in his arms. As Friedrich, by this
time, probably begins to discover;--though indeed to Friedrich the
thing is of finite moment; by no means of infinite, as it was to
Voltaire. "At worst, nothing but a little money thrown away!"
thinks Friedrich: "Sure enough, this is a strange Trismegistus,
this of mine: star fire-work shall we call him, or terrestrial
smoke-and-soot work? But one can fence oneself against the blind
vagaries of the man; and get a great deal of good by him, in the
lucid intervals." To Voltaire himself the position is most
agitating; but then its glories, were there nothing more!
Besides hy is always thinking to quit it shortly; which is a great
sedative in troubles. What with intermittencies (safe hidings in
one's MARQUISAT, or vacant interlunar cave), with alternations of
offence and reconcilement; what with occasional actual flights to
Paris (whitherward Voltaire is always busy to keep a postern open;
and of which there is frequent talk, and almost continual thought,
all along), flights to be called "visits," and privately intending
to be final, but never proving so,--the Voltaire-Friedrich
relation, if left to itself, might perhaps long have staggered
about, and not ended as it did.

But, alas, no relation can be left to itself in this world,--
especially if you have a porous skin! There were other French here,
as well as Voltaire, revolving in the Court-circle; and that,
beyond all others, proved the fatal circumstance to him.
"NE SAVEZ-VOUS PAS, Don't you know," said he to Chancellor Jarriges
one day, "that when there are two Frenchmen in a Foreign Court or
Country, one of them must die (FAUT QUE L'UN DES DEUX PERISSE)?"
[Seyfarth, ii. 191; &c. &c.] Which shocked the mind of Jarriges;
but had a kind of truth, too. Jew Hirsch, run into for low
smuggling purposes, had been a Cape of Storms, difficult to
weather; but the continual leeshore were those French,--with a
heavy gale on, and one of the rashest pilots! He did strike the
breakers there, at last; and it is well known, total shipwreck was
the issue. Our Second Act, holding out dubiously, in continual
perils, till Autumn, 1752, will have to pass then into a Third of
darker complexion, and into a Catastrophe very dark indeed.

Catastrophe which, by farther ill accident, proved noisy in the
extreme; producing world-wide shrieks from the one party, stone-
silence from the other; which were answered by unlimited hooting,
catcalling and haha-ing from all parts of the World-Theatre, upon
both the shrieky and the silent party; catcalling not fallen quite
dead to this day. To Friedrich the catcalling was not momentous
(being used to such things); though to poor Voltaire it was
unlimitedly so:--and to readers interested in this memorable Pair
of Men, the rights and wrongs of the Affair ought to be rendered
authentically conceivable, now at last. Were it humanly possible,--
after so much catcalling at random! Smelfungus has a right to say,
speaking of this matter:--

"Never was such a jumble of loud-roaring ignorances, delusions and
confusions, as the current Records of it are. Editors, especially
French Editors, treating of a Hyperborean, Cimmerian subject, like
this, are easy-going creatures. And truly they have left it for us
in a wonderful state. Dateless, much of it, by nature; and, by the
lazy Editors, MISdated into very chaos; jumbling along there, in
mad defiance of top and bottom; often the very Year given wrong:--
full everywhere of lazy darkness, irradiated only by stupid rages,
ill-directed mockeries:--and for issue, cheerfully malicious
hootings from the general mob of mankind, with unbounded contempt
of their betters; which is not pleasant to see. When mobs do get
together, round any signal object; and editorial gentlemen, with
talent for it, pour out from their respective barrel-heads, in a
persuasive manner, instead of knowledge, ignorance set on fire,
they are capable of carrying it far!--Will it be possible to pick
out the small glimmerings of real light, from this mad dance of
will-o'-wisps and fire-flies thrown into agitation?"

It will be very difficult, my friend;--why did not you yourself do
it? Most true, "those actual Voltaire-Friedrich LETTERS of the time
are a resource, and pretty much the sole one: Letters a good few,
still extant; which all HAD their bit of meaning; and have it
still, if well tortured till they give it out, or give some glimmer
of it out:"--but you have not tortured them; you have left it to
me, if I would! As I assuredly will not (never fear, reader!)--
except in the thriftiest degree.


To the outside crowd of observers, and to himself in good moments,
Voltaire represents his situation as the finest in the world:--

"Potsdam is Sparta and Athens joined in one; nothing but reviewing
and poetry day by day. The Algarottis, the Maupertuises, are here;
have each his work, serious for himself; then gay Supper with a
King, who is a great man and the soul of good company." ...
Sparta and Athens, I tell you: "a Camp of Mars and the Garden of
Epicurus; trumpets and violins, War and Philosophy. I have my time
all to myself; am at Court and in freedom,--if I were not entirely
free, neither an enormous Pension, nor a Gold Key tearing out one's
pocket, nor a halter (LICOU), which they call CORDON of an ORDER,
nor even the Suppers with a Philosopher who has gained Five
Battles, could yield me the least happiness." [ OEuvres,
lxxiv. 325, 326, 333 (Letters, to D'Argental and
others, "27th April-8th May, 1751").] Looked at by you, my outside
friends,--ah, had I health and YOU here, what a situation!

But seen from within, it is far otherwise. Alongside of these
warblings of a heart grateful to the first of Kings, there goes on
a series of utterances to Niece Denis, remarkable for the misery
driven into meanness, that can be read in them. Ill-health,
discontent, vague terror, suspicion that dare not go to sleep;
a strange vague terror, shapeless or taking all shapes--a body
diseased and a mind diseased. Fear, quaking continually for nothing
at all, is not to be borne in a handsome manner. And it passes,
often enough (in these poor LETTERS), into transient malignity,
into gusts of trembling hatred, with a tendency to relieve oneself
by private scandal of the house we are in. Seldom was a miserabler
wrong-side seen to a bit of royal tapestry. A man hunted by the
little devils that dwell unchained within himself; like Pentheus by
the Maenads, like Actaeon by his own Dogs. Nay, without devils,
with only those terrible bowels of mine, and scorbutic gums, it is
bad enough: "Glorious promotions to me here," sneers he bitterly;
"but one thing is indisputable, I have lost seven of my poor
residue of teeth since I came!" In truth, we are in a sadly
scorbutic state; and that, and the devils we lodge within
ourselves, is the one real evil. Could not Suspicion--why cannot
she!--take her natural rest; and all these terrors vanish?
Oh, M. de Voltaire!--The practical purport, to Niece Denis, always
is: Keep my retreat to Paris open; in the name of Heaven, no
obstruction that way!

Miserable indeed; a man fatally unfit for his present element!
But he has Two considerable Sedatives, all along; two, and no third
visible to me. Sedative FIRST: that, he can, at any time, quit this
illustrious Tartarus-Elysium, the envy of mankind;--and indeed,
practically, he is always as if on the slip; thinking to be off
shortly, for a time, or in permanence; can be off at once, if
things grow too bad. Sedative SECOND is far better: His own labor
on LOUIS QUATORZE, which is steadily going on, and must have been a
potent quietus in those Court-whirlwinds inward and outward.

From Berlin, already in Autumn, 1750, Voltaire writes to
D'Argental: "I sha'n't go to Italy this Autumn [nor ever in my
life], as I had projected. But I will come to see YOU in the course
of November" (far from it, I got into STEUER-SCHEINE then!)--
And again, after some weeks: "I have put off my journey to Italy
for a year. Next Winter too, therefore, I shall see you," on the
road thither. "To my Country, since you live in it, I will make
frequent visits," very! "Italy and the King of Prussia are two old
passions with me; but I cannot treat Frederic-le-Grand as I can the
Holy Father, with a mere look in passing." [To D'Argental, "Berlin,
14th September,--Potsdam, 15th October, 1750" ( OEuvres,
lxxiv. 220, 237).] Let this one, to which many might
be added, serve as sample of Sedative First, or the power and
intention to be off before long.

In regard to Sedative Second, again: ... "The happiest circumstance
is, "brought with me all my LOUIS-FOURTEENTH Papers and Excerpts.
'I get from Leipzig, if no nearer, whatever Books are needed;'" and
labor faithfully at this immortal Production. Yes, day by day, to
see growing, by the cunning of one's own right hand, such perennial
Solomon's-Temple of a SIECLE DE LOUIS QUATORZE:--which of your
Kings, or truculent, Tiglath-Pilesers, could do that? To poor me,
even in the Potsdam tempests, it is possible: what ugliest day is
not beautiful that sees a stone or two added there!--Daily Voltaire
sees himself at work on his SIECLE, on those fine terms; trowel in
one hand, weapon of war in the other. And does actually accomplish
it, in the course of this Year 1751,--with a great deal of
punctuality and severe painstaking; which readers of our day,
fallen careless of the subject, are little aware of, on Voltaire's
behalf. Voltaire's reward was, that he did NOT go mad in that
Berlin element, but had throughout a bower-anchor to ride by.
"The King of France continues me as Gentleman of the Chamber, say
you; but has taken away my Title of Historiographer? That latter,
however, shall still be my function. 'My present independence has
given weight to my verdicts on matters. Probably I never could have
written this Book at Paris.' A consolation for one's exile, MON
ENFANT." [To Niece Denis ( OEuvres, lxxiv.
247, &c. &c.), "28th October, 1750," and subsequent dates.]

It is proper also to observe that, besides shining at the King's
Suppers like no other, Voltaire applies himself honestly to do for
his Majesty the small work required of him,--that of Verse-
correcting now and then. Two Specimens exist; two Pieces
criticised, ODE AUX PRUSSIENS, and THE ART OF WAR: portions of that
Reprint now going on ("to the extent of Twelve Copies,"--woe lies
in one of them, most unexpected at this time!) "AU DONJON DU
CHATEAU;"--under benefit of Voltaire's remarks. Which one reads
curiously, not without some surprise. [In OEuvres de
Frederic, x. 276-303.] Surprise, first at Voltaire's
official fidelity; his frankness, rigorous strictness in this small
duty: then at the kind of correcting, instructing and lessoning,
that had been demanded of him by his Royal Pupil. Mere grammatical
stylistic skin-deep work: nothing (or, at least, in these Specimens
nothing) of attempt upon the interior structure, or the interior
harmony even of utterance: solely the Parisian niceties, graces,
laws of poetic language, the FAS and the NEFAS in regard to all
that: this is what his Majesty would fain be taught from the
fountain-head;--one wonders his Majesty did not learn to spell,
which might have been got from a lower source!--And all this
Voltaire does teach with great strictness. For example, in the very
first line, in the very first word, set, before him:--

written (ODE AUX PRUSSIENS, which is specimen First); and thus
Voltaire criticises: "The Hero here makes his PRUSSIENS of two
syllables; and afterwards, in another strophe, he grants them
three. A King is master of his favors. At the same time, one does
require a little uniformity; and the IENS are usually of two
syllables, as LIENS, SILESIENS, AUTRICHIENS; excepting the
monosyllables BIEN, RIEN"--Enough, enough!--A severe, punctual,
painstaking Voltaire, sitting with the schoolmaster's bonnet on
head; ferula visible, if not actually in hand. For which, as
appears, his Majesty was very grateful to the Trismegistus of men.

Voltaire's flatteries to Friedrich, in those scattered little
Billets with their snatches of verse, are the prettiest in the
world,--and approach very near to sincerity, though seldom quite
attaining it. Something traceable of false, of suspicious, feline,
nearly always, in those seductive warblings; which otherwise are
the most melodious bits of idle ingenuity the human brain has ever
spun from itself. For instance, this heading of a Note sent from
one room to another,--perhaps with pieces of an ODE AUX PRUSSIENS

"Vou gui daignez me departir
Les fruits d'une Muse divine,
O roi! je ne puis consentir
Que, sans daigner m'en avertir,
Vous alliez prendre medecine.
Je suis votre malade-ne,
Et sur la casse et le sene,
J'ai des notions non communes.
Nous sommes de mene metier;
Faut-il de moi vous defier,
Et cacher vos bonnes fortunes?"

Was there ever such a turn given to taking physic! Still better is
this other, the topic worse,--HAEMORRHOIDS (a kind of annual or
periodical affair with the Royal Patient, who used to feel
improved after):--

... (Ten or twelve verses on another point; then suddenly--)

"Que la veine hemorroidale
De votre personne royale
Cesse de troubler le repos!
Quand pourrai-je d'une style honnete
Dire: 'Le cul de mon heros
Va tout aussi bien que sa tete'?"
[In OEuvres de Frederic, xxii. 283, 267.]

A kittenish grace in these things, which is pleasant in so old
a cat.

Smelfungus says: "He is a consummate Artist in Speech, our
Voltaire: that, if you take the word SPEECH in its widest sense,
and consider the much that can be spoken, and the infinitely more
that cannot and should not, is Voltaire's supreme excellency among
his fellow-creatures; never rivalled (to my poor judgment) anywhere
before or since,--nor worth rivalling, if we knew it well."

Another fine circumstance is, that Voltaire has frequent leave of
absence; and in effect passes a great deal of his time altogether
by himself, or in his own way otherwise. What with Friedrich's
Review Journeys and Business Circuits, considerable separations do
occur of themselves; and at any time, Voltaire has but to plead
illness, which he often does; with ground and without, and get away
for weeks, safe into the distance more or less remote. He is at the
Marquisat (as we laboriously make out); at Berlin, in the empty
Palace, perhaps in Lodgings of his own (though one would prefer the
GRATIS method); nursing his maladies, which are many; writing his
LOUIS QUATORZE; "lonely altogether, your Majesty, and sad of
humor,"--yet giving his cosy little dinners, and running out,
pretty often, if well invited, into the brilliancies and gayeties.
No want of brilliant social life here, which can shine, more or
less, and appreciate one's shining. The King's Supper-parties--
Yes, and these, though the brightest, are not the only bright
things in our Potsdam-Berlin world. Take with you, reader, one or
two of the then and there Chief Figures; Voltaire's fellow-players;
strutting and fretting their hour on that Stage of Life. They are
mostly not quite strangers to you.

We know the sublime Perpetual President in his red wig, and sublime
supremacy of Pure Science. A gloomy set figure; affecting the
sententious, the emphatic and a composed impregnability,--like the
Jove of Science. With immensities of gloomy vanity, not
compressible at all times. Friedrich always strove to honor his
Perpetual President, and duly adore the Pure Sciences in him;
but inwardly could not quite manage it, though outwardly he failed
in nothing. Impartial witnesses confess, the King had a great deal
of trouble with his gloomings and him. "Who is this Voltaire?"
gloomily thinks the Perpetual President to himself. "A fellow with
a nimble tongue, that is all. Knows nothing whatever of Pure
Sciences, except what fraction or tincture he has begged or stolen
from myself. And here is the King of the world in raptures
with him!"

Voltaire from of old had faithfully done his kowtows to this King
of the Sciences; and, with a sort of terror, had suffered with
incredible patience a great deal from him. But there comes an end
to all things; Voltaire's patience not excepted. It lay in the
fates that Maupertuis should steadily accumulate, day after day,
and now more than ever heretofore, upon the sensitive Voltaire.
Till, as will be seen, the sensitive Voltaire could endure it no
longer; but had to explode upon this big Bully (accident lending a
spark); to go off like a Vesuvius of crackers, fire-serpents and
sky-rockets; envelop the red wig, and much else, in delirious
conflagration;--and produce the catastrophe of this Berlin Drama.

D'Argens, poor dissolute creature, is the best of the French lot.
He has married, after so many temporary marriages with Actresses,
one Actress in permanence, Mamsell Cochois, a patient kind being;
and settled now, at Potsdam here, into perfectly composed household
life. Really loves Friedrich, they say; the only Frenchman of them
that does. Has abundance of light sputtery wit, and Provencal fire
and ingenuity; no ill-nature against any man. Never injures
anybody, nor lies at all about anything. A great friend of fine
weather; regrets, of his inheritances in Provence, chiefly one
item, and this not overmuch,--the bright southern sun.
Sits shivering in winter-time, wrapping himself in more and more
flannel, two dressing-gowns, two nightcaps:--loyal to this King, in
good times and in evil.

Was the King's friend for thirty years; helped several meritorious
people to his Majesty's notice; and never did any man a mischief in
that quarter. An erect, guileless figure; very tall; with vivid
countenance, chaotically vivid mind: full of bright sallies,
irregular ingenuities; had a hot temper too, which did not often
run away with him, but sometimes did. He thrice made a visit to
Provence,--in fact ran away from the King, feeling bantered and
roasted to a merciless degree,--but thrice came back. "At the end
of the first stage, he had always privately forgiven the King, and
determined that the pretended visit should really be a visit only."
"Reads the King's Letters," which are many to him, "always bare-
headed, in spite of the draughts!" [Nicolai, Anekdoten,
i. 11-75, &c. &c.]

Algarotti is too prudent, politely egoistic and self-contained, to
take the trouble of hurting anybody, or get himself into trouble
for love or hatred. He fell into disfavor not long after that
unsuccessful little mission in the first Silesian War, of which the
reader has lost remembrance. Good for nothing in diplomacy, thought
Friedrich, but agreeable as company. "Company in tents, in the seat
of War, has its unpleasantness," thought Algarotti;--and began very
privately sounding the waters at Dresden for an eligible situation;
so that there has ensued a quarrel since; then humble apologies
followed by profound silence,--till now there is reconcilement.
It is admitted Friedrich had some real love for Algarotti;
Algarotti, as we gather, none at all for him; but only for his
greatness. They parted again (February, 1753) without quarrel, but
for the last time; [Algarotti-Correspondence ( OEuvres de
Frederic, xviii. 86).]--and I confess to a relief on
the occasion.

Friedrich, readers know by this time, had a great appetite for
conversation: he talked well, listened well; one of his chief
enjoyments was, to give and receive from his fellow-creatures in
that way. I hope, and indeed have evidence, that he required good
sense as the staple; but in the form, he allowed great latitude.
He by no means affected solemnity, rather the reverse; goes much
upon the bantering vein; far too much, according to the complaining
parties. Took pleasure (cruel mortal!) in stirring up his company
by the whip, and even by the whip applied to RAWS; for we find he
had "established," like the Dublin Hackney-Coachman, "raws for
himself;" and habitually plied his implement there, when desirous
to get into the gallop. In an inhuman manner, said the suffering
Cattle; who used to rebel against it, and go off in the sulks from
time to time. It is certain he could, especially in his younger
years, put up with a great deal of zanyism, ingenious foolery and
rough tumbling, if it had any basis to tumble on; though with years
he became more saturnine.

By far his chief Artist in this kind, indeed properly the only one,
was La Mettrie, whom we once saw transiently as Army-Surgeon at
Fontenoy: he is now out of all that (flung out, with the dogs at
his heels); has been safe in Berlin for three years past.
Friedrich not only tolerates the poor madcap, but takes some
pleasure in him: madcap we say, though poor La Mettrie had
remarkable gifts, exuberant laughter one of them, and was far from
intending to be mad. Not Zanyism, but Wisdom of the highest nature,
was what he drove at,--unluckily, with open mouth, and mind all in
tumult. La Mettrie had left the Army, soon after that busy Fontenoy
evening: Chivalrous Grammont, his patron and protector, who had
saved him from many scrapes, lay shot on the field. La Mettrie,
rushing on with mouth open and mind in tumult, had, from of old,
been continually getting into scrapes. Unorthodox to a degree; the
Sorbonne greedy for him long since; such his audacities in print,
his heavy hits, boisterous, quizzical, logical. And now he had set
to attacking the Medical Faculty, to quizzing Medicine in his wild
way; Doctor Astruc, Doctor This and That, of the first celebrity,
taking it very ill. So that La Mettrie had to demit; to get out of
France rather in a hurry, lest worse befell.

He had studied at Leyden, under Boerhaave. He had in fact
considerable medical and other talent, had he not been so
tumultuous and open-mouthed. He fled to Leyden; and shot forth, in
safety there, his fiery darts upon Sorbonne and Faculty, at his own
discretion,--which was always a MINIMUM quantity:--he had, before
long, made Leyden also too hot for him. His Books gained a kind of
celebrity in the world; awoke laughter and attention, among the
adventurous of readers; astonishment at the blazing madcap (a BON
DIABLE, too, as one could see); and are still known to Catalogue-
makers,--though, with one exception, L'HOMME MACHINE, not
otherwise, nor read at all. L'HOMME MACHINE (Man a Machine) is the
exceptional Book; smallest of Duodecimos to have so much wildfire
in it, This MAN A MACHINE, though tumultuous La Mettrie meant
nothing but open-mouthed Wisdom by it, gave scandal in abundance;
so that even the Leyden Magistrates were scandalized; and had to
burn the afflicting little Duodecimo by the common hangman, and
order La Mettrie to disappear instantly from their City.

Which he had to do,--towards King Friedrich, usual refuge of the
persecuted; seldom inexorable, where there was worth, even under
bad forms, recognizable; and not a friend to burning poor men or
their books, if it could be helped. La Mettrie got some post, like
D'Arget's, or still more nominal; "readership;" some small pension
to live upon; and shelter to shoot forth his wildfire, when he
could hold it no longer: fire, not of a malignant incendiary kind,
but pleasantly lambent, though maddish, as Friedrich perceived.
Thus had La Mettrie found a Goshen;--and stood in considerable
favor, at Court and in Berlin Society in the years now current.
According to Nicolai, Friedrich never esteemed La Mettrie, which is
easy to believe, but found him a jester and ingenious madcap, out
of whom a great deal of merriment could be had, over wine or the
like. To judge by Nicolai's authentic specimen, their Colloquies
ran sometimes pretty deep into the cynical, under showers of
wildfire playing about; and the high-jinks must have been highish.
[ Anekdoten, vi. 197-227.] When there had been
enough of this, Friedrich would lend his La Mettrie to the French
Excellency, Milord Tyrconnel, to oblige his Excellency, and get La
Mettrie out of the way for a while. Milord is at Berlin; a Jacobite
Irishman, of blusterous Irish qualities, though with plenty of
sagacity and rough sense; likes La Mettrie; and is not much a
favorite with Friedrich.

Tyrconnel had said, at first,--when Rothenburg, privately from
Friedrich, came to consult him, "What are, in practical form, those
'assistances from the Most Christian Majesty,' should we MAKE
Alliance with him, as your Excellency proposes, and chance to be
attacked?"--"MORBLEU, assistance enough [enumerating several]:
deceive us, you will be squelched)!" [Valori, ii. 130, &c.] "He had
been chosen for his rough tongue," says Valori; our French Court
being piqued at Friedrich and his sarcasms. Tyrconnel gives
splendid dinners: Voltaire often of them; does not love Potsdam,
nor is loved by it. Nay, I sometimes think a certain DEMON
NEWSWRITER (of whom by and by), but do not know, may be some hungry
Attache of Tyrconnel's. Hungry Attache, shut out from the divine
Suppers and upper planetary movements, and reduced to look on them
from his cold hutch, in a dog-like angry and hungry manner?
His flying allusions to Voltaire, "SON (Friedrich's) SQUELETTE
D'APOLLON, skeleton of an Apollo," and the like, are barkings
almost rabid.

Of the military sort, about this time, Keith and Rothenburg appear
most frequently as guests or companions. Rothenburg had a great
deal of Friedrich's regard: Winterfeld is more a practical
Counseller, and does not shine in learned circles, as Rothenburg
may. A fiery soldier too, this Rothenburg, withal;--a man probably
of many talents and qualities, though of distinctly decipherable
there is next to no record of him or them. He had a Parisian Wife;
who is sometimes on the point of coming with Niece Denis to Berlin,
and of setting up their two French households there; but never did
it, either of them, to make an Uncle or a Husband happy.
Rothenburg was bred a Catholic: "he headed the subscription for the
famous 'KATHOLISCHE KIRCHE,'" so delightful to the Pope and liberal
Christians in those years; "but never gave a sixpence of money,"
says Voltaire once: Catholic KIRK was got completed with
difficulty; stands there yet, like a large washbowl set, bottom
uppermost, on the top of a narrowish tub; but none of Rothenburg's
money is in it. In Voltaire's Correspondence there is frequent
mention of him; not with any love, but with a certain secret
respect, rather inclined to be disrespectful, if it durst or could:
the eloquent vocal individual not quite at ease beside the more
silent thinking and acting one. What we know is, Friedrich greatly
loved the man. There is some straggle of CORRESPONDENCE between
Friedrich and him left; but it is worth nothing; gives no testimony
of that, or of anything else noticeable:--and that is the one fact
now almost alone significant of Rothenburg. Much loved and esteemed
by the King; employed diplomatically, now and then; perhaps talked
with on such subjects, which was the highest distinction. Poor man,
he is in very bad health in these months; has never rightly
recovered of his wounds; and dies in the last days of 1751,--to the
bitter sorrow of the King, as is still on record. A highly
respectable dim figure, far more important in Friedrich's History
than he looks. As King's guest, he can in these months play
no part.

Highly respectable too, and well worth talking to, though left very
dim to us in the Books, is Marshal Keith; who has been growing
gradually with the King, and with everybody, ever since he came to
these parts in 1747. A man of Scotch type; the broad accent, with
its sagacities, veracities, with its steadfastly fixed moderation,
and its sly twinkles of defensive humor, is still audible to us
through the foreign wrappages. Not given to talk, unless there is
something to be said; but well capable of it then. Friedrich, the
more he knows him, likes him the better. On all manner of subjects
he can talk knowingly, and with insight of his own. On Russian
matters Friedrich likes especially to hear him,--though they differ
in regard to the worth of Russian troops. "Very considerable
military qualities in those Russians," thinks Keith: "imperturbably
obedient, patient; of a tough fibre, and are beautifully strict to
your order, on the parade-ground or off." "Pooh, mere rubbish, MON
CHER," thinks Friedrich always. To which Keith, unwilling to argue
too long, will answer: "Well, it is possible enough your Majesty
may try them, some day; if I am wrong, it will be all the better
for us!" Which Friedrich had occasion to remember by and by.
Friedrich greatly respects this sagacious gentleman with the broad
accent: his Brother, the Lord Marischal, is now in France:
Ambassador at Paris, since September, 1751: ["Left Potsdam 28th
August" (Rodenbeck, i. 220).] "Lord Marischal, a Jacobite, for
Prussian Ambassador in Paris; Tyrconnel, a Jacobite, for French
Ambassador in Berlin!" grumble the English.


Here, selected from more, are a few "fire-flies,"--not dancing or
distracted, but authentic all, and stuck each on its spit;
shedding a feeble glimmer over the physiognomy of those Fifteen
caliginous Months, to an imagination that is diligent.
Fractional utterances of Voltaire to Friedrich and others (in
abridged form, abridgment indicated): the exact dates are oftenest
irretrievably gone; but the glimmer of light is indisputable, all
the more as, on Voltaire's part, it is mostly involuntary.
Grouping and sequence must be other than that of Time.

POTSDAM, 5th JUNE, 1751.--King is off on that Ost-Friesland jaunt;
Voltaire at Potsdam, "at what they call the Marquisat," in complete
solitude,--preparing to die before long,--sends his Majesty some
poor trifles of Scribbling, proofs of my love, Sire: "since I live
solitary, when you are not at Potsdam, it would seem I came for you
only" (note that, your Majesty)! ... "But in return for the rags
here sent, I expect the Sixth Canto of your ART [ART DE LA GUERRE,
one of the Two pupil-and-schoolmaster "Specimens" mentioned above];
I expect the ROOF to the Temple of Mars. It is for you, alone of
men, to build that Temple; as it was for Ovid to sing of Love,
and for Horace to give an ART OF POETRY." (Laying it on
pretty thick!) ...

Then again, later (after severe study, ferula in hand): "Sire, I
return your Majesty your Six Cantos; I surrender at discretion (LUI
LAISSE CARTE-BLANCHE) on that qu.estion of 'VICTOIRE.' The whole
Poem is worthy of you: if I had made this Journey only to see a
thing so unique, I ought not to regret my Country." ... And again
(still no date): "GRAND DIEU! is not all that [HISTORY OF THE GREAT
ELECTOR, by your Majesty, which I am devouring with such appetite]
neat, elegant, precise, and, above all, philosophical!"--"Sire, you
are adorable; I will pass my days at your feet. Oh, never make game
of me (DES NICHES)!" Has he been at that, say you! "If the Kings of
Denmark, Portugal, Spain, &c. did it, I should not care a pin;
they are only Kings. But you are the greatest man that perhaps ever
reigned." [[In OEuvres de Frederic, xxii.
271, 273.]

date).--"Sire, if you like free criticism, if you tolerate sincere
praises, if you wish to perfect a Work [ART DE LA GUERRE, or some
other as sublime], which you alone in Europe are capable of doing,
you have only to bid a Hermit come upstairs. At your orders for all
his life." [Ib. 261.]

"Next to you, I love work and retirement. Nobody whatever complains
of me. I ask of your Majesty, in order to keep unaltered the
happiness I owe to you, this favor, Not to turn me out of the
Apartment you deigned to give me at Berlin, till I go for Paris
[always talking of that]. If I were to leave it, they would put in
the Gazettes that I"-- Oh, what would n't they put in, of one that,
belonging to King Friedrich, lives as it were in the Disc of the
Sun, conspicuous to everybody!--"I will go out [of the Apartment]
when some Prince, with a Suite needing it to lodge in, comes; and
then the thing will be honorable. Chasot [gone to Paris] has been
talking"--unguarded things of me! "I have not uttered the least
complaint of Chasot: I never will of Chasot, nor of those who
have set him on [Maupertuis belike]: I forgive everything, I!"
[Ib. 270.]

month; year, too surely, 1751, as we shall find! Letter is IN
VERSE).--"Lieberkuhn was going to kill poor Rothenburg; to send him
off to Pluto,--for liking his dish a little;--monster Lieberkuhn!
But Doctor Joyous," your reader, La Mettrie,--led by, need I say
whom?--"has brought him back to us:--think of Lieberkuhn's solemn
stare! Pretty contrasts, those, of sublime Quacksalverism, with
Sense under the mask of Folly. May the haemorrhoidal vein"--follows
HERE, note it, exquisite reader, that of "CUL DE MON HEROS,"
cited above!)-- ...

And then (a day or two after; King too haemorrhoidal to come twenty
miles, but anxious to know): "Sire, no doubt Doctor Joyous (LE
MEDECIN JOYEUX) has informed your Majesty that when we arrived, the
Patient was sleeping tranquil; and Cothenius assured us, in Latin,
that there was no danger. I know not what has passed since, but I
am persuaded your Majesty approves my journey" (of a street or
two),--MUST you speak of it, then!

"Madame Tyrconnel [French Excellency's Wife] has plenty of fine
people at her house on an evening; perhaps too many" (one of the
first houses in Berlin, this of my Lord Tyrcannel's, which we
frequent a good deal). ... "Madame got very well through her part
of ANDROMAQUE [in those old play-acting times of ours]: never saw
actresses with finer eyes,"--how should you!

"As to Milord Tyrconnel, he is an Anglais of dignity,"--Irish in
reality, and a thought blusterous. "He has a condensed (SERRE)
caustic way of talk; and I know not what of frank which one finds
in the English, and does not usually find in persons of his trade.
French Tragedies played at Berlin, I myself taking part;
an Englishman Envoy of France there: strange circumstances these,
are n't they?" [To D'Argental this ( OEuvres de Voltaire,
lxxiv. 289).] Yes, that latter especially; and Milord
Marischal our Prussian Envoy with you! Which the English note,
sulkily, as a weather-symptom.

one is n't always perched on the summit of Parnassus; one is a man.
There are sicknesses about; I did not bring an athlete's health to
these parts; and the scorbutic humor which is eating my life
renders me truly, of all that are sick, the sickest. I am
absolutely alone from morning till night. My one solace is the
necessary pleasure of taking the air, I bethink me of walking, and
clearing my head a little, in your Gardens at Potsdam. I fancy it
is a permitted thing; I present myself, musing;--I find huge devils
of Grenadiers, who clap bayonets in my belly, who cry FURT,
tolerably spelt]! And I take to my heels, as Austrians and Saxons
would do before them. Have you ever read, that in Titus's or
Marcus-Aurelius's Gardens, a poor devil of a Gaulish Poet"--
In short, it shall be mended. [ OEuvres de Frederic, italic> xxii. 273.]

"Marcus Aurelius was wont to"--(Well, we know who that is: What of
Marcus, then?)--"A certain lover of his glory [STILL IN VERSE]
spoke once, at Supper, of a magnanimity of Marcus's;--at which
Marcus [flattery too thick] rather gloomed, and sat quite silent,--
which was another fine saying of his [ENDS VERSE, STARTS PROSE]:--

"Pardon, Sire, some hearts that are full of you! To justify myself,
I dare supplicate your Majesty to give one glance at this Letter
(lines pencil-marked), which has just come from M. de Chauvelin,
Nephew of the famous GARDE-DES-SCEAUX. Your Majesty cannot gloom at
him, writing these from the fulness of his heart; nor at me, who"--
Pooh; no, then! Perhaps do you a NICHE again,--poor restless
fellow! [Ib. 280.]

"I ascend to your antechambers, to find some one by whom I may ask
permission to speak with you. I find nobody: I have to return:"
and what I wanted was this, "your protection for my SIECLE DE LOUIS
QUATORZE, which I am about to print in Berlin." Surely,--but
also this:--

"I am unwell, I am a sick man born. And withal I am obliged to
work, almost as much as your Majesty. I pass the whole day alone.
If you would permit that I might shift to the Apartment next the
one I have,--to that where General Bredow slept last winter,--
I should work more commodiously. My Secretary (Collini) and I could
work together there. I should have a little more sun, which is a
great point for me.--Only the whim of a sick man, perhaps!
Well, even so, your Majesty will have pity on it. You promised to
make me happy." [ OEuvres de Frederic,
xxii. 277.]

I SUSPECT THAT I AM SUSPECTED (No date).--"Sire, if I am not brief,
forgive me. Yesterday the faithful D'Arget told me with sorrow that
in Paris people were talking of your Poem." Horrible; but, O Sire,
--me?--"I showed him the eighteen Letters that I received
yesterday. They are from Cadiz," all about Finance, no blabbing
there! "Permit me to send you now the last six from my Niece,
numbered by her own hand [no forgery, no suppression]; deign to
cast your eyes on the places I have underlined, where she speaks of
your Majesty, of D'Argens, of Potsdam, of D'Ammon" (to whom she
can't be Phyllis, innocent being)!-MON CHER VOLTAIRE, must I again
do some NICHE upon you, then? Tie some tin-canister to your too-
sensitive tail? What an element you inhabit within that poor skin
of yours! [Ib. 269.]

These "Six Twins" are the "ART DE LA GUERRE," in Six Chants;
part of that revised Edition which is getting printed "AU DONJON
DU CHATEAU;" time must be, well on in 1751). Friedrich writes
to Voltaire:--

"I have just been brought to bed of Six Twins; which require to be
baptized, in the name of Apollo, in the waters of Hippocrene.
LA HENRIADE is requested to become godmother: you will have the
goodness to bring her, this evening at five, to the Father's
Apartment. D'Arget LUCINA will be there; and the Imagination of
MAN-A-MACHINE will hold the poor infants over the Font."
[Ib. 266.]

DEIGN TO SAY IF I HAVE OFFENDED.-- ... "As they write to me from
Paris that I am in disgrace with you, I dare to beg very earnestly
that you will deign to say if I have displeased in anything! May go
wrong by ignorance or from over-zeal; but with my heart never!
I live in the profoundest retreat; giving to study my whole"--
"Your assurances once vouchsafed [famous Document of August 23d].
I write only to my Niece. I" (a page more of this)--have my sorrows
and merits, and absolutely no silence at all! [ OEuvres de
Frederic, xxii. 289.] "In the gift of Speech he is the
most brilliant of mankind," said Smelfungus; but in the gift of
Silence what a deficiency! Friedrich will have to do that for Two,
it would seem.

ROTHENBURG.--"Our LOUIS QUATORZE is out. But, Heavens, see, your
Majesty: a Pirate Printer, at Frankfurt-on-Oder, has been going on
parallel with us, all the while; and here is his foul blotch of an
Edition on sale, too! Bielfeld," fantastic fellow, "had proof-
sheets; Bielfeld sent them to a Professor there, though I don't
blame Bielfeld: result too evident. Protect me, your Majesty;
Order all wagons, especially wagons for Leipzig, to be stopped, to
be searched, and the Books thrown out,--it costs you but a word!"

Quite a simple thing: "All Prussia to the rescue!" thinks an ardent
Proprietor of these Proof-sheets. But then, next day, hears that
Rothenburg is dead. That the silent Rothenburg lay dying, while the
vocal Voltaire was writing these fooleries, to a King sunk in
grief. "Repent, be sorry, be ashamed!" he says to himself; and does
instantly try;--but with little success; Frankfurt-on-Oder, with
its Bielfeld proof-sheets, still jangling along, contemptibly
audible, for some time. [Ib. 285-287.] And afterwards, from
Frankfurt-on-Mayn new sorrow rises on LOUIS QUATORZE, as will be
seen.--Friedrich's grief for Rothenburg was deep and severe;
"he had visited him that last night," say the Books; "and quitted
his bedside, silent, and all in tears." It is mainly what of
Biography the silent Rothenburg now has.

From the current Narratives, as they are called, readers will
recollect, out of this Voltaire Period, two small particles of
Event amid such an ocean of noisy froth,--two and hardly more:
that of the "Orange-Skin," and that of the "Dirty Linen." Let us
put these two on their basis; and pass on:--

THE ORANGE-SKIN (Potsdam, 2d September, 1751, to Niece Denis)--Good
Heavens, MON ENFANT, what is this I hear (through the great
Dionysius'-Ear I maintain, at such expense to myself)! ...
"La Mettrie, a man of no consequence, who talks familiarly with the
King after their reading; and with me too, now and then: La Mettrie
swore to me, that, speaking to the King, one of those days, of my
supposed favor, and the bit of jealousy it excites, the King
answered him: "I shall want him still about a year:--you squeeze
the orange, you throw away the skin (ON EN JETTE LECORCE)!'"
Here is a pretty bit of babble (lie, most likely, and bit of
mischievous fun) from Dr. Joyous. "It cannot be true, No! And yet--
and yet--?" Words cannot express the agonizing doubts, the
questionings, occasionally the horror of Voltaire: poor sick soul,
keeping a Dionysius'-Ear to boot! This blurt of La Mettrie's goes
through him like a shot of electricity through an elderly sick
Household-Cat; and he speaks of it again and ever again,--though we
will not farther.

DIRTY LINEN (Potsdam, 24th July, 1752, To Niece Denis).-- ...
"Maupertuis has discreetly set the rumor going, that I found the
King's Works very bad; that I said to some one, on Verses from the
King coming in, 'Will he never tire, then, of sending me his dirty
linen to wash?' You obliging Maupertuis!"

Rumor says, it was General Mannstein, once Aide-de-Camp in Russia,
who had come to have his WORK ON RUSSIA revised (excellent Work,
often quoted by us [Did get out at last,--in England, through Lord
Marischal and David Hume: see PREFACE to it (London, 1760).]), when
the unfortunate Royal Verses came. Perhaps M. de Voltaire did say
it:--why not, had it only been prudent? He really likes those
Verses much more than I; but knows well enough, SUB ROSA, what kind
of Verses they are. This also is a horrible suspicion; that the
King should hear of this,--as doubtless the King did, though
without going delirious upon it at all. ["To Niece Denis," dates as
above ( OEuvres de Voltaire, lxxiv. 408,
lxxv. 17).] Thank YOU, my Perpetual President, not the less!--

OF MAUPERTUIS, IN SUCCESSIVE PHASES.-- ... "Maupertuis is not of
very engaging ways; he takes my dimensions harshly with his
quadrant: it is said there enters something of envy into his DATA.
... A somewhat surly gentleman; not too sociable; and, truth to
say, considerably sunk here [ASSEZ BAISSE, my D'Argental].

... "I endure Maupertuis, not having been able to soften him.
In all countries there are insociable fellows, with whom you are
obliged to live, though it is difficult. He has never forgiven me
for"--omitting to cite him, &c.--At Paris he had got the Academy of
Sciences into trouble, and himself into general dislike (DETESTER);
then came this Berlin offer. "Old Fleuri, when Maupertuis called to
take leave, repeated that verse of Virgil, NEC TIBI REGNANDI VENIAT
TAM DIRA CUPIDO. Fleuri might have whispered as much to himself:
but he was a mild sovereign lord, and reigned in a gentle polite
manner. I swear to you, Maupertuis does not, in his shop [the
Academy here]--where, God be thanked, I never go.

"He has printed a little Pamphlet on Happiness (SUR LE BONHEUR);
it is very dry and miserable. Reminds you of Advertisements for
things lost,--so poor a chance of finding them again. Happiness is
not what he gives to those who read him, to those who live with
him; he is not himself happy, and would be sorry that others were
[to Niece Denis this].

... "A very sweet life here, Madame [Madame d'Argental, an outside
party]: it would have been more so, if Maupertuis had liked.
The wish to please, is no part of his geometrical studies;
the problem of being agreeable to live with, is not one he has
solved." [ OEuvres de Voltaire, lxxiv. 330,
504 (4th May, 1751, and 14th March, 1752), to the D'Argentals;
to Niece Denis (6th November, 1750, and 24th August, 1751), lxxiv.
250, 385.]--Add this Anecdote, which is probably D'Arget's, and
worth credit:--

"Voltaire had dinner-party, Maupertuis one of them; party still in
the drawing-room, dinner just coming up. 'President, your Book, SUR
LE BONHEUR, has given me pleasure,' said Voltaire, politely [very
politely, considering what we have just read]; given me pleasure,--
a few obscurities excepted, of which we will talk together some
evening.' 'Obscurities?' said Maupertuis, in a gloomy arbitrary
tone: 'There may be such for you, Monsieur!' Voltaire laid his hand
on the President's shoulder [yellow wig near by], looked at him in
silence, with many-twinkling glance, gayety the topmost expression,
but by no means the sole one: 'President, I esteem you, JE VOUS
ESTIME, MON PRESIDENT: you are brave; you want war: we will have
it. But, in the mean while, let us eat the King's roast meat.'"
[Duvernet (2d FORM of him, always, p. 176.]

Friedrich's Answers to these Voltaire Letters, if he wrote any, are
all gone. Probably he answered almost nothing; what we have of his
relates always to specific business, receipt of LOUIS QUATORZE, and
the like; and is always in friendly tone. Handsomely keeping
Silence for Two! Here is a snatch from him, on neutral figures and
movements of the time:--

FRIEDRICH TO WIILHELMINA (November 17th, 1751).--"I think the
Margraf of Anspach will not have stayed long with you. He is not
made to taste the sweets of society: his passion for hunting, and
the tippling life he leads this long time, throw him out when he
comes among reasonable persons. ... "I expect my Sister of
Brunswick, with the Duke and their eldest Girl, the 4th of next
month,"--to Carnival here. "It is seven years since the Queen (our
Mamma) has seen her. She holds a small Board of Wit at Brunswick;
of which your Doctor [Doctor Superville, Dutch-French, whose
perennial merit now is, That he did not burn Wilhelmina's MEMOIRS,
but left them safe to posterity, for long centuries],--of which
your Doctor is the director and oracle. You would burst outright
into laughing when she speaks of those matters. Her natural
vivacity and haste has not left her time to get to the bottom of
anything; she skips continually from one subject to the other, and
gives twenty decisions in a minute." [ OEuvres de Frederic,
xxvii. i. 202:--On Superville, see Preuss's Note,
ib. 56.]

About a month before Rothenburg's death, which was so tragical to
Friedrich, there had fallen out, with a hideous dash of farce in
it, the death of La Mettrie. Here are Two Accounts, by different
hands,--which represent to us an immensity of babble in the then
Voltaire circle.

LA METTRIE DIES.--Two Accounts: 1. King Friedrich's: to Wilhelmina.
"21st November, 1751. ... We have lost poor La Mettrie. He died for
a piece of fun: ate, out of banter, a whole pheasant-pie; had a
horrible indigestion; took it into his head to have blood let, and
convince the German Doctors that bleeding was good in indigestion.
But it succeeded ill with him: he took a violent fever, which
passed into putrid; and carried him off. He is regretted by all
that knew him. He was gay; BON DIABLE, good Doctor, and very bad
Author: by avoiding to read his Books, one could manage to be well
content with himself." [Ib. xxvii. i. 203.]

2. Voltaire's: to Niece Denis (NOT his first to her): Potsdam, 24th
December, 1751. ... "No end to my astonishment. Milord Tyrconnel,"
always ailing (died here himself), "sends to ask La Mettrie to come
and see him, to cure him or amuse him. The King grudges to part
with his Reader, who makes him laugh. La Mettrie sets out;
arrives at his Patient's just when Madame Tyrconnel is sitting down
to table: he eats and drinks, talks and laughs more than all the
guests; when he has got crammed (EN A JUSQU'AU MENTON), they bring
him a pie, of eagle disguised as pheasant, which had arrived from
the North, plenty of bad lard, pork-hash and ginger in it;
my gentleman eats the whole pie, and dies next day at Lord
Tyrconnel's, assisted by two Doctors," Cothenius and Lieberkuhn,
"whom he used to mock at. ... How I should have liked to ask him,
at the article of death, about that Orange-skin!" [ OEuvres
de Voltaire, lxxiv. 439, 450.]

Add this trait too, from authentic Nicolai, to complete the matter:
"An Irish Priest, Father Macmahon, Tyrconnel's Chaplain [more power
to him], wanted to convert La Mettrie: he pushed into the sick-
room;--encouraged by some who wished to make La Mettrie
contemptible to Friedrich [the charitable souls]. La Mettrie would
have nothing to do with this Priest and his talk; who, however,
still sat and waited. La Mettrie, in a twinge of agony, cried out,
CONSOLATEURS!' exclaimed the Irishman. To which La Mettrie answered
(in polite language, to the effect), 'Bother you!' and expired a
few minutes after." [Nicolai, Anekdoten,
i. 20 n.]

Enough of this poor madcap. Friedrich's ELOGE of him, read to the
Academy some time after, it was generally thought (and with great
justice), might as well have been spared. The Piece has nothing
noisy, nothing untrue; but what has it of importance? And surely
the subject was questionable, or more. La Mettrie might have done
without Eulogy from a King of men.

... "He had been used to put himself at once on the most familiar
footing with the King [says Thiebault, UNbelievable]. Entered the
King's apartment as he would that of a friend; plunged down
whenever he liked, which was often, and lay upon the sofas; if it
was warm, took off his stock, unbuttoned his waistcoat, flung his
periwig on the floor;" [Thiebault, v. 405 (calls him "La Metherie;"
knows, as usual, nothing).]--highly probable, thinks
stupid Thiebault!

"The truth is," says Nicolai, "the King put no real value on La
Mettrie. He considered him as a merry-andrew fellow, who might
amuse you, when half seas-over (ENTRE DEUX VINS). De la Mettrie
showed himself unworthy of any favor he had. Not only did he
babble, and repeat about Town what he heard at the King's table;
but he told everything in a false way, and with malicious twists
and additions. This he especially did at Lord Tyrconnel, the then
French Ambassador's table, where at last he died." [Nicolai,
Anekdoten, i. 20.] But could not take the
ORANGE-SKIN along with him; alas, no!--

On the whole, be not too severe on poor Voltaire! He is very
fidgety, noisy; something of a pickthank, of a wheedler; but, above
all, he is scorbutic, dyspeptic; hag-ridden, as soul seldom was;
and (in his oblique way) APPEALS to Friedrich and us,--not in vain.
And, in short, we perceive, after the First Act of the Piece,
beginning in preternatural radiances, ending in whirlwinds of
flaming soot, he has been getting on with his Second Act better
than could be expected. Gyrating again among the bright planets,
circum-jovial moons, in the Court Firmament; is again in favor, and
might-- Alas, he had his FELLOW-moons, his Maupertuis above all!
Incurable that Maupertuis misery; gets worse and worse, steadily
from the first day. No smallest entity that intervenes, not even a
wandering La Beaumelle with his Book of PENSEES, but is capable of
worsening it. Take this of Smelfungus; this Pair of Cabinet
Sketches,--"hasty outlines; extant chiefly," he declares, "by
Voltaire's blame:"--

LA BEAUMELLE.--"Voltaire has a fatal talent of getting into I
quarrels with insignificant accidental people; and instead of
silently, with cautious finger, disengaging any bramble that
catches to him, and thankfully passing on, attacks it indignantly
with potent steel implements, wood-axes, war-axes; brandishing and
hewing;--till he has stirred up a whole wilderness of bramble-bush,
and is himself bramble-chips all over. M. Angliviel de la
Beaumelle, for example, was nothing but a bramble: some conceited
Licentiate of Theology, who, finding the Presbytery of Geneva too
narrow a field, had gone to Copenhagen, as Professor of Rhetoric or
some such thing; and, finding that field also too narrow, and not
to be widened by attempts at Literature, MES PENSEES and the like,
in such barbarous Country",--had now [end of 1751] come to Berlin;
and has Presentation copies of MES PENSEES, OU LE QU'EN DIRA-T-ON,
flying right and left, in hopes of doing better there. Of these
PENSEES (Thoughts so called) I will give but one specimen"
(another, that of "King Friedrich a common man," being carefully
suppressed in the Berlin Copies, of La Beaumelle's distributing):--

"There have been greater Poets than Voltaire; there was never any
so well recompensed: and why? Because Taste (GOUT, inclination)
sets no limits to its recompenses. The King of Prussia overloads
men of talent with his benefits for precisely the reasons which
induce a little German Prince to overload with benefits a buffoon
or a dwarf." [ OEuvres de Voltaire, xxvii.
220 n.] Could there be a phenomenon more indisputably of
bramble nature?

"He had no success at Berlin, in spite of his merits; could not
come near the King at all; but assiduously frequented Maupertuis,
the flower of human thinkers in that era,--who was very humane to
him in consequence. 'How is it, O flower of human thinkers, that I
cannot get on with his Majesty, or make the least way?' (HELAS,
MONSIEUR, you have enemies!' answered he of the red wig; and told
La Beaumelle (hear it, ye Heavens), That M. de Voltaire had called
his Majesty's attention to the PENSEE given above, one evening at
Supper Royal; 'heard it myself, Monsieur--husht!' Upon which--

"'Upon which, see, paltry La Beaumelle has become my enemy for
life!' shrieks Voltaire many times afterwards: 'And it was false, I
declare to Heaven, and again declare; it was not I, it was D'Argens
quizzing me about it, that called his Majesty's attention to that
PENSEE of Blockhead La Beaumelle,--you treacherous Perpetual
President, stirring up enemies against me, and betraying secrets of
the King's table.' Sorrow on your red wig, and you!--It is certain
La Beaumelle, soon after this, left Berlin: not in love with
Voltaire. And there soon appeared, at Franfurt-on-Mayn, a Pirate
Edition of our brand-new SIECLE DE LOUIS QUATORZE (with Annotations
scurrilous and flimsy);--La Beaumelle the professed Perpetrator;
'who received for the job 7 pounds 10s. net!' [Ib. xx.] asseverates
the well-informed Voltaire. Oh, M. de Voltaire, and why not leave
it to him, then? Poor devil, he got put into the Bastille too, by
and by; Royal Persons being touched by some of his stupid

Book of the day: