Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

History of Friedrich II of Prussia V

Part 4 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.


"La Beaumelle had a long course of it, up and down the world, in
and out of the Bastille; writing much, with inconsiderable
recompense, and always in a wooden manure worthy of his First
vocation in the Geneva time. 'A man of pleasing physiognomy,' says
Formey, 'and expressed himself well. I received his visit 14th
January, 1752,'--to which latter small circumstance (welcome as a
fixed date to us here) La Beaumelle's Biography is now pretty much
reduced for mankind. [Formey, ii. 221.] He continued Maupertuis's
adorer: and was not a bad creature, only a dull wooden one, with
obstinate temper. A LIFE OF MAUPERTUIS of his writing was sent
forth lately, [ Vie de Maupertuis (cited
above), Paris, 1866.] after lying hidden a hundred years: but it is
dull, dead, painfully ligneous, like all the rest; and of new or of
pleasant tells us nothing.

"His enmity to M. de Voltaire did prove perpetual:--a bramble that
might have been dealt with by fingers, or by fingers and scissors,
but could not by axes, and their hewing and brandishing. 'This is
the ninety-fifth anonymous Calumny of La Beaumelle's, this that you
have sent me!' says Voltaire once. The first stroke or two had torn
the bramble quite on end: 'He says he will pursue you to Hell
even,' writes one of the Voltaire kind friends from Frankfurt, on
that 7 pounds 10s. business. 'A L'ENFER?' answers M. de Voltaire,
with a toss: 'Well, I should think so, he, and at a good rate of
speed. But whether he will find me there, must be a question!'
If you want to have an insignificant accidental fellow trouble you
all your days, this is the way of handling him when he first
catches hold."

ABBE DE PRADES.--"De Prades, 'Abbe de Prades, Reader to the King,'
though happily not an enemy of Voltaire's, is in some sort La
Beaumelle's counterpart, or brother with a difference; concerning
whom also, one wants only to know the exact date of his arrival.
As La Beaumelle felt too strait-tied in the Geneva vestures (where
it had been good for him to adjust himself, and stay); so did De
Prades in the Sorbonne ditto,--and burst out, on taking Orders, not
into eloquent Preachings or edifying Devotional Exercises; but into
loud blurts of mere heresy and heterodoxy. Blurts which were very
loud, and I believe very stupid; which failed of being sublime even
to the Philosophic world; and kindled the Sorbonne into burning his
Book, and almost burning himself, had not he at once run for it.

"Ran to Holland, and there continued blurting more at large,--
decidedly stupid for most part, thinks Voltaire, 'but with glorious
Passages, worth your Majesty's attention;'--upon which, D'Alembert
too helping, poor De Prades was invited to the Readership, vacant
by La Mettrie's eagle-pie; and came gladly, and stayed. At what
date? one occasionally asks: for there are Royal Letters, dateless,
but written in his hand, that raise such question in the utter
dimness otherwise. Date is 'September, 1752.' [Preuss, i. 368; ii.
115.] Farther question one does not ask about De Prades. Rather an
emphatic intrusive kind of fellow, I should guess;--wrote, he, not
other the like dreary Pieces, which used to be inflicted on mankind
as Friedrich's.

"For the rest, having place and small pension,--not, like La
Beaumelle, obliged to pirate and annotate for 7 pounds 10s.--he
went on steadily, a good while; got a Canonry of Glogau [small
Catholic benefice, bad if it was not better than its now occupant];
--and unluckily, in the Seven-Years-War time, fell into
treasonous Correspondence with his countrymen; which it was feared
might be fatal, when found out. But no, not fatal. Friedrich did
lock him in Magdeburg for some months; then let him out: 'Home to
Glogau, sirrah; stick to your Canonry henceforth, and let us hear
no more of you at all!' Which shall be his fate in these
pages also."

Good, my friend; no more of him, then! Only recollect "September,
1752," if dateless Royal Letters in De Prades's hand turn up.

Chapter X.


It must be owned, the King's French Colony of Wits were a sorry set
of people. They tempt one to ask, What is the good of wit, then, if
this be it? Here are people sparkling with wit, and have not
understanding enough to discern what lies under their nose.
Cannot live wisely with anybody, least of all with one another.

In fact, it is tragic to think how ill this King succeeded in the
matter of gathering friends. With the whole world to choose from,
one fancies always he might have done better! But no, he could not;
--and chiefly for this reason: His love of Wisdom was nothing like
deep enough, reverent enough; and his love of ESPRIT (the mere
Garment or Phantasm of Wisdom) was too deep. Friends do not drop
into one's mouth. One must know how to choose friends; and that of
ESPRIT, though a pretty thing, is by no means the one requisite, if
indeed it be a requisite at all. This present Wit Colony was the
best that Friedrich ever had; and we may all see how good it was.
He took, at last more and more, into bantering his Table-Companions
(which I do not wonder at), as the chief good he could get of them.
And had, as we said, especially in his later time, in the manner of
Dublin Hackney-Coachmen, established upon each animal its RAW; and
makes it skip amazingly at touch of the whip. "Cruel mortal!"
thought his cattle:--but, after all, how could he well help it,
with such a set?

Native Literary Men, German or Swiss, there also were about
Friedrich's Court: of them happily he did not require ESPRIT; but
put them into his Academy; or employed them in practical functions,
where honesty and good sense were the qualities needed. Worthy men,
several of these; but unmemorable nearly all. We will mention
Sulzer alone,--and not for THEORIES and PHILOSOPHIES OF THE FINE
ARTS [ Allgemeine Theorie der Schonen Kunste,
3 vols.; &c. &c.] (which then had their multitudes of readers);
but for a Speech of Friedrich's to him once, which has often been
repeated. Sulzer has a fine rugged wholesome Swiss-German
physiognomy, both of face and mind; and got his admirations, as the
Berlin HUGH BLAIR that then was: a Sulzer whom Friedrich always
rather liked.

Friedrich had made him School Inspector; loved to talk a little
with him, about business, were it nothing else. "Well, Monsieur
Sulzer, how are your Schools getting on?" asked the King one
day,--long after this, but nobody will tell me exactly when, though
the fact is certain enough: "How goes our Education business?"
"Surely not ill, your Majesty; and much better in late years,"
answered Sulzer.--"In late years: why?" "Well, your Majesty, in
former time, the notion being that mankind were naturally inclined
to evil, a system of severity prevailed in schools: but now, when
we recognize that the inborn inclination of men is rather to good
than to evil, schoolmasters have adopted a more generous
procedure."--"Inclination rather to good?" said Friedrich, shaking
his old head, with a sad smile: "Alas, dear Sulzer, ACH MEIN LIEBER
SULZER, I see you don't know that damned race of creatures (ER
274;--the thing appears to have been said in French ("JE VOIS BIEN,
irresistibly attractive, and is now heard proverbially from time to
time in certain mouths.] Here is a speech for you! "Pardon the
King, who was himself so beneficent and excellent a King!" cry
several Editors of the rose-pink type. This present Editor, for his
share, will at once forgive; but how can he ever forget!--

"Perhaps I mistake," owns Voltaire, in his Pasquinade of a VIE
PRIVEE, "but it seems to me, at these Suppers there was a great
deal of ESPRIT (real wit and brilliancy) going. The King had it,
and made others have; and, what is extraordinary, I never felt
myself so free at any table." "Conversation most pleasant,"
testifies another, "most instructive, animated; not to be matched,
I should guess, elsewhere in the world." [Bielfeld, LETTERS;
Voltaire, Vie Privee.] Very sprightly indeed: and a fund of good
sense, a basis of practicality and fact, necessary to be in it
withal; though otherwise it can foam over (if some La Mettrie be
there, and a good deal of wine in him) to very great heights.


Practically, I can add only, That these Suppers of the gods begin
commonly at half-past eight ("Concert just over"); and last till
towards midnight,--not later conveniently, as the King must be up
at five (in Summer-time at four), and "needs between five and six
hours of sleep." Or would the reader care to consult a Piece
expressly treating on all these points; kind of MANUSCRIPT
NEWSPAPER, fallen into my hands, which seems to have had a widish
circulation in its day. ["IDEE DE LA PERSONNE, DE LA MANIERE DE
VIVRE, ET DE LA COUR DU ROI DE PRUSSE: juin, 1752." In the
Robinson Papers (one Copy) now in the British Museum.]
I have met with Two Copies of it, in this Country: one of them, to
appearance, once the property of George Selwyn. The other is among
the Robinson Papers: doubtless very luculent to Robinson, who is
now home in England, but remembers many a thing. Judging from
various symptoms, I could guess this MS. to have been much about,
in the English Aristocratic Circles of that time; and to have, in
some measure, given said Circles their "Idea" (as they were pleased
to reckon it) of that wonderful and questionable King:--highly
distracted "Idea;" which, in diluted form, is still the staple
English one.

By the label, DEMON NEWSWRITER, it is not meant that the Author of
this poor Paper was an actual Devil, or infernal Spiritual Essence
of miraculous spectral nature. By no means! Beyond doubt, he is
some poor Frenchman, more or less definable as flesh-and-blood;
gesturing about, visibly, at Berlin in 1752; in cocked-hat and
bright shoe-buckles; grinning elaborate salutations to certain of
his fellow-creatures there. Possibly some hungry ATTACHE of Milord
Tyrconnel's Legation; fatally shut out from the beatitudes of this
barbarous Court, and willing to seek solacement, and turn a
dishonest penny, in the PER-CONTRA course? Who he is, we need not
know or care: too evident, he has the sad quality of transmuting,
in his dirty organs, heavenly Brilliancy, more or less, into
infernal Darkness and Hatefulness; which I reckon to have been, at
all times, the principal function of a Devil;--function still
carried on extensively, under Firms of another title, in
this world.

Some snatches we will give. For, though it does not much concern a
Man or King, seriously busy, what the idle outer world may see good
to talk of him, his Biographers, in time subsequent, are called to
notice the matter, as part of his Life-element, and characteristic
of the world he had round him. Friedrich's affairs were much a
wonder to his contemporaries. Especially his Domesticities, an item
naturally obscure to the outer world, were wonderful; sure to be
commented upon, to all lengths; and by the unintelligent, first of
all. Of contemporary mankind, as we have sometimes said, nobody was
more lied of:--of which, let this of the Demon Newswriter be
example, one instead of many. The Demon Newswriter, deriving only
from outside gossip and eavesdropping, is wrong very often,--in
fact, he is seldom right, except on points which have been
Officially fixed, and are within reach of an inquisitive Clerk of
Legation. Wrong often enough, even in regard to external
particulars, how much more as to internal;--and will need checking,
as we go along.

Demon speaks first of Friedrich's stature, 5ft. 6in. (as we know
better than this Demon); "pretty well proportioned, not handsome,
and even something of awkward (GAUCHE), acquired by a constrained
bearing [head slightly off the perpendicular, acquired by his
flute, say the better-informed]. Is of the greatest politeness.
Fine tone of voice,--fine even in swearing, which is as common with
him as with a grenadier," adds this Demon; not worth attending to,
on such points.

"Has never had a nightcap [sleeps bareheaded; in his later times,
would sleep in his hat, which was always soft as duffel, kneaded to
softness as its first duty, and did very well]: Never a nightcap,
dressing-gown, or pair of slippers [TRUE]; only a kind of cloth
cloak [NOT QUITE], much worn and very dirty, for being powdered in.
The whole year round he goes in the uniform of his First Battalion
of Guards:--blue with red facings, button-hole trimmings in silver,
frogs at the inner end; his coat buttons close to the shape;
waistcoat is plain yellow [straw-color]; hat [three-cornered] has
edging of Spanish lace, white plume [horizontal, resting on the
lace all round]: boots on his legs all his life. He cannot walk
with shoes [pooh, you--!].

"He rises daily at five:"--No, he does n't at all! In fact, we had
better clap the lid on this Demon, ill-informed as to all these
points; and, on such suggestion, give the real account of them,
distilled from Preuss, and the abundant authentic sources.

Preuss says (if readers could but remember him): "An Almanac lies
on the King's Table, marking for each day what specific duties the
day will bring. From five to six hours of sleep: in summer he rises
about three, seldom after four; in winter perhaps an hour later.
In his older time, seven hours' sleep came to be the stipulated
quantity; and he would sleep occasionally eight hours or even nine,
in certain medical predicaments. Not so in his younger years:
four A.M. and five, the set hours then. Summer and winter, fire is
lighted for him a quarter of an hour before. King rises; gets into
his clothes: 'stockings, breeches, boots, he did sitting on the
bed' (for one loves to be particular); the rest in front of the
fire, in standing posture. Washing followed; more compendious than
his Father's used to be.

"Letters specifically to his address, a courier (leaving Berlin,
9 P.M.) had brought him in the dead of night: these, on the instant
of the King's calling 'Here!' a valet in the ante chamber brought
in to him, to be read while his hair was being done. His uniform
the King did not at once put on; but got into a CASAQUIN [loose
article of the dressing-gown kind, only shorter than ours] of rich
stuff, sometimes of velvet with precious silver embroideries.
These Casaquins were commonly sky-blue (which color he liked),
presents from his Sisters and Nieces. Letters being glanced over,
and hair-club done, the Life-guard General-Adjutant hands in the
Potsdam Report (all strangers that have entered Potsdam or left it,
the principal item): this, with a Berlin Report, which had come
with the Letters; and what of Army-Reports had arrived (Adjutant-
General delivering these),--were now glanced over. And so, by five
o'clock in the summer morning, by six in the winter, one sees, in
the gross, what one's day's-work is to be; the miscellaneous STONES
of it are now mostly here, only mortar and walling of them to be
thought of. General-Adjutant and his affairs are first settled:
on each thing a word or two, which the General-Adjutant (always a
highly confidential Officer, a Hacke, a Winterfeld, or the like)
pointedly takes down.

"General-Adjutant gone, the King, in sky-blue casaquin [often in
very faded condition] steps into his writing-room; walks about,
reading his Letters more completely; drinking, first, several
glasses of water; then coffee, perhaps three cups with or without
milk [likes coffee, and very strong]. After coffee he takes his
flute; steps about practising, fantasying: he has been heard to
say, speaking of music and its effects on the soul, That during
this fantasying he would get to considering all manner of things,
with no thought of what he was playing; and that sometimes even the
luckiest ideas about business-matters have occurred to him while
dandling with the flute. Sauntering so, he is gradually
breakfasting withal: will eat, intermittently, small chocolate
cakes; and after his coffee, cherries, figs, grapes, fruits in
their season [very fond of fruit, and has elaborate hot-houses].
So passes the early morning.

"Between nine and ten, most of one's plan-work being got through,
the questions of the day are settled, or laid hold of for settling.
Between nine and ten, King takes to reading the 'Excerpts'
(I suppose, of the more intricate or lengthier things) of
Yesterday, which his three Cabinet Raths [Clerk Eichel and the
other Two] have prepared for him. King summons these Three, one
after the other, according to their Department; hands them the
Letters just read, the Excerpts now decided on, and signifies, in a
minimum of words, what the answers are to be,--Clerk, always in
full dress, listening with both his ears, and pencil in hand.
May have, of Answers, CABINET-ORDERS so called, perhaps a dozen, to
be ready with before evening. ["In a certain Copy or Final-Register
Book [Herr Preuss's Windfall, of which INFRA] entitled
KABINETSORDENKOPIALBUCH, of One of the three Clerks, years
1746-1752, there are, on the average, ten CABINET-ORDERS daily,
Sundays included" (Preuss, i. 352 n.).]

"Eichel and Company dismissed, King flings off his casaquin, takes
his regimental coat; has his hair touched off with pomade, with
powder; and is buttoned and ready in about five minutes;--ready for
Parade, which is at the stroke of eleven, instead of later, as it
used to be in Papa's time. If eleven is not yet come, he will get
on horseback; go sweeping about, oftenest with errands still, at
all events in the free solitude of air, till Parade-time do come.
The Parole [Sentry's-WORD of the Day] he has already given his
Adjutant-General. Parole, which only the Adjutant and Commandant
had known till now, is formally given out; and the troops go
through their exercises, manoeuvres, under a strictness of
criticism which never abates." "Parade he by no chance ever
misses," says our Demon friend.

"At the stroke of twelve," continues Preuss, "dinner is served.
Dinner threefold; that is, a second table and a third. Only two
courses, dishes only eight, even at the King's Table, (eight also
at the Marshal's or second Table); guests from seven to ten.
Dinner plentiful and savory (for the King had his favorites among
edibles), by no means caring to be splendid,--yearly expense of
threefold Dinner (done accurately by contract) was 1,800 pounds."
Linsenbarth we saw at the Third Table, and how he fared.
"The dinner-service was of beautiful porcelain; not silver, still
less gold, except on the grandest occasions. Every guest eats at
discretion,--of course!--and drinks at discretion, Moselle or
Pontac [kind of claret]; Champagne and Hungary are handed round on
the King's signal. King himself drinks Bergerac, or other clarets,
with water. Dinner lasts till two;--if the conversation be
seductive, it has been known to stretch to four. The King's great
passion is for talk of the right kind; he himself talks a great
deal, tippling wine-and-water to the end, and keeps on a level with
the rising tide.

"With a bow from Majesty, dinner ends; guests gently, with a little
saunter of talk to some of them, all vanish; and the King is in his
own Apartment again. Generally flute-playing for about half an
hour; till Eichel and the others come with their day's work:
tray-loads of Cabinet-Orders, I can fancy; which are to be
'executed,' that is, to be glanced through, and signed.
Signature for most part is all; but there are Marginalia and
Postscripts, too, in great number, often of a spicy biting
character; which, in our time, are in request among the curious."
Herr Preuss, who has right to speak, declares that the spice of
mockery has been exaggerated; and that serious sense is always the
aim both of Document and of Signer. Preuss had a windfall;
12,000 of these Pieces, or more, in a lump, in the way of gift;
which fell on him like manna,--and led, it is said, to those
Friedrich studies, extensive faithful quarryings in that vast
wilderness of sliding shingle and chaotic boulders.

"Coffee follows this despatch of Eichel and Consorts; the day now
one's own." Scandalous rumors, prose and verse, connect themselves
with this particular epoch of the day; which appear to be wholly
LIES. Of which presently. "In this after-dinner period fall the
literary labors," says Preuss:--a facile pen, this King's; only two
hours of an afternoon allowed it, instead of all day and the top of
the morning. "About six, or earlier even, came the Reader [La
Mettrie or another], came artists, came learned talk. At seven is
Concert, which lasts for an hour; half-past eight is Supper."
[Preuss, i. 344-347 (and, with intermittencies, pp. 356, 361, 363
&c. to 376), abridged.]

Demon Newswriter says, of the Concert: "It is mostly of wind-
instruments," King himself often taking part with his flute;
"performers the best in Europe. He has three"--what shall we call
them? of male gender,--"a counter-alt, and Mamsell Astrua, an
Italian; they are unique voices. He cannot bear mediocrity. It is
but seldom he has any singing here. To be admitted, needs the most
intimate favor; now and then some young Lord, of distinction, if he
meet with such." Concert, very well;--but let us now, suppressing
any little abhorrences, hear him on another subject:--

"Dinner lasts one hour [says our Demon, no better informed]:
upon which the King returns to his Apartment with bows. It pretty
often happens that he takes with him one of his young fellows.
These are all handsome, like a picture (FAITS A PEINDRE), and of
the beautifulest face,"--adds he, still worse informed;
poisonous malice mixing itself, this time, with the human darkness,
and reducing it to diabolic. This Demon's Paper abounds with
similar allusions; as do the more desperate sort of Voltaire
utterances,--VIE PRIVEE treating it as known fact; Letters to Denis
in occasional paroxysms, as rumor of detestable nature, probably
true of one who is so detestable, at least so formidable, to a
guilty sinner his Guest. Others, not to be called diabolical, as
Herr Dr. Busching, for example, speak of it as a thing credible;
as good as known to the well-informed. And, beyond the least
question, there did a thrice-abominable rumor of that kind run,
whispering audibly, over all the world; and gain belief from those
who had appetite. A most melancholy business. Solacing to human
envy;--explaining also, to the dark human intellect, why this King
had commonly no Women at his Court. A most melancholy portion of my
raw-material, this; concerning which, since one must speak of it,
here is what little I have to say:--
1. That proof of the NEGATIVE, in this or in any such case, is by
the nature of it impossible. That it is indisputable Friedrich did
not now live with his Wife, nor seem to concern himself with the
empire of women at all; having, except now and then his Sisters and
some Foreign Princess on short visit, no women in his Court;
and though a great judge of Female merits, graces and
accomplishments, seems to worship women in that remote way alone,
and not in any nearer. Which occasioned great astonishment in a
world used so much to the contrary. And gave rise to many
conjectures among the idle of mankind, "What, on Earth, or under
Earth, can be the meaning of it?"--and among others, to the above
scandalous rumor, as some solacement to human malice and
impertinent curiosity.
2. That an opposite rumor--which would indeed have been pretty
fatal to this one, but perhaps still more disgraceful in the eyes
of a Demon Newswriter--was equally current; and was much elaborated
by the curious impertinent. Till Nicolai got hold of it, in Herr
Dr. Zimmermann's responsible hands; and conclusively knocked it on
the head. [See Zimmermann's Fragmente, and
Nicolai patiently pounding it to powder (whoever is curious on this
disgusting subject).]
3". That, for me, proof in the affirmative, or probable
indication that way, has not anywhere turned up. Nowhere for me, in
these extensive minings and siftings. Not the least of probable
indication; but contrariwise, here and there, rather definite
indications pointing directly the opposite way. [For example
xxvii. iii. 145.] Friedrich, in his own utterances and occasional
rhymes, is abundantly cynical; now and then rises to a kind of epic
cynicism, on this very matter. But at no time can the painful
critic call it cynicism as of OTHER than an observer; always a kind
of vinegar cleanness in it, EXCEPT in theory. Cynicism of an
impartial observer in a dirty element; observer epically sensible
(when provoked to it) of the brutal contemptibilities which lie in
Human Life, alongside of its big struttings and pretensions.
In Friedrich's utterances there is that kind of cynicism
undeniable;--and yet he had a modesty almost female in regard to
his own person; "no servant having ever seen him in an exposed
state." [Preuss, i. 376.] Which had considerably strengthened rumor
No. 2. O ye poor impious Long-eared,--Long-eared I will call you,
instead of Two-horned and with only One hoof cloven! Among the
tragical platitudes of Human Nature, nothing so fills a considering
brother mortal with sorrow and despair, as this innate tendency of
the common crowd in regard to its Great Men, whensoever, or almost
whensoever, the Heavens do, at long intervals, vouchsafe us, as
their all-including blessing, anything of such! Practical
"BLASPHEMY," is it not, if you reflect? Strangely possible that
sin, even now. And ought to be religiously abhorred by every soul
that has the least piety or nobleness. Act not the mutinous flunky,
my friend; though there be great wages going in that line.
4. That in these circumstances, and taking into view the
otherwise known qualities of this high Fellow-Creature, the present
Editor does not, for his own share, value the rumor at a pin's fee.
And leaves it, and recommends his readers to leave it, hanging by
its own head, in the sad subterranean regions,--till (probably not
for a long while yet) it drop to a far Deeper and dolefuler Region,
out of our way altogether.

"Lamentable, yes," comments Diogenes; "and especially so, that the
idle public has a hankering for such things! But are there no
obscene details at all, then? grumbles the disappointed idle public
to itself, something of reproach in its tone. A public idle-minded;
much depraved in every way. Thus, too, you will observe of dogs:
two dogs, at meeting, run, first of all, to the shameful parts of
the constitution; institute a strict examination, more or less
satisfactory, in that department. That once settled, their interest
in ulterior matters seems pretty much to die away, and they are
ready to part again, as from a problem done."--Enough, oh, enough!

Practically we are getting no good of our Demon;--and will dismiss
him, after a taste or two more.

This Demon Newswriter has, evidently, never been to Potsdam;
which he figures as the abode of horrid cruelty, a kind of Tartarus
on Earth;--where there is a dreadful scarcity of women, for one
item; lamentable to one's moral feelings. Scarcity nothing like so
great, even among the soldier-classes, as the Demon Newswriter
imagines to himself; nor productive of the results lamented.
Prussian soldiers are not encouraged to marry, if it will hurt the
service; nor do their wives march with the Regiment except in such
proportions as there may be sewing, washing and the like women's
work fairly wanted in their respective Companies: the Potsdam First
Battalion, I understand, is hardly permitted to marry at all.
And in regard to lamentable results, that of "LIEBSTEN-SCHEINE,
Sweetheart-TICKETS,"--or actual military legalizing of Temporary
Marriages, with regular privileges attached, and fixed rules to be
observed,--might perhaps be the notablest point, and the SEMI-
lamentablest, to a man or demon in the habit of lamenting.
[Preuss, i. 426.] For the rest, a considerably dreadful place this
Potsdam, to the flaccid, esurient and disorderly of mankind;--"and
strict as Fate [Demon correct for once] in inexorably punishing
military sins.

"This King," he says, "has a great deal of ESPRIT; much less of
real, knowledge (CONNAISSANCES) than is pretended. He excels only
in the military part; really excellent there. Has a facile
expeditious pen and head; understands what you say to him, at the
first word. Not taking nor wishing advice; never suffering replies
or remonstrances, not even from his Mother. Pretty well acquainted
with Works of ESPRIT, whether in Prose or in Verse: burning [very
hot indeed] to distinguish himself by performance of that kind;
but unable to reach the Beautiful, unless held up by somebody
(ETAYE). It is said that, in a splenetic moment, his Skeleton of an
Apollo [SQUELETTE D'APOLLON, M. de Voltaire, who is lean
exceedingly] exclaimed once, some time ago, 'When is it, then, that
he will have done sending me his dirty linen to wash?'

"The King is of a sharp mocking tongue withal; pricking into
whoever displeases him; often careless of policy in that.
Understands nothing of Finance, or still less of Trade;
always looking direct towards more money, which he loves much;
incapable of sowing [as some of US do!] for a distant harvest.
Treats, almost all the world as slaves. All his subjects are held
in hard shackles. Rigorous for the least shortcoming, where his
interest is hurt:--never pardons any fault which tends to
inexactitude in the Military Service. Spandau very full,"--though I
did not myself count. "Keeps in his pay nobody but those useful to
him, and capable of doing employments well [TRUE, ALWAYS]; and the
instant he has no more need of them, dismissing them with nothing
[FALSE, GENERALLY]. The Subsidies imposed on his subjects are
heavy; in constant proportion to their Feudal Properties, and their
Leases of Domains (CONTRATS ET BAUX); and, what is dreadful, are
exacted with the same rigor if your Property gets into debt,"--no
remission by the iron grip of this King in the name of the State!
Sell, if you can find a Purchaser; or get confiscated altogether;
that is your only remedy. Surely a tyrant of a King.

"People who get nearest him will tell you that his Politeness is
not natural, but a remnant of old habit, when he had need of
everybody, against the persecutions of his Father. He respects his
Mother; the only Female for whom he has a sort of attention.
He esteems his Wife, and cannot endure her; has been married
nineteen years, and has not yet addressed one word to her [how
true!]. It was but a few days ago she handed him a Letter,
petitioning some things of which she had the most pressing want.
He took the Letter, with that smiling, polite and gracious air
which he assumes at pleasure; and without breaking the seal, tore
the Letter up before her face, made her a profound bow, and turned
his back on her." Was there ever such a Pluto varnished into
Literary Rose-pink? Very proper Majesty for the Tartarus that
here is.

... "The Queen-Mother," continues our Small Devil, "is a good fat
woman, who lives and moves in her own way (RONDEMENT). She has
l6,000 pounds a year for keeping up her House. It is said she
hoards. Four days in the week she has Apartment [Royal Soiree];
to which you cannot go without express invitation. There is supper-
table of twenty-four covers; only eight dishes, served in a shabby
manner (INDECEMMENT) by six little scoundrels of Pages. Men and
women of the Country [shivering Natives, cheering their dull abode]
go and eat there. Steward Royal sends the invitations. At eleven,
everybody has withdrawn. Other days, this Queen eats by herself.
Stewardess Royal and three Maids of Honor have their separate
table; two dishes the whole. She is shabbily lodged [in my
opinion], when at the Palace. Her Monbijou, which is close to
Berlin [now well within it], would be pretty enough, for a
private person.

"The Queen Regnant is the best woman in the world. All the year
[NOT QUITE] she dines alone. Has Apartment on Thursdays;
everybody gone at nine o'clock. Her morsels are cut for her, her
steps are counted, and her words are dictated; she is miserable,
and does what she can to hide it"--according to our Small Devil.
"She has scarcely the necessaries of life allowed her,"--spends
regularly two-thirds of her income in charitable objects;
translates French-Calvinist Devotional Works, for benefit of the
German mind; and complains to no Small Devil, of never so
sympathizing nature. "At Court she is lodged on the second floor
[scandalous]. Schonhausen her Country House, with the exception of
the Garden which is pretty enough,--our Shopkeepers of the Rue St.
Honore would sniff at such a lodging.

"Princess Amelia is rather amiable [thank you for nothing, Small
Devil]; often out of temper because--this is so shocking a place
for Ladies, especially for maiden Ladies. Lives with her Mother;
special income very small;--Coadjutress of Quedlinburg; will be
actual Abbess" in a year or two. [11th April, 1756: Preuss, xxvii.
p. xxxiv (of PREFACE).]

"Eldest Prince, Heir-Apparent,"--do not speak of him, Small Devil,
for you are misinformed in every feature and particular:--enough,
"he is fac-simile of his Brother. He has only 18,000 pounds a year,
for self, Wife, Household and Children [two, both Boys];--and is
said [falsely] to hoard, and to follow Trade, extensive Trade with
his Brother's Woods.

"Prince Henri, who is just going to be married,"--thank you, Demon,
for reminding us of that. Bride is Wilhelmina, Princess of Hessen-
Cassel. Marriage, 25th June, 1752;--did not prove, in the end, very
happy. A small contemporary event; which would concern Voltaire and
others that concern us. Three months ago, April 14th, 1752, the
Berlin Powder-Magazine flew aloft with horrible crash; [In
Helden-Geschichte (iii. 531) the details.]--and would
be audible to Voltaire, in this his Second Act. Events, audible or
not, never cease.

"Prince Henri," in Demon's opinion, "is the amiablest of the House.
He is polite, generous, and loves good company. Has 12,000 pounds a
year left him by Papa." Not enough, as it proved. "If, on this
Marriage, his Brother, who detests him [witness Reinsberg and other
evidences, now and onward], gives him nothing, he won't be well
off. They are furnishing a House for him, where he will lodge after
wedding. Is reported to be--POTZDAMISTE [says the scandalous Small
Devil, whom we are weary of contradicting],--Potsdamite, in certain
respects. Poor Princess, what a destiny for you!

"Prince Ferdinand, little scraping of a creature (PETIT CHAFOUIN),
crapulous to excess, niggardly in the extreme, whom everybody
avoids,"--much more whose Portrait, by a Magic-lantern of this
kind: which let us hastily shut, and fling into the cellar!--
"Little Ferdinand, besides his 15,000 pounds a year, Papa's
bequest, gets considerable sums given him. Has lodging in the
King's House; goes shifting and visiting about, wherever he can
live gratis; and strives all he can to amass money. Has to be in
boots and uniform every three days. Three months of the year
practically with his regiment: but the shifts he has for avoiding
expense are astonishing." ...

What an illuminative "Idea" are the Walpole-Selwyn Circles picking
up for their money!--

Chapter XI.


Meantime there has a fine Controversy risen, of mathematical,
philosophical and at length of very miscellaneous nature,
concerning that Konig-Maupertuis dissentience on the LAW OF THRIFT.
Wonderful Controversy, much occupying the so-called Philosophic or
Scientific world; especially the idler population that inhabit
there. Upon this item of the Infinitely Little,--which has in our
time sunk into Nothing-at-all, and but for Voltaire, and the
accident of his living near it, would be forgotten altogether,--we
must not enter into details; but a few words to render Voltaire's
share in it intelligible will be, in the highest degree, necessary.
Here, in brief form, rough and ready, are the successive stages of
the Business; the origin and first stage of which have been known
to us for some time past:--

"SEPTEMBER, 1750, Konig, his well-meant visit to Berlin proving so
futile, had left Maupertuis in the humor we saw;--pirouetting round
his Apartment, in tempests of rage at such contradiction of sinners
on his sublime Law of Thrift; and fulminating permission to Konig:
'No time to read your Paper of Contradictions; publish it in
Leipzig, in Jericho; anywhere in the Earth, in Heaven, in the Other
Place, where you have the opportunity!' Konig, returning on these
terms, had nothing for it but to publish his Paper; and did publish
it, in the Leipzig Acta Eruditorum for March,
1751. There it stands, legible to this day: and if any of the human
species should again think of reading it, I believe it will be
found a reasonable, solid and decisive Paper; of steadfast, openly
articulate, by no means insolent, tone; considerably modifying
Maupertuis's Law of Thrift, or Minimum of Action;--fatal to the
claim of its being a 'Sublime Discovery,' or indeed, so far as
TRUE, any discovery at all. [In Acta Eruditorum italic> (Lipsiae, 1751): "De universali Principio
AEquilibrii et Motus." By no means uncivil to
Maupertuis; though obliged to controvert him. For example:
"Quoe itaque de Minima Actionis in modificationibus modum obtinente
in genere proferuntur vehementer laudo;" "continent nempe facundum
longeque pulcherrimum Dynamices sublimioris principium, cujus vim
in difficillimis quoestionibus soepe expertus fui." ]
By way of finis to the Paper, there is given, what proves extremely
important to us, an Excerpt from an old LETTER OF LEIBNITZ'S; which
perhaps it will be better to present here IN CORPORE, as so much
turned on it afterwards. Konig thus winds up:--

"I add only a word, in finishing; and that is, that it appears
Mr. Leibnitz had a theory of Action, perhaps much more extensive
than one would suspect at present. There is a Letter written by him
to Mr. Hermann [an ancient mathematical sage at Basel], where he
uses these expressions: 'Action, is not what you think;
the consideration of Time enters into it; Action is as the product
of the mass by the space and the velocity, or as the time by the
VIS VIVA. I have remarked that in the modifications of motion, the
action becomes usually a maximum or a minimum:--and from this there
might several propositions of great consequence be deduced.
It might serve to determine the curves described by bodies under
attraction to one or more centres. I had meant to treat of these
things in the Second Part of my DYNAMIQUE; which I suppressed, the
reception of the First, by prejudice in many quarters, having
disgusted me.'" [MAUPERTUISIANA, No. ii. 22 (from Acta
Eruditorum, ubi supra). In MAUPERTUISIANA, No. iv.
166, is the whole Letter, "Hanover, 16th October, 1707;" no ADDRESS
left, judged to be to Hermann. MAUPERTUISIANA (Hamburg, 1753) is a
mere Bookseller's or even Bookbinder's Farrago, with printed TITLE-
PAGE and LIST, of the chief Pamphlets which had appeared on this
Business (sixteen by count, various type, all 8vo size, in my
copy). Of which only No. ii. (Konig's APPEL AU PUBLIC) and No. iv.
(2d edition of said APPEL, with APPENDIX OF CORRESPONDENCE) are
illuminative to read.] Your Minimum of Action, it would appear,
then, is in some cases a Maximum; nothing can be said but that, in
every case it is EITHER a Maximum or Minimum. What a stroke for our
LAW OF THRIFT, the "at last conclusive Proof" of an Intelligent
Creator, as the Perpetual President had fancied it! "So-ho, what is
this! My Discovery an Error? And Leibnitz discovered it, so far
as true?"--

"May 28th-8th OCTOBER, 1751. Maupertuis, compressing himself what
he can, writes to Konig: 'Very good, Monsieur. But please inform me
where is that Letter of Leibnitz's; I have never seen or heard of
it before,--and I want to make use of it myself.' To which Konig
answers: 'Henzi gave it me, in Copy [unfortunate Conspirator Henzi,
who lost his head three years ago, by sentence of the Oligarch
Government at Berne]: [Government by "The Two Hundred;" of Select-
Vestry nature, very stiff, arbitrary and become rife in abuses;
against whom had risen angry mutterings more than once, and in 1749
a Select Plot (not select ENOUGH, for they discovered it in time).
Poor Ex-Captain Henzi, "Clerk *of the Salt-Office," most frugal,
studious and quiet of men; a very miracle, It would appear, of
genius, solid learning, philosophy and piety,--not the chief or
first of the conspirators, but by far the most distinguished,--was
laid hold of, July 2d, 1749, and beheaded, with another of them, a
day or two after. Much bewailed in a private way, even by the
better kinds of people. (Copious account of him in
Adelung, vii. 86-91.)]--he, poor fellow, had no end of
Papers and Excerpts; had, as we know, above a hundred volumes of
the latter kind; this, and some other Letters of Leibnitz's, among
them,--I send you the whole Letter, copied faithfully from his
Copy.' ["The Hague, 26th June," in Maupertuisiana, italic> No. iv. 130.] To that effect, still in perfect good-humor,
was Konig's reply to his Maupertuis.

"'Hm, Copy? By Henzi?' grumbles Maupertuis to himself:--'Search in
Berne, then; it must be there, if anywhere!' To Konig Maupertuis
answers nothing: but sulkily resolves on having Search made;--and,
to give solemnity to the matter, requests his Excellency Marquis de
Paulmy, the French Ambassador at Berne, to ask the Government
there,--Government having seized all Henzi's Papers, on beheading
him. Excellency Paulmy does, accordingly, make inquiry in the
highest quarter; some inquiries up and down. Not the least account
of this, or of any Leibnitz Letter, to be had from among Henzi's
Papers,--the 'hundred volumes,' seemingly, exist no longer;--
Original of this Leibnitz Piece is nowhere. For eight months the
highest Authorities have been looking about (with one knows not
what vivacity or skill in searching), and have found nothing
whatever." Stage second of the Business finishes in this manner.

How lucky for the Perpetual President, had he stopped here!
To Konig and the common contradiction of sinners he could have
opposed, as it was apparently his purpose to do, an Olympian
silence, "Pshaw!" Whereby the small matter, interesting to few,
would have dropped gently into dubiety, into oblivion, and been got
well rid of. But this of the great Leibnitz, touching on one's LAW
OF THRIFT; and not only "discovering" it, half a century
beforehand, but discovering that it was not true: to Leibnitz one
must speak;--and the abstruse question is, What is one to say?
"Find me the original; let us be certain, first:" that you can say;
that is one dear point; and pretty much the only one. The rest, at
this time, as I conjecture, may have been not a little abstruse to
the Perpetual President!

And now, had the Perpetual President but stopped here, there might
still have rested a saving shadow of suspicion on Konig's Excerpt,
That it was not exact, that it might be wrong in some vital point:
--"You never showed me the Original, Monsieur!" Unluckily, the
Perpetual President did not stop. One cannot well fancy him
believing, now or ever, that Konig had forged the Excerpt.
Most likely he had the fatal persuasion that these were Leibnitz's
words; and the question, What was to be said or done, if the
Original SHOULD turn up? might justly be alarming to a Son of the
Pure Sciences. But at this point a new door of escape disclosed
itself: "Where is the Original, I say!"--and he rushed, full speed,
into that; galloping triumphantly, feeling all safe.

"OCTOBER 7th (1751), Maupertuis summons his Academy: 'Messieurs,
permit me to submit a case perhaps requiring your attention. One of
our number dissents from your President's Discovery of the Law of
Thrift; which surely he is free to do: but furthermore he gives an
Excerpt purporting to be from Leibnitz; whereby it would appear
that your President's Discovery, sanctioned in your Acts as new, is
not new, but Leibnitz's (so far as it is good for anything),--
possibly stolen, therefore; and, at any rate, fifty-four years old.
In self-defence, I have demanded to see the Original of said
Excerpt; and the Honorable Member in question does not produce it.
What say you?' 'Shame to him!' say they all [there seem to be but
few Scientific Members, and most of them, it is insinuated, have
Pensions from the King through their Perpetual President];--and
determine to make a Star-chamber matter of it!

"Accordingly, next day, OCTOBER 8th) Secretary Formey writes
officially to Konig, 'Produce that Letter within one month,'--and
has got his Majesty to order, That our Prussian Minister at the
Hague shall take charge of delivering such message, and shall mark
on what day. Thing serious, you see!--Prussian Minister at the
Hague delivers, and dockets accordingly. To Konig's astonishment;
who is in a scene of deep trouble at this time; Royal Highness the
Stadtholder suddenly dead, or dying: 'died October 22d; leaving a
very young Heir, and a very sorrowful Widow and Country.' Much to
think of, that lies apart from the Maupertuis matter! Which latter,
however, is so very serious too, his Prussian Majesty's Minister at
Berne is now charged to make new perquisition for the Leibnitz
Original there: In short, within one month that Document is
peremptorily wanted at Berlin."

High proceedings these;--and calculated to have one result, if no
other. Namely, that, at this point, as readers can fancy, the idler
Public, seeing a street-quarrel in progress, began to take interest
in the Question of MINIMUM; and quasi-scientific gentlemen to
gather round, and express, with cheery capable look, their
opinions,--still legible in the vanished JUGEMENS LIBRES (of
Hamburg), GAZETTE DE SAVANS (Leipzig), and other poor Shadows of
JOURNALS, if you daringly evoke them from the other side of Styx.
Which, the whole matter being now so indisputably extinct, shadowy,
Stygian, we will not here be guilty of doing; but hasten to the
catastrophes, that have still a memorability.

"Konig, having in fact nothing more to say about the Leibnitz
Excerpt, was in no breathless haste to obey his summons; he sat
almost two months before answering anything. Did then write
however, in a friendly strain to Maupertuis (December 10th, 1751).
[ Maupertuisiana, No. iv. 132.] Almost on
which same day, as it chanced, the ACADEMIE, after two months'
dignified waiting, had in brief terms repeated its order on Konig.
[December 11th, 1751 (Ib. 137). To which Konig makes no special
answer (having as good as answered the day before);--but does
silently send off to Switzerland to make inquiries; and does write
once or twice more, when there is occasion for explaining;--always
in a clear, sonorous, manfully firm and respectful tone: 'That he
himself had, or has, no kind of reason to doubt the authenticity of
the Leibnitz Letter; that to himself (and, so far as he can judge,
to Maupertuis) the question of its authenticity is without special
interest;--he, Konig, having thrown it in as a mere marginal
illustration, which decides nothing, either for or against the Law
of Thrift. That he has, in obedience to the Academy, caused search
to be made in Switzerland, especially at Basel, where he judged the
chance might lie; but that of this particular Letter nothing has
come to light; that he has two other Leibnitz Letters, of
indifferent tenor, in the late Henzi's hand, if these will serve in
aught, [ Maupertuisiana, No. iv. 155; and ib.
172-192, the two Letters themselves.]--but what farther can he do?'
In short, Konig speaks always in a clear business-like manful tone;
the one person that makes a really respectful and respectable
figure in this Controversy of the Infinitely Little. A man whom,
viewed from this quiet distance, it seems almost inconceivably
absurd to have suspected of forging for so small an object. Oh, my
President, that DIRA REGNANDI CUPIDO!--

"Question is, however, What the Academy will do? One Member, 'the
best Geometer among them' [whose name is not given, but which the
Berlin Academy should write in big letters across this sad Page of
their Annals, by way of erasure to the same], dissented from the
high line of procedure; asserting Konig's innocence in this matter;
nay, hinting agreement with Konig's opinion. But was met by such a
storm, that he withdrew from the deliberations; which henceforth
went their own bad course, unanimous though slow. And so the matter
pendulates all through Winter, 1751-52, and was much the theme of
idle men."

Voltaire heard of it vaguely all along; but not with distinctness
till the end of July following. As Spring advanced, Maupertuis had
fallen ill of lungs,--threatened with spitting of blood ("owing to
excess of brandy," hints the malicious Voltaire, "which is
fashionable at St. Malo," birthplace of Maupertuis),--and could not
farther direct the Academy in this affair. The Academy needs no
direction farther. Here, very soon, for a sick President's
consolation, is what the Academy decides on, by way
of catastrophe:--

THURSDAY EVENING, 13th APRIL, 1752, The Academy met; Curator
Monsieur de Keith, presiding; about a score of acting Members
present. To whom Curator de Keith, as the first thing, reads a
magnanimous brief Letter from our Perpetual President: "That, for
two reasons, he cannot attend on this important occasion:
First, because he is too ill, which would itself be conclusive;
but secondly, and A FORTIORI, because he is in some sense a party
to the cause, and ought not if he could." Whereupon, Secretary
Formey having done his Documentary flourishings, Curator Euler--
(great in Algebra, apparently not very great in common sense and
the rules of good temper)--reads considerable "Report;" [Is No. 1
of Maupertuisiana. ] reciting, not in a
dishonest, but in a dim wearisome way, the various steps of the
Affair, as readers already know them; and concludes with this
extraordinary practical result: "Things being so (LES CHOSES ETANT
TELLES): the Fragment being of itself suspect [what could Leibnitz
know of Maxima and Minima? They were not developed till one Euler
did it, quite in late years!], [ Maupertuisians, italic> No. i. 22.] of itself suspect; and Monsieur Konig having
failed to" &c. &c.,--"it is assuredly manifest that his cause is
one of the worst (DES PLUS MAUVAISES), and that this Fragment has
been forged." Singular to think! "And the Academy, all things duly
considered, will not hesitate to declare it false (SUPPOSE), and
thereby deprive it publicly of all authority which may have been
ascribed to it" (HEAR, HEAR! from all parts).

Curator de Keith then collects the votes,--twenty-three in all;
some sixteen are of working Members; two are from accidental
Strangers ("travelling students," say the enemy); the rest from
Curators of Quality:--Vote is unanimous, "Adopt the Report.
Fragment evidently forged, and cannot have the least shadow of
authority (AUCUNE OMBRE D'AUTHORITE). Forged by whom, we do not now
ask; nor what the Academy could, on plain grounds, now do to
Monsieur Konig [NOT nail his ears to the pump, oh no!]; enough, it
IS forged, and so remains." Signed, "Curator de Keith," and Six
other Office-bearers; "Formey, Perpetual Secretary"' closing
the list.

At the name Keith, a slight shadow (very slight, for how could
Keith help himself?) crosses the mind: "Is this, by ill luck, the
Feldmarschall Keith?" No, reader; this is Lieutenant-Colonel Keith;
he of Wesel, with "Effigy nailed to the Gallows" long since;
whom none of us cares for. Sulzer, I notice too, is of this long-
eared Sanhedrim. ACH, MEIN LIEBER SULZER, you don't know (do you,
then?) DIESE VERDAMMTE RACE, to what heights and depths of stupid
malice, and malignant length of ear, they are capable of going.
"Thursday, 13th April," this is Forger Konig's doom:--and, what is
observable, next morning, with a crash audible through Nature, the
Powder-Magazine flew aloft, killing several persons! [Supra,
p. 203.] Had no hand, he, I hope, in that latter atrocity?

On authentic sight of this Sentence (for which Konig had at once,
on hearing of it, applied to Formey, and which comes to him,
without help of Formey, through the Public Newspapers) Konig, in a
brief, proud enough, but perfectly quiet, mild and manful manner,
resigns his Membership. "Ceases, from this day (June 18th, 1752),
to have the honor of belonging to your Academy; 'an honor I had
been the prouder of, as it came to me unasked;'--and will wish,
you, from the outside henceforth, successful campaigns in the field
of Science." [ Maupertuisiana, No. iv. 129.]
And sets about preparing his Pamphlet to instruct mankind on the
subject. Maupertuis, it appears, did write, and made others write
to Konig's Sovereign Lady, the Dowager Princess of Orange, "How
extremely handsome it would be, could her Most Serene Highness, a
friend to Pure Science, be pleased to induce Monsieur Konig not to
continue this painful Controversy, but to sit quiet with what he
had got." [Voltaire (infra).] Which her Most Serene Highness by no
mean thought the suitable course. Still less did Konig himself;
well done, as usual, and followed and accompanied by the multitude
of Commentators,--appeared in due course. ["September, 1752,
Konig's APPEL" (Preuss, in OEuvres de Frederic, italic> xv. 60 n.).] Till, before long, the Public was thoroughly
instructed; and nobody, hardly the signing Curators, or thin Euler
himself, not to speak of Perpetual Formey, who had never been
strong in the matter, could well believe in "forgery" or care to
speak farther on such a subject. Subject gone wholly to the Stygian
Fens, long since; "forgery" not now imaginable by anybody!

The rumor of these things rose high and wide; and the quantity of
publishing upon them, quasi-scientifically and otherwise, in the
serious vein and the jocose, was greater than we should fancy.
["Letter from a Marquis;" "Letter from Mr. T--- to M. S---" (Mr. T.
lives in London;--"JE TRAVERSE LE Queen's Square, ET JE RENCONTRE
NOTRE AMI D---: 'AVEZ-VOUS LA l'Appel au Public?' DIT-IL"--);
"Letter by Euler in the Berlin Gazette," &c. &c. (in
Maupertuisiana ).] Voltaire, for above a month past,
had been fully aware of the case (24th July, 1752, writing to
Niece, "heard yesterday"); not without commentary to oneself and
others. Voltaire, with a kind of love to Konig, and a very real
hatred to Maupertuis and to oppression generally, took pen himself,
among the others (Konig's APPEAL just out),--could not help doing
it, though he had better not! The following small Piece is perhaps
the one, if there be one, still worth resuscitating from the Inane
Kingdoms. Appeared in the BIBLIOTHEQUE RAISONNEE (mild-shining
Quarterly Review of those days), JULY-SEPTEMBER Number.


"BERLIN, 18th SEPTEMBER, 1752. This is the exact truth, in reply to
your inquiry. M. Moreau de Maupertuis in a Pamphlet entitled ESSAI
DE COSMOLOGIE, pretended that the only proof of the Existence of
God is the circumstance that AR+nRB is a Minimum. [ONLY proof:
^??????^ (p.212 Book XVI)

VOILA!] He asserts that in all possible cases, 'Action is a
Minimum,' what has been demonstrated false; and he says, 'He
discovered this Law of Minimum,' what is not less false.

"M. Konig, as well as other Mathematicians, wrote against this
strange assertion; and, among other things, M. Konig cited some
sentences of a Letter by Leibnitz, in which that great man says,
He has observed 'that, in the modifications of motion, the Action
usually becomes either a Maximum or else a Minimum.'

"M. Moreau de Maupertuis imagined that, by producing this Fragment,
it had been intended to snatch from him the glory of his pretended
discovery,--though Leibnitz says precisely the contrary of what he
advances. He forced some pensioned members of the Academy, who are
dependent on him, to summon M. Koinig"-- As we know too well;
and cannot bear to have repeated to us, even in the briefest and
spiciest form! "Sentence (JUGEMENT) on M. Konig, which declares him
guilty of having assaulted the glory of the Sieur Moreau Maupertuis
by FORGING a Leibnitz Letter.--Wrote then, and made write, to her
Serene Highness the Princess of Orange, who was indignant at so
insolent"-- ... and in fine,

"Thus the Sieur Moreau Maupertuis has been convicted, in the face
of Scientific Europe, not only of plagiarism and blunder, but of
having abused his place to suppress free discussion, and to
persecute an honest man who had no crime but that of not being of
his opinion. Several members of our Academy have protested against
so crying a procedure; and would leave the Academy, were it not for
fear of displeasing the King, who is protector of it."
[ OEuvres de Voltaire, lxiii. 227 (in
Maupertuisiana, No. xvi).]

King Friedrich's position, in the middle of all this, was becoming
uncomfortable. Of the controversy he understood, or cared to
understand, nothing; had to believe steadily that his Academy must
be right; that Konig was some loose bird, envious of an eagle
Maupertuis, sitting aloft on his high Academic perch:
this Friedrich took for the truth of the matter;--and could not let
himself imagine that his sublime Perpetual President, who was
usually very prudent and Jove-like, had been led, by his truculent
vanity (which Friedrich knew to be immense in the man, though kept
well out of sight), into such playing of fantastic tricks before
high Heaven and other on-lookers. This view of the matter had
hitherto been Friedrich's; nor do I know that he ever inwardly
departed from it;--as outwardly he, for certain, never did;
standing, King-like, clear always for his Perpetual President, till
this hurricane of Pamphlets blew by. Voltaire's little Piece,
therefore, was the unwelcomest possible.

This new bolt of electric fire, launched upon the storm-tost
President from Berlin itself, and even from the King's House
itself,--by whom, too clearly recognizable,--what an irritating
thing! Unseemly, in fact, on Voltaire's part; but could not be
helped by a Voltaire charged with electricity. Friedrich evidently
in considerable indignation, finding that public measures would but
worsen the uproar, took pen in hand; wrote rapidly the indignant
[ OEuvres de Frederic, xv. 59-64 (not dated;
datable "October, 1752").] which Piece, of some length, we cannot
give here; but will briefly describe as manifesting no real
knowledge of the LAW-OF-THRIFT Controversy; but as taking the above
loose view of it, and as directed principally against "the
pretended Member of our Academy" (mischievous Voltaire, to wit),
whom it characterizes as "such a manifest retailer of lies," a
"concocter of stupid libels:" "have you ever seen an action more
malicious, more dastardly, more infamous?"--and other hard terms,
the hardest he can find. This is the privilege of anonymity, on
both sides of it.

But imagine now a King and his Voltaire doing witty discourse over
their Supper of the gods (as, on the set days, is duly the case);
with such a consciousness, burning like Bude light, though close
veiled, on the part of Host and Guest! The Friedrich-Voltaire
relation is evidently under sore stress of weather, in those
winter-autumn months of 1752,--brown leaves, splashy rains and
winds moaning outwardly withal. And, alas, the irrepressibly
electric Voltaire, still far from having ended, still only just
beginning his Anti-Maupertuis discharges, has, in the interim,
privately got his DOCTOR AKAKIA ready. Compared to which, the
former missile is as a popgun to a park of artillery shotted with
old nails and broken glass!--Such a constraint, at the Royal
dinner-table, amid wine and wit, could not continue. The credible
account is, it soon cracked asunder; and, after the conceivable
sputterings, sparklings and flashings of various complexion, issued
in lambent airs of "tacit mutual understanding; and in reading of
AKAKIA together,--with peals of laughter from the King," as the
common French Biographers assert.

"Readers know AKAKIA," [DIATRIBE DU DOCTEUR AKAKIA (in Voltaire,
OEuvres, lxi. 19-62).] says Smelfungus:
"it is one of the famous feats of Satirical Pyrotechny; only too
pleasant to the corrupt Race of Adam! There is not much, or indeed
anything, of true poetic humor in it: but there is a gayety of
malice, a dexterity, felicity, inexhaustibility of laughing mockery
and light banter, capable of driving a Perpetual President
delirious. What an Explosion of glass-crackers, fire-balls,
flaming-serpents;--generally, of sleeping gunpowder, in its most
artistic forms,--flaming out sky-high over all the Parish, on a
sudden! The almost-sublime of Maupertuis, which exists in large
quantities, here is a new artist who knows how to treat it.
The engineer of the Sublime (always painfully engineering
thitherward without effect),--an engineer of the Comic steps in on
him, blows him up with his own petards in a most unexampled manner.
Not an owlery has that poor Maupertuis, in the struggle to be
sublime (often nearly successful, but never once quite), happened
to drop from him, but Voltaire picks it up; manipulates it, reduces
it to the sublimely ridiculous; lodges it, in the form of burning
dust, about the head of MON PRESIDENT. Needless to say of the Comic
engineer that he is unfair, perversely exaggerative, reiterative,
on the owleries of poor Maupertuis;--it is his function to BE all
that. Clever, but wrong, do you say? Well, yes:--and yet the
ridiculous does require ridicule; wise Nature has silently so
ordered. And if ever truculent President in red wig, with his
absurd truculences, tyrannies and perpetual struggles after the
sublime, did deserve to be exploded in laughter, it could not have
been more consummately done;--though perversely always, as must
be owned.

"'The hole bored through the Earth,' for instance: really, one
sometimes reflects on such a thing; How you would see daylight, and
the antipodal gentleman (if he bent a little over) foot to foot;
how a little stone flung into it would exactly (but for air and
friction) reach the other side of the world; would then, in a
computable few moments, come back quiescent to your hand, and so
continue forevermore;--with other the like uncriminal fancies.

"'The Latin Town,' again: truly, if learning the Ancient Languages
be human Education, it might, with a Greek Ditto, supersede the
Universities, and prove excellently serviceable in our struggle
Heavenward by that particular route. I can assure M. de Voltaire,
it was once practically proposed to this King's Great-grandfather,
the Grosse Kurfurst;--who looked into it, with face puckered to the
intensest, in his great care for furtherance of the Terrestrial
Sciences and Wisdoms; but forbore for that time. [Minute details
about it in Stenzel, ii. 234-238; who quotes "Erman" (a poor old
BRANDEBOURG (Berlin, 1792):" date of the Project was 1667.] Then as
to 'Dissecting the Brains of Patagonians;' what harm, if you can
get them gross enough? And as to that of (exalting your mind to
predict the future,' does not, in fact, man look BEFORE and AFTER;
are not Memory and (in a small degree) Prophecy the Two Faculties
he has?

"These things--which are mostly to be found in the 'LETTRES DE
MAUPERTUIS' (Dresden, 1752, then a brand-new Book), but are now
clipt out from the Maupertuis Treatises--we can fancy to be almost
sublimities.--Almost, unfortunately not altogether. And then there
is such a Sisyphus-effort visible in dragging them aloft so far:
and the nimble wicked Voltaire so seizes his moment, trips poor
Sisyphus; and sends him down, heels-over-head, in a torrent of
roaring debris! 'From gradual transpiration of our vital force
comes Death; which perhaps, by precautions, might be indefinitely
retarded,' says Maupertuis. 'Yes, truly,' answers the other: 'if we
got ourselves japanned, coated with resinous varnish (INDUITS DE
POIX RESINEUX); who knows!' Not a sublime owlery can you drop, but
it is manipulated, ground down, put in rifled cannon, comes back on
you as tempests of burning dust." Enough to send Maupertuis
pirouetting through the world, with red wig unquenchably on fire!

Peals of laughter (once you are allowed to be non-official) could
not fail, as an ovation, from the King;--so report the French
Biographers. But there was, besides, strict promise that the Piece
should be suppressed: "Never do to send our President pirouetting
through the world in this manner, with his wig on fire; promise me,
on your honor!" Voltaire promised. But, alas, how could Voltaire
perform! Once more the Rhadamanthine fact is: Voltaire, as King's
Chamberlain, was bound, without any promise, to forbear, and
rigidly suppress such an AKAKIA against the King's Perpetual
President. But withal let candid readers consider how difficult it
was to do. The absurd blusterous Turkey-cock, who has, every now
and then, been tyrannizing over you for twenty years, here you have
him filled with gunpowder, so to speak, and the train laid.
There wants but one spark,--(edition printed in Holland, edition
done in Berlin, plenty of editions made or makable by a little
surreptitious legerdemain,--and I never knew whether it was AKAKIA
in print, or AKAKIA in manuscript, that King and King's Chamberlain
were now reading together, nor does it matter much):--your Turkey
surreptitiously stuffed with gunpowder, I say; train ready waiting;
one flint-spark will shoot him aloft, scatter him as flaming ruin
on all the winds: and you are, once and always, to withhold said
spark. Perhaps, had AKAKIA not yet been written--But all lies ready
there; one spark will do it, at any moment;--and there are
unguarded moments, and the Tempter must prevail!--

On what day AKAKIA blazed out at Berlin, surreptitiously forwarded
from Holland or otherwise, I could never yet learn (so stupid these
reporters). But "on November 2d" the King makes a Visit to sick
Maupertuis, which is published in all the Newspapers; [Rodenbeck,
IN DIE; Helden-Geschichte, iii. 531,
"2d November, 1752, 5 P.M."]--and one might guess the AKAKIA
conflagration, and cruel haha-ings of mankind, to have been tacitly
the cause. Then or later, sure enough, AKAKIA does blaze aloft
about that time; and all Berlin, and all the world, is in
conversation over Maupertuis and it,--30,000 copies sold in Paris:
--and Friedrich naturally was in a towering passion at his
Chamberlain. Nothing for the Chamberlain but to fly his presence;
to shriek, piteously, "Accident, your Majesty! Fatal treachery and
accident; after such precautions too!"--and fall sick to death
(which is always a resource one has); and get into private lodgings
in the TAUBEN-STRASSE, [At a "Hofrath Francheville's" (kind of
subaltern Literary Character, see Denina, ii. 67), "TAUBEN-STRASSE
(Dove Street), No. 20:" stayed there till "March, 1753" (Note by
Preuss, OEuvres de Frederic, xxii. 306 n.).]
till one either die, or grow fit to be seen again: "Ah, Sire"--let
us give the Voltaire shriek of NOT-GUILTY, with the Friedrich
Answer; both dateless unluckily:--

VOLTAIRE. "AH, MON DIEU, Sire, in the state I am in! I swear to you
again, on my life, which I could renounce without pain, that it is
a frightful calumny. I conjure you to summon all my people, and
confront them. What? You will judge me without hearing me! I demand
justice or death."

FRIEDRICH. "Your effrontery astonishes me. After what you have
done, and what is clear as day, you persist, instead of owning
yourself culpable. Do not imagine you will make people believe that
black is white; when one [ON, meaning _I_] does not see, the reason
?ONE p. 218, book XVI
is, one does not want to see everything. But if you drive the
affair to extremity,--all shall be made public; and it will be seen
whether, if your Works deserve statues, your conduct does not
deserve chains." [ OEuvres de Frederic, xxii.
302, 301.]

Most dark element (not in date only), with terrific thunder-and-
lightning. Nothing for it but to keep one's room, mostly one's
bed,--"Ah, Sire, sick to death!"

December 24th, 1752, there is one thing dismally distinct, Voltaire
himself looking on (they say), from his windows in Dove Street:
the Public Burning of AKAKIA, near there, by the common Hangman.
Figure it; and Voltaire's reflections on it:--haggardly clear that
Act Third is culminating; and that the final catastrophe is
inevitable and nigh. We must be brief. On the eighth day after this
dread spectacle (New-year's-day 1753), Voltaire sends, in a Packet
to the Palace, his Gold Key and Cross of Merit. On the interior
wrappage is an Inscription in verse: "I received them with loving
emotion, I return them with grief; as a broken-hearted Lover
returns the Portrait of his Mistress:--

Je les recus avec tendresse,
Je vous les rends avec douleur;
C'est ainsi qu'un amant, dans son extreme ardeur,
Rend le portrait de sa maitresse."

And--in a Letter enclosed, tender as the Song of Swans--has one
wish: Permission for the waters of Plonbieres, some alleviations
amid kind nursing friends there; and to die craving blessings on
your Majesty. [Collini, p. 48; LETTER, in OEuvres de
Frederic, xxii. 305.]

Friedrich, though in hot wrath, has not quite come that length.
Friedrich, the same day, towards evening, sends Fredersdorf to him,
with Decorations back. And a long dialogue ensues between
Fredersdorf and Voltaire; in which Collini, not eavesdropping,
"heard the voice of M. de Voltaire at times very loud."
Precise result unknown. After which, for three months more, follows
waiting and hesitation and negotiation, also quite obscure.
Confused hithering and thithering about permission for Plombieres,
about repentance, sorrow, amendment, blame; in the end,
reconciliation, or what is to pass for such. Recorded for us in
that whirl of misdated Letter-clippings; in those Narratives,
ignorant, and pretending to know: perhaps the darkest Section in
History, Sacred or Profane,--were it of moment to us, here
or elsewhere!

Voltaire has got permission to return to Potsdam; Apartment in the
Palace ready again: but he still lingers in Dove Street; too ill,
in real truth, for Potsdam society on those new terms. Does not
quit Francheville's "till March 5th;" and then only for another
Lodging, called "the Belvedere", of suburban or rural kind.
His case is intricate to a degree. He is sick of body;
spectre-haunted withal, more than ever;--often thinks Friedrich,
provoked, will refuse him leave. And, alas, he would so fain NOT
go, as well as go! Leave for Plombieres ,--leave in the angrily
contemptuous shape, "Go, then, forever and a day!"--Voltaire can at
once have: but to get it in the friendly shape, and as if for a
time only? His prospects at Paris, at Versailles, are none of the
best; to return as if dismissed will never do! Would fain not go,
withal;--and has to diplomatize at Potsdam, by D'Argens, De Prades,
and at Paris simultaneously, by Richelieu, D'Argenson and friends.
He is greatly to be pitied;--even Friedrich pities him, the martyr
of bodily ailments and of spiritual; and sends him "extract of
quinquina" at one time. [Letter of Voltaire's.] Three miserable
months; which only an OEdipus could read, and an OEdipus who had
nothing else to do! The issue is well known. Of precise or
indisputable, on the road thither, here are fractions that
will suffice:--

December," 1752, week BEFORE his AKAKIA was burnt). ... "Wish I
could set out on the instant, and put myself into your hands and
into the arms of my family! I brought to Berlin about a score of
teeth, there remain to me something like six; I brought two eyes,
I have nearly lost one of them; I brought no erysipelas, and I have
got one, which I take a great deal of care of. ... Meanwhile I have
buried almost all my Doctors; even La Mettrie. Remains only that I
bury Codenius [Cothenius], who looks too stiff, however,"--and, at
any rate, return to you in Spring, when roads and weather improve.
[ OEuvres de Voltaire, lxxxv. 141.]

FRIEDRICH TO VOLTAIRE (Potsdam, uncertain date). "There was no need
of that pretext about the waters of Plombieres, in demanding your
leave (CONGE). You can quit my service when you like: but, before
going, be so good as return me the Contract of your Engagement, the
Key [Chamberlain's], the Cross [of Merit], and the Volume of Verses
which I confided to you.

"I wish my Works, and only they, had been what you and Konig
attacked. Them I sacrifice, with a great deal of willingness, to
persons who think of increasing their own reputation by lessening
that of others. I have not the folly nor vanity of certain Authors.
The cabals of literary people seem to me the disgrace of
Literature. I do not the less esteem honorable cultivators of
Literature; it is only the caballers and their leaders that are
degraded in my eyes. On this, I pray God to have you in his holy
and worthy keeping.--FRIEDRICH." [In De Prades's hand;
OEuvres de Frederic, xxii. 308, 309: Friedrich's own
Minute to De Prades has, instead of these last three lines: "That I
have not the folly and vanity of authors, and that the cabals of
literary people seem to me the depth of degradation," &c.]

VOLTAIRE SPECTRALLY GIVEN (Collini LOQUITUR). "One evening walking
in the garden [at rural Belvedere,--after March 5th], talking of
our situation, he asked me, 'Could you drive a coach-and-two?'
I stared at him a moment; but knowing that there must be no direct
contradiction of his ideas, I said 'Yes.'--'Well, then, listen;
I have thought of a method for getting away. You could buy two
horses; a chariot after that. So soon as we have horses, it will
not appear strange that we lay in a little hay.'--'Yes, Monsieur;
and what should we do with that?' said I. 'LE VOICI (this is it).
We will fill the chariot with hay. In the middle of the hay we will
put all our baggage. I will place myself, disguised, on the top of
the hay; and give myself out for a Calvinist Curate going to see
one of his Daughters married in the next Town. You shall drive:
we take the shortest road for the Saxon Border; safe there, we sell
chariot, horses, hay; then straight to Leipzig, by post.' At which
point, or soon after, he burst into laughing." [Collini, p. 53.]

VOLTAIRE TO FRIEDRICH ("Berlin, Belvedere," rural lodging, ["In the
STRALAUER VORSTADT (HODIE, Woodmarket Street):" Preuss's Note to
this Letter, OEuvres de Frederic, xxii.
306 n.] "12th March," 1753). "Sire, I have had a Letter from Konig,
quite open, as my heart is. I think it my duty to send your Majesty
a duplicate of my Answer. ... Will submit to you every step of my
conduct; of my whole life, in whatever place I end it. I am Konig's
friend; but assuredly I am much more attached to your Majesty;
and if he were capable the least in the world of failing in respect
[as is rumored], I would"--Enough!

FRIEDRICH RELENTS (To Voltaire; De Prades writing, Friedrich
covertly dictating: no date). "The King has held his Consistory;
and it has there been discussed, Whether your case was a mortal sin
or a venial? In truth, all the Doctors owned that it was mortal,
and even exceedingly confirmed as such by repeated lapses and
relapses. Nevertheless, by the plenitude of the grace of Beelzebub,
which rests in the said King, he thinks he can absolve you, if not
in whole, yet in part. This would be, of course, in virtue of some
act of contrition and penitence imposed on you: but as, in the
Empire of Satan, there is a great respect had of genius, I think,
on the whole, that, for the sake of your talents, one might pardon
a good many things which do discredit to your heart. These are the
Sovereign Pontiff's words; which I have carefully taken down. They
are a Prophecy rather." [ OEuvres de Frederic,
xxii. 307.]

VOLTAIRE TO DE PRADES ("Belvedere, 15th March," 1753). "Dear Abbe,
--Your style has not appeared to me soft. You are a frank Secretary
of State:--nevertheless I give you warning, it is to be a settled
point that I embrace you before going. I shall not be able to kiss
you; my lips are too choppy from my devil of a disorder [SCURVY, I
hear]. You will easily dispense with my kisses; but don't dispense,
I pray you, with my warm and true friendship.

"I own I am in despair at quitting you, and quitting the King;
but it is a thing indispensable. Consider with our dear Marquis
[D'Argens], with Fredersdorf,--PARBLEU, with the King himself, How
you can manage that I have the consolation of seeing him before I
go. I absolutely will have it; I will embrace with my two arms the
Abbe and the Marquis. The Marquis sha'n't be kissed, any more than
you; nor the King either. But I shall perhaps fall blubbering;
I am weak, I am a drenched hen. I shall make a foolish figure:
never mind; I must, once more, have sight of you two. If I cannot
throw myself at the King's feet, the Plombieres waters will kill
me. I await your answer, to quit this Country as a happy or as a
miserable man. Depend on me for life.--V." [Ib. 308.]--This is the
last of these obscure Documents.

Three days after which, "evening of March 18th", [Collini, pp. 55,
56.] Voltaire, Collini with him and all his packages, sets out for
Potsdam; King's guest once more. Sees the King in person "after
dinner, next day;" stays with him almost a week, "quite gay
together," "some private quizzing even of Maupertuis" (if we could
believe Collini or his master on that point); means "to return in
October, when quite refitted,"--does at least (note it, reader), on
that ground, retain his Cross and Key, and his Gift of the OEUVRE
DE POESIES: which he had much better have left! And finally,
morning of March 25th) 1753, [Collini, p. 56; see Rodenbeck,
i. 252.] drives off,--towards Dresden, where there are Printing
Affairs to settle, and which is the nearest safe City;--and
Friedrich and he, intending so or not, have seen one another for
the last time. Not quite intending that extremity, either of them,
I should think; but both aware that living together was a thing to
be avoided henceforth.

"Take care of your health, above all; and don't forget that I
expect to see you again after the Waters!" such was Friedrich's
adieu, say the French Biographers, [Collini, p. 57; Duvernet,
p. 186; OEuvres de Voltaire, lxxv. 187 ("will
return in October").] "who is himself just going off to the
Silesian Reviews", add they;--who does, in reality, drive to Berlin
that day; but not to the Silesian Reviews till May following.
As Voltaire himself will experience, to his cost!

Chapter XII.


Voltaire, once safe on Saxon ground, was in no extreme haste for
Plombieres. He deliberately settled his Printing Affairs at
Dresden; then at Leipzig;--and scattered through Newspapers, or
what port-holes he had, various fiery darts against Maupertuis;
aggravating the humors in Berlin, and provoking Maupertuis to write
him an express Letter. Letter which is too curious, especially the
Answer it gets, to be quite omitted:--


"BERLIN, 3d APRIL, 1753. If it is true that you design to attack me
again [with your LA-BEAUMELLE doggeries and scurrilous
discussions], I declare to you that I have still health enough to
find you wherever you are, and to take the most signal vengeance on
you (VENGEANCE LA PLUS ECLATANTE). Thank the respect and the
obedience which have hitherto restrained my arm, and saved you from
the worst adventure you have ever yet had. MAUPERTUIS."

VOLTAIRE'S ANSWER (from Leipzig, a few days after).

"M. le President,--I have had the honor to receive your Letter. You
inform me that you are well; that your strength is entirely
returned; and that, if I publish La Beaumelle's Letter [private
Letter of his, lent me by a Friend, which proves that YOU set him
against me], you will come and assassinate me. What ingratitude to
your poor medical man Akakia! ... If you exalt your soul so as to
discern futurity, you will see that if you come on that errand to
Leipzig, where you are no better liked than in other places, and
where your Letter is in safe Legal hands, you run some risk of
being hanged. Poor me, indeed, you will find in bed; and I shall
have nothing for you but my syringe and vessel of dishonor: but so
soon as I have gained a little strength, I will have my pistols
charged CUM PULVERE PYRIO; and multiplying the mass by the square
of the velocity, so as to reduce the action and you to zero, I will
put some lead in your head;--it appears to have need of it. ADIEU,
MON PRESIDENT. AKAKIA." [Duvernet, pp. 186, 187;
OEuvres de Voltaire, lxi. 55-60.]

Here, in the history of Duelling, or challenging to mortal combat,
is a unique article! At which the whole world haha'd again;
perhaps King Friedrich himself; though he was dreadfully provoked
at it, too: "No mending of that fellow!"--and took a resolution in
consequence, as will be seen.

Dresden and Leipzig done with, Voltaire accepted an invitation to
the Court of Sachsen-Gotha (most polite Serene Highnesses there,
and especially a charming Duchess,--who set him upon doing the
ANNALES DE L'EMPIRE, decidedly his worst Book). "About April 2lst"
Voltaire arrived, stayed till the last days of May; [
OEuvres de Voltaire, lxxv. 182 n. Clogenson's Note).]
and had, for five weeks, a beautiful time at Gotha;--Wilhelmina's
Daughter there (young Duchess of Wurtemberg, on visit, as it
chanced), [Wilhelmina-Friedrich Correspondence ( OEuvres de
Frederic, xxvii. iii. 258, 249).] and all manner of
graces, melodies and beneficences; a little working, too, at the
ANNALES, in the big Library, between whiles. Five decidedly
melodious weeks. Beautiful interlude, or half-hour of orchestral
fiddling in this Voltaire Drama; half-hour which could not last!
On the heel of which there unhappily followed an Afterpiece or
codicil to the Berlin Visit; which, so to speak, set the whole
theatre on fire, and finished by explosion worse than AKAKIA
itself. A thing still famous to mankind;--of which some
intelligible notion must be left with readers.

The essence of the story is briefly this. Voltaire, by his fine
deportment in parting with Friedrich, had been allowed to retain
his Decorations, his Letter of Agreement, his Royal BOOK OF POESIES
(one of those "Twelve Copies," printed AU DONJON DU CHATEAU, in
happier times!)--and in short, to go his ways as a friend, not as a
runaway or one dismissed. But now, by his late procedures at
Leipzig, and "firings out of port-holes" in that manner, he had
awakened Friedrich's indignation again,--Friedrich's regret at
allowing him to take those articles with him; and produced a
resolution in Friedrich to have them back. They are not generally
articles of much moment; but as marks of friendship, they are now
all falsities. One of the articles might be of frightful
importance: that Book of Poesies; thrice-private OEUVRE DE POESIES,
in which are satirical spurts affecting more than one crowned head:
one shudders to think what fires a spiteful Voltaire might cause by
publishing these! This was Friedrich's idea;--and by no means a
chimerical one, as the Fact proved; said OEUVRE being actually
reprinted upon him, at Paris afterwards (not by Voltaire), in the
crisis of the Seven-Years War, to put him out with his Uncle of
England, whom it quizzed in passages. [Title of it is,
OEuvres du Philosophe de Sans-Souci (Paris, pretending
to be "Potsdam," 1760), 1 vol. 12mo: at Paris, "in January" this;
whereupon, at Berlin, with despatch, "April 9th," "the real
edition" (properly castrated) was sent forth, under title, POESIES
DIVERSES, 1 vol. big 8vo (Preuss, in OEuvres de Frederic,
x. Preface, p. x. See Formey, ii. 255, under date
misprinted "1763").] "We will have those articles back," thinks
Friedrich; "that OEUVRE most especially! No difficulty: wait for
him at Frankfurt, as he passes home; demand them of him there."
And has (directly on those new "firings through port-holes" at
Leipzig) bidden Fredersdorf take measures accordingly. ["Friedrich
to Wilhelmina, 12th April, 1753" ( OEuvres,
xxvii. iii. 227).]

Fredersdorf did so; early in April and onward had his Official
Person waiting at Frankfurt (one Freytag, our Prussian Resident
there, very celebrated ever since), vigilant in the extreme for
Voltaire's arrival,--and who did not miss that event.
Voltaire, arriving at last (May 31st), did, with Freytag's hand
laid gently on his sleeve, at once give up what of the articles he
had about him;--the OEUVRE, unluckily, not one of them; and agreed
to be under mild arrest ("PAROLE D'HONNEUR; in the LION-D'OR Hotel
here!") till said OEUVRE should come up. Under Fredersdorf's
guidance, all this, and what follows; King Friedrich, after the
general Order given, had nothing more to do with it, and was gone
upon his Reviews.

In the course of two weeks or more the OEUVRE DE POESIE did come.
Voltaire was impatient to go. And he might perhaps have at once
gone, had Freytag been clearly instructed, so as to know the
essential from the unessential here. But he was not;--poor
subaltern Freytag had to say, on Voltaire's urgencies: "I will at
once report to Berlin; if the answer be (as we hope), 'All right,'
you are that moment at liberty!" This was a thing unexpected,
astonishing to Voltaire; a thing demanding patience, silence:
in three days more, with silence, as turns out, it would have been
all beautifully over,--but he was not strong in those qualities!

Voltaire's arrest hitherto had been merely on his word of honor,
"I promise, on my honor, not to go beyond the Garden of this Inn."
But he now, without warning anybody, privately revoked said word of
honor; and Collini and he, next morning, whisked shiftily into a
hackney-coach, and were on the edge of being clear off.
To Freytag's terror and horror; who, however, caught them in time:
and was rigorous enough now, and loud enough;--street-mob gathering
round the transaction; Voltaire very loud, and Freytag too,--the
matter taking fire here; and scenes occurring, which Voltaire has
painted in a highly flagrant manner!

On the third day, Answer from Berlin had come, as expected; answer
(as to the old score): "All right; let him go!" But to punctual
Freytag's mind, here is now a new considerable item of sundries:
insult to his Majesty, to wit; breaking his Majesty's arrest, in
such insolent loud manner:--and Freytag finds that he must write
anew. Post is very slow; and, though Fredersdorf answers
constantly, from Berlin, "Let him go, let him go," there have to be
writings and re-writings; and it is not till July 7th (after a
detention, not of nearly three weeks, as it might and would have
been, but of five and a day) that Voltaire gets off, and then too
at full gallop, and in a very unseemly way.

This is authentically the world-famous Frankfurt Affair;--done by
Fredersdorf, as we say; Friedrich, absent in Silesia, or in
Preussen even, having no hand in it, except the original Order left
with Fredersdorf. Voltaire has used his flamingest colors on this
occasion, being indeed dreadfully provoked and chagrined;
painting the thing in a very flagrant manner,--known to all
readers. Voltaire's flagrant Narrative had the round of the world
to itself, for a hundred years; and did its share of execution
against Friedrich. Till at length, recently, a precise impartial
hand, the Herr Varnhagen, thought of looking into the Archives;
and has, in a distinct, minute and entertaining way, explained the
truth of it to everybody;--leaving the Voltaire Narrative in rather
sad condition. [Varnhagen von Ense, Voltaire in Frankfurt
am Mayn, 1753 (separate, as here, 12mo, pp. 92; or in
Berliner Kalender for 1846).] We have little
room; but must give, compressed, from Varnhagen and the other
evidences, a few of the characteristic points. The story falls into
two Parts.


APRIL 11th, 1753 (few days after that of Maupertuis's Cartel,
Voltaire having set to firing through port-holes again, and the
King being swift in his resolution on it), Factotum Fredersdorf,
who has a free-flowing yet a steady and compact pen, directs Herr
Freytag, our Resident at Frankfurt-on-Mayn, To procure from the
Authorities there, on Majesty's request, the necessary powers;
then vigilantly to look out for Voltaire's arrival; to detain the
said Voltaire, and, if necessary, arrest him, till he deliver
certain articles belonging to his Majesty: Cross of Merit, Gold
Key, printed OEUVRE DE POESIES and Writings (SKRIPTUREN) of his
Majesty's; in short, various articles,--the specification of which
is somewhat indistinct. In Fredersdorf's writing, all this; not so
mathematically luminous and indisputable as in Eichel's it would
have been. Freytag put questions, and there passed several Letters
between Fredersdorf and him; but it was always uncomfortably hazy
to Freytag, and he never understood or guessed that the OEUVRE DE
POESIES was the vital item, and the rest formal in comparison.
Which is justly considered to have been an unlucky circumstance, as
matters turned. For help to himself, Freytag is to take counsel
with one Hofrath Schmidt; a substantial experienced Burgher of
Frankfurt, whose rathship is Prussian.

APRIL 21st, Freytag answers, That Schmidt and he received his
Majesty's All-gracious Orders the day before yesterday (Post takes
eight days, it would seem); that they have procured the necessary
powers; and are now, and will be, diligently watchful to execute
the same. Which, one must say, they in right earnest are;
patrolling about, with lips strictly closed, eyes vividly open;
and have a man or two privately on watch at the likely stations, on
the possible highways;--and so continue, Voltaire doing his ANNALS
OF THE EMPIRE, and enjoying himself at Gotha, for weeks after,
["Left Gotha 25th May " (Clog. in OEuvres de Voltaire,
xxv. 192 n.).]--much unconscious of their patrolling.

Freytag is in no respect a shining Diplomatist;--probably some
EMERITUS Lieutenant, doing his function for 30 pounds a year: but
does it in a practical solid manner. Writes with stiff brevity,
stiff but distinct; with perfect observance of grammar both in
French and German; with good practical sense, and faithful effort
to do aright what his order is: no trace of "MonSIR," of "OEuvre de
PoesHie," to be found in Freytag; and most, or all, of the
ridiculous burs stuck on him by Voltaire, are to be pulled off
again as--as fibs, or fictions, solacing to the afflicted Wit.
Freytag is not of quick or bright intellect: and unluckily, just at
the crisis of Voltaire's actual arrival, both Schmidt and
Fredersdorf are off to Embden, where there is "Grand Meeting of the
Embden Shipping Company" (with comfortable dividends, let us
hope),--and have left Freytag to his own resources, in case
of emergency.

THURSDAY, MAY 31st, "about eight in the evening," Voltaire does
arrive,--most prosperous journey hitherto, by Cassel, Marburg,
Warburg, and other places famous then or since; Landgraf of Hessen
(wise Wilhelm, whom we knew) honorably lodging him; innkeepers
calling him "Your Excellency," or "M. le Comte;"--and puts up at
the Golden Lion at Frankfurt, where rooms have been ordered;
Freytag well aware, though he says nothing.

FRIDAY MORNING, JUNE 1st) "his Excellency and Suite" (Voltaire and
Collini) have their horses harnessed, carriage out, and are about
taking the road again,--when Freytag, escorted by a Dr. Rucker,
"Frankfurt Magistrate DE MAUVAISE MINE," [Collini, p. 77.] and a
Prussian recruiting Lieutenant, presents himself in Voltaire's
apartment! Readers know Voltaire's account and MonSIR Collini's;
and may now hear Freytag's own, which is painted from fact:--

"Introductory civilities done (NACH GEMACHTEN POLITESSEN), I made
him acquainted with the will of your most All-gracious Majesty.
He was much astonished (BESTURZT," no wonder); "he shut his eyes,
and flung himself back in his chair." [Varnhagen, p. 16.] Calls in
his friend Collini, whom, at first, I had requested to withdraw.
Two coffers are produced, and opened, by Collini; visitation,
punctual, long and painful, lasted from nine A.M. till five P.M.
Packets are made,--a great many Papers, "and one Poem which he was
unwilling to quit" (perilous LA PUCELLE);--inventories are drawn,
duly signed. Packets are signeted, mutually sealed, Rucker claps on
the Town-seal first, Freytag and Voltaire following with theirs.
"He made thousand protestations of his fidelity to your Majesty;
became pretty weak [like fainting, think you, Herr Resident?], and
indeed he looks like a skeleton.--We then made demand of the Book,
OEUVRE DE POESIES: That, he said, was in the Big Case; and he knew
not whether at Leipzig or Hamburg" (knew very well where it was);
and finding nothing else would do, wrote for it, showing Freytag
the Letter; and engaged, on his word of honor, not to stir hence
till it arrived.

Upon which,--what is farther to be noted, though all seems now
settled,--Freytag, at Voltaire's earnest entreaty, "for behoof of
Madame Denis, a beloved Niece, Monsieur, who is waiting for me
hourly at Strasburg, whom such fright might be the death of!"--puts
on paper a few words (the few which Voltaire has twisted into
"MonSIR," "PoesHies" and so forth), to the effect, "That whenever
the OEUVRE comes, Voltaire shall actually have leave to go."
And so, after eight hours, labor (nine A.M. to five P.M.),
everything is hushed again. Voltaire, much shocked and astonished,
poor soul, "sits quietly down to his ANNALES" (says Collini),--to
working, more or less; a resource he often flies to, in such cases.
Madame Denis, on receiving his bad news at Strasburg, sets off
towards him: arrives some days before the OEUVRE and its Big Case.
King Friedrich had gone, May 1st) for some weeks, to his Silesian
Reviews; June 1st (very day of this great sorting in the Lion
d'Or), he is off again, to utmost Prussia this time;--and knows,
hitherto and till quite the end, nothing, except that Voltaire has
not turned up anywhere.

... Voltaire cannot have done much at his ANNALS, in this interim
at the Golden Lion, "where he has liberty to walk in the Garden."
He has been, and is, secretly corresponding, complaining and
applying, all round, at a great rate: to Count Stadion the Imperial
Excellency at Mainz, to French friends, to Princess Wilhelmina,
ultimately to Friedrich himself. [In OEuvres de Voltaire,
lxxv. 207-214, &c., Letters to Stadion (of strange
enough tenor: see Varnhagen, pp. 30, &c.). In OEuvres de
Frederic, xxii. 303, and in OEuvres de
Voltaire, lxxv. 185, is the Letter to Friedrich
(dateless, totally misplaced, and rendered unintelligible, in both
Works): Letter SENT through Wilhelmina (see her fine remarks in
forwarding it, OEuvres de Frederic, xxvii.
iii. 234).] He has been receiving visits, from Serene Highnesses,
"Duke of Meiningen" and the like, who happen to be in Town.
Visit from iniquitous Dutch Bookseller, Van Duren (Printer of the
ANTI-MACHIAVEL); with whom we had such controversy once.
Iniquitous, now opulent and prosperous, Van Duren, happening to be
here, will have the pleasure of calling on an old distinguished
friend: distinguished friend, at sight of him entering the Garden,
steps hastily up, gives him a box on the ear, without words but an
interjection or two; and vanishes within doors. That is something!
"Monsieur," said Collini, striving to weep, but unable, "you have
had a blow from the greatest man in the world." [Collini, p. 182.]
In short, Voltaire has been exciting great sensation in Frankfurt;
and keeping Freytag in perpetual fear and trouble.

MONDAY, 18th JUNE, the Big Case, lumbering along, does arrive.
It is carried straight to Freytag's; and at eleven in the morning,
Collini eagerly attends to have it opened. Freytag,--to whom
Schmidt has returned from Embden, but no Answer from Potsdam, or
the least light about those SKRIPTUREN,--is in the depths of
embarrassment; cannot open, till he know completely what items and
SKRIPTUREN he is to make sure of on opening: "I cannot, till the
King's answer come!"--"But your written promise to Voltaire?"
"Tush, that was my own private promise, Monsieur; my own private
prediction of what would happen; a thing PRO FORMA", and to save
Madame Denis's life. Patience; perhaps it will arrive this very
day. Come again to me at three P.M.;--there is Berlin post today;
then again in three days:--I surely expect the Order will come by
this post or next; God grant it may be by this!" Collini attends at
three; there is Note from Fredersdorf: King's Majesty absent in
Preussen all this while; expected now in two days. Freytag's face
visibly brightens: "Wait till next post; three days more, only
wait!" [Varnhagen, pp. 39-41.] And in fact, by next post, as we
find, the OPEN-SESAME did punctually come. Voltaire, and all this
big cawing rookery of miseries and rages, would have at once taken
wing again, into the serene blue, could Voltaire but have had
patience three days more! But that was difficult for him,
too Difficult.

(June 20th-July 7th).

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20th, Voltaire and Collini ("word. of honor" fallen
dubious to them, dubious or more),--havmg laid their plan, striving
to think it fair in the circumstances,--walk out from the Lion
d'Or, "Voltaire in black-velvet coat," [Ib. p. 46.] with their
valuablest effects (LA PUCELLE and money-box included); leaving
Madame Denis to wait the disimprisonment of OEUVRE DE POESIE and
wind up the general business. Walk out, very gingerly,--duck into a
hackney-coach; and attempt to escape by the Mainz Gate!
Freytag's spy runs breathless with the news; never was a Freytag in
such taking. Terrified Freytag has to "throw on his coat;"
order out three men to gallop by various routes; jump into some
Excellency's coach (kind Excellency lent it), which is luckily
standing yoked near by; and shoot with the velocity of life and
death towards Mainz Gate. Voltaire, whom the well-affected Porter,
suspecting something, has rather been retarding, is still there:
"Arrested, in the King's name!"--and there is such a scene!
For Freytag, too, is now raging, ignited by such percussion of the
terrors; and speaks, not like what they call "a learned sergeant",
but like a drilled sergeant in heat of battle: Vol- taire's tongue,
also, and Collini's,--"Your Excellenz never heard such brazen-faced
lies thrown on a man; that I had offered, for 1,000 thalers, to let
them go; that I had"-- In short, the thing has caught fire; broken
into flaming chaos again.

"Freytag [to give one snatch from Collini's side] got into the
carriage along with us, and led us, in this way, across the mob of
people to Schmidt's [to see what was to be done with us].
Sentries were put at the gate to keep out the mob; we are led into
a kind of counting-room; clerk, maid- and man-servants are about;
Madam Schmidt passes before Voltaire with a disdainful air, to
listen to Freytag, recounting," in the tone not of a LEARNED
sergeant, what the matter is. They seize our effects; under violent
protest, worse than vain. "Voltaire demands to have at least his
snuffbox, cannot do without snuff; they answer, 'It is usual to
take everything.'

"His," Voltaire's, "eyes were sparkling with fury; from time to
time he lifted them on mine, as if to interrogate me. All on a
sudden, noticing a door half open, he dashes through it, and is
out. Madam Schmidt forms her squad, shopmen and three maid-
servants; and, at their head, rushes after. 'What?' cries he,
(cannot I be allowed to--to vomit, then?'" They form circle round
him, till he do it; call out Collini, who finds him "bent down,
with his fingers in his throat, attempting to vomit; and is
terrified; 'MON DIEU, are you ill, then?' He answered in a low
voice, tears in his eyes, 'FINGO, FINGO (I pretend,'" and Collini
leads him back, RE INFECTA. "The Author of the HENRIADE and MEROPE;
what a spectacle! [Collini, pp. 81, 86.] ... Not for two hours had
they done with their writings and arrangings. Our portfolios and
CASSETTE (money-box) were thrown into an empty trunk [what else
could they be thrown into?]--which was locked with a padlock, and
sealed with a paper, Voltaire's arms on the one end, and Schmidt's
cipher on the other. Dorn, Freytag's Clerk, was bidden lead us
away. Sign of the BOUC" (or BILLY-GOAT; there henceforth; LION D,OR
refusing to be concerned with us farther); twelve soldiers;
Madame Denis with curtains of bayonets,--and other well-known
flagrancies. ... The 7th of July, Voltaire did actually go;
and then in an extreme hurry,--by his own blame, again. These final
passages we touch only in the lump; Voltaire's own Narrative of
these being so copious, flamingly impressive, and still known to
everybody. How much better for Voltaire and us, had nobody ever
known it; had it never been written; had the poor hubbub, no better
than a chance street-riot all of it, after amusing old Frankfurt
for a while, been left to drop into the gutters forever!
To Voltaire and various others (me and my poor readers included),
that was the desirable thing.

Had there but been, among one's resources, a little patience and
practical candor, instead of all that vituperative eloquence and
power of tragi-comic description! Nay, in that case, this wretched
street-riot hubbub need not have been at all. Truly M. de Voltaire
had a talent for speech, but lamentably wanted that of silence!--
We have now only the sad duty of pointing out the principal
mendacities contained in M. de Voltaire's world-famous Account (for
the other side has been heard since that); and so of quitting a
painful business. The principal mendacities--deducting all that
about "POE'ShIE" and the like, which we will define as poetic

1. That of the considerable files of soldiers (almost a Company
of Musketeers, one would think) stuck up round M. de Voltaire and
Party, in THE BILLY-GOAT; Madame Denis's bed-curtains being a
screen of bayonets, and the like. The exact number of soldiers I
cannot learn: "a SCHILDWACHE of the Town-guard [means one;
surely does not mean Four?] for each prisoner," reports the
arithmetical Freytag; which, in the extreme case, would have been
twelve in whole (as Collini gives it); and "next day we reduced
them to two", says Freytag.
2. That of the otherwise frightful night Madame Denis had;
"the fellow Dorn [Freytag's Clerk, a poor, hard-worked frugal
creature, with frugal wife and family not far off] insisting to sit
in the Lady's bedroom; there emptying bottle after bottle; nay at
last [as Voltaire bethinks him, after a few days] threatening to"--
Plainly to EXCEL all belief! A thing not to be spoken of publicly:
indeed, what Lady could speak of it at all, except in hints to an
Uncle of advanced years?--Proved fact being, that Madame Denis, all
in a flutter, that first night at THE BILLY-GOAT, had engaged Dorn,
"for a louis-d'or," to sit in her bedroom; and did actually pay him
a louis-d'or for doing so! This is very bad mendacity;
clearly conscious on M. de Voltaire's part, and even constructed
by degrees.
3. Very bad also is that of the moneys stolen from him by those
Official people. M. de Voltaire knows well enough how he failed to
get his moneys, and quitted Frankfurt in a hurry! Here, inexorably
certain from the Documents, and testimonies on both parts, is that
final Passage of the long Fire-work: last crackle of the rocket
before it dropped perpendicular:--

JULY 6th, complete OPEN-SESAME having come, Freytag and Schmidt
duly invited Voltaire to be present at the opening of seals (his
and theirs), and to have his moneys and effects returned from that
"old trunk" he speaks of. But Voltaire had by this time taken a
higher flight. July 6th, Voltaire was protesting before Notaries,
about the unheard-of violence done him, the signal reparations due;
and disdained, for the moment, to concern himself with moneys or
opening of seals: "Seals, moneys? Ye atrocious Highwaymen!"

Upon which, they sent poor Dorn with the sealed trunk in CORPORE,
to have it opened by Voltaire himself. Collini, in THE BILLY-GOAT,
next morning (July 7th)) says, he (Collini) had just loaded two
journey-pistols, part of the usual carriage-furniture, and they lay
on the table. At sight of poor Dorn darkening his chamber-door,
Voltaire, the prey of various flurries and high-flown vehemences,
snatched one of the pistols ("pistol without powder, without flint,
without lock," says Voltaire; "efficient pistol just loaded",
testifies Collini);--snatched said pistol; and clicking it to the
cock, plunged Dorn-ward, with furious exclamations: not quite
unlikely to have shot Dorn (in the fleshy parts),--had not Collini
hurriedly struck up his hand, "MON DIEU, MONSIEUR!" and Dorn, with
trunk, instantly vanished. Dorn, naturally, ran to a Lawyer.
Voltaire, dreading Trial for intended Homicide, instantly gathered
himself; and shot away, self and Pucelle with Collini, clear off;--
leaving Niece Denis, leaving moneys and other things, to wait till
to-morrow, and settle as they could.

After due lapse of days, in the due legal manner, the Trunk was
opened; "the 19 pounds of expenses" (19 pounds and odd shillings,
not 100 pounds or more, as Voltaire variously gives it) was
accurately taken from it by Schmidt and Freytag, to be paid where
due,--(in exact liquidation, "Landlord of THE BILLY-GOAT" so much,
"Hackney-Coachmen, Riding Constables sent in chase," so much, as
per bill);--and the rest, 76 pounds 10s. was punctually locked up
again, till Voltaire should apply for it. "Send it after him,"
Friedrich answered, when inquired of; "send it after him; but not
[reflects he] unless there is somebody to take his Receipt for
it,"--our gentleman being the man he is. Which case, or any
application from Voltaire, never turned up. "Robbed by those
highwaymen of Prussian Agents!" exclaimed Voltaire everywhere,
instead of applying. Never applied; nor ever forgot. Would fain
have engaged Collini to apply,--especially when the French Armies
had got into Frankfurt,--but Collini did not see his way.
[Three Letters to Collini on the subject (January-May, 1759),
Collini, pp. 208-211.]

So that, except as consolatory scolding-stock for the rest of his
life, Voltaire got nothing of his 76 pounds 10s., "with jewels and
snuffbox," always lying ready in the Trunk for him. And it had, I
suppose, at the long last, to go by RIGHT OF WINDFALL to somebody
or other:--unless, perhaps, it still lie, overwhelmed under dust
and lumber, in the garrets of the old Rathhaus yonder, waiting for
a legal owner? What became of it, no man knows; but that no doit of
it ever went Freytag's or King Friedrich's way, is abundantly
evident. On the whole, what an entertaining Narrative is that of
Voltaire's; but what a pity he had ever written it!

This was the finishing Catastrophe, tragical exceedingly;
which went loud-sounding through the world, and still goes,--the
more is the pity. Catastrophe due throughout to three causes:
FIRST, That Fredersdorf, not Eichel, wrote the Order;
and introduced the indefinite phrase SKRIPTUREN, instead of
sticking by the OEUVRE DE POESIES, the one essential point.
SECOND, That Freytag was of heavy pipe-clay nature. THIRD, That
Voltaire was of impatient explosrve nature; and, in calamities, was
wont, not to be silent and consider, but to lift up his voice
(having such a voice), and with passionate melody appeal to the
Universe, and do worse, by way of helping himself!--

"The poor Voltaire, after all!" ejaculates Smelfungus. "Lean, of no
health, but melodious extremely (in a shallow sense); and truly
very lonely, old and weak, in this world. What an end to Visit
Fifth; began in Olympus, terminates in the Lock-up! His conduct,
except in the Jew Case, has nothing of bad, at least of
unprovokedly bad. 'Lost my teeth,' said he, when things were at
zenith. 'Thought I should never weep again,'--now when they are at
nadir. A sore blow to one's Vanity, in presence of assembled
mankind; and made still more poignant by noises of one's own
adding. France forbidden to him [by expressive signallings];
miraculous Goshen of Prussia shut: (these old eyes, which I thought
would continue dry till they closed forever, were streaming in
tears;'" [Letter from "Mainz, 9th July," third day of rout or
flight; To Niece Denis, left behind ( OEuvres,
lxxv. 220).]--but soon brightened up again: Courage!

How Voltaire now wanders about for several years, doing his
ANNALES, and other Works; now visiting Lyon City (which is all in
GAUDEAMUS round him, though Cardinal Tencin does decline him as
dinner-guest); now lodging with Dom Calmet in the Abbey of Senones
(ultimately in one's own first-floor, in Colmar near by), digging,
in Calmet's Benedictine Libraries, stuff for his ANNALES;--
wandering about (chiefly in Elsass, latterly on the Swiss Border),
till he find rest for the sole of his foot: [Purchased LES DELICES
(The Delights), as he named it, a glorious Summer Residence, on the
Lake, near Geneva (supplemented by a Winter ditto, MONRION, near
Lausanne), "in Febrnary, 1755" ( OEuvres,
xvii. 243 n.);--then purchased FERNEY, not far off, "in October,
1758;" and continued there, still more glorious, for almost twenty
years thenceforth (ib. lxxvii. 398, xxxix. 307: thank the exact
"Clog." for both these Notes).] all this may be known to readers;
and we must say nothing of it. Except only that, next year, in his
tent, or hired lodgings at Colmar, the Angels visited him (Abraham-
like, after a sort). Namely, that one evening (late in October,
1754), a knock came to his door, "Her Serene Highness of Baireuth
wishes to see you, at the Inn over there!" "Inn, Baireuth, say you?
Heavens, what?"--Or, to take it in the prose form:--

"January 26th, 1753, about eight P.M. [while Voltaire sat desolate
in Francheville's, far away], the Palace at Baireuth,--Margraf with
candle at an open window, and gauze curtains near--had caught fire;
inexorably flamed up, and burnt itself to ashes, it and other fine
edifices adjoining. [Holle, STADT BAYREUTH (Bayreuth, 1833),
p. 178.] Wilhelmina is always very ill in health; they are now
rebuilding their Palace: Margraf has suggested, 'Why not try
Montpellier; let us have a winter there!' On that errand they are
(end of October, 1754) got the length of Colmar; and do the
Voltaire miracle in passing. Very charming to the poor man, in his
rustication here.

"'Eight hours in a piece, with the Sister of the King of Prussia"
writes he: think of that, my friends! 'She loaded me with bounties;
made me a most beautiful present. Insisted to see my Niece;
would have me go with them to Montpellier.' [Letters (in
OEuvres, lxxv. 450, 452), "Colmar, 23d October, &c.
1754."] Other interviews and meetings they had, there and farther
on: Voltaire tried for the Montpellier; but could not. [Wrote to
Friedrich about it (one of his first Letters after the Explosion),
applying to Friedrich "for a Passport" or Letter of Protection;
which Friedrich answers by De Prades, openly laughing at it
( OEuvres, xxiii. 6).] Wilhelmina wintered at
Montpellier, without Voltaire "Thank your stars!' writes Friedrich
to her. The Friedrich-Wilhelmina LETTERS are at their best during
this Journey; here unfortunately very few). [ OEuvres de
Frederic, xxvii. iii. 248-273 (September, 1754, and
onwards).] Winter done, Wilhelmina went still South, to Italy, to
Naples, back by Venice:--at Naples, undergoing the Grotto del Cane
and neighborhood, Wilhelmina plucked a Sprig of Laurel from
Virgil's Grave, and sent it to her Brother in the prettiest
manner;--is home at Baireuth, new Palace ready, August, 1755."

These points, hurriedly put down, careful readers will mark, and
perhaps try to keep in mind. Wilhelmina's Tourings are not without
interest to her friends. Of her Voltaire acquaintanceship,
especially, we shall hear again. With Voltaire, Friedrich himself
had no farther Correspondence, or as good as none, for four years
and more. What Voltaire writes to him (with Gifts of Books and the
like, in the tenderest regretful pathetically COOING tone, enough
to mollify rocks), Friedrich usually answers by De Prades, if at
all,--in a quite discouraging manner. In the end of 1757, on what
hint we shall see, the Correspondence recommenced, and did not
cease again so long as they both lived.

Voltaire at Potsdam is a failure, then. Nothing to be made of that.
Law is reformed; Embden has its Shipping Companies;
Industry flourishes: but as to the Trismegistus of the Muses coming
to our Hearth--! Some Eight of Friedrich's years were filled by
these Three grand Heads of Effort; perfect Peace in all his
borders: and in 1753 we see how the celestial one of them has gone
to wreck. "Understand at last, your Majesty, that there is no
Muses'-Heaven possible on Telluric terms; and cast that notion out
of your head!"

Friedrich does cast it out, more and more, henceforth,--"ACH, MEIN
LIEBER SULZER, what was your knowledge, then, of that damned race?"
Casts it out, we perceive,--and in a handsome silently stoical way.
Cherishing no wrath in his heart against any poor devil; still, in
some sort, loving this and the other of them; Chasot, Algarotti,
Voltaire even, who have gone from him, too weak for the place:
"Too weak, alas, yes; and I, was I wise to try them, then?" With a
fine humanity, new hope inextinguishably welling up; really with a
loyalty, a modesty, a cheery brother manhood unexpected by readers.

Eight of the Eleven Peace Years are gone in these courses. The next
three, still silent and smooth to the outward eye, were defaced by
subterranean mutterings, electric heralds of coming storm.
"Meaning battle and wrestle again?" thinks Friedrich, listening

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest