Part 4 out of 7
JUNE 9th, 1771. "This Year the Stande of the Kurmark find they have
an overplus of 100,000 thalers (15,000 pounds); which sum they do
themselves the pleasure of presenting to the King for his Majesty's
uses." King cannot accept it for his own uses. "This money,"
answers he (9th June), "comes from the Province, wherefore I feel
bound to lay it out again for advantage of the Province. Could not
it become a means of getting English husbandry [TURNIPS in
particular, whether short-horns or not, I do not know] introduced
among us? In the Towns that follow Farming chiefly, or in Villages
belonging to unmoneyed Nobles, we will lend out this 15,000 pounds,
at 4 per cent, in convenient sums for that object: hereby will
turnip-culture and rotation be vouchsafed us; interest at 4 per
cent brings us in 600 pounds annually; and this we will lay out in
establishing new Schoolmasters in the Kurmark, and having the youth
better educated." What a pretty idea; neat and beautiful, killing
two important birds with one most small stone! I have known
enormous cannon-balls and granite blocks, torrent after torrent,
shot out under other kinds of Finance-gunnery, that were not only
less respectable, but that were abominable to me in comparison.
Unluckily, no Nobles were found inclined; English Husbandry
["TURNIPSE" and the rest of it] had to wait their time. The King
again writes: "No Nobles to be found, say you? Well; put the 15,000
pounds to interest in the common way,--that the Schoolmasters at
least may have solacement: I will add 120 thalers (18 pounds)
apiece, that we may have a chance of getting better Schoolmasters;
--send me List of the Places where the worst are." List was sent;
is still extant; and on the margin of it, in Royal Autograph,
"The Places are well selected. The bad Schoolmasters are mostly
Tailors; and you must see whether they cannot be got removed to
little Towns, and set to tailoring again, or otherwise disposed of,
that our Schools might the sooner rise into good condition, which
is an interesting thing." "Eager always our Master is to have the
Schooling of his People improved and everywhere diffused," writes,
some years afterwards, the excellent Zedlitz, officially "Minister
of Public Justice," but much and meritoriously concerned with
School matters as well. The King's ideas were of the best, and
Zedlitz sometimes had fine hopes; but the want of funds was
"In 1779," says Preuss, "there came a sad blow to Zedlitz's hopes:
Minister von Brenkenhof [deep in West-Preussen canal-diggings and
expenditures] having suggested, That instead of getting Pensions,
the Old Soldiers should be put to keeping School." Do but fancy it;
poor old fellows, little versed in scholastics hitherto!
"Friedrich, in his pinch, grasped at the small help; wrote to the
War-Department: 'Send me a List of Invalids who are fit [or at
least fittest] to be Schoolmasters.' And got thereupon a list of
74, and afterwards 5 more [79 Invalids in all]; War-Department
adding, That besides these scholastic sort, there were 741 serving
as BUDNER [Turnpike-keepers, in a sort], as Forest-watchers and the
like; and 3,443 UNVERSORGT" (shifting for themselves, no provision
made for them at all),--such the check, by cold arithmetic and
inexorable finance, upon the genial current of the soul!--
The TURNIPS, I believe, got gradually in; and Brandenburg, in our
day, is a more and more beautifully farmed Country. Nor were the
Schoolmasters unsuccessful at all points; though I cannot report a
complete educational triumph on those extremely limited terms.
[Preuss, iii. 115, 113, &c.]
Queen Ulrique left, I think, on the 9th of August, 1772; there is
sad farewell in Friedrich's Letter next day to Princess Sophie
Albertine, the Queen's Daughter, subsequently Abbess of
Quedlinburg: he is just setting out on his Silesian Reviews;
"shall, too likely, never see your good Mamma again."
["Potsdam, 10th August, 1772:"
while he rushes through it on this errand,--"past the Princess
Amelia's window," in the dead of night; and takes to humming tender
strophes to her too; which gain a new meaning by their date. ["A MA
SOEUR AMELIE, EN PASSANT, LA NUIT, SOUS SA FENETRE, POUR ALLER EN
SILESIE (AOUT 1772):"
Ten days afterwards (19th August, 1772),--Queen Ulrique not yet
home,--her Son, the spirited King Gustav III., at Stockholm had
made what in our day is called a "stroke of state,"--put a thorn in
the snout of his monster of a Senate, namely: "Less of palaver,
venality and insolence, from you, Sirs; we 'restore the
Constitution of 1680,' and are something of a King again!"
Done with considerable dexterity and spirit; not one person killed
or hurt. And surely it was the muzzling-up of a great deal of folly
on their side,--provided only there came wisdom enough from Gustav
himself instead. But, alas, there did not, there hardly could.
His Uncle was alarmed, and not a little angry for the moment:
"You had two Parties to reconcile; a work of time, of patient
endeavor, continual and quiet; no good possible till then.
And instead of that--!" Gustav, a shining kind of man, showed no
want of spirit, now or afterwards: but he leant too much on France
and broken reeds;--and, in the end, got shot in the back by one of
those beautiful "Nobles" of his, and came to a bad conclusion, they
and he. ["16th-29th March, 1792," death of Gustav III. by that
assassination: "13th March, 1809," his Son Gustav IV, has to go on
his travels; "Karl XIII.," a childless Uncle, succeeds for a few
years: after whom &c.] Scandinavian Politics, thank Heaven, are
none of our business.
Queen Ulrique was spared all these catastrophes. She had alarmed
her Brother by a dangerous illness, sudden and dangerous, in 1775;
who writes with great anxiety about it, to Another still more
anxious: [See "Correspondence with Gustav III." (in
OEuvres de Frederic,
got well again; but it did not last very long. July 16th, 1782, she
died;--and the sad Friedrich had to say, Adieu. Alas, "must the
eldest of us mourn, then, by the grave of those younger!"
WILHELMINA'S DAUGHTER, ELIZABETH FREDERIKE SOPHIE, DUCHESS
OF WURTEMBERG, APPEARS AT FERNEY (September, 1773).
Of our dear Wilhelmina's high and unfortunate Daughter there should
be some Biography; and there will surely, if a man of sympathy and
faculty pass that way; but there is not hitherto. Nothing hitherto
but a few bare dates; bare and sternly significant, as on a
Tombstone; indicating that she had a History, and that it was a
tragic one. Welcome to all of us, in this state of matters, is the
following one clear emergence of her into the light of day, and in
company so interesting too! Seven years before her death she had
gone to Lausanne (July, 1773) to consult Tissot, a renowned
Physician of those days. From Lausanne, after two months, she
visited Voltaire at Ferney. Read this Letter of Voltaire's:--
TO ELIZABETH FREDERIKE SOPHIE, DUCHESS OF WURTEMBERG
"FEENEY, 10th July, 1773.
"MADAM,--I am informed that your most Serene Highness has deigned
to remember that I was in the world. It is very sad to be there,
without paying you my court. I never felt so cruelly the sad state
to which old age and maladies have reduced me.
"I never saw you except as a child [1743, her age then 10]: but you
were certainly the beautifulest child in Europe. May you be the
happiest Princess [alas!], as you deserve to be! I was attached to
Madam the Margravine [your dear Mother] with equal devotedness and
respect; and I had the honor to be pretty deep in her confidence,
for some time before this world, which was not worthy of her, had
lost that adorable Princess. You resemble her;--but don't resemble
her in--feebleness of health! You are in the flower of your age
[coming forty, I should fear]: let such bright flower lose nothing
of its splendor; may your happiness be able to equal [PUISSO
EGALER] your beauty; may all your days be serene, and the sweets of
friendship add a new charm to them! These are my wishes; they are
as lively as my regrets at not being at your feet. What a
consolation it would be for me to speak of your loving Mother, and
of all your august relatives! Why must Destiny send you to Lausanne
[consulting Dr. Tissot there], and hinder me from flying thither!--
Let your most Serene Highness deign to accept the profound respect
of the old moribund Philosopher of Ferney.--V." [
The Answer of the Princess, or farther Correspondence on the
matter, is not given; evident only that by and by, as Voltaire
himself will inform us, she did appear at Ferney;--and a certain
Swedish tourist, one Bjornstahl, who met her there, enables us even
to give the date. He reports this anecdote:--
"At supper, on the evening of 7th September, 1773, the Princess sat
next to Voltaire, who always addressed her 'VOTRE ALTESSE.' At last
the Duchess said to him, 'TU ES ANON PAPA, JE SUIS TA FILLE, ET JE
VOUZ ETRE APPELEE TA FILLE.' Voltaire took a pencil from his
pocket, asked for a card, and wrote upon it:--
Vous me donnez la premiere des places;
Quelle famille j'aurais la!
Je serais le pere des Graces'
He gave the card to the Princess, who embraced and kissed him for
(Hamburg, 1853), xxv. 252, 253.]
VOLTAIRE TO FRIEDRICH (a fortnight after).
"FERNEY, 22d September, 1773.
"I must tell you that I have felt, in these late days, in spite of
all my past caprices, how much I am attached to your Majesty and to
your House. Madam the Duchess of Wurtemberg having had, like so
many others, the weakness to believe that health is to be found at
Lausanne, and that Dr. Tissot gives it if one pay him, has, as you
know, made the journey to Lausanne; and I, who am more veritably
ill than she, and than all the Princesses who have taken Tissot for
an AEsculapius, had not the strength to leave my home. Madam of
Wurtemberg, apprised of all the feelings that still live in me for
the memory of Madam the Margravine of Baireuth her Mother, has
deigned to visit my hermitage, and pass two days with us. I should
have recognized her, even without warning; she has the turn of her
Mother's face with your eyes.
"You Hero-people who govern the world don't allow yourselves to be
subdued by feelings; you have them all the same as we, but you
maintain your decorum. We other petty mortals yield to all our
impressions: I set myself to cry, in speaking to her of you and of
Madam the Princess her Mother; and she too, though she is Niece of
the first Captain in Europe, could not restrain her tears.
It appears to me, that she has the talent (ESPRIT) and the graces
of your House; and that especially she is more attached to you than
to her Husband [I should think so!]. She returns, I believe,
--[No Mother, no Father there now: foolish Uncle of Anspath died
long ago, "3d August, 1757:" Aunt Dowager of Anspach gone to
Erlangen, I hope, to Feuchtwang, Schwabach or Schwaningen, or some
Widow's-Mansion "WITTWENSITZ" of her own; [Lived, finally at
Schwaningen, in sight of such vicissitudes and follies round her,
till "4th February, 1784" (Rodenbeck, iii. 304).] reigning Son,
with his French-Actress equipments, being of questionable
--"returns, I believe, to Baireuth; where she will find
another Princess of a different sort; I mean Mademoiselle Clairon,
who cultivates Natural History, and is Lady Philosopher to
Monseigneur the Margraf,"--high-rouged Tragedy-Queen, rather
tyrannous upon him, they say: a young man destined to adorn
Hammersmith by and by, and not go a good road.
... "I renounce my beautiful hopes of seeing the Mahometans driven
out of Europe, and Athens become again the Seat of the Muses.
Neither you nor the Kaiser are"--are inclined in the Crusading way
at all. ... "The old sick man of Ferney is always at the feet of
your Majesty; he feels very sorry that he cannot talk of you
farther with Madam the Duchess of Wurtemberg, who adores you.--
LE VIEUX MALADE." [
To which Friedrich makes answer: "If it is forevermore forbidden me
to see you again, I am not the less glad that the Duchess of
Wurtemberg has seen you. I should certainly have mixed my tears
with yours, had I been present at that touching scene! Be it
weakness, be it excess of regard, I have built for her lost Mother,
what Cicero projected for his Tullia, a TEMPLE OF FRIENDSHIP: her
Statue occupies the background, and on each pillar stands a mask
(MASCARON) containing the Bust of some Hero in Friendship: I send
you the drawing of it." ["Potsdam, 24th October, 1773:"
OEuvres de Frederic,
in 1768 (Ib. p. 259 n.).] Which again sets Voltaire weeping, and
will the Duchess when she sees it. [Voltaire's next Letter:
We said there hitherto was nearly nothing anywhere discoverable as
History of this high Lady but the dates only; these we now give.
She was "born 30th August, 1732,"--her Mother's and Father's one
Child;--four years older than her Anspach Cousin, who inherited
Baireuth too, and finished off that genealogy. She was "wedded 26th
September, 1748;" her age then about 16; her gloomy Duke of
Wurtemberg, age 20, all sunshine and goodness to her then: she was
"divorced in 1757:" "died 6th April, 1780,"--Tradition says, "in
great poverty [great for her rank, I suppose, proud as she might
be, and above complaining],--at Neustadt-on-the-Aisch" (in the
Nurnberg region), whither she had retired, I know not how long
after her Papa's death and Cousin's accession. She is bound for her
Cousin's Court, we observe, just now; and, considering her Cousin's
ways and her own turn of mind, it is easy to fancy she had not a
pleasant time there.
Tradition tells us, credibly enough, "She was very like her Mother:
beautiful, much the lady (VON FEINEM TON), and of energetic
character;" and adds, probably on slight foundation, "but very cold
and proud towards the people." [Vehse, xxv. 251.] Many Books will
inform you how, "On first entering Stuttgard, when the reigning
Duke and she were met by a party of congratulatory peasant women
dressed in their national costume, she said to her Duke," being
then only sixteen, poor young soul, and on her marriage-journey,
"'WAS WILL DAS GESCHMEISS (Why does that rabble bore us)!'" This is
probably the main foundation. That "her Ladies, on approaching her,
had always to kiss the hem of her gown," lay in the nature of the
case, being then the rule to people of her rank.
Beautiful Unfortunate, adieu:--and be Voltaire thanked, too!--
It is long since we have seen Voltaire before:--a prosperous Lord
at Ferney these dozen years ("the only man in France that lives
like a GRAND SEIGNEUR," says Cardinal Bernis to him once [Their
CORRESPONDENCE, really pretty of its kind, used to circulate as a
separate Volume in the years then subsequent.]); doing great things
for the Pays de Gex and for France, and for Europe; delivering the
Calases, the Sirvens and the Oppressed of various kinds;
especially ardent upon the INFAME, as the real business Heaven has
assigned him in his Day, the sunset of which, and Night wherein no
man can work, he feels to be hastening on. "Couldn't we, the few
Faithful, go to Cleve in a body?" thinks he at one time: "To Cleve;
and there, as from a safe place, under the Philosopher King, shoot
out our fiery artilleries with effect?" The Philosopher King is
perfectly willing, "provided you don't involve me in Wars with my
neighbors." Willing enough he; but they the Faithful--alas, the
Patriarch finds that they have none of his own heroic ardor, and
that the thing cannot be done. Upon which, "struck with sorrow,"
say his Biographers, "he writes nothing to Friedrich for two
years." ["Nov. 1769," recommences (
The truth is, he is growing very old; and though a piercing
radiance, as of stars, bursts occasionally from the central part of
him, the outworks are getting decayed and dim; obstruction more and
more accumulating, and the immeasurable Night drawing nigh.
Well does Voltaire himself, at all moments, know this; and his
bearing under it, one must say, is rather beautiful. There is a
tenderness, a sadness, in these his later Letters to Friedrich;
instead of emphasis or strength, a beautiful shrill melody, as of a
woman, as of a child; he grieves unappeasably to have lost
Friedrich; never will forgive Maupertuis:--poor old man!
Friedrich answers in a much livelier, more robust tone: friendly,
encouraging, communicative on small matters;--full of praises,--in
fact, sincerely glad to have such a transcendent genius still alive
with him in this world. Praises to the most liberal pitch
everything of Voltaire's,--except only the Article on WAR, which
occasionally (as below) he quizzes a little, to the Patriarch or
As we have room for nothing of all this, and perhaps shall not see
Voltaire again,--there are Two actual Interviews with him, which,
being withal by Englishmen, though otherwise not good for much, we
intend for readers here. In these last twenty years D'Alembert is
Friedrich's chief Correspondent. Of D'Alembert to the King, it may
be or may not, some opportunity will rise for a specimen; meanwhile
here is a short Letter of the King's to D'Alembert, through which
there pass so many threads of contemporaneous flying events (swift
shuttles on the loud-sounding Loom of Time), that we are tempted to
give this, before the two Interviews in question.
Date of the Letter is two months after that apparition of the
Duchess of Wurtemberg at Ferney. Of "Crillon," an ingenious enough
young Soldier, rushing ardently about the world in his holiday
time, we have nothing to say, except that he is Son of that
Rossbach Crillon, who always fancies to himself that once he
perhaps spared Friedrich's life (by a glass of wine judiciously
given) long since, while the Bridge of Weissenfels was on fire, and
Rossbach close ahead. [Supra, x. 6.] Colonel "Guibert" is another
Soldier, still young, but of much superior type; greatly an admirer
of Friedrich, and subsequently a Writer upon him. [Of Guibert's
visit to Friedrich (June, 1773), see Preuss, iv. 214; Rodenbeck,
In regard to the "Landgravine of Darmstadt," notice these points.
First, that her eldest Daughter is Wife, second Wife, to the
dissolute Crown-Prince of Prussia; and then, that she has Three
other Daughters,--one of whom has just been disposed of in an
important way; wedded to the Czarowitsh Paul of Russia, namely.
By Friedrich's means and management, as Friedrich informs us.
JUSQU'A 1775), vi. 57.] The Czarina, he says, had sent out a
confidential Gentleman, one Asseburg, who was Prussian by birth, to
seek a fit Wife for her Son: Friedrich, hearing of this, suggested
to Asseburg, "The Landgravine of Darmstadt, the most distinguished
and accomplished of German Princesses, has three marriageable
Daughters; her eldest, married to our Crown-Prince, will be Queen
of Prussia in time coming;--suppose now, one of the others were to
be Czarina of Russia withal? Think, might it not be useful both to
your native Country and to your adopted?" Asseburg took the hint;
reported at Petersburg, That of all marriageable Princesses in
Germany, the Three of Darmstadt, one or the other of them, would,
in his humble opinion, be the eligiblest. "Could not we persuade
you to come to Petersburg, Madam Landgravine?" wrote the Czarina
thereupon: "Do us the honor of a visit, your three Princesses and
you!" The Landgravine and Daughters, with decent celerity, got
under way; [Passed through Berlin 16th-19th May, 1773: Rodenbeck,
iii. 78.] Czarowitsh Paul took interesting survey, on their
arrival; and about two months ago wedded the middle one of the
three:--and here is the victorious Landgravine bringing home the
other two. Czarowitsh's fair one did not live long, nor behave
well: died of her first child; and Czarowitsh, in 1776, had to
apply to us again for a Wife, whom this time we fitted better.
Happily, the poor victorious Landgravine was gone before anything
of this; she died suddenly five months hence; [30th March, 1774.]
nothing doubting of her Russian Adventure. She was an admired
Princess of her time, DIE GROSSE LANDGRAFIN, as Goethe somewhere
calls her; much in Friedrich's esteem,--FEMINA SEXU, INGENIO VIR,
as the Monument he raised to her at Darmstadt still bears.
His CORRESPONDENCE with her is Ib. xxvii ii. 135-153; and goes from
1757 to 1774.]
FRIEDRICH TO D'ALEMBERT.
"POTSDAM, 16th December, 1773.
"M. de Crillon delivered me your CRILLONADE [lengthy Letter of
introduction]; which has completed me in the History of all the
Crillons of the County of Avignon. He does n't stop here; he is
soon to be off for Russia; so that I will take him on your word,
and believe him the wisest of all the Crillons: assuring myself
that you have measured and computed all his curves, and angles of
incidence. He will find Diderot and Grimm in Russia [famous visit
of Diderot], all occupied with the Czarina's beautiful reception of
them, and with the many things worthy of admiration which they have
seen there. Some say Grimm will possibly fix himself in that
Country [chose better],--which will be the asylum at once of your
fanatic CHAUMEIXES and of the ENCYCLOPEDISTES, whom he used to
denounce. [This poor Chaumeix did, after such feats, "die peaceably
at Moscow, as a Schoolmaster."]
"M. de Guibert has gone by Ferney; where it is said Voltaire has
converted him, that is, has made him renounce the errors of
ambition, abjure the frightful trade of hired manslayer, with
intent to become either Capuchin or Philosophe; so that I suppose
by this time he will have published a 'Declaration' like Gresset,
informing the public That, having had the misfortune to write a
Work on Tactics, he repented it from the bottom of his soul, and
hereby assured mankind that never more in his life would he give
rules for butcheries, assassinations, feints, stratagems or the
like abominations. As to me, my conversion not being yet in an
advanced stage, I pray you to give me details about Guibert's, to
soften my heart and penetrate my bowels.
"We have the Landgravine of Darmstadt here: [Rodenbeck, iii. 89,
90.] no end to the Landgravine's praises of a magnificent Czarina,
and of all the beautiful and grand things she has founded in that
Country. As to us, who live like mice in their holes, news come to
us only from mouth to mouth, and the sense of hearing is nothing
like that of sight. I cherish my wishes, in the mean while, for the
sage Anaxagoras [my D'Alembert himself]; and I say to Urania, 'It
is for thee to sustain thy foremost Apostle, to maintain one light,
without which a great Kingdom [France] would sink into darkness;'
and I say to the Supreme Demiurgus: 'Have always the good
D'Alembert in thy holy and worthy keeping.'--F." [
THE BOSTON TEA (same day). Curious to remark, while Friedrich is
writing this Letter, "THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16th, 1773," what a
commotion is going on, far over seas, at Boston, New England,--in
the "Old South Meeting-house" there; in regard to three English Tea
Ships that are lying embargoed in Griffin's Wharf for above a
fortnight past. The case is well known, and still memorable to
mankind. British Parliament, after nine years of the saddest
haggling and baffling to and fro, under Constitutional stress of
weather, and such east-winds and west-winds of Parliamentary
eloquence as seldom were, has made up its mind, That America shall
pay duty on these Teas before infusing them: and America, Boston
more especially, is tacitly determined that it will not; and that,
to avoid mistakes, these Teas shall never be landed at all. Such is
Boston's private intention, more or less fixed;--to say nothing of
the Philadelphias, Charlestons, New Yorks, who are watching Boston,
and will follow suit of it.
"Sunday, November 26th,--that is, nineteen days ago,--the first of
these Tea Ships, the DARTMOUTH, Captain Hall, moored itself in
Griffin's Wharf: Owner and Consignee is a broad-brimmed Boston
gentleman called Rotch, more attentive to profits of trade than to
the groans of Boston:--but already on that Sunday, much more on the
Monday following, there had a meeting of Citizens run together,--
(on Monday, Faneuil Hall won't hold them, and they adjourn to the
Old South Meeting-house),--who make it apparent to Rotch that it
will much behoove him, for the sake both of tea and skin, not to
'enter' (or officially announce) this Ship DARTMOUTH at the Custom-
house in any wise; but to pledge his broad-brimmed word, equivalent
to his oath, that she shall lie dormant there in Griffin's Wharf,
till we see. Which, accordingly, she has been doing ever since;
she and two others that arrived some days later; dormant all three
of them, side by side, three crews totally idle; a 'Committee of
Ten' supervising Rotch's procedures; and the Boston world much
expectant. Thursday, December 16th: this is the 20th day since
Rotch's DARTMOUTH arrived here; if not 'entered' at Custom-house in
the course of this day, Custom-house cannot give her a 'clearance'
either (a leave to depart),--she becomes a smuggler, an outlaw, and
her fate is mysterious to Rotch and us.
"This Thursday accordingly, by 10 in the morning, in the Old South
Meeting-house, Boston is assembled, and country-people to the
number of 2,000;--and Rotch never was in such a company of human
Friends before. They are not uncivil to him (cautious people,
heedful of the verge of the Law); but they are peremptory, to the
extent of--Rotch may shudder to think what. "I went to the Custom-
house yesterday,' said Rotch, 'your Committee of Ten can bear me
witness; and demanded clearance and leave to depart; but they would
not; were forbidden, they said!' 'Go, then, sir; get you to the
Governor himself; a clearance, and out of harbor this day: had n't
you better?' Rotch is well aware that he had; hastens off to the
Governor (who has vanished to his Country-house, on purpose);
Old South Meeting-house adjourning till 3 P.M., for Rotch's return
"At 3 no Rotch, nor at 4, nor at 5; miscellaneous plangent
intermittent speech instead, mostly plangent, in tone sorrowful
rather than indignant:--at a quarter to 6, here at length is Rotch;
sun is long since set,--has Rotch a clearance or not? Rotch reports
at large, willing to be questioned and cross-questioned:
'Governor absolutely would not! My Christian friends, what could I
or can I do?' There are by this time about 7,000 people in Old
South Meeting-house, very few tallow-lights in comparison,--almost
no lights for the mind either,--and it is difficult to answer.
Rotch's report done, the Chairman [one Adams, "American Cato,"
subsequently so called] dissolves the sorrowful 7,000, with these
words: 'This Meeting declares that it can do nothing more to save
the Country.' Will merely go home, then, and weep. Hark, however:
almost on the instant, in front of Old South Meeting-house, (a
terrific War-whoop; and about fifty Mohawk Indians,'--with whom
Adams seems to be acquainted; and speaks without
"And, sure enough, before the stroke of 7, these fifty painted
Mohawks are forward, without noise, to Griffin's Wharf; have put
sentries all round there; and, in a great silence of the
neighborhood, are busy, in three gangs, upon the dormant Tea Ships;
opening their chests, and punctually shaking them out into the sea.
'Listening from the distance, you could hear distinctly the ripping
open of the chests, and no other sound.' About 10 P.M. all was
finished: 342 chests of tea flung out to infuse in the Atlantic;
the fifty Mohawks gone like a dream; and Boston sleeping more
silently even than usual." ["Summary of the Advices from America"
27); Bancroft, iii. 536 et seq.]
"Seven in the evening:" this, I calculate, allowing for the Earth's
rotation, will be about the time when Friedrich, well tired with
the day's business, is getting to bed; by 10 on the Boston clocks,
when the process finishes there, Friedrich will have had the best
of his sleep over. Here is Montcalm's Prophecy coming to
fulfilment;--and a curious intersection of a flying Event through
one's poor LETTER TO D'ALEMBERT. We will now give the two English
Interviews with Voltaire; one of which is of three years past,
another of three years ahead.
No. 1. DR BURNEY HAS SIGHT OF VOLTAIRE (July, 1770).
In the years 1770-1771, Burney, then a famous DOCTOR OF MUSIC, made
his TOUR through France and Italy, on Musical errands and
researches: [Charles Burney's
France and Italy, being the Journal of a Tour through those
Countries to collect Materials for a General History of Music
followed duly, in Four 4tos (London, 1776-1789).] with these we
have no concern, but only with one most small exceptional offshoot
or episode which grew out of these. Enough for us to know that
Burney, a comfortable, well-disposed, rather dull though vivacious
Doctor, age near 45, had left London for Paris "in June, 1770;"
that he was on to Geneva, intending for Turin, "early in July;"
and that his "M. Fritz," mentioned below, is a veteran Brother in
Music, settled at Geneva for the last thirty years, who has been
helpful and agreeable to Burney while here. Our Excerpt therefore
dates itself, "one of the early days of July, 1770,"--Burney
hovering between two plans (as we shall dimly perceive), and not
exactly executing either:--
.... "My going to M. Fritz broke [was about breaking, but did not
quite] into a plan which I had formed of visiting M. de Voltaire,
at the same hour, along with some other strangers, who were then
going to Ferney. But, to say the truth, besides the visit to
M. Fritz being more MY BUSINESS, I did not much like going with
these people, who had only a Geneva Bookseller to introduce them;
and I had heard that some English had lately met with a rebuff from
M. de Voltaire, by going without any letter of recommendation, or
anything to recommend themselves. He asked them What they wanted?
Upon their replying That they wished only to see so extraordinary a
man, he said: 'Well, gentlemen, you now see me: did you take me for
a wild beast or monster, that was fit only to be stared at as a
show?' This story very much frightened me; for, not having, when I
left London, or even Paris, any intention of going to Geneva, I was
quite unprovided with a recommendation. However, I was determined
to see the place of his residence, which I took to be [still LES
CETTE MAISON D'ARISTIPPE, CES JARDINS D'PICURE,
to which he retired in 1755; but was mistaken [not The DELICES now
at all, but Ferney, for nine or ten years back].
"I drove to Ferney alone, after I had left M. Fritz. This House is
three or four miles from Geneva, but near the Lake. I approached it
with reverence, and a curiosity of the most minute kind. I inquired
WHEN I first trod on his domain; I had an intelligent and talkative
postilion, who answered all my questions very satisfactorily.
M. de Voltaire's estate is very large here, and he is building
pretty farm-houses upon it. He has erected on the Geneva side a
quadrangular JUSTICE, or Gallows, to show that he is the SEIGNEUR.
One of his farms, or rather manufacturing houses,--for he is
establishing a manufacture upon his estate,--was so handsome that I
thought it was his chateau.
"We drove to Ferney, through a charming country, covered with corn
and vines, in view of the Lake, and Mountains of Gex, Switzerland
and Savoy. On the left hand, approaching the House, is a neat
Chapel with this inscription:--
'DEO EREXIT VOLTAIRE MDCCLXI.'
I sent to inquire, Whether a stranger might be allowed to see the
House and Gardens; and was answered in the affirmative. A servant
soon came, and conducted me into the cabinet or closet where his
Master had just been writing: this is never shown when he is at
home; but having walked out, I was allowed that privilege.
From thence I passed to the Library, which is not a very large one,
but well filled. Here I found a whole-length Figure in marble of
himself, recumbent, in one of the windows; and many curiosities in
another room; a Bust of himself, made not two years since;
his Mother's picture; that of his Niece, Madam Denis; his Brother,
M. Dupuis; the Calas Family; and others. It is a very neat and
elegant House; not large, nor affectedly decorated.
"I should first have remarked, that close to the Chapel, between
that and the house, is the Theatre, which he built some years ago;
where he treated his friends with some of his own Tragedies: it is
now only used as a receptacle for wood and lumber, there having
been no play acted in it these four years. The servant told me his
Master was 78 [76 gone], but very well. 'IL TRAVAILLE,' said he,
'PENDANT DIX HEURES CHAQUE JOUR, He studies ten hours every day;
writes constantly without spectacles, and walks out with only a
domestic, often a mile or two--ET LE VOILA, LA BAS, And see, yonder
"He was going to his workmen. My heart leaped at the sight of so
extraordinary a man. He had just then quitted his Garden, and was
crossing the court before his House. Seeing my chaise, and me on
the point of mounting it, he made a sign to his servant who had
been my CICERONE, to go to him; in order, I suppose, to inquire who
I was. After they had exchanged a few words together, he," M. de
Voltaire, "approached the place where I was standing motionless, in
order to contemplate his person as much as I could while his eyes
were turned from me; but on seeiug him move towards me, I found
myself drawn by some irresistible power towards him; and, without
knowing what I did, I insensibly met him half-way.
"It is not easy to conceive it possible for life to subsist in a
form so nearly composed of mere skin and bone as that of M. de
Voltaire." Extremely lean old Gentleman! "He complained of
decrepitude, and said, He supposed I was anxious to form an idea of
the figure of one walking after death. However, his eyes and whole
countenance are still full of fire; and though so emaciated, a more
lively expression cannot be imagined.
"He inquired after English news; and observed that Poetical
squabbles had given way to Political ones; but seemed to think the
spirit of opposition as necessary in poetry as in politics.
litterature, comme dans un gouvernement libre les querelles des
grands, et les clameurs des petits, sont necessaires a la liberte.'
much prove the Age to be correct, as dull.' He inquired what Poets
we had now; I told him we had Mason and Gray. 'They write but
little,' said he: 'and you seem to have no one who lords it over
the rest, like Dryden, Pope and Swift.' I told him that it was one
of the inconveniences of Periodical Journals, however well
executed, that they often silenced modest men of genius, while
impudent blockheads were impenetrable, and unable to feel the
critic's scourge: that Mr. Gray and Mr. Mason had both been
illiberally treated by mechanical critics, even in newspapers;
and added, that modesty and love of quiet seemed in these gentlemen
to have got the better even of their love of fame.
"During this conversation, we approached the buildings that he was
constructing near the road to his Chateau. 'These,' said he,
pointing to them, 'are the most innocent, and perhaps the most
useful, of all my works.' I observed that he had other works, which
were of far more extensive use, and would be much more durable,
than those. He was so obliging as to show me several farm-houses
that he had built, and the plans of others: after which I took my
(London, 1773), pp. 55-62.
NO. 2. A REVEREND MR. SHERLOCK SEES VOLTAIRE, AND EVEN
DINES WITH HIM (April, 1776).
Sherlock's Book of TRAVELS, though he wrote it in two languages,
and it once had its vogue, is now little other than a Dance of
Will-o'-wisps to us. A Book tawdry, incoherent, indistinct, at once
flashy and opaque, full of idle excrescences and exuberances;--as
is the poor man himself. He was "Chaplain to the Earl of Bristol,
Bishop of Derry;" gyrating about as ecclesiastical Moon to that
famed Solar Luminary, what could you expect! [Title of his Book is,
Letters from an English Trader; written originally in French;
Bristol, &c. (a new Edition, 2 vols., London, 1802).] Poor Sherlock
is nowhere intentionally fabulous; nor intrinsically altogether so
foolish as he seems: let that suffice us. In his Dance of
Will-o'-wisps, which in this point happily is dated,--26th-27th
April, 1776,--he had come to Ferney, with proper introduction to
Voltaire; and here (after severe excision of the flabby parts, but
without other change) is credible account of what he saw and heard.
In Three Scenes; with this Prologue,--as to Costume, which is worth
VOLTAIRE'S DRESS. "On the two days I saw him, he wore white cloth
shoes, white woollen stockings, red breeches, with a nightgown and
waistcoat of blue linen, flowered, and lined with yellow. He had on
a grizzle wig with three ties, and over it a silk nightcap
embroidered with gold and silver."
SCENE I. THE ENTRANCE-HALL OF FERNEY (Friday, 26th April, 1776):
EXUBERANT SHERLOCK ENTERING, LETTER OF INTRODUCTION HAVING PRECEDED.
"He met in the hall; his Nephew M. d'Hornoi" (Grand-nephew;
Abbe Mignot, famous for BURYING Voltaire, and Madame Denis, whom we
know, were D'Hornoi's Uncle and Aunt)--Grand-nephew, "Counsellor in
the Parlement of Paris, held him by the arm. He said to me, with a
very weak voice: 'You see a very old man, who makes a great effort
to have the honor of seeing you. Will you take a walk in my Garden?
It will please you, for it is in the English taste:--it was I who
introduced that taste into France, and it is become universal.
But the French parody your Gardens: they put your thirty acres
"From his Gardens you see the Alps, the Lake, the City of Geneva
and its environs, which are very pleasant. He said:--
VOLTAIRE. "'It is a beautiful prospect.' He pronounced these words
SHERLOCK. "'How long is it since you were in England?'
VOLTAIRE. "'Fifty years, at least.' [Not quite; in 1728 left; in
1726 had come.] [Supra, vii. 47.]
D'HORNOI. "'It was at the time when you printed the First Edition
of your HENRIADE.'
"We then talked of Literature; and from that moment he forgot his
age and infirmities, and spoke with the warmth of a man of thirty.
He said some shocking things against Moses and against Shakspeare.
[Like enough!] ... We then talked of Spain.
VOLTAIRE. "'It is a Country of which we know no more than of the
most savage parts of Africa; and it is not worth the trouble of
being known. If a man would travel there, he must carry his bed,
&c. On arriving in a Town, he must go into one street to buy a
bottle of wine; a piece of a mule [by way of beef] in another;
he finds a table in a third,--and he sups. A French Nobleman was
passing through Pampeluna: he sent out for a spit; there was only
one in the Town, and that was lent away for a wedding.'
D'HORNOI. "'There, Monsieur, is a Village which M. de Voltaire
VOLTAIRE. "'Yes, we have our freedoms here. Cut off a little
corner, and we are out of France. I asked some privileges for my
Children here, and the King has granted me all that I asked, and
has declared this Pays de Gex exempt from all Taxes of the Farmers-
General; so that salt, which formerly sold for ten sous a pound,
now sells for four. I have nothing more to ask, except to live.'--
We went into the Library" (had made the round of the Gardens,
SCENE II. IN THE LIBRARY.
VOLTAIRE. "'There you find several of your countrymen [he had
Shakspeare, Milton, Congreve, Rochester, Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke,
Robertson, Hume and others]. Robertson is your Livy; his CHARLES
FIFTH is written with truth. Hume wrote his History to be
applauded, Rapin to instruct; and both obtained their ends.'
SHERLOCK. "'Lord Bolingbroke and you agreed that we have not one
VOLTAIRE. "'We did think so. CATO is incomparably well written:
Addison had a great deal of taste;--but the abyss between taste and
genius is immense! Shakspeare had an amazing genius, but no taste:
he has spoiled the taste of the Nation. He has been their taste for
two hundred years; and what is the taste of a Nation for two
hundred years will be so for two thousand. This kind of taste
becomes a religion; there are, in your Country, a great many
Fanatics for Shakspeare.'
SHERLOCK. "'Were you personally acquainted with Lord Bolingbroke?'
VOLTAIRE. "'Yes. His face was imposing, and so was his voice;
in his WORKS there are many leaves and little fruit;
distorted expressions, and periods intolerably long. [TAKING DOWN A
BOOK.] There, you see the KORAN, which is well read, at least.
[It was marked throughout with bits of paper.] There are HISTORIC
DOUBTS, by Horace Walpole [which had also several marks]; here is
the portrait of Richard III.; you see he was a handsome youth.'
SHERLOCK (making an abrupt transition). "'You have built a Church?'
VOLTAIRE. "'True; and it is the only one in the Universe in honor
of God [DEO EREXIT VOLTAIRE, as we read above]: you have plenty of
Churches built to St. Paul, to St. Genevieve, but not one to God.'"
EXIT Sherlock (to his Inn; makes jotting as above;--is to dine at
SCENE III. DINNER-TABLE OF VOLTAIRE.
"The next day, as we sat down to Dinner," our Host in the above
shining costume, "he said, in English tolerably pronounced:--
VOLTAIRE. "'We are here for liberty and property! [parody of some
old Speech in Parliament, let us guess,--liberty and property, my
Lords!] This Gentleman--whom let me present to Monsieur Sherlock--
is a Jesuit [old Pere Adam, whom I keep for playing Chess, in his
old, unsheltered days]; he wears his hat: I am a poor invalid,--
I wear my nightcap.' ...
"I do not now recollect why he quoted these verses, also in
English, by Rochester, on CHARLES SECOND:--
'Here lies the mutton-eating King,
Who never said a foolish thing,
Nor ever did a wise one.'
But speaking of Racine, he quoted this Couplet (of Roscomman's
ESSAY ON TRANSLATED VERSE):--
'The weighty bullion of one sterling line
Drawn to French wire would through whole pages shine.
SHERLOCK. "'The English prefer Corneille to Racine.'
VOLTAIRE. "'That is because the English are not sufficiently
acquainted with the French tongue to feel the beauties of Racine's
style, or the harmony of his versification. Corneille ought to
please them more because he is more striking; but Racine pleases
the French because he has more softness and tenderness.'
SHERLOCK. "'How did you find [LIKE] the English fare (LA CHERE
ANGLAISE?'--which Voltaire mischievously takes for 'the dear
VOLTAIRE. "'I found her very fresh and white,'--truly! [It should
be remembered, that when he made this pun upon Women he was in his
SHERLOCK. "'Their language?'
VOLTAIRE. "'Energetic, precise and barbarous; they are the only
Nation that pronounce their A as E. ... [And some time afterwards]
Though I cannot perfectly pronounce English, my ear is sensible of
the harmony of your language and of your versification. Pope and
Dryden have the most harmony in Poetry; Addison in Prose.'
[Takes now the interrogating side.]
VOLTAIRE. "'How have you liked (AVEX-VOUS TROUVE) the French?'
SHERLOCK. "'Amiable and witty. I only find one fault with them:
they imitate the English too much.'
VOLTAIRE. "'How! Do you think us worthy to be originals ourselves?'
SHERLOCK. "'Yes, Sir.'
VOLTAIRE. "'So do I too:--but it is of your Government that we
SHERLOCK. "'I have found the French freer than I expected.'
VOLTAIRE. "'Yes, as to walking, or eating whatever he pleases, or
lolling in his elbow-chair, a Frenchman is free enough; but as to
taxes--Ah, Monsieur, you are a lucky Nation; you can do what you
like; poor we are born in slavery: we cannot even die as we will;
we must have a Priest [can't get buried otherwise; am often
thinking of that!] ... Well, if the English do sell themselves, it
is a proof that they are worth something: we French don't sell
ourselves, probably because we are worth nothing.'
SHERLOCK. "'What is your opinion of the ELOISE' [Rousseau's
VOLTAIRE. "'That it will not be read twenty years hence.'
SHERLOCK. "'Mademoiselle de l’Enclos wrote some good LETTERS?'
VOLTAIRE. "'She never wrote one; they were by the wretched
Crebillon' [my beggarly old "Rival" in the Pompadour epoch]! ...
VOLTAIRE. "'The Italians are a Nation of brokers. Italy is an Old-
Clothes shop; in which there are many Old Dresses of exquisite
taste. ... But we are still to know, Whether the subjects of the
Pope or of the Grand Turk are the more abject.' [We have now gone
to the Drawing-room, I think, though it is not jotted.]
"He talked of England and of Shakspeare; and explained to Madame
Denis part of a Scene in Henry Fifth, where the King makes love to
Queen Catherine in bad French; and of another in which that Queen
takes a lesson in English from her Waiting-woman, and where there
are several very gross double-entendres"--but, I hope, did not long
dwell on these. ...
VOLTAIRE. "'When I see an Englishman subtle and fond of lawsuits, I
say, "There is a Norman, who came in with William the Conqueror."
When I see a man good-natured and polite, "That is one who came
with the Plantagenets;" a brutal character, "That is a Dane:"--for
your Nation, Monsieur, as well as your Language, is a medley of
"After dinner, passing through a little Parlor where there was a
head of Locke, another of the Countess of Coventry, and several
more, he took me by the arm and stopped me: 'Do you know this Bust
[bust of Sir Isaac Newton]? It is the greatest genius that ever
existed: if all the geniuses of the Universe were assembled, he
should lead the band.'
"It was of Newton, and of his own Works, that M. de Voltaire always
spoke with the greatest warmth." [Sherlock, LETTERS (London, 1802),
i. 98-106.] (EXIT Sherlock, to jot down the above, and thence into
GENERAL OR FIELDMARSHAL CONWAY, DIRECT FROM THE LONDON CIRCLES,
ATTENDS ONE OF FRIEDRICH'S REVIEWS (August-September, 1774).
Now that Friedrich's Military Department is got completely into
trim again, which he reckons to have been about 1770, his annual
Reviews are becoming very famous over Europe; and intelligent
Officers of all Countries are eager to be present, and instruct
themselves there. The Review is beautiful as a Spectacle; but that
is in no sort the intention of it. Rigorous business, as in the
strictest of Universities examining for Degrees, would be nearer
the definition. Sometimes, when a new manoeuvre or tactical
invention of importance is to be tried by experiment, you will find
for many miles the environs of Potsdam, which is usually the scene
of such experiments, carefully shut in; sentries on every road, no
unfriendly eye admitted; the thing done as with closed doors. Nor
at any time can you attend without leave asked; though to Foreign
Officers, and persons that have really business there, there
appears to be liberality enough in granting it. The concourse of
military strangers seems to keep increasing every year, till
Friedrich's death. [Rodenbeck, iii. IN LOCIS.] French, more and
more in quantity, present themselves; multifarious German names;
generally a few English too,--Burgoyne (of Saratoga finally),
Cornwallis, Duke of York, Marshal Conway,--of which last we have
something farther to say at present.
In Summer, 1774, Conway--the Marshal Conway, of whom Walpole is
continually talking as of a considerable Soldier and Politician,
though he was not in either character considerable, but was
Walpole's friend, and an honest modest man--had made up his mind,
perhaps partly on domestic grounds (for I have noticed glimpses of
a "Lady C." much out of humor), to make a Tour in Germany, and see
the Reviews, both Austrian and Prussian, Prussian especially.
Two immense LETTERS of his on that subject have come into my hands,
[Kindly presented me by Charles Knight, Esq., the well-known Author
and Publisher (who possesses a Collection by the same hand):
these Two run to fourteen large pages in my Copy!] and elsewhere
incidentally there is printed record of the Tour; [In Keith (Sir
ii. 21 et, seq.] unimportant as possible, both Tour and Letters,
but capable, if squeezed into compass, of still being read without
Sir Robert Murray Keith--that is, the younger Excellency Keith, now
Minister at Dresden, whom we have sometimes heard of--accompanies
Conway on this Tour, or flies alongside of him, with frequent
intersections at the principal points; and there is printed record
by Sir Robert, but still less interesting than this of Conway, and
perfectly conformable to it:--so that, except for some words about
the Lord Marischal, which shall be given, Keith must remain silent,
while the diffuse Conway strives to become intelligible.
Indeed, neither Conway nor Keith tell us the least thing that is
not abundantly, and even wearisomely known from German sources;
but to readers here, a pair of English eyes looking on the matter
(put straight in places by the help there is), may give it a
certain freshness of meaning. Here are Conway's Two Letters, with
the nine parts of water charitably squeezed out of them, by a
skilful friend of mine and his.
CONWAY TO HIS BROTHER, MARQUIS OF HERTFORD (in London).
"BERLIN, July 17th, 1774.
"DEAR BROTHER,--In the hurry I live in--... Leaving Brunswick,
where, in absence of most of the Court, who are visiting at
Potsdam, my old Commander," Duke Ferdinand, now estranged from
Potsdam, [Had a kind of quarrel with Friedrich in 1766 (rough
treatment by Adjutant von Anhalt, not tolerable to a Captain now
become so eminent), and quietly withdrew,--still on speaking terms
with the King, but never his Officer more.] and living here among
works of Art, and speculations on Free Masonry, "was very kind to
me, I went to Celle, in Hanover, to pay my respects to the Queen of
Denmark [unfortunate divorced Matilda, saved by my friend Keith,--
innocent, I will hope!] ... She is grown extremely fat. ...
At Magdeburg, the Prussian Frontier on this side, one is not
allowed, without a permit, even to walk on the ramparts,--such the
strictness of Prussian rule. ... Driving through Potsdam, on my way
to Berlin, I was stopped by a servant of the good old Lord
Marischal, who had spied me as I passed under his window. He came
out in his nightgown, and insisted upon our staying to dine with
him--[worthy old man; a word of him, were this Letter done].
We ended, on consultation about times and movements of the King, by
staying three days at Potsdam, mostly with this excellent old Lord.
"On the third day [yesterday evening, in fact], I went, by
appointment, to the New Palace, to wait upon the King of Prussia.
There was some delay: his Majesty had gone, in the interim, to a
private Concert, which he was giving to the Princesses [Duchess of
Brunswick and other high guests [Rodenbeck (IN DIE) iii. 98.]];
but the moment he was told I was there, he came out from his
company, and gave me a most flattering gracious audience of more
than half an hour; talking on a great variety of things, with an
ease and freedom the very reverse of what I had been made to
expect. ... I asked, and received permission, to visit the Silesian
Camps next month, his Majesty most graciously telling me the
particular days they would begin and end [27th August-3d September,
Schmelwitz near Breslau, are time and place [Ib. iii. 101.]].
This considerably deranges my Austrian movements, and will hurry my
return out of those parts: but who could resist such a temptation!
--I saw the Foot-Guards exercise, especially the splendid 'First
Battalion;' I could have conceived nothing so perfect and so exact
as all I saw:--so well dressed, such men, and so punctual in all
"The New Palace at Potsdam is extremely noble. Not so perfect,
perhaps, in point of taste, but better than I had been led to
expect. The King dislikes living there; never does, except when
there is high Company about him; for seven or eight months in the
year, he prefers Little Sans-Souci, and freedom among his intimates
and some of his Generals. ... His Music still takes up a great
share of the King's time. On a table in his Cabinet there, I saw, I
believe, twenty boxes with a German flute in each; in his Bed-
chamber, twice as many boxes of Spanish snuff; and, alike in
Cabinet and in Bed-chamber, three arm-chairs in a row for three
favorite dogs, each with a little stool by way of step, that the
getting up might be easy. ...
"The Town of Potsdam is a most extraordinary and, in its
appearance, beautiful Town; all the streets perfectly straight, all
at right angles to each other; and all the houses built with
handsome, generally elegant fronts. ... He builds for everybody who
has a bad or a small house, even the lowest mechanic. He has done
the same at Berlin." Altogether, his Majesty's building operations
are astonishing. And "from whence does this money come, after a
long expensive War? It is all fairyland and enchantment,"--MAGNUM
VECTIGAL PARSIMONIA, in fact! ... "At Berlin here, I saw the
Porcelain Manufacture to-day, which is greatly improved. I leave
presently. Adieu, dear Brother; excuse my endless Letter [since you
cannot squeeze the water out of it, as some will!]--
Yours most sincerely,
"HENRY SEYMOUR CONWAY."
Keith is now Minister at Dresden for some years back; and has,
among other topics, much to say of our brilliant friend the
Electress there: but his grand Diplomatic feat was at Copenhagen,
on a sudden sally out thither (in 1771): [In KEITH, i. 152 &c.,
nothing of intelligible Narrative given, hardly the date
discoverable.] the saving of Queen Matilda, youngest Sister of
George Third, from a hard doom. Unfortunate Queen Matilda;
one never knows how guilty, or whether guilty at all, but she was
very unfortunate, poor young Lady! What with a mad Husband
collapsed by debaucheries into stupor of insanity; what with a
Doctor, gradually a Prime Minister, Struensee, wretched scarecrow
to look upon, but wiser than most Danes about; and finally, with a
lynx-eyed Step-sister, whose Son, should Matilda mistake, will
inherit,--unfortunate Matilda had fallen into the awfulest
troubles; got divorced, imprisoned, would have lost her head along
with scarecrow Struensee had not her Brother George III.
emphatically intervened,--Excellency Keith, with Seventy-fours in
the distance, coming out very strong on the occasion,--and got her
loose. Loose from Danish axe and jail, at any rate; delivered into
safety and solitude at Celle in Hanover, where she now is,--and
soon after suddenly dies of fever, so closing a very sad
Excellency Keith, famed in the Diplomatic circles ever since, is at
present ahead of Conway on their joint road to the Austrian
Reviews. Before giving Conway's Second Letter, let us hear Keith a
little on his kinsman the Old Marischal, whom he saw at Berlin
years ago, and still occasionally corresponds with, and mentions in
his Correspondence. Keith LOQUITUR; date is Dresden,
HAS VISITED THE OLD MARISCHAL AT POTSDAM LATELY. ... "My stay of
three days with Lord Marischal. ... He is the most innocent of
God's creatures; and his heart is much warmer than his head. The
place of his abode," I must say, "is the very Temple of Dulness;
and his Female Companion [a poor Turk foundling, a perishing infant
flung into his late Brother's hands at the Fall of Oczakow, [Supra,
vii. 82.]--whom the Marischal has carefully brought up, and who
refuses to marry away from him,--rather stupid, not very pretty by
the Portraits; must now be two-and-thirty gone] is perfectly
calculated to be the Priestess of it! Yet he dawdles away his day
in a manner not unpleasant to him; and I really am persuaded he has
a conscience that would gild the inside of a dungeon. The feats of
our bare-legged warriors in the late War [BERG-SCHOTTEN, among whom
I was a Colonel], accompanied by a PIBRACH [elegiac bagpipe droning
MORE SUO] in his outer room, have an effect on the old Don, which
would delight you." [Keith, i. 129; "Dresden, 25th February, 1770:"
to his Sister in Scotland.]
AND THEN SEEN HIM IN BERLIN, ON THE SAME OCCASION. ...
"Lord Marischal came to meet me at Sir Andrew's [Mitchell's, in
Berlin, the last year of the brave Mitchell's life], where we
passed five days together. My visit to his country residence," as
you already know, "was of three days; and I had reason to be
convinced that it gave the old Don great pleasure. He talked to me
with the greatest openness and confidence of all the material
incidents of his life; and hinted often that the honor of the Clan
was now to be supported by our family, for all of whom he had the
greatest esteem. His taste, his ideas, and his manner of living,
are a mixture of Aberdeenshire and the Kingdom of Valencia; and as
he seeks to make no new friends, he seems to retain a strong,
though silent, attachment for his old ones. As to his political
principles, I believe him the most sincere of converts" to Whiggery
and Orthodoxy. ... "Since I began this, I have had a most
inimitable Letter from Lord Marischal. I had mentioned Dr. Bailies
to him [noted English Doctor at Dresden, bent on inoculating and
the like], and begged he would send me a state of his case and
infirmities, that the Doctor might prescribe for him. This is a
part of his answer:--
"'I thank you for your advice of consulting the English Doctor to
repair my old carcass. I have lately done so by my old coach, and
it is now almost as good as new. Please, therefore, to tell the
Doctor, that from him I expect a good repair, and shall state the
case. First, he must know that the machine is the worse for wear,
being nearly eighty years old. The reparation I propose he shall
begin with is: One pair of new eyes, one pair of new ears, some
improvement on the memory. When this is done, we shall ask new
legs, and some change in the stomach. For the present, this first
reparation will be sufficient; and we must not trouble the Doctor
too much at once.'--You see by this how easy his Lordship's
infirmities sit upon him; and it is really so as he says.
Your friend Sir Andrew is, I am afraid, less gay; but I have not
heard from him these three months." [Keith, i. 132, 133; "Dresden,
13th March, 1770:" to his Father.]
CONWAY TO KEITH, ON THE LATE THREE DAYS AT POTSDAM.
[Date, "Dresden, 21st July, 1774:" in KEITH, ii. 15.] "I stayed
three days at Potsdam, with much entertainment, for good part of
which I am obliged to your Excellency's old friend Lord Marischal,
who showed me all the kindness and civility possible. He stopped me
as I passed, and not only made me dine with him that day, but in a
manner live with him. He is not at all blind, as you imagined;
so much otherwise, that I saw him read, without spectacles, a
difficult hand I could not easily decipher. ... Stayed but a day at
Berlin;" am rushing after you:--Here is my Second Letter:--
CONWAY'S SECOND LETTER (to his Brother, as before).
"SCHMELWITZ [near Breslau] HEAD-QUARTERS,
August 31st, 1774.
"DEAR BROTHER ... I left that Camp [Austrian Camp, and Reviews in
Hungary, where the Kaiser and everybody had been very gracious to
me] with much regret." Parted regretfully with Keith;--had played,
at Presburg, in sight of him and fourteen other Englishmen, a game
with the Chess Automaton [brand-new miracle, just out]; [Account of
it, and of this game, in KEITH too (ii. 18; "View, 3d September,
1774:" Keith to his Father).]--came on through Vienna hitherward,
as fast as post-horses could carry us; travelling night and day,
without stopping, being rather behind time. "Arrived at Breslau
near dark, last night; where I learnt that the Camp was twenty
miles off; that the King was gone there, and that the Manoeuvres
would begin at four or five this morning. I therefore ordered my
chaise at twelve at night, and set out, in darkness and rain, to be
presented to the King of Prussia next morning at five, at the head
of his troops. ... When I arrived, before five, at the place called
'Head-quarters,' I found myself in the middle of a miserable
Village [this Schmelwitz here]; no creature alive or stirring, nor
a sentinel, or any Military object to be seen. ... As soon as
anything alive was to be found, we asked, If the King was lodged in
that Village? 'Yes,' they said, 'in that House' (pointing to a clay
Hovel). But General Lentulus soon appeared; and--
"His Majesty has been very gracious; asked me many questions about
my tour to Hungary. I saw all the Troops pass him as they arrived
in Camp. They made a very fine appearance really, though it rained
hard the whole time we were out; and as his Majesty [age 62] did
not cloak, we were all heartily wet. And, what was worse, went from
the field to Orders [giving out of Parole, and the like] at his
Quarters, there to make our bow;--where we stayed in our wet
clothes an hour and half [towards 10 A.M. by this time]. ...
How different at the Emperor's, when his Imperial Majesty and
everybody was cloaked! [Got no hurt by the wet, strange to say.]
... These are our news to this day. And now, having sat up five
nights out of the last six, and been in rain and dirt almost all
day, I wish you sincerely good-night.--H. S. C.
"P.S. Breslau, 4th September.-- ... My Prussian Campaign is
finished, and as much to my satisfaction as possible. The beauty
and order of the Troops, their great discipline, their" &c. &c.,
"almost pass all belief. ... Yesterday we were on horseback early,
at four o'clock. The movement was conducted with a spirit and
order, on both sides, that was astonishing, and struck the more
delightful (SIC) by the variety, as in the course of the Action the
Enemy, conducted by General Anhalt [head all right as yet], took
three different positions before his final retreat.
"The moment it was over [nine o'clock or so], his Majesty got a
fresh horse, and set out for Potsdam, after receiving the
compliments of those present, or rather holding a kind of short
Levee in the field. I can't say how much, in my particular, I am
obliged to his Majesty for his extraordinary reception, and
distinction shown me throughout. Each day after the Manoeuvre, and
giving the Orders of the day, he held a little Levee at the door,
or in the court; at which, I can assure you, it is not an
exaggeration of vanity to say, that he not only talked to me, but
literally to nobody else at all. It was a good deal each time, and
as soon as finished he made his bow, and retired, though all, or
most, of the other Foreigners were standing by, as well as his own
Generals. He also called me up, and spoke to me several times on
horseback, when we were out, which he seldom did to anybody.
"The Prince Royal also showed me much civility. The second day, he
asked me to come and drink a dish of tea with him after dinner, and
kept me an hour and half. He told me, among other things, that the
King of Prussia had a high opinion of me, and that it came chiefly
from the favorable manner in which Duke Ferdinand and the
Hereditary Prince [of Brunswick] had spoken of me. ... Pray let
Horace Walpole know my address, that I may have all the chance I
can of hearing from him. But if he comes to Paris, I forgive him.--
H. S. C."
Friedrich's Reviews, though fine to look upon, or indeed the finest
in the world, were by no means of spectacular nature; but of
altogether serious and practical, almost of solemn and terrible, to
the parties interested. Like the strictest College Examination for
Degrees, as we said; like a Royal Assize or Doomsday of the Year;
to Military people, and over the upper classes of Berlin Society,
nothing could be more serious, Major Kaltenborn, an Ex-Prussian
Officer, presumably of over-talkative habits, who sounds on us like
a very mess-room of the time all gathered under one hat,--describes
in an almost awful manner the kind of terror with which all people
awaited these Annual Assizes for trial of military merit.
"What a sight," says he, "and awakening what thoughts, that of a
body of from 18,000 to 20,000 soldiers, in solemn silence and in
deepest reverence, awaiting their fate from one man! A Review, in
Friedrich's time, was an important moment for almost the whole
Country. The fortune of whole families often depended on it:
from wives, mothers, children and friends, during those terrible
three days, there arose fervent wishes to Heaven, that misfortune
might not, as was too frequently the case, befall their husbands,
fathers, sons and friends, in the course of them. Here the King, as
it were, weighed the merits of his Officers, and distributed,
according as he found them light or heavy, praise or blame, rebukes
or favors; and often, too often, punishments, to be felt through
life. One single unhappy moment [especially if it were the last of
a long series of such!] often deprived the bravest Officer of his
bread, painfully earned in peace and war, and of his reputation and
honor, at least in the eyes of most men, who judge of everything
only by its issue. The higher you had risen, the easier and deeper
your fall might be at an unlucky Review. The Heads and Commanders
of regiments were always in danger of being sent about their
The fact is, I Kaltenborn quitted the Prussian Service, and took
Hessian,--being (presumably) of exaggerative, over-talkative
nature, and strongly gravitating Opposition way!--Kaltenborn admits
that the King delighted in nothing so much as to see people's faces
cheerful about him; provided the price for it were not too high.
Here is another passage from him:--
"At latest by 9 in the morning the day's Manoeuvre had finished,
and everything was already in its place again. Straight from the
ground all Heads of regiments, the Majors-DE-JOUR, all Aides-de-
Camp, and from every battalion one Officer, proceed to Head-
quarters. It was impossible to speak more beautifully, or
instructively, than the King did on such occasions, if he were not
in bad humor. It was then a very delight to hear him deliver a
Military Lecture, as it were. He knew exactly who had failed, what
caused the fault, and how it might and should have been retrieved.
His voice was soft and persuasive (HINREISSEND); he looked kindly,
and appeared rather bent upon giving good advice than commands.
"Thus, for instance, he once said to General van Lossow, Head of
the Black Hussars: 'Your (SEINE) Attack would have gone very well,
had not your own squadron pressed forward too much (VORGEPRELLT).
The brave fellows wanted to show me how they can ride. But don't I
know that well enough;--and also that you [covetous Lossow] always
choose the best horses from the whole remount for your own
squadron! There was, therefore, no need at all for that. Tell your
people not to do so to-morrow, and you will see it will go much
better; all will remain closer in their places, and the left wing
be able to keep better in line, in coming on.'--Another time,
having observed, in a certain Foot-regiment, that the soldiers were
too long in getting out their cartridges, he said to the
Commandant: 'Do you know the cause of this, my dear Colonel?
Look, the cartouche, in the cartridge-box, has 32 holes; into these
the fellow sticks his eight cartridges, without caring how: and so
the poor devil fumbles and gropes about, and cannot get hold of
any. But now, if the Officers would look to it that he place them
all well together in the middle of the cartouche, he would never
make a false grasp, and the loading would go as quick again.
Only tell your Officers that I had made this observation, and I am
sure they will gladly attend to it.'" [Anonymous (Kaltenborn),
(Hohenzollern, 1790), ii. 24-26.]
Of humane consolatory Anecdotes, in this kind, our Opposition
Kaltenborn gives several; of the rhadamanthine desolating or
destructive kind, though such also could not be wanting, if your
Assize is to be good for anything, he gives us none. And so far as
I can learn, the effective punishments, dismissals and the like,
were of the due rarity and propriety; though the flashes of unjust
rebuke, fulminant severity, lightnings from the gloom of one's own
sorrows and ill-humor, were much more frequent, but were seldom--I
do not know if ever--persisted in to the length of practical
result. This is a Rhadamanthus much interested not to be unjust,
and to discriminate good from bad! Of Ziethen there are two famous
Review Anecdotes, omitted and omissible by Kaltenborn, so well
known are they: one of each kind. At a certain Review, year not
ascertainable,--long since, prior to the Seven-Years War,--the
King's humor was of the grimmest, nothing but faults all round;
to Ziethen himself, and the Ziethen Hussars, he said various hard
things, and at length this hardest: "Out of my sight with you!"
[Madame de Blumenthal,
265.] Upon which Ziethen--a stratum of red-hot kindling in Ziethen
too, as was easily possible--turns to his Hussars, "Right about,
RECHTS UM: march!" and on the instant did as bidden.
Disappeared, double-quick; and at the same high pace, in a high
frame of mind, rattled on to Berlin, home to his quarters, and
there first drew bridle. "Turn; for Heaven's sake, bethink you!"
said more than one friend whom he met on the road: but it was of no
use. Everybody said, "Ziethen is ruined;" but Ziethen never heard
of the thing more.
Anecdote Second is not properly of a Review, but of an incidental
Parade of the Guard, at Berlin (25th December, 1784), by the King
in person: Parade, or rather giving out of the Parole after it, in
the King's Apartments; which is always a kind of Military Levee as
well;--and which, in this instance, was long famous among the
Berlin people. King is just arrived for Carnival season;
old Ziethen will not fail to pay his duty, though climbing of the
stairs is heavy to a man of 85 gone. This is Madam Blumenthal's
Narrative (corrected, as it needs, in certain points):--
"SATURDAY, 25th DECEMBER, 1784, Ziethen, in spite of the burden of
eighty-six years, went to the Palace, at the end of the Parade, to
pay his Sovereign this last tribute of respect, and to have the
pleasure of seeing him after six months' absence. The Parole was
given out, the orders imparted to the Generals, and the King had
turned towards the Princes of the Blood,--when he perceived Ziethen
on the other side of the Hall, between his Son and his two Aides-
de-Camp. Surprised in a very agreeable manner at this unexpected
sight, he broke out into an exclamation of joy; and directly making
up to him,--'What, my good old Ziethen, are you there!' said his
Majesty: 'How sorry am I that you have had the trouble of walking
up the staircase! I should have called upon you myself. How have
you been of late?' 'Sire,' answered Ziethen, (my health is not
amiss, my appetite is good; but my strength! my strength!'
'This account,' replied the King, 'makes me happy by halves only:
but you must be tired;--I shall have a chair for you.'
[Thing unexampled in the annals of Royalty!] A chair," on order to
Ziethen's Aides-de-Camp, "was quickly brought. Ziethen, however,
declared that he was not at all fatigued: the King maintained that
he was. 'Sit down, good Father (MEIN LIEBER ALTER PAPA ZIETHEN,
SETZE ER SICH DOCH)!' continued his Majesty: 'I will have it so;
otherwise I must instantly leave the room; for I cannot allow you
to be incommoded under my own roof.' The old General obeyed, and
Friedrich the Great remained standing before him, in the midst of a
brilliant circle that had thronged round them. After asking him
many questions respecting his hearing, his memory and the general
state of his health, he at length took leave of him in these words:
'Adieu, my dear Ziethen [it was his last adieu!]--take care not to
catch cold; nurse yourself well, and live as long as you can, that
I may often have the pleasure of seeing you.' After having said
this, the King, instead of speaking to the other Generals, and
walking through the saloons, as usual, retired abruptly, and shut
himself up in his closet." [Blumenthal, ii. 341;
Engraving of this Scene; useful to look at for its military
Portraits, if of little esteem otherwise. Strangely enough, both in
BLUMENTHAL and in Chodowiecki's ENGRAVING the year is given as 1785
misprints the month; and, one way or other, only Rodenbeck (iii.
316) is right in both day and year.]
Following in date these small Conway Phenomena, if these, so
extraneous and insignificant, can have any glimmer of memorability
to readers, are two other occurrences, especially one other, which
come in at this part of the series, and greatly more require to be
disengaged from the dust-heaps, and presented for remembrance.
In 1775, the King had a fit of illness; which long occupied certain
Gazetteers and others. That is the first occurrence of the two, and
far the more important. He himself says of it, in his HISTORY, all
that is essential to us here:--
"Towards the end of 1775, the King was attacked by several strong
consecutive fits of gout. Van Swieten, a famous Doctor's Son, and
Minister of the Imperial Court at Berlin, took it into his head
that this gout was a declared dropsy; and, glad to announce to his
Court the approaching death of an enemy that had been dangerous to
it, boldly informed his Kaiser that the King was drawing to his
end, and would not last out the year. At this news the soul of
Joseph flames into enthusiasm; all the Austrian troops are got on
march, their Rendezvous marked in Bohemia; and the Kaiser waits,
full of impatience, at Vienna, till the expected event arrives;
ready then to penetrate at once into Saxony, and thence to the
Frontiers of Brandenburg, and there propose to the King's Successor
the alternative of either surrendering Silesia straightway to the
House of Austria, or seeing himself overwhelmed by Austrian troops
before he could get his own assembled. All these things, which were
openly done, got noised abroad everywhere; and did not, as is easy
to believe, cement the friendship of the Two Courts. To the Public
this scene appeared the more ridiculous, as the King of Prussia,
having only had a common gout in larger dose than common, was
already well of it again, before the Austrian Army had got to their
Rendezvous. The Kaiser made all these troops return to their old
quarters; and the Court of Vienna had nothing but mockery for its
imprudent conduct." [
The first of these gout-attacks seems to have come in the end of
September, and to have lasted about a month; after which the
illness abated, and everybody thought it was gone. The Kaiser-
Joseph evolution must have been in October, and have got its
mockery in the next months. Friedrich, writing to VOLTAIRE, October
22d, has these words: ... "A pair of charming Letters from Ferney;
to which, had they been from the great Demiurgus himself, I could
not have dictated Answer. Gout held me tied and garroted for four
weeks;--gout in both feet and in both hands; and, such its extreme
liberality, in both elbows too: at present the pains and the fever
have abated, and I feel only a very great exhaustion." [Ib. xxv.
44.] "Four consecutive attacks; hope they are now all over;" but we
read, within the Spring following, that there have been in all
twelve of them; and in May, 1776, the Newspapers count eighteen
quasi-consecutive. So that in reality the King's strength was sadly
reduced; and his health, which did not recover its old average till
about 1780, continued, for several years after this bad fit, to be
a constant theme of curiosity to the Gazetteer species, and a
matter of solicitude to his friends and to his enemies.
Of the Kaiser's immense ambition there can be no question. He is
stretching himself out on every side; "seriously wishing," thinks
Friedrich, "that he could 'revivify the German Reich,'"--new
Barbarossa in improved FIXED form; how noble! Certainly, to King
Friedrich's sad conviction, "the Austrian Court is aiming to
swallow all manner of dominions that may fall within its grasp."
Wants Bosnia and Servia in the East; longs to seize certain
Venetian Territories, which would unite Trieste and the Milanese to
the Tyrol. Is throwing out hooks on Modena, on the Ferrarese, on
this and on that. Looking with eager eyes on Bavaria,--the
situation of which is peculiar; the present Kur-Baiern being
elderly, childless; and his Heir the like, who withal is already
Kur-Pfalz, and will unite the Two Electorates under one head;
a thing which Austria regards with marked dislike.
anxious considerations to a King in Friedrich's sick state. In his
private circle, too, there are sorrows: death of Fouquet, death of
Quintus Icilius, of Seidlitz, Quantz (good old Quantz, with his
fine Flutings these fifty years, and the still finer memories he
awoke! [Friedrich's Teacher of the Flute; procured for him by his
Mother (supra vi. 144).]),--latterly an unusual number of deaths.
The ruggedly intelligent Quintus, a daily companion, and guest at
the supper-table, died few months before this fit of gout; and must
have been greatly missed by Friedrich. Fouquet, at Brandenburg,
died last year: his benefactor in the early Custrin distresses, his
"Bayard," and chosen friend ever since; how conspicuously dear to
Friedrich to the last is still evident. A Friedrich getting lonely
enough, and the lights of his life going out around him;--has but
one sure consolation, which comes to him as compulsion withal, and
is not neglected, that of standing steadfast to his work, whatever
the mood and posture be.
The Event of 1776 is Czarowitsh Paul's arrival in Berlin, and
Betrothal to a second Wife there; his first having died in
childbirth lately. The first had been of Friedrich's choosing, but
had behaved ill,--seduced by Spanish-French Diplomacies, by this
and that, poor young creature:--the second also was of Friedrich's
choosing, and a still nearer connection: figure what a triumphant
event! Event now fallen dead to every one of us; and hardly
admitting the smallest Note,--except for chronology's sake, which
it is always satisfactory to keep clear:--
"Czarowitsh Paul's first Wife, the Hessen-Darmstadt Princess of
Three, died of her first child April 26th, 1776: everybody
whispered, 'It is none of Paul's!' who, nevertheless, was
inconsolable, the wild heart of him like to break on the
occurrence. By good luck, Prince Henri had set out, by invitation,
on a second visit to Petersburg; and arrived there also on April
26th, [Rodenbeck, iii. 139-146.] the very day of the fatality.
Prince Henri soothed, consoled the poor Czarowitsh;
gradually brought him round; agreed with his Czarina Mother, that
he must have a new Wife; and dexterously fixed her choice on a
'Niece of the King's and Henri's.' Eldest Daughter of Eugen of
Wurtemberg, of whom, as an excellent General, though also as a
surly Husband, readers have some memory; now living withdrawn at
Mumpelgard, the Wurtemberg Apanage [Montbeillard, as the French
call it], in these piping times of Peace:--she is the Princess.
To King Friedrich's great surprise and joy. The Mumpelgard
Principalities, and fortunate Princess, are summoned to Berlin.
Czarowitsh Paul, under Henri's escort, and under gala and
festivities from the Frontier onward, arrived in Berlin 21st July,
1776; was betrothed to his Wurtemberg Princess straightway;
and after about a fortnight of festivities still more transcendent,
went home with her to Petersburg; and was there wedded, 18th
October following;--Czar and Czarina, she and he, twenty years
after, and their posterity reigning ever since. [
"At Vienna," says the King, "everybody was persuaded the Czarowitsh
would never come to Berlin. Prince Kaunitz had been,"--been at his
old tricks again, playing his sharpest, in the Court of Petersburg
again: what tricks (about Poland and otherwise) let us not report,
for it is now interesting to nobody. Of the Czarowitsh Visit itself
I will remark only,--what seems to be its one chance of dating
itself in any of our memories,--that it fell out shortly after the
Sherlock dinner with Voltaire (in 1776, April 27th the one event,
July 21st the other);--and that here is, by pure accident, the
exuberant erratic Sherlock, once more, and once only, emerging on
us for a few moments!--
EXUBERANT SHERLOCK AND ELEVEN OTHER ENGLISH ARE PRESENTED TO
FRIEDRICH ON A COURT OCCASION (8th October, 1777); AND TWO
OF THEM GET SPOKEN TO, AND SPEAK EACH A WORD. EXCELLENCY
HUGH ELLIOT IS THEIR INTRODUCER.
Harris, afterwards Earl of Malmesbury, succeeded Mitchell at
Berlin; "Polish troubles" (heartily indifferent to England),
"Dantzig squabbles" (miraculously important there),--nothing worth
the least mention now. Excellency Harris quitted Berlin in Autumn,
1776; gave place to an Excellency Hugh Elliot (one of the Minto
Elliots, Brother of the first Earl of Minto, and himself
considerably noted in the world), of whom we have a few words
Elliot has been here since April, 1777; stays some five years in
this post;--with not much Diplomatic employment, I should think,
but with a style of general bearing and social physiognomy, which,
with some procedures partly incidental as well, are still
remembered in Berlin. Something of spying, too, doubtless there
was; bribing of menials, opening of Letters: I believe a great deal
of that went on; impossible to prevent under the carefulest of
Kings. [An ingenious young Friend of mine, connected with
Legationary Business, found lately, at the Hague, a consecutive
Series, complete for four or five years (I think, from 1780
onwards), of Friedrich's LETTERS to his MINISTER IN LONDON,--Copies
punctually filched as they went through the Post-office there:--
specimens of which I saw; and the whole of which I might have seen,
had it been worth the effort necessary. But Friedrich's London
Minister, in this case, was a person of no significance or
intimacy; and the King's Letters, though strangely exact, clear and
even elucidative on English Court-Politics and vicissitudes, seemed
to be nearly barren as to Prussian.] Hitherto, with one exception
to be mentioned presently, his main business seems to have been
that of introducing, on different Court-Days, a great number of
Travelling English, who want to see the King, and whom the King
little wants, but quietly submits to. Incoherent Sherlock, whom we
discover to have been of the number, has, in his tawdry disjointed
Book, this Passage:--
"The last time of my seeing him [this Hero-King of my heart] was at
Berlin [not a hint of the time when]. He came thither to receive
the adieus of the Baron de Swieten, Minister from their Imperial
Majesties [thank you; that means 8th October, 1777 [Rodenbeck, iii.
172.]], and to give audience to the new Minister, the Count
Cobenzl. The Foreign Ministers, the persons who were to be
presented [we, for instance], and the Military, were all that were
at Court. We were ten English [thirteen by tale]: the King spoke to
the first and the last; not on account of their situation, but
because their names struck him. The first was Major Dalrymple.
To him the King said: 'You have been presented to me before?'
'I ask your Majesty's pardon; it was my Uncle' (Lord Dalrymple, of
whom presently). Mr. Pitt [unknown to me which Pitt, subsequent
Lord Camelford or another] was the last. THE KING: 'Are you a
relation of Lord Chatham's?' 'Yes, Sire.'--'He is a man whom I
highly esteem' [read "esteemed"].
"He then went to the Foreign Ministers; and talked more to Prince
Dolgorucki, the Russian Ambassador, than to any other. In the midst
of his conversation with this Prince, he turned abruptly to Mr.
Elliot, the English Minister, and asked: 'What is the Duchess of
Kingston's family name?' This transition was less Pindaric than it
appears; he had just been speaking of the Court of Petersburg, and
that Lady was then there." [Sherlock, ii. 27.] Whereupon Sherlock
hops his ways again; leaving us considerably uncertain. But, by a
curious accident, here, at first-hand, is confirmation of the
flighty creature;--a Letter from Excellency Elliot himself having
come our way:--
TO WILLIAM EDEN, ESQUIRE (of the Foreign Office, London;
Elliot's Brother-in-law; afterwards LORD AUCKLAND).
"BERLIN, 12th October, 1777.
"MY DEAR EDEN,--If you are waiting upon the pinnacle of all
impatience to give me news from the Howes [out on their then famous
"Seizure of Philadelphia," which came to what we know!], I am
waiting with no less impatience to receive it, and think every
other subject too little interesting to be mentioned. I must,
however, tell you, the King has been here; ["Came to Berlin 8th
October," on the Van-Swieten errand; "saw Princess Amelia twice;
and on the 9th returned to Potsdam" (Rodenbeck, iii. 172).] to the
astonishment of all croakers, hearty and in high spirits. He was
very civil to all of us. I was attended by one dozen English, which
nearly completes my half-hundred this season. Pitt made one of the
twelve, and was particularly distinguished.
'C'est un homme que j'ai beaucoup estime.'
"You have no idea of the joy the people expressed to see the King
on Horseback,--all the Grub-street nonsense of 'a Country groaning
under the weight of its burdens,' of 'a Nation governed with a rod
of iron,' vanished before the sincere acclamations of all ranks,
who joined in testifying their enthusiasm for their great Monarch.
I long for Harris and Company [Excellency Harris; making for
Russia, I believe]; they are to pig together in my house; so that I
flatter myself with having a near view, if not a taste, of
connubial joys. My love to E and _e_ [your big _E_leanor and your
LITTLE, a baby in arms, who are my Sister and Niece;--pretty,
this!]. Your most affectionate, H. E.
"P.S. I quite forgot to tell you, I sent out a servant some time
ago to England to bring a couple of Horses. He will deliver some
Packets to you; which I beg you will send, with Lord Marischal's
compliments, to their respective Addresses. There is also a china
cup for Mr. Macnamara, Lawyer, in the Temple or Lincoln's Inn, from
the same person [lively old gentleman, age 91 gone; did die next
year]. What does Eleanor mean about my Congratulatory Letter to
Lord Suffolk [our Foreign Secretary, on his marriage lately]?
I wished his Lordship, most sincerely, every happiness in his new
state, as soon as I knew of it. I beg, however, Eleanor will do the
like;--and although it is not my system to 'congratulate' anybody
upon marriage, yet I never fail to wish them what, I think, it is
always two to one they do not obtain." [EDEN-HOUSE CORRESPONDENCE
(part of which, not this, has been published in late years).]
As to the Dalrymple of SHERLOCK, read this (FRIEDRICH TO
D'ALEMBERT, two years before [
name [Lord Dalrymple, if I could remember it], of amiable genius
(AU NOM BAROQUE, A L'ESPRIT AIMABLE), gave me a Letter on your
part. 'Ah, how goes the Prince of Philosophers, then? Is he gay;
is he busy; did you see him often?' To which the Mylord: 'I? No;
I am straight from London!'"--"QUOI DONC--?" In short, knowing my
Anaxagoras, this Mylord preferred to be introduced by him; and was
right: "One of the amiablest Englishmen I have seen; I except only
the name, which I shall never remember [but do, on this new
occasion]: Why doesn't he get himself unchristened of it, and take
that of Stair, which equally belongs to him?" (Earl of Stair by and
by; Nephew, or Grand-Nephew, of the great Earl of Stair, once so
well known to some of us. Becomes English Minister here in 1785, if
we much cared.)
That word of reminiscence about Pitt is worth more attention.
Not spoken lightly, but with meaning and sincerity;
something almost pathetic in it, after the sixteen years
separation: "A man whom I much esteemed,"--and had good reason to
do so! Pitt's subsequent sad and bright fortunes, from the end of
the Seven-Years War and triumphant summing up of the JENKINS'S-EAR
QUESTION, are known to readers. His Burton-Pynsent meed of honor
(Estate of 3,000 pounds a year bequeathed him by an aged Patriot,
"Let THIS bit of England go a noble road!"); his lofty silences, in
the World Political; his vehement attempts in it, when again asked
to attempt, all futile,--with great pain to him, and great disdain
from him:--his passionate impatiences on minor matters, "laborers
[ornamenting Burton-Pynsent Park, in Somersetshire] planting trees
by torchlight;" "kitchen people [at Hayes in North Kent, House
still to be seen] roasting a series of chickens, chicken after
chicken all day, that at any hour, within ten minutes, my Lord may
dine!"--these things dwell in the memory of every worthy reader.
Here, saved from my poor friend Smelfungus (nobody knows how much
of him I suppress), is a brief jotting, in the form of rough
MEMORANDA, if it be permissible:--
"Pitt four years King; lost in quicksands after that; off to Bath,
from gout, from semi-insanity; 'India should pay, but how?' Lost in
General-Warrants, in Wilkes Controversies, American Revolts,--
generally, in shallow quicksands;--dies at his post, but his post
had become a delirious one.
"A delicate, proud, noble man; pure as refined gold.
Something sensitive, almost feminine in him; yet with an edge, a
fire, a steadiness; liker Friedrich, in some fine principal points,
than any of his Contemporaries. The one King England has had, this
King of Four Years, since the Constitutional system set in.
Oliver Cromwell, yes indeed,--but he died, and there was nothing
for it but to hang his body on the gallows. Dutch William, too,
might have been considerable,--but he was Dutch, and to us proved
to be nothing. Then again, so long as Sarah Jennings held the
Queen's Majesty in bondage, some gleams of Kinghood for us under
Marlborough:--after whom Noodleism and Somnambulism, zero on the
back of zero, and all our Affairs, temporal, spiritual and eternal,
jumbling at random, which we call the Career of Freedom, till Pitt
stretched out his hand upon them. For four years; never again, he;
never again one resembling him,--nor indeed can ever be.
"Never, I should think. Pitts are not born often; this Pitt's ideas
could occur in the History of Mankind once only. Stranger theory of
society, completely believed in by a clear, sharp and altogether
human head, incapable of falsity, was seldom heard of in the world.
For King: open your mouth, let the first gentleman that falls into
it (a mass of Hanover stolidity, stupidity, foreign to you,
heedless of you) be King: Supreme Majesty he, with hypothetical
decorations, dignities, solemn appliances, high as the stars (the
whole, except the money, a mendacity, and sin against Heaven):
him you declare Sent-of-God, supreme Captain of your England;
and having done so,--tie him up (according to Pitt) with
Constitutional straps, so that he cannot stir hand or foot, for
fear of accidents: in which state he is fully cooked; throw me at
his Majesty's feet, and let me bless Heaven for such a Pillar of
Cloud by day.
"Pitt, closely as I could scrutinize, seems never to have doubted
in his noble heart but he had some reverence for George II.
'Reverenced his Office,' says a simple reader? Alas, no, my friend,
man does not 'reverence Office,' but only sham-reverences it.
I defy him to reverence anything but a Man filling an Office (with
or without salary) nobly. Filling a noble office ignobly; doing a
celestial task in a quietly infernal manner? It were kinder perhaps
to run your sword through him (or through yourself) than to take to
revering him! If inconvenient to slay him or to slay yourself (as
is oftenest likely),--keep well to windward of him; be not, without
necessity, partaker of his adventures in this extremely earnest
"No; Nature does not produce many Pitts:--nor will any Pitt ever
again apply in Parliament for a career. 'Your voices, your most
sweet voices; ye melodious torrents of Gadarenes Swine, galloping
rapidly down steep places, I, for one; know whither I'" ...
About four months before this time, Elliot had done a feat, not in
the Diplomatic line at all, or by his own choice at all, which had
considerably astonished the Diplomatic world at Berlin, and was
doubtless well in the King's thoughts during this introduction of
the Dozen. The American War is raging and blundering along,--a
delectable Lord George Germaine (ALIAS Sackville, no other than our
old Minden friend) managing as War-Minister, others equally skilful
presiding at the Parliamentary helm; all becoming worse and worse
off, as the matter proceeds. The revolted Colonies have their
Franklins, Lees, busy in European Courts: "Help us in our noble
struggle, ye European Courts;, now is your chance on tyrannous
England!" To which France at least does appear to be lending ear.
Lee, turned out from Vienna, is at work in Berlin, this while past;
making what progress is uncertain to some people.
I know not whether it was by my Lord Suffolk's instigation, or what
had put the Britannic Cabinet on such an idea,--perhaps the stolen
Letters of Friedrich, which show so exact a knowledge of the
current of events in America as well as England ("knows every step
of it, as if he were there himself, the Arch-Enemy of honest
neighbors in a time of stress!")--but it does appear they had got
it into their sagacious heads that the bad neighbor at Berlin was,
in effect, the Arch-Enemy, probably mainspring of the whole matter;
and that it would be in the highest degree interesting to see
clearly what Lee and he had on hand. Order thereupon to Elliot:
"Do it, at any price;" and finally, as mere price will not answer,
"Do it by any method,--STEAL Lee's Despatch-Box for us!"
Perhaps few Excellencies living had less appetite for such a job
than Elliot; but his Orders were peremptory, "Lee is a rebel,
quasi-outlaw; and you must!" Elliot thereupon took accurate survey
of the matter; and rapidly enough, and with perfect skill, though
still a novice in Berlin affairs, managed to do it. Privily hired,
or made his servant hire, the chief Housebreaker or Pickpocket in
the City: "Lee lodges in such and such a Hostelry; bring us his
Red-Box for a thirty hours; it shall be well worth your while!"
And in brief space the Red-Box arrives, accordingly; a score or two
of ready-writers waiting for it, who copy all day, all night, at
the top of their speed, till they have enough: which done, the Lee
Red-Box is left on the stairs of the Lee Tavern; Box locked again,
and complete; only the Friedrich-Lee Secrets completely pumped out
of it, and now rushing day and night towards England, to illuminate
the Supreme Council-Board there.
This astonishing mass of papers is still extant in England; [In the
EDEN-HOUSE ARCHIVES; where a natural delicacy (unaware that the
questionable Legationary FACT stands in print for so many years
past) is properly averse to any promulgation of them.]--the outside
of them I have seen, by no means the inside, had I wished it;--but
am able to say from other sources, which are open to all the world,
that seldom had a Supreme Council-Board procured for itself, by
improper or proper ways, a Discovery of less value! Discovery that
Lee has indeed been urgent at Berlin; and has raised in Friedrich
the question, "Have you got to such a condition that I can, with
safety and advantage, make a Treaty of Commerce with you?"--That
his Minister Schulenburg has, by Order, been investigating Lee on
that head; and has reported, "No, your Majesty, Lee and People are
not in such a condition;" that his Majesty has replied, "Well, let
him wait till they are;" and that Lee is waiting accordingly.
In general, That his Majesty is not less concerned in guidance or
encouragement of the American War than he is in ditto of the
Atlantic Tides or of the East-Wind (though he does keep barometers
and meteorological apparatus by him); and that we of the Council-
Board are a--what shall I say! Not since the case of poor Dr.
Cameron, in 1753, when Friedrich was to have joined the Highlanders
with 15,000 chosen Prussians for Jacobite purposes,--and the Cham
of Tartary to have taken part in the Bangorian Controversy,--was
there a more perfect platitude, or a deeper depth of ignorance as
to adjacent objects on the part of Governing Men. For shame,
This surprising bit of Burglary, so far as I can gather from the
Prussian Books, must have been done on WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25th, 1777;
Box (with essence pumped out) restored to staircase night of
Thursday,--Police already busy, Governor Ramin and Justice-
President Philippi already apprised, and suspicion falling on the
English Minister,--whose Servant ("Arrest him we cannot without a
King's Warrant, only procurable at Potsdam!") vanishes bodily.
Friday, 27th, Ramin and Philippi make report; King answers,
"greatly astonished:" a "GARSTIGE SACHE (ugly Business), which will
do the English no honor:" "Servant fled, say you? Trace it to the
bottom; swift!" Excellency Elliot, seeing how matters lay, owned
honestly to the Official People, That it was his Servant (Servant
safe gone, Chief Pickpocket not mentioned at all); SUNDAY EVENING,
29th, King orders thereupon, "Let the matter drop." These Official
Pieces, signed by the King, by Hertzberg, Ramin and others, we do
not give: here is Friedrich's own notice of it to his
"POTSDAM, 29th JUNE, 1777. ... There has just occurred a strange
thing at Berlin. Three days ago, in absence of the Sieur Lee, Envoy
of the American Colonies, the Envoy of England went [sent!] to the
Inn where Lee lodged, and carried off his Portfolio; it seems he
was in fear, however, and threw it down, without opening it, on the
stairs [alas, no, your Majesty, not till after pumping the essence
out]. All Berlin is talking of it. If one were to act with rigor,
it would be necessary to forbid this man the Court, since he has
committed a public theft: but, not to make a noise, I suppress the
thing. Sha'n't fail, however, to write to England about it, and
indicate that there was another way of dealing with such a matter,
for they are impertinent" (say, ignorant, blind as moles, your
Majesty; that is the charitable reading!). [
or "URKUNDENBUCH to vol. iv.," but it is really and practically
vol. v.) 278, 279, are the various Official Reports.]
This was not Excellency Elliot's Burglary, as readers see,--among
all the Excellencies going, I know not that there is one with less
natural appetite for such a job; but sometimes what can a
necessitous Excellency do? Elliot is still remembered in Berlin
society, not for this only, but for emphatic things of a better
complexion which he did; a man more justly estimated there, than
generally here in our time. Here his chief fame rests on a witty
Anecdote, evidently apocryphal, and manufactured in the London
Clubs: "Who is this Hyder-Ali," said the old King to him, one day
(according to the London Clubs). "Hm," answered Elliot, with
exquisite promptitude, politeness and solidity of information,
"C'EST UN VIEUX VOLEUR QUI COMMENCE A RADOTER (An old robber, now
falling into his dotage),"--let his dotard Majesty take that.
Alas, my friends!--Ignorance by herself is an awkward lumpish
wench; not yet fallen into vicious courses, nor to be uncharitably
treated: but Ignorance and Insolence,--these are, for certain, an
unlovely Mother and Bastard! Yes;--and they may depend upon it, the
grim Parish-beadles of this Universe are out on the track of them,
and oakum and the correction-house are infallible sooner or later!
The clever Elliot, who knew a hawk from a hernshaw, never
floundered into that platitude. This, however, is a joke of his,
better or worse (I think, on his quitting Berlin in 1782, without
visible resource or outlook): "I am far from having a Sans-Souci,"
writes he to the Edens; "and I think I am coming to be SANS
SIX-SOUS."--Here still are two small Fractions, which I must
insert; and then rigorously close. Kaiser Joseph, in these months,
is travelling through France to instruct his Imperial mind.
The following is five weeks anterior to that of Lee's Red-Box:--
1. A BIT OF DIALOGUE AT PARIS (Saturday, 17th May, 1777).
After solemn Session of the ACADEMIE FRANCAISE, held in honor of an
illustrious COMTE DE FALKENSTEIN (privately, Kaiser Joseph II.),
who has come to look at France, [Minute and rather entertaining
Account of his procedures there, and especially of his two Visits
to the Academy (first was May 10th), in Mayer,
seq.]--Comte de Falkenstein was graciously pleased to step up to
D'Alembert, who is Perpetual Secretary here; and this little
FALKENSTEIN. "I have heard you are for Germany this season;
some say you intend to become German altogether?"
D'ALEMBERT. "I did promise myself the high honor of a visit to his
Prussian Majesty, who has deigned to invite me, with all the
kindness possible: but, alas, for such hopes! The bad state of
FALKENSTEIN. "It seems to me you have already been to see the King
D'ALEMBERT. "Two times; once in 1756 [1755, 17th-19th June,--if you
will be exact], at Wesel, when I remained only a few days;
and again in 1763, when I had the honor to pass three or four
months with him. Since that time I have always longed to have the
honor of seeing his Majesty again; but circumstances hindered me.
I, above all, regretted not to have been able to pay my court to
him that year he saw the Emperor at Neisse,--but at this moment
there is nothing more to be wished on that head" (Don't bow: the
Gentleman is INCOGNITO).
FALKENSTEIN. "It was very natural that the Emperor, young, and
desiring to instruct himself, should wish to see such a Prince as
the King of Prussia; so great a Captain, a Monarch of such
reputation, and who has played so great a part. It was a Scholar
going to see his Master" (these are his very words, your Majesty).
D'ALEMBERT. "I wish M. le Comte de Falkenstein could see the
Letters which the King of Prussia did me the honor to write after
that Interview: it would then appear how this Prince judged of the
Emperor, as all the world has since done." ["D'Alembert to
23d May, 1777." Ib. xxv. 82; "13th August, 1777."]
KING TO D'ALEMBERT (three months after. Kaiser is home;
passed Ferney, early in August; and did not call on Voltaire, as is
well known). ... "I hear the Comte de Falkenstein has been seeing
harbors, arsenals, ships, manufactures, and has n't seen Voltaire.
Had I been in the Emperor's place, I would not have passed Ferney
without a glance at the old Patriarch, were it only to say that I
had seen and heard him. Arsenals, ships, manufactures, these you
can see anywhere; but it requires ages to produce a Voltaire.
By the rumors I hear, it will have been a certain great Lady
Theresa, very Orthodox and little Philosophical, who forbade her
Son to visit the Apostle of Tolerance."
D'ALEMBERT (in answer): "No doubt your Majesty's guess is right.
It must have been the Lady Mother. Nobody here believes that the
advice came from his Sister [Queen Marie Antoinette], who, they
say, is full of esteem for the Patriarch, and has more than once
let him know it by third parties." [
According to Friedrich, Joseph's reflections in France were very
gloomy: "This is all one Country; strenuously kneaded into perfect
union and incorporation by the Old Kings: my discordant Romish
Reich is of many Countries,--and should be of one, if Sovereigns
were wise and strenuous!" [
2. A CABINET-ORDER AND ACTUAL (fac-simile) SIGNATURE OF
FRIEDRICH'S.--After unknown travels over the world, this poor brown
Bit of Paper, with a Signature of Friedrich's to it, has wandered
hither; and I have had it copied, worthy or not. A Royal Cabinet-
Order on the smallest of subjects; but perhaps all the more
significant on that account; and a Signature which readers may like
Fordan, or Fordon, is in the Bromberg Department in West Preussen,
--Bromberg no longer a heap of ruins; but a lively, new-built,
paved, CANALLED and industrious trading Town. At Fordan is a Grain-
Magazine: Bein ("Leg," DER BEIN, as they slightingly call him) is
Proviant-Master there; and must consider his ways,--the King's eye
being on him. Readers can now look and understand:--
AN DEN OBER-PROVIANTMEISTER BEIN, zu Fordan.
"POTSDAM, den 9ten April, 1777.
allergnadigster Herr, lassen dem Ober-Proviantmeister Bein hiebey
die Getraide-Preistabelle des Brombergschen Departments zufertigen;
Woraus derselbe ersiehet wie niedrig solche an einigen Orthen sind,
und dass zu Inovraclaw und Strezeltnow der Scheffel Roggen um 12
Groschen kostet: da solches nun hier so wohlfeil ist, somuss ja der
Preis in Pohlen noch wohl geringer, und ist daher nicht abzusehen
warum die Pohlen auf so hohe Preise bestehen; der Bein muss sich
daher nun rechte Muhe gebem, und den Einkauf so wohlfeil als nur
"His Royal Majesty of Preussen, Our most all-gracious Lord, lets
herewith, to the Head Proviant-Master Bein, the Grain-Prices Table
of the Bromberg Department be despatched; Wherefrom Bein perceives
how low in some places these are, and that, at Inovraclaw and
Strezeltnow the Bushel of Rye costs about 14 Pence: now, as it is
so cheap there, the price in Poland must be still smaller;
and therefore it is not to be conceived why the Poles demand such
high prices," as the said Bein reports: "Bein therefore is charged
to take especial pains, and try not to make the purchase dearer
than is indispensable."
FRIEDRICH'S SIGNATURE HERE--PAGE 390, BOOK XXI--------
Original kindly furnished me by Mr. W. H. Doeg, Barlow Moor,
Manchester: whose it now is,--purchased in London, A.D. 1863.
The FRH of German CURSIV-SCHRIFT (current hand), which the
woodcutter has appended, shut off by a square, will show English
readers what the King means: an
by a flourish of one's stick, in the most compendious and really
ingenious manner,--suitable for an economic King, who has to repeat
it scores of times every day of his life!
THE BAVARIAN WAR.
At the very beginning of 1778, the chronic quarrel with Austria
passed, by an accident just fallen out, into the acute state;
rose gradually, and, in spite of negotiating, issued in a thing
called Bavarian-Succession War, which did not end till Spring of
the following year. The accident was this. At Munchen, December
30th, 1777, Max Joseph Kurfurst of Baiern, only Brother of our
lively friend the Electress-Dowager of Saxony, died; suddenly, of
small-pox unskilfully treated. He was in his fifty-second year;
childless, the last of that Bavarian branch. His Heir is Karl
Theodor, Kur-Pfalz (Elector Palatine), who is now to unite the Two
Electorates,--unless Austria can bargain with him otherwise.
Austria's desire to get hold of Baiern is of very old standing;
and we have heard lately how much it was an object with Kaunitz and
his young Kaiser. With Karl Theodor they did bargain,--in fact, had
beforehand as good as bargained,--and were greatly astonished, when
King Friedrich, alone of all Teutschland or the world, mildly, but
peremptorily, interfered, and said No,--with effect, as is
Something, not much, must be said of this Bavarian-Succession War;
which occupied, at a pitch of tension and anxiety foreign to him
for a long time, fifteen months of Friedrich's old age (January,