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History of Friedrich II of Prussia V 10 by Thomas Carlyle

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Prepared by D.R. Thompson

Carlyle's "History of Friedrich II of Prussia"
Book X




Chapter I.


On the Crown-Prince's Marriage, three years ago, when the AMT or
Government-District RUPPIN, with its incomings, was assigned to
him for revenue, we heard withal of a residence getting ready.
Hint had fallen from the Prince, that Reinsberg, an old Country-
seat, standing with its Domain round it in that little Territory
of Ruppin, and probably purchasable as was understood, might be
pleasant, were it once his and well put in repair. Which hint the
kind paternal Majesty instantly proceeded to act upon.
He straightway gave orders for the purchase of Reinsberg;
concluded said purchase, on fair terms, after some months'
bargaining; [23d October, 1733, order given,--16th March, 1734,
purchase completed (Preuss, i. 75).]--and set his best Architect,
one Kemeter, to work, in concert with the Crown-Prince, to new-
build and enlarge the decayed Schloss of Reinsberg into such a
Mansion as the young Royal Highness and his Wife would like.

Kemeter has been busy, all this while; a solid, elegant, yet
frugal builder: and now the main body of the Mansion is complete,
or nearly so, the wings and adjuncts going steadily forward;
Mansion so far ready that the Royal Highnesses can take up their
abode in it. Which they do, this Autumn, 1736; and fairly commence
Joint Housekeeping, in a permanent manner. Hitherto it has been
intermittent only: hitherto the Crown-Princess has resided in
their Berlin Mansion, or in her own Country-house at Schonhausen;
Husband not habitually with her, except when on leave of absence
from Ruppin, in Carnival time or for shorter periods. At Ruppin
his life has been rather that of a bachelor, or husband abroad on
business; up to this time. But now at Reinsberg they do kindle the
sacred hearth together; "6th August, 1736," the date of that
important event. They have got their Court about them, dames and
cavaliers more than we expected; they have arranged the furnitures
of their existence here on fit scale, and set up their Lares and
Penates on a thrifty footing. Majesty and Queen come out on a
visit to them next month; [4th September, 1736 (Ib.).]--raising
the sacred hearth into its first considerable blaze, and crowning
the operation in a human manner.

And so there has a new epoch arisen for the Crown-Prince and his
Consort. A new, and much-improved one. It lasted into the fourth
year; rather improving all the way: and only Kingship, which, if a
higher sphere, was a far less pleasant one, put an end to it.
Friedrich's happiest time was this at Reinsberg; the little Four
Years of Hope, Composure, realizable Idealism: an actual snatch of
something like the Idyllic, appointed him in a life-pilgrimage
consisting otherwise of realisms oftenest contradictory enough,
and sometimes of very grim complexion. He is master of his work,
he is adjusted to the practical conditions set him; conditions
once complied with, daily work done, he lives to the Muses, to the
spiritual improvements, to the social enjoyments; and has, though
not without flaws of ill-weather,--from the Tobacco-Parliament
perhaps rather less than formerly, and from the Finance-quarter
perhaps rather more,--a sunny time. His innocent insipidity of a
Wife, too, appears to have been happy. She had the charm of youth,
of good looks; a wholesome perfect loyalty of character withal;
and did not "take to pouting," as was once apprehended of her, but
pleasantly gave and received of what was going. This poor Crown-
Princess, afterwards Queen, has been heard, in her old age,
reverting, in a touching transient way, to the glad days she had
at Reinsberg. Complaint openly was never heard from her, in any
kind of days; but these doubtless were the best of her life.

Reinsberg, we said, is in the AMT Ruppin; naturally under the
Crown- Prince's government at present: the little Town or Village
of Reinsberg stands about, ten miles north of the Town Ruppin;--
not quite a third-part as big as Ruppin is in our time, and much
more pleasantly situated. The country about is of comfortable, not
unpicturesque character; to be distinguished almost as beautiful,
in that region of sand and moor. Lakes abound in it; tilled
fields; heights called "hills;" and wood of fair growth,--one
reads of "beech-avenues" of "high linden-avenues:"--a country
rather of the ornamented sort, before the Prince with his
improvements settled there. Many lakes and lakelets in it, as
usual hereabouts; the loitering waters straggle, all over that
region, into meshes of lakes. Reinsberg itself, Village and
Schloss, stands on the edge of a pleasant Lake, last of a mesh of
such: the SUMMARY, or outfall, of which, already here a good
strong brook or stream, is called the RHEIN, Rhyn or Rein; and
gives name to the little place. We heard of the Rein at Ruppin:
it is there counted as a kind of river; still more, twenty miles
farther down, where it falls into the Havel, on its way to the
Elbe. The waters, I think, are drab-colored, not peat-brown:
and here, at the source, or outfall from that mesh of lakes, where
Reinsberg is, the country seems to be about the best;--sufficient,
in picturesqueness and otherwise, to satisfy a reasonable man.

The little Town is very old; but, till the Crown-Prince settled
there, had no peculiar vitality in it. I think there are now some
potteries, glass-manufactories: Friedrich Wilhelm, just while the
Crown-Prince was removing thither, settled a first Glass-work
there; which took good root, and rose to eminence in the crystal,
Bohemian-crystal, white-glass, cut-glass, and other commoner
lines, in the Crown-Prince's time. [ Bescheibung des
Lutschlosses &c. zu Reinsberg (Berlin, 1788);
Author, a "Lieutenant Hennert," thoroughly acquainted with
his subject.]

Reinsberg stands on the east or southeast side of its pretty Lake:
Lake is called "the GRINERICK SEE" (as all those remote Lakes have
their names); Mansion is between the Town and Lake. A Mansion
fronting, we may say, four ways; for it is of quadrangular form,
with a wet moat from the Lake begirdling it, and has a spacious
court for interior: but the principal entrance is from the Town
side; for the rest, the Building is ashlar on all sides, front and
rear. Stands there, handsomely abutting on the Lake with two
Towers, a Tower at each angle, which it has on that lakeward side;
and looks, over Reinsberg, and its steeple rising amid friendly
umbrage which hides the house-tops, towards the rising sun.
Townward there is room for a spacious esplanade; and then for the
stables, outbuildings, well masked; which still farther shut off
the Town. To this day, Reinsberg stands with the air of a solid
respectable Edifice; still massive, rain-tight, though long since
deserted by the Princeships,--by Friedrich nearly sixscore years
ago, and nearly threescore by Prince Henri, Brother of
Friedrich's, who afterwards had it. Last accounts I got were, of
talk there had risen of planting an extensive NORMAL-SCHOOL there;
which promising plan had been laid aside again for the time.

The old Schloss, residence of the Bredows and other feudal people
for a long while, had good solid masonry in it, and around it
orchards, potherb gardens; which Friedrich Wilhelm's Architects
took good care to extend and improve, not to throw away:
the result of their art is what we see, a beautiful Country-House,
what might be called a Country-Palace with all its adjuncts;--and
at a rate of expense which would fill English readers, of this
time, with amazement. Much is admirable to us as we study
Reinsberg, what it had been, what it became, and how it was made;
but nothing more so than the small modicum of money lt cost.
To our wondering thought, it seems as if the shilling, in those
parts, were equal to the guinea in these; and the reason, if we
ask it, is by no means flattering altogether. "Change in the value
of money?" Alas, reader, no; that is not above the fourth part of
the phenomenon. Three-fourths of the phenomenon are change in the
methods of administering money,--difference between managing it
with wisdom and veracity on both sides, and managing it with
unwisdom and mendacity on both sides. Which is very great indeed;
and infinitely sadder than any one, in these times, will believe!
--But we cannot dwell on this consideration. Let the reader take
it with him, as a constant accompaniment in whatever work of
Friedrich Wilhelm's or of Friedrich his Son's, he now or at any
other time may be contemplating. Impious waste, which means
disorder and dishonesty, and loss of much other than money to all,
parties,--disgusting aspect of human creatures, master and
servant, working together as if they were not human,--will be
spared him in those foreign departments; and in an English heart
thoughts will arise, perhaps, of a wholesome tendency, though very
sad, as times are.

It would but weary the reader to describe this Crown-Prince
Mansion; which, by desperate study of our abstruse materials, it
is possible to do with auctioneer minuteness. There are engraved
VIEWS of Reinsberg and its Environs; which used to lie conspicuous
in the portfolios of collectors,---which I have not seen.
[See Hennert, just cited, for the titles of them.] Of the House
itself, engraved Frontages (FACADES), Ground-plans, are more
accessible; and along with them, descriptions which are little
descriptive,--wearisomely detailed, and as it were dark by excess
of light (auctioneer light) thrown on them. The reader sees, in
general, a fine symmetrical Block of Buildings, standing in
rectangular shape, in the above locality;--about two hundred
English feet, each, the two longer sides measure, the Townward and
the Lakeward, on their outer front: about a hundred and thirty,
each, the two shorter; or a hundred and fifty, taking in their
Towers just spoken of. The fourth or Lakeward side, however, which
is one of the longer pair, consists mainly of "Colonnade;"
spacious Colonnade "with vases and statues;" catching up the
outskirts of said Towers, and handsomely uniting everything.

Beyond doubt, a dignified, substantial pile of stone-work; all of
good proportions. Architecture everywhere of cheerfully serious,
solidly graceful character; all of sterling ashlar; the due
RISALITES (projecting spaces) with their attics and statues atop,
the due architraves, cornices and corbels,--in short the due
opulence of ornament being introduced, and only the due. Genuine
sculptors, genuine painters, artists have been busy; and in fact
all the suitable fine arts, and all the necessary solid ones, have
worked together, with a noticeable fidelity, comfortable to the
very beholder to this day. General height is about forty feet;
two stories of ample proportions: the Towers overlooking them are
sixty feet in height. Extent of outer frontage, if you go all
round, and omit the Colonnade, will be five hundred feet and more:
this, with the rearward face, is a thousand feet of room
frontage:--fancy the extent of lodging space. For "all the
kitchens and appurtenances are underground;" the "left front"
(which is a new part of the Edifice) rising comfortably over
these. Windows I did not count; but they must go high up into the
Hundreds. No end to lodging space. Way in a detached side-edifice
subsequently built, called Cavalier House, I read of there being,
for one item, "fifty lodging rooms," and for another "a theatre."
And if an English Duke of Trumps were to look at the bills for all
that, his astonishment would be extreme, and perhaps in a degree
painful and salutary to him.

In one of these Towers the Crown-Prince has his Library:
a beautiful apartment; nothing wanting to it that the arts could
furnish, "ceiling done by Pesne" with allegorical geniuses and
what not,--looks out on mere sky, mere earth and water in an
ornamental state: silent as in Elysium. It is there we are to
fancy the Correspondence written, the Poetries and literary
industries going on. There, or stepping down for a turn in the
open air, or sauntering meditatively under the Colonnade with its
statues and vases (where weather is no object), one commands the
Lake, with its little tufted Islands, "Remus Island" much famed
among them, and "high beech-woods" on the farther side. The Lake
is very pretty, all say; lying between you and the sunset;--with
perhaps some other lakelet, or solitary pool in the wilderness,
many miles away, "revealing itself as a cup of molten gold," at
that interesting moment. What the Book-Collection was, in the
interior, I know not except by mere guess.

The Crown-Princess's Apartment, too, which remained unaltered at
the last accounts had of it, [From Hennert, namely, in 1778.] is
very fine;--take the anteroom for specimen: "This fine room," some
twenty feet height of ceiling, "has six windows; three of them, in
the main front, looking towards the Town, the other three, towards
the Interior Court. The light from these windows is heightened by
mirrors covering all the piers (SCHAFTE, interspaces of the
walls), to an uncommonly splendid pitch; and shows the painting of
the ceiling, which again is by the famous Pesne, to much
perfection. The Artist himself, too, has managed to lay on his
colors there so softly, and with such delicate skill, that the
light-beams seem to prolong themselves in the painted clouds and
air, as if it were the real sky you had overhead." There in that
cloud-region "Mars is being disarmed by the Love-goddesses, and
they are sporting with his weapons. He stretches out his arm
towards the Goddess, who looks upon him with fond glances.
Cupids are spreading out a draping." That is Pesne's luxurious
performance in the ceiling.--"Weapon-festoons, in basso-relievo,
gilt, adorn the walls of this room; and two Pictures, also by
Pesne, which represent, in life size, the late King and Queen [our
good friends Friedrich Wilhelm and his Sophie], are worthy of
attention. Over each of the doors, you find in low-relief the
Profiles of Hannibal, Pompey, Scipio, Caesar, introduced
as Medallions."

All this is very fine; but all this is little to another ceiling,
in some big Saloon elsewhere, Music-saloon, I think: Black Night,
making off, with all her sickly dews, at one end of the ceiling;
and at the other end, the Steeds of Phoebus bursting forth, and
the glittering shafts of Day,--with Cupids, Love-goddesses, War-
gods, not omitting Bacchus and his vines, all getting beautifully
awake in consequence. A very fine room indeed;--used as a Music-
saloon, or I know not what,--and the ceiling of it almost an
ideal, say the connoisseurs.

Endless gardens, pavilions, grottos, hermitages, orangeries,
artificial ruins, parks and pleasances surround this favored spot
and its Schloss; nothing wanting in it that a Prince's
establishment needs,--except indeed it be hounds, for which this
Prince never had the least demand.

Except the old Ruppin duties, which imply continual journeyings
thither, distance only a morning's ride; except these, and
occasional commissions from Papa, Friedrich is left master of his
time and pursuits in this new Mansion. There are visits to
Potsdam, periodical appearances at Berlin; some Correspondence to
keep the Tobacco-Parliament in tune. But Friedrich's taste is for
the Literatures, Philosophies: a--young Prince bent seriously to
cultivate his mind; to attain some clear knowledge of this world,
so all-important to him. And he does seriously read, study and
reflect a good deal; his main recreations, seemingly, are Music,
and the converse of well-informed, friendly men. In Music we find
him particularly rich. Daily, at a fixed hour of the afternoon,
there is concert held; the reader has seen in what kind of room:
and if the Artists entertained here for that function were
enumerated (high names, not yet forgotten in the Musical world),
it would still more astonish readers. I count them to the number
of twenty or nineteen; and mention only that "the two Brothers
Graun" and "the two Brothers Benda" were of the lot; suppressing
four other Fiddlers of eminence, and "a Pianist who is known to
everybody." [Hennert, p. 21.] The Prince has a fine sensibility to
Music: does himself, with thrilling adagios on the flute, join in
these harmonious acts; and, no doubt, if rightly vigilant against
the Nonsenses, gets profit, now and henceforth, from this part of
his resources.

He has visits, calls to make, on distinguished persons within
reach; he has much Correspondence, of a Literary or Social nature.
For instance, there is Suhm the Saxon Envoy translating
Wolf's Philosophy into French for him; sending it in
fascicles; with endless Letters to and from, upon it,--which were
then highly interesting, but are now dead to every reader. The
Crown-Prince has got a Post-Office established at Reinsberg;
leathern functionary of some sort comes lumbering round,
southward, "from the Mecklenburg quarter twice a week, and goes by
Fehrbellin," for the benefit of his Correspondences. Of his calls
in the neighborhood, we mean to show the reader one sample, before
long; and only one.

There are Lists given us of the Prince's "Court" at Reinsberg;
and one reads, and again reads, the dreariest unmemorable accounts
of them; but cannot, with all one's industry, attain any definite
understanding of what they were employed in, day after day, at
Reinsberg:--still more are their salaries and maintenance a
mystery to us, in that frugal establishment. There is Wolden for
Hofmarschall, our old Custrin friend; there is Colonel Senning,
old Marlborough Colonel with the wooden leg, who taught Friedrich
his drillings and artillery-practices in boyhood, a fine sagacious
old gentleman this latter. There is a M. Jordan, Ex-Preacher, an
ingenious Prussian-Frenchman, still young, who acts as "Reader and
Librarian;" of whom we shall hear a good deal more. "Intendant" is
Captain (Ex-Captain) Knobelsdorf; a very sensible accomplished
man, whom we saw once at Baireuth; who has been to Italy since,
and is now returned with beautiful talents for Architecture: it is
he that now undertakes the completing of Reinsberg, [Hennert,
p. 29.] which he will skilfully accomplish in the course of the
next three years. Twenty Musicians on wind or string; Painters,
Antoine Pesne but one of them; Sculptors, Glume and others of
eminence; and Hof-Cavaliers, to we know not what extent:--how was
such a Court kept up, in harmonious free dignity, and no halt in
its finances, or mean pinch of any kind visible? The Prince did
get in debt; but not deep, and it was mainly for the tall recruits
he had to purchase. His money-accounts are by no means fully known
to me: but I should question if his expenditure (such is my guess)
ever reached 3,000 pounds a year; and am obliged to reflect more
and more, as the ancient Cato did, what an admirable revenue
frugality is!

Many of the Cavaliers, I find, for one thing, were of the Regiment
Goltz; that was one evident economy. "Rittmeister van Chasot," as
the Books call him: readers saw that Chasot flying to Prince
Eugene, and know him since the Siege of Philipsburg. He is not yet
Rittmeister, or Captain of Horse, as he became; but is of the
Ruppin Garrison; Hof-Cavalier; "attended Friedrich on his late
Prussian journey;" and is much a favorite, when he can be spared
from Ruppin. Captain Wylich, afterwards a General of mark;
the Lieutenant Buddenbrock who did the parson-charivari at Ruppin,
but is now reformed from those practices: all these are of Goltz.
Colonel Keyserling, not of Goltz, nor in active military duty
here, is a friend of very old standing; was officially named as
"Companion" to the Prince, a long while back; and got into
trouble on his account in the disastrous Ante-Custrin or Flight
Epoch: one of the Prince's first acts, when he got pardoned after
Custrin, was to beg for the pardon of this Keyserling; and now he
has him here, and is very fond of him. A Courlander, of good
family, this Keyserling; of good gifts too,--which, it was once
thought, would be practically sublime; for he carried off all
manner of college prizes, and was the Admirable-Crichton of
Konigsberg University and the Graduates there. But in the end they
proved to be gifts of the vocal sort rather: and have led only to
what we see. A man, I should guess, rather of buoyant vivacity
than of depth or strength in intellect or otherwise.
Excessively buoyant, ingenious; full of wit, kindly exuberance;
a loyal-hearted, gay-tempered man, and much a favorite in society
as well as with the Prince. If we were to dwell on Reinsberg,
Keyserling would come prominently forward.

Major van Stille, ultimately Major-General von Stille, I should
also mention: near twenty years older than the Prince; a wise
thoughtful soldier (went, by permission, to the Siege of Dantzig
lately, to improve himself); a man capable of rugged service, when
the time comes. His military writings were once in considerable
esteem with professional men; and still impress a lay reader with
favorable notions towards Stille, as a man of real worth and
sense. [ Campagnes du Roi de Prusse; --
a posthumous Book; ANTERIOR to the Seven-Years War.]


There is, of course, a Chaplain in the Establishment: a Reverend
"M. Deschamps;" who preaches to them all,--in French no doubt.
Friedrich never hears Deschamps: Friedrich is always over at
Ruppin on Sundays; and there "himself reads a sermon to the
Garrison," as part of the day's duties. Reads finely, in a
melodious feeling manner, says Formey, who can judge: "even in his
old days, he would incidentally," when some Emeritus Parson, like
Formey, chanced to be with him, "roll out choice passages from
Bossuet, from Massillon," in a voice and with a look, which would
have been perfection in the pulpit, thinks Formey.
[ Souvenirs d'un Citoyen (2de edition, Paris,
1797), i. 37.]

M. Jordan, though he was called "LECTEUR (Reader)," did not read
to him, I can perceive; but took charge of the Books; busied
himself honestly to be useful in all manner of literary or quasi-
literary ways. He was, as his name indicates, from the French-
refugee department; a recent acquisition, much valued at
Reinsberg. As he makes a figure afterwards, we had better mark
him a little.

Jordan's parents were wealthy religious persons, in trade at
Berlin; this Jordan (Charles Etienne, age now thirty-six) was
their eldest son. It seems they had destined him from birth,
consulting their own pious feelings merely, to be a Preacher of
the Gospel; the other sons, all of them reckoned clever too, were
brought up to secular employments. And preach he, this poor
Charles Etienne, accordingly did; what best Gospel he had; in an
honest manner, all say,--though never with other than a kind of
reluctance on the part of Nature, forced out of her course. He had
wedded, been clergyman in two successive country places; when his
wife died, leaving him one little daughter, and a heart much
overset by that event. Friends, wealthy Brothers probably, had
pushed him out into the free air, in these circumstances: "Take a
Tour; Holland, England; feel the winds blowing, see the sun
shining, as in times past: it will do you good!"

Jordan, in the course of his Tour, came to composure on several
points. He found that, by frugality, by wise management of some
peculium already his, his little Daughter and he might have
quietness at Berlin, and the necessary food and raiment;--and, on
the whole, that he would altogether cease preaching, and settle
down there, among his Books, in a frugal manner. Which he did;--
and was living so, when the Prince, searching for that kind of
person, got tidings of him. And here he is at Reinsberg; bustling
about, in a brisk, modestly frank and cheerful manner: well liked
by everybody; by his Master very well and ever better, who grew
into real regard, esteem and even friendship for him, and has much
Correspondence, of a freer kind than is common to him, with little
Jordan, so long as they lived together. Jordan's death, ten years
hence, was probably the one considerable pain he had ever given
his neighbors, in this the ultimate section of his life.

I find him described, at Reinsberg, as a small nimble figure, of
Southern-French aspect; black, uncommonly bright eyes; and a
general aspect of adroitness, modesty, sense, sincerity;
good prognostics, which on acquaintance with the man were
pleasantly fulfilled.

For the sake of these considerations, I fished out, from the Old-
Book Catalogues and sea of forgetfulness, some of the poor Books
he wrote; especially a Voyage Litteraire,
[ Histoire d'un Voyage Litteraire fait, en MDCCXXXIII., en
France, en Angleterre et en Hollande (2de edition, a
La Haye, 1736).] Journal of that first Sanitary Excursion or Tour
he took, to get the clouds blown from his mind. A LITERARY VOYAGE
which awakens a kind of tragic feeling; being itself dead, and
treating of matters which are all gone dead. So many immortal
writers, Dutch chiefly, whom Jordan is enabled to report as having
effloresced, or being soon to effloresce, in such and such forms,
of Books important to be learned: leafy, blossomy Forest of
Literature, waving glorious in the then sunlight to Jordan;--and
it lies all now, to Jordan and us, not withered only, but
abolished; compressed into a film of indiscriminate PEAT.
Consider what that peat is made of, O celebrated or uncelebrated
reader, and take a moral from Jordan's Book! Other merit, except
indeed clearness and commendable brevity, the Voyage
Litteraire or other little Books of Jordan's have not
now. A few of his Letters to Friedrich, which exist, are the only
writings with the least life left in them, and this an accidental
life, not momentous to him or us. Dryasdust informs me, "Abbe
Jordan, alone of the Crown-Prince's cavaliers, sleeps in the Town
of Reinsberg, not in the Schloss:" and if I ask, Why?--there is
no answer. Probably his poor little Daughterkin was beside
him there?--

We have to say of Friedrich's Associates, that generally they were
of intelligent type, each of them master of something or other,
and capable of rational discourse upon that at least. Integrity,
loyalty of character, was indispensable; good humor, wit if it
could be had, were much in request. There was no man of shining
distinction there; but they were the best that could be had, and
that is saying all. Friedrich cannot be said, either as Prince or
as King, to have been superlatively successful in his choice of
associates. With one single exception, to be noticed shortly,
there is not one of them whom we should now remember except for
Friedrich's sake;--uniformly they are men whom it is now a
weariness to hear of, except in a cursory manner. One man of
shining parts he had, and one only; no man ever of really high and
great mind. The latter sort are not so easy to get; rarely
producible on the soil of this Earth! Nor is it certain how
Friedrich might have managed with one of this sort, or he with
Friedrich;--though Friedrich unquestionably would have tried, had
the chance offered. For he loved intellect as few men on the
throne, or off it, ever did; and the little he could gather of it
round him often seems to me a fact tragical rather than otherwise.

With the outer Berlin social world, acting and reacting, Friedrich
has his connections, which obscurely emerge on us now and then.
Literary Eminences, who are generally of Theological vesture;
any follower of Philosophy, especially if he be of refined manners
withal, or known in fashionable life, is sure to attract him;
and gains ample recognition at Reinsberg or on Town-visits.
But the Berlin Theological or Literary world at that time, still
more the Berlin Social, like a sunk extinct object, continues very
dim in those old records; and to say truth, what features we have
of it do not invite to miraculous efforts for farther
acquaintance. Venerable Beausobre, with his History of
the Manicheans, [ Histoire critique de
Manichee et du Manicheisme: wrote also
Remarques &c. sur le Nouveau Testament, which were
once famous; Histoire de la Reformation; &c.
&c. He is Beausobre SENIOR; there were two Sons (one of them born
in second wedlock, after Papa was 70), who were likewise given to
writing.--See Formey, Souvenirs d'un Citoyen, italic> i. 33-39.] and other learned things,--we heard of him long
since, in Toland and the Republican Queen's time, as a light of
the world. He is now fourscore, grown white as snow; very serene,
polite, with a smack of French noblesse in him, perhaps a smack of
affectation traceable too. The Crown-Prince, on one of his Berlin
visits, wished to see this Beausobre; got a meeting appointed, in
somebody's rooms "in the French College," and waited for the
venerable man. Venerable man entered, loftily serene as a martyr
Preacher of the Word, something of an ancient Seigneur de
Beausobre in him, too; for the rest, soft as sunset, and really
with fine radiances, in a somewhat twisted state, in that good old
mind of his. "What have you been reading lately, M. de Beausobre?"
said the Prince, to begin conversation. "Ah, Monseigneur, I have
just risen from reading the sublimest piece of writing that
exists."--"And what?" "The exordium of St. John's Gospel:
In the Beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God, and the
Word was--" Which somewhat took the Prince by
surprise, as Formey reports; though he rallied straightway, and
got good conversation out of the old gentleman. To whom, we
perceive, he writes once or twice, [ OEuvres de Frederic,
xvi. 121-126. Dates are all of 1737; the last of
Beausobre's years.]--a copy of his own verses to correct, on one
occasion,--and is very respectful and considerate.

Formey tells us of another French sage, personally known to the
Prince since Boyhood; for he used to be about the Palace, doing
something. This is one La Croze; Professor of, I think,
"Philosophy" in the French College: sublime Monster of Erudition,
at that time; forgotten now, I fear, by everybody. Swag-bellied,
short of wind; liable to rages, to utterances of a coarse nature;
a decidedly ugly, monstrous and rather stupid kind of man.
Knew twenty languages, in a coarse inexact way. Attempted deep
kinds of discourse, in the lecture-room and elsewhere; but usually
broke off into endless welters of anecdote, not always of cleanly
nature; and after every two or three words, a desperate sigh, not
for sorrow, but on account of flabbiness and fat. Formey gives a
portraiture of him; not worth copying farther. The same Formey,
standing one day somewhere on the streets of Berlin, was himself,
he cannot doubt, SEEN by the Crown-Prince in passing; "who asked
M. Jordan, who that was," and got answer:--is not that a
comfortable fact? Nothing farther came of it;--respectable
Ex-Parson Formey, though ever ready with his pen, being indeed of
very vapid nature, not wanted at Reinsberg, as we can guess.

There is M. Achard, too, another Preacher, supreme of his sort, in
the then Berlin circles; to whom or from whom a Letter or two
exist. Letters worthless, if it were not for one dim indication:
That, on inquiry, the Crown-Prince had been consulting this
supreme Achard on the difficulties of Orthodoxy; [ OEuvres
de Frederic, xvi. pp. 112-117: date, March-June,
1736.] and had given him texts, or a text, to preach from.
Supreme Achard did not abolish the difficulties for his inquiring
Prince,--who complains respectfully that "his faith is weak," and
leaves us dark as to particulars. This Achard passage is almost
the only hint we have of what might have been an important
chapter: Friedrich's Religious History at Reinsberg.
The expression "weak faith" I take to be meant not in mockery, but
in ingenuous regret and solicitude; much painful fermentation,
probably, on the religious question in those Reinsberg years!
But the old "GNADENWAHL" business, the Free-Grace controversy, had
taught him to be cautious as to what he uttered on those points.
The fermentation, therefore, had to go on under cover; what the
result of it was, is notorious enough; though the steps of the
process are not in any point known.

Enough now of such details. Outwardly or inwardly, there is no
History, or almost none, to be had of this Reinsberg Period;
the extensive records of it consisting, as usual, mainly of
chaotic nugatory matter, opaque to the mind of readers. There is
copious correspondence of the Crown-Prince, with at least dates to
it for most part: but this, which should be the main resource,
proves likewise a poor one; the Crown-Prince's Letters, now or
afterwards, being almost never of a deep or intimate quality;
and seldom turning on events or facts at all, and then not always
on facts interesting, on facts clearly apprehensible to us in that
extinct element.

The Thing, we know always, IS there; but vision of the Thing is
only to be had faintly, intermittently. Dim inane twilight, with
here and there a transient SPARK falling somewhither in it;--you
do at last, by desperate persistence, get to discern outlines,
features:--"The Thing cannot always have been No-thing," you
reflect! Outlines, features:--and perhaps, after all, those are
mostly what the reader wants on this occasion.

Chapter II.


One of Friedrich's grand purposes at Reinsberg, to himself
privately the grandest there, which he follows with constant
loyalty and ardor, is that of scaling the heights of the Muses'
Hill withal; of attaining mastership, discipleship, in Art and
Philosophy;--or in candor let us call it, what it truly was, that
of enlightening and fortifying himself with clear knowledge, clear
belief, on all sides; and acquiring some spiritual panoply in
which to front the coming practicalities of life. This, he feels
well, will be a noble use of his seclusion in those still places;
and it must be owned, he struggles and endeavors towards this,
with great perseverance, by all the methods in his power, here, or
wherever afterwards he might be.

Here at Reinsberg, one of his readiest methods, his pleasantest if
not his usefulest, is that of getting into correspondence with the
chief spirits of his time. Which accordingly he forthwith sets
about, after getting into Reinsberg, and continues, as we shall
see, with much assiduity. Rollin, Fontenelle, and other French
lights of the then firmament,--his Letters to them exist;
and could be given in some quantity: but it is better not.
They are intrinsically the common Letters on such occasions:
"O sublime demi-god of literature, how small are princely
distinctions to such a glory as thine; thou who enterest within
the veil of the temple, and issuest with thy face shining!"--
To which the response is: "Hm, think you so, most happy, gracious,
illustrious Prince, with every convenience round you, and such
prospects ahead? Well, thank you, at any rate,--and, as the Irish
say, more power to your Honor's Glory!" This really is nearly all
that said Sets of Letters contain; and except perhaps the Voltaire
Set, none of them give symptoms of much capacity to contain more.

Certainly there was no want of Literary Men discernible from
Reinsberg at that time; and the young Prince corresponds with a
good many of them; temporal potentate saluting spiritual, from the
distance,--in a way highly interesting to the then parties, but
now without interest, except of the reflex kind, to any creature.
A very cold and empty portion, this, of the Friedrich
Correspondence; standing there to testify what his admiration was
for literary talent, or the great reputation of such; but in
itself uninstructive utterly, and of freezing influence on the now
living mind. Most of those French lights of the then firmament are
gone out. Forgotten altogether; or recognized, like Rollin and
others, for polished dullards, university big-wigs, and long-
winded commonplace persons, deserving nothing but oblivion.
To Montesquieu,--not yet called "Baron de Montesquieu" with ESPRIT
DES LOIS, but "M. de Secondat" with (Anonymous) LETTRES PERSANES,
and already known to the world for a person of sharp audacious
eyesight,--it does not appear that Friedrich addressed any Letter,
now or afterwards. No notice of Montesquieu; nor of some others,
the absence of whom is a little unexpected. Probably it was want
of knowledge mainly; for his appetite was not fastidious at this
time. And certainly he did hit the centre of the mark, and get
into the very kernel of French literature, when, in 1736, hardly
yet established in his new quarters, he addressed himself to the
shining figure known to us as "Arouet Junior" long since, and now
called M. DE VOLTAIRE; which latter is still a name notable in
Friedrich's History and that of Mankind. Friedrich's first Letter,
challenging Voltaire to correspondence, dates itself 8th August,
1736; and Voltaire's Answer--the Reinsberg Household still only in
its second month--was probably the brightest event which had yet
befallen there.

On various accounts it will behoove us to look a good deal more
strictly into this Voltaire; and, as his relations to Friedrich
and to the world are so multiplex, endeavor to disengage the real
likeness of the man from the circumambient noise and confusion
which in his instance continue very great. "Voltaire was the
spiritual complement of Friedrich," says Sauerteig once: "what
little of lasting their poor Century produced lies mainly in these
Two. A very somnambulating Century! But what little it DID, we
must call Friedrich; what little it THOUGHT, Voltaire. Other fruit
we have not from it to speak of, at this day. Voltaire, and what
CAN be faithfully done on the Voltaire Creed; 'Realized
Voltairism;'--admit it, reader, not in a too triumphant humor,--is
not that pretty much the net historical product of the Eighteenth
Century? The rest of its history either pure somnambulism; or a
mere Controversy, to the effect, 'Realized Voltairism? How soon
shall it be realized, then? Not at once, surely!' So that
Friedrich and Voltaire are related, not by accident only.
They are, they for want of better, the two Original Men of their
Century; the chief and in a sense the sole products of their
Century. They alone remain to us as still living results from it,
--such as they are. And the rest, truly, OUGHT to depart and
vanish (as they are now doing); being mere ephemera; contemporary
eaters, scramblers for provender, talkers of acceptable hearsay;
and related merely to the butteries and wiggeries of their time,
and not related to the Perennialities at all, as these Two were."
--With more of the like sort from Sauerteig.

M. de Voltaire, who used to be M. Francois-Marie Arouet, was at
this time about forty, [Born 20th February, 1694; the younger of
two sons: Father, "Francois Arouet, a Notary of the Chatelet,
ultimately Treasurer of the Chamber of Accounts;" Mother,
"Marguerite d'Aumart, of a noble family of Poitou."] and had gone
through various fortunes; a man, now and henceforth, in a high
degree conspicuous, and questionable to his fellow-creatures.
Clear knowledge of him ought, at this stage, to be common;
but unexpectedly it is not. What endless writing and biographying
there has been about this man; in which one still reads, with a
kind of lazy satisfaction, due to the subject, and to the French
genius in that department! But the man himself, and his
environment and practical aspects, what the actual physiognomy of
his life and of him can have been, is dark from beginning to
ending; and much is left in an ambiguous undecipherable condition
to us. A proper History of Voltaire, in which should be
discoverable, luminous to human creatures, what he was, what
element he lived in, what work he did: this is still a problem for
the genius of France!--

His Father's name is known to us; the name of his Father's
profession, too, but not clearly the nature of it; still less his
Father's character, economic circumstances, physiognomy spiritual
or social: not the least possibility granted you of forming an
image, however faint, of that notable man and household, which
distinguished itself to all the earth by producing little Francois
into the light of this sun. Of Madame Arouet, who, or what, or how
she was, nothing whatever is known. A human reader, pestered
continually with the Madame-Denises, Abbe-Mignots and enigmatic
nieces and nephews, would have wished to know, at least, what
children, besides Francois, Madame Arouet had: once for all, How
many children? Name them, with year of birth, year of death,
according to the church-registers: they all, at any rate, had that
degree of history! No; even that has not been done. Beneficent
correspondents of my own make answer, after some research, No
register of the Arouets anywhere to be had. The very name
VOLTAIRE, if you ask whence came it? there is no answer, or worse
than none.--The fit "History" of this man, which might be one of
the shining Epics of his Century, and the lucid summary and soul
of any HISTORY France then had, but which would require almost a
French demi-god to do it, is still a great way off, if on the road
at all! For present purposes, we select what follows from a well-
known hand:--

"YOUTH OF VOLTAIRE (1694-1725).--French Biographers have left the
Arouet Household very dark for us; meanwhile we can perceive, or
guess, that it was moderately well in economic respects;
that Francois was the second of the Two Sons; and that old Arouet,
a steady, practical and perhaps rather sharp-tempered old
gentleman, of official legal habits and position, 'Notary of the
Chatelet' and something else, had destined him for the Law
Profession; as was natural enough to a son of M. Arouet, who had
himself succeeded well in Law, and could there, best of all, open
roads for a clever second son. Francois accordingly sat 'in
chambers,' as we call it; and his fellow-clerks much loved him,--
the most amusing fellow in the world. Sat in chambers, even became
an advocate; but did not in the least take to advocateship;--took
to poetry, and other airy dangerous courses, speculative,
practical; causing family explosions and rebukes, which were
without effect on him. A young fool, bent on sportful pursuits
instead of serious; more and more shuddering at Law. To the
surprise and indignation of M. Arouet Senior. Law, with its wigs
and sheepskins, pointing towards high honors and deep flesh-pots,
had no charms for the young fool; he could not be made to
like Law.

"Whereupon arose explosions, as we hint; family explosions on the
part of M. Arouet Senior; such that friends had to interfere, and
it was uncertain what would come of it. One judicious friend,
'M. Caumartin,' took the young fellow home to his house in the
country for a time;--and there, incidentally, brought him
acquainted with old gentlemen deep in the traditions of Henri
Quatre and the cognate topics; which much inflamed the young
fellow, and produced big schemes in the head of him.

"M. Arouet Senior stood strong for Law; but it was becoming daily
more impossible. Madrigals, dramas (not without actresses),
satirical wit, airy verse, and all manner of adventurous
speculation, were what this young man went upon; and was getting
more and more loved for; introduced, even, to the superior
circles, and recognized there as one of the brightest young
fellows ever seen. Which tended, of course, to confirm him in his
folly, and open other outlooks and harbors of refuge than the
paternal one.

"Such things, strange to M. Arouet Senior, were in vogue then;
wicked Regent d'Orleans having succeeded sublime Louis XIV., and
set strange fashions to the Quality. Not likely to profit this
fool Francois, thought M. Arouet Senior; and was much confirmed in
his notion, when a rhymed Lampoon against the Government having
come out (LES J'AI VU, as they call it ["I have seen (J'AI VU)"
this ignominy occur, "I have seen" that other,--to the amount of a
dozen or two;--"and am not yet twenty." Copy of it, and guess as
to authorship, in OEuvres de Voltaire, i. 321.]), and
become the rage, as a clever thing of the kind will, it was
imputed to the brightest young fellow in France, M. Arouet's Son.
Who, in fact, was not the Author; but was not believed on his
denial; and saw himself, in spite of his high connections,
ruthlessly lodged in the Bastille in consequence. 'Let him sit,'
thought M. Arouet Senior, 'and come to his senses there!' He sat
for eighteen months (age still little above twenty); but privately
employed his time, not in repentance, or in serious legal studies,
but in writing a Poem on his Henri Quatre. 'Epic Poem,' no less;
LA LIGUE, as he then called it; which it was his hope the whole
world would one day fall in love with;--as it did. Nay, in two
years more, he had done a Play, OEDIPE the renowned name of it;
which ran for forty-eight nights' (18th November, 1718, the first
of them); and was enough to turn any head of such age. Law may be
considered hopeless, even by M. Arouet Senior.

"Try him in the Diplomatic line; break these bad habits and
connections, thought M. Arouet, at one time; and sent him to the
French Ambassador in Holland,--on good behavior, as it were, and
by way of temporary banishment. But neither did this answer.
On the contrary, the young fellow got into scrapes again; got into
amatory intrigues,--young lady visiting you in men's clothes,
young lady's mother inveigling, and I know not what;--so that the
Ambassador was glad to send him home again unmarried; marked, as
it were, 'Glass, with care!' And the young lady's mother printed
his Letters, not the least worth reading:--and the old M. Arouet
seems now to have flung up his head; to have settled some small
allowance on him, with peremptory no hope of more, and said,
'Go your own way, then, foolish junior: the elder shall be my
son.' M. Arouet disappears at this point, or nearly so, from the
history of his son Francois; and I think must have died in not
many years. Poor old M. Arouet closed his old eyes without the
least conception what a prodigious ever-memorable thing he had
done unknowingly, in sending this Francois into the world, to
kindle such universal 'dry dung-heap of a rotten world,' and set
it blazing! Francois, his Father's synonym, came to be
representative of the family, after all; the elder Brother also
having died before long. Except certain confused niece-and-nephew
personages, progeny of the sisters, Francois has no more trouble
or solacement from the paternal household. Francois meanwhile is
his Father's synonym, and signs Arouet Junior, 'Francois Aroue
l. j. (LE JEUNE).'

"'All of us Princes, then, or Poets!' said he, one night at
supper, looking to right and left: the brightest fellow in the
world, well fit to be Phoebus Apollo of such circles; and great
things now ahead of him. Dissolute Regent d'Orleans, politest,
most debauched of men, and very witty, holds the helm; near him
Dubois the Devil's Cardinal, and so many bright spirits. All the
Luciferous Spiritualism there is in France is lifting anchor,
under these auspices, joyfully towards new latitudes and Isles of
the Blest. What may not Francois hope to become? 'Hmph!' answers
M. Arouet Senior, steadily, so long as he lives. Here are one or
two subsequent phases, epochs or turning-points, of the young
gentleman's career.

"PHASIS FIRST (1725-1728).--The accomplished Duc de Sulli (Year
1725, day not recorded), is giving in his hotel a dinner, such as
usual; and a bright witty company is assembled;--the brightest
young fellow in France sure to be there; and with his electric
coruscations illuminating everything, and keeping the table in a
roar. To the delight of most; not to that of a certain splenetic
ill-given Duc de Rohan; grandee of high rank, great haughtiness,
and very ill-behavior in the world; who feels impatient at the
notice taken of a mere civic individual, Arouet Junior.
'Quel est done ce jeune homme qui parle si haut, Who
is this young man that talks so loud, then?' exclaims the proud
splenetic Duke. 'Monseigneur,' flashes the young man back upon him
in an electric manner, 'it is one who does not drag a big name
about with him; but who secures respect for the name he has!'
Figure that, in the penetrating grandly clangorous voice (VOIX
SOMBRE ET MAJESTUEUSE), and the momentary flash of eyes that
attended it. Duc de Rohan rose, in a sulphurous frame of mind;
and went his ways. What date? You ask the idle French Biographer
in vain;--see only, after more and more inspection, that the
incident is true; and with labor date it, summer of the Year 1725.
Treaty of Utrecht itself, though all the Newspapers and Own
Correspondents were so interested in it, was perhaps but a foolish
matter to date in comparison!

"About a week after, M. Arouet Junior was again dining with the
Duc de Sulli, and a fine company as before. A servant whispers
him, That somebody has called, and wants him below. 'Cannot come,'
answers Arouet; 'how can I, so engaged?' Servant returns after a
minute or two: 'Pardon, Monsieur; I am to say, it is to do an act
of beneficence that you are wanted below!' Arouet lays down his
knife and fork; descends instantly to see what act it is.
A carriage is in the court, and hackney-coach near it: 'Would
Monsieur have the extreme goodness to come to the door of the
carriage, in a case of necessity?' At the door of the carriage,
hands seize the collar of him, hold him as in a vice; diabolic
visage of Duc de Rohan is visible inside, who utters, looking to
the hackney-coach, some "VOILA, Now then!' Whereupon the hackney-
coach opens, gives out three porters, or hired bullies, with the
due implements: scandalous actuality of horsewhipping descends on
the back of poor Arouet, who shrieks and execrates to no purpose,
nobody being near. 'That will do,' says Rohan at last, and the
gallant ducal party drive off; young Arouet, with torn frills and
deranged hair, rushing up stairs again, in such a mood as is easy
to fancy. Everybody is sorry, inconsolable, everybody shocked;
nobody volunteers to help in avenging. 'Monseigneur de Sulli, is
not such atrocity done to one of your guests, an insult to
yourself?' asks Arouet. 'Well, yes perhaps, but'--Monseigneur de
Sulli shrugs his shoulders, and proposes nothing. Arouet withdrew,
of course in a most blazing condition, to consider what he could,
on his own strength, do in this conjuncture.

"His Biographer Duvernet says, he decided on doing two things:
learning English and the small-sword exercise. [ La Vie de
Voltaire, par M--(a Geneve, 1786), pp. 55-57; or
pp. 60-63, in his SECOND form of the Book. The "M--" is an Abbe
Duvernet; of no great mark otherwise. He got into Revolution
trouble afterwards, but escaped with his head; and republished his
Book, swollen out somewhat by new "Anecdotes" and republican
bluster, in this second instance; signing himself T. J. D. V--
(Paris, 1797). A vague but not dark or mendacious little Book;
with traces of real EYESIGHT in it,--by one who had personally
known Voltaire, or at least seen and heard him.] He retired to the
country for six months, and perfected himself in these two
branches. Being perfect, he challenged Duc de Rohan in the proper
manner; applying ingenious compulsives withal, to secure
acceptance of the challenge. Rohan accepted, not without some
difficulty, and compulsion at the Theatre or otherwise:--accepted,
but withal confessed to his wife. The result was, no measuring of
swords took place; and Rohan only blighted by public opinion, or
incapable of farther blight that way, went at large; a convenient
LETTRE DE CACHET having put Arouet again in the Bastille.
Where for six months Arouet lodged a second time, the innocent not
the guilty; making, we can well suppose, innumerable reflections
on the phenomena of human life. Imprisonment once over, he hastily
quitted for England; shaking the dust of ungrateful France off his
feet,--resolved to change his unhappy name, for one thing.

"Smelfungus, denouncing the torpid fatuity of Voltaire's
Biographers, says he never met with one Frenchman, even of the
Literary classes, who could tell him whence this name VOLTAIRE
originated. 'A PETITE TERRE, small family estate,' they said; and
sent him hunting through Topographies, far and wide, to no
purpose. Others answered, 'Volterra in Italy, some connection with
Volterra,'--and seemed even to know that this was but fatuity.
'In ever-talking, ever-printing Paris, is it as in Timbuctoo,
then, which neither prints nor has anything to print?' exclaims
poor Smelfungus! He tells us at last, the name VOLTAIRE is a mere
Anagram of AROUET L. J.--you try it;
A.R.O.U.E.T.L.J.=V.O.L.T.A.I.R.E and perceive at once, with
obligations to Smelfungus, that he has settled this small matter
for you, and that you can be silent upon it forever thenceforth.

"The anagram VOLTAIRE, gloomily settled in the Bastille in this
manner, can be reckoned a very famous wide-sounding outer result
of the Rohan impertinence and blackguardism; but it is not worth
naming beside the inner intrinsic result, of banishing Voltaire to
England at this point of his course. England was full of
Constitutionality and Freethinking; Tolands, Collinses,
Wollastons, Bolingbrokes, still living; very free indeed.
England, one is astonished to see, has its royal-republican ways
of doing; something Roman in it, from Peerage down to Plebs;
strange and curious to the eye of M. de Voltaire.
Sciences flourishing; Newton still alive, white with fourscore
years, the venerable hoary man; Locke's Gospel of Common Sense in
full vogue, or even done into verse, by incomparable Mr. Pope, for
the cultivated upper classes. In science, in religion, in
politics, what a surprising 'liberty' allowed or taken! Never was
a freer turn of thinking. And (what to M. de Voltaire is a
pleasant feature) it is Freethinking with ruffles to its shirt and
rings on its fingers;--never yet, the least, dreaming of the
shirtless or SANSCULOTTIC state that lies ahead for it! That is
the palmy condition of English Liberty, when M. de Voltaire
arrives there.

"In a man just out of the Bastille on those terms, there is a mind
driven by hard suffering into seriousness, and provoked by
indignant comparisons and remembrances. As if you had elaborately
ploughed and pulverized the mind of this Voltaire to receive with
its utmost avidity, and strength of fertility, whatever seed
England may have for it. That was a notable conjuncture of a man
with circumstances. The question, Is this man to grow up a Court
Poet; to do legitimate dramas, lampoons, witty verses, and wild
spiritual and practical magnificences, the like never seen;
Princes and Princesses recognizing him as plainly divine, and
keeping him tied by enchantments to that poor trade as his task in
life? is answered in the negative. No: and it is not quite to
decorate and comfort your 'dry dung-heap' of a world, or the
fortunate cocks that scratch on it, that the man Voltaire is here;
but to shoot lightnings into it, and set it ablaze one day!
That was an important alternative; truly of world-importance to
the poor generations that now are; and it was settled, in good
part, by this voyage to England, as one may surmise. Such is
sometimes the use of a dissolute Rohan in this world; for the gods
make implements of all manner of things.

"M. de Voltaire (for we now drop the Arouet altogether, and never
hear of it more) came to England--when? Quitted England--when?
Sorrow on all fatuous Biographers, who spend their time not in
laying permanent foundation-stones, but in fencing with the wind!
--I at last find indisputably, it was in 1726 that he came to
England: [Got out of the Bastille, with orders to leave France,
"29th April" of that year ( OEuvres de Voltaire, italic> i. 40 n.).] and he himself tells us that he quitted it 'in
1728.' Spent, therefore, some two years there in all,--last year
of George I.'s reign, and first of George II.'s. But mere inanity
and darkness visible reign, in all his Biographies, over this
period of his life, which was above all others worth
investigating: seek not to know it; no man has inquired into it,
probably no competent man now ever will. By hints in certain
Letters of the period, we learn that he lodged, or at one time
lodged, in 'Maiden Lane, Covent Garden;' one of those old Houses
that yet stand in Maiden Lane: for which small fact let us be
thankful. His own Letters of the period are dated now and then
from 'Wandsworth.' Allusions there are to Bolingbroke; but the
Wandsworth is not Bolingbroke's mansion, which stood in Battersea;
the Wandsworth was one Edward Fawkener's; a man somewhat admirable
to young Voltaire, but extinct now, or nearly so, in human memory.
He had been a Turkey Merchant, it would seem, and nevertheless was
admitted to speak his word in intellectual, even in political
circles; which was wonderful to young Voltaire. This Fawkener,
I think, became Sir Edward Fawkener, and some kind of 'Secretary
to the Duke of Cumberland:'--I judge it to be the same Fawkener;
a man highly unmemorable now, were it not for the young Frenchman
he was hospitable to. Fawkener's and Bolingbroke's are perhaps the
only names that turn up in Voltaire's LETTERS of this English
Period: over which generally there reigns, in the French
Biographies, inane darkness, with an intimation, half involuntary,
that it SHOULD have been made luminous, and would if
perfectly easy.

"We know, from other sources, that he had acquaintance with many
men in England, with all manner of important men: Notes to Pope in
Voltaire-English, visit of Voltaire to Congreve, Notes even to
such as Lady Sundon in the interior of the Palace, are known of.
The brightest young fellow in the world did not want for
introductions to the highest quarters, in that time of political
alliance, and extensive private acquaintance, between his Country
and ours. And all this he was the man to improve, both in the
trivial and the deep sense. His bow to the divine Princess
Caroline and suite, could it fail in graceful reverence or what
else was needed? Dexterous right words in the right places, winged
with ESPRIT so called: that was the man's supreme talent, in which
he had no match, to the last. A most brilliant, swift, far-
glancing young man, disposed to make himself generally agreeable.
For the rest, his wonder, we can see, was kept awake; wonder
readily inclining, in his circumstances, towards admiration.
The stereotype figure of the Englishman, always the same, which
turns up in Voltaire's WORKS, is worth noting in this respect.
A rugged surly kind of fellow, much-enduring, not intrinsically
bad; splenetic without complaint, standing oddly inexpugnable in
that natural stoicism of his; taciturn, yet with strange flashes
of speech in him now and then, something which goes beyond
laughter and articulate logic, and is the taciturn elixir of these
two, what they call 'humor' in their dialect: this is pretty much
the REVERSE of Voltaire's own self, and therefore all the welcomer
to him; delineated always with a kind of mockery, but with evident
love. What excellences are in England, thought Voltaire;
no Bastille in it, for one thing! Newton's Philosophy annihilated
the vortexes of Descartes for him; Locke's Toleration is very
grand (especially if all is uncertain, and YOU are in the
minority); then Collins, Wollaston and Company,--no vile Jesuits
here, strong in their mendacious mal-odorous stupidity,
despicablest yet most dangerous of creatures, to check freedom of
thought! Illustrious Mr. Pope, of the Essay on Man, italic> surely he is admirable; as are Pericles Bolingbroke, and
many others. Even Bolingbroke's high-lacquered brass is gold to
this young French friend of his.--Through all which admirations
and exaggerations the progress of the young man, toward certain
very serious attainments and achievements, is conceivable enough.

"One other man, who ought to be mentioned in the Biographies, I
find Voltaire to have made acquaintance with, in England: a German
M. Fabrice, one of several Brothers called Fabrice or Fabricius,--
concerning whom, how he had been at Bender, and how Voltaire
picked CHARLES DOUSE from the memory of him, there was already
mention. The same Fabrice who held poor George I. in his arms
while they drove, galloping, to Osnabriick, that night, IN
EXTREMIS:--not needing mention again. The following is more to
the point.

"Voltaire, among his multifarious studies while in England, did
not forget that of economics: his Poem LA LIGUE,--surreptitiously
printed, three years since, under that title (one Desfontaines, a
hungry Ex-Jesuit, the perpetrator), [1723, VIE, par T. J. D. V.
(that is, "M--" in the second form), p. 59.]--he now took in hand
for his own benefit; washed it clean of its blots; christened it
HENRIADE, under which name it is still known over all the world;--
and printed it; published it here, by subscription, in 1726;
one of the first things he undertook. Very splendid subscription;
headed by Princess Caroline, and much favored by the opulent of
quality. Which yielded an unknown but very considerable sum of
thousands sterling, and grounded not only the world-renown but the
domestic finance of M. de Voltaire. For the fame of the 'new
epic,' as this HENRIADE was called, soon spread into all lands.
And such fame, and other agencies on his behalf, having opened the
way home for Voltaire, he took this sum of Thousands Sterling
along with him; laid it out judiciously in some city lottery, or
profitable scrip then going at Paris, which at once doubled the
amount: after which he invested it in Corn-trade, Army Clothing,
Barbary-trade, Commissariat Bacon-trade, all manner of well-chosen
trades,--being one of the shrewdest financiers on record;--and
never from that day wanted abundance of money, for one thing.
Which he judged to be extremely expedient for a literary man,
especially in times of Jesuit and other tribulation. 'You have
only to watch,' he would say, 'what scrips, public loans,
investments in the field of agio, are offered; if you exert any
judgment, it is easy to gain there: do not the stupidest of
mortals gain there, by intensely attending to it?'

"Voltaire got almost nothing by his Books, which he generally had
to disavow, and denounce as surreptitious supposititious scandals,
when some sharp-set Book-seller, in whose way he had laid the
savory article as bait, chose to risk his ears for the profit of
snatching and publishing it. Next to nothing by his Books; but by
his fine finance-talent otherwise, he had become possessed of
ample moneys. Which were so cunningly disposed, too, that he had
resources in every Country; and no conceivable combination of
confiscating Jesuits and dark fanatic Official Persons could throw
him out of a livelihood, whithersoever he might be forced to run.
A man that looks facts in the face; which is creditable of him.
The vulgar call it avarice and the like, as their way is: but
M. de Voltaire is convinced that effects will follow causes;
and that it well beseems a lonely Ishmaelite, hunting his way
through the howling wildernesses and confused ravenous populations
of this world, to have money in his pocket. He died with a revenue
of some 7,000 pounds a year, probably as good as 20,000 pounds at
present; the richest literary man ever heard of hitherto, as well
as the remarkablest in some other respects. But we have to mark
the second phasis of his life [in which Friedrich now sees him],
and how it grew out of this first one.

"PHASIS SECOND (1728-1733).--Returning home as if quietly
triumphant, with such a talent in him, and such a sanction put
upon it and him by a neighboring Nation, and by all the world,
Voltaire was warmly received, in his old aristocratic circles, by
cultivated France generally; and now in 1728, in his thirty-second
year, might begin to have definite outlooks of a sufficiently
royal kind, in Literature and otherwise. Nor is he slow, far from
it, to advance, to conquer and enjoy. He writes successful
literature, falls in love with women of quality; encourages the
indigent and humble; eclipses, and in case of need tramples down,
the too proud. He elegizes poor Adrienne Lecouvreur, the Actress,
--our poor friend the Comte de Saxe's female friend; who loyally
emptied out her whole purse for him, 30,000 pounds in one sum,
that he might try for Courland, and whether he could fall in love
with her of the Swollen Cheek there; which proved impossible.
Elegizes Adrienne, we slty, and even buries her under cloud of
night: ready to protect unfortunate females of merit. Especially
theatrical females; having much to do in the theatre, which we
perceive to be the pulpit or real preaching-place of cultivated
France in those years. All manner of verse, all manner of prose,
he dashes off with surprising speed and grace: showers of light
spray for the moment; and always some current of graver
enterprise, Siecle de Louis Quatorze or the
like, going on beneath it. For he is a most diligent, swift,
unresting man; and studies and learns amazingly in such a rackety
existence. Victorious enough in some senses; defeat, in
Literature, never visited him. His Plays, coming thick on the
heels of one another, rapid brilliant pieces, are brilliantly
received by the unofficial world; and ought to dethrone dull
Crebillon, and the sleepy potentates of Poetry that now are.
Which in fact is their result with the public; but not yet in the
highest courtly places;--a defect much to be condemned
and lamented.

"Numerous enemies arise, as is natural, of an envious venomous
description; this is another ever-widening shadow in the sunshine.
In fact we perceive he has, besides the inner obstacles and
griefs, two classes of outward ones: There are Lions on his path
and also Dogs. Lions are the Ex-Bishop of Mirepoix, and certain
other dark Holy Fathers, or potent orthodox Official Persons.
These, though Voltaire does not yet declare his heterodoxy (which,
indeed, is but the orthodoxy of the cultivated private circles),
perceive well enough, even by the HENRIADE, and its talk of
'tolerance,' horror of 'fanaticism' and the like, what this one's
'DOXY is; and how dangerous he, not a mere mute man of quality,
but a talking spirit with winged words, may be;--and they much
annoy and terrify him, by their roaring in the distance.
Which roaring cannot, of course, convince; and since it is not
permitted to kill, can only provoke a talking spirit into still
deeper strains of heterodoxy for his own private behoof. These are
the Lions on his path: beasts conscious to themselves of good
intentions; but manifesting from Voltaire's point of view, it must
be owned, a physiognomy unlovely to a degree. (Light is superior
to darkness, I should think,' meditates Voltaire; 'power of
thought to the want of power! The ANE DE MIREPOIX (Ass of
Mirepoix), [Poor joke of Voltaire's, continually applied to this
Bishop, or Ex-Bishop,--who was thought, generally, a rather
tenebrific man for appointment to the FEUILLE DES BENEFICES
(charge of nominating Bishops, keeping King's conscience, &c.);
and who, in that capacity, signed himself ANC (by no means "ANE,"
but "ANCIEN, Whilom") DE MIREPOIX,--to the enragement of Voltaire
bften enough.] pretending to use me in this manner, is it other,
in the court of Rhadamanthus, than transcendent Stupidity, with
transcendent Insolence superadded?' Voltaire grows more and more
heterodox; and is ripening towards dangerous utterances, though
he, strives to hold in.

"The Dogs upon his path, again, are all the disloyal envious
persons of the Writing Class, whom his success has offended;
and, more generally, all the dishonest hungry persons who can gain
a morsel by biting him: and their name is legion. It must be
owned, about as ugly a Doggery ('INFAME CANAILLE' he might well
reckon them) as has, before or since, infested the path of a man.
They are not hired and set on, as angry suspicion might suggest;
but they are covertly somewhat patronized by the Mirepoix, or
orthodox Official class. Scandalous Ex-Jesuit Desfontaines,
Thersites Freron,--these are but types of an endless Doggery;
whose names and works should be blotted out; whose one claim to
memory is, that the riding man so often angrily sprang down, and
tried horsewhipping them into silence. A vain attempt.
The individual hound flies howling, abjectly petitioning and
promising; but the rest bark all with new comfort, and even he
starts again straightway. It is bad travelling in those woods,
with such Lions and such Dogs. And then the sparsely scattered
HUMAN Creatures (so we may call them in contrast, persons of
Quality for most part) are not always what they should be.
The grand mansions you arrive at, in this waste-howling solitude,
prove sometimes essentially Robber-towers;--and there may be
Armida Palaces, and divine-looking Armidas, where your ultimate
fate is still worse.

'Que le monde est rempli d'enchanteurs, je ne dis rien

To think of it, the solitary Ishmaelite journeying, never so well
mounted, through such a wilderness: with lions, dogs, human
robbers and Armidas all about him; himself lonely, friendless
under the stars:--one could pity him withal, though that is not
the feeling he solicits; nor gets hitherto, even at this impartial

"One of the beautiful creatures of Quality,--we hope, not an
Armida,--who came athwart Voltaire, in these times, was a Madame
du Chatelet; distinguished from all the others by a love of
mathematics and the pure sciences, were it nothing else. She was
still young, under thirty; the literary man still under forty.
With her Husband, to whom she had brought a child, or couple of
children, there was no formal quarrel; but they were living apart,
neither much heeding the other, as was by no means a case without
example at that time; Monsieur soldiering, and philandering about,
in garrison or elsewhere; Madame, in a like humor, doing the best
for herself in the high circles of society, to which he and she
belonged. Most wearisome barren circles to a person of thought, as
both she and M. de Voltaire emphatically admitted to one another,
on first making acquaintance. But is there no help?

"Madame had tried the pure sciences and philosophies, in Books:
but how much more charming, when they come to you as a Human
Philosopher; handsome, magnanimous, and the wittiest man in the
world! Young Madame was not regularly beautiful; but she was very
piquant, radiant, adventurous; understood other things than the
pure sciences, and could be abundantly coquettish and engaging.
I have known her scuttle off, on an evening, with a couple of
adventurous young wives of Quality, to the remote lodging of the
witty M. de Voltaire, and make his dim evening radiant to him.
[One of Voltaire's Letters.] Then again, in public crowds, I have
seen them; obliged to dismount to the peril of Madame's diamonds,
there being a jam of carriages, and no getting forward for half
the day. In short, they are becoming more and more intimate, to
the extremest degree; and, scorning the world, thank Heaven that
they are mutually indispensable. Cannot we get away from this
scurvy wasp's-nest of a Paris, thought they, and live to ourselves
and our books?

"Madame was of high quality, one of the Breteuils; but was poor in
comparison, and her Husband the like. An old Chateau of theirs,
named Cirey, stands in a pleasant enough little valley in
Champagne; but so dilapidated, gaunt and vacant, nobody can live
in it. Voltaire, who is by this time a man of ample moneys,
furnishes the requisite cash; Madame and he, in sweet symphony,
concert the plans: Cirey is repaired, at least parts of it are,
into a boudoir of the gods, regardless of expense; nothing ever
seen so tasteful, so magnificent; and the two withdraw thither to
study, in peace, what sciences, pure and other, they have a mind
to. They are recognized as lovers, by the Parisian public, with
little audible censure from anybody there,--with none at all from
the easy Husband; who occasionally even visits Cirey, if he be
passing that way; and is content to take matters as he finds them,
without looking below the surface. [See (whosoever is curious)
Madame de Grafigny, Vie Privee de Voltaire et de Madame
du Chatelet (Paris, 1820). A six months of actual
Letters written by poor Grafigny, while sheltering at Cirey,
Winter and Spring, 1738-1739; straitened there in various
respects,--extremely ill off for fuel, among other things.
Rugged practical Letters, shadowing out to us, unconsciously
oftenest, and like a very mirror, the splendid and the sordid, the
seamy side and the smooth, of Life at Cirey, in her experience of
it. Published, fourscore years after, under the above title.]
For the Ten Commandments are at a singular pass in cultivated
France at this epoch. Such illicit-idyllic form of life has been
the form of Voltaire's since 1733,"--for some three years now,
when Friedrich and we first make acquaintance with him. "It lasted
above a dozen years more: an illicit marriage after its sort, and
subject only to the liabilities of such. Perhaps we may look in
upon the Cirey Household, ourselves, at some future time; and"--
This Editor hopes not!

"Madame admits that for the first ten years it was, on the whole,
sublime; a perfect Eden on Earth, though stormy now and then.
[ Lettres Inedites de Madame la Marquise du Chastelet;
auxquelles on a joint une Dissertation (&c. of hers):
Paris, 1806.] After ten years, it began to grow decidedly dimmer;
and in the course of few years more, it became undeniably evident
that M. de Voltaire 'did not love me as formerly:'--in fact, if
Madame could have seen it, M. de Voltaire was growing old, losing
his teeth, and the like; and did not care for anything as
formerly! Which was a dreadful discovery, and gave rise to results
by and by.

"In this retreat at Cirey, varied with flying visits to Paris, and
kept awake by multifarious Correspondences, the quantity of
Literature done by the two was great and miscellaneous. By Madame,
chiefly in the region of the pure sciences, in Newtonian
Dissertations, competitions for Prizes, and the like: really sound
and ingenious Pieces, entirely forgotten long since. By Voltaire,
in serious Tragedies, Histories, in light Sketches and deep
Dissertations:--mockery getting ever wilder with him; the
satirical vein, in prose and verse, amazingly copious, and growing
more and more heterodox, as we can perceive. His troubles from the
ecclesiastical or Lion kind in the Literary forest, still more
from the rabid Doggery in it, are manifold, incessant. And it is
pleasantly notable,--during these first ten years,--with what
desperate intensity, vigilance and fierceness, Madame watches over
all his interests and liabilities and casualties great and small;
leaping with her whole force into M. de Voltaire's scale of the
balance, careless of antecedences and consequences alike;
flying, with the spirit of an angry brood-hen, at the face of
mastiffs, in defence of any feather that is M. de Voltaire's.
To which Voltaire replies, as he well may, with eloquent
gratitude; with Verses to the divine Emilie, with Gifts to her,
verses and gifts the prettiest in the world;--and industriously
celebrates the divine Emilie to herself and all third parties.

"An ardent, aerial, gracefully predominant, and in the end
somewhat termagant female figure, this divine Emilie. Her temper,
radiant rather than bland, was none of the patientest on occasion;
nor was M. de Voltaire the least of a Job, if you came athwart him
the wrong way. I have heard, their domestic symphony was liable to
furious flaws,--let us hope at great distances apart:--that
'plates' in presence of the lackeys, actual crockery or metal,
have been known to fly from end to end of the dinner-table;
nay they mention 'knives' (though only in the way of oratorical
action); and Voltaire has been heard to exclaim, the sombre and
majestic voice of him risen to a very high pitch: 'Ne me
regardez tant de ces yeux hagards et louches, Don't
fix those haggard sidelong eyes on me in that way!'--mere
shrillness of pale rage presiding over the scene. But we hope it
was only once in the quarter, or seldomer: after which the element
would be clearer for some time. A lonesome literary man, who has
got a Brood Phoenix to preside over him, and fly at the face of
gods and men for him in that manner, ought to be grateful.

"Perhaps we shall one day glance, personally, as it were, into
Cirey with our readers;"--Not with this Editor or his! "It will
turn out beyond the reader's expectation. Tolerable illicit
resting-place, so far as the illicit can be tolerable, for a
lonesome Man of Letters, who goes into the illicit. Helpfulness,
affection, or the flattering image of such, are by no means
wanting: squalls of infirm temper are not more frequent than in
the most licit establishments of a similar sort. Madame, about
this time, has a swift Palfrey, 'ROSSIGNOL (Nightingale)' the name
of him; and gallops fairy-like through the winding valleys;
being an ardent rider, and well-looking on horseback. Voltaire's
study is inlaid with--the Grafigny knows all what:--mere china
tiles, gilt sculptures, marble slabs, and the supreme of taste and
expense: study fit for the Phoebus Apollo of France, so far as
Madame could contrive it. Takes coffee with Madame, in the
Gallery, about noon. And his bedroom, I expressly discern,
[ Letters of Voltaire. ] looks out upon a
running brook, the murmur of which is pleasant to one."

Enough, enough. We can perceive what kind of Voltaire it was to
whom the Crown-Prince now addressed himself; and how luminous an
object, shining afar out of the solitudes of Champagne upon the
ardent young man, still so capable of admiration. Model Epic,
HENRIADE; model History, CHARLES DOUZE; sublime Tragedies, CISAR,
ALZIRE and others, which readers still know though with less
enthusiasm, are blooming fresh in Friedrich's memory and heart;
such Literature as man never saw before; and in the background
Friedrich has inarticulately a feeling as if, in this man, there
were something grander than all Literatures: a Reform of human
Thought itself; a new "Gospel," good-tidings or God's-Message, by
this man;--which Friedrich does not suspect, as the world with
horror does, to be a new BA'SPEL, or Devil's-Message of bad-
tidings! A sublime enough Voltaire; radiant enough, over at Cirey
yonder. To all lands, a visible Phoebus Apollo, climbing the
eastern steeps; with arrows of celestial "new light" in his
quiver; capable of stretching many a big foul Python, belly
uppermost, in its native mud, and ridding the poor world of her
Nightmares and Mud-Serpents in some measure, we may hope!--

And so there begins, from this point, a lively Correspondence
between Friedrich and Voltaire; which, with some interruptions of
a notable sort, continued during their mutual Life; and is a
conspicuous feature in the Biographies of both. The world talked
much of it, and still talks; and has now at last got it all
collected, and elucidated into a dimly legible form for studious
readers. [Preuss, OEuvres de Frederic, (xxi.
xxii. xxiii., Berlin, 1853); who supersedes the lazy French
Editors in this matter.] It is by no means the diabolically wicked
Correspondence it was thought to be; the reverse, indeed, on both
sides;--but it has unfortunately become a very dull one, to the
actual generation of mankind. Not without intrinsic merit; on the
contrary (if you read intensely, and bring the extinct alive
again), it sparkles notably with epistolary grace and vivacity;
and, on any terms, it has still passages of biographical and other
interest: but the substance of it, then so new and shining, has
fallen absolutely commonplace, the property of all the world,
since then; and is now very wearisome to the reader. No doctrine
or opinion in it that you have not heard, with clear belief or
clear disbelief, a hundred times, and could wish rather not to
hear again. The common fate of philosophical originalities in this
world. As a Biographical Document, it is worth a very strict
perusal, if you are interested that way in either Friedrich or
Voltaire: finely significant hints and traits, though often almost
evanescent, so slight are they, abound in this Correspondence;
frankness, veracity under graceful forms, being the rule of it,
strange to say! As an illustration of Two memorable Characters,
and of their Century; showing on what terms the sage Plato of the
Eighteenth Century and his Tyrant Dionysius correspond, and what
their manners are to one another, it may long have a kind of
interest to mankind: otherwise it has not much left.

In Friedrich's History it was, no doubt, an important fact, that
there lived a Voltaire along with him, twenty years his senior.
With another Theory of the Universe than the Voltaire one, how
much OTHER had Friedrich too been! But the Theory called by
Voltaire's name was not properly of Voltaire's creating, but only
of his uttering and publishing; it lay ready for everybody's
finding, and could not well have been altogether missed by such a
one as Friedrich. So that perhaps we exaggerate the effects of
Voltaire on him, though undoubtedly they were considerable.
Considerable; but not derived from this express correspondence,
which seldom turns on didactic points at all; derived rather from
Voltaire's Printed WORKS, where they lay derivable to all the
world. Certain enough it is, Voltaire was at this time, and
continued all his days, Friedrich's chief Thinker in the world;
unofficially, the chief Preacher, Prophet and Priest of this
Working King;--no better off for a spiritual Trismegistus was poor
Friedrich in the world! On the practical side, Friedrich soon
outgrew him,--perhaps had already outgrown, having far more
veracity of character, and an intellect far better built in the
silent parts of it, and trained too by hard experiences to know
shadow from substance;--outgrew him, and gradually learned to look
down upon him, occasionally with much contempt, in regard to the
practical. But in all changes of humor towards Voltaire,
Friedrich, we observe, considers him as plainly supreme in
speculative intellect; and has no doubt but, for thinking and
speaking, Nature never made such another. Which may be taken as a
notable feature of Friedrich's History; and gives rise to passages
between Voltaire and him, which will make much noise in
time coming.

Here, meanwhile, faithfully presented though in condensed form, is
the starting of the Correspondence; First Letter of it, and first
Response. Two Pieces which were once bright as the summer sunrise
on both sides, but are now fallen very dim; and have much needed
condensation, and abridgment by omission of the unessential,--so
lengthy are they, so extinct and almost dreary to us!
Sublime "Wolf" and his "Philosophy," how he was hunted out of
Halle with it, long since; and now shines from Marburg, his
"Philosophy" and he supreme among mankind: this, and other extinct
points, the reader's fancy will endeavor to rekindle in some
slight measure:--

TO M. DE VOLTAIRE, AT CIREY (from the Crown-Prince).

"BERLIN, 8th August, 1736.

"MONSIEUR,--Although I have not the satisfaction of knowing you
personally, you are not the less known to me through your Works.
They are treasures of the mind, if I may so express myself;
and they reveal to the reader new beauties at every fresh perusal.
I think I have recognized in them the character of their ingenious
Author, who does honor to our age and to human nature. If ever the
dispute on the comparative merits of the Moderns and the Ancients
should be revived, the modern great men will owe it to you, and to
you only, that the scale is turned in their favor. With the
excellent quality of Poet you join innumerable others more or less
related to it. Never did Poet before put Metaphysics into rhythmic
cadence: to you the honor was reserved of doing it first.

"This taste for Philosophy manifested in your writings, induces me
to send you a translated Copy of the Accusation and
defence of M. Wolf, the most celebrated Philosopher
of our days; who, for having carried light into the darkest places
of Metaphysics, is cruelly accused of irreligion and atheism.
Such is the destiny of great men; their superior genius exposes
them to the poisoned arrows of calumny and envy. I am about
getting a Translation made of the Treatise on God, the
Soul, and the World," --Translation done by an
Excellency Suhm, as has been hinted,--"from the pen of the same
Author. I will send it you when it is finished; and I am sure that
the force of evidence in all his propositions, and their close
geometrical sequence, will strike you.

"The kindness and assistance you afford to all who devote
themselves to the Arts and Sciences, makes me hope that you will
not exclude me from the number of those whom you find worthy of
your instructions:--it is so I would call your intercourse by
Correspondence of Letters; which cannot be other than profitable
to every thinking being. ...

... "beauties without number in your works. Your HENRIADE delights
me. The tragedy of CESAR shows us sustained characters;
the sentiments in it are magnificent and grand, and one feels that
Brutus is either a Roman, or else an Englishman (ou un
Romain ou un Anglais). Your ALZIRE, to the graces of
novelty adds ...

"Monsieur, there is nothing I wish so much as to possess all your
Writings," even those not printed hitherto. "Pray, Monsieur, do
communicate them to me without reserve. If there be amongst your
Manuscripts any that you wish to conceal from the eyes of the
public, I engage to keep them in the profoundest secrecy. I am
unluckily aware, that the faith of Princes is an object of little
respect in our days; nevertheless I hope you will make an
exception from the general rule in my favor. I should think myself
richer in the possession of your Works than in that of all the
transient goods of Fortune. These the same chance grants and takes
away: your Works one can make one's own by means of memory, so
that they last us whilst it lasts. Knowing how weak my own memory
is, I am in the highest degree select in what I trust to it.

"If Poetry were what it was before your appearance, a strumming of
wearisome idyls, insipid eclogues, tuneful nothings, I should
renounce it forever:" but in your hands it becomes ennobled;
a melodious "course of morals; worthy of the admiration and the
study of cultivated minds (DES HONNETES GENS). You"--in fine, "you
inspire the ambition to follow in your footsteps. But I, how often
have I said to myself: 'MALHEUREUX, throw down a burden which is
above thy strength! One cannot imitate Voltaire, without
being Voltaire!'

"It is in such moments that I have felt how small are those
advantages of birth, those vapors of grandeur, with which vanity
would solace us! They amount to little, properly to nothing (POUR
MIEUX DIRE, RIEN). Nature, when she pleases, forms a great soul,
endowed with faculties that can advance the Arts and Sciences;
and it is the part of Princes to recompense his noble toils.
Ah, would Glory but make use of me to crown your successes!
My only fear would be, lest this Country, little fertile in
laurels, proved unable to furnish enough of them.

"If my destiny refuse me the happiness of being able to possess
you, may I, at least, hope one day to see the man whom I have
admired so long now from afar; and to assure you, by word of
mouth, that I am,--With all the esteem and consideration due to
those who, following the torch of truth for guide, consecrate
their labors to the Public,--Monsieur, your affectionate friend,

"FREDERIC, P. R. of Prussia."

[ OEuvres de Frederic, xxi. 6.]

By what route or conveyance this Letter went, I cannot say.
In general, it is to be observed, these Friedrich-Voltaire Letters
--liable perhaps to be considered contraband at BOTH ends of their
course--do not go by the Post; but by French-Prussian Ministers,
by Hamburg Merchants, and other safe subterranean channels.
Voltaire, with enthusiasm, and no doubt promptly, answers within
three weeks:--


"CIREY, 26th August, 1736.

"MONSEIGNEUR,--A man must be void of all feeling who were not
infinitely moved by the Letter which your Royal Highness has
deigned to honor me with. My self-love is only too much flattered
by it: but my love of Mankind, which I have always nourished in my
heart, and which, I venture to say, forms the basis of my
character, has given me a very much purer pleasure,--to see that
there is, now in the world, a Prince who thinks as a man;
a PHILOSOPHER Prince, who will make men happy.

"Permit me to say, there is not a man on the earth but owes thanks
for the care you take to cultivate by sound philosophy a soul that
is born for command. Good kings there never were except those that
had begun by seeking to instruct themselves; by knowing-good men
from bad; by loving what was true, by detesting persecution and
superstition. No Prince, persisting in such thoughts, but might
bring back the golden age into his Countries! And why do so few
Princes seek this glory? You feel it, Monseigneur, it is because
they all think more of their Royalty than of Mankind.
Precisely the reverse is your case:--and, unless, one day, the
tumult of business and the wickedness of men alter so divine a
character, you will be worshipped by your People, and loved by the
whole world. Philosophers, worthy of the name, will flock to your
States; thinkers will crowd round that throne, as the skilfulest
artisans do to the city where their art is in request.
The illustrious Queen Christina quitted her kingdom to go in
search of the Arts; reign you, Monseigneur, and the Arts will come
to seek you.

"May you only never be disgusted with the Sciences by the quarrels
of their Cultivators! A race of men no better than Courtiers;
often enough as greedy, intriguing, false and cruel as these," and
still more ridiculous in the mischief they do. "And how sad for
mankind that the very Interpreters of Heaven's commandments, the
Theologians, I mean, are sometimes the most dangerous of all!
Professed messengers of the Divinity, yet men sometimes of obscure
ideas and pernicious behavior; their soul blown out with mere
darkness; full of gall and pride, in proportion as it is empty of
truths. Every thinking being who is not of their opinion is an
Atheist; and every King who does not favor them will be damned.
Dangerous to the very throne; and yet intrinsically
insignificant:" best way is, leave their big talk and them alone;
speedy collapse will follow. ...

"I cannot sufficiently thank your Royal Highness for the gift of
that little Book about Monsieur Wolf. I respect Metaphysical
ideas; rays of lightning they are in the midst of deep night.
More, I think, is not to be hoped from Metaphysics. It does not
seem likely that the First-principles of things will ever be
known. The mice that nestle in some little holes of an immense
Building, know not whether it is eternal, or who the Architect, or
why he built it. Such mice are we; and the Divine Architect who
built the Universe has never, that I know of, told his secret to
one of us. If anybody could pretend to guess correctly, it is
M. Wolf." Beautiful in your Royal Highness to protect such a man.
And how beautiful it will be, to send me his chief Book, as you
have the kindness to promise! "The Heir of a Monarchy, from his
palace, attending to the wants of a recluse far off! Condescend to
afford me the pleasure of that Book, Monseigneur. ...

"What your Royal Highness thinks of poetry is just: verses that do
not teach men new and touching truths, do not deserve to be read."
As to my own poor verses--But, after all, "that HENRIADE is the
writing of an Honest Man: fit, in that sense, that it find grace
with a Philosopher Prince.

"I will obey your commands as to sending those unpublished Pieces.
You shall be my public, Monseigneur; your criticisms will be my
reward: it is a price few Sovereigns can pay. I am sure of your
secrecy: your virtue and your intellect must be in proportion.
I should indeed consider it a precious happiness to come and pay
my court to your Royal Highness! One travels to Rome to see
paintings and ruins: a Prince such as you is a much more singular
object; worthier of a long journey! But the friendship [divine
Emilie's] which keeps me in this retirement does not permit my
leaving it. No doubt you think with Julian, that great and much
calumniated man, who said, 'Friends should always be preferred
to Kings.'

"In whatever corner of the world I may end my life, be assured,
Monseigneur, my wishes will continually be for you,--that is to
say, for a whole People's happiness. My heart will rank itself
among your subjects; your glory will ever be dear to me. I shall
wish, May you always be like yourself, and may other Kings be like
you!--I am, with profound respect, your Royal Highness's most


[ OEuvres de Frederic, xxi. 10.]

The Correspondence, once kindled, went on apace; and soon burst
forth, finding nourishment all round, into a shining little
household fire, pleasant to the hands and hearts of both parties.
Consent of opinions on important matters is not wanting; nor is
emphasis in declaring the same. The mutual admiration, which is
high,--high and intrinsic on Friedrich's side; and on Voltaire's,
high if in part extrinsic,--by no means wants for emphasis of
statement: superlatives, tempered by the best art, pass and
repass. Friedrich, reading Voltaire's immortal Manuscripts,
confesses with a blush, before long, that he himself is a poor
Apprentice that way. Voltaire, at sight of the Princely
Productions, is full of admiration, of encouragement; does a
little in correcting, solecisms of grammar chiefly; a little, by
no means much. But it is a growing branch of employment; now and
henceforth almost the one reality of function Voltaire can find
for himself in this beautiful Correspondence. For, "Oh what a
Crown-Prince, ripening forward to be the delight of human nature,
and realize the dream of sages, Philosophy upon the Throne!"
And on the other side, "Oh what a Phoebus Apollo, mounting the
eastern sky, chasing the Nightmares,--sowing the Earth with Orient
pearl, to begin with!"--In which fine duet, it must be said, the
Prince is perceptibly the truer singer; singing within compass,
and from the heart; while the Phoebus shows himself acquainted
with art, and warbles in seductive quavers, now and then beyond
the pitch of his voice. We must own also, Friedrich proves little
seducible; shows himself laudably indifferent to such siren-
singing;--perhaps more used to flattery, and knowing by experience
how little meal is to be made of chaff. Voltaire, in an ungrateful
France, naturally plumes himself a good deal on such recognition
by a Foreign Rising Sun; and, of the two, though so many years the
elder, is much more like losing head a little.

Elegant gifts are despatched to Cirey; gold-amber trinkets for
Madame, perhaps an amber inkholder for Monsieur: priceless at
Cirey as the gifts of the very gods. By and by, a messenger goes
express: the witty Colonel Keyserling, witty but experienced, whom
we once named at Reinsberg; he is to go and see with his eyes,
since his Master cannot. What a messenger there; ambassador from
star to star! Keyserling's report at Reinsberg is not given;
but we have Grafigny's, which is probably the more impartial.
Keyserling's embassy was in the end of next year; [3d November,
1737 (as we gather from the Correspondence).] and there is plenty
of airy writing about it and him, in these Letters.

Friedrich has translated the name KEYSERLING (diminutive of
KAISER) into "Caesarion;"--and I should have said, he plays much
upon names and also upon things, at Reinsberg, in that style;
and has a good deal of airy symbolism, and cloud-work ingeniously
painted round the solidities of his life there. Especially a
"Bayard Order," as he calls it: Twelve of his selectest Friends
made into a Chivalry Brotherhood, the names of whom are all
changed, "Caesarion" one of them; with dainty devices, and mimetic
procedures of the due sort. Which are not wholly mummery; but have
a spice of reality, to flavor them to a serious young heart.
For the selection was rigorous, superior merit and behavior a
strict condition; and indeed several of these Bayard Chevaliers
proved notable practical Champions in time coming;--for example
Captain Fouquet, of whom we have heard before, in the dark Custrin
days. This is a mentionable feature of the Reinsberg life, and of
the young Prince's character there: pleasant to know of, from this
distance; but not now worth knowing more in detail.

The Friedrich-Voltaire Correspondence contains much incense;
due whiffs of it, from Reinsberg side, to the "divine Emilie,"
Voltaire's quasi better-half or worse-half; who responds always in
her divinest manner to Reinsberg, eager for more acquaintance
there. The Du Chatelets had a Lawsuit in Brabant; very inveterate,
perhaps a hundred years old or more; with the "House of
Honsbrouck:" [ Lettres Inedites de Voltaire
(Paris, 1826), p. 9.] this, not to speak of other causes, flights
from French peril and the like, often brought Voltaire and his
Dame into those parts; and gave rise to occasional hopes of
meeting with Friedrich; which could not take effect. In more
practical style, Voltaire solicits of him: "Could not your Royal
Highness perhaps graciously speak to some of those Judicial Big
wigs in Brabant, and flap them up a little!" Which Friedrich,
I think, did, by some good means. Happily, by one means or other,
Voltaire got the Lawsuit ended,--1740, we might guess, but the
time is not specified;--and Friedrich had a new claim, had there
been need of new, to be regarded with worship by Madame. [Record
of all this, left, like innumerable other things there, in an
intrinsically dark condition, lies in Voltaire's LETTERS,--not
much worth hunting up into clear daylight, the process being so
difficult to a stranger.] But the proposed meeting with Madame
could never take effect; not even when Friedrich's hands were
free. Nay I notice at last, Friedrich had privately determined it
never should--Madame evidently an inconvenient element to him.
A young man not wanting in private power of eyesight; and able to
distinguish chaff from meal! Voltaire and he will meet; meet, and
also part; and there will be passages between them:--and the
reader will again hear of this Correspondence of theirs, where it
has a biographical interest. We are to conceive it, at present, as
a principal light of life to the young heart at Reinsberg;
a cheerful new fire, almost an altar-fire, irradiating the common
dusk for him there.

Of another Correspondence, beautifully irradiative for the young
heart, we must say almost nothing: the Correspondence with Suhm.
Suhm the Saxon Minister, whom we have occasionally heard of, is an
old Friend of the Crown-Prince's, dear and helpful to him: it is
he who is now doing those Translations of Wolf, italic> of which Voltaire lately saw specimens; translating WOLF
at large, for the young man's behoof. The young man, restless to
know the best Philosophy going, had tried reading of Wolf's chief
Book; found it too abstruse, in Wolf's German: wherefore Suhm
translates; sends it to him in limpid French; fascicle by
fascicle, with commentaries; young man doing his best to
understand and admire,--gratefully, not too successfully, we can
perceive. That is the staple of the famous SUHM CORRESPONDENCE;
staple which nobody could now bear to be concerned with.

Suhm is also helpful in finance difficulties, which are pretty
frequent; works out subventions, loans under a handsome form, from
the Czarina's and other Courts. Which is an operation of the
utmost delicacy; perilous, should it be heard of at Potsdam.
Wherefore Suhm and the Prince have a covert language for it:
and affect still to be speaking of "Publishers" and "new Volumes,"
when they mean Lenders and Bank-Draughts. All these loans, I will
hope, were accurately paid one day, as that from George II. was,
in "rouleaus of new gold." We need not doubt the wholesome charm
and blessing of so intimate a Correspondence to the Crown-Prince:
and indeed his real love of the amiable Suhm, as Suhm's of him,
comes beautifully to light in these Letters: but otherwise they
are not now to be read without weariness, even dreariness, and
have become a biographical reminiscence merely.

Concerning Graf von Manteufel, a third Literary Correspondent, and
the only other considerable one, here, from a German Commentator
on this matter, is a Clipping that will suffice:--

"Manteufel was Saxon by birth, long a Minister of August the
Strong, but quarrelled with August, owing to some frail female it
is said, and had withdrawn to Berlin a few years ago. He shines
there among the fashionable philosophical classes; underhand,
perhaps does a little in the volunteer political line withal;
being a very busy pushing gentleman. Tall of stature, 'perfectly
handsome at the age of sixty;' [Formey, Souvenirs d'un
Citoyen, i. 39-45.] great partisan of Wolf and the
Philosophies, awake to the Orthodoxies too. Writes flowing elegant
French, in a softly trenchant, somewhat too all-knowing style.
High manners traceable in him; but nothing of the noble loyalty,
natural politeness and pious lucency of Suhm. One of his Letters
to Friedrich has this slightly impertinent passage;--Friedrich,
just getting settled in Reinsberg, having transiently mentioned
'the quantity of fair sex' that had come about him there:--

"'BERLIN, 26th AUGUST, 1736 (to the Crown-Prince). ...
I am well persuaded your Royal Highness will regulate all that to
perfection, and so manage that your fair sex will be charmed to
find themselves with you at Reinsberg, and you charmed to have
them there. But permit me, your Royal Highness, to repeat in this
place, what I one day took the liberty of saying here at Berlin:
Nothing in the world would better suit the present interests of
your Royal Highness and of us all, than some Heir of your Royal
Highness's making! Perhaps the tranquil convenience with which
your Royal Highness at Reinsberg can now attend to that object,
will be of better effect than all those hasty and transitory
visits at Berlin were. At least I wish it with the best of my
heart. I beg pardon, Monseigneur, for intruding thus into
everything which concerns your Royal Highness;'--In truth, I am a
rather impudent busybodyish fellow, with superabundant dashing
manner, speculation, utterance; and shall get myself ordered out
of the Country, by my present correspondent, by and by.--
'Being ever,' with the due enthusiasm, 'MANTEUFEL.'
[ OEuvres de Frederic, xxv. 487;--Friedrich's
Answer is, Reinsberg, 23d September (Ib. 489).]

"To which Friedrich's Answer is of a kind to put a gag in the foul
mouth of certain extraordinary Pamphleteerings, that were once
very copious in the world; and, in particular, to set at rest the
Herr Dr. Zimmermann, and his poor puddle of calumnies and
credulities, got together in that weak pursuit of physiology under
obscene circumstances;--

"Which is the one good result I have gathered from the Manteufel
Correspondence," continues our German friend; whom I vote with!--
Or if the English reader never saw those Zimmermann or other dog-
like Pamphleteerings and surmisings, let this Excerpt be
mysterious and superfluous to the thankful English reader.

On the whole, we conceive to ourselves the abundant nature of
Friedrich's Correspondence, literary and other; and what kind of
event the transit of that Post functionary "from Fehrbellin
northwards," with his leathern bags, "twice a week," may have been
at Reinsberg, in those years.

Chapter III.


Thursday, 25th October, 1736, the Crown-Prince, with Lieutenant
Buddenbrock and an attendant or two, drove over into Mecklenburg,
to a Village and serene Schloss called Mirow, intending a small
act of neighborly civility there; on which perhaps an English
reader of our time will consent to accompany him. It is but some
ten or twelve miles off, in a northerly direction; Reinsberg being
close on the frontier there. A pleasant enough morning's-drive,
with the October sun shining on the silent heaths, on the many-
colored woods and you.

Mirow is an Apanage for one of the Mecklenburg-Strelitz junior
branches: Mecklenburg-Strelitz being itself a junior compared to
the Mecklenburg-Schwerin of which, and its infatuated Duke, we
have heard so much in times past. Mirow and even Strelitz are not
in--a very shining state,--but indeed, we shall see them, as it
were, with eyes. And the English reader is to note especially
those Mirow people, as perhaps of some small interest to him, if
he knew it. The Crown-Prince reports to papa, in a satirical vein,
not ungenially, and with much more freedom than is usual in those
Reinsberg letters of his:--

"TO HIS PRUSSIAN MAJESTY (from the Crown-Prince).

"REINSBERG, 26th October, 1736.

... "Yesterday I went across to Mirow. To give my Most All-
gracious Father an idea of the place, I cannot liken it to
anything higher than Gross-Kreutz [term of comparison lost upon
us; say GARRAT, at a venture, or the CLACHAN OF ABERFOYLE]:
the one house in it, that can be called a house, is not so good as
the Parson's there. I made straight for the Schloss; which is
pretty much like the Garden-house in Bornim: only there is a
rampart round it; and an old Tower, considerably in ruins, serves
as a Gateway to the House.

"Coming on the Drawbridge, I perceived an old stocking-knitter
disguised as Grenadier, with his cap, cartridge-box and musket
laid to a side, that they might not hinder him in his knitting-
work. As I advanced, he asked, 'Whence I came, and whitherward I
was going?' I answered, that 'I came from the Post-house, and was
going over this Bridge:' whereupon the Grenadier, quite in a
passion, ran to the Tower; where he opened a door, and called out
the Corporal. The Corporal seemed to have hardly been out of bed;
and in his great haste, had not taken time to put on his shoes,
nor quite button his breeches; with much flurry he asked us,
'Where we were for, and how we came to treat the Sentry in that
manner?' Without answering him at all, we went our way towards
the Schloss.

"Never in my life should I have taken this for a Schloss, had it
not been that there were two glass lamps fixed at the door-posts,
and the figures of two Cranes standing in front of them, by way of
Guards. We made up to the House; and after knocking almost half an
hour to no purpose, there peered out at last an exceedingly old
woman, who looked as if she might have nursed the Prince of
Mirow's father. The poor woman, at sight of strangers, was so
terrified, she slammed the door to in our faces. We knocked again;
and seeing there could nothing be made of it, we went round to the
stables; where a fellow told us, 'The young Prince with his
Consort was gone to Neu-Strelitz, a couple of miles off [ten miles
English]; and the Duchess his Mother, who lives here, had given
him, to make the better figure, all her people along with him;
keeping nobody but the old woman to herself.'

"It was still early; so I thought I could not do better than
profit by the opportunity, and have a look at Neu-Strelitz.
We took post-horses; and got thither about noon. Neu-Strelitz is
properly a Village; with only one street in it, where
Chamberlains, Office-Clerks, Domestics all lodge, and where there
is an Inn. I cannot better describe it to my Most All-gracious
Father than by that street in Gumbinnen where you go up to the
Town-hall,--except that no house here is whitewashed. The Schloss
is fine, and lies on a lake, with a big garden; pretty much like
Reinsberg in situation.

"The first question I asked here was for the Prince of Mirow:
but they told me he had just driven off again to a place called
Kanow; which is only a couple of miles English from Mirow, where
we had been. Buddenbrock, who is acquainted with Neu-Strelitz, got
me, from a chamberlain, something to eat; and in the mean while,
that Bohme came in, who was Adjutant in my Most All-gracious
Father's Regiment [not of Goltz, but King's presumably]: Bohme did
not know me till I hinted to him who I was. He told me, 'The Duke
of Strelitz was an excellent seamster;'" fit to be Tailor to your
Majesty in a manner, had not Fate been cruel, "'and that he made
beautiful dressing-gowns (CASSAQUINS) with his needle.' This made
me curious to see him: so we had ourselves presented as
Foreigners; and it went off so well that nobody recognized me.
I cannot better describe the Duke than by saying he is like old
Stahl [famed old medical man at Berlin, dead last year,
physiognomy not known to actual readers], in a blond Abbe's-
periwig. He is extremely silly (BLODE); his Hofrath Altrock tells
him, as it were, everything he has to say." About fifty, this poor
Duke; shrunk into needlework, for a quiet life, amid such tumults
from Schwerin and elsewhere.

"Having taken leave, we drove right off to Kanow; and got thither
about six. It is a mere Village; and the Prince's Pleasure-House
(LUSTHAUS) here is nothing better than an ordinary Hunting-Lodge,
such as any Forest-keeper has. I alighted at the Miller's; and had
myself announced" at the LUSTHAUS," by his maid: upon which the
Major-Domo (HAUS-HOFMEISTER) came over to the Mill, and
complimented me; with whom I proceeded to the Residenz," that is,
back again to Mirow, "where the whole Mirow Family were assembled.
The Mother is a Princess of Schwartzburg, and still the cleverest
of them all," still under sixty; good old Mother, intent that her
poor Son should appear to advantage, when visiting the more
opulent Serenities. "His Aunt also," mother's sister, "was there.
The Lady Spouse is small; a Niece to the Prince of Hildburghausen,
who is in the Kaiser's service: she was in the family-way;
but (ABER) seemed otherwise to be a very good Princess.

"The first thing they entertained me with was, the sad misfortune
come upon their best Cook; who, with the cart that was bringing
the provisions, had overset, and broken his arm; so that the
provisions had all gone to nothing. Privately I have had inquiries
made; there was not a word of truth in the story. At last we went
to table; and, sure enough, it looked as if the Cook and his
provisions had come to some mishap; for certainly in the Three
Crowns at Potsdam [worst inn, one may guess, in the satirical
vein], there is better eating than here.

"At table, there was talk of nothing but of all the German Princes
who are not right in their wits (NICHT RECHT KLUG)," as Mirow
himself, your Majesty knows, is reputed to be! "There was Weimar,
[Wilhelmina's acquaintance; wedded, not without difficulty, to a
superfluous Baireuth Sister-in-law by Wilhelmina (
Memoires de Wilhelmina, ii. 185-194): Grandfather of
Goethe's Friend;--is nothing like fairly out of his wits; only has
a flea (as we may say) dancing occasionally in the ear of him.
Perhaps it is so with the rest of these Serenities, here fallen
upon evil tongues?] Gotha, Waldeck, Hoym, and the whole lot of
them, brought upon the carpet:--and after our good Host had got
considerably drunk, we rose,--and he lovingly promised me that 'he
and his whole Family would come and visit Reinsberg.' Come he
certainly will; but how I shall get rid of him, God knows.

"I most submissively beg pardon of my Most All-gracious Father for
this long Letter; and"--we will terminate here. [ OEuvres
de Frederic, xxvii. part 3d, pp. 104-106.]

Dilapidated Mirow and its inmates, portrayed in this satirical
way, except as a view of Serene Highnesses fallen into Sleepy
Hollow, excites little notice in the indolent mind; and that
little, rather pleasantly contemptuous than really profitable.
But one fact ought to kindle momentary interest in English
readers: the young foolish Herr, in this dilapidated place, is no
other than our "Old Queen Charlotte's" Father that is to be,--
a kind of Ancestor of ours, though we little guessed it!
English readers will scan him with new curiosity, when he pays
that return visit at Reinsberg. Which he does within
the fortnight:--

"TO HIS PRUSSIAN MAJESTY (from the Crown-Prince).

"REINSBERG, 6th November, 1736.

... "that my Most All-gracious Father has had the graciousness to
send us some Swans. My Wife also has been exceedingly delighted at
the fine Present sent her. ... General Praetorius," Danish Envoy,
with whose Court there is some tiff of quarrel, "came hither
yesterday to take leave of us; he seems very unwilling to
quit Prussia.

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