Part 2 out of 8
"Yes, Heaven be praised, you have come to me," she cried,
exultingly, throwing her arms about his neck, and kissing him
passionately. "You are here; I no longer dread the old king's anger,
and his fearful words fall as spent arrows at my feet. You are here,
king of my heart; now I have only one thing to dread."
"What is that, Wilhelmine?"
She bent close to his ear, and whispered: "I fear that you are
untrue to me; that there is some ground for truth in those anonymous
letters, which declare that you would discard me and my children
also, for you love another--not one other, but many."
"Jealousy, again jealous!" the prince sighed.
"Oh, no," said she, tenderly, "I only repeat what is daily written
"Why do you read it?" cried the prince, vehemently. "Why do you
quaff the poison which wicked, base men offer you? Why do you not
throw such letters into the fire, as I do when they slander you to
"Because you know, Frederick," she answered, proudly and earnestly--
"you must know that that which they write against me is slander and
falsehood. My life lies open before you; every year, every day, is
like an unsullied page, upon which but one name stands inscribed--
Frederick William--not Prince Frederick William. What does it
benefit me that you are a prince? If you were not a prince, I should
not be despised, my children would not be nameless, without fortune,
and without justice. No, were you not a prince, I should not have
felt ashamed and grief-stricken, with downcast eyes, before the lady
who drove past in her splendid carriage, while I was humbly seated
in a miserable wagon. No, were not my beloved a prince, he could
have made me his wife, could have given me his name, and I should
to-day be at his side with my children. Then, what benefit is it to
me that you are a prince? I love you not that you are one, but
notwithstanding it. And if I love you in spite of all this, you must
know that my affection is ever-enduring and ever-faithful--that I
can never forget you, never abandon you."
"And do you believe, Wilhelmine, that I could ever abandon or
forsake you? Is it not the same with me?"
She shook her head, sadly answering: "No, Frederick, it is
unfortunately not the same. You have loved me, and perhaps you love
me still, but with that gentle warmth which does not hinder glowing
flames to kindle near it, and with their passionate fire overpower
the slight warmth."
"It may be so for the moment, I grant it," the prince answered,
thoughtfully; "but the quick, blazing fire soon consumes itself,
leaving only a heap of ashes; then one turns to the gentle warmth
with inward comfort, and rejoices in its quiet happiness."
"You confess loving another?" said Wilhelmine, sorrowfully.
"No, I do not grant that," the prince cried; "but you are a
sensible, clever woman, and you know my heart is easily excited. It
is only the meteoric light of the ignis fatuus, soon extinguished.
Let it dance and flicker, but remember that the only warmth which
cheers and brightens my heart is your love and friendship. You are
my first and only love, and you will be my last--that I swear to
you, and upon it you can rely. Every thing is uncertain and wavering
in life. They have ruined me, lacerated my heart, and there is
nothing more in the world which I honor. Only sycophants and
hypocrites surround me, who speculate upon my future greatness; or
spies, who would make their fortune today, and therefore spy and
hang about me, in order to be paid by the reigning king, and who
slander me in order to be favorites of his. No one at court loves
me, not even my wife. How should she? She is well aware that I
married her only at the command of my royal uncle, and she accepted
me almost with detestation, for they had related to her the
unhappiness of my first marriage, and the happiness of my first
love! She has learned the story of my first wife, Elizabeth von
Braunschweig, and that of my only love, Wilhelmine Enke! She obeyed,
like myself, the stern command of another, and we were married, as
all princes and princesses are, and we have had children, as they
do. We lead the life of a political marriage, but the heart is
unwed. We bow before necessity and duty, and, believe me, those are
the only household gods in the families of princes. Happy the man
who, besides these stern divinities, possesses a little secret
temple, in which he can erect an altar to true love and friendship,
and where he can enjoy a hidden happiness. This I owe to you,
Wilhelmine; you are the only one in whom I have confidence, for you
have proved to me that you love me without self-interest and without
ambition. You have said it, and it is true, you love me,
notwithstanding I am a prince. I confess to you, there are many
lovely women of the court who are your rivals, and who would try to
separate us in order to attract me to themselves. They are beautiful
and seductive, and I am young and passionate; and if these lovely
women have no respect for my dignity as a married man, how then
should I have it, who married for duty, not for love? But there is
one whom I respect for disinterestedness and fidelity! Do you not
know who alone is disinterested and faithful?--who has never seen in
me the prince, the future king--only the beloved one, the man--one
who has never wavered, never counted the cost?--that you are,
Wilhelmine Enke, therefore we are inseparable, and you have not to
fear that I can ever forsake you, even if I am sometimes entangled
in the magic nets of other beautiful women. The chains which bind us
together cannot be torn asunder, for a wonderful secret power has
consecrated them with the magic of true love--of heart-felt
"Still they are chains, dearest," sighed Wilhelmine. "You have named
them thus! The chains will at last oppress you, and you will forget
the magic power which binds you, and will be free. No holy bond, no
oath, no marriage tie--nothing but your love binds you to me. I
rejoice in it, and so long as you do not forsake me, I am conscious
that it is your own free choice and not force which retains you."
"I will give you an outward sign of our bond of union," cried the
prince. "I will do it today, as a twofold danger hangs over us--the
king menaces you, and war menaces me."
"Is it then true, do you go with the king to the field?" groaned
"Do you wish me to remain?" cried the prince, his eyes flashing.
"Shall I here seek pleasure, with effeminate good nature, while the
king, in spite of his age, exposes himself to all the fatigue of a
campaign and the danger of battle? This war of the Bavarian
succession is unfortunate, and no one knows whether the German
empire will derive any important advantage from our sustaining by
force of arms a little duchy. It is a question whether it would not
be better to abolish the little principalities, in order to
strengthen the greater German powers. The king will support Bavaria,
because he envies Austria its possession, and, as he has decided
upon war, it becomes his crown prince to yield to his decision
without murmuring. Therefore, Wilhelmine, I will today witness to
you the oath of fidelity. If God calls me to Him, if I fall in
battle, this oath will be your legacy. I have nothing else to leave
you, thanks to the parsimony of my noble uncle. I am a very poor
crown prince, with many debts and little money, and not in a
condition to reward your love and fidelity otherwise than with
promises and hopes, and letters of credit for the future. Such a
bill of exchange I will write for you--a legacy for my dear
Wilhelmine. Give me pen and paper."
Wilhelmine hastened to her writing table and brought him paper with
writing materials. "There, my Frederick," said she, "there is every
thing necessary--only the ink, I fear, may be dried."
The prince shook his head, smiling. "Such a lover's oath as I will
transcribe for you can be written with no common ink. See, here is
The prince had suddenly made a slight incision in his arm, and, as
the blood gushed out, he dipped his pen in it, and wrote; then
handed it to Wilhelmine, saying: "Read it here, in the presence of
God and ourselves."
Wilhelmine pressed it to her lips, and read, with a solemn voice:
"'By my word of honor as a prince, I will never forsake you, and
only death shall separate you from me.--Prince Frederick William of
Prussia.'" [Footnote: "Memoires of the Countess Lichtenau." p. 120.]
"By my word of honor as a prince, I will never forsake you, and only
death shall separate me from you," repeated the prince, as he bent
over Wilhelmine, lifting her in his arms and placing her upon his
knee. "Take the paper and guard it carefully," said he. "When I die,
and you have closed my eyes, as I trust you will, give this paper to
my son and successor, for it is my legacy to you, and I hope my son
will honor it and recognize in you the wife of my heart, and care
"Oh! speak not of dying, Frederick," cried Wilhelmine, embracing him
tenderly; "may they condemn me, and imprison me as a criminal, when
you are no more! What matters it to me what befalls me, when I no
longer possess you, my beloved one, my master? Not on that account
will I preserve the precious paper, but for the love which it has
given me, and of which it will one day be a proof to my children.
This paper is my justification and my excuse, my certificate and my
declaration of honor. I thank you for it, for it is the most
beautiful present that I have ever received."
"But will you make me no return, Wilhelmine? Will you not swear to
me, as I have sworn to you?"
She took the knife from the table without answering, and pointing it
to her left arm--
"Oh, not there!" cried the prince, as he sought to stay her hand.
"Do not injure your beautiful arm, it would be a sacrilege."
Wilhelmine freed herself from him, as he sought to hold her fast,
and in the mutual struggle the knife sank deep into her left hand,
the blood gushing out. [Footnote: The scar of this wound remained
her whole life, as Wilhelmine relates in her memoirs.--See "Memoires
of the Countess Lichtenau."]
"Oh, what have you done?" cried the prince, terrified; "You are
He seized her hand and drew the knife from the wound, screaming with
terror as a clear stream of blood flowed over his own. "A physician!
Send quickly for a physician," cried he. "Where are my servants?"
Wilhelmine closed his lips at this instant with a kiss, and forced
herself to smile in spite of the pain which the wound caused her.
"Dearest, it is nothing," she cried. "I have only prepared a great
inkstand--let me write!"
She dipped her pen in the blood, which continued to flow, and wrote
quickly a few lines, handing them to the prince.
"Read aloud what you have written. I will hear from your own mouth
your oath. You shall write it upon my heart with your lips."
Wilhelmine read: "By my love, by the heads of my two children, I
swear that I will never forsake you--that I will be faithful to you
unto death, and will never separate myself from you; that my
friendship and love will endure beyond the grave; that I will ever
be contented and happy so long as I may call myself your Wilhelmine
"I accept your oath, dearest," said the prince, pressing her to his
heart. "This paper is one of my choicest jewels, and I will never
separate myself from it. We have now sealed our love and fidelity
with our blood, and I hope that you will never doubt me again.
Remember this hour!"
"I will," she earnestly promised, "and I swear to you never to
torment and torture you again with my jealousy. I shall always know,
and shall hold fast to it, that you will return to me."
A violent knocking on the house door interrupted the stillness of
the night. A voice in loud, commanding tones called to the night-
"Here I am!" answered the porter. "Who calls me? And what is the
"Open the door," commanded the voice again.
"It is our house," whispered Wilhelmine, who had softly opened the
window. "It is so dark, I can only see a black shadow before the
"Do you belong to the house?" asked the night-watch. "I dare let no
one in who does not belong there."
"Lift up your lantern, and look at my livery. It is at the king's
Wilhelmine withdrew from the window, and hastened to the prince, who
had retired to the back part of the room.
"It is Kretzschmar, the king's footman and spy," she whispered.
"Hide yourself, that he does not discover you. Go there to the
"No, Wilhelmine, I will remain here. I--"
Wilhelmine pressed her hand upon his mouth, and forced him into the
side-room, bolting the door.
"Now," said she, "I will meet my fate with courage; whatever may
come, it shall find me firm and composed. My children are safe, for
their father is with them."
She took the light, and hastened into the anteroom, which was
resounding with the loud ringing.
"Who is there?" she cried. "Who rings so late at night?"
"In the name of the king, open!"
Wilhelmine shoved back the bolt, opening the door.
"Come in," she said, "and tell me who you are."
"I think you recognize me," said Kretzschmar, with an impudent
smile. "You have often seen me at Potsdam in company with the king.
I saw you this morning as the king did you the honor to speak with
you, and I believe did not compliment you."
"Did his majesty send you here to say this to me?"
"No, not exactly that," answered he, smiling; "but, as you asked me,
I was obliged to answer. I have come here with all speed as courier
from Potsdam. I hope you will at least give me a good trinkgeld. I
was commanded to deliver into your own hands this paper, for which I
must have a receipt." He drew from his breast pocket a large sealed
document, which he handed to Wilhelmine. "Here is the receipt all
ready, with the pencil; you have only to sign your name, and the
business is finished." He stretched himself with an air of the
greatest ease upon the cane chair, near the door.
Wilhelmine colored with anger at the free conduct of the royal
footman, and hastened to sign the receipt to rid herself of the
messenger, and to read the letter.
"What will you give me for trinkgeld, Mamselle Enke?" asked the
footman, as she gave him the receipt.
"Your own rudeness and insult," answered Wilhelmine proudly, as she
turned, without saluting him, to the sitting-room.
Kretzschmar laughed aloud. "She will play the great and proud lady,"
said he. "She will get over that when in prison. The letter is
without doubt an order of arrest, for when the king flashes and
thunders as he did this morning, he usually strikes. I hope it will
agree with you." He slowly left the anteroom, and descended the
stairs to mount his horse, which he had bound to a tree.
Wilhelmine hastened in the mean time to the prince. "Here is the
letter addressed to me," said she, handing him the sealed envelope.
"I beg you to open it; courage fails me, everything trembles and
swims before my eyes. Read it aloud--I will receive my sentence from
The prince exclaimed, breaking the seal: "It is the handwriting of
the secret cabinet secretary, Menken, and the message comes
immediately from the king's cabinet. Now, Wilhelmine, do not
tremble; lean your head upon me, and let us read."
"'In the name of his majesty, Wilhelmine Enke is commanded, under
penalty of severe punishment, not to leave her room or her dwelling,
until the king shall permit her, and send some one to take her and
all that belongs to her to her place of destination. She shall
receive this order with patience and humility, and consider her
apartment as a prison, which she shall not leave under severe
penalty, nor allow any one to enter it. Whoever may be with her at
the time of receiving the order, who do not belong there, shall
speedily absent themselves, and if the same ride or drive to
Potsdam, they shall immediately take a message to his royal highness
the Prince of Prussia, and announce to him that his majesty expects
him at Sans-Souci at ten o'clock tomorrow morning. The Minister von
Herzberg will be in waiting to confer with the prince. The above is
communicated to Wilhelmine Enke for her strict observance, and she
will act accordingly.'"
A long silence followed the reading of this letter. Both looked
down, thoughtfully recalling the contents.
"A prisoner," murmured Wilhelmine, "a prisoner in my own house."
"And for me the peremptory command to leave immediately for Potsdam,
in order to be at Sans-Souci early in the morning. What can the king
"He will announce to you my imprisonment, my exile," sighed
The crown prince shook his head. "No," said he, "I do not believe
it. If the king would send you to prison, he would not make such
preparation; he would not commence with the house arrest, as if you
were an officer, who had been guilty of some slight insubordination,
but he would act with decision, as is his wont. He would at once
have sent you to Spandau or some other prison, and left it to me to
have taken further steps. No--the more I think it over, the more
evident it is to me that the king is not really angry; he will only
torment us a little, as it pleases his teasing spirit. The chief
thing now is to obey, and give him no further occasion for anger.
You must be very careful not to leave your apartment, or to allow
any one to enter it. I shall start without delay for Potsdam. There
are spies posted as well for you as myself; our steps are watched,
and an exact account of them given. I must away quickly."
"Must you leave me a prisoner? Oh, how hard and cruel life is!"
"Yes, it is, indeed, Wilhelmine. But I must also humbly submit and
obey. Is not life hard for me, and yet I am crown prince, the heir
to the throne! I shall be reprimanded and scolded like a footman. I
must obey as a slave, and am not permitted to act according to my
will. I am only a mere peg in the great machine which he directs,
"Hush! for mercy's sake be quiet! What if some one should hear you?
You know not if the spies may not be at the door."
"True," said the prince, bitterly. "I do not know! The nurse even,
who suckles our child, may be a paid spy. The owner of this house
may be in the king's service, and creep to the door to listen.
Therefore it is necessary, above all things, that we act according
to the king's commands. Farewell, Wilhelmine, I must set off at
once. Kretzschmar is no doubt at the corner of the street to see
whether I, as an obedient servant of his master, leave here. If I do
it, he will take the news to Sans-Souci, and perhaps the king will
be contented. Farewell, I go at once to the palace, to start from
there for Potsdam."
"Farewell, my beloved one! May God in heaven and the king upon earth
be merciful to us! I will force myself to composure and humility.
What I suffer is for you! This shall be my consolation. If we never
meet again, Frederick William, I know you will not forget how much I
have loved you!"
Since early morning a gay, warlike life had reigned at Potsdam and
the neighborhood of Sans-Souci. From every side splendid regiments
approached, with proud and stately bearing, in glittering uniforms,
to take in perfect order the places assigned to them. With flying
banners, drums beating, and shrill blasts of trumpets, they came
marching on to the great parade--the last, for the king was about to
leave for the field. Thousands of spectators poured forth,
notwithstanding the early hour, from Potsdam; and from Berlin even
they came in crowds, to take a last look of the soldiers--of their
king, who was still the hero at sixty-nine--the "Alto Fritz," whom
they adored--though they felt the rigor of his government. It was a
magnificent spectacle, indeed--this immense square, filled with
regiments, their helmets, swords, and gold embroideries glittering
in the May sun. Officers, mounted on richly caparisoned steeds, drew
up in the centre, or galloped along the front of the lines,
censuring with a thundering invective any deviation or irregularity.
In the rear of the troops stood the equipages of the distinguished
spectators on the one side, while on the other the people in compact
masses swayed to and fro, gayly passing judgment upon the different
regiments and their generals. The people--that means all those who
were not rich enough to have a carriage, or sufficiently
distinguished to claim a place upon the tribune reserved for noble
ladies and gentlemen--here they stood, the educated and uneducated,
shoemaker and tailor, savant and artist--a motley mixture! Two
gentlemen of the high citizen class apparently were among the crowd.
They were dressed in the favorite style, which, since the "Sorrows
of Werther" had appeared, was the fashion--tight-fitting boots,
reaching to the knee, with yellow tops; white breeches, over which
fell the long-bodied green vest; a gray frock with long pointed
tails and large metal buttons, well-powdered cue, tied with little
ribbons, surmounted with a low, wide-brimmed hat. Only one of the
gentlemen wore the gray frock, according to the faultless Werther
costume, a young man of scarcely thirty years, of fine figure, and
proud bearing; a face expressive and sympathetic, reminding one of
the glorious portraits of men which antiquity has bequeathed to us.
It seemed like the head of a god descended to earth, noble in every
feature, full of grace and beauty; the slightly Roman nose well
marked yet delicate; the broad, thoughtful brow; the cheeks flushed
with the hue of youth and power; the well-defined chin and red lips,
expressive of goodness, benevolence, roguery, and haughtiness;
large, expressive eyes, flashing with the fire which the gods had
enkindled. His companion was perhaps eight years younger, less well-
proportioned, still of graceful appearance, in his youthful
freshness, with frank, cheerful mien, clever, good-natured,
sparkling eyes, and red, pouting lips, which never liked to cease
"See, Wolff! I beg," said the young man, "see that old waddling
duck, Mollendorf. I know the old fellow, he is from Gotha; he
imagines himself of the greatest importance, and thinks Prussia
begets fame and honor from his grace. He trumpets forth his own
glories at a dinner, and abuses his king. He makes Frederick the
Great an insignificant little being, that he may look over him."
"Unimportant men always do that," answered the other. "They would
make great men small, and think by placing themselves on high
pedestals they become great. The clown striding through the crowd on
his stilts may even look over an emperor. But fortunately there
comes a time when the dear clown must come down from his stilts, and
then it is clear to others, if not to himself, what little, earth-
born snips the men of yesterday are."
"Only look, Wolff, there is just such a moment coming to that
stiltsman Mollendorf. How the great man stoops, and how small he
looks on his gray horse, for a greater springs past! Look at him
well, Wolff--we shall dine with him, and he does not like to be
stared at in the face."
"Is that, then, Prince Henry passing?" asked Wolff, with animation;
"That little general, who just galloped into the circle with his
suite, is that the king's brother?"
"Yes, that is just his misfortune that he is the king's brother,"
answered a deep, sonorous voice behind them.
Turning, they beheld a young, elegantly dressed man, in the light
gray frock and gold-bordered, three-cornered hat, and a Spanish
cane, with an ivory handle.
"What did you remark, sir?" asked Herr Wolff; his great, brown eyes
flashing over the pale, intellectual face of the other, so that he
was quite confused, yet, as if enchanted, could not turn away. "What
did you remark, sir?" asked again Herr Wolff.
"I believe," stammered the other, "that I said it was the misfortune
of the prince that he was the brother only, as he was worthy of
being mentioned for himself; but I beg, sir, be a little indulgent,
and do not pry into my very soul with your godlike eyes. It will
craze me, and I shall run through the streets of Berlin, crying that
the Apollo-Belvedere has arrived at Potsdam, and invite all the
poets and authors to come and worship him."
"I believe you are right," cried the youngest of the two gentlemen,
laughing. "I believe myself it is the Apollo-Belvedere."
"Be still, my dear sir, hush, and preserve our incognito,"
interrupted his companion.
"But I cannot help it, Wolff. Am I to blame that this clever fellow
sees through your mask, and discovers the divine spark which hides
itself under a gray Werther costume?"
"I pray, sir, grant my request, and respect our incognito," begged
the other, gently but firmly.
"Well, well, you shall have your way," laughed the other, good-
naturedly, and turning to the pale young man, who still kept his
eyes fixed on Herr Wolff in a sort of ecstacy, he said: "Let the
authors and poets stay in Berlin; we will persuade the disguised
Apollo to meet them there, and read them a lecture, for among the
Berlin poets and critics there are wicked heretics, who, if the
Deity Himself wrote tragedies and verses, would find some fault to
"Pray tell me, sir, do you think Prince Henry a great man?"
"Did not the king call him so in his 'History of the Seven Years'
War?'" said the stranger. "Did he not publicly, in the presence of
all his generals, say, 'that Prince Henry was the only general who
had not made a mistake during the whole war?'"
"Do you believe the king will say that of the prince just riding in
with his suite, after the present war?" asked the young man, with
"You mean the Prince of Prussia," answered the other, shaking his
head. "There are men who call this prince the 'hope of Prussia,' and
regard him as a new Aurora in the clouded sky."
"And you, sir, do you regard him so?" cried Herr Wolff.
"Do you mean that the Prince of Prussia will usher in a brighter day
"No," answered the other. "I believe that day expires with Frederick
the Great, and that a long night of darkness will succeed."
"Why do you think so?"
"Because it is the course of nature that darkness succeeds light.
Look at the prince, gentlemen--the divine light of genius is not
stamped upon his brow, as formerly, and care will be taken that it
is soon extinguished altogether."
"Who will take care?"
"Those who are the enemies of light, civilization, and freedom."
"Who are they?" asked Herr Wolff.
The other smiled, and answered: "Sir, so far as I, in all humility,
call myself a scholar, I also owe to the god Apollo obedience, and
must answer him, though it may endanger me. I answer, then, the
enemies of light and civilization are the disguised Jesuits."
"Oh, it is easy to perceive that you do not belong to them, or you
would not thus characterize them, and--"
A mighty flourish of drums, and shrill blasts of horns and trumpets,
drowned the youth's words, and made all further conversation
impossible. The king, followed by a brilliant suite, had just
arrived at the parade. The regiments greeted their sovereign with
loud blasts of trumpets, and the people shouted their farewell.
Frederick lifted lightly his hat, and rode along the ranks of the
well-ordered troops. He listened to the shouts with calm, composed
manner; the Jupiter-flashes from his great eyes seemed to be spent
forever. Mounted upon Caesar, his favorite horse, he looked today
more bent, his back more bowed with the burden of years; and it was
plainly visible that the hand which held the staff crosswise over
the horse's neck, holding at the same time the bridle, trembled from
"That is Frederick," said Herr Wolff to himself. "That is the hero
before whom Europe has trembled; the daring prince who caused the
sun to rise upon his country, and awaken the spirits to cheerful
life. Oh, how lamentable; how much to be regretted, that a hero,
too, can grow feeble and old! Oh, cruel fate, that the noblest
spirits embodied in this fragile humanity, and--"
Suddenly he ceased, and looked at the king amazed and with
admiration. The old man had become the hero again. The bowed form
was erect, the face beamed with energy and conscious power, the eyes
flashed with bold daring, strong and sonorous was the voice. The
king had turned to his generals, who were drawn up around him in a
large circle, saying: "Gentlemen, I come to take leave of you. We
shall meet again upon the battle-field, where laurels bloom for the
brave. I hope that we may all return, crowned with fresh laurels.
Tell my soldiers that I count upon them--that I know they will prove
the glory of the Prussian troops anew, and that on the day of battle
they will see me at their head.--Farewell!"
"Long live the king!" cried the generals and staff officers, in one
voice. The people and the soldiers joined the shout, the ladies
waved their handkerchiefs. Herr Wolff and his companions tore off
their hats with enthusiasm, and swung them high in the air.
The great eyes of the king, who passed at this moment, rested upon
Herr Wolff. "My heart quaked as if I were the pillar of Memnon, and
had been touched by the sun's rays," sighed he, as he followed the
king with his fiery glance.
"The ceremony is now finished," said the young man near him, "and we
must leave, in order to be punctual to dinner at Prince Henry's."
"I wish the king had remained an hour longer," sighed Herr Wolff
again. "As I looked at him, it seemed as if I were listening to a
song from Homer, and all my faculties were in unison in delight and
enthusiasm. Happy those who dare approach him, and remain near him!"
"Then, according to your opinion, his servants must be very
fortunate," said the stranger, "and yet they say that he is not very
kind to them."
"Because the servant is a little man," cried Herr Wolff, "and every
one looks little to his belittling eyes."
"Yes, there are many others no more elevated than servants in the
king's surroundings," said the other. The youth reminded him that
they must leave.
"Only wait a moment, friend," begged Herr Wolff, as he turned to the
stranger, saying, "I would like to continue our conversation of
today. You live in Berlin. I will find you out if you will give me
"I pray you to visit me; my name is Moritz. I live in Kloster
Strasse, near the gray convent."
"Your name is Moritz?", asked Herr Wolff, earnestly. "Then you are
the author of the 'Journey to England?'"
"Yes, the same, and my highest encomium is, that the work is not
unknown to you, or the name of the author."
"All Germany knows it, and do you think I could possibly remain a
stranger to it?"
"But your name, sir," said the stranger, with anxious curiosity.
"Will you not give me your name?"
"I will tell you when we are in your own room," said Herr Wolff,
"The air is yet enchanted and intoxicated with the breath of the
Great Frederick; it should not be desecrated with another name.--
Farewell, we will meet in Berlin."
Not far from these gentlemen stood two others, wrapped in long
military cloaks, both of striking and foreign appearance; the one,
of slight delicate figure, of dark complexion, noble and handsome
face, must be an Italian, as his very black hair and eyes betrayed;
the other, tall, broad-shouldered, of Herculean stature, belonged to
North Germany, as the blond hair, light blue eyes, and features
indicated. A pleasing smile played around his thick, curled lips,
and only when he glanced at his companion did it die away, and
change to one of respectful devotion. At this instant the king
passed. The Italian pressed the arm of his companion.
"The arch fiend himself," he murmured softly, "the demon of
unbelief, to whom nothing is sacred, and nothing intimidates. The
contemptuously smiling spirit of negation, which is called
enlightenment, and is but darkness, to whom belief is superstition,
and enlightening only deception. Woe to him!"
"Woe to him!" repeated the other.
The king was followed by his brilliant and select staff in motley
confusion. First, Prince Henry, and then the Prince of Prussia. As
the latter passed the two gentlemen, the Italian pressed the arm of
his companion still harder. "Look at him attentively, my son," said
he, "that is our future and our hope in this country."
The Hercules turned hastily, with a look of astonishment, to the
Italian. "The Prince of Prussia?" asked he, with amazement.
The Italian nodded. "Do you doubt it?" he added, reproachfully.
"Would you doubt your lord and master, because he reveals to you
what you cannot seize with your clouded spirit?"
"No, no, master, I am only surprised that you hope for good from
this lost-in-sin successor to the throne."
"Yes, you are poor, human children," sighed the Italian,
compassionately smiling; "prompt to judge, mistaking light for
darkness, and darkness for light. I have already remarked that to
the celebrated and austere Minister Sully, as he complained to me of
the levity and immorality of the French king, Henry IV. I told him
that austere morals and moral laws suffered exceptions, and that
those through whom the welfare of humanity should be furthered, had
to transfer their heavenly bliss of love to the earthly sphere.
Sully would contest the question with me, but I defeated him, while
I repeated to him what the beautiful and unhappy Queen of Scotland,
Mary Stuart, once said to me."
"Mary Stuart!" cried the other, vehemently.
"Yes, Mary Stuart," answered the Italian, earnestly. "Come, my son,
let us go. We have seen what we wished to see, and that is
sufficient. Give me thy arm, and let us depart."
They departed arm in arm, withdrawing from the crowd, and taking the
broad walk which crossed to the park.
"You were about to relate to me the answer which Mary Stuart gave to
you, sir," said the Hercules, timidly.
"True; I will now relate it to you," he answered, with sadness. "It
was in Edinburgh I had surprised Mary (as I was admitted without
ceremony), in her boudoir, as the handsome Rizzio sat at her feet,
and sang love-songs to her. She was resting upon a gold-embroidered
divan, and her figure appeared to great advantage in the heavenly
blue, silver-embroidered gauze robe, which covered her beautiful
limbs like a cloud. In her hair sparkled two diamonds, like two
stars fallen from heaven, and more glowing still were her eyes,
which tenderly rested upon Rizzio. Leaning upon her elbow, she
inclined toward Rizzio, who, lute in hand, was looking up to her
with a countenance expressive of the deepest love. It was a glorious
picture, this young and charming couple, in their bliss of love; and
never, in the course of this century, have I forgotten this
exquisite picture--never have its bright tints faded from my memory.
How often have I begged my friend, Antonio Vandyck, to make this
picture eternal, with his immortal pencil. He promised to do it, but
at the moment he was occupied with the portraits of Charles I. and
his family--the grandson of Queen Mary. Later, as I was not with
him, unfortunately, to save him, death seized him before he had
fulfilled his promise. But her image is stamped upon my heart, and I
see her now, as I saw her then, the beautiful queen, with the
handsome singer at her feet. I had entered unawares, and stood a few
moments at the door before they remarked me. As I approached, Rizzio
suddenly ceased in the midst of a tender passage, and sprang to his
feet. Mary signed to him, blushing, to withdraw. He glided
noiselessly out, his lute under his arm, and I remained alone with
the queen. I dared to chide her, gently, for her love affair with
the handsome singer, and, above all, to exhort her to fidelity to
her husband. Whereupon Mary answered me, with her accustomed smiling
manner, 'There is but one fidelity which one must recognize, and
that is to the god of gods--Love! Where he is not, I will not be.
The god Hymen is a tedious, pedantic fellow, who burns to ashes all
the fresh young love of the heart, and all the enthusiasm of the
soul, with his intolerable tallow torch, for Love stands not at his
side. I am faithful to the god Amor, therefore I can never be
faithful to the god Hymen, as it would be unfaithful to Love!' That
was the response of the beautiful Queen Mary. I could not contest
the question, so I only looked at her and smiled. Suddenly, I felt a
dagger, as it were, thrust at my heart, my spiritual eyes were
opened, the lovely woman on the divan was fearfully changed. Instead
of the gauze robe, sparkling with silver, a black cloth dress
covered her emaciated limbs; instead of brilliants, sparkling in her
hair, a mourning veil covered her whitened locks. The beauty and
roundness of her neck had disappeared, and I saw around it a broad
dark-red stripe. Her head moved, and fell at my feet dissevered. I
saw it all, as distinctly as if it really happened, and seized with
unspeakable pity I prostrated myself at her feet (who was unknowing
of my vision), and besought her with all the anxiety and tenderness
of friendship to leave Scotland, to fly from England, as there the
death-tribunal awaited her. But Mary Stuart only laughed at my
warning, and called me a melancholy fool, whom jealousy made
prophetic. The more I begged and implored, the more wanton and gay
the poor woman became. Then, as I saw all persuasion was vain, that
no one could save her from her dreadful fate, I took a solemn oath
that I would be at her side at the hour of her peril, and accompany
her to the scaffold. Mary laughed aloud, and, with that mocking
gayety so peculiarly her own, she accepted the oath, and reached me
her white hand, sparkling with diamonds, to seal the vow with a
kiss. I faithfully kept it. I had but just arrived in Rome when I
received the account of her imprisonment. I presented myself
immediately to the pope, the great Sixtus V., who then occupied the
chair of St. Peter. Fortunately, he was my friend, and I had
formerly been useful to him, in assisting him to carry out his great
and liberal ideas for the welfare of humanity. As a return, I prayed
the Holy Father to give me a consecrated hostie for the unhappy
Queen Mary Stuart, and the permission to carry it to her in her
prison. The Holy Father was incredulous of my sad presentiments, as
Mary Stuart herself had been, but he granted me the request. I
quitted Rome, and travelled with relays day and night. Reaching
Boulogne, a Dover packet-boat had just raised anchor; I succeeded in
boarding her, and arrived in London the next evening. The day
following, the execution of the queen took place at Fotheringay. I
was with her in her last hours, and from my hand she received the
consecrated water of Pope Sixtus V. I had kept my oath. I
accompanied her to the scaffold, and her head rolled at my feet, as
I had seen it in my vision at Edinburgh. It was the 18th of April,
1587, and it seems to me as but yesterday. To the intuitive, seeing
spirit, time and space disappear; eternity and immortality are to it
Given up to his souvenirs and visions, the Italian appeared not to
know where he wandered, and turned unintentionally to the retired,
lonely places in the park. His companion heeded not the way either,
occupied with the strange account of the Italian. A dreadful feeling
of awe and horror took possession of his soul, and, with devoted
respect, he hung upon the words which fell from the lips of his
"It was in the year 1587," said he, as the Italian ceased; "almost
two hundred years since, and you were present?"
The Italian replied: "I was present. I have witnessed so many
dreadful scenes, and been present at so many executions, that this
sad spectacle was not an unusual one to me, and would not have
remained fixed in my memory had I not loved, devotedly and
fervently, the beautiful Queen Mary Stuart. For those who live in
eternity, all horrors have ceased; time rushes past in centuries,
which seem to them but a day."
"Teach me so to live, master; I thirst for knowledge," cried his
"I know it, my son; I penetrate thy soul, and I know that thou
thirstest. Therefore I am here to quench thy thirst, and feed thy
hungry heart." He remained standing upon the grass-plot, which he
had reached by lonely paths, and which was encircled by trees and
bushes. Not a sound interrupted the peaceful morning stillness of
the place, except the distant music of the departing regiments dying
away on the air. "I will teach thee to live in eternity!" resumed
the Italian, solemnly. "My predecessor the apostle, George
Schrepfer, has initiated thee in temporal life, and the knowledge of
the present. By the pistol-shot, which disclosed to him the
invisible world, and removed him from our earthly eyes, has he to
thee, his most faithful and believing disciple, given the great
doctrine of the decay of all things earthly, and prepared thee for
the doctrine of the imperishableness of the celestial. The original
of humanity sends me, to make known to thee this holy doctrine. When
I met thee in Dresden, at the side of the Countess Dorothea von
Medem, thee, whom I had never seen, I recognized by the blue flame
which trembled above thy head, and which was nothing else than the
soul of thy teacher, Schrepfer, wrestling in anguish, which has
remained with thee, and hopes for delivery from thee. I greeted
thee, therefore, not as a stranger but as a friend. No one called
thy name, and yet it was known to me. I took thee by the hand,
greeting thee. Hans Rudolph von Bischofswerder, be welcome. The blue
flame which glows upon thy brow, guides me to thee, and the pistol-
shot under the oaks centuries old, at Rosenthal, near Leipsic, was
the summons which my spirit received among the pyramids of Egypt,
and which recalled me to Europe, to my own, and thou art one of
them."[Footnote: George Schrepfer, the founder of the Secret Free
Mason Lodge (at the same time proprietor of a restaurant and a
conjuror), invited his intimate disciples and believers in the year
1774, to whom Bischofswerder belonged, to meet him at Rosenthal,
near Leipsic. He assembled them around him, beneath some old oaks,
to take leave of them, as now he would render himself in the
invisible realm, whence, as a spirit, he would distribute to some of
his disciples gold, to others wisdom. He then commanded them to
conceal their faces and pray. The praying ones suddenly heard a loud
report, and, as they looked up Schrepfer fell dead. He had shot
himself with a pistol.]
"And as thou spakest, oh master, I recognized thee, and I called--'
Thou art here, who hast been announced to me. Thou art the master,
and my master Schrepfer was the prophet, who preceded thee and
prophesied thee. Thou art the great Kophta--thou art Count Alexander
Cagliostro!' As I uttered the name, the lights were extinguished,
deep darkness and profound stillness reigned. The two countesses
Dorothea von Medem and her sister, Eliza von der Necke, clung
trembling to me, neither of them daring to break the silence even
with a sigh. Suddenly the darkness disappeared, and, with trembling
flashes of light, there stood written on the wall: 'Memento Domini
Oagliostro et omnis mansuetudinis ejus.' We sank upon our knees, and
implored thee to aid us. By degrees the strange, secret characters
disappeared, and darkness and silence reigned. The stillness
disquieted me at last, and I called for lights. As the servant
entered, the two countesses lay fainting upon the floor, and thou
"Only to appear to thee at another time," said Cagliostro, "to
receive thee with solemn ceremonies into the magic circle--to
initiate thee in the secret wisdom of spirits, and prepare thee for
the invisible lodge. Recall what I said to thee, three days since,
in Dresden. Do you still remember it?"
"I recall it. Thou saidst: 'The secret service calls me to Mittau,
with the Countess Medem, to raise hidden treasure, of which the
spirit has given me knowledge, and decipher important magical
characters on the walls of a cloister. Before I leave, I will lead
thee upon the way which thou hast to follow in order to find the
light, and let it illuminate the soul which is worthy. Follow me,
and I will lead thee to the path of glory, power, and immortality.'
These were thy words, master."
"I have now led thee hither," Cagliostro said to him, gently; "thy
soul doubts and trembles, for thou art blind seeing eyes, and deaf
with hearing ears."
"My soul doubts not, oh master--it comprehends not. I have followed
thee, devotedly and believingly. Thou knowest it, master, for thou
readest the souls of thy children, and seest their hidden thoughts.
Thou hast said to me in Dresden, 'Renounce your service to the Duke
of Courland.' I did it, and from equerry and lord chamberlain to the
duke, became a simple, private gentleman. I have renounced my titles
and dignities for thee, in happy trust in thee. My future lies in
thy hands, and, anxious to learn the mysteries of immortality, as a
grateful, trustful scholar, I would receive happiness and
unhappiness at thy hand."
"Thou shalt receive not only happiness," said Cagliostro, solemnly,
"but thou art one of the elect. The blue flame glows upon thy brow,
it will illuminate thy soul, and lead thee to the path of glory,
power, and might. To-day thou art a simple, private gentleman, as
thou sayst, but to-morrow thou wilt become a distinguished lord,
before whom hundreds will bow. Fame awaits thee--which thou hast
longed for--as power awaits thee. Whom have I named to thee as our
future and our hope in this land?"
"Prince Frederick William of Prussia," answered Herr von
"As I spake this name, thou trembledst, and calledst him 'one lost
in sin.' Knowest thou, my son, from sin comes penitence, and from
penitence elevation and purificatiom. Thou art called and chosen to
convert sinners, and lead back the earth-born child to heaven.
Engrave these words upon thy memory, fill thy soul with them, as
with glowing flames, repeat them in solitude the entire day, then
heavenly spirits will arise and whisper the revelations of the
future. Then, when thou art consecrated, I will introduce thee into
the sacred halls of sublime wisdom. Thou shalt be received as a
scholar in the temple hall, and it depends upon thee whether thou
advancest to the altar which reaches to the invisible world of
"Oh, master," cried Bisehofswerder, with a countenance beaming with
joy, and sinking upon his knees, "wilt thou favor me, and introduce
me to the temple hall? Shall I be received in the sacred world of
"Thou shalt, Hans Rudolph yon Bischofswerder. The grand master of
our order will bestow upon thee this happiness, and to-night shall
the star of the future rise over thee. Hold thyself in readiness. At
midnight, present thyself at the first portal of the royal palace in
Berlin. A man will meet thee, and thou shalt ask, 'Who is our hope?'
If he answers thee, 'The Prince of Prussia,' then he is the
messenger which I shall have sent thee--follow him. Bow thy head in
humility, shut thine eyes to all earthly things, turn thy thoughts
inward, and lift them up to the great departed, which hovers over
thy head, and speak with the blue flame which glows upon thy brow!"
Bischofswerder bowed still lower, covered his face with his hands,
as if inwardly praying, and knelt. Cagliostro bent over him, laid
his hand upon his head, breathing three times upon his blond hair.
"I have breathed upon thee with the breath of my spirit," said he.
"Thy spirit receives power. Receive it in holy awe, in devotion, and
Bischofswerder continued motionless, with bowed head and concealed
face. Cagliostro raised himself, his black eyes fixed upon his
disciple, and noiselessly disappeared. Herr von Bischofswerder still
remained kneeling. After some time he raised his head, shyly looking
about, and, as he found himself alone, he rose. "He has soared
away," he murmured, softly. "I shall see him again, and he will
consecrate me--the consecration of immortals!"
THE MIRACULOUS ELIXIR.
The king withdrew from the parade slowly, followed by his generals,
in the direction of Sans-Souci. The streets of Potsdam were lined
with the people, shouting their farewell to the king, who received
them with a smiling face. Arriving at the grand entrance, he turned
to his suite, saying, "Gentlemen, we shall meet again in Bohemia; I
must now take leave of you, and forego the pleasure of receiving you
again to-day. A king about to leave for the field has necessary
arrangements to make for the future. I have much to occupy me, as I
set out early to-morrow morning. You, also, have duties to attend
to. Farewell, gentlemen."
He raised his worn-out three-cornered hat, saluted his generals with
a slight inclination of the head, and turned into the broad avenue
which led to the park of Sans-Souci. No one followed him but two
mounted footmen, who rode at a respectful distance, attentively
regarding the king, of whom only the bowed back and hat were
visible. Half way down the avenue his staff was raised above his
hat, the sign the footmen awaited to dismount with the greyhounds,
which rode before them upon the saddle. At the shrill barking of the
animals, Frederick reined in his horse, and turned to look for them.
They bounded forward, one upon each side of the king, who regarded
them right and left, saying: "Well, Alkmene, well Diana, let us see
who will be the lady of honor to-day."
Both dogs sprang with loud barking to the horse, as if understanding
the words of their master. Alkmene, stronger, or more adroit, with
one bound leaped to the saddle; while poor Diana landed upon the
crouper, and, as if ashamed, with hanging head and tail, withdrew
behind the horse. "Alkmene has won!" said Kretzschmar to his
companion. "Yes, Alkmene is the court-lady to-day, and Diana the
companion," he nodded. "She will be cross, and I do not blame her."
"Nor I," said Kretzschmar; "there is a great difference between the
court-lady and the companion. The lady remains with the king all
day; he plays with her, takes her to walk, gives her bonbons, and
the choice morsels of chicken, and only when she has eaten
sufficient, can the companion enter to eat the remainder."
[Footnote: This was the daily order of rank with the favorite dogs,
for whose service two dog-lackeys, as they were called, were always
in waiting. They took them to walk]
"One could almost envy the king's greyhounds!" sighed the second
footman. "We get dogs' wages, and they the chicken and good
treatment. It is a pity!"
"The worst of it is, the king forbids us to marry!" said Kretzschmar
sadly. "All the others would leave him, but I pay no attention to
old Fritz's snarling and scolding, for he pays for it afterward;
first, it rains abusive words, then dollars, and if the stupid ass
hits me over the head, he gives me at least a ducat for it. Why
should not one endure scoldings when is well paid for it? I remain
the fine handsome fellow that I am, if the old bear does call me an
ass! His majesty might well be satisfied if he had my fine figure
and good carriage."
"Yes, indeed, we are very different fellows from old Fritz!" said
the second lackey, with a satisfied air. "A princess once thought me
a handsome fellow! It is eleven years since, as I entered the guards
on account of my delicate figure. I was guard of honor in the
anteroom of the former crown princess of Prussia. It was my first
experience. I did not know the ways of the lords and ladies.
Suddenly, a charming and beautifully-dressed lady came into the
anteroom, two other young ladies following her, joking and laughing,
quite at their pleasure. All at once the elegantly-attired lady
fixed her large black eyes upon me, so earnestly, that I grew quite
red, and looked down. 'See that handsome boy,' she cried. 'I will
bet that it is a girl dressed up!' She ran up to me, and began to
stroke my cheek with her soft hand, and laughed. 'I am right. He has
not the trace of a beard; it is a girl!' And before I knew it she
kissed me, then again, and a third time even. I stood still as if
enchanted, and, as I thought another kiss was coming, whack went a
stout box on my ear. 'There is a punishment for you,' said she,
'that you may know enough to return a kiss when a handsome lady
gives you when the king did not wish them with him; in summer, in an
open wagon, the dogs upon the back-seat, and the footmen upon the
forward seat, and whenever they reproved them, to bring them to
order, they addressed them in the polite manner of one, and not
stand like a libber,' and with that she boxed me again. The other
two ladies laughed, which made me angry, and my ears were very warm.
'If that happens again,' said I, 'by thunder, she will find I do not
wait to be punished!' I laid down the arms, and at once sprang after
the lady, when--the folding-doors were thrown open, and two
gentlemen, in splendid gold-embroidered dresses, entered. As they
saw the little lady, they stood astonished, and made the three
prescribed bows. I smelt the rat, and put on my sword quickly, and
stood stiff as a puppet. The gentlemen said, that they must beg an
interview with her royal highness, to deliver the king's commands.
The princess went into an adjoining room. One of the court-ladies
stopped before me a moment, and said: 'If you ever dare to tell of
this, you shall be put in the fortress. Remember it, and keep
silent.' I did so, and kept it a secret until to-day."
"Did the princess ever punish you again?" asked Kretzchmar, with a
bold, spying look.
"No, never," answered the lackey Schultz. "The princess was ordered
to Stettin the next day, where she still lives as a prisoner for her
gay pranks." I remembered her punishment, and when a lady has kissed
me, I have bravely returned it."
The footmen had followed the king up the slowly ascending horse-path
to the terrace, and now they sprang quickly forward. Kretzschmar
swung himself from his saddle, threw Schultz the reins, and, as the
king drew up at the side-door of the palace of Sans-Souci, he stood
ready to assist him to dismount. The king had given strict orders
that no one should notice his going or coming, and to-day, as usual,
he entered without pomp or ceremony into his private room, followed
by Kretzschmar alone. He sank back into his armchair, the blue
damask covering of which was torn and bitten by the dogs, so that
the horse-hair stood out from the holes.
"Now relate to me, Kretzschmar, how your expedition succeeded. Did
you go to Berlin to see Mademoiselle Enke last night?"
"Yes, your majesty, I was there, and have brought you the writing."
"Was she alone?" asked the king, bending over to caress Alkmene, who
lay at his feet.
"Well," answered Kretzschmar, grinning, "I do not know whether she
was alone or not. I only know that, as I waited a little on the
corner of the street, I saw a gentleman go out, wrapped in a cloak,
a tall, broad-shouldered gentleman, whom I--"
"Whom you naturally did not recognize," said the king, interrupting
him; "it was a dark night, and no moon, so that you could not see."
"At your service, your majesty, I could see no one; I would only add
that the unknown may have been at Mademoiselle Enke's."
"And he may not have been," cried the king, harshly. "What else did
"Nothing at all worth speaking about. Only one thing I must say, the
lackey Schultz is a prattling fool, and speaks very
"Did he talk with you?"
"Yes, your majesty, with me."
"Then he knows well that it would be welcome. What did he say?"
"He related to me a love-affair with the crown princess of Prussia
eleven years since. He plumes himself upon the crown princess having
stroked his beard."
"Be quiet!" commanded the king, harshly. "If Schultz was drunk, and
talked in a crazy manner, how dare you repeat it to me? Let this
happen again, and I will dismiss you my service. Remember it, you
"Pardon me, your majesty, I thought I must relate all that I hear of
"That was not important, and not worth the trouble of talking about.
If Schultz is such a drunken fellow I did not know it, and he is to
be pitied. You can go now; I give you a day to make your farewells
to your friends, and to console them with the hope of meeting you
again. Put every thing in order that concerns you. If you have
debts, pay them."
"I have no money to pay them, your majesty," sighed Kretzschmar.
The king stepped to the iron coffer, of which no one possessed the
key but himself, and looking within said: "You cannot have much
money to-day, as the drawer which contains the money for the gossips
and spies is quite empty, and you have had a good share of it. Five
guldens remain for you."
"Alas! your majesty, it is too little; twenty-five guldens would not
pay my debts."
The king closed the drawer, saying: "Judas only received twenty
shillings for betraying his Master. Twenty-five is quite enough for
Kretzschmar for betraying his comrade."
Kretzschmar slunk away. The king fixed his great eyes upon him until
the door closed. "Man is a miserable race; for gold he would sell
his own brother--would sell his own soul, if there could be found a
purchaser," he murmured. "Why do you growl, Alkmene, why trouble
yourself, mademoiselle? I was not speaking of your honorable race;
only of the pitiful race of men. Be quiet, my little dog, be quiet;
I love you, and you are my dear little dog," he said, pressing her
caressingly to his breast.
The footman Schultz appeared to announce the equerry Von Schwerin.
"Bid him enter," nodded the king.
Von Schwerin entered, with a smiling face. "Have you accomplished
what I confided to you?"
With a profound bow Von Schwerin drew a roll of paper from his
breast-pocket, and handed it to the king, saying, "I am so fortunate
as to have accomplished your commands."
"Will Count Schmettau give up the villa at once?"
"Yes, your majesty, the new occupant could take possession to-day,
with all the furniture and house arrangements, for seven thousand
five hundred dollars. Here is the bill of sale, only the purchaser's
name is wanting. I have obeyed your majesty's commands, and acted as
if I were the purchaser."
"Schmettau is not such a stupid fellow as to believe that, for he
knows that you cannot keep your money. You say the contract is
ready, only the signature of the purchaser is wanting and the
"Pardon me, your majesty, the name of the present possessor has not
been inserted. I did not presume to write it without the
unmistakable command of your majesty."
"Do you know the name?" asked the king.
"I do not, but the generosity of my most gracious king and master
allows me to divine it, and my heart is filled to bursting with
thankfulness and joy. My whole life will not be long enough to prove
to you my gratitude."
"What for?" asked the king, staring at Von Schwerin, quite
surprised; "you cannot suppose that I have purchased the villa for
Herr von Schwerin smilingly nodded. "I think so, your majesty."
Frederick laughed aloud. "Schwerin, you are an uncommonly cunning
fellow. You see the grass grow before the seed is sown. This time
you deceived yourself--the grass has not grown. What good would it
do you? You do not need grass, but thistles, and they do not grow at
Charlottenburg. Take the contract to my minister Von Herzberg, whom
you will find in the audience-room, and then walk a little upon the
terrace to enjoy the fresh air. I promised you the privilege. First
go to Von Herzberg, and say to him to send the Prince of Prussia to
me immediately upon his arrival. Why do you wear so mournful a face
all of a sudden? Can it be possible that my chief equerry has so
lowered himself as to go among the mechanics, and build chateaux en
Espagne? You know such houses are not suitable for our northern
climate, and fall down. Now, do what I told you, and then go upon
The equerry glided away with sorrowful mien to Von Herzberg, and
communicated the king's commands to him.
"You have made a good purchase," said the minister, in a friendly
manner. "His majesty will be very much pleased with the
extraordinary zeal and the great dexterity with which you have
arranged the matter. Count Schmettau has just been here, and he
could not sufficiently commend your zeal and prudence, and the
sympathy and interest which you showed in the smallest matters, as
if the purchase were for yourself. The count wishes to reserve two
oil paintings in the saloon, which are an heirloom from his father.
We cannot but let the count retain them."
"Arrange it as you will," answered the equerry, fretfully; "I have
nothing more to do with the affair--it lies in your hands."
"But where are you going in such haste?" said Herzberg, as the
equerry bowed hastily, and strode through the room toward the door.
"His majesty commanded me to go upon the terrace," he replied,
Herr von Herzberg looked after him surprised. "Something must have
occurred, otherwise he is very tractable. Ah! there comes the
prince. I will go to meet him, and communicate to him the king's
command--I will await your royal highness here until you have spoken
with the king, if you will have the grace to seek me."
"I will return by all means, if you will have the kindness to wait
for me," replied the prince, smiling, and hastened to the interview
with his royal uncle.
Frederick was seated in his arm-chair, upon his lap Alkmene, when
the crown prince entered. "Bon jour, mon neveu! pardon me," said he,
with a friendly nod, "that I remain seated, and do not rise to greet
the future King of Prussia."
"Sire, Heaven grant that many years pass before I succeed to the
title which my great and unapproachable predecessor has borne with
so much wisdom and fame, that one can well doubt the being able to
emulate his example, and must content himself to live under the
shadow of his intelligence and fame!"
Frederick slowly shook his head. "The people will not be satisfied,
nor the coffers filled by fame. No one can live upon the great deeds
of his ancestors; he must be self-sustaining, not seek for the
laurels in the past, but upon the naked field of the future, which
lies before him. Sow the seeds of future laurels; fame troubles me
but little, and I advise you, my nephew, not to rely upon it. One
must begin anew each day, and make fresh efforts for vigorous
The crown prince bowed, and seated himself upon the tabouret, which
the king, with a slight wave of the hand, signified to him.
"I will endeavor, sire, to follow the elevated sentiments of your
majesty, that I may not dishonor my great teacher."
"You express yourself too modestly, my nephew, and I know that you
think otherwise; that your fiery spirit will never be contented to
dishonor yourself or your ancestors. Fate is favorable to you, and
offers the opportunity to confirm, what I judge you to be--a brave
soldier, a skilful captain--in a word, a true Hohenzollern! I would
make you a commander of a division of my army, and I shall follow
every movement--every operation, with lively interest."
A ray of joy beamed upon the face of the prince; Frederick saw it
with satisfaction, and his heart warmed toward his nephew. "He has
at least courage," he said to himself; "he is no sybarite to quail
before the rough life of war."
"Will your majesty so greatly favor me as to accord me an
independent position in the campaign?"
"I offer you what belongs to you as a general and heir to the
throne. On me it devolves to direct the plans and operations, and on
you to detail them and direct the execution. I shall rejoice to see
that you understand the profession of war practically as well as
theoretically. Therefore, this war is so far welcome, that it will
give my crown prince an opportunity to win his first laurels, and
adorn the brow which, until now, has been crowned with myrtle."
"Your majesty, I--"
"Be silent--I do not reproach you, my nephew; I understand human
nature, and the seductive arts of women. It is time that you seek
other ornament--myrtle becomes a youthful brow, and the helmet
adorns the man crowned with laurels."
"I have long desired it, and I am deeply grateful to your majesty
for the opportunity to win it. This campaign is good fortune to me."
"War is never a good fortune," sighed the king--" for the people it
is great misfortune. I would willingly have avoided it for their
sake. But the arrogance and the passion for territorial
aggrandizement of the young Emperor of Germany forces me to it. I
dare not, and will not suffer Austria to enrich herself through
foreign inheritance, ignoring the legitimate title of a German
prince. Bavaria must remain an independent, free German
principality, under a sovereign prince. It is inevitably necessary
for the balance of power. I cannot yield, therefore, as a German
prince, that Austria increase her power in an illegitimate manner,
but I will cast my good sword in the scales, that the balance is
heavier on the side upon which depends the existence of Germany,
that she may not be tossed in the air by Austria's weight. These are
my views and reasons for the war upon which I now enter with
reluctance. When the greatness and equilibrium of Germany are at
stake, no German prince should dare hesitate. Austria has already
cost Germany much blood, and will cause her to shed still more.
Believe it, my nephew, and guard yourself against Austria's ambition
for territorial aggrandizement. You see, I am like all old people,
always teaching youth, while we have much to learn ourselves. We are
all pupils, and our deeds are ever imperfect."
"Your majesty cannot believe that of himself. The sage of Sans-Souci
is the type, the master, and teacher of all Europe."
"My son," replied the king, "the great men of antiquity recognized
it as the acme of wisdom, that they must be mindful that 'in the
midst of life we are in death.' At the gay festivities and the
luxurious feasts they were interrupted in the merry song and
voluptuous dance, with the warning: 'Remember, O man, that thou must
die!' Let us profit by their wisdom! I have startled you from the
banquet of life, and I doubt not that many singers and dancers will
be enraged that I should put an end to the feasts of roses and the
merry dance in such an abominable manner. It would be an evil omen
in our warlike undertaking, if the rosy lips of the beauties should
breathe curses to follow us; therefore, we must try to conciliate
them, and leave a good souvenir in their hearts. You smile, my
prince, and you think it vain trouble for an old fellow; that I
cannot win the favor of the ladies under any pretension; so you must
undertake for me the reconciliation and the hush-money."
"I am prepared for any thing which your majesty imposes upon me;
only I would defend myself against the interpretation which you give
"Which was very near the truth," interrupted the king. "I have
called you from the banquet of life, and I have interrupted the
dancers, crowned with roses in the midst of their dance, which they
would finish before you. I pray you, then, indemnify the enraged
beauties, and let us go forth with a quiet conscience, that we in no
respect are indebted to any one."
"Oh, sire, it will be impossible for me to go to the field with a
quiet conscience upon this point."
"Permit me to extend to you the means to do so," replied the king,
graciously smiling. "Take this little box; it contains a wonderful
elixir, proof against all the infirmities and weaknesses of
humanity, of one of the greatest philosophers of human nature. By
the right use of it, tears of sorrow are changed to tears of joy,
and a Megerea into a smiling angel, as by enchantment. Before going
to the war, I pray you to prove the miraculous elixir upon one of
the angry beauties. For, I repeat, we must put our house in order,
and leave no debts behind us. The debts of gratitude must not be
forgotten. Let us say 'Gesegnete Mahlzeit' when we have been well
The king handed the prince a little box, of beautiful workmanship,
and smiled as he rather vehemently thanked him, and at the same time
tried to open it.
"I remark with pleasure that you have a tolerably innocent heart, as
you betray curiosity about the wonderful elixir. I supposed men, to
say nothing of beautiful women, had long since instructed you that
it was the only balsam for all the evils of life. My minister
Herzberg will give you the key of the little box, and advise you as
to the right use of the elixir. Farewell, with the hope of soon
seeing you again, my nephew. I start for Silesia to-morrow, as I
must travel slower than you young people. You will follow me in a
few days. Again farewell!"
Extending his meagre white hand to the prince, he withdrew it
quickly, as the latter was about to press it to his lips, and
motioned to the door kindly.
THE GOLDEN RAIN.
Prince Frederick William betook himself, with painful curiosity, to
the audience-room, where the Minister von Herzberg awaited him.
"Your excellency," said he, "his majesty refers me to you, for the
true explanation of the miraculous elixir contained in this little
box, and about which I am naturally very curious, and beg of you the
key to open it."
"Will your royal highness," said the minister, smiling, "have the
grace to grant me a few moments' conversation, which may serve as an
explanation, for his majesty has not in reality given me a key?"
"I pray you, my dear excellency, to explain it," cried the prince,
"Pardon me if I probe the tenderest feelings of your heart, my
prince. The command of the king imposes this duty upon me. He has
known for a long time of your connection with a certain person, to
whom you are more devoted than to your wife."
"Say, rather, his majesty has twice forced me to marry two unloved
and unknown princesses, when he knew that I already loved this
certain person. Twice I have married, because the command of his
king is law to the crown prince of Prussia. For my love and my
sympathy there is no law but that of my own heart, and this alone
have I followed."
"His majesty does not reproach you. The philosopher of Sans-Souci
understands human nature, and he feels indulgent toward your
weakness. He is quite satisfied that you have chosen this person, as
friend and favorite, to console yourself for an unhappy marriage.
Her low birth is a guaranty that she will never mingle in politics,
an act which would be visited with his majesty's highest
displeasure. While his majesty permits you to continue this
intimacy, and recognizes the existence of this woman, he wishes her
to be provided for as becomes the mistress of a crown prince, and
not as the grisette of a gentleman. She should have her own house,
and the livery of her lord."
"As if it were my fault that this has not already been arranged!"
cried the prince. "Am I not daily and hourly tormented with poverty,
and scarcely know how to turn, between necessary expenses and urgent
creditors? You know well yourself, your excellency, how stingy and
parsimonious the king is to the crown prince. He scarcely affords me
the means to support my family in a decent, to say nothing of a
princely, manner. How dependent we all are, myself, my wife, and my
children upon the king, whose economy increases, while our wants and
expenses also increase every year! It is sufficiently sad that I
cannot reward those who have proved to me during ten years their
fidelity and love, but I must suffer them to live in dependence and
"His majesty understands that, and thinks that as your royal
highness is to go to the field, and will be exposed, as a brave
commander, to the uncertain fate of battle, that you should assure
the future of all those who are dear to you, and arrange a certain
competency for them. A good opportunity now offers to you. Count
Schmettau will sell his villa at Charlottenburg, and it would be
agreeable to his majesty that you should purchase it, and assign it
to those dearest to you. In order to give you as little trouble as
possible, his majesty has had the matter already arranged, through
his equerry, Count Schmettau, and the purchase can be made this very
hour. Here is the bill of sale; only the name of the present
possessor is wanting, the signature of the purchaser, and the
payment of seven thousand five hundred thalers."
"The names can be quickly written; but, your excellency," cried the
prince, "where will the money come from?"
"I have just given your royal highness the key to the little box:
have the goodness to press hard upon the rosette."
The prince touched the spring, the cover flew back--it contained
only a strip of paper! Upon it was written, in the king's own
handwriting, "Bill of exchange upon my treasurer. Pay to the order
of the Prince of Prussia twenty thousand thalers." [Footnote:
"Memoirs of the Countess Lichtenau," vol.1] The prince's face
lighted up with joy. "Oh! the king has indeed given me a miraculous
elixir, that compensates for all misfortunes, heals all infirmities,
and is a balsam for all possible griefs. I will bring it into use
immediately, and sign the bill of sale." He signed the paper, and
filled with haste the deficiency in the contract. "It is done!" he
cried, joyfully, "the proprietress, Wilhelmine Enke; purchaser,
Frederick William of Prussia. Nothing remains to be done but to draw
upon the king's treasury, and pay Count Schmettau."
"Your royal highness is spared even that trouble. Here are twenty
rolls, and each roll contains one hundred double Fredericks d'or,
and, when your highness commands it, I will reserve seven rolls and
pay Count Schmettau; then there remain thirteen for yourself. Here
is the contract, which you will give in person to the possessor."
"First, I must go to the king," said the prince; "my heart urges me
to express my gratitude to him, and my deep sense of his goodness
and tenderness. I feel ashamed without being humbled, like a
repentant son, who has doubted the generosity and goodness of his
father, because he has sometimes severely reprimanded his faults. I
must go at once to the king."
"He will not receive your royal highness," answered Herzberg,
smiling. "You know our sovereign, who so fully deserves our
admiration and love. His favor and goodness beam upon us all, and he
desires neither thanks nor acknowledgment. He performs his noble,
glorious deeds in a harsh manner, that he may relieve the recipients
of his bounty from the burden of gratitude; and often when he is the
most morose and harsh, is he at heart the most gracious and
affectionate. You and yours have experienced it to-day. He appeared
to be angry, and enveloped himself in the toga of a severe judge of
morals; but, under this toga, there beat the kind, noble heart of a
friend and father, who punishes with rigorous words, and forgives
with generous, benevolent deeds."
"For this I must thank him--he must listen to me!" cried the prince.
"He will be angry if your royal highness forces him to receive
thanks when he would avoid them. He has expressly commanded me to
entreat you never to allude to the affair, and never to speak of it
to others, as it would not be agreeable to his majesty to have the
family affairs known to the world. You would best please his majesty
by following exactly his wishes, and when you meet him never allude
to it. As I have said, this is the express wish and command of the
"Which I must naturally follow," sighed the prince, "although I
acknowledge that it is unpleasant to me to receive so much kindness
from him without at least returning my most heart-felt thanks. Say
to the king, that I am deeply, sensibly moved with his tender
sympathy and generosity. And now I will hasten to Wilhelmine Enke;
but, it occurs to me that it may not be possible; the king has made
her a prisoner in her own house."
"Do not trouble yourself about that. If it is your royal highness's
pleasure, drive at once to Charlottenburg. You will find the new
possessor there and she will relate to you her interview with the
mayor of Berlin."
"Oh! I shall drive at once to the villa. I am curious to learn what
Von Kircheisen has told her."
"I imagined that you would be, and ordered your carriage here, as
you could not well ride upon horseback with the heavy rolls of gold;
and if it is your pleasure, I will order the footman to place the
box, into which I have put them, in the carriage."
"No, no; I beg you to let me carry them," cried the prince, seizing
the box with both hands. "It is truly heavy, but an agreeable
burden, and if it lames my arm I shall bethink myself of the
miraculous elixir, which will give me courage and strength.
Farewell, your excellency; I shall hurry on to Charlottenburg!"
The prince hastened to his carriage, and ordered the coachman to
drive at full speed to the villa. Thanks to this order, he reached
it in about an hour. No one was there to receive him upon his
arrival. The hall was empty, and the rooms were closed. The prince
passed on to the opposite end, where there was a door open, and
stood upon a balcony, with steps descending into the garden, which,
with its flower-beds, grass-plots, shrubbery, and the tall trees,
formed a lovely background. The birds were singing, the trees
rustled, and variegated butterflies fluttered over the odorous
flowers. Upon the turf, forming a beautiful group, was Wilhelmine
playing with her daughter, and the nurse with the little boy upon
her lap, who laughingly stretched out his arms toward his mother.
"Wilhelmine--Wilhelmine!" cried the prince.
With a cry of joy she answered, and flew toward the house. "You have
come at last, my beloved lord," she cried, almost breathless,
mounting the steps. "I beg you to tell me what all this means? I am
dying of curiosity!"
"I also," said the prince, smiling. "Have the goodness to lead me to
one of the rooms, that I may set down this box."
"What does that hobgoblin contain, that it prevents your embracing
"Do not ask, but hasten to assist me to relieve myself of the
burden." They entered the house, and Wilhelmine opened the wide
folding-doors, which led into a very tastefully-furnished room.
Frederick William set the box upon the marble table, and sank upon a
divan with Wilhelmine in his arms. "First of all, tell me what Von
Kircheisen said to you?"
"He commanded me, in the name of the king, to give up my dwelling at
Berlin and at Potsdam, and to avoid showing myself in public at both
places, that those who had the right to the love and fidelity of the
Prince of Prussia should not be annoyed at the sight of me; that I
should live retired, and leave the appointed residence as little as
possible, for then the king would be inclined to ignore my
existence, and take no further notice of me. But, if I attempted to
play a role, his majesty would take good care that it should be
forever played out."
"Those were harsh, cruel words," sighed Frederick William.
"Harsh, cruel words," repeated Wilhelmine, sorrowfully. "They
pierced my soul, and I shrieked at last from agony. Herr von
Kircheisen was quite frightened, and begged me to excuse him, that
he must thus speak to me, but the king had commanded him to repeat
his very words. The carriage was at the door, he said, ready to
convey me to my future dwelling, for I must immediately leave
Berlin, and the king be informed of my setting out. The coachman
received the order, and here I am, without knowing what I am to do,
or whether I shall remain here."
"Yes, Wilhelmine, you are to remain here; at last we have a home,
and a resting-place for our love and our children. This house is
yours--you are mistress here, and you must welcome me as your
"This house is mine!" she cried, joyfully. "Did you give it to me?
How generous, and how extravagant you are! Protect me with the gift
of your love, as if you were Jupiter and I Danae!"
"A beautiful picture, and, that it may be a reality, I will play the
role of Jupiter and open the box."
He took a roll of gold, and let it fall upon Wilhelmine's head, her
beautiful shoulders, and her arms, like a shower of gold. She
shrieked and laughed, and sought to gather up the pieces which
rolled ringing around her upon the floor. The prince seized another
roll, and another still, till she was flooded with the glistening
pieces. Then another and another, until Wilhelmine, laughing,
screamed for grace, and sprang up, the gold rolling around her like
GERMAN LITERATURE AND THE KING.
The Minister Herzberg had, in the mean time, an interview with the
king, informing him of the concluded purchase of the Schmettau
villa, and of the emotion and gratitude of the crown prince at his
"That affair is arranged, then," said Frederick. "If Fate wills that
the prince should not return from this campaign, then this certain
person and the two poor worms are provided for, who are destined to
wander through the world nameless and fatherless."
"Let us hope that fate will not deal so harshly with the prince, or
bring such sorrow upon your majesty."
"My dear sir, Fate is a hard-hearted creature, the tears of mankind
are of no more importance to her than the raindrops falling from the
roof. She strides with gigantic power over men, crushing them all in
dust--the great as well as the little--the king as well as the
beggar. For my part I yield to Fate without a murmur. Politicians
and warriors are mere puppets in the hands of Providence. We act
without knowing why, for we are unknowingly the tools of an
invisible hand. Often the result of our actions is the reverse of
our hopes! Let all things take their course, as it best pleases God,
and let us not think to master Fate. [Footnote: The king's words.--
"Posthumous Works," vol. x., p. 256.] That is my creed, Herzberg,
and if I do not return from this infamous campaign, you will know
that I have yielded to Fate without murmuring. You understand my
wishes in all things; the current affairs of government should go on
regularly. If any thing extraordinary occurs, let me be informed at
once. Is there any news, Herzberg?"
"Nothing worth recounting, sire, except that the young Duke of
Weimar is in town."
"I know it; he has announced himself. I cannot speak with him. I
have asked my brother Henry to arrange the conditions under which he
will allow us to enlist men for my army in his duchy. I hope he will
be reasonable, and not prevent it. That is no news that the Duke of
Weimar has arrived!"
"Not only the duke has arrived, but he has brought his dear friend
with him whom the people in Saxe-Weimar say makes the good and bad
"Who is the weather-maker?"
"Your majesty, this weather-maker is the author of 'The Sorrows of
Young Werther,' Johann Wolfgang Goethe, who for four years has
aroused the hearts and excited the imaginations of all Germany. If I
am not deceived, a great future opens for this poet, and he will be
a star of the first magnitude in the sky of German literature. I
believe it would be well worth the trouble for your majesty to see
"Do not trouble me with your German literature, and your stars of
the first magnitude! We must acknowledge our poverty with humility;
belles-lettres have never achieved success upon our soil. Moreover,
this star of the first magnitude--this Herr Goethe--I remember him
well; I wish to know nothing of him. He has quite turned the heads
of all the love-sick fools with his 'Sorrows of Young Werther.' You
cannot count that a merit. The youth of Germany were sufficiently
enamoured, without the love-whining romances of Herr Goethe to pour
oil on the fire."
"Pardon me, sire, that I should presume to differ from you; but this
book which your majesty condemns has not only produced a furor in
Germany, but throughout Europe--throughout the world even. That
which public opinion sustains in such a marked manner cannot be
wholly unworthy. 'Vox populi, vox dei,' is a true maxim in all
"It is not true!" cried the king. "The old Roman maxim is not
applicable to our effeminate, degraded people. Nowadays, whoever
flatters the people and glorifies their weaknesses, is a good
fellow, and he is extolled to the skies. Public opinion calls him a
genius and a Messiah. Away with your nonsense! The 'Werther' of Herr
Goethe has wrought no good; it has made the healthy sick, and has
not restored invalids to health. Since its appearance a mad love-
fever has seized all the young people, and silly sentimentalities
and flirtations have become the fashion. These modern Werthers
behave as if love were a tarantula, with the bite of which they must
become mad, to be considered model young men. They groan and sigh,
take moonlight walks, but they have no courage in their souls, and
will never make good soldiers. This is the fault of Herr Werther,
and his abominable lamentations.
It is a miserable work, and not worth the trouble of talking about,
for no earnest man will read it!"
"Pardon me, sire; your majesty has graciously permitted me to enter
the lists as knight and champion of German literature, and sometimes
to defend the German Muse, who stands unnoticed and unknown under
the shadow of your throne; while the French lady, with her brilliant
attire and painted cheeks, is always welcomed. I beg your majesty to
believe that, although this romance may have done some harm, it has,
on the other hand, done infinite service. A great and immortal merit
cannot be denied to it."
"What merit?" demanded the king, slowly taking a pinch of snuff; "I
am very curious to know what merit that crazy, love-sick book has."
"Sire, it has the great merit to have enriched the German literature
with a work whose masterly language alone raises it above every
thing heretofore produced by a German author. It has emancipated our
country's literature from its clumsy, awkward childhood, and
presented it as an ardent, inspired youth, ready for combat, upon
the lips of whom the gods have placed the right word to express
every feeling and every thought--a youth who is capable of probing
the depths of the human heart."
"I wish all this might have remained in the depths," cried
Frederick, annoyed. "You have defended the German Muse before; but
you remember that I am incorrigible. You cannot persuade me that
bungling is master-work. It is not the poverty of the mind, but the
fault of the language, which is not capable of expressing with
brevity and precision. For how could any one translate Tacitus into
German without adding a mass of words and phrases? In French it is
not necessary; one can express himself with brevity, and to the
"Sire, I shall permit myself to prove to you that the brevity of
Tacitus can be imitated in the German language. I will translate a
part of Tacitus, to give your majesty a proof."
"I will take you at your word! And I will answer you in a treatise
upon German literature, its short-comings, and the means for its
improvement. [Footnote: This treatise appeared during the Bavarian
war of succession, in the winter of 1779] Until then, a truce. I
insist upon it--good German authors are entirely wanting to us
Germans. They may appear a long time after I have joined Voltaire
and Algarotti in the Elysian Fields." [Footnote: The king's words.--
See "Posthumous Works," vol. II., p. 293.]
"They are already here," cried Herzberg, zealously. "We have, for
example, Lessing, who has written two dramas, of which every nation
might be proud--'Minna von Barnhelm, and Emilia Calotti.'"
"I know nothing of them," said the king, with indifference. "I have
never heard of your Lessing."
"Your majesty, this wonderful comedy, 'Minna von Barnhelm,' was
written for your majesty's glorification."
"The more the reason why I should not read it! A German comedy! That
must be fine stuff for the German theatre, the most miserable of
all. In Germany, Melpomene has untutored admirers, some walking on
stilts, others crawling in the mire, from the altars of the goddess.
The Germans will ever be repulsed, as they are rebels to her laws,
and understand not the art to move and interest the heart."
"But, sire, you have never deigned to become acquainted with 'Minna
von Barnhelm' nor 'Emilia Calotti.'"
"Well, well, Herzberg, do not be so furious; you are a lover of
German literature, and some allowance must be made for those who are
in love. You will not persuade me to read your things which you call
German comedies and tragedies. I will take good care; my teeth are
not strong enough to grind such hard bits. Now do not be angry,
Herzberg. The first leisure hours that I have in this campaign I
shall employ on my treatise."
"And the first leisure hours that I have," growled the minister, "I
shall employ to translate a portion of Tacitus into our beautiful
German language, to send to your majesty."
"You are incorrigible," said Frederick, smiling. "We shall see, and
until then let us keep the peace, Herzberg. When one is about to go
to war, it is well to be at peace with one's conscience and with his
friends; so let us be good friends."
"Your majesty, your graciousness and kindness make me truly
ashamed," said the minister, feelingly. "I beg pardon a thousand
times, if I have allowed myself to be carried away with unbecoming
violence in my zeal for our poor neglected German literature."
"I approve of your zeal, and it pleases me that you are a faithful
knight, sans peur et sans reproche. I do not ascribe its poverty to
the German nation, who have as much spirit and genius as any nation,
the mental development of which has been retarded by outward
circumstances, which prevented her rising to an equality with her
neighbors. We shall one day have classical writers, and every one
will read them to cultivate himself. Our neighbors will learn
German, and it will be spoken with pleasure at courts; and it can
well happen that our language, when perfectly formed, will spread
throughout Europe. We shall have our German classics also."
[Footnote: The king's words--see "Posthumous Works," vol. III.]
The king smiled, well pleased, as he observed by stolen glances the
noble, intelligent face of Herzberg brighten, and the gloomy clouds
dispersed which had overshadowed it.
"Now, is it not true that you are again contented?" said the king,
"I am delighted with the prophecy for the German language, your
majesty; and may I add something?"
"It will weigh on your heart if you do not tell it," said the king.
"I prophesy that this Goethe will one day belong to the classic
authors, and therefore I would beg once more of your majesty to
grant him a gracious look, and invite him to your presence. If you
find no pleasure in 'The Sorrows of Werther,' Goethe has created
other beautiful works. He is the author of the tragedy of 'Stella.'"
"That sentimental, immoral piece, which we forbid the representation
of in Berlin, because it portrays a fellow who made love to two
women at once, playing the double role of lover to his wife and his
paramour, while he had a grown-up daughter! It is an immoral piece,
which excites the tear-glands, and ends as 'Werther,' by the hero
blowing his brains out. It is directed against all morals, and
against marriage; therefore it was forbidden." [Footnote: The
tragedy of "Stella" was represented in Berlin with great applause,
and denounced by the king as immoral, in the year 1776, and the
further representation forbidden.--See Plumke, "History of the
"But, sire, Herr Goethe has not only written 'Stella,' but 'Clavigo'
"Which he has copied exactly from the 'Memoires de Beaumarchais,'"
interrupted the king. "That is not a German, but a French
"Allow me to cite a genuine German production, which Johann Wolfgang
Goethe has written. I mean the drama 'Gotz von Berlichingen.' "
"Stop!--it is sufficient. I do not wish to hear any thing more,"
cried the king, indignant, and rising. "It is bad enough that such
pieces should appear upon the German stage as this 'Gotz von
Berlichingen.' They are nothing less than abominable imitations of
the bad English pieces of Shakespeare! The pit applauds them, and
demands with enthusiasm these very disgusting platitudes. [Footnote:
The king's own words.--See "Posthumous Works," vol. iii.] Do not be
angry again, you must have patience with the old boy! I shall
rejoice heartily if this Herr Goethe becomes a classic writer one
day, as you say. I shall not live to witness it. I only see the
embryo where you see the full-grown author. We will talk further
about it when we meet in the Elysian Fields; then we will see, when
you present this Herr Johann Wolfgang Goethe, as a German classic
writer, to Homer, Horace, Virgil, and Corneille, if they do not turn
their backs upon him. Now adieu, Herzberg! So soon as circumstances
permit, I shall send for you to go to Silesia, and then you can give
me your German translation of Tacitus."
The king nodded in a friendly manner to his minister, and slowly
walked back and forth, while he took leave and withdrew. After a few
moments he rang, and the summons was immediately answered by the
The king fixed upon him one of those searching glances of his fiery
eyes which confounded and confused the footman. He remained standing
and embarrassed, with downcast look.
"What are you standing there for?" asked the king. "Did I not ring
for you, and do you not know what you have to do?" Frederick
continued to regard him, with flashing eyes, which increased the
He forgot entirely that the summons was for his majesty's lunch, and
all that he had to do was to open the door to the adjoining room,
where it stood already prepared.
Frederick waited a moment, but the footman still stood irresolute,
when his majesty indicated to him to approach.
He approached, staggering under the puzzling glance of his master.
"Oh! I see what it is," said Frederick, shrugging his shoulders;
"you are drunk again, as you often are, and--"
"Your majesty," cried Schultz, amazed, "I drunk!"
"Silence!--will you be bold enough to reason with me? I say that you
are drunk, and I want no drunken footmen. They must be well-behaved,
sober fellows, who keep their ears open and their mouths shut--who
are neither drunkards nor gossips, and do not take for truth what
they have experienced in their drunken fits. I do not want such
fellows as you are at all; you are only fit food for cannon, and for
that you shall serve. Go to General Alvensleben, and present
yourself to enter the guards. You are lucky to go to the field at
once; to-morrow you will set off. Say to the general that I sent
you, and that you are to enter as a common soldier."
"But, your majesty, I do not know what I have done," cried Schultz,
whiningly. "I really am not drunk. I--"
"Silence!" thundered the king. "Do as I command you! Go to General
Alvensleben, and present yourself to enter the guards at once. Away
with you! I do not need drunken, gossiping footmen in my service.
Away with you!"
The footman slunk slowly away, his head hanging down, with
difficulty restraining the tears which stood in large drops in his
The king followed him with his glance, which softened and grew
gentler from sympathy. "I pity him, the poor fellow! but I must
teach him a lesson. I want no gossips around me. He need only wear
the uniform two weeks or so, that will bring him to reason. Then I
will pardon him, and receive him into my service again. He is a
good-natured fellow, and would not betray any one as Kretzschmar
The king stepped to the window to look at the gentleman who was
eagerly engaged in conversation with the castellan of Sans-Souci. At
this instant the footman entered with a sealed note for the king.
"From his royal highness Prince Henry," said he.
"Who brought it?"
"The gentleman who speaks with the castellan upon the terrace. I
wait your majesty's commands."
"Wait, then." The note ran thus: "Your majesty, my dearly-beloved
brother: The bearer, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, one of the literati,
and a poet, and at this time secretary of legation to the duchy of
Saxe-Weimar, is a great favorite of the duke's, our nephew. I met
him returning from the parade in company with the duke, who
expressed to me the strong desire his secretary had to visit the
celebrated house of the great philosopher of Sans-Souci, and see the
room once occupied by Voltaire. I could not well refuse, and
therefore address these few lines to your majesty before returning
to Berlin with the duke, who will dine with me, accompanied by his
secretary." I am your majesty's most humble servant and brother,
"Tell the castellan that I grant him permission to show the house
and park to the stranger; he shall take care not to come in my way,
so that I shall be obliged to meet him. Tell this aside, that you
may not be overheard. Hasten, for they have already been waiting
The king walked again to the window, and, hidden by the curtain,
peeped out. "So, this is Herr Goethe, is it? What assurance! There
he stands, sketching the house. What wonderful eyes the man has!
With what a proud, confident manner he looks around! What a brow!
Truly he is a handsome fellow, and Herzberg may be right after all.
That brow betokens thought, and from those eyes there flashes a
divine light. But he looks overbearing and proud. Now, I am doubly
pleased that I refused Herzberg to have any thing to do with him.
Such presumptive geniuses must be rather kept back; then they feel
their power, and strive to bring themselves forward. Yes! I believe
that man has a future. He looks like the youthful god Apollo, who
may have condescended to descend to earth! He shall not entrap me
with his beautiful head. If he is the man who makes good and bad
weather in Weimar, he shall learn that rain and sunshine at Sans-
Souci do not depend upon him; that the sun and clouds here do not
care whether Herr Goethe is in the world or not. For sunshine and
storm we depend upon the Great Weather-Maker, to whom we must all
bow; evil and good days in Prussia shall emanate from me, so long as
I live. Sometimes I succeed in causing a little sunshine," continued
the king. "I believe the Prince of Prussia has to-day felt the happy
influence of the sun's rays; and while it is dull and lonely at
Sans-Souei, may it be brighter and more cheerful at Charlottenburg!
Eh bien! old boy," said the king, stopping, "you are playing the
sentimental, and eulogizing your loneliness. Well, well, do not
complain.--Oh, come to me, spirits of my friends, and hold converse
with me! Voltaire, D'Argens, and my beloved Lord-Marshal Keith! Come
to me, departed souls, with the memories of happier days, and hover
with thy cheering, sunny influence over the wrinkled brow of old
While the lonely king implored the spirits of his friends, to
brighten with their presence the quiet, gloomy apartment at Sans-
Souci, the sun shone in full splendor at Charlottenburg--the
sunshine beaming from the munificence of Frederick. Wilhelmine Enke
had passed the whole day in admiring the beautiful and tasteful
arrangement of the villa. Every piece of furniture, every ornament,
she examined attentively--all filled her with delight. The prince,
who accompanied her from room to room, listened to her outbursts of
"I wish that I could often prepare such happiness for you, dearest,
for my heart is twice gladdened to see your beaming face."
"Reflected from your own. You are my good genius upon earth. You
have caused the poor, neglected child to become the rich and happy
woman. To you I owe this home, this foot of earth, which I can call
my own. Here blossom the flowers for me--here I am mistress, and
those who enter must come as my guests, and honor me. All this I owe