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21st Jan. 1761. some twinkle of scepticism in the corner of his eye. Poor Gellert fell seriously ill in December 1769; to the fear and grief of all the world: 'estafettes from the Kur' first himself galloped daily, or oftener, from Dresden ' for the sick bulletin;' but poor Gellert died, all the same (13th of that month); and we have (really with pathetic thoughts, even we) to bid his amiable existence in this world, his bits of glories and him, adieu forever.
Dialogue with General Saldern (in the Apel House,
Leipzig, 21st January 1761). Four or five weeks after this of Gellert, Friedrich had another Dialogue, which also is partly on record, and is of more importance to us here: Dialogue with Major-General Saldern; on a certain business, delicate, yet profitable to the doer,—nobody so fit for it as Saldern, thinks the King. Saldern is he who did that extraordinary feat of packing the wrecks of battle on the Field of Liegnitz; a fine, clear-flowing, silent kind of man, rapid and steady, with a great deal of methodic and other good faculty in him,-more, perhaps, than he himself yet knows of. Him the King has sent for, this morning; and it is on the business of Polish Majesty's Royal Hunting-Schloss at Hubertsburg, --which is a thing otherwise worth some notice from us.
For three months long, the King had been representing, in the proper quarters, what plunderings, and riotous and even disgusting savageries, the Saxons had perpetrated at Charlottenburg, Schönhausen, Friedrichsfeld, in October last, while masters there for a few days: but neither in Reichs Diet, where Plotho was eloquent,
16 Dichtung und Wahrheit, Theil ii. Buch 6 (in Goethe's Werke, xxv. 51 et seq.).
21st Jan. 1761. nor elsewhere by the Diplomatic method, could he get the least redress, or one civil word of regret. From Polish Majesty himself, to whom Friedrich remonstrated the matter, through the English Resident at Warsaw, Friedrich had expected regret; but he got none. Some think he had hoped that Polish Majesty, touched by these horrors of war, and by the reciprocities evidently liable to follow, might be induced to try something towards mediating a General Peace: but Polish Majesty did not; Polish Majesty answered simply nothing at all, nor would get into any correspondence: upon which Friedrich, possibly a little piqued withal, had at length determined on retaliation.
Within our cantonments, reflects Friedrich, here is Hubertsburg Schloss, with such a hunting apparatus in and around it; Polish Majesty's Hertzblatt (“lid of the heart,” as they call it; breastbone, at least, and pit of his stomach, which inclines to nothing but hunting): let his Hubertsburg become as our Charlottenburg is; perhaps that will touch his feelings! Friedrich had formed this resolution; and, Wednesday January 21st, sends for Saldern, one of the most exact, deft-going, and punctiliously honourable of all his Generals, to execute it. Enter Saldern accordingly,--royal Audience-room ' in the Apelsche Haus, New Neumarkt, No. 16, as above;—to whom (one Küster, a reliable creature, reporting for us on Saldern's behalf) the King says, in the distinct slowish tone of a King giving orders:
King. “Saldern, tomorrow morning you go” (Er, He goes) “ with a detachment of Infantry and Cavalry, in all silence, “ to Hubertsburg; beset the Schloss, get all the furnitures care“fully packed up and invoiced. I want nothing with them; the
money they bring I mean to bestow on our Field Hospitals, * and will not forget you in disposing of it.”
21st Jan. 1761.
Saldern, usually so prompt with his “Ja” on any Order • from the King, looks embarrassed, stands silent,—to the King's ' great surprise ;—and after a moment or two says:
Saldern. “Forgive me, your Majesty : but this is contrary to my honour and my oath.”
King (still in a calm tone). “You would be right to think so,
if I did not intend this desperate method for a good object.. “ Listen to me: great Lords don't feel it in their scalp when “ their subjects are torn by the hair; one has to grip their own “ locks, as the only way to give them pain.” (“These last words
the King said in a sharper tone; he again made his apology for the resolution he had formed; and renewed his Order. With the modesty usual to him, but also with manliness, Saldern replied :)
Saldern. “ Order me, your Majesty, to attack the enemy and “ his batteries, I will on the instant cheerfully obey: but against “honour, oath, and duty, I cannot, I dare not !"
"The King,' with voice gradually rising, I suppose, 'repeated his demonstration that the thing was proper, necessary in the
circumstances; but Saldern, true to the inward voice, answered steadily:
Saldern. “For this commission your Majesty will easily find “another person in my stead.”
King (“whirling hastily round, with an angry countenance, but, I should say, an admirable preservation of his dignity in such extreme case). “ Saldern, Er will nicht reich werden,Saldern, “ you refuse to become rich.” And exit, leaving Saldern to his own stiff courses. 19
Nothing remained for Saldern but to fall ill, and retire from the Service; which he did: a man honourably ruined, thought everybody ;-which did not prove to be the case, by and by.
This surely is a remarkable Dialogue; far beyond any of the Gellert kind. An absolute King and Commander-in-Chief, and of such a type in both characters, getting flat refusal once in his life (this once only, so far
19 Küster, Charakterzüge des General-Lieutenant v. Saldern (Berlin, 1793), p. 39-44.
21st Jan. 1761. as I know), and how he takes it:-one wishes Küster, or somebody, had been able to go into more details !Details on the Quintus-Icilius procedure, which followed next day, would also have been rather welcome, had Küster seen good. It is well known, Quintus Icilius and his Battalion, on order now given, went cheerfully, next day, in Saldern's stead. And sacked Hubertsburg Castle, to the due extent or farther: 100,000 thalers (15,0001.) were to be raised from it for the Field-Hospital behoof; the rest was to be Quintus's own; who, it was thought, made an excellent thing of it for himself. And in hauling out the furnitures, especially in selling them, Quintus having an enterprising sharp head in trade affairs, “it is certain,' says Küster, as says everybody, various Schändlichkeiten (scandals) occurred, which were contrary to the King's intention, and would not ' have happened under Saldern.' What the scandals particularly were, is not specified to me anywhere, though I have searched up and down; much less the net amount of money realised by Quintus. I know only, poor Quintus was bantered about it, all his life after, by this merciless King; and at Potsdam, in years coming, had ample time and admonition for what penitence was needful.
• The case was much canvassed in the Army,' says poor Küster ; ‘it was the topic in every tent among i Officers and common Men. And among us ArmyChaplains too,' poor
poor honest souls, “the question of con' flicting duties arose: Your King ordering one thing,
and your own Conscience another, what ought a man 'to do? What ought an Army-Chaplain to preach or • advise? And considerable mutual light in regard to 'it we struck out from one another, and saw how a prudent Army-Chaplain might steer his way. Our
Dec. 1760—April 1761. general conclusion was, That neither the King nor
Saldern could well be called wrong. Saldern listening 'to the inner voice; right he, for certain. But withal the King, in his place, might judge such a thing expedient and fit; perhaps Saldern himself would, had · Saldern been King of Prussia there in January 1761.'
Saldern's behaviour in his retirement was beautiful; and after the Peace, he was recalled, and made more use of than ever; being indeed a model for Army arrangements and procedures, and reckoned the completest General of Infantry now left, far and near. The outcries made about Hubertsburg, which still linger in Books, are so considerable, one fancies the
Schloss must have been quite ruined, and left standing as naked walls. Such, however, we by no means find to be the case; but, on the contrary, shall ourselves see that everything was got refitted there, and put into perfect order again, before long.
There are some War-movements during Winter;
general financiering Difficulties. Choiseul pro
February 15th, there fell out, at Langensalza, on the Unstrut, in Gotha Country, a bit of sharp fighting; done by Friedrich's people and Duke Ferdinand's in concert; which, and still more what followed on it, made some noise in the quiet months. Not a great thing, this of Langensalza, but a sudden, and successfully done; costing Broglio some 2,000 prisoners; and the ruin of a considerable Post of his, which he had lately pushed out thither, “ to sieze the Unstrut,” as he hoped. A Broglio grasping at more than he could hold, in those Thüringen parts, as elsewhere! And, indeed,