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25th-28th Aug. 1769. Newspapers; “having been given up, though only from 'courtesy, on some points of ceremonial." The young
Kaiser felt a little huffed; and signified to Friedrich that he would find a time to make good this bit of uncivility, which his pedagogues had forced upon him. And now, after three years, August 1769, on occasion of the Silesian Reviews, the Kaiser is to come across from his Bohemian businesses, and actually visit him: Interview to be at Neisse, 25th August 1769, for three days. Of course the King was punctual, everybody was punctual, glad and cordial after a sort,-10 ceremony, the Kaiser, officially incognito, is a mere Graf von Falkenstein, come to see his Majesty's Reviews. There came with him four or five Generals, Loudon one of them; Lacy had preceded: Friedrich is in the Palace of the place, ready and expectant. With Friedrich are: Prince Henri; Prince of Prussia; Margraf of Anspach, Friedrich's Nephew (Lady Craven's Margraf, the one remnant now left there); and some Generals and Military functionaries, Seidlitz the notablest figure of these. And so, Friday, August 25th, shortly after noon—But the following Two Letters, by an Eyewitness, will be preferable; and indeed are the only real Narrative that can be given: No. 1. Engineer Le Febvre to Perpetual Secretary Formey (at
Neisse, 26th' (partly 25th) August 1769. ‘My most worthy Friend, -I make haste to inform you of the Kaiser's arrival here at Neisse, this day, 25th August '1769, at one in the afternoon. The King had spent the 'morning in a proof Manæuvre, making rehearsal of the Man@uvre that was to be. When the Kaiser was reported just
3 'Friedrich to One of his Foreign Ambassadors' (the common way of announcing in Newspapers): Preuss, iv. 22 n.
25th-28th Aug. 1769.
coming, the King went to the window of the grand Episco'pal Saloon, and seeing him alight from his carriage, turned
round and said, “ Je l'ai vu (I have seen him).” His Majesty then went to receive him on the grand staircase (had hardly descended three or four steps), 'where they embraced; and then ‘ his Majesty led by the hand his august Guest into the Apart'ments designed for him, which were all standing open and
ready,' --which, however, the august Guest will not occupy except with a grateful imagination, being for the present incognito, mere Graf von Falkenstein, and judging that The Three-Kings Inn will be suitabler.
· Arrived in the Apartments, they embraced anew; and sat talking together for an hour and half.:
(The talk, unknown to Le Febvre, began in this strain. Kaiser : “Now are my wishes
fulfilled, since I have the honour to embrace the greatest of “Kings and Soldiers." King: “I look upon this day as the “fairest of my life; for it will become the epoch of uniting Two “ Houses which have been enemies too long, and whose mutual “ interests require that they should strengthen, not weaken one 6 another." Kaiser : “For Austria there is no Silesia far" ther.”4 Talk, it appears, lasted an hour and half.)
-The Kaiser' (continues our Engineer) had brought with him the Prince of Sachsen"Teschen' (his august Brother-in-law, Duke of Teschen, son of the late Polish Majesty of famous memory): "afterwards there
came Feldmarschall Lacy, Graf von Dietrichstein, General von Loudon,' and three others of no account to us. At the King's • table were the Kaiser, the Prince of Prussia' (dissolute young Heir-Apparent, of the polygamous tendency), “Prince Henri,
the Margraf of Anspach' (King's Nephew, unfortunate LadyCraven Margraf, ultimately of Hammersmith vicinity); the
above Generals of the Austrian suite, and Generals Seidlitz and • Tauentzien. The rest of the Court was at two other tables.' Of the dinner itself an Outside Individual will say nothing.
• The Kaiser, having expressly requested the King to let him • lodge in an Inn (Three Kings), under the name of Graf von · Falkenstein, would not go into the carriage which had stood
• Preuss, iv. 23; Euvres de Frédéric, vi. 25, 26.
25th-28th Aug. 1769. expressly ready to conduct him thither. He preferred walking on fooť (the loftily scornful Incognito)'in spite of the rain ; it ' was like a lieutenant of infantry stepping out of his quarters. Some moments after, the King went to visit him; and they remained together from 5 in the evening till 8. It was thought "they would be present (assister) at a Comic Opera which was to be played: but after waiting till 7 o'clock, the people received orders to go on with the Piece;'—both Majesties did afterwards look in ; but finding it bad, soon went their way again. (Major Le Febvre stops writing for the night.)
“This morning, 26th, the Maneuvre' (rehearsed yesterday) has been performed before both their Majesties; the troops, by way of finish, filing past them in the highest order. The Kaiser accompanied the King to his abode; after which he returned to his own. This is all the news I have today: the sequel by next Posť (apparently a week hence). 'I am, and shall ever 'be,-your true Friend,
No. 2. Same to Same.
Neisse, 2d September 1769. Monsieur and dearest Friend,—We had, as you heard, our ' first Manæuvre on Saturday 26th, in presence of the Kaiser and the King, and of the whole Court of each. That evening there was Opera; which their Majesties honoured by attending. Sunday was our Second Manœuvre; Operette in the evening. Monday 28th, was our last Manæuvre; at the end of which the two Majesties, without alighting from horseback, embraced each other; and parted, protesting mutually the most constant and inviolable friendship. One took the road for Breslau; the other that of Königsgrätz. All the time the Kaiser was here, they have been continually talking together, and exhibiting the tenderest friendship,—from which I cannot but I think there will benefit result.
'I am almost in the mind of coming to pass this Winter at • Berlin; that I may have the pleasure of embracing you,' perhaps as cordially as King and Kaiser here. I am, and shall • always be, with all my heart,—your very good Friend,
LE FEBVRE.'5 5 Formey, Souvenirs d'un Citoyen, ii. 145-148.
25th-28th Aug. 1769.
The Le Febvre that writes here is the same who was set to manage the last Siege of Schweidnitz, by Globes of Compression and other fine inventions; and almost went out of his wits because he could not do it. An expert ingenious creature; skilful as an engineer; had been brought into Friedrich's service by the late Balbi, during Balbi's ascendancy (which ended at Olmütz long ago). At Schweidnitz, and often elsewhere, Friedrich, who had an esteem for poor Le Febvre, was good to him; and treated his excitabilities with a soft hand, not a rough. Once at Neisse (1771, second year after these Letters), on looking round at the works done since last review, in sight of all the Garrison he embraced Le Febvre, while commending his excellent performance; which filled the poor soul with a now unimaginable joy.
'Hélas,' says Formey, 'the poor Gentleman wrote to me of his endless satisfaction; and how he hoped to get through his ' building, and retire on half-pay this very season, thenceforth to • belong to the Academy and me; he had been Member for twenty years past. With this view, thinks Formey, he most likely hastened on his buildings too fast: certain it is, a barrack he was building tumbled suddenly, and some workmen perished in the ruins. "Enemies at Court suggested,' or the accident itself suggested without any enemy, “Has not he been playing false, using cheap bad materials ?”—and Friedrich ordered him arrest in his own Apartments, till the question were investigated. Excitable Le Febvre was like to lose his wits, almost to leap out of his skin. • One evening at supper, he managed to smuggle away a knife;
and, in the course of the night, gave himself sixteen stabs with 'it; which at length sufficed. The King said, "He has used
himself worse than I should have done;" and was very sorry.' Of Lefebvre's scientific structures, globes of compression and the rest, I know not whether anything is left; the above Two Notes, thrown off to Formey, were accidentally a hit, and, in the great blank, may last a long while.
The King found this young Kaiser a very pretty man; and could have liked him considerably, had their mutual positions permitted. “He had a frankness of
manner, which seemed natural to him,' says the King; 25th-28th Aug. 1769. · in his amiable character, gaiety and great vivacity were prominent features.' By accidental chinks, however, one saw an ambition beyond measure' burning in the interior of this young man, —let an old King be wary. A three days, clearly, to be marked in chalk; radiant outwardly to both; to a certain depth, sincere; and uncommonly pleasant for the time. King and Kaiser were seen walking about arm in arm. At one of the Reviews a Note was brought to Friedrich: he read it, a Note from her Imperial Majesty; and handing it to Kaiser Joseph, kissed it first. At parting, he had given Joseph, by way of keepsake, a copy of Maréchal de Saxe's Réveries (a strange Military Farrago, dictated, I should think, under opium”): this Book lay continually thereafter on the Kaiser's night-table; and was found there at his death, Twenty-one years hence,--not a page of it read, the leaves all sticking together under their bright gilding. 8
It was long believed, by persons capable of seeing into millstones, that, under cover of this Neisse Interview, there were important Political negotiations and consultings carried on;—that here, and in a Second Interview or Return-Visit, of which presently, lay the real foundation of the Polish Catastrophe. What of Political passed at the Second Interview readers shall see for themselves, from an excellent Authority. As to what passed at the present (" mutual word-of-honour: should England and France quarrel, we will stand neutral”9), it is too insignificant for being shown to readers. Dialogues there were, delicately holding wide of the
Euvres de Frédéric (in Mémoires de 1763 jusqu'à 1775, a Chapter which yields the briefest, and the one completely intelligible account we yet have of those affairs), vi. 25.
: Mes Réveries; Ouvrage Posthume, par' &c. (2 voll. 4to : Amsterdam et Leipzig, 1757). Preuss, iv. 24 n.
· Euvres de Frédéric, ubi suprà.