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1775. “ his head that this gout was a declared dropsy; and, glad to
announce to his Court the approaching death of an enemy that ' had been dangerous to it, boldly informed his Kaiser that the
King was drawing to his end, and would not last out the year. * At this news the soul of Joseph flames into enthusiasm ; all the · Austrian troops are got on march, their Rendezvous marked in * Bohemia; and the Kaiser waits, full of impatience, at Vienna, till the expected event arrive; ready then to penetrate at once into Saxony, and thence to the Frontiers of Brandenburg, and 'there propose to the King's Successor the alternative of either surrendering Silesia straightway to the House of Austria, or seeing himself overwhelmed by Austrian troops before he could get his own assembled. All these things, which were openly done, got noised abroad everywhere; and did not, as is easy ' to believe, cement the friendship of the Two Courts. To the
Public, this scene appeared the more ridiculous, as the King of · Prussia, having only had a common gout in larger dose than 'common, was already well of it again, before the Austrian ' Army had got to their Rendezvous. The Kaiser made all these 'troops return to their old quarters; and the Court of Vienna ' had nothing but mockery for its imprudent conduct.”60
The first of these gout-attacks seems to have come in the end of September, and to have lasted about a month; after which the illness abated, and everybody thought it was gone. The Kaiser-Joseph evolution must have been in October, and have got its mockery in the next months. Friedrich, writing to Voltaire, October 22d, has these words :
“ A pair of “ charming Letters from Ferney; to which, had they been from “the great Demiurgus himself, I could not have dictated An
swer. Gout held me tied and garrotted for four weeks ;-gout “ in both feet and in both hands; and, such its extreme liberality, “ in both elbows too: at present the pains and the fever have “abated, and I feel only a very great exhaustion."61 Four consecutive attacks; hope they are now all over :' but we read, within the Spring following, that there have been in all twelve of them; and in May 1776, the Newspapers count eighteen quasiconsecutive. So that in reality the King's strength was sadly 60 Euvres de Frédéric, vi. 124.
61 Ibid. XIV, 44.
1776. reduced; and his health, which did not recover its old average till about 1780, continued, for several years after this bad fit, to be a constant theme of curiosity to the Gazetteer species, and a matter of solicitude to his friends and to his enemies.
Of the Kaiser's immense ambition there can be no question. He is stretching himself out on every side; seriously wishing, thinks Friedrich, 'that he could “revivify the German Reich, -new Barbarossa in improved fixed form; how noble! Certainly, to King Friedrich's sad conviction, the Austrian Court is
aiming to swallow all manner of dominions that may fall within 'its grasp.' Wants Bosnia and Servia in the East; longs to seize certain Venetian Territories, which would unite Trieste and the Milanese to the Tyrol. Is throwing out hooks on Modena, on the Ferrarese, on this and on that. Looking with eager eyes on Bavaria,—the situation of which is peculiar; the present Kur-Baiern being elderly, childless; and his Heir the like, who withal is already Kur-Pfalz, and will unite the Two Electorates under one head; a thing which Austria regards with marked dislike.62 These are anxious considerations to a King in Friedrich's sick state. In his private circle, too, there are sorrows: death of Fouquet, death of Quintus Icilius, of Seidlitz, Quantz (good old Quantz, with his fine Flutings these fifty years, and the still finer memories he awoke !63),—latterly an unusual number of deaths. The ruggedly intelligent Quintus, a daily companion, and guest at the supper-table, died few months before this fit of gout; and must have been greatly missed by Friedrich. Fouquet, at Brandenburg, died last year: his benefactor in the early Cüstrin distresses, his “Bayard,” and chosen friend ever since; how conspicuously dear to Friedrich to the last is still evident. A Friedrich getting lonely enough, and the lights of his life going out around him ;-has but one sure consolation, which comes to him as compulsion withal, and is not neglected, that of standing stedfast to his work, whatever the mood and posture be.
The Event of 1776 is Czarowitch Paul's arrival in Berlin, and betrothal to a second Wife there; his first 62 Euvres de Frédéric, vi. 123.
63 Friedrich's Teacher of the Flute; procured for him by his Mother (Suprà, ii. 108).
21st July 1776. having died in childbirth lately. The first had been of Friedrich's choosing, but had behaved ill, --seduced by Spanish-French Diplomacies, by this and that, poor young creature:—the second also was of Friedrich's choosing, and a still nearer connexion: figure what a triumphant event! Event now fallen dead to every one of us; ard hardly admitting the smallest Note,-except for chronology's sake, which it is always satisfactory to keep clear:
Czarowitch Paul's first Wife, the Hessen-Darmstadt Princess of Three, died of her first child, April 26th, 1776: every“body whispered, “It is none of Paul's!”—who, nevertheless, was inconsolable, the wild heart of him like to break on the occurrence. By good luck, Prince Henri had set out, by invitation, on a second visit to Petersburg; and arrived there, also on April 26th,64—the very day of the fatality. Prince Henri soothed, consoled the poor Czarowitch; gradually brought him 6 round; agreed with his Czarina Mother, that he must have a new Wife; and dextrously fixed her choice on a “Niece of the King's and Henri's.” Eldest Daughter of Eugen of Würtemberg, of whom, as an excellent General, though also as a surly • Husband, readers have some memory; now living withdrawn at
Mümpelgard, the Würtemberg Apanage' (Montbeillard, as the French call it), “in these piping times of Peace :—she is the * Princess. To King Friedrich's great surprise and joy. The "Mümpelgard Principalities, and fortunate Princess, are sum6 moned to Berlin. Czarowitch Paul, under Henri's escort, and under gala and festivities from the Frontier onward, arrived in Berlin, 21st July 1776; was betrothed to his Würtemberg Princess straightway; and after about a fortnight of festivities still more transcendent, went home with her to Pe
tersburg; and was there wedded, 18th October following:• Czar and Czarina, she and he, twenty years after, and their ‘posterity reigning ever since. '65
• At Vienna,' says the King, everybody was persuaded the Czarowitch would never come to Berlin. · Prince Kaunitz had been,'— been at his old tricks again,
o Rödenbeck, ii. 139-146. 65 Eurres de Frédérie, vi. 120-122.
April-Oct. 1777. playing his sharpest, in the Court of Petersburg again: what tricks (about Poland and otherwise), let us not report, for it is now interesting to nobody. Of the Czarowitch Visit itself, I will remark only,—what seems to be its one chance of dating itself in any of our memories,—that it fell out shortly after the Sherlock dinner with Voltaire (in 1776, April 27th the one event, July 21st the other);-—and that here is, by pure accident, the exuberant erratic Sherlock, once more, and once only, emerging on us for a few moments !
Exuberant Sherlock and Eleven other English are
presented to Friedrich, on a Court Occasion (8th October 1777); and Two of them get spoken to, and speak each a Word. Excellency Hugh Elliot is their Introducer.
Harris, afterwards Earl of Malmesbury, succeeded Mitchell at Berlin: “Polish troubles” (heartily indifferent to England), “Dantzic squabbles” (miraculously important there),—nothing worth the least mention now. Excellency Harris quitted Berlin in Autumn 1776; gave place to an Excellency Hugh Elliot (one of the Minto Elliots, Brother of the first Earl of Minto, and himself considerably noted in the world), of whom we have a few words to say.
Elliot has been here since April 1777; stays some five
years in this post;—with not much Diplomatic employment, I should think, but with a style of general bearing and social physiognomy, which, with some procedures partly incidental as well, are still remembered in Berlin. Something of spying, too, doubtless there was; bribing of menials, opening of Letters: I believe a great deal of that went on; impossible to prevent under the April–Oct. 1777. carefullest of Kings. 66 Hitherto, with one exception to be mentioned presently, his main business seems to have been that of introducing, on different Court-Days, a great number of Travelling English, who want to see the King, and whom the King little wants, but quietly submits to. Incoherent Sherlock, whom we discover to have been of the number, has, in his tawdry disjointed Book, this Passage:
“The last time of my seeing him’ (this Hero-King of my heart) was at Berlin' (not a hint of the time when). 'He came
thither to receive the adieus of the Baron de Swieten, Minister • from their Imperial Majesties' (thank you; that means, 8th October 177797), and to give audience to the new Minister, the • Count Cobenzl. The Foreign Ministers, the persons who were • to be presented' (we, for instance), and the Military, were all • that were at Court. We wefe ten English' (thirteen by tale): • the King spoke to the first and the last; not on account of their situation, but because their names struck him. The first was Major Dalrymple. To him the King said: “You have been “ presented to me before ?” “I ask your Majesty's pardon; it “ was my Uncle” (Lord Dalrymple, of whom presently). Mr. • Pitt (unknown to me which Pitt, subsequent Lord Camelford or another) was the last. The King : “ Are you a relation of “ Lord Chatham's ?” “Yes, Sire.”—“He is a man whom I highly esteem” (read “esteemed”).
• He then went to the Foreign Ministers; and talked more to * Prince Dolgorucki, the Russian Ambassador, than to any other. In the midst of his conversation with this Prince, he turned
66 An ingenious young Friend of mine, connected with Legationary Business, found lately, at the Hague, a consecutive Series, complete for four or five years (I think, from 1780 onwards), of Friedrich's Letters to his Minister in London,-Copies punctually filched as they went through the Post-office there :-specimens of which I saw; and the whole of which I might have seen, had it been worth the effort necessary. But Friedrich's London Minister, in this case, was a person of no significance or intimacy; and the King's Letters, though strangely exact, clear, and even elucidative on English Court-Politics and vicissitudes, seemed to be nearly barren as to Prussian.
• Rödenbeck, iii. 172.