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1779. young. Here is the subsequent succession of occurrences that concern us.
In 1762, Young Arnold, as I dimly gather, had got married, apparently a Wife with portion; bought the Mill from his Father, he and Wife co-possessors thenceforth ;— Rosine his Spouse' figuring jointly in all these Law-Papers; and the Spouse especially as a most shifty litigant. There they continue totally silent to mankind for about eight years. Happy the Nation, much more may we say the Household, 'whose Public History is blank. But in the eighth year,
In 1770, Freyherr Baron von Gersdorf in Kay, who lies farther up the stream, bethinks him of Fish-husbandry; makes a Fish-pond to himself, and for part supply thereof, lays some beam or weir across the poor Brook, and deducts a part of Arnold's water.
In 1773,' the Arnolds fall into arrear of rent: “Want of water; Fishpond spoils our water,” plead they to Major Graf von Schmettau. “Prosecute Von Gersdorf, then,” says Schmettau: “I must have my rent! You shall have time, lengthened terms; but
pay then, or else—!” For four years the Arnolds tried more or less to pay, but never could, or never did completely: during which period Major von Schmettau had them up in his Court of Pommerzig,-manorial or feudal kind of Court; I think it is more or less his, though he does not sit there; and an Advocate, not of his appointing, though probably of his accepting, dispenses justice there. Schlecker is the Advocate's name; acquitted by all Official people of doing anything wrong. No appearance that the Herr Graf von Schmettau put hand to the balances of justice in this Court; with his eye, however, who knows but he might act on them more or less! And, at any rate, be suspected by distressed Arnolds, especially by a distressed Frau Arnold, of doing so. The Frau Arnold had a strong suspicion that way; and seems to have risen occasionally upon Schlecker, who did once order the poor woman to be locked up for contempt of Court: “Only two hours !" asseverates Schlecker afterwards; after which she came out cool and respectful to Court.
Not the least account survives of those procedures in 1779. Schlecker's Court; but by accident, after many readings, you light upon a little fact which does shed a transient ray over them. Namely, that already in 1775, four years before the Case became audible in Official circles, much more in general society, Frau Arnold had seized an opportunity, Majesty being at Crossen in those neighbourhoods, and presented a Petition : “Oh, just King, appoint a Military Commission to investigate our business; impartial Officers will speedily find out the facts, and decide what is just !" Which denotes an irritating experience in Schlecker's Court. Certain it is, Schlecker's Court did, in this tedious harassing way, decide against Frau Arnold in every point. “Pay Herr Graf von Schmettau, or else disappear; prosecute Von Gersdorf, if you like!” And, in fine, as the Arnolds could not pay up, nor see any daylight through prosecuting Baron von Gersdorf, the big gentleman in Kay, -Schlecker, after some five years of this, decreed Sale of the Mill :—and sold it was. In Züllichau, September 7th, 1778, there is Auction of the Mill; Herr Landeinnehmer (Cess-Collector) Kuppisch bought it; knocked down to him for the moderate sum of 600 thalers, or 901. sterling, and the Arnolds are an ousted family. September 7th,'— Potato-War just closing its sad Campaign ; tomorrow, march for Trautenau, thirty horses to a gun.
The Arnolds did make various attempts and appeals to the Neumark Regierung (College of Judges); but it was without the least result. “Schlecker right in every point; Gersdorf right," answered the College: "go, will you!” A Mill forfeited by every Law, and fallen to the highest bidder. Cess-Collector Kuppisch, it was soon known, had sold his purchase to Von Gersdorf: “Hah!” said the rural public, smelling something bad. Certain it is, Von Gersdorf is become proprietor both of Pond and Mill; and it is not to the ruined Arnolds that Schlecker law can seem an admirable sample.
And truly, reading over those barrow-loads of pleadings and relationes, one has to admit that, taken as a
3 Preuss, üi. 382. VOL. VI.
1779. reason for seeing oneself ruined, and one's Mill become the big gentleman's who fancies carp, they do seem considerably insufficient. The Law-Pleadings are duly voluminous. Barrow-loads of them, dreariest reading in Creation, remain; going into all manner of questions, proving, from Grotius and others, that landlords have rights upon private rivers, and another sort upon public ditto; that Von Gersdorf, by Law of 1566, had verily the right to put down his Fishpond, -whether Schmettau the duty to indemnify Arnold for the same? that is not touched upon : nor, singular to say, is it anywhere made out, or attempted to be made out, How much of water Arnold lost by the Pond, much less what degree of real impediment, by loss of his own time, by loss of his customers (tired of such waiting on a mill), Amold suffered by the Pond. This, which you would have thought the soul of the matter, is absolutely left out; altogether unsettled, -after, I think, four, or at least three, express Commissions had sat on it, at successive times, with the most esteemed hydraulic sages opining and examining ;—and remains, like the part of Hamlet, omitted by particular desire. No wonder Frau Arnold begged for a Military Commission; that is to say, a decision from rational human creatures, instead of juridical wigs proceeding at this rate.
It was some time in 1775 that Rosine (what we reckoned a very elucidative point!) had given-in her Petition to the King at Crossen, showing how ill Schlecker was using them. She now, about May-day 1779,' in a new Petition, referred to that, and again begged a Commission of Soldier-people to settle it. May 4th, 1779,King not yet home, but coming, 6 — King's Cabinet, on Order, ' sends this to Justice Department;' nothing said
& Arrived at Berlin, May 27th' (Rödenbeck, iii. 201).
1779. on it, the existence of the Petition sufficiently saying. Justice Department thereupon demands the Law-Records, documentary Narrative of res Arnold, from Cüstrin; finds all right: “Peace, ye Arnolds; what would
you have ??
year 1779 (no express date), Grand-Chancellor von Fürst, being at Cüstrin, officially examining the condition of Law-matters, Frau Arnold failed not to try there also with a Petition : “See, great Law-gentleman come to reform abuses, can that possibly be Law; or if so, is it not Injustice as well ?” “Tush!” answered Fürst;—for I believe Law-people, ever since this new stringency of Royal vigilance upon them, are plagued with such complaints from Dorfships and dark greedy Peasant people; “Tush !" and flung it promptly into his waste-basket.
Is there no hope at all, then? Arnold remembers that a Brother of his is a Prussian soldier; and that he has for Colonel, Prince Leopold of Brunswick, a Prince always kind to the poor. The Leopold Regiment lies at Frankfurt: try Prince Leopold by that channel. Prince Leopold listened ;—the Soldier Arnold probably known to him as rational and respectable. Prince Leopold now likewise applies to Fürst: “A defect, not of Law, Herr Kanzler, but of Equity, there does seem. Schmettau had a right to his rent; Von Gersdorf, by Deed of 1566, to his Pond: but the Arnolds had not water, and have lost their Mill. Could not there,” suggests Leopold, “ be appointed, without noise of any kind, a Commission of neutral people, strangers to the Neumark, to search this matter to the actual root of it, and let Equity ensue?" To whom also Fürst answers, though in a politer shape, “ Tush, Durchlaucht! Every man to his trade!”
· Preuss, iii. 382.
1779. So that Prince Leopold himself, the King's own Nephew, proves futile? Some think Leopold did, this very Autumn, casually, or as if casually, mention the matter to the King,—whose mind is uneasily awake to all such cases, knowing what a buckram set his Lawyers
“At the Reviews,' as these people say, Leopold could not have done it; there being, this Year, no Reviews, merely return of King and Army from the Bavarian War. But during August, and on into September this Year, it is very evident, there was a Visit of the Brunswick Family at Potsdam ;8 Leopold's Mamma and certain of his Brothers, of which, Colonel Prince Leopold, though not expressly mentioned in the Books, may very possibly have been permitted, for a day or two, to form part, for Mamma's behoof and his own; and may have made his casual observation, at some well-chosen moment, with the effect intended. In which case, Leopold was by no means futile, but proved, after all, to be the saving clause for the Arnolds.
Gallant young fellow, one loves to believe it of him; and to add it to the one other fact now known of him, which was also beautiful, though tragic. Six years after, Spring 1785, Oder River, swollen by rains, was in wild deluge; houses in the suburbs like to be washed away. Leopold, looking on it from the Bridge or shore, perhaps partly with an Official eye, saw the inhabitants of some houses like to be drowned; looked wildly for assistance, but found none; and did, himself, in uncontrollable pity, dash off in a little boat, through the wild-eddying
irges; and got his own death there, himself drowned in struggling to save others. Which occasioned loud lamentation in the world; in his poor Mother's heart
8 Rödenbeck, üi. 206 et seq.