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1780-1785. sees his man once or twice,-in several instances once only, and leaves him to his pension in sinecure thenceforth. Cornelius de Pauw, the rich Canon of Xanten (Uncle of Anacharsis Klootz, the afterwards renowned), came on those principles ; hung on for six months, not liked, not liking; and was then permitted to go home for good, his pension with him. Another, a Frenchman, whose name I forget, sat gloomily in Potsdam, after his rejection ; silent (not knowing German), unclipt, unkempt, rough as Nebuchadnezzar, till he died. Le Catt is still a resource; steady till almost the end, when somebody's tongue, it is thought, did him ill with the King.
Alone, or almost alone, of the ancient set is Bastiani; a tall, black-browed man, with uncommonly bright eyes, now himself old, and a comfortable Abbot in Silesia; who comes from time to time, awakening the King into his pristine topics and altitudes. Bastiani's history is something curious: as a tall Venetian Monk (son of a tailor in Venice), he had been crimped by Friedrich Wilhelm's people ; Friedrich found him serving as a Potsdam Giant, but discerned far other faculties in the bright-looking man, far other knowledges; and gradually made him what we see. Banters him sometimes that he will rise to be Pope one day, so cunning and clever is he: “What will you say to me, a Heretic, when
you get to be Pope; tell me now; out with it, I insist!" Bastiani parried, pleaded, but unable to get off, made what some call his one piece of wit: “I will say: 0
Royal Eagle, screen me with thy wings, but spare me “ with thy sharp beak!” This is Bastiani's one recorded piece of wit; for he was tacit rather, and practically watchful, and did not waste his fine intellect in that way.
Foreign Visitors there are in plenty; now and then something brilliant going. But the old Generals seem
Dinner always his bright hour; from ten to seven guests daily. Seidlitz, never of intelligence on any point but Soldiering, is long since dead; Ziethen comes rarely, and falls asleep when he does ; General Görtz (brother of the Weimar - München Görtz); Buddenbrock (the King's comrade in youth, in the Reinsberg times), who has good faculty; Prittwitz (who saved him at Kunersdorf, and is lively, though stupid); General and Head-Equerry Schwerin, of headlong tongue, not witty, but the cause of wit; Major Graf von Pinto, a magniloquent Ex-Austrian ditto ditto : these are among his chief dinnerguests. If fine speculation do not suit, old pranks of youth, old tales of war, become the staple conversation; always plenty of banter on the old King's part;—who sits very snuffy (says the privately ill-humoured Büsching), and does not sufficiently abhor grease on his fingers, or keep his nails quite clean. Occasionally laughs at the Clergy, too; and has little of the reverence seemly in an old King. The truth is, Doctor, he has had his sufferings from Human Stupidity; and was always fond of hitting objects on the raw. For the rest, as you may see, heartily an old Stoic, and takes matters in the rough; avoiding useless despondency above all; and intent to have a cheerful hour at dinner if he can.
Visits from his Kindred are still pretty frequent; never except on invitation. For the rest, completely an old Bachelor, an old Military Abbot; with business for every
hour. Princess Amelia takes care of his linen, not very well, the dear old Lady, who is herself a cripple, suffering, and voiceless, speaking only in hoarse whisper. I think I have heard there were but twelve shirts, not in first-rate order, when the King died. A King supremely indifferent to small concerns; especially 1780-1785. to that of shirts and tailorages not essential. Holds to Literature, almost more than ever ; occasionally still writes;has his daily Readings, Concerts, Correspondences as usual :-readers can conceive the dim Household Picture, dimly reported withal. The following Anecdotes
may be added as completion of it, or at least of all I have to say on it:
You go on Wednesday, then ?—Loss of time was one of the losses Friedrich could least stand. In visits even from his • Brothers and Sisters, which were always by his own express
invitation, he would say some morning (call it Tuesday morn'ing): “You are going on Wednesday, I am sorry to hear"
(what you never heard before)!—“ Alas, your Majesty, we 'must!” “Well, I am sorry: but I will lay no constraint on you. Pleasant moments cannot last forever!" And sometimes, after this had been agreed to, he would say: " But cannot you stay till Thursday, then? Come, one other day of it!”—“Well, since 'your Majesty does graciously press!” And on Thursday, not • Wednesday, on those curious terms, the visit would terminate. " This trait is in the Anecdote-Books : but its authenticity does not rest on that uncertain basis; singularly enough, it comes to me, individually, by two clear stages, from Friedrich's Sister the · Duchess of Brunswick, who, if anybody, would know it well 9
Dinner with the Queen.—The Queen, a prudent, simpleminded, worthy person, of perfect behaviour in a difficult position, seems to have been much respected in Berlin Society and the Court Circles. Nor was the King wanting in the same feeling towards her; of which there are still many proofs: but as to personal intercourse,—what a figure has that gradually taken!
8 For one instance: The famous Pamphlet, De la Littérature Allemande (containing his onslaught on Shakespeare, and his first salutation, with the reverse of welcome, to Goethe's Götz von Berlichingen) ;-printed, under stupid Thiébault's care, Berlin, 1780. Stands now in Euvres de Frédéric, vii. 89-122. The last Pieces of all are chiefly Military Instructions of a practical or official nature.
My informant is Sir George Sinclair, Baronet, of Thurso ; his was the distinguished Countess of Finlater, still remembered for her graces of mind and person, who had been Maid-of-Honour to the Duchess.
1780-1785. Preuss says, citing those who saw: “When the King, after the "Seven-Years War, now and then, in Carnival season, dined with the Queen in her Apartments, he usually said not a word to her. He merely, on entering, on sitting down at table and " leaving it, made the customary bows; and sat opposite to her. · Once, in the Seventies' (years 1770, years now past), the 'Queen was ill of gout; table was in her Apartments; but she “ herself was not there, she sat in an easy-chair in the drawingroom.
On this occasion the King stepped up to the Queen, and inquired about her health. The circumstance occasioned, among the company present, and all over Town as the news spread, great wonder and sympathy (Verwunderung und Theilnahme). This is probably the last time he ever spoke to her.?!
The Two Grand-Nephews.--The King was fond of children ; - liked to have his Grand-Nephews about him. One day, while the
King sat at work in his Cabinet, the younger of the two, a boy of eight or nine' (who died soon after twenty), was playing ball • about the room; and knocked it once and again into the King's
writing operation; who twice or oftener flung it back to him, ' but next time, put it in his pocket, and went on. “Please your Majesty, give it me back!” begged the Boy; and again begged: Majesty took no notice; continued writing. Till at length came, ' in the tone of indignation, “Will your Majesty give me my ball,
then ?" The King looked up; found the little Hohenzollern • planted firm, hands on haunches, and wearing quite a peremp
tory air. “Thou art a brave little fellow; they won't get Silesia “out of thee!” cried he laughing, and flinging him his ball.'
Of the elder Prince, afterwards Friedrich Wilhelm III. (Father of the now King), there is a much more interesting Anecdote, and of his own reporting too, though the precise terms are irrecoverable: 'How the King, questioning him about - his bits of French studies, brought down a La Fontaine from “the shelves, and said, “ Translate me this Fable;" which the
Boy did, with such readiness and correctness as obtained the • King's praises : praises to an extent that was embarrassing,
and made the honest little creature confess, "I did it with my • Tutor, a few days since !" To the King's much greater delight; 19 Preuss, iv. 187.
11 Fischer, ii. 445 (year 1780'). VOL. VI.
1780-1785. who led him out to walk in the Gardens, and, in a mood of deeper and deeper seriousness, discoursed and exhorted him on the supreme law of truth and probity that lies on all men, and on all Kings still more; one of his expressions being, “Look at “ this high thing” (the Obelisk they were passing in the Gardens), “its uprightness is its strength (sa droiture fait sa force);” and “his final words, “ Remember this evening, my good Fritz; per“haps thou wilt think of it, long after, when I am gone.” A3 'the good Friedrich Wilhelm III. declares piously he often did, ' in the storms of fate that overtook him.'12
Industrial matters, that of Colonies especially, of drainages, embankments, and reclaiming of waste lands, are a large item in the King's business,-readers would not guess now large, or how incessant. Under this head there is on record, and even lies at my hand translated into English, what might be called a Colonial Day with Friedrich (Day of July 23d, 1779; which Friedrich, just come home from the Bavarian War, spent wholly, from 5 in the morning onward, in driving about, in earnest survey of his Colonies and Land-Improvements in the Potsdam-Ruppin Country); curious enough Record, by a certain Bailiff or Overseer, who rode at his chariotside, of all the questions, criticisms and remarks of Friedrich on persons and objects, till he landed at Ruppin for the night. Taken down, with forensic, almost with religious exactitude, by the Bailiff in question; a Son-in-law of the Poet Gleim,—by whom it was published, the year after Friedrich's death ;13 and by many
12 R. F. Eylert, Charakterzüge und historische Fragmente aus dem Lela des Königs von Preussen, Friedrich Wilhelm III. (Magdeburg, 1813), i. 450-456. This is a ‘King's Chaplain and Bishop Eylert :' undoubtedly he heard this Anecdote from his Master, and was heard repeating it; but the dialect his Editors have put it into is altogether tawdry, modern, and impossible to take for that of Friedrich, or even, I suppose, of Friedrich Wilhelm III.
13 Is in Anekdoten und Karakterzüge, No. 8 (Berlin, 1787), pp. 15-79.