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17th April 1786.
eyesight he had. He first saw Friedrich, January 25th. There pass in all, between Friedrich and him, seven Letters or Notes, 'two of them by the King; and on poor Mirabeau's side, it must 'be owned, there is a massively respectful, truthful, and manly physiognomy, which probably has mended Friedrich's first opinion of him. This day, April 17th, 1786, he is at Potsdam; 'so far on the road to France again,—Mirabeau Senior being C reported dangerously ill. "My Dialogue with the King," say the Mirabeau Papers, "was very lively; but the King was in "such suffering, and so straitened for breath, I was myself "anxious to shorten it: that same evening I travelled on."
"Mirabeau Senior did not die at this time: and ControllerGeneral Calonne, now again eager to shake off an importunate and far too clear-sighted Mirabeau Junior, said to the latter: "Back to Berlin, couldn't you? Their King is dying, a new "King coming; highly important to us!"-and poor Mirabeau went. Left Paris again, in May; with money furnished, but no other outfit, and more in the character of Newspaper Vulture than of Diplomatic Envoy,"—as perhaps we may transiently see.
2o. Marie Antoinette at Versailles; To her Sister Christine at Brussels (Husband and she, Duke and Duchess of SachsenTeschen, are Governors of the Netherlands):
March 20th, 1786. "There has been arrested at "Geneva one Villette, who played a great part in that abo"minable Affair" (of the Diamond Necklace, now emerging on an astonished Queen and world).8 "M. Target,” Advocate of the enchanted Cardinal, ❝is coming out with his Memoir: he
0 "Is coming to me today; one of those loose-tongued fellows, I suppose, who write for and against all the world." (Friedrich to Prince Henri, 25th January 1786: Euvres de Frédéric, xxvi. 522.)
Rödenbeck, iii. 343. Fils Adoptif, Mémoires de Mirabeau (Paris, 1834), iv. 288-292, 296.
Carlyle's Miscellanies (London, 1857), iv. 1-60, § Diamond Necklace. The wretched Cardinal de Rohan was arrested at Versailles, and put in the Bastille, August 15th, 1785,' the day before Friedrich set out for his Silesian Review; ever since which, the arrestments and Judicial investigations have continued,-continue till 'May 10th, 1786,' when Sentence was given.
17th April 1786.
"does his function; and God knows what are the lies he will "produce upon us. There is a Memoir by that Quack of a "Cagliostro, too: these are at this moment the theme of all "talk."
April 6th. "The Memoirs, the lies, succeed each other; and "the Business grows darker, not clearer. Such a Cardinal of "the Church! He brazenly maintains his distracted story about "the Bosquet" (Interview with me in person, in that Hornbeam Arbour at Versailles; to me inconceivable, not yet knowing of a Demoiselle D'Oliva from the streets, who had acted my part there)," and my Assent" (to purchase the Necklace for me). "His "impudence and his audacity surpass belief. Oh, Sister, I need "all my strength to support such cruel assaults." "The "King of Prussia's condition much engages attention (préoccupe) "here, and must do at Vienna too: his death is considered im"minent. I am sure you have your eyes open on that side.”
April 17th (just while the Mirabeau Interview at Potsdam is going on). "King of Prussia thought to be dying: I am weary of the political discussions on this subject, as to what "effects his death must produce. He is better at this moment; "but so weak he cannot resist long. Physique is gone; but his "force and energy of soul, they say, have often supported him, "and in desperate crises have even seemed to increase. Liking "to him I never had his ostentatious immorality (immoralité affichée," ah, Madame!) "has much hurt public virtue” (public orthodoxy, I mean), "and there have been related to me" (by mendacious or ill-informed persons) "barbarities which excite "horror. He has done us all a great deal of ill. He has been a "King for his own Country; but a Trouble-feast for those about "him;-setting up to be the arbiter of Europe; always under"taking on his neighbours, and making them pay the expense. "As Daughters of Maria Theresa, it is impossible we can regret "him, nor is it the Court of France that will make his funeral "oration."
From Sans-Souci the King did appear again on horseback; rode out several times ("Condé," a fine English
• Comte de Hunolstein, Correspondance inédite de Marie Antoinette (Paris, 1864), pp. 136, 137, 149.
4th-22d June 1786.
horse, one of his favourites, carrying him,-the Condé who had many years of sinecure afterwards, and was well known to Touring people): the rides were short; once to the New Palace to look at some new Vinery there, thence to the Gate of Potsdam, which he was for entering; but finding masons at work, and the street encumbered, did not, and rode home instead: this, of not above two miles, was his longest ride of all. Selle's attendance, less and less in esteem with the King, and less and less followed by him, did not quite cease till June 4th; that day the King had said to Selle, or to himself, "It is enough." That longest of his rides was in the third week after; June 22d, Midsummer-Day. July 4th, he rode again; and it was for the last time. About two weeks after, Condé was again brought out; but it would not do: Adieu, my Condé ; not possible, as things are!
During all this while, and to the very end, Friedrich's Affairs, great and small, were, in every branch and item, guided on by him, with a perfection not surpassed in his palmiest days: he saw his Ministers, saw all who had business with him, many who had little; and in the sore coil of bodily miseries, as Herzberg observed with wonder, never was the King's intellect clearer, or his judgment more just and decisive. Of his disease, except to the Doctors, he spoke no word to anybody. The body of Friedrich is a ruin, but his soul is still here; and receives his friends and his tasks as formerly. Asthma, dropsy, erysipelas, continual want of sleep; for many months past he has not been in bed, but sits day and night in an easy-chair, unable to get breath except in that posture. He said one morning, to somebody entering, "If you happened to want a night-watcher, I could suit you well."
4th-22d June 1786.
His multifarious Military businesses come first; then his three Clerks, with the Civil and Political. These three he latterly, instead of calling about 6 or 7 o'clock, has had to appoint for 4 each morning: "My situation "forces me," his message said, "to give them this "trouble, which they will not have to suffer long. My "life is on the decline; the time which I still have "I must employ. It belongs not to me, but to the "State."10 About 11, business, followed by short surgical details or dressings (sadly insisted on in those Books, and in themselves sufficiently sad), being all done,—his friends or daily company are admitted: five chiefly, or (not counting Minister Herzberg) four, Lucchesini, Schwerin, Pinto, Görtz; who sit with him about one hour now, and two hours in the evening again:-dreary company to our minds, perhaps not quite so dreary to the King's; but they are all he has left. And he talks cheerfully with them on Literature, History, on the
topics of the day, or whatever topic rises, as if there 'were no sickness here.' A man adjusted to his hard circumstances; and bearing himself manlike and kinglike among them.
He well knew himself to be dying; but some think, expected that the end might be a little farther off. There is a grand simplicity of stoicism in him; coming as if by nature, or by long second-nature; finely unconscious of itself, and finding nothing of peculiar in this new trial laid on it. From of old, Life has been infinitely contemptible to him. In death, I think, he has neither fear nor hope. Atheism, truly, he never could abide: to him, as to all of us, it was flatly inconceivable that intellect, moral emotion, could have been put into him by an Entity that had none of its own. But there,
10 Preuss, iv. 257 n.
4th-22d June 1786.
pretty much, his Theism seems to have stopped. Instinctively, too, he believed, no man more firmly, that Right alone has ultimately any strength in this world: ultimately, yes;-but for him and his poor brief interests, what good was it? Hope for himself in Divine Justice, in Divine Providence, I think he had not practically any; that the unfathomable Demiurgus should concern himself with such a set of paltry ill-given animalcules as oneself and mankind are, this also, as we have often noticed, is in the main incredible to him.
A sad Creed, this of the King's; he had to do his duty without fee or reward. Yes, reader;-and what is well worth your attention, you will have difficulty to find, in the annals of any Creed, a King or man who stood more faithfully to his duty; and, till the last hour, alone concerned himself with doing that. To poor Friedrich that was all the Law and all the Prophets: and I much recommend you to surpass him, if you, by good luck, have a better Copy of those inestimable Documents!-Inarticulate notions, fancies, transient aspirations, he might have, in the background of his mind. One day, sitting for a while out of doors, gazing into the Sun, he was heard to murmur, "Perhaps I shall be nearer thee soon:"-and indeed nobody knows what his thoughts were in these final months. There is traceable only a complete superiority to Fear and Hope; in parts, too, are half-glimpses of a great motionless interior lake of Sorrow, sadder than any tears or complainings, which are altogether wanting to it.
Friedrich's dismissal of Selle, June 4th, by no means . meant that he had given up hope from medicine; on the contrary, two days after, he had a Letter on the road for Zimmermann at Hanover; whom he always remem