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16th Aug. 1786. ness, on what points and how. Neglects nothing, great or small, while life yet is.
Tuesday, August 15th, 1786, Contrary to all wont, the King did not awaken till 11 o'clock. On first looking up, he seemed in a confused state, but soon recovered himself; called in his Generals and Secretaries, who had been in waiting so long, and gave, with his old precision, the Orders wanted, one to Rohdich, Commandant of Potsdam, about a Review of the troops there next day; Order minutely perfect, in knowledge of the ground, in foresight of what and how the evolutions were to be; which was accordingly performed on the morrow.
The Cabinet work he went through with the like possession of himself, giving, on every point, his Three Clerks their directions, in a weak voice, yet with the old power of spirit,—dictated to one of them, among other things, an “Instruction' for some Ambassador just leaving; “four quarto pages, which,' says Herzberg, 'would have done honour to the most expe• rienced Minister;' and, in the evening, he signed his Missives as usual. This evening still,—but—no evening more. We are now at the last scene of all, which ends this strange eventful History.
Wednesday morning, General-Adjutants, Secretaries, Commandant, were there at their old hours; but word came out, “Secretaries are to wait:" King is in a kind of sleep, of stertorous ominous character, as if it were the death-sleep; seems not to recollect himself, when he does at intervals open his eyes. After hours of this, 15
15 Selle (ut sup.); Anonymous (Kletschke), Letzte Stunden und Leichenbegängniss Friedrichs des Zweyten (Potsdam, 1786): Preuss, iv. 264 et seq.; Rödenbeck, iii. 363-366.
16th Aug. 1786. on a ray of consciousness, the King bethought him of Rohdich, the Commandant; tried to give Rohdich the Parole as usual; tried twice, perhaps three times; but found he could not speak;—and with a glance of sorrow, which seemed to say, “It is impossible, then!" turned his head, and sank back into the corner of his chair. Rohdich burst into tears: the King again lay slumberous;--the rattle of death beginning soon after, which lasted at intervals all day. Selle, in Berlin, was sent for by express; he arrived about 3 of the afternoon: King seemed a little more conscious, knew those about him, “his face red rather than pale, in his eyes still something of their old fire.' Towards evening the feverishness abated (to Selle, I suppose, a fatal symptom); the King fell into a soft sleep, with warm perspiration; but, on awakening, complained of cold, repeatedly of cold, demanding wrappage after wrappage (' Kissen,' soft quilt of the old fashion);—and on examining feet and legs, one of the Doctors made signs that they were in fact cold, up nearly to the knee. “What said he of the feet ?” murmured the King some time afterwards, the Doctor having now stepped out of sight. “Much the same as before," answered some attendant. The King shook his head, incredulous.
He drank once, grasping the goblet with both hands, a draught of fennel-water, his customary drink; and seemed relieved by it;—his last refection in this world. Towards 9 in the evening, there had come on a continual short cough, and a rattling in the breast, breath more and more difficult. Why continue? Friedrich is making exit, on the common terms; you may hear the curtain rustling down. For most part he was unconscious, never more than half-conscious. As the wall-clock above 17th Aug. 1786. his head struck 11, he asked: “What o'clock ?” “Eleven, answered they
“At 4,” murmured he, “I will rise." One of his dogs sat on its stool near him; about midnight he noticed it shivering for cold: “ Throw a quilt over it,” said or beckoned he; that, I think, was his last completely-conscious utterance. Afterwards, in a severe choking fit, getting at last rid of the phlegm, he said, “ La montagne est passée, nous irons mieux, We are over " the hill, we shall
better now. Attendants, Herzberg, Selle and one or two others, were in the outer room; none in Friedrich's but Strützki, his Kammerhussar, one of Three who are his sole valets and nurses; a faithful ingenious man, as they all seem to be, and excellently chosen for the object. Stritzki, to save the King from hustling down, as he always did, into the corner of his chair, where, with neck and chest bent forward, breathing was impossible,—at last took the King on his knee; kneeling on the ground with his other knee for the purpose,-King's right arm round Strützki's neck, Strützki's left arm round the King's back, and supporting his other shoulder; in which posture the faithful creature, for above two hours, sat motionless, till the end came. Within doors, all is silence, except this breathing; around it the dark earth silent, above it the silent stars. At 20 minutes past 2, the breathing paused, -wavered ; ceased. Friedrich's Life-battle is fought out; instead of suffering and sore labour, here is now rest. Thursday morning, 17th August 1786, at the dark hour just named. On the 31st of May last, this King had reigned 46 years. He has lived,' counts Rödenbeck, “74 years, 6 months and 24 days.'
His death seems very stern and lonely ;-a man of 17th Aug. 1786. such affectionate feelings, too; a man with more sensibility than other men!" But so had his whole life been, stern and lonely; such the severe law laid on him. Nor was it inappropriate that he found his death in that poor Silesian Review; punctually doing, as usual, the work that had come in hand. Nor that he died now, rather than a few years later. In these final days of his, we have transiently noticed Arch-Cardinal de Rohan, ArchQuack Cagliostro, and a most select Company of Persons and of Actions, like an Elixir of the Nether World, miraculously emerging into daylight; and all Paris, and by degrees all Europe, getting loud with the DiamondNecklace History. And to eyes of deeper speculation, — World-Poet Goethe's, for instance,—it is becoming evident that Chaos is again big. As has not she proved to be, and is still proving, in the most teeming way! Better for a Royal Hero, fallen old and feeble, to be hidden from such things.
'Yesterday, Wednesday August 16th,' says a Note which now strikes us as curious, Mirabeau, smelling eagerly for news,
had ridden out towards Potsdam; met the Page riding furiously 'for Selle (“one horse already broken down,” say the Peasants • about); and with beak, powerful beyond any other vulture's, Mirabeau perceived that here the end now was. And thereupon rushed off, to make arrangements for a courier, for flying pigeons, and the other requisites. And appeared that night at * the Queen's Soirée in Schönhausen' (Queen has Apartment that evening, dreaming of nothing)," where," says he," I eagerly • whispered the French Minister,” and less eagerly
mon ami Mylord Dalrymple," the English one ;-neither of whom would believe me. Nor, in short, what Calonne will regret, but nobody else, could the pigeons be let loose, owing to want of funds."6_Enough, enough.
16 Mirabeau, Histoire secrète, &c. (Lettre xiv.), pp. 58-63.
17th Aug. 1786.
Friedrich was not buried at Sans-Souci, in the Tomb which he had built for himself; why not, nobody clearly says. By his own express will, there was no embalming. Two Regiment-surgeons washed the Corpse, decently prepared it for interment: 'at 8 that same even
ing, Friedrich's Body, dressed in the uniform of the · First Battalion of Guards, and laid in its coffin, was
borne to Potsdam, in a hearse of eight horses, twelve • Non-commissioned Officers of the Guard escorting. All « Potsdam was in the streets; the soldiers, of their own
accord, formed rank, and followed the hearse; many a rugged face unable to restrain tears: for the rest, • universal silence as of midnight, nothing audible among
the people but here and there a sob, and the murmur, “ Ach, der gute König !"
All next day, the Body lay in state in the Palace; thousands crowding, from Berlin and the other environs, to see that face for the last time. Wasted, worn; ' but beautiful in death, with the thin gray hair parted ' into locks, and slightly powdered. And at 8 in the
evening' (Friday 18th), he was borne to the Garnison· Kirche of Potsdam; and laid beside his Father, in the ' vault behind the Pulpit there,'17—where the two Coffins are still to be seen.
I define him to myself as hitherto the Last of the Kings;—when the Next will be, is a very long question! But it seems to me as if Nations, probably all Nations, by and by, in their despair,—blinded, swallowed like Jonah, in such a whale's-belly of things brutish, waste, abominable (for is not Anarchy, or the Rule of what is Baser over what is Nobler, the one life’s-misery
17 Rödenbeck, iii. 365 (Public Funeral was not till September 9th).