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1766. 'From the first year of our attachment,' says this precious Gräfin, ‘I was already the confidant of his,' the Prince of Prussia's, 'most secret thoughts. One day' (in 1767, second year of his married life, I then fifteen, slim Daughter of a Player on the French Horn, in his Majesty's pay), the Prince happened to be very serious; and was owning to me with frankness that
he had some wrongs towards my sex to reproach himself with, -alas yes, some few :—and he swore that he would never forsake me; and that if Heaven disposed of my life before his, none but he should close my eyes. He was fingering with a penknife, at the time; he struck the point of it into the palm of his left hand, and wrote with his blood (the unclean creature), on a little bit of paper, the Oath which his lips had just pronounced in so solemn a tone. Vainly should I undertake to
paint-my emotion on this action of his! The Prince saw what 'I felt; and took advantage of it to beg that I would follow his
example. I hastened to satisfy him; and traced, as he had done, with my blood, the promise to remain his friend to the
tomb, and never to forsake him. This Promise must have been 'found among his Papers after his death' (still in the Archives? we will hope not !)— Both of us stood faithful to this Oath. The tie of love, it is true, we broke: but that was by mutual consent, and the better to fix ourselves in the bonds of an inviolable 'friendship. Other mistresses reigned over his senses; but IAch Gott, no more of that.24
The King's own account of the affair is sufficiently explicit. His words are: “Not long ago' (about two years before this of the penknife), we mentioned the • Prince of Prussia's marriage with Elizabeth of Brunswick' (his Cousin twice over, her Mother, Princess Charlotte of Prussia, being his Father's Sister and mine, and her Father his Mother's Brother,-if you like to count it). “This engagement, from which everybody 'had expected happy consequences, did not correspond to the wishes of the Royal House. Only one Princess
24 Mémoires de la Comtesse de Lichtenau (à Londres, chez Colburn Libraire, Conduit-street, Bond-street, 2 tomes, small 8vo, 1809), i. 129.
1766. could be realised (subsequently Wife to the late Duke of York),—she came this same year of the penknife, — and bad outlooks for more. · The Husband, young and dissolute (sans moeurs), given up to a crapulous life, * from which his relatives could not correct him, was
continually committing infidelities to his Wife. The · Princess, who was in the flower of her beauty, felt outraged by such neglect of her charms; her vivacity, and the good opinion she had of herself, brought her upon the thought of avenging her wrongs by retalia'tion. Speedily she gave into excesses, scarcely inferior to those of her Husband. Family quarrels broke out, and were soon publicly known. The antipathy that ensued, 'took away all hope of succession' (had it been desirable in these sad circumstances!). “Prince Henri' (Junior, this hopeful Prince of Prussia's Brother), who was
gifted with all the qualities to be wished in a young 'man' (witness my tears for him), 'had been carried off ' by smallpox.25 The King's Brothers, Princes Henri and · Ferdinand, avowed frankly that they would never con
sent to have, by some accidental bastard, their rights of succession to the crown carried off. In the end, "there was nothing for it but proceeding to a divorce."26
Divorce was done in a beautiful private manner; case tried with strictly-shut doors; all the five judges under oath to carry into the grave whatever they came to know of it:27 divorce completed, 18th April 1769; and, within three months, a new marriage was accomplished, Princess Frederika Luisa of Hessen-Darmstadt the happy woman. By means of whom there was duly realised a Friedrich Wilhelm, who became “King
23 • 26th May 1767,' age 19 gone ; Éloge of him by Friedrich ( Ms. still stained with tears'), in Euvres de Frédéric, vii. 37 et seq. 25 Euvres de Frédéric, vi. 23.
27 Preuss, iv. 180-186.
1766. Friedrich Wilhelm III.” (a much-enduring, excellent, though inarticulate man), as well as various other Princes and Princesses, in spite of interruptions from the Lichtenau Sisterhood. High-souled Elizabeth was relegated to Stettin; her amount of Pension is not mentioned; her Family, after the unhappy proofs communicated to them, had given their consent and sanction;—and she stayed there, idle, or her own mistress of work, for the next seventy-one years.—Enough of her Lyon Dress, surely, and of the Excise-system altogether!-
The Neue Palais, in Sans-Souci Neighbourhood,
is founded and finished (1763-1770). If D'Alembert's Visit was the germ of the Excisesystem, it will be curious to note,—and indeed whether or not, it will be chronologically serviceable to us here, and worth noting,—that there went on a small synchronous affair, still visible to everybody: namely, That in the very hours while Friedrich and D'Alembert were saluting mutually at Geldern (11th June 1763), there was laid the foundation of what they call the Neue Palais ; New Palace of Sans-Souci:28 a sumptuous Edifice, in the curious Louis-Quinze or what is called “Rococo” style of the time; Palace never much inhabited by Friedrich or his successors, which still stands in those ornamental Potsdam regions. Why built, especially in the then down-pressed financial circumstances, some have had their difficulties to imagine. It appears, this New Palace had been determined on, before the War broke out; and Friedrich said to himself: “We will build it now, to help the mechanical classes in Berlin,—perhaps also, in part” (think some, and why should not they, a
2 Rödenbeck, ü. 219.
1766. little?) “to show mankind that we have still ready money; and are nothing like so ruined as they fancy."
• This Neue Palais,' says one recent Tourist, “is a * pleasant quaint object, nowadays, to the stranger. It " has the air dégagé, pococurante ; pleasantly fine in aspect and in posture;-spacious expanses round it, not in a waste, but still less in a strict condition; and (in its • deserted state) has a silence, especially a total absence of needless flunkeys and of gaping fellow-loungers,
which is charming. Stands mute there, in its solitude, ' in its stately silence and negligence, like some Tadmor
of the Wilderness in small. The big square of Stables, • Coach-houses, near by, was locked up,--probably one sleeping groom in it. The very Custos of the grand Edifice (such the rarity of fees to him) I could not • awaken without difficulty. In the gray autumn zephyrs,
no sound whatever about this New Palace of King • Friedrich's, except the rustle of the crisp brown leaves, and of
faded or fading memories you may have. 'I should say,' continues he, “it somehow reminds you of the City of Bath. It has the cut of a battered · Beau of old date; Beau still extant, though in strangely other circumstances; something in him of pathetic dignity in that kind. It shows excellent sound masonries; ' which have an over-tendency to jerk themselves into 'pinnacles, curvatures and graciosities ; many statues atop,—three there are, in a kind of grouped, or partnership attitude; “ These,” said diligent scandal, “note them; these mean Maria Theresa, Pompadour and Catin du Nord” (mere Muses, I believe, or of the Nymph or Hamadryad kind, nothing of harm in them). In short, you may call it the stone Apotheosis of an old * French Beau. Considerably weatherbeaten (the brown of lichens spreading visibly here and there, the firm-set
1766. • ashlar telling you,
" I have stood a hundred years”);Beau old and weatherbeaten, with his cocked-hat not in the fresh condition, all his gold-laces tarnished; and 'generally looking strange, and in a sort tragical, to ' find himself, fleeting creature, become a denizen of the • Architectural Fixities and earnest Eternities!'
From Potsdam Palace to the New Palace of SansSouci may be a mile distance; flat ground, parallel to the foot of Hills; all through arbours, parterres, waterworks, and ornamental gardenings and cottagings or villa-ings---Cottage - Villa for Lord Marischal is one of them. This mile of distance, taking the Cottage Royal of Sans-Souci on its hill-top as vertex, will be the base of an isosceles or nearly isosceles triangle, flatter than equilateral. To the Cottage Royal of Sans-Souci may be about three-quarters of a mile north-east from this New Palace, and from Potsdam Palace to it rather less. And the whole square-mile or so of space is continuously a Garden, not in the English sense, though it has its own beauties of the more artificial kind; and, at any rate, has memories for you, and footsteps of persons still unforgotten by mankind.—Here is a Notice of Lord Marischal; which readers will not grudge; the chronology of the worthy man, in these his later epochs, being in so hazy a state:
Lord Marischal, we know well and Pitt knows, was in England in 1761,-ostensibly, on the Kintore Heritage; and in part perhaps, really on that errand. But he went and came, at dates now uncertain ; was back in Spain after that, had difficult voyagings about ;29—and did not get to rest again, in his Government of Neufchâtel, till April 1762. There is a Letter of the King's, which at least fixes that point:
“ Breslau, 10th April 1762. My nose is the most impertinent
20 King's Letters to him, in Euvres de Frédéric, xx. 282-285.