All which rendered dull dead Brugg still duller and more dead; unfit utterly for a man of such sublime accomplishments. Plenty of Counts Stadion, Kings of Poland even, offered him engagements; eager to possess such a man, and deliver him from dull dead Brugg; but he had hypochondria, and always feared their deliverance might be into something duller. At length,--in his fortieth year, 1768, --the place of Court-Physician (HOFMEDICUS) at Hanover was offered him by George the Third of pious memory, and this he resolved to accept; and did lift anchor, and accept and occupy accordingly.
Alas, at the Gate of Hanover, "his carriage overset;" broke his poor old Mother-in-law's leg (who had been rejoicing doubtless to get home into her own Country), and was the end of her--poor old soul;--and the beginning of misfortunes continual and too tedious to mention. Spleen, envy, malice and calumny, from the Hanover Medical world; treatment, "by the old buckram Hofdames who had drunk coffee with George II.," "which was fitter for a laquais-de- place" than for a medical gentleman of eminence: unworthy treatment, in fact, in many or most quarters;--followed by hypochondria, by dreadful bodily disorder (kind not given or discoverable), "so that I suffered the pains of Hell," sat weeping, sat gnashing my teeth, and could n't write a Note after dinner; followed finally by the sickness, and then by the death, of my poor Wife, "after five months of torment." Upon which, in 1771, Zimmermann's friends--for he had many friends, being, in fact, a person of fine graceful intellect, high proud feelings and tender sensibilities, gone all to this sad state--rallied themselves; set his Hanover house in order for him (governess for his children, what not); and sent him off to Berlin, there to be dealt with by one Meckel, an incomparable Surgeon, and be healed of his dreadful disorder ("LEIBESSCHADE, of which the first traces had appeared in Brugg"),--though to most people it seemed rather he would die; "and one Medical Eminency in Hanover said to myself [Zimmermann] one day: 'Dr. So-and-so is to have your Pension, I am told; now, by all right, it should belong to me, don't you think so?'" What, "I" thought of the matter, seeing the greedy gentleman thus "parting my skin," may be conjectured!--
The famed Meckel received his famed patient with a nobleness worthy of the heroic ages. Dodged him in his own house, in softest beds and appliances; spoke comfort to him, hope to him,--the gallant Meckel;--rallied, in fact, the due medical staff one morning; came up to Zimmermann, who "stripped," with the heart of a lamb and lion conjoined, and trusting in God, "flung himself on his bed" (on his face, or on his back, we never know), and there, by the hands of Meckel and staff, "received above 2,000 (TWO THOUSAND) cuts in the space of an hour and half, without uttering one word or sound." A frightful operation, gallantly endured, and skilfully done; whereby the "bodily disorder" (LEIBESSCHADE), whatever it might be, was effectually and forever sent about its business by the noble Meckel.
Hospitalities and soft, hushed kindnesses and soothing ministrations, by Meckel and by everybody, were now doubled and trebled: wise kind Madam Meckel, young kind Mamsell Meckel and the Son (who "now, in 1788, lectures in Gottingen"); not these only, nor Schmucker Head Army-Surgeon, and the ever-memorable HERR GENERALCHIRURGUS Madan, who had both been in the operation; not these only, but by degrees all that was distinguished in the Berlin world, Ramler, Busching, Sulzer, Prime Minister Herzberg, Queen's and King's Equerries, and honorable men and women,--bore him "on angel-wings" towards complete recovery. Talked to him, sang and danced to him (at least, the "Muses" and the female Meckels danced and sang), and all lapped him against eating cares, till, after twelve weeks, he was fairly on his feet again, and able to make jaunts in the neighborhood with his "life's savior," and enjoy the pleasant Autumn weather to his farther profit.--All this, though described in ridiculous superlative by Zimmermann, is really touching, beautiful and human: perhaps never in his life was he so happy, or a thousandth part so helped by man, as while under the roof of this thrice-useful Meckel,--more power to Meckel!
Head Army-Surgeon Schmucker had gone through all the Seven-Years War; Zimmermann, an ardent Hero-worshipper, was never weary questioning him, listening to him in full career of narrative, on this great subject,--only eight years old at that time. Among their country drives, Meckel took him to Potsdam, twenty English miles off; in the end of October, there to stay a night. This was the ever-memorable Friday, when we first ascended the Hill of Sans- Souci, and had our evening walk of contemplation:--to be followed by a morrow which was ten times more memorable: as readers shall now see. [Jordens,
NEXT DAY, ZIMMERMANN HAS A DIALOGUE. Schmucker had his apartments in "LITTLE SANS-SOUCI," where the King now lived (Big Sans-Souci, or "Sans-Souci" by itself, means in those days, not in ours at all, "New Palace, NEUE PALAIS," now in all its splendor of fresh finish). De Catt, Friedrich's Reader, whom we know well, was a Genevese, and knew Zimmermann from of old. Schmucker and De Catt were privately twitching up Friedrich's curiosity,--to whom also Zimmermann's name, and perhaps his late surgical operation, might be known: "Can he speak French?"--"Native to him, your Majesty." Friedrich had some notion to see Zimmermann; and judicious De Catt, on this fortunate Saturday, "26th October, 1771," morrow after Zimmermann's arrival at Potsdam, "came to our inn about, 1 P.M. [King's dinner just done]; and asked me to come and look at the beauties of Sans-Souci [Big Sans-Souci] for a little." Zimmermann willingly went: Catt, left him in good hands to see the beauties; slipt off, for his own part, to "LITTLE Sans-Souci;" came back, took Zimmermann thither; left, him with Schmucker, all trembling, thinking perhaps the King might call him. "I trembled sometimes, then again I felt exceeding happiness:" I was in Schmucker's room, sitting by the fire, mostly alone for a good while, "the room that had once been Marquis d'Argens's" (who is now dead, and buried far away, good old soul);--when, at last, about half-past 4, Catt came jumping in, breathless with joy; snatched me up: "His Majesty wants to speak with you this very moment!" Zimmermann's self shall say the rest.
"I hurried, hand-in-hand with Catt, along a row of Chambers. 'Here,' said Catt, 'we are now at the King's room!'--My heart thumped, like to spring out of my body. Catt went in; but next moment the door again opened, and Catt bade me enter.
"In the middle of the room stood an iron camp-bed without curtains. There, on a worn mattress, lay King Friedrich, the terror of Europe, without coverlet, in an old blue roquelaure. He had a big cocked-hat, with a white feather [hat aged, worn soft as duffel, equal to most caps; "feather" is not perpendicular, but horizontal, round the inside of the brim], on his head.
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