"MONSIEUR AND DEAREST FRIEND,--We had, as you heard, our first Manoeuvre on Saturday, 26th, in presence of the Kaiser and the King, and of the whole Court of each. That evening there was Opera; which their Majesties honored by attending. Sunday was our Second Manoeuvre; OPERETTE in the evening. Monday, 28th, was our last Manoeuvre; at the end of which the two Majesties, without alighting from horseback, embraced each other; and parted, protesting mutually the most constant and inviolable friendship. One took the road for Breslau; the other that of Konigsgratz. All the time the Kaiser was here, they have been continually talking together, and exhibiting the tenderest friendship,--from which I cannot but think there will benefit result.
"I am almost in the mind of coming to pass this Winter at Berlin; that I may have the pleasure of embracing you,--perhaps as cordially as King and Kaiser here. I am, and shall always be, with all my heart,--your very good Friend, "LEFEBVRE." [Formey,
The Lefebvre that writes here is the same who was set to manage the last Siege of Schweidnitz, by Globes of Compression and other fine inventions; and almost went out of his wits because he could not do it. An expert ingenious creature; skilful as an engineer; had been brought into Friedrich's service by the late Balbi, during Balbi's ascendency (which ended at Olmutz long ago). At Schweidnitz, and often elsewhere, Friedrich, who had an esteem for poor Lefebvre, was good to him; and treated his excitabilities with a soft hand, not a rough. Once at Neisse (1771, second year after these Letters), on looking round at the works done since last review, in sight of all the Garrison he embraced Lefebvre, while commending his excellent performance; which filled the poor soul with a now unimaginable joy.
"HELAS," says Formey, "the poor Gentleman wrote to me of his endless satisfaction; and how he hoped to get through his building, and retire on half-pay this very season, thenceforth to belong to the Academy and me; he had been Member for twenty years past." With this view, thinks Formey, he most likely hastened on his buildings too fast: certain it is, a barrack he was building tumbled suddenly, and some workmen perished in the ruins. "Enemies at Court suggested," or the accident itself suggested without any enemy, "Has not he been playing false, using cheap bad materials?"--and Friedrich ordered him arrest in his own Apartments, till the question were investigated. Excitable Lefebvre was like to lose his wits, almost to leap out of his skin. "One evening at supper, he managed to smuggle away a knife; and, in the course of the night, gave himself sixteen stabs with it; which at length sufficed. The King said, 'He has used himself worse than I should have done;' and was very sorry." Of Lefebvre's scientific structures, globes of compression and the rest, I know not whether anything is left; the above Two Notes, thrown off to Formey, were accidentally a hit, and, in the great blank, may last a long while.
The King found this young Kaiser a very pretty man; and could have liked him considerably, had their mutual positions permitted. "He had a frankness of manner which seemed natural to him," says the King; "in his amiable character, gayety and great vivacity were prominent features." By accidental chinks, however, one saw "an ambition beyond measure" burning in the interior of this young man, [
It was long believed, by persons capable of seeing into millstones, that, under cover of this Neisse Interview, there were important Political negotiations and consultings carried on;--that here, and in a Second Interview or Return-Visit, of which presently, lay the real foundation of the Polish Catastrophe. What of Political passed at the Second Interview readers shall see for themselves, from an excellent Authority. As to what passed at the present ("mutual word-of-honor: should England and France quarrel, we will stand neutral" [
In spite of Galitzin's blunders, the Turk War is going on at a fine rate in these months; Turks, by the hundred thousand, getting scattered in panic rout:--but we will say nothing of it just yet. Polish Confederation--horror-struck, as may be imagined, at its auxiliary Brother of the Sun and Moon and his performances--is weltering in violently impotent spasms into deeper and ever deeper wretchedness, Friedrich sometimes thinking of a Burlesque Poem on the subject;--though the Russian successes, and the Austrian grudgings and gloomings, are rising on him as a very serious consideration. "Is there no method, then, of allowing Russia to prosecute its Turk War in spite of Austria and its umbrages?" thinks Friedrich sometimes, in his anxieties about Peace in Europe:--"If the Ukraine, and its meal for the Armies, were but Russia's! At present, Austria can strike in there, cut off the provisions, and at once put a spoke in Russia's wheel." Friedrich tells us, "he (ON," the King himself, what I do not find in any other Book) "sent to Petersburg, under the name of Count Lynar, the seraphic Danish Gentleman, who, in 1757, had brought about the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, a Project, or Sketch of Plan, for Partitioning certain Provinces of Poland, in that view;" --the Lynar opining, so far as I can see, somewhat as follows: "Russia to lay hold of the essential bit of Polish Territory for provisioning itself against the Turk, and allow to Austria and Prussia certain other bits; which would content everybody, and enable Russia and Christendom to extrude and suppress AD LIBITUM that abominable mass of Mahometan Sensualism, Darkness and Fanaticism from the fairest part of God's Creation." An excellent Project, though not successful! "To which Petersburg, intoxicated with its own outlooks on Turkey, paid not the least attention," says the King. [
POTSDAM, 20th-29th OCTOBER, 1769. Only two months after Neisse, what kindles Potsdam into sudden splendor, Electress Marie-Antoine makes a Visit of nine days to the King. "In July last," says a certain Note of ours, "the Electress was invited to Berlin, to a Wedding; 'would have been delighted to come, but letter of invitation arrived too late. Will, however, not give up the plan of seeing the great Friedrich.' Comes to Potsdam 20th-29th October. Stays nine days; much delighted, both, with the visit. 'Magnificent palaces, pleasant gardens, ravishing concerts, charming Princes and Princesses: the pleasantest nine days I ever had in my life,' says the Electress. Friedrich grants, to her intercession, pardon for some culprit. 'DIVA ANTONIA' he calls her henceforth for some time; she him, 'PLUS GRAND DES MORTELS,' 'SALOMON DU NORD,' and the like names." [
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