Dantzig too, and the Harbor-dues, what a case! Dantzig Harbor, that is to say, Netze River, belongs mainly to Friedrich, Dantzig City not,--such the Czarina's lofty whim, in the late Partition Treatyings; not good to contradict, in the then circumstances; still less afterwards, though it brought chicanings more than enough. "And she was not ill-pleased to keep this thorn in the King's foot for her own conveniences," thinks the King; though, mainly, he perceives that it is the English acting on her grandiose mind: English, who were apprehensive for their Baltic trade under this new Proprietor, and who egged on an ambitious Czarina to protect Human Liberty, and an inflated Dantzig Burgermeister to stand up for ditto; and made a dismal shriekery in the Newspapers, and got into dreadful ill-humor with said Proprietor of Dantzig Harbor, and have never quite recovered from it to this day. Lindsey's POLISH LETTERS are very loud again on this occasion, aided by his SEVEN DIALOGUES ON POLAND; concerning which, partly for extinct Lindsey's sake, let us cite one small passage, and so wind up.
MARCH 2d, 1775, in answer to Voltaire, Friedrich writes: ... "The POLISH DIALOGUES you speak of are not known to me. I think of such Satires, with Epictetus: 'If they tell any truth of thee, correct thyself; if they are lies, laugh at them.' I have learned, with years, to become a steady coach-horse; I do my stage, like a diligent roadster, and pay no heed to the little dogs that will bark by the way." And then, three weeks after:--
"I have at length got the SEVEN DIALOGUES ON POLAND; and the whole history of them as well. The Author is an Englishman named Lindsey, Parson by profession, and Tutor to the young Prince Poniatowski, the King of Poland's Nephew,"--Nephew Joseph, Andreas's Son, NOT the undistinguished Nephew: so we will believe for poor loud Lindsey's sake! "It was at the instigation of the Czartoryskis, Uncles of the King, that Lindsey composed this Satire,--in English first of all. Satire ready, they perceived that nobody in Poland would understand it, unless it were translated into French; which accordingly was done. But as their translator was unskilful, they sent the DIALOGUES to a certain Gerard at Dantzig, who at that time was French Consul there, and who is at present a Clerk in your Foreign Office under M. de Vergennes. This Gerard, who does not want for wit, but who does me the honor to hate me cordially, retouched these DIALOGUES, and put them into the condition they were published in. I have laughed a good deal at them: here and there occur coarse things (GROSSIERETES), and platitudes of the insipid kind: but there are traits of good pleasantry. I shall not go fencing with goose-quills against this sycophant. As Mazarin said, 'Let the French keep singing, provided they let us keep doing.'" [
After Neustadt, Kaiser Joseph and the King had no more Interviews. Kaunitz's procedures in the subsequent Pacification and Partition business had completely estranged the two Sovereigns: to friendly visiting, a very different state of mutual feeling had succeeded; which went on, such "the immeasurable ambition" visible in some of us, deepening and worsening itself, instead of improving or abating. Friedrich had Joseph's Portrait hung in conspicuous position in the rooms where he lived; somebody noticing the fact, Friedrich answered: "Ah, yes, I am obliged to keep that young Gentleman in my eye." And, in effect, the rest of Friedrich's Political Activity, from this time onwards, may be defined as an ever-vigilant defence of himself, and of the German Reich, against Austrian Encroachment: which, to him, in the years then running, was the grand impending peril; and which to us in the new times has become so inexpressibly uninteresting, and will bear no narrative, Austrian Encroachment did not prove to be the death-peril that had overhung the world in Friedrich's last years!--
These, accordingly, are years in which the Historical interest goes on diminishing; and only the Biographical, were anything of Biography attainable, is left. Friedrich's industrial, economic and other Royal activities are as beautiful as ever; but cannot to our readers, in our limits, be described with advantage. Events of world-interest, after the Partition of Poland, do not fall out, or Friedrich is not concerned in them. It is a dim element; its significance chiefly German or Prussian, not European. What of humanly interesting is discoverable in it,--at least, while the Austrian Grudge continues in a chronic state, and has no acute fit,--I will here present in the shape of detached Fragments, suitably arranged and rendered legible, in hopes these may still have some lucency for readers, and render more conceivable the surrounding masses that have to be left dark. Our first Piece is of Winter, or late Autumn, 1771,--while the solution of the Polish Business is still in its inchoative stages; perfectly complete in the Artist's own mind; Russia too adhering; but Kaunitz so refractory and contradictory.
HERR DOCTOR ZIMMERMANN, THE FAMOUS AUTHOR OF THE BOOK "ON SOLITUDE," WALKS REVERENTIALLY BEFORE FRIEDRICH'S DOOR IN THE DUSK OF AN OCTOBER EVENING: AND HAS A ROYAL INTERVIEW NEXT DAY.
Friday Evening, 25th October, 1771, is the date of Zimmermann's walk of contemplation,--among the pale Statues and deciduous Gardenings of Sans-Souci Cottage (better than any Rialto, at its best),--the eternal stars coming out overhead, and the transitory candle-light of a King Friedrich close by.
"At Sans-Souci," says he, in his famed Book, "where that old God of War (KRIEGSGOTT) forges his thunder-bolts, and writes Works of Intellect for Posterity; where he governs his People as the best father would his house; where, during one half of the day, he accepts and reads the petitions and complaints of the meanest citizen or peasant; comes to help of his Countries on all sides with astonishing sums of money, expecting no payment, nor seeking anything but the Common Weal; and where, during the other half, he is a Poet and Philosopher:--at Sans-Souci, I say, there reigns all round a silence, in which you can hear the faintest breath of every soft wind. I mounted this Hill for the first time in Winter [late Autumn, 25th October, 1771, edge of Winter], in the dusk. When I beheld the small Dwelling-House of this Convulser of the World close by me, and was near his very chamber, I saw indeed a light inside, but no sentry or watchman at the Hero's door; no soul to ask me, Who I was, or What I wanted. I saw nothing; and walked about as I pleased before this small and silent House." [Preuss, i. 387 ("from EINSAMKEIT," Zimmermann's SOLITUDE, "i. 110; Edition of Leipzig, 1784").]
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