PRINCE HENRI HAS BEEN TO SWEDEN; IS SEEN AT PETERSBURG IN MASQUERADE (on or about New-year's Day, 1771); AND DOES GET HOME, WITH RESULTS THAT ARE IMPORTANT.
Prince Henri, as we noticed, was not of this Second King-and-Kaiser Interview; Henri had gone in the opposite direction,--to Sweden, on a visit to his Sister Ulrique,--off for West and North, just in the same days while the King was leaving Potsdam for Silesia and his other errand in the Southeast parts. Henri got to Drottingholm, his Sister's country Palace near Stockholm, by the "end of August;" and was there with Queen Ulrique and Husband during these Neustadt manoeuvres. A changed Queen Ulrique, since he last saw her "beautiful as Love," whirling off in the dead of night for those remote Countries and destinies. [Supra, viii. 309.] She is now fifty, or on the edge of it, her old man sixty,--old man dies within few months. They have had many chagrins, especially she, as the prouder, has had, from their contumacious People,--contumacious Senators at least (strong always both in POCKET-MONEY French or Russian, and in tendency to insolence and folly),--who once, I remember, demanded sight and count of the Crown-Jewels from Queen Ulrique: "There, VOILA, there are they!" said the proud Queen; "view them, count them,--lock them up: never more will I wear one of them!" But she has pretty Sons grown to manhood, one pretty Daughter, a patient good old Husband; and Time, in Sweden too, brings its roses; and life is life, in spite of contumacious bribed Senators and doggeries that do rather abound. Henri stayed with her six or seven weeks; leaves Sweden, middle of October, 1770,--not by the straight course homewards: "No, verily, and well knew why!" shrieks the indignant Polish world on us ever since.
It is not true that Friedrich had schemed to send Henri round by Petersburg. On the contrary, it was the Czarina, on ground of old acquaintanceship, who invited him, and asked his Brother's leave to do it. And if Poland got its fate from the circumstance, it was by accident, and by the fact that Poland's fate was drop-ripe, ready to fall by a touch.--Before going farther, here is ocular view of the shrill-minded, serious and ingenious Henri, little conscious of being so fateful a man:-
PRINCE HENRI IN WHITE DOMINO. "Prince Henri of Prussia," says Richardson, the useful Eye-witness cited already, "is one of the most celebrated Generals of the present age. So great are his military talents, that his Brother, who is not apt to pay compliments, says of him,--That, in commanding an army, he was never known to commit a fault. This, however, is but a negative kind of praise. He [the King] reserves to himself the glory of superior genius, which, though capable of brilliant achievements, is yet liable to unwary mistakes: and allows him no other than the praise of correctness.
"To judge of Prince Henri by his appearance, I should form no high estimate of his abilities. But the Scythian Ambassadors judged in the same manner of Alexander the Great. He is under the middle size; very thin; he walks firmly enough, or rather struts, as if he wanted to walk firmly; and has little dignity in his air or gesture. He is dark-complexioned; and he wears his hair, which is remarkably thick, clubbed, and dressed with a high toupee. His forehead is high; his eyes large and blue, with a little squint; and when he smiles, his upper lip is drawn up a little in the middle. His look expresses sagacity and observation, but nothing very amiable; and his manner is grave and stiff rather than affable. He was dressed, when I first saw him, in a light-blue frock with silver frogs; and wore a red waistcoat and blue breeches. He is not very popular among the Russians; and accordingly their wits are disposed to amuse themselves with his appearance, and particularly with his toupee. They say he resembles Samson; that all his strength lies in his hair; and that, conscious of this, and recollecting the fate of the son of Manoah, he suffers not the nigh approaches of any deceitful Delilah. They say he is like the Comet, which, about fifteen months ago, appeared so formidable in the Russian hemisphere; and which, exhibiting a small watery body, but a most enormous train, dismayed the Northern and Eastern Potentates with 'fear of change.'
"I saw him a few nights ago [on or about New-year's Day, 1771; come back to us, from his Tour to Moscow, three weeks before; and nothing but galas ever since] at a Masquerade in the Palace, said to be the most magnificent thing of the kind ever seen at the Russian Court. Fourteen large rooms and galleries were opened for the accommodation of the masks; and I was informed that there were present several thousand people. A great part of the company wore dominos, or capuchin dresses; though, besides these, some fanciful appearances afforded a good deal of amusement. A very tall Cossack appeared completely arrayed in the 'hauberk's twisted mail.' He was indeed very grim and martial. Persons in emblematical dresses, representing Apollo and the Seasons, addressed the Empress in speeches suited to their characters. The Empress herself, at the time I saw her Majesty, wore a Grecian habit; though I was afterwards told that she varied her dress two or three times during the masquerade. Prince Henri of Prussia wore a white domino. Several persons appeared in the dresses of different nations,-- Chinese, Turks, Persians and Armenians. The most humorous and fantastical figure was a Frenchman, who, with wonderful nimbleness and dexterity, represented an overgrown but very beautiful Parrot. He chattered with a great deal of spirit; and his shoulders, covered with green feathers, performed admirably the part of wings. He drew the attention of the Empress; a ring was formed; he was quite happy; fluttered his plumage; made fine speeches in Russ, French and tolerable English; the ladies were exceedingly diverted; everybody laughed except Prince Henri, who stood beside the Empress, and was so grave and so solemn, that he would have performed his part most admirably in the shape of an owl. The Parrot observed him; was determined to have revenge; and having said as many good things as he could to her Majesty, he was hopping away; but just as he was going out of the circle, seeming to recollect himself, he stopped, looked over his shoulder at the formal Prince, and quite in the parrot tone and French accent, he addressed him most emphatically with 'HENRI! HENRI! HENRI!' and then, diving into the crowd, disappeared. His Royal Highness was disconcerted; he was forced to smile in his own defence, and the company were not a little amused.
"At midnight, a spacious hall, of a circular form, capable of containing a vast number of people, and illuminated in the most magnificent manner, was suddenly opened. Twelve tables were placed in alcoves around the sides of the room, where the Empress, Prince Henri, and a hundred and fifty of the chief nobility and foreign ministers sat down to supper. The rest of the company went up, by stairs on the outside of the room, into the lofty galleries placed all around on the inside. Such a row of masked visages, many of them with grotesque features and bushy beards, nodding from the side of the wall, appeared very ludicrous to those below. The entertainment was enlivened with a concert of music: and at different intervals persons in various habits entered the hall, and exhibited Cossack, Chinese, Polish, Swedish and Tartar dances. The whole was so gorgeous, and at the same time so fantastic, that I could not help thinking myself present at some of the magnificent festivals described in the old-fashioned romantes:--
'The marshal'd feast Served up in hall with sewers and seneschals.'
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