KING. "'I have sometimes heard the Prince de Conti spoken of: what sort of man is he?'
EGO. "'He is a man composed of twenty or thirty men. He is proud, he is affable,'"--he is fiddle, he is diddle (in the seesaw epigrammatic way, for a page or more); and is not worth pen and ink from us, since the time old Marshal Traun got us rid of him,--home across the Rhine, full speed, with Croats sticking on his skirts. [Supra, viii. 475.]
"This portrait seemed to amuse the King. One had to captivate him by some piquant detail; without that, he would escape you, give you no time to speak. The success generally began by the first words, no matter how vague, of any conversation; these he found means to make interesting; and what, generally, is mere talk about the weather became at once sublime; and one never heard anything vulgar from him. He ennobled everything; and the examples of Greeks and Romans, or of modern Generals, soon dissipated everything of what, with others, would have remained trivial and commonplace.
"'Have you ever,' said he, 'seen such a rain as yesterday's? Your orthodox Catholics will say, "That comes of having a man without religion among us: what are we to do with this cursed (MAUDIT) King; a Protestant at lowest?" for I really think I brought you bad luck. Your soldiers would be saying, "Peace we have; and still is this devil of a man to trouble us!"'
EGO. "'Certainly, if your Majesty was the cause, it is very bad. Such a thing is only permitted to Jupiter, who has always good reasons for everything; and it would have been in his fashion, after destroying the one set by fire, to set about destroying the others by water. However, the fire is at an end; and I did not expect to revert to it.'
KING. "'I ask your pardon for having plagued you so often with that; I regret it for the sake of all mankind. But what a fine Apprenticeship of War! I have committed errors enough to teach you young people, all of you, to do better. MON DIEU, how I love your grenadiers! How well they defiled in my presence! If the god Mars were raising a body-guard for himself, I should advise him to take them hand over head. Do you know I was well pleased (BIEN CONTENT) with the Kaiser last night at supper? Did you hear what he said to me about Liberty of the Press, and the Troubling of Consciences (LA GENE DES CONSCIENCES)? There will be bits of difference between his worthy Ancestors and him, on some points!'
EGO. "'I am persuaded, he will entertain no prejudices on anything; and that your Majesty will be a great Book of Instruction to him.'
KING. "'How adroitly he disapproved, without appearing to mean anything, the ridiculous Vienna Censorship; and the too great fondness of his Mother (without naming her) for certain things which only make hypocrites. By the by, she must detest you, that High Lady?'
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