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entered on such a topic—but—but—your surprising self-command

time:2023-12-06 02:53:45 source:Untouched network author:system read:878次

From Sans-Souci the King did appear again on horseback; rode out several times ("Conde," a fine English horse, one of his favorites, carrying him,--the Conde who had many years of sinecure afterwards, and was well known to Touring people): the rides were short; once to the New Palace to look at some new Vinery there, thence to the Gate of Potsdam, which he was for entering; but finding masons at work, and the street encumbered, did not, and rode home instead: this, of not above two miles, was his longest ride of all. Selle's attendance, less and less in esteem with the King, and less and less followed by him, did not quite cease till June 4th; that day the King had said to Selle, or to himself, "It is enough." That longest of his rides was in the third week after; June 22d, Midsummer-Day. July 4th, he rode again; and it was for the last time. About two weeks after, Conde was again brought out; but it would not do: Adieu, my Conde; not possible, as things are!--

entered on such a topic—but—but—your surprising self-command

During all this while, and to the very end, Friedrich's Affairs, great and small, were, in every branch and item, guided on by him, with a perfection not surpassed in his palmiest days: he saw his Ministers, saw all who had business with him, many who had little; and in the sore coil of bodily miseries, as Hertzberg observed with wonder, never was the King's intellect clearer, or his judgment more just and decisive. Of his disease, except to the Doctors, he spoke no word to anybody. The body of Friedrich is a ruin, but his soul is still here; and receives his friends and his tasks as formerly. Asthma, dropsy, erysipelas, continual want of sleep; for many months past he has not been in bed, but sits day and night in an easy-chair, unable to get breath except in that posture. He said one morning, to somebody entering, "If you happened to want a night-watcher, I could suit you well."

entered on such a topic—but—but—your surprising self-command

His multifarious Military businesses come first; then his three Clerks, with the Civil and Political. These three he latterly, instead of calling about 6 or 7 o'clock, has had to appoint for 4 each morning: "My situation forces me," his message said, "to give them this trouble, which they will not have to suffer long. My life is on the decline; the time which I still have I must employ. It belongs not to me, but to the State." [Preuss, iv. 257 n.] About 11, business, followed by short surgical details or dressings (sadly insisted on in those Books, and in themselves sufficiently sad), being all done,--his friends or daily company are admitted: five chiefly, or (NOT counting Minister Hertzberg) four, Lucchesini, Schwerin, Pinto, Gortz; who sit with him about one hour now, and two hours in the evening again:--dreary company to our minds, perhaps not quite so dreary to the King's; but they are all he has left. And he talks cheerfully with them "on Literature, History, on the topics of the day, or whatever topic rises, as if there were no sickness here." A man adjusted to his hard circumstances; and bearing himself manlike and kinglike among them.

entered on such a topic—but—but—your surprising self-command

He well knew himself to be dying; but some think, expected that the end might be a little farther off. There is a grand simplicity of stoicism in him; coming as if by nature, or by long SECOND-nature; finely unconscious of itself, and finding nothing of peculiar in this new trial laid on it. From of old, Life has been infinitely contemptible to him. In death, I think, he has neither fear nor hope. Atheism, truly, he never could abide: to him, as to all of us, it was flatly inconceivable that intellect, moral emotion, could have been put into HIM by an Entity that had none of its own. But there, pretty much, his Theism seems to have stopped. Instinctively, too, he believed, no man more firmly, that Right alone has ultimately any strength in this world: ultimately, yes;-- but for him and his poor brief interests, what good was it? Hope for himself in Divine Justice, in Divine Providence, I think he had not practically any; that the unfathomable Demiurgus should concern himself with such a set of paltry ill-given animalcules as oneself and mankind are, this also, as we have often noticed, is in the main incredible to him.

A sad Creed, this of the King's;--he had to do his duty without fee or reward. Yes, reader;--and what is well worth your attention, you will have difficulty to find, in the annals of any Creed, a King or man who stood more faithfully to his duty; and, till the last hour, alone concerned himself with doing that. To poor Friedrich that was all the Law and all the Prophets: and I much recommend you to surpass him, if you, by good luck, have a better Copy of those inestimable Documents!--Inarticulate notions, fancies, transient aspirations, he might have, in the background of his mind. One day, sitting for a while out of doors, gazing into the Sun, he was heard to murmur, "Perhaps I shall be nearer thee soon:"--and indeed nobody knows what his thoughts were in these final months. There is traceable only a complete superiority to Fear and Hope; in parts, too, are half-glimpses of a great motionless interior lake of Sorrow, sadder than any tears or complainings, which are altogether wanting to it. Friedrich's dismissal of Selle, June 4th, by no means meant that he had given up hope from medicine; on the contrary, two days after, he had a Letter on the road for Zimmermann at Hanover; whom he always remembers favorably since that DIALOGUE we read fifteen years ago. His first Note to Zimmermann is of June 6th, "Would you consent to come for a fortnight, and try upon me?" Zimmermann's overjoyed Answer, "Yes, thrice surely yes," is of June 10th; Friedrich's second is of June 16th, "Come, then!" And Zimmermann came accordingly,--as is still too well known. Arrived 23d June; stayed till 10th July; had Thirty-three Interviews or DIALOGUES with him; one visit the last day; two, morning and evening, every preceding day;--and published a Book about them, which made immense noise in the world, and is still read, with little profit or none, by inquirers into Friedrich. [Ritter von Zimmermann, Uber Friedrich den Grossen und meine Unterredungen mit Ihm kurz von seinem Tode (1 vol. 8vo: Leipzig, 1788);--followed by Fragmente uber Friedrich den Grossen (3 vols. 12mo: Leipzig, 1790); and by &c. &c.] Thirty-three Dialogues, throwing no new light on Friedrich, none of them equal in interest to the old specimen known to us.

In fact, the Book turns rather on Zimmermann himself than on his Royal Patient; and might be entitled, as it was by a Satirist, DIALOGUES OF ZIMMERMANN I. AND FRIEDRICH II. An unwise Book; abounding in exaggeration; breaking out continually into extraneous sallies and extravagancies,--the source of which is too plainly an immense conceit of oneself. Zimmermann is fifteen years older since we last saw him; a man now verging towards sixty; but has not grown wiser in proportion. In Hanover, though miraculously healed of that LEIBESSCHADE, and full of high hopes, he has had his new tribulations, new compensations,--both of an agitating character. "There arose," he says, in reference to some medical Review-article he wrote, "a WEIBER-EPIDEMIK, a universal shrieking combination of all the Women against me:"--a frightful accident while it lasted! Then his little Daughter died on his hands; his Son had disorders, nervous imbecilities,--did not die, but did worse; went into hopeless idiotcy, and so lived for many years. Zimmermann, being dreadfully miserable, hypochondriac, what not, "his friends," he himself passive, it would seem, "managed to get a young Wife for him;" thirty years younger than he,--whose performances, however, in this difficult post, are praised.

Lastly, not many months ago (Leipzig, 1785), the big FINAL edition of "SOLITUDE" (four volumes) has come out; to the joy and enthusiasm of all philanthropic-philosophic and other circulating- library creatures:--a Copy of which came, by course of nature, not by Zimmermann's help, into the hands of Catharine of Russia. Sublime imperial Letter thereupon, with 'valuable diamond ring;' invitation to come to Petersburg, with charges borne (declined, on account of health); to be imperial Physician (likewise declined);-- in fine, continued Correspondence with Catharine (trying enough for a vain head), and Knighthood of the Order of St. Wladimir,--so that, at least, Doctor Zimmermann is RITTER Zimmermann henceforth. And now, here has come his new Visit to Friedrich the Great;-- which, with the issues it had, and the tempestuous cloud of tumid speculations and chaotic writings it involved him in, quite upset the poor Ritter Doctor; so that, hypochondrias deepening to the abysmal, his fine intellect sank altogether,--and only Death, which happily followed soon, could disimprison him. At this moment, there is in Zimmermann a worse "Dropsy" of the spiritual kind, than this of the physical, which he has come in relief of!

Excerpts of those Zimmermann DIALOGUES lie copiously round me, ready long ago,--nay, I understand there is, or was, an English TRANSLATION of the whole of them, better or worse, for behoof of the curious:--but on serious consideration now, I have to decide, That they are but as a Scene of clowns in the Elder Dramatists; which, even were it NOT overdone as it is, cannot be admitted in this place, and is plainly impertinent in the Tragedy that is being acted here. Something of Farce will often enough, in this irreverent world, intrude itself on the most solemn Tragedy; but, in pity even to the Farce, there ought at least to be closed doors kept between them.


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