History of Friedrich II. of Prussia, Appendix - Frederick The Great—A Day with Friedrich.—(23d July, 1779.)
by Thomas Carlyle
Home - Random Browse



By Thomas Carlyle


This Piece, it would seem, was translated sixteen years ago; some four or five years before any part of the present HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH got to paper. The intercalated bits of Commentary were, as is evident, all or mostly written at the same time:—these also, though they are now become, in parts, SUPERFLUOUS to a reader that has been diligent, I have not thought of changing, where not compelled. Here and there, especially in the Introductory Part, some slight additions have crept in;—which the above kind of reader will possibly enough detect; and may even have, for friendly reasons, some vestige of interest in assigning to their new date and comparing with the old. (NOTE OF 1868.)

A DAY WITH FRIEDRICH.—(23d July, 1779.)

"OBERAMTMANN (Head-Manager) Fromme" was a sister's son of Poet, Gleim,—Gleim Canon of Halberstadt, who wrote Prussian "grenadier-songs" in, or in reference to, the Seven-Years War, songs still printed, but worth little; who begged once, after Friedrich's death, an OLD HAT of his, and took it with him to Halberstadt (where I hope it still is); who had a "Temple-of-Honor," or little Garden-house so named, with Portraits of his Friends hung in it; who put Jean Paul VERY SOON there, with a great explosion of praises; and who, in short, seems to have been a very good effervescent creature, at last rather wealthy too, and able to effervesce with some comfort;—Oberamtmann Fromme, I say, was this Gleim's Nephew; and stood as a kind of Royal Land-Bailiff under Frederick the Great, in a tract of country called the RHYN-LUCH (a dreadfully moory country of sands and quagmires, all green and fertile now, some twenty or thirty miles northwest of Berlin); busy there in 1779, and had been for some years past. He had originally been an Officer of the Artillery; but obtained his discharge in 1769, and got, before long, into this employment. A man of excellent disposition and temper; with a solid and heavy stroke of work in him, whatever he might be set to; and who in this OBERAMTMANNSHIP "became highly esteemed." He died in 1798; and has left sons (now perhaps grandsons or great-grandsons), who continue estimable in like situations under the Prussian Government.

One of Fromme's useful gifts, the usefulest of all for us at present, was "his wonderful talent of exact memory." He could remember to a singular extent; and, we will hope, on this occasion, was unusually conscientious to do it. For it so happened, in July, 1779 (23d July), Friedrich, just home from his troublesome Bavarian War, [Had arrived at Berlin May 27th (Rodenbeck, iii. 201).] and again looking into everything with his own eyes, determined to have a personal view of those Moor Regions of Fromme's; to take a day's driving through that RHYN-LUCH which had cost him so much effort and outlay; and he ordered Fromme to attend him in the expedition. Which took effect accordingly; Fromme riding swiftly at the left wheel of Friedrich's carriage, and loudly answering questions of his, all day.—Directly on getting home, Fromme consulted his excellent memory, and wrote down everything; a considerable Paper,—of which you shall now have an exact Translation, if it be worth anything. Fromme gave the Paper to Uncle Gleim; who, in his enthusiasm, showed it extensively about, and so soon as there was liberty, had it "printed, at his own expense, for the benefit of poor soldiers' children." ["Gleim's edition, brought out in 1786, the year of Friedrich's death, is now quite gone,—the Book undiscoverable. But the Paper was reprinted in an ANEKDOTEN-SAMMLUNG (Collection of Anecdotes, Berlin, 1787, 8tes STUCK, where I discover it yesterday (17th July, 1852) in a copy of mine, much to my surprise; having before met with it in one Hildebrandt's ANEKDOTEN-SAMMLUNG (Halberstadt, 1830, 4tes STUCK, a rather slovenly Book), where it is given out as one of the rarest of all rarities, and as having been specially 'furnished by a Dr. W. Korte,' being unattainable otherwise! The two copies differ slightly here and there,—not always to Dr. Korte's advantage, or rather hardly ever. I keep them both before me in translating" (MARGINALE OF 1852)].

"The RHYN" or Rhin, is a little river, which, near its higher clearer sources, we were all once well acquainted with: considerable little moorland river, with several branches coming down from Ruppin Country, and certain lakes and plashes there, in a southwest direction, towards the Elbe valley, towards the Havel Stream; into which latter, through another plash or lake called GULPER SEE, and a few miles farther, into the Elbe itself, it conveys, after a course of say 50 English miles circuitously southwest, the black drainings of those dreary and intricate Peatbog-and-Sand countries. "LUCH," it appears, signifies LOCH (or Hole, Hollow); and "Rhyn-Luch" will mean, to Prussian ears, the Peatbog Quagmire drained by the RHYN.—New Ruppin, where this beautiful black Stream first becomes considerable, and of steadily black complexion, lies between 40 and 50 miles northwest of Berlin. Ten or twelve miles farther north is REINSBERG (properly RHYNSBERG), where Friedrich as Crown-Prince lived his happiest few years. The details of which were familiar to us long ago,—and no doubt dwell clear and soft, in their appropriate "pale moonlight," in Friedrich's memory on this occasion. Some time after his Accession, he gave the place to Prince Henri, who lived there till 1802. It is now fallen all dim; and there is nothing at New Ruppin but a remembrance.

To the hither edge of this Rhyn-Luoh, from Berlin, I guess there may be five-and-twenty miles, in a northwest direction; from Potsdam, whence Friedrich starts to-day, about, the same distance north-by-west; "at Seelenhorst," where Fromme waits him, Friedrich has already had 30 miles of driving,—rate 10 miles an hour, as we chance to observe. Notable things, besides the Spade-husbandries he is intent on, solicit his remembrance in this region. Of Freisack and "Heavy-Peg" with her didactic batterings there, I suppose he, in those fixed times, knows nothing, probably has never heard: Freisack is on a branch of this same Rhyn, and he might see it, to left a mile or two, if he cared.

But Fehrbellin ("Ferry of BellEEN"), distinguished by the shining victory which "the Great Elector," Friedrich's Great-Grandfather, gained there, over the Swedes, in 1675, stands on the Rhyn itself, about midway; and Friedrich will pass through it on this occasion. General Ziethen, too, lives near it at Wusterau (as will be seen): "Old Ziethen," a little stumpy man, with hanging brows and thick pouting lips; unbeautiful to look upon, but pious, wise, silent, and with a terrible blaze of fighting-talent in him; full of obedience, of endurance, and yet of unsubduable "silent rage" (which has brooked even the vocal rage of Friedrich, on occasion); a really curious old Hussar General. He is now a kind of mythical or demigod personage among the Prussians; and was then (1779), and ever after the Seven-Years War, regarded popularly as their Ajax (with a dash of the Ulysses superadded),—Seidlitz, another Horse General, being the Achilles of that service.

The date of this drive through the moors being "23d July, 1779," we perceive it is just about two months since Friedrich got home from the Bavarian War (what they now call "POTATO WAR," so barren was it in fighting, so ripe in foraging); victorious in a sort;—and that in his private thought, among the big troubles of the world on both sides of the Atlantic, the infinitesimally small business of the MILLER ARNOLD'S LAWSUIT is beginning to rise now and then. [Supra 415, 429. Preuss, i. 362; &c. &c.]

Friedrich is now 67 years old; has reigned 39: the Seven-Years War is 16 years behind us; ever since which time Friedrich has been an "old man,"—having returned home from it with his cheeks all wrinkled, his temples white, and other marks of decay, at the age of 51. The "wounds of that terrible business," as they say, "are now all healed," perhaps above 100,000 burnt houses and huts rebuilt, for one thing; and the "ALTE FRITZ," still brisk and wiry, has been and is an unweariedly busy man in that affair, among others. What bogs he has tapped and dried, what canals he has dug, and stubborn strata he has bored through,—assisted by his Prussian Brindley (one Brenkenhof, once a Stable-boy at Dessau);—and ever planting "Colonies" on the reclaimed land, and watching how they get on! As we shall see on this occasion,—to which let us hasten (as to a feast not of dainties, but of honest SAUERKRAUT and wholesome herbs), without farther parley.

Oberamtmann Fromme (whom I mark "Ich") LOQUITUR: "Major-General Graf von Gortz," whom Fromme keeps strictly mute all day, is a distinguished man, of many military and other experiences; much about Friedrich in this time and onwards. [Supra, 399.] Introduces strangers, &c.; Bouille took him for "Head Chamberlain," four or five years after this. He is ten years the King's junior; a Hessian gentleman;—eldest Brother of the Envoy Gortz who in his cloak of darkness did such diplomacies in the Bavarian matter, January gone a year, and who is a rising man in that line ever since. But let Fromme begin:—[Anekdoten und Karakterzuge aus dem Leben Friedrich des Zweyten (Berlin, bei Johann Friedrich Unger, 1787), 8te Sammlung, ss. 15-79.]

"On the 23d of July, 1779, it pleased his Majesty the King to undertake a journey to inspect those" mud "Colonies in the Rhyn-Luch about Neustadt-on-the-Dosse, which his Majesty, at his own cost, had settled; thereby reclaiming a tract of waste moor (EINEN ODEN BRUCH URBAR MACHEN) into arability, where now 308 families have their living.

"His Majesty set off from Potsdam about 5 in the morning," in an open carriage, General von Gortz along with him, and horses from his own post-stations; "travelled over Ferlaudt, Tirotz, Wustermark, Nauen, Konigshorst, Seelenhorst, Dechau, Fehrbellin," [See Reimann's KREIS-KARTEN, Nos. 74,73.] and twelve other small peat villages, looking all their brightest in the morning sun,—"to the hills at Stollen, where his Majesty, because a view of all the Colonies could be had from those hills, was pleased to get out for a little," as will afterwards be seen.—"Therefrom the journey went by Hohen-Nauen to Rathenau:" a civilized place, "where his Majesty arrived about 3 in the afternoon; and there dined, and passed the night.—Next morning, about 6, his Majesty continued his drive into the Magdeburg region; inspected various reclaimed moors (BRUCHE), which in part are already made arable, and in part are being made so; came, in the afternoon, about 4, over Ziesar and Brandenburg, back to Potsdam,—and did not dine till about 4, when he arrived there, and had finished the Journey." His usual dinner-hour is 12; the STATE hour, on gala days when company has been invited, is 1 P.M.,—and he always likes his dinner; and has it of a hot peppery quality!

"Till Seelenhorst, the Amtsrath Sach of Konigshorst had ridden before his Majesty; but here," at the border of my Fehrbellin district, where with one of his forest-men I was in waiting by appointment, "the turn came for me. About 8 o'clock A.M. his Majesty arrived in Seelenhorst; had the Herr General Graf von Gortz in the carriage with him," Gortz, we need n't say, sitting back foremost:—here I, Fromme, with my woodman was respectfully in readiness. "While the horses were changing, his Majesty spoke with some of the Ziethen Hussar-Officers, who were upon grazing service in the adjoining villages [all Friedrich's cavalry went out to GRASS during certain months of the year; and it was a LAND-TAX on every district to keep its quota of army-horses in this manner,—AUF GRASUNG]; and of me his Majesty as yet took no notice. As the DAMME," Dams or Raised Roads through the Peat-bog, "are too narrow hereabouts, I could not, ride beside him," and so went before? or BEHIND, with woodman before? GOTT WEISS!" In Dechau his Majesty got sight of Rittmeister von Ziethen," old Ajax Ziethen's son, "to whom Dechau belongs; and took him into the carriage along with him, till the point where the Dechau boundary is. Here there was again change of horses. Captain von Rathenow, an old favorite of the King's, to whom the property of Karvesee in part belongs, happened to be here with his family; he now went forward to the carriage:—

CAPTAIN VON RATHENOW. "'Humblest servant, your Majesty!' [UNTERTHANIGSTER KNECHT, different from the form of ending letters, but really of the same import].

KING. "'Who are you?'

CAPTAIN. "'I am Captain von Rathenow from Karvesee.'

KING (clapping his hands together). "'Mein Gott, dear Rathenow, are you still alive! ["LEBT ER NOCH, is HE still alive?"—way of speaking to one palpably your inferior, scarcely now in use even to servants; which Friedrich uses ALWAYS in speaking to the highest uncrowned persons: it gives a strange dash of comic emphasis often in his German talk:] I thought you were long since dead. How goes it with you 7 Are you whole and well?"

CAPTAIN. "'O ja, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Mein Gott, how fat He has (you are) grown!'

CAPTAIN. "'Ja, your Majesty, I can still eat and drink; only the feet get lazy' [won't go so well, WOLLEN NICHT FORT].

KING. "'Ja! that is so with me too. Are you married?'

CAPTAIN. "'Yea, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Is your wife among the ladies yonder?'

CAPTAIN. "'Yea, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Bring her to me, then!' [TO HER, TAKING OFF HIS HAT] 'I find in your Herr Husband a good old friend.'

FRAU VON RATHENOW. "'Much grace and honor for my husband!'

KING. "'What were YOU by birth?' ["WAS SIND SIE," the respectful word, "FUR EINE GEBORNE?"]

FRAU. "'A Fraulein von Krocher.'

KING. "'Haha! A daughter of General von Krocher's?'


KING. "'Oh, I knew him very well.'—[TO RATHENOW] 'Have you children too, Rathenow?'

CAPTAIN. "'Yes, your Majesty. My sons are in the service,' soldiering; 'and these are my daughters.'

KING. "'Well, I am glad of that (NUN, DAS FREUT MICH). Fare HE well. Fare He well.'

"The road now went upon Fehrbellin; and Forster," Forester, "Brand, as woodkeeper for the King in these parts, rode along with us. When we came upon the patch of Sand-knolls which lie near Fehrbellin, his Majesty cried:—

"'Forester, why aren't these sand-knolls sown?'

FORESTER. "'Your Majesty, they don't belong to the Royal Forest; they belong to the farm-ground. In part the people do sow them with all manner of crops. Here, on the right hand, they have sown fir-cones (KIENAPFEL)'.

KING. "'Who sowed them?'

FORESTER. "'The Oberamtmann [Fromme] here.'

THE KING (TO ME). "'Na! Tell my Geheimer-Rath Michaelis that the sand-patches must be sown.'—[TO THE FORESTER] 'But do you know how fir-cones (KIENAPFEL) should be sown?'

FORESTER. "'O ja, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Na! [a frequent interjection of Friedrich's and his Father's], how are they sown, then? From east to west, or from north to south?' ["VAN MORGEN GEGEN ABEND, ODER VAN ABEND GEGEN MORGEN?" so in ORIG. (p. 22);—but, surely, except as above, it has no sense? From north to south, there is but one fir-seed sown against the wind; from east to west, there is a whole row.]

FORESTER. "'From east to west.'

KING. "'That is right. But why?'

FORESTER. "'Because the most wind comes from the west.'

KING. "'That's right.'

"Now his Majesty arrived at Fehrbellin; spoke there with Lieutenant Probst of the Ziethen Hussar regiment, [Probst is the leftmost figure in that Chodowiecki Engraving of the famous Ziethen-and-Friedrich CHAIR-scene, five years after this. (Supra. 374 n.)] and with the Fehrbellin Postmeister, Captain von Mosch. So soon as the horses were to, we continued our travel; and as his Majesty was driving close by my Big Ditches," GRABEN, trenches, main-drains, "which have been made in the Fehrbellin LUCH at the King's expense, I rode up to the carriage, and said:—

ICH. "'Your Majesty, these now are the two new Drains, which by your Majesty's favor we have got here; and which keep the Luch dry for us.'

KING. "'So, so; that I am glad of!—Who is He (are you)?'

FROMME. "'Your Majesty, I am the Beamte here of Fehrbellin.'

KING. "'What 's your name?'

ICH. "'Fromme.'

KING. "'Ha, ha! you are a son of the Landrath Fromme's.'

ICH. "'Your Majesty's pardon. My father was Amtsrath in the AMT Luhnin.'

KING. "'Amtsrath? Amtsrath? That isn't true! Your father was Landrath. I knew him very well.—But tell me now (SAGT MIR EINMAL) has the draining of the Luch been of much use to you here?'

ICH. "'O ja, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Do you keep more cattle than your predecessor?'

ICH. "'Yes, your Majesty. On this farm I keep 40 more; on all the farms together 70 more.'

KING. "'That is right. The murrain (VIEHSEUCHE) is not here in this quarter?'

ICH. "'No, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Have you had it here?'

ICH. "'Ja.'

KING. "'Do but diligently use rock-salt, you won't have the murrain again.'

ICH. "'Yes, your Majesty, I do use it too; but kitchen salt has very nearly the same effect.'

KING. "'No, don't fancy that! You must n't pound the rock-salt small, but give it to the cattle so that they can lick it.'

ICH. "'Yes, it shall be done.'

KING. "'Are there still improvements needed here?'

ICH. "'O ja, your Majesty. Here lies the Kemmensee [Kemmen-lake]: if that were drained out, your Majesty would gain some 1,800 acres [MORGEN, three-fifths English acre] of pasture-land, where colonists could be settled; and then the whole country would have navigation too, which would help the village of Fehrbellin and the town of Ruppin to an uncommon degree.'

KING. "'I suppose so! Be a great help to you, won't it; and many will be ruined by the job, especially the proprietors of the ground NICHT WAHR?' [Ha?]

ICH. "'Your Majesty's gracious pardon [EW. MAJESTAT HALTEN ZU GNADEN,—hold me to grace]: the ground belongs to the Royal Forest, and there grows nothing but birches on it.'

KING. "'Oh, if birchwood is all it produces, then we may see! But you must not make your reckoning without your host either, that the cost may not outrun the use.'

ICH. "'The cost will certainly not outrun the use. For, first, your Majesty may securely reckon that eighteen hundred acres will be won from the water; that will be six-and-thirty colonists, allowing each 50 acres. And now if there were a small light toll put upon the raft-timber and the ships that will frequent the new canal, there would be ample interest for the outlay.'

KING. "'Na, tell my Geheimer-Rath Michaelis of it. The man understands that kind of matters; and I will advise you to apply to the man in every particular of such things, and wherever you know that colonists can be settled. I don't want whole colonies at once; but wherever there are two or three families of them, I say apply to that man about it.'

ICH. "'It shall be done, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Can't I see Wusterau,' where old Ajax Ziethen lives, 'from here?'

ICH. "'Yes, your Majesty; there to the right, that is it.' It BELONGS to General von Ziethen; and terrible BUILDING he has had here,—almost all his life!

KING. "'Is the General at home?'

ICH. "'Ja.'

KING. "'How do you know?'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, the Rittmeister von Lestock lies in my village on GRAZING service; and last night the Herr General sent a letter over to him by a groom. In that way I know it.'

KING. "'Did General von Ziethen gain, among others, by the draining of the Luch?'

ICH. "'O ja; the Farm-stead there to the right he built in consequence, and has made a dairy there, which he could not have done, had not the Luch been drained.'

KING. "'That I am glad of!—What is the Beamte's name in Alt-Ruppin?' [Old Ruppin, I suppose, or part of its endless "RUPPIN or RHYN MERE," catches the King's eye.]

ICH. "'Honig.'

KING. "'How long has he been there?'

ICH. "'Since Trinity-term.'

KING. "'Since Trinity-term! What was he before?'

ICH. "'Kanonious' [a canon].

KING. "'Kanonicus? Kanonicus? How the Devil comes a Kanonicus to be a Beamte?'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, he is a young man who has money, and wanted to have the honor of being a Beamte of your Majesty.'

KING. "'Why did n't the old one stay?'

ICH. "'Is dead.'

KING. "'Well, the widow might have kept his AMT, then!'

ICH. "'Is fallen into poverty.'

KING. "'By woman husbandry!'

ICH. "'Your Majesty's pardon! She cultivated well, but a heap of mischances brought her down: those may happen to the best husbandman. I myself, two years ago, lost so many cattle by the murrain, and got no remission: since that, I never can get on again either.'

KING. "'My son, to-day I have some disorder in my left ear, and cannot hear rightly on that side of my head' (!).

ICH. "'It is a pity that Geheimer-Rath Michaelis has got the very same disorder!'—I now retired a little back from the carriage; I fancied his Majesty might take this answer ill.

KING. "'Na, Amtmann, forward! Stay by the carriage; but TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, THAT YOU DON'T GET HURT. SPEAK LOUD, I UNDERSTAND VERY WELL.' These words marked in Italics [capitals] his Majesty repeated at least ten times in the course of the journey. 'Tell me now, what is that village over on the right yonder?'

ICH. "'Langen.'

KING. "'To whom does it belong?'

ICH. "'A third part of it to your Majesty, under the AMT of Alt-Ruppin; a third to Herr von Hagen; and then the High Church (DOHM) of Berlin has also tenants in it.'

KING. "'You are mistaken, the High Church of Magdeburg.'

ICH. "'Your Majesty's gracious pardon, the High Church of Berlin.'

KING. "'But it is not so; the High Church of Berlin has no tenants!'

ICH. "'Your Majesty's gracious pardon, the High Church of Berlin has three tenants in the village Karvesen in my own AMT.'

KING. "'You mistake, it is the High Church of Magdeburg.'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, I must be a bad Beamte, if I did not know what tenants and what lordships there are in my own AMT.'

KING. "'Ja, then you are in the right!—Tell me now: here on the right there must be an estate, I can't think of the name; name me the estates that lie here on the right.'

ICH. "'Buschow, Rodenslieben, Sommerfeld, Beetz, Karbe.'

KING. "'That's it, Karbe! To whom belongs that?'

ICH. "'To Herr von Knesebeck.'

KING. "'Was he in the service?'

ICH. "'Yes, Lieutenant or Ensign in the Guards.'

KING. "'In the Guards? [COUNTING ON HIS FINGERS.] You are right: he was Lieutenant in the Guards. I am very glad the Estate is still in the hands of the Knesebecks.—Na, tell me though, the road that mounts up here goes to Ruppin, and here to the left is the grand road for Hamburg?'

ICH. "'Ja, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Do you know how long it is since I was here last?'

ICH. "'No.'

KING. "'It is three-and-forty years. Cannot I see Ruppin somewhere here?'

ICH. "'Yes, your Majesty: the steeple rising there over the firs, that is Ruppin.'

KING (leaning out of the carriage with his prospect-glass). "'Ja, ja, that is it, I know it yet. Can I see Drammitz hereabouts?'

ICH. "'No, your Majesty: Drammitz lies too far to the left, close on Kiritz.'

KING. "'Sha'n't we see it, when we come closer?'

ICH. "'Maybe, about Neustadt; but I am not sure.'

KING. "'Pity, that. Can I see Pechlin?'

ICH. "'Not just now, your Majesty; it lies too much in the hollow. Who knows whether your Majesty will see it at all!'

KING. "'Na, keep an eye; and if you see it, tell me. Where is the Beamte of Alt-Ruppin?'

ICH. "'In Protzen, where we change horses, he will be.'

KING. "'Can't we yet see Pechlin?'

ICH. "'No, your Majesty.'

KING. "'To whom belongs it now?'

ICH. "'To a certain Schonermark.'

KING. "'Is he of the Nobility?'

ICH. "'No.'

KING. "'Who had it before him?'

ICH. "'The Courier (FELDJAGER) Ahrens; he got it by inheritance from his father. The property has always been in commoners' (BURGERLICHEN) hands.

KING. "'That I am aware of. How call we the village here before us?'

ICH. "'Walcho.'

KING. "'To whom belongs it?'

ICH. "'To you, your Majesty, under the Amt Alt-Ruppin.'

KING. "'What is the village here before us?'

ICH. "'Protzen.'

KING. "'Whose is it?'

ICH. "'Herr von Kleist's.'

KING. "'What Kleist is that?'

ICH. "'A son of General Kleist's.'

KING. "'Of what General Kleist's.'

ICH. "'His brother was FLUGELADJUTANT [WING-adjutant, whatever that may be] with your Majesty; and is now at Magdeburg, Lieutenant-Colonel in the Regiment Kalkstein.'

KING. "'Ha, ha, that one! I know the Kleists very well. Has this Kleist been in the service too?'

ICH. "'Yea, your Majesty; he was ensign in the regiment Prinz Ferdinand.'

KING. "'Why did the man seek his discharge?'

ICH. "'That I do not know.'

KING. "'You may tell me, I have no view in asking: why did the man take his discharge?'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, I really cannot say.'

"We had now got on to Protzen. I perceived old General van Ziethen standing before the Manor-house in Protzen,"—rugged brave old soul; with his hanging brows, and strange dim-fiery pious old thoughts!—"I rode forward to the carriage and said:—

ICH. "'Your Majesty, the Herr General von Ziethen is [are, SIND] also here.'

KING. "'Where? where? Oh, ride forward, and tell the people to draw up; they must halt, I'll get out.'

"And now his Majesty got out; and was exceedingly delighted at the sight of Herr General von Ziethen; talked with him and Herr von Kleist of many things: Whether the draining of the Luch had done him good; Whether the murrain had been there among their cattle?—and recommended rock-salt against the murrain. Suddenly his Majesty stept aside, turned towards me, and called: 'Amtmann! [THEN CLOSE INTO MY EAR] Who is the fat man there with the white coat?'

ICH (ALSO CLOSE INTO HIS MAJESTY'S EAR). "'Your Majesty, that is the Landrath Quast, of the Ruppin Circle.'

KING. "'Very well.'

"Now his Majesty went back to General von Ziethen and Herr von Kleist, and spoke of different things. Herr von Kleist presented some very fine fruit to his Majesty; all at once his Majesty turned round, and said: 'Serviteur, Herr Landrath!'—As the Landrath ["fat man there with the white coat"] was stepping towards his Majesty, said his Majesty: 'Stay he there where he is; I know him. He is the Landrath von Quast!'["Very good indeed, old Vater Fritz; let him stand there in his white coat, a fat, sufficiently honored man!—Chodowiecki has an engraving of this incident;—I saw IT at the British Museum once, where they have only seven others on Friedrich altogether, all in one poor GOTHA ALMANAC; very small, very coarse, but very good: this Quast (Anglice 'Tassel') was one of them" (MARGINALE OF 1862).]

"They had now yoked the horses. His Majesty took a very tender leave of old General von Ziethen, waved an adieu to those about, and drove on. Although his Majesty at Protzen would not take any fruit, yet when once we were out of the village, his Majesty took a luncheon from the carriage-pocket for himself and the Herr General Graf von Gortz, and, all along, during the drive, ate apricots (IMMER PFIRSCHE).

At starting, his Majesty had fancied I was to stop here, and called out of the carriage: 'Amtmann, come along with us!'

KING. "'Where is the Beamte of Alt-Ruppin?'

ICH. "'Apparently he must be unwell; otherwise he would have been in Protzen at the change of horses there' ["at the VORSPANN:" Yes;—and Manor-house, EDELHOF, where old Ziethen waited, was lower down the street, and SOONER than the Post-house?]

KING. "'Na, tell me now, don't you really know why that Kleist at Protzen took his discharge?' [VOILA!]

ICH. "'No, your Majesty, I really do not.'

KING. "'What village is this before us?'

ICH. "'Manker.'

KING. "'And whose?'

ICH. "'Yours, your Majesty, in the AMT Alt-Ruppin.'

KING (looking round on the harvest-fields). "'Here you, now: how are you content with the harvest?'

ICH. "'Very well, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Very well? And to me they said, Very ill!'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, the winter-crop was somewhat frost-nipt; but the summer-crop in return is so abundant it will richly make up for the winter-crop.' His Majesty now looked round upon the fields, shock standing upon shock.

KING. "'It is a good harvest, you are right; shock stands close by shock here!'

ICH. "'Yes, your Majesty; and the people here make STEIGS (mounts) of them too.'

KING. "'Steigs, what is that?'

ICH. "'That is 20 sheaves piled all together.'

KING. "'Oh, it is indisputably a good harvest. But tell me, though, why did Kleist of Protzen take his discharge?'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, I do not know. I suppose he was obliged to take his father's estates in hand: no other cause do I know of.'

KING. "'What's the name of this village we are coming to?'

ICH. "'Garz.'

KING. "'To whom belongs it?'

ICH. "'To the Kriegsrath von Quast.'

KING. "'To WHOM belongs it?'

ICH. "'To Kriegsrath von Quast.'

KING. "'EY WAS [pooh, pooh]! I know nothing of Kriegsraths!—To whom does the Estate belong?'

ICH. "'To Herr von Quast.' Friedrich had the greatest contempt for Kriegsraths, and indeed for most other RATHS or titular shams, labelled boxes with nothing in the inside: on a horrible winter-morning (sleet, thunder, &c.), marching off hours before sunrise, he has been heard to say, 'Would one were a Kriegsrath!

KING. "'Na, that is the right answer.'

"His Majesty now arrived at Garz. The changing of the horses was managed by Herr von Luderitz of Nackeln, as first Deputy of the Ruppin Circle. He had his hat on, and a white feather in it. When the yoking was completed, our journey proceeded again.

KING. "'To whom belongs this estate on the left here?'

ICH. "'To Herr van Luderitz; it is called Nackeln.'

KING. "'What Luderitz is that?'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, he that was in Garz while the horses were changing.'

KING. "'Ha, ha, the Herr with the white feather!—Do you sow wheat too?'

ICH. "'Ja, your Majesty.'

KING. "'How much have you sown?'

ICH. "'Three WISPELS 12 SCHEFFELS,' unknown measures!

KING. "'How much did your predecessor use to sow?'

ICH. "'Four scheffels.'

KING. "'How has it come that you sow so much more than he?'

ICH. "'As I have already had the honor to tell your Majesty that I keep seventy head of cows more than he, I have of course more manure for my ground, and so put it in a better case for bearing wheat.'

KING. "'But why do you grow no hemp?'

ICH. "'It would not answer here. In a cold climate it would answer better. Our sailors can buy Russian hemp in Lubeck cheaper, and of better quality than I could grow here.'

KING. "'What do you sow, then, where you used to have hemp?'

ICH. "'Wheat!'

KING. "'Why do you sow no Farbekraut, ["DYE-HERB:" commonly called "FARBERROTHE;" yields a coarse RED, on decoction of the twigs and branches; from its roots the finer red called "KRAPP" (in French GARANCE) is got.] no Krapp?'

ICH. "'It will not prosper; the ground is n't good enough.'

KING. "'That is people's talk: you should have made the trial.'

ICH. "'I did make the trial; but it failed; and as Beamte I cannot make many trials; for, let them fail or not, the rent must be paid.'

KING. "'What do you sow, then, where you would have put Farbekraut?'

ICH. "'Wheat.'

KING. "'Na! Then stand by wheat!—Your tenants are in good case, I suppose?'

ICH. "'Yes, your Majesty. I can show by the Register of Hypothecks (HYPOTHEKENBUCH) that they have about 50 thousand thalers of capital among them.'

KING. "'That is good.'

ICH. "'Three years ago a tenant died who had 11,000 thalers,' say 2,000 pounds, 'in the Bank.'

KING. "'How much?'

ICH. "'Eleven thousand thalers.'

KING. "'Keep them so always!'

ICH. "'Ja, your Majesty, it is very good that the tenant have money; but he becomes mutinous too, as the tenants hereabouts do, who have seven times over complained to your Majesty against me, to get rid of the HOFDIENST,' stated work due from them.

KING. "'They will have had some cause too!'

ICH. "'Your Majesty will graciously pardon: there was an investigation gone into, and it was found that I had not oppressed the tenants, but had always gone upon my right, and merely held them to do their duty. Nevertheless the matter stood as it was: the tenants are not punished; your Majesty puts always the tenants in the right, the poor Beamte is always in the wrong!'

KING. "'Ja: that you, my son, will contrive to get justice, you, I cannot but believe! You will send your Departmentsrath [Judge of these affairs] such pretty gifts of butter, capons, poults!'

ICH. "'No, your Majesty, we cannot. Corn brings no price: if one did not turn a penny with other things, how could one raise the rent at all?'

KING. "'Where do you send your butter, capons and poults (PUTER) for sale?'

ICH. "'To Berlin.'

KING. "'Why not to Ruppin?'

ICH. "'Most of the Ruppin people keep cows, as many as are needed for their own uses. The soldier eats nothing but old [salt] butter, he cannot buy fresh.'

KING. "'What do you get for your butter in Berlin?'

ICH. "'Four groschen the pound; now the soldier at Ruppin buys his salt butter at two.'

KING. "'But your capons and poults, you could bring these to Ruppin?'

ICH. "'In the regiment there are just four Staff-Officers; they can use but little: the burghers don't live delicately; they thank God when they can get a bit of pork or bacon.'

KING. "'Yes, there you are in the right! The Berliners, again, like to eat some dainty article.—Na! do what you will with the tenants [UNTERTHANEN, not quite ADSCRIPTS at that time on the Royal Demesnes, but tied to many services, and by many shackles, from which Friedrich all his days was gradually delivering them]; only don't oppress them.'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, that would never be my notion, nor any reasonable Beamte's.'

KING. "'Tell me, then, where does Stollen lie?'

ICH. "'Stollen your Majesty cannot see just here. Those big hills there on the left are the hills at Stollen; there your Majesty will have a view of all the Colonies.'

KING. "'So? That is well. Then ride you with us thither.'

"Now his Majesty came upon a quantity of peasants who were mowing rye; they had formed themselves into two rows, were wiping their scythes, and so let his Majesty drive through them.

KING. "'What the Devil, these people will be wanting money from me, I suppose?'

ICH. "'Oh no, your Majesty! They are full of joy that you are so gracious as to visit this district.'

KING. "'I'll give them nothing, though.—What village is that, there ahead of us?'

ICH. "'Barsekow.'

KING. "'To whom belongs it?'

ICH. "'To Herr von Mitschepfal.'

KING. "'What Mitschepfal is that?'

ICH. "'He was Major in the regiment which your Majesty had when Crown-Prince.' [Supra, vii. 403.]

KING. "'Mein Gott! Is he still alive?'

ICH. "'No, HE is dead; his daughter has the estate.'

"We now came into the village of Barsekow, where the Manor-house is in ruins.

KING. "'Hear! Is that the manor-house (EDELHOF)?'

ICH. "'Ja.'

KING. "'That does look miserable.' Here Mitschepfal's daughter, who has married a baronial Herr von Kriegsheim from Mecklenburg, came forward while the horses were changing. Kriegsheim came on account of her into this country: the King has given them a Colony of 200 MORGEN (acres). Coming to the carriage, Frau von Kriegsheim handed some fruit to his Majesty. His Majesty declined with thanks; asked, who her father was, when he died, &c. On a sudden, she presented her husband; began to thank for the 200 MORGEN; mounted on the coach-step; wished to kiss, if not his Majesty's hand, at least his coat. His Majesty shifted quite to the other side of the carriage, and cried"—good old Fritz!—"'Let be, my daughter, let be! It is all well!—Amtmann, let us get along (MACHT DASS WIR FORTKOMMEN)!'

KING. "'Hear now: these people are not prospering here?'

ICH. "'Far from it, your Majesty; they are in the greatest poverty.'

KING. "'That is bad.—Tell me though; there lived a Landrath here before: he had a quantity of children: can't you recollect his name?'

ICH. "'That will have been the Landrath von Gorgas of Genser.'

KING. "'Ja, ja, that was he. Is he dead now?'

ICH. "'Ja, your Majesty. He died in 1771: and it was very singular; in one fortnight he, his wife and four sons all died. The other four that were left had all the same sickness too, which was a hot fever; and though the sons, being in the Army, were in different garrisons, and no brother had visited the other, they all got the same illness, and came out of it with merely their life left.'

KING. "'That was a desperate affair (VERZWEIFELTER UMSTAND GEWESEN)! Where are the four sons that are still in life?'

ICH. "'One is in the Ziethen Hussars, one in the Gens-d'-Armes, another was in the regiment Prinz Ferdinand, and lives on the Estate Dersau. The fourth is son-in-law of Herr General von Ziethen. He was lieutenant in the Ziethen Regiment; but in the last war (POTATO-WAR, 1778), on account of his ill health, your Majesty gave him his discharge; and he now lives in Genser.'

KING. "'So? That is one of the Gorgases, then!—Are you still making experiments with the foreign kinds of corn?'

ICH. "'O ja; this year I have sown Spanish barley. But it will not rightly take hold; I must give it up again. However, the Holstein STOOLing-rye (STAUDENROGGEN) has answered very well.'

KING. "'What kind of rye is that?'

ICH. "'It grows in Holstein in the Low Grounds (NIEDERUNG). Never below the 10th grain [10 reaped for 1 sown] have I yet had it.'

KING. "'Nu, nu [Ho, ho], surely not the 10th grain all at once!'

ICH. "'That is not much. Please your Majesty to ask the Herr General von Gortz [who has not spoken a syllable all day]; he knows this is not reckoned much in Holstein:'—(the General Graf von Gortz I first had the honor to make acquaintance with in Holstein).

"They now talked, for a while, of the rye, in the carriage together. Presently his Majesty called to me from the carriage, 'Na, stand by the Holstein STAUDEN-rye, then; and give some to the tenants too.'

ICH. "'Yes, your Majesty.'

KING. "'But give me some idea: what kind of appearance had the Luch before it was drained?'

ICH. "'It was mere high rough masses of hillocks (HULLEN); between them the water settled, and had no flow. In the driest years we couldn't cart the hay out, but had to put it up in big ricks. Only in winter, when the frost was sharp, could we get it home. But now we have cut away the hillocks; and the trenches that your Majesty got made for us take the water off. And now the Luch is as dry as your Majesty sees, and we can carry out our hay when we please.'

KING. "'That is well. Have your tenants, too, more cattle than formerly?'

ICH. "'Ja!'

KING. "'How many more?'

ICH. "'Many have one cow, many two, according as their means admit.'

KING. "'But how many more have they in all? About how many, that is?'

ICH. "'About 150 head.'

"His Majesty must lately have asked the Herr General von Gortz, how I came to know him,—as I told his Majesty to ask General von Gortz about the Holstein rye;—and presumably the Herr General must have answered, what was the fact, That he had first known me in Holstein, where I dealt in horses, and that I had been at Potsdam with horses. Suddenly his Majesty said: 'Hear! I know you are fond of horses. But give up that, and prefer cows; you will find your account better there.'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, I no longer deal in horses. I merely rear a few foals every year.'

KING. "'Rear calves instead; that will be better.'

ICH. "'Oh, your Majesty, if one takes pains with it, there is no loss in breeding horses. I know a man who got, two years ago, 1,000 thalers for a stallion of his raising.'

KING. "'He must have been a fool that gave it.'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, he was a Mecklenburg nobleman.'

KING. "'But nevertheless a fool.'

"We now came upon the territory of the Amt Neustadt; and here the Amtsrath Klausius, who has the Amt in farm, was in waiting on the boundary, and let his Majesty drive past. But as I began to get tired of the speaking, and his Majesty went on always asking about villages, which stand hereabouts in great quantity, and I had always to name the owner, and say what sons he had in the Army,—I brought up Herr Amtsrath Klausius to the carriage, and said:—

ICH. "'Your Majesty, this is the Amtsrath Klausius, of the Amt Neustadt, in whose jurisdiction the Colonies are.'

KING. "'So, so! that is very good (DAS IST MIR LIEB). Bring him up.'

KING. "'What's your name?' (from this point the King spoke mostly with Amtsrath Klausius, and I only wrote down what I heard).

KL. "'Klausius.'

KING. "'Klau-si-us. Na, have you many cattle here on the Colonies?'

KL. "'1,887 head of cows, your Majesty. There would have been above 3,000, had it not been for the murrain that was here.'

KING. "'Do the people too increase well? Are there jolly children?'

KL. "'O ja, your Majesty; there are now 1,576 souls upon the Colonies.'

KING. "'Are you married too?'

KL. "'Ja, your Majesty.'

KING. "'And have you children?'

KL. "'Step-children, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Why not of your own?'

KL. "'Don't know that, your Majesty; as it happens.'

KING. "'Hear: Is it far to the Mecklenburg border, here where we are?'

KL. "'Only a short mile [5 miles English]. But there are some villages scattered still within the boundary which belong to Brandenburg. There are Stetzebart, Rosso and so on.'

KING. "'Ja, ja, I know them. But I should not have thought we were so near upon the Mecklenburg country.' [TO THE HERR AMTSRATH KLAUSIUS] 'Where were you born?'

KL. "'At Neustadt on the Dosse.'

KING. "'What was your father?'

KL. "'Clergyman.'

KING. "'Are they good people, these Colonists? The first generation of them is n't usually good for much.'

KL. "'They are getting on, better or worse.'

KING. "'Do they manage their husbandry well?'

KL. "'O ja, your Majesty. His Excellency the Minister von Derschau, too, has given me a Colony of 75 acres, to show the other Colonists a good example in management.'

KING (smiling). "'Ha, ha! good example! But tell me, I see no wood here: where do the Colonists get their timber?'

KL. "'From the Ruppin district.'

KING. "'How far is that?'

KL. "'3 miles' [15 English].

KING. "'Well, that's a great way. It should have been contrived that they could have it nearer hand.' [TO ME] 'What man is that to the right there?'

ICH. "'Bauinspector [Buildings-Inspector] Menzelius, who has charge of the buildings in these parts.'

KING. "'Am I in Rome? They are mere Latin names!—Why is that hedged in so high?'

ICH. "'That is the mule-stud.'

KING. "'What is the name of this Colony?'

ICH. "'Klausiushof.'

KL. "'Your Majesty, it should be called Klaushof.'

KING. "'Its name is Klausiushof. What is the other Colony called?'

ICH. "'Brenkenhof.'

KING. "'That is not its name.'

ICH. "'Ja, your Majesty, I know it by no other!'

KING. "'Its name is Brenken-hosius-hof!—Are these the Stollen hills that lie before us?'

ICH. "'Ja, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Have I to drive through the village?'

ICH. "'It is not indispensable; but the change of horses is there. If your Majesty give order, I will ride forward, send the fresh horses out of the village, and have them stationed to wait at the foot of the hills.'

KING. "'O ja, do so! Take one of my pages with you.'

"I now took measures about the new team of horses, but so arranged it, that when his Majesty got upon the hills I was there too. At dismounting from his carriage on the hill-top, his Majesty demanded a prospect-glass; looked round the whole region, and then said: 'Well, in truth, that is beyond my expectation! That is beautiful! I must say this to you, all of you that have worked in this business, you have behaved like honorable people!'—[TO ME] 'Tell me now, is the Elbe far from here?'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, it is 2 miles off [10 miles]. Yonder is Wurben in the Altmark; it lies upon the Elbe.'

KING. "'That cannot be! Give me the glass again.—Ja, ja, it is true, though. But what other steeple is that?'

ICH. "'Your Majesty, that is Havelberg.'

KING. "'Na, come here, all of you!' (THERE WERE AMTSRATH KLAUSIUS, BAUINSPECTOR MENZELIUS AND I.) 'Hear now, the tract of moor here to the left must also be reclaimed; and what is to the right too, so far as the moor extends. What kind of wood is there on it?'

ICH. "'Alders (ELSEN) and oaks, your Majesty.'

KING. "'Na! the alders you may root out; and the oaks may continue standing; the people may sell these, or use them otherwise. When once the ground is arable, I reckon upon 300 families for it, and 500 head of cows,—ha?'—Nobody answered; at last I began, and said:—

ICH. "'Ja, your Majesty, perhaps!'

KING. "'Hear now, you may answer me with confidence. There will be more or fewer families. I know well enough one cannot, all at once, exactly say. I was never there, don't know the ground; otherwise I could understand equally with you how many families could be put upon it.'

THE BAUINSPECTOR. "'Your Majesty, the LUCH is still subject to rights of common from a great many hands.'

KING. "'No matter for that. You must make exchanges, give them an equivalent, according as will answer best in the case. I want nothing from anybody except at its value.' [TO AMTSRATH KLAUSIUS] 'Na, hear now, you can write to my Kammer [BOARD, Board-of-Works that does NOT sit idle!], what it is that I want reclaimed to the plough; the money for it I will give.' [TO ME] 'And you, you go to Berlin, and explain to my Geheimer-Rath Michaelis, by word of mouth, what it is I want reclaimed.'

"His Majesty now stept into his carriage again [was Gortz sitting all the while, still in silence? Or had he perhaps got out at the bottom of the hill, and sat down to a contemplative pipe of tobacco, the smoke of which, heart-cheering to Gortz, was always disagreeable to Friedrich? Nobody knows!]—and drove down the hill; there the horses were changed. And now, as his Majesty's order was that I should 'attend him to the Stollen hills,' I went up to the carriage, and asked:—

ICH. "'Does your Majesty command that I should yet accompany farther' ["BEFEHLEN, command," in the plural is polite, "your Majesty, that I yet farther shall WITH"]?

KING. "'No, my son; ride, in God's name, home.'—

"The Herr Amtsrath [Klau-si-us] then accompanied his Majesty to Rathenow, where he [THEY: His Majesty is plural] lodged in the Post-house. At Rathenow, during dinner, his Majesty was uncommonly cheerful: he dined with Herr Lieutenant-Colonel von Backhof of the Carabineers, and the Herr Lieutenant-Colonel von Backhof himself has related that his Majesty said:—

"'My good Von Backhof (MEIN LIEBER VON BACKHOF): if He [you] have not for a long time been in the Fehrbellin neighborhood, go there.'" Fehrbellin, the Prussian BANNOCKBURN; where the Great Elector cut the hitherto invincible Swedes IN TWO, among the DAMS and intricate moory quagmires, with a vastly inferior force, nearly all of cavalry (led by one DERFLINGER, who in his apprentice time had been a TAILOR); beat one end of them all to rags, then galloped off and beat the other into ditto; quite taking the conceit out of the Swedes, or at least clearing Prussia of them forever and a day: a feat much admired by Friedrich: "'Go there,' he says. 'That region is uncommonly improved [as I saw to-day]! I have not for a long time had such a pleasant drive. I decided on this journey because I had no REVIEW on hand; and it has given me such pleasure that I shall certainly have another by and by.'

"'Tell me now: how did you get on in the last War [KARTOFFEL KRIEG, no fighting, only a scramble for proviant and "potatoes"]? Most likely ill! You in Saxony too could make nothing out. The reason was, we had not men to fight against, but cannons! I might have done a thing or two; but I should have sacrificed more than the half of my Army, and shed innocent human blood. In that case I should have deserved to be taken to the Guard-house door, and to have got a sixscore there (EINEN OFFFENTLICHEN PRODUKT)! Wars are becoming frightful to carry on.'

"'This was surely touching to hear from the mouth of a great Monarch,' said Herr Lieutenant-Colonel von Backhof to me, and tears came into that old soldier's eyes." Afterwards his Majesty had said:—

"Of the Battle of Fehrbellin I know everything, almost as if I myself had been there! While I was Crown-Prince, and lay in Ruppin, there was an old townsman, the man was even then very old: he could describe the whole Battle, and knew the scene of it extremely well. Once I got into a carriage, took my old genius with me, who showed me all over the ground, and described everything so distinctly, I was much contented with him. As we were coming back, I thought: Come, let me have a little fun with the old blade;—so I asked him: 'Father, don't you know, then, why the two Sovereigns came to quarrel with one another?'—'O ja, your Royal HighnessES [from this point we have Platt-Deutsch, PRUSSIAN dialect, for the old man's speech; barely intelligible, as Scotch is to an ingenious Englishman], DAT WILL ICK SE WOHL SEGGEN, I can easily tell you that. When our Chorforste [Kurfursts, Great Elector] was young, he studied in Utrecht; and there the King of Sweden happened to be too. And now the two young lords picked some quarrel, got to pulling caps [fell into one another's hair], AND DIT IS NU DE PICKE DAVON, and this now was the upshot of it.'—His Majesty spoke this in Platt-Deutsch, as here given;—but grew at table so weary that he (they) fell asleep." So far Backhof;—and now again Fromme by way of finish:—

"Of his Majesty's journey I can give no farther description. For though his Majesty spoke and asked many things else; it would be difficult to bring them all to paper." And so ends the DAY WITH FRIEDRICH THE GREAT; very flat, but I dare say very TRUE:—a Daguerrotype of one of his Days.

Home - Random Browse