"If used at all to intercourse with the great world, and possessed of any elevation of mind, you have no embarrassment in speaking to a King; but to a Great Man you present yourself not without fear. Friedrich, in his private sphere, was of sufficiently unequal humor; wayward, wilful; open to prejudices; indulged in mockery, often enough epigrammatic upon the French;--agreeable in a high degree to strangers whom he pleased to favor; but bitterly piquant for those he was prepossessed against, or who, without knowing it, had ill-chosen the hour of approaching him. To me, luck was kind in all these points;" my Interview delightful, but not to be reported farther. [
Except Mirabeau, about a year after this, Segur is the last distinguished French visitor. French Correspondence the King has now little or none. October gone a year, his D'Alembert, the last intellectual Frenchman he had a real esteem for, died. Paris and France seem to be sinking into strange depths; less and less worth hearing of. Now and then a straggling Note from Condorcet, Grimm or the like, are all he gets there.
That of the Furstenbund put a final check on Joseph's notions of making the Reich a reality; his reforms and ambitions had thenceforth to take other directions, and leave the poor old Reich at peace. A mighty reformer he had been, the greatest of his day. Broke violently in upon quiescent Austrian routine, on every side: monkeries, school-pedantries, trade-monopolies, serfages,--all things, military and civil, spiritual and temporal, he had resolved to make perfect in a minimum of time. Austria gazed on him, its admiration not unmixed with terror. He rushed incessantly about; hardy as a Charles Twelfth; slept on his bearskin on the floor of any inn or hut;--flew at the throat of every Absurdity, however broad-based or dangerously armed, "Disappear, I say!" Will hurl you an Official of Rank, where need is, into the Pillory; sets him, in one actual instance, to permanent sweeping of the streets in Vienna. A most prompt, severe, and yet beneficent and charitable kind of man. Immensely ambitious, that must be said withal. A great admirer of Friedrich; bent to imitate him with profit. "Very clever indeed," says Friedrich; "but has the fault [a terribly grave one!] of generally taking the second step without having taken the first."
A troublesome neighbor he proved to everybody, not by his reforms alone;--and ended, pretty much as here in the FURSTENBUND, by having, in all matters, to give in and desist. In none of his foreign Ambitions could he succeed; in none of his domestic Reforms. In regard to these latter, somebody remarks: "No Austrian man or thing articulately contradicted his fine efforts that way; but, inarticulately, the whole weight of Austrian VIS INERTIAE bore day and night against him;--whereby, as we now see, he bearing the other way with the force of a steam-ram, a hundred tons to the square inch, the one result was, To dislocate every joint in the Austrian Edifice, and have it ready for the Napoleonic Earthquakes that ensued." In regard to ambitions abroad it was no better. The Dutch fired upon his Scheld Frigate: "War, if you will, you most aggressive Kaiser; but this Toll is ours!" His Netherlands revolted against him, "Can holy religion, and old use-and-wont be tumbled about at this rate?" His Grand Russian Copartneries and Turk War went to water and disaster. His reforms, one and all, had to be revoked for the present. Poor Joseph, broken-hearted (for his private griefs were many, too), lay down to die. "You may put for epitaph," said he with a tone which is tragical and pathetic to us, "Here lies Joseph," the grandly attempting Joseph, "who could succeed in nothing." [Died, at Vienna, 20th February, 1790, still under fifty;--born there 13th March, 1741. Hormayr,
FRIEDRICH'S LAST ILLNESS AND DEATH.
To the present class of readers, Furstenbund is become a Nothing; to all of us the grand Something now is, strangely enough, that incidental item which directly followed, of Reviewing the Silesian soldieries, who had so angered his Majesty last year. "If I be alive next year!" said the King to Tauentzien. The King kept his promise; and the Fates had appointed that, in doing so, he was to find his-- But let us not yet pronounce the word.
AUGUST 16th, 1785, some three weeks after finishing the Furstenbund, Friedrich set out for Silesia: towards Strehlen long known to him and us all;--at Gross-Tinz, a Village in that neighborhood, the Camp and Review are to be. He goes by Crossen, Glogau; in a circling direction: Glogau, Schweidnitz, Silberberg, Glatz, all his Fortresses are to be inspected as well, and there is much miscellaneous business by the road. At Hirschberg, not on the military side, we have sight of him; the account of which is strange to read:--
"THURSDAY, AUGUST 18th," says a private Letter from that little Town, [Given IN EXTENSO, Rodenbeck, iii. 331-333.] "he passed through here: concourse of many thousands, from all the Country about, had been waiting for him several hours. Outriders came at last; then he himself, the Unique; and, with the liveliest expression of reverence and love, all eyes were directed on one point. I cannot describe to you my feelings, which of course were those of everybody, to see him, the aged King; in his weak hand the hat; in those grand eyes such a fatherly benignity of look over the vast crowd that encircled his Carriage, and rolled tide-like, accompanying it. Looking round when he was past, I saw in various eyes a tear trembling. ["Alas, we sha'n't have him long!"]