Zweibruck naturally shot off expresses: to Petersburg (no answer ever); to Berlin (with answer on the instant);--and in less than eight days, poor Zweibruck, such the intelligence from Berlin, was in a condition to write to Frankfurt: "Excellency; No; I do not consent, nor ever will." For King Friedrich is broad-awake again;-- and Hertzberg's smithy-fires, we may conceive how the winds rose upon these, and brought matters to a welding heat!--
The Czarina,--on Friedrich's urgent remonstrance, "What is this, great Madam? To your old Ally, and from the Guaranty and Author of the Peace of Teschen!"--had speedily answered: "Far from my thoughts to violate the Peace of Teschen; very far: I fancied this was an advantageous exchange, advantageous to Zweibruck especially; but since Zweibruck thinks otherwise, of course there is an end." "Of course;"--though my Romanzow did talk differently; and the forge-fires of a certain person are getting blown at a mighty rate! Hertzberg's operation was conducted at first with the greatest secrecy; but his Envoys were busy in all likely places, his Proposal finding singular consideration; acceptance, here, there,-- "A very mild and safe-looking Project, most mild in tone surely!"-- and it soon came to Kaunitz's ear; most unwelcome to the new Kingdom of Burgundy and him!
Thrice over, in the months ensuing (April 13th, May 11th, June 23d), in the shape of a "Circular to all Austrian Ambassadors", [Dohm, iii. 64, 68.] Kaunitz lifted up his voice in severe dehortation, the tone of him waxing more and more indignant, and at last snuffling almost tremulous quite into alt, "against the calumnies and malices of some persons, misinterpreters of a most just Kaiser and his actions." But as the Czarina, meanwhile, declared to the Reich at large, that she held, and would ever hold, the Peace of Teschen a thing sacred, and this or any Kingdom of Burgundy, or change of the Reichs Laws, impossible,--the Kaunitz clangors availed nothing; and Furstenbund privately, but at a mighty pace, went forward. And, JUNE 29th, 1785, after much labor, secret but effective, on the part of Dohm and others, Three Plenipotentiaries, the Prussian, the Saxon, the Hanoverian ("excellent method to have only the principal Three!" ) met, still very privately, at Berlin; and laboring their best, had, in about four weeks, a Furstenbund Covenant complete; signed, JULY 23d, by these Three,--to whom all others that approved append themselves. As an effective respectable number, Brunswick, Hessen, Mainz and others, did, [List of them in Dohm.]--had not, indeed, the first Three themselves, especially as Hanover meant England withal, been themselves moderately sufficient.--Here, before the date quite pass, are two Clippings which may be worth their room:--
1. BOUILLE'S SECOND VISIT (Spring, 1785). May 10th, 1785,--just while FURSTENBUND, so privately, was in the birth-throes,--"Marquis de Bouille had again come to Berlin, to place his eldest Son in the ACADEMIE DES GENTILSHOMMES; where the young man stayed two years. Was at Potsdam" May 13th-16th; [Rodenbeck, iii. 325.] "well received; dined at Sans-Souci. Informed the King of the Duc de Choiseul's death [Paris, May 8th). King, shaking his head, 'IL N'Y A PAS GRAND MAL.' Seems piqued at the Queen of France, who had not shown much attention to Prince Henri. Spoke of Peter the Great, 'whose many high qualities were darkened by singular cruelty.' When at Berlin, going on foot, as his custom was, unattended, to call on King Friedrich Wilhelm, the people in the streets crowded much about him. 'Brother,' said he to the King, 'your subjects are deficient in respect; order one or two of them to be hanged; it will restrain the others!' During the same visit, one day, at Charlottenburg; the Czar, after dinner, stepped out on a balcony which looked into the Gardens. Seeing many people assembled below, he gnashed his teeth (GRINCA DES DENTS), and began giving signs of frenzy. Shifty little Catharine, who was with him, requested that a certain person down among the crowd, who had a yellow wig, should be at once put away, or something bad would happen. This done, the Czar became quiet again. The Czarina added, he was subject to such attacks of frenzy; and that, when she saw it, she would scratch his head, which moderated him. 'VOILA MONSIEUR,' concluded the King, addressing me: 'VOILA LES GRANDS HOMMES!'
"Bouille spent a fortnight at Reinsberg, with Prince Henri; who represents his Brother as impatient, restless, envious, suspicious, even timid; of an ill-regulated imagination",--nothing like so wise as some of us! "Is too apprehensive of war; which may very likely bring it on. On the least alarm, he assembles troops at the frontier; Joseph does the like; and so"--A notably splenetic little Henri; head of an Opposition Party which has had to hold its tongue. Cherishes in the silent depths of him an almost ghastly indignation against his Brother on some points. "Bouille returned to Paris June, 1785." [ESSAI SUR LA VIE DE BOUILLE (ubi supra).]
2. COMTE DE SEGUR (on the road to Petersburg as French Minister) HAS SEEN FRIEDRICH: January 29th, 1785. Segur says: "With lively curiosity I gazed at this man; there as he stood, great in genius, small in stature; stooping, and as it were bent down under the weight of his laurels and of his long toils. His blue coat, old and worn like his body; his long boots coming up above the knee; his waistcoat covered with snuff, formed an odd but imposing whole. By the fire of his eyes, you recognized that in essentials he had not grown old. Though bearing himself like an invalid, you felt that he could strike like a young soldier; in his small figure, you discerned a spirit greater than any other man's. ...
"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.