KING. "'Where did you pick up all these fine old Pieces? These would amuse me on an evening; better than the conversation of my Doctor of the Sorbonne [one Peyrau, a wandering creature, not otherwise of the least interest to us], [Nicolai,
EGO. "'I found them all in a Bohemian Library, where I sat diverting myself for two Winters.'
KING. "'How, then? Two Winters in Bohemia? What the devil were you doing there! Is it long since?'
EGO. "'No, Sire; only a year or two [Potato-War time]! I had retired thither to read at my ease.'--He smiled, and seemed to appreciate my not mentioning the little War of 1778, and saving him any speech about it. He saw well enough that my Winter-quarters had been in Bohemia on that occasion; and was satisfied with my reticence. Being an old sorcerer, who guessed everything, and whose tact was the finest ever known, he discovered that I did not wish to tell him I found Berlin changed since I had last been there. I took care not to remind him that I was at the capturing of it in 1760, under M. de Lacy's orders [M. de Lacy's indeed!].--It was for having spoken of the first capture of Berlin, by Marshal Haddick [highly temporary as it was, and followed by Rossbach], that the King had taken a dislike to M. de Ried.
"Apropos of the Doctor of the Sorbonne [uninteresting Peyrau] with whom he daily disputed, the King said to me once, 'Get me a Bishopric for him.' 'I don't think,' answered I, (that my recommendation, or that of your Majesty, could be useful to him with us.' 'Ah, truly no!' said the King: 'Well, I will write to the Czarina of Russia for this poor devil; he does begin to bore me. He holds out as Jansenist, forsooth. MON DIEU, what blockheads the present Jansenists are! But France should not have extinguished that nursery (FOYER) of their genius, that Port Royal, extravagant as it was. Indeed, one ought to destroy nothing! Why have they destroyed, too, the Depositaries of the graces of Rome and of Athens, those excellent Professors of the Humanities, and perhaps of Humanity, the Ex-Jesuit Fathers? Education will be the loser by it. But as my Brothers the Kings, most Catholic, most Christian, most Faithful and Apostolic, have tumbled them out, I, most Heretical, pick up as many as I can; and perhaps, one day, I shall be courted for the sake of them by those who want some. I preserve the breed: I said, counting my stock the other day, "A Rector like you, my Father, I could easily sell for 300 thalers; you, Reverend Father Provincial, for 600; and so the rest, in proportion." When one is not rich, one makes speculations.'
"From want of memory, and of opportunities to see oftener and longer the Greatest Man that ever existed [Oh, MON PRINCE!], I am obliged to stop. There is not a word in all this but was his own; and those who have seen him will recognize his manner. All I want is, to make him known to those who have not had the happiness to see him. His eyes are too hard in the Portraits: by work in the Cabinet, and the hardships of War, they had become intense, and of piercing quality; but they softened finely in hearing, or telling, some trait of nobleness or sensibility. Till his death, and but quite shortly before it,--notwithstanding many levities which he knew I had allowed myself, both in speaking and writing, and which he surely attributed only to my duty as opposed to my interest,--he deigned to honor me with marks of his remembrance; and has often commissioned his Ministers, at Paris and at Vienna, to assure me of his good-will.
"I no longer believe in earthquakes and eclipses at Caesar's death, since there has been nothing of such at that of Friedrich the Great. I know not, Sire, whether great phenomena of Nature will announce the day when you shall cease to reign [great phenomena must be very idle if they do, your Highness!]--but it is a phenomenon in the world, that of a King who rules a Republic by making himself obeyed and respected for his own sake, as much as by his rights" (Hear, hear). [Prince de Ligne,
Prince de Ligne thereupon hurries off for Petersburg, and the final Section of his Kaiser's Visit. An errand of his own, too, the Prince had,--about his new Daughter-in-law Massalska, and claims of extensive Polish Properties belonging to her. He was the charm of Petersburg and the Czarina; but of the Massalska Properties could retrieve nothing whatever. The munificent Czarina gave him "a beautiful Territory in the Crim," instead; and invited him to come and see it with her, on his Kaiser's next Visit (1787, the aquatic Visit and the highly scenic). Which it is well known the Prince did; and has put on record, in his pleasant, not untrue, though vague, high-colored and fantastic way,--if it or he at all concerned us farther.