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.
Enough for us to say, That Ritter Zimmermann--who is a Physician and a Man of Literary Genius, and should not have become a Tragic Zany--did, with unspeakable emotions, terrors, prayers to Heaven, and paroxysms of his own ridiculous kind, prescribe "Syrup of Dandelion" to the King; talked to him soothingly, musically, successfully; found the King a most pleasant Talker, but a very wilful perverse kind of Patient; whose errors in point of diet especially were enormous to a degree. Truth is, the King's appetite for food did still survive:--and this might have been, you would think, the one hopeful basis of Zimmermann's whole treatment, if there were still any hope: but no; Zimmermann merely, with uncommon emphasis, lyrically recognizes such amazing appetite in an old man overwhelmed by diseases,--trumpets it abroad, for ignorant persons to regard as a crime, or perhaps as a type generally of the man's past life, and makes no other attempt upon it;--stands by his "Extract of Dandelion boiled to the consistency of honey;" and on the seventeenth day, July 10th, voiceless from emotion, heart just breaking, takes himself away, and ceases. One of our Notes says:--
"Zimmermann went by Dessau and Brunswick; at Brunswick, if he made speed thither, Zimmermann might perhaps find Mirabeau, who is still there, and just leaving for Berlin to be in at the death:--but if the Doctor and he missed each other, it was luckier, as they had their controversies afterwards. Mirabeau arrived at Berlin, July 21st: [Mirabeau, HISTOIRE SECRETE DE LA COUR DE BERLIN, tome iii. of
"JULY 9th, the day before Zimmerman's departure, Hertzberg had come out to Potsdam in permanence. Hertzberg is privately thenceforth in communication with the Successor; altogether privately, though no doubt Friedrich knew it well enough, and saw it to be right. Of course, all manner of poor creatures are diligent about their own bits of interests; and saying to themselves, 'A New Reign is evidently nigh!' Yes, my friends;--and a precious Reign it will prove in comparison: sensualities, unctuous religiosities, ostentations, imbecilities; culminating in Jena twenty years hence."
Zimmermann haggles to tell us what his report was at Brunswick; says, he "set the Duke [ERBPRINZ, who is now Duke these six years past] sobbing and weeping;" though towards the Widow Duchess there must have been some hope held out, as we shall now see. The Duchess's Letter or Letters to her Brother are lost; but this is his Answer:--
FRIEDRICH TO THE DUCHESS-DOWAGER OF BRUNSWICK.
"SANS-SOUCI, 10th August, 1786.