"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!"]
"His affability, his kindliness, to whoever had the honor of speech with this great King, who shall describe it! After talking a good while with the Merchants-Deputation from the Hill Country, he said, 'Is there anything more, then, from anybody?' Upon which, the President (KAUFMANNSALTESTE," Merchants'-Eldest) "Lachmann, from Greiffenberg," which had been burnt lately, and helped by the King to rebuild itself, "stepped forward, and said, 'The burnt-out Inhabitants of Greiffenberg had charged him to express once more their most submissive gratitude for the gracious help in rebuilding; their word of thanks, truly, was of no importance, but they daily prayed God to reward such Royal beneficence.' The King was visibly affected, and said, 'You don't need to thank me; when my subjects fall into misfortune, it is my duty to help them up again; for that reason am I here.'" ...
Saturday 20th, he arrived at Tinz; had a small Cavalry Manoeuvre, next day; and on Monday the Review Proper began. Lasted four days, --22d-25th August, Monday to Thursday, both inclusive. "Head-quarter was in the DORF-SCHULZE'S (Village Mayor's) house; and there were many Strangers of distinction quartered in the Country Mansions round." Gross-Tinz is about 12 miles straight north from Strehlen, and as far straight east from the Zobtenberg: Gross-Tinz, and its Review of August, 1785, ought to be long memorable.
How the Review turned out as to proficiency recovered, I have not heard; and only infer, by symptoms, that it was not unsatisfactory. The sure fact, and the forever memorable, is, That on Wednesday, the third day of it, from 4 in the morning, when the Manoeuvres began, till well after 10, when they ended, there was a rain like Noah's; rain falling as from buckets and water-spouts; and that Friedrich (and perhaps most others too), so intent upon his business, paid not the least regard to it; but rode about, intensely inspecting, in lynx-eyed watchfulness of everything, as if no rain had been there. Was not at the pains even to put on his cloak. Six hours of such down-pour; and a weakly old man of 73 past. Of course he was wetted to the bone. On returning to head- quarters, his boots were found full of water; "when pulled off, it came pouring from them like a pair of pails."
He got into dry clothes; presided in his usual way at dinner, which soon followed; had many Generals and guests,--Lafayette, Lord Cornwallis, Duke of York;--and, as might be expected, felt unusually feverish afterwards. Hot, chill, quite poorly all afternoon; glad to get to bed:--where he fell into deep sleep, into profuse perspiration, as his wont was; and awoke, next morning, greatly recovered; altogether well again, as he supposed. Well enough to finish his Review comfortably; and start for home. Went--round by Neisse, inspection not to be omitted there, though it doubles the distance--to Brieg that day; a drive of 80 miles, inspection-work included. Thence, at Breslan for three days more: with dinners of state, balls, illuminations, in honor of the Duke of York,--our as yet last Duke of York, then a brisk young fellow of twenty-two; to whom, by accident, among his other distinctions, may belong this of having (most involuntarily) helped to kill Friedrich the Great!
Back to Potsdam, Friedrich pushed on with business; and complained of nothing. Was at Berlin in about ten days (September 9th), for an Artillery Review; saw his Sister Amelia; saw various public works in a state of progress,--but what perhaps is medically significant, went in the afternoon to a kind of Spa Well they have at Berlin; and slept, not at the Palace, but at this Spa, in the hostelry or lodging-house attached. [Rodenbeck, IN DIE.] Next day (September 10th), the Artillery Manoeuvre was done; and the King left Berlin, --little guessing he had seen Berlin for the last time.
The truth is, his health, unknown to him (though that of taking a Night at the Spa Well probably denotes some guess or feeling of the kind on his part), must have been in a dangerous or almost ruinous state. Accordingly, soon afterwards, September 18th-19th, in the night-time, he was suddenly aroused by a Fit of Suffocation (what they call STICKFLUSS); and, for some hours, till relief was got, everybody feared he would perish. Next day, there came gout; which perhaps he regarded almost as a friend: but it did not prove such; it proved the captain of a chaotic company of enemies; and Friedrich's end, I suppose, was already inexorably near. At the Grand Potsdam Review [22d-23d September), chief Review of all, and with such an affluence of Strangers to it this Autumn, he was quite unable to appear; prescribed the Manoeuvres and Procedures, and sorrowfully kept his room. [This of 23d September, 1785, is what Print-Collectors know loosely as "FRIEDRICH'S LAST REVIEW;"--one Cunningham, an English Painter (son of a Jacobite ditto, and himself of wandering habitat), and Clemens, a Prussian Engraver, having done a very large and highly superior Print of it, by way of speculation in Military Portraits (Berlin, 1787); in which, among many others, there figures the crediblest Likeness known to me of FRIEDRICH IN OLD AGE, though Friedrich himself was not there. (See PREUSS, iv. 242; especially see RODENBECK, iii. 337 n.)--As Crown-Prince, Friedrich had SAT to Pesne: never afterwards to any Artist.]
Friedrich was always something of a Doctor himself: he had little faith in professional Doctors, though he liked to speak with the intelligent sort, and was curious about their science, And it is agreed he really had good notions in regard to it; in particular, that he very well understood his own constitution of body; knew the effects of causes there, at any rate, and the fit regimens and methods:--as an old man of sense will usually do. The complaint is, that he was not always faithful to regimen; that, in his old days at least, he loved strong soups, hot spicy meats;--finding, I suppose, a kind of stimulant in them, as others do in wine; a sudden renewal of strength, which might be very tempting to him. There has been a great deal of unwise babble on this subject, which I find no reason to believe, except as just said: In the fall of this year, as usual, perhaps rather later than usual,--not till November 8th (for what reason so delaying, Marwitz told us already),--he withdrew from Sans-Souci, his Summer-Cottage; shut himself up in Potsdam Palace (Old Palace) for the winter. It was known he was very ailing; and that he never stirred out,-- but this was not quite unusual in late winters; and the rumors about his health were vague and various. Now, as always, he himself, except to his Doctors, was silent on that subject. Various military Doctors, Theden, Frese and others of eminence, were within reach; but it is not known to me that he consulted any of them.