文史大讲堂第十四讲预告

Many anecdotes are related illustrative of the kind feelings of378 the king toward the peasants. He was much interested in ameliorating their condition, and said to the Bishop of Varmia, Believe me, if I knew every thingif I could read every thing myselfall my subjects should be happy. But alas! I am but a man.

When the king, after the Seven Years War, now and then in carnival season dined with the queen in her apartments, he usually said not a word to her. He merely, on entering, on sitting down at table, and leaving it, made the customary bows, and sat opposite to her. Once the queen was ill of gout. The table was in her apartments, but she was not there. She sat in an easy-chair in the drawing-room. On this occasion the king stepped up to the queen and inquired about her health. The circumstance occasioned among the company present, and all over the town, as the news spread, great wonder and sympathy. This is probably the last time he ever spoke to her.193 And why was George II. so averse to the single marriage of the Prince of Wales to Wilhelmina? It is supposed that the opposition arose simply from his own mulish obstinacy. He hated his brother-in-law, the Prussian king. He was a weak, ill-tempered man; and having once said Both marriages or none, nothing could induce him to swerve from that position. In such a difficulty, with such men, there could be no possible compromise.

Yes, the prince replied. From of old, life has been infinitely contemptible to him. In death, I think, he has neither fear nor hope. Atheism, truly, he never could abide: to him, as to all of us, it was flatly inconceivable that intellect, moral emotion, could have been put into him by an Entity that had none of its own. But there, pretty much, his Theism seems to have stopped. Instinctively; too, he believed, no man more firmly, that Right alone has ultimately any strength in this world: ultimately, yes; but for him and his poor brief interests, what good was it? Hope for himself in divine Justice, in divine Providence, I think he had not practically any: that the unfathomable Demiurgus should concern himself with such a set of paltry, ill-given animalcules as ones self and mankind570 are, this also, as we have often noticed, is in the main incredible to him.

I am unfortunate and old, dear marquis. That is why they persecute me. God knows what my future is to be this year. I grieve to resemble Cassandra with my prophecies. But how augur well of the desperate situation we are in, and which goes on growing worse? I am so gloomy to-day I will cut short.

About a fortnight ago the prince was in a humor of extraordinary gayety at the table. His gayety animated all the rest; and some glasses of Champagne still more enlivened our mirth. The prince, perceiving our disposition, was willing to promote it, and on rising from table, told us that he was determined that we should recommence our jollity at supper.

FREDERICK IN THE GARDEN.

You have had the most villainous affair with a Jew. It has made a frightful scandal all over town. For my own part, I have preserved peace in my house until your arrival; and I warn you that, if you have the passion of intriguing and cabaling, you have applied to the wrong person. I like peaceable, quiet people, who do not put into their conduct the violent passions of tragedy. In case you can resolve to live like a philosopher, I shall be glad to see you. But if you abandon yourself to all the violence of your passions, and get into quarrels with all the world, you will do me no good by coming hither, and you may as well stay in Berlin.

Early on the morning of the 4th the prince left Nürnberg, and reached the camp at Weisenthal on the 7th. Here the imperial and Prussian troops were collected, who had been sent to attempt to raise the siege of Philipsburg. But the French lines investing the city were so strong that Prince Eugene, in command of the imperial army, did not venture to make an attack. The Crown Prince almost immediately rode out to reconnoitre the lines of the foe. As he was returning through a strip of forest a cannonade was opened, and the balls went crashing around him through the trees. Pride of character probably came to the aid of constitutional courage. The prince did not in the slightest degree quicken his pace. Not the least tremor could be perceived in his hand as he held the reins. He continued conversing with the surrounding generals in perfect tranquillity, as if unconscious of any danger.