페이지 이미지

bookmen arc "generally pedants and mere men of wind," and lets fall no word of censure upon the treatment to which, such literary men as appeared in the Tobacco Parliament were subjected. I shall quote Mr. Carlyle's account of the way in which Frederick William honored literature in the persons of Gundling and Fassmann, abbreviating to some extent, but not altering a word.

Gundling And Fassmann.

Gundling was a country-clergyman's son, of the Nurnberg quarter; had studied, carrying oft the honors, in various Universities; had read, or turned over, whole cart-loads of wise and foolish books. The sublime, longcured erudition of the man was not to be contested. A very dictionary of a man; who knows, in a manner, all things. Would not this man suit Majesty? thought Grumkow; and brought him to his Majesty to read the newspapers and explain everything. Gundling came to his Majesty; read the newspapers and explained everything; such a dictionary-in-breeches (much given to liquor) as his Majesty had got was never seen before. Omniscient Gundling was a prime resource in the Tabagic, for many years to come. Man with sublimer stores of long-cared learning and omniscience; man more destitute of mother-wit was nowhere to be met with. None oftener shook the Tabagie with inextinguishable Hahas; daily, by stirring into him, you could wrinkle the Tabagie into grim radiance of banter and silent grins. He wore sublime clothes: superfine scarlet coat, gold button-holes, black velvet facings, and embroideries without end; straw-colored breeches; red silk stockings, and shoes with red heels; on his learned head sat an immense cloud-periwig of white goat's-hair (the man now growing toward fifty); in the hat a red feather:—in this guise he walked the streets, the gold-key of chamberlain conspicuously hanging at his coat-breast, and looked proudly down upon the world when sober.

One day two wicked captains, finding him prostrate in some place, cut off his Kammer-hcrr (chamberlain) Key, and privately gave it to his Majesty. Majesty, in Tabagic, notices Gundling's coat-breast. "Where is your Key, then, Herr Kammer-hcrr?" "H'm, hah—unfortunately lost it, Ihro Majestat!" "Lost it, say you?" and his Majesty looks dreadfully grave. ''As if a soldier were to drink his musket!" thinks his Majesty. After much deliberating, it is found that the royal clemency can be extended. Next Tabagie, a servant enters with one of the biggest trays in the world, and on it a wooden key gilt, about an ell long; this gigantic Ot'NDLINQ AND FASSMANN.


implement is solemnly hung round the repentant Kammer-herr; this he shall wear publicly as penance, and be upon his behavior till the royal mind can relent. No end to the wild pranks, the Houyhnhnm horse play they had with drunken Gundling. He has staggered out in a drunk state, and found, or not clearly found till the morrow, young bears lying in his bed;—has found his room-door walled-up; been obliged to grope about, staggering from door to door and from port to. port, and land ultimately in the big bears' den, who hugged and squeezed him inhumanly there. Once at Wusterhausen, staggering blind-drunk out of the schloss (castle) toward his lair, the sentries at the bridge (instigated to it by the Houyhnhnms, who look on) pretend to fasten some military blame on him: Whyhas he omitted or committed so and so? Gundling's drunk answer is unsatisfactory. "Arrest, Herr Kammerath, is it to be that, then?" They hustle him about among the bears which lodge there;—at length they lay him horizontally across two ropes; take to swinging him hither and thither, up and down, across the black Acherontic Ditch, which is frozen over, it being the dead of winter; one of the ropes, hirer rope, breaks; Gundllng comes souse upon the ice with his sitting-part; breaks a big hole in the ice, and scarcely, with legs, arms, and the remaining rope, can be got out undrowned.

But the grandest explosions, in Tobacco Parliament, were producible, when you got two literary fools; and, as if with Levden-jars, positive and negative, brought their vanities to bear on one another. Here is the celebrated Gundling, there is the celebrated Fassmann. Fassmann has one evening provoked Gundling to the transcendent pitch—till words are weak, and only action will answer. Gundling, driven to the exploding point, suddenly seizes his Dutch smoking-pan, of peat-charcoal ashes and red-hot sand, and dashes it in the face of Fassmann; who is, of course, dreadfully astonished thereby, and has got his very eyebrows burned, not to speak of other injuries. Stand to him, Fassmann! Fassmann stands to him tightly, being the better man as well as the more satirical; grasps Gundling by the collar, wrenches him about, lays him at last over his knee, sitting-part uppermost; slaps said sitting-part with the hot pan. Amidst the inextinguishable horse-laughter (sincere but vacant) of the Houyhnhnm Olympus. After which, his Majesty, as epilogue to such play, suggests, That feats of that nature are unseemly among gentlemen; that when gentlemen have a quarrel there is another way of settling it. Fassmann thereupon challenges Gundling; Gundling accepts; time and place are settled, pistols the weapon. At the appointed time and place Gundling stands, accordinglv, pistol in hand; but, at sight of Fassmann, throws his pistol away; will not shoot any man, nor have any man shoot him. Fassmann sternly advances; shoots his pistol (powder merely) into Gundling's sublime goat's-hair wig: wig blazes into flame: Gundling falls shrieking, a dead man, to the earth; and they quench and revive him with a bucket of water. Was there ever seen such horse-play? Roaring laughter, huge, rude, and somewhat vacant, as that of the Norse gods over their ale at Yule time;—as if the face of the sphinx were to wrinkle itself in laughter- or the fabulous Houyhnhnms themselves were there to mock in their peculiar fashion.

Frederick William made Gundling President of the Berlin Academy, an institution corresponding to our Royal Society, thus proving that his contempt for science was as great as his contempt for literature. Such a king, brutish in his diversions —for what man that had a soul above a brute's would not have shrunk with pain from the spectacle -of such degradation as that of Gundling and Fassmann ?—and incapable of any intellectual interest, was a hideous anachronism in the eighteenth century. With wonder, with shame—nay, with unaffected anguish—may we contemplate the spectacle of Mr. Carlyle, standing by with a half-sympathetic smile while this crowned savage insults the intelligence of his time and rolls humanity in the mire. All the spiritual enthusiasm with which Carlyle's earlier essays and nobler books inspire us, rises in protest against this immolation of his better self at the shrine of such a hero.



TpREDERICK THE GREAT was a preferable man to his .*. father. Whether he was in the deep sense a better may be questioned: his father was not steeped in sensual vice as he was, nor was his father capable of such a crime as the seizure of Silesia: yet it is impossible not to prefer him; for he could have had no sentiment but loathing in connection with such scenes in the Tobacco Parliament as his father delighted to witness; he did not regard art, science, letters with the spite of a stunted brain; he did not tell lies to cloak miserly shabbiness; and he did not offend common - sense by kidnapping overgrown blockheads to turn into soldiers. It is to be remembered also, in extenuation of his faults, that he was brought up in the household of Frederick William, a household in which Christian faith seemed the characteristic of a fool, in which he was subjected to ill-treatment, to injustice, to cruelty, fitted almost to force on him what was his settled conviction in after-life, that God, though certainly existing, did not concern himself with the affairs of this pitiful world.

Frederick, on ascending the throne in 1740, professed, I doubt not with sincerity, that the well-being of the State was his grand concern, which he expressly desired to be regarded as having a claim prior to his personal interest; acted with discriminating but real generosity to those who had been kind to him in his adversity; declared himself the friend of religious toleration and of freedom of the Press; and undertook the energetic patronage of science, art, and all kinds of noble culture. He bad composed a book called Anti-Machiavel, tbe nature of which may be guessed from its title. Voltaire spoke in raptures of its ability, and I think we may believe that Frederick was not consciously insincere in writing it. This was a bright beginning; and if any one had told the young King that within a few months he would be chargeable with one of the blackest crimes mentioned in history, he would have replied, "Is thy servant a dog,that he should do this thing V

In October, 1740, Charles VI., Emperor of Austria, died, and his daughter Theresa, twenty-three years old, in delicate health, who had given no shadow of offence to Frederick, succeeded to the throne. The first impulse of Frederick, on hearing the news, was to avail himself of the weakness of her situation and the confusion in which he knew that the outbreak of war would involve Europe, to lay hold, by military force, of her large and important province, Silesia. So soon as he knew that her father was dead, he sent for his chief general and chief minister; matured with them his scheme of spoliation; and within a few weeks entered Silesia at the head of an army strong enough to overpower all resistance, Here is Mr. Carlyle's comment on the transaction:

The Seizure Of Silesia.

Not the peaceable magnanimities, but the warlike, are the thing appointed Friedrich this winter, ami mainly henceforth. Those "golden or soft radiances" which we saw in him,admirable to Voltaire or to Friedrich, and to an esurient philanthropic world, it is not these, it is "the steelbright or stellar kind," that arc to become predominant in Frtedrich's existence; grim hail-storms, thunders, and tornado for an existence to him, instead of the opulent genialities and haleyon weather anticipated by himself and others! Indisputably enough to us, if not to Friedrich," Reinsberg and Life to the Muses" are done. On a sudden, from the opposite side of the horizon, see, miraculous Opportunity, rushing hithenvard— swift, terrible, clothed with lightning like a courser of the gods; dare you clutch him by the thunder-mane, and fling yourself upon him, and make for the Empyrean by that course rather? Be immediate about it, then;

« 이전계속 »