Berlin and Sans-Souci
Part 2 out of 11
The princess had found time to recover herself, and to remember the
haughty part she was determined to play.
"I hope, baron," she said, sternly, "you will not allow yourself to
suppose it was my purpose to throw those roses either to your
companion or yourself? I wished only to get rid of them."
She shut the window rudely and noisily, and commanded her attendants
to complete her toilet at once. She seated herself sternly before
the glass, and ordered her French maid to cover her head with jewels
The two gentlemen still stood in the garden, in earnest
"This is assuredly an auspicious omen, my friend," said Pollnitz to
the young officer, who was gazing musingly at the roses he held in
his hand. He had raised his eyes from the flowers to the window at
which the lovely form of the princess had, for a few moments,
"Alas!" said he, sighing, and gazing afar off; "she is so
wonderfully beautiful--so lovely; and she is a princess!"
Pollnitz laughed heartily. "One might think that you regretted that
fact! Listen to me, my young friend; stand no longer here, in a
dream. Come, in place of entering the castle immediately, to pay our
respects to the queen-mother, we will take a walk through the
garden, that you may allay your raptures and recover your reason."
He took the arm of the young man, and drew him into a shady, private
"Now, my dear friend, listen to me, and lay to heart all that I say
to you. Accident, or, if you prefer it, Fate brought us together.
After all, it seems indeed more than an accident. I had just
returned to Berlin, and was about to pay my respects to the queen-
mother, when I met you, who at the same time seek an audience, in
order to commend yourself to her royal protection. You bear a letter
of commendation from my old friend, Count Lottum. All this, of
course, excites my curiosity. I ask your name, and learn, to my
astonishment, that you are young Von Trenck, the son of the woman
who was my first love, and who made me most unhappy by not returning
my passion. I assure you, it produces a singular sensation to meet
so unexpectedly the son of a first love, whose father, alas! you
have not the happiness to be. I feel already that I am prepared to
love you as foolishly as I once loved your fair mother."
"I will not, like my mother, reject your vows," said the young
officer, smiling, and extending his hand to Pollnitz.
"I hoped as much," said Pollnitz; "you shall find a fond father in
me, and even to-day I will commence my parental duties. In the first
place, what brings you here?"
"To make my fortune--to become a general, or field-marshal, if
possible," said the young man, laughing.
"How old are you?"
"I am nineteen."
"You wear the uniform of an officer of the life-guard; the king has,
therefore, already promoted you?"
"I was a cadet but eight days," said Trenck, proudly. "My step-
father, Count Lottum, came with me from Dantzic, and presented me to
the king. His majesty received me graciously, and remembered well
that I had received, at the examination at Konigsberg, the first
prize from his hand."
"Go on, go on," said Pollnitz; "you see I am all ear, and I must
know your present position in order to be useful to you."
"The king, as I have said, received me graciously, even kindly; he
made me a cadet in his cavalry corps, and three weeks after, I was
summoned before him; he had heard something of my wonderful memory,
and he wished to prove me."
"Well, how did you stand the proof?"
"I stood with the king at the window, and he called over to me
quickly the names of fifty soldiers who were standing in the court
below, pointing to each man as he called his name. I then repeated
to him every name in the same succession, but backward."
"A wonderful memory, indeed," said Pollnitz, taking a pinch of
Spanish snuff; "a terrible memory, which would make me shudder if I
were your sweetheart!"
"And why?" said the young officer.
"Because you would hold ever in remembrance all her caprices and all
her oaths, and one day, when she no longer loved you, she would be
held to a strict account. Well, did the king subject you to further
"Yes; he gave me the material for two letters, which I dictated at
the same time to his secretaries, one in French and one in Latin. He
then commanded me to draw the plan of the Hare Meadow, and I did
"Was he pleased?"
"He made me cornet of the guard," said Trenck, modestly avoiding a
more direct answer.
"I see you are in high favor: in three weeks you are promoted from
cadet to lieutenant! quick advancement, which the king, no doubt,
signalized by some other act of grace?"
"He sent me two horses from his stable, and when I came to thank
him, he gave me a purse containing two hundred 'Fredericks.'"
Pollnitz gave a spring backward. "Thunder! you are indeed in favor!
the king gives you presents! Ah, my young friend, I would protect
you, but it seems you can patronize me. The king has never made me a
present. And what do you desire to-day of the queen-mother?"
"As I am now a lieutenant, I belong to the court circle, and must
take part in the court festivals. So the king commanded me to pay my
respects to the queen-mother."
"Ah, the king ordered that?" said Pollnitz; "truly, young man, the
king must destine you for great things--he overloads you with
favors. You will make a glittering career, provided you are wise
enough to escape the shoals and quicksands in your way. I can tell
you, there will be adroit and willing hands ready to cast you down;
those who are in favor at court have always bitter enemies."
"Yes, I am aware that I have enemies," said Trenck; "more than once
I have already been charged with being a drunkard and a rioter; but
the king, happily, only laughed at the accusations."
"He is really in high favor, and I would do well to secure his
friendship," thought Pollnitz; "the king will also be pleased with
me if I am kind to him." He held out his hand to the young officer,
and said, with fatherly tenderness: "From this time onward, when
your enemies shall please to attack you, they shall not find you
alone; they will find me a friend ever at your side. You are the son
of the only woman I ever loved--I will cherish you in my heart as my
"And I receive you as my father with my whole heart," said Trenck;
"be my father, my friend, and my counsellor."
"The court is a dangerous and slippery stage, upon which a young and
inexperienced man may lightly slip, unless held up by a strong arm.
Many will hate you because you are in favor, and the hate of many is
like the sting of hornets: one sting is not fatal, but a general
attack sometimes brings death. Make use, therefore, of your
sunshine, and fix yourself strongly in an immovable position."
"The great question is, what shall be my first step to secure it?"
"How! you ask that question, and you are nineteen years old, six
feet high, have a handsome face, a splendid figure, an old, renowned
name, and are graciously received at court! Ah! youngster, I have
seen many arrive at the highest honors and distinctions, who did not
possess half your glittering qualities. If you use the right means
at the right time, you cannot fail of success."
"What do you consider the best means?"
"The admiration and favor of women! You must gain the love of
powerful and influential women. Oh, you are terrified, and your brow
is clouded! perhaps, unhappily, you are already in love?"
"No!" said Frederick von Trenck, violently. "I have never been in
love. I dare say more than that: I have never kissed the lips of a
Pollnitz gazed at him with an expression of indescribable amazement.
"How!" said he; "you are nineteen, and assert that you have never
embraced a woman?" He gave a mocking and cynical laugh.
"Ordinary women have always excited my disgust," said the young
officer, simply; "and until this day I have never seen a woman who
resembled my ideal."
"So, then, the woman with whom you will now become enamored will
receive your first tender vows?"
"Yes, even so."
"And you wear the uniform of the life-guard--you are a lieutenant!"
cried Pollnitz with tragical pathos, and extending his arms toward
heaven. "But how?--what did you say?--that until to-day you had seen
no woman who approached your ideal?"
"I said that."
"Well, it seems to me, we have both seen an angel to-day!--an angel,
whom you have wronged, in giving her the common name of fairy."
"Aha! the Princess Amelia," said Pollnitz. "You will love this young
maiden, my friend."
"Then, indeed, shall I be most unhappy! She is a royal princess, and
my love must ever be unrequited."
"Who told you that? who told you that this little Amelia was only a
princess? I tell you she is a young girl with a heart of fire. Try
to awake her--she only sleeps! A happy event has already greeted
you. The princess has fixed your enraptured gaze upon her lovely
form, by throwing or rather shooting roses at you. Perhaps the god
of Love has hidden his arrow in a rose. You thought Amelia had only
pelted your cheek with roses, but the arrow has entered your soul.
Try your luck, young man; gain the love of the king's favorite
sister, and you will be all-powerful."
The young officer looked at him with confused and misty eyes.
"You do not dare to suggest," murmured he, "that--"
"I dare to say," cried Pollnitz, interrupting him, "that you are in
favor with the brother; why may you not also gain the sister's good
graces? I say further, that I will assist you, and I will ever be at
your side, as a loving friend and a sagacious counsellor."
"Do you know, baron, that your wild words open a future to my view
before which my brain and heart are reeling? How shall I dare to
love a princess, and seek her love in return?"
"As to the first point, I think you have already dared. As to the
second, I think your rare beauty and wondrous accomplishments might
justify such pretensions."
"You know I never can become the husband of a princess."
"You are right," said Pollnitz, laughing aloud; "you are as innocent
as a girl of sixteen! you have this moment fallen headlong in love,
and begin at once to think of the possibility of marriage, as if
love had no other refuge than marriage, and yet I think I have read
that the god of Love and the god of Hymen are rarely seen together,
though brothers; in point of fact, they despise and flee from each
other. But after all, young man, if your love is virtuous and
requires the priest's blessing, I think that is possible. Only a few
years since the widowed margravine, the aunt of the king, married
the Count Hoditz. What the king's aunt accomplished, might be
possible to the king's sister."
"Silence, silence!" murmured Frederick von Trenck; "your wild words
cloud my understanding like the breath of opium; they make me mad,
drunk. You stand near me like the tempter, showing to my bewildered
eyes more than all the treasures of this world, and saying, 'All
these things will I give thee'; but alas! I am not the Messiah. I
have not the courage to cast down and trample under foot your
devilish temptations. My whole soul springs out to meet them, and
shouts for joy. Oh, sir, what have you done? You have aroused my
youth, my ambition, my passion; you have filled my veins with fire,
and I am drunk with the sweet but deadly poison you have poured into
"I have assured you that I will be your father. I will lead you, and
at the right moment I will point out the obstacles against which
your inexperienced feet might stumble," said Pollnitz.
The stony-hearted and egotistical old courtier felt not the least
pity for this poor young man into whose ear, as Trenck had well
said, he was pouring this fatal poison. Frederick von Trenck, the
favorite of the king, was nothing more to him than a ladder by which
he hoped to mount. He took the arm of the young officer and
endeavored to soothe him with cool and moderate words, exhorting him
to be quiet and reasonable. They turned their steps toward the
castle, in order to pay their respects to the queen-mother. The hour
of audience was over, and the two gentlemen lounged arm in arm down
"Let us go toward the palace," said Pollnitz. "I think we will
behold a rare spectacle, a crowd of old wigs who have disguised
themselves as savans. To-day, the first sitting of the Academy of
Arts and Sciences takes place, and the celebrated President
Maupertius will open the meeting in the name of the king. This is
exactly the time for the renowned worthies to leave the castle. Let
us go and witness this comical show."
The two gentlemen found it impossible to carry out their plans. A
mighty crowd of men advanced upon them at this moment, and compelled
them to stand still. Every face in the vast assemblage was
expectant. Certainly some rare exhibition was to be seen in the
circle which the crowd had left open in their midst. There were
merry laughing and jesting and questioning amongst each other, as to
what all this could mean, and what proclamation that could be which
the drummer had just read in the palace garden.
"It will be repeated here in a moment," said a voice from the crowd,
which increased every moment, and in whose fierce waves Pollnitz and
Trenck were forcibly swallowed up. Pressed, pushed onward by
powerful arms, resistance utterly in vain, the two companions found
themselves at the same moment in the open space just as the drummer
broke into the circle, and, playing his drumsticks with powerful and
zealous hands, he called the crowd to order.
The drum overpowered the wild outcries and rude laughter of the vast
assemblage, and soon silenced them completely. Every man held his
breath to hear what the public crier, who had spoken so much to the
purpose by his drum, had now to declare by word of mouth. He drew
from his pocket a large document sealed with the state seal, and
took advantage of the general quiet to read the formal introductory
to all such proclamations: "We, Frederick, King of Prussia," etc.,
On coming to the throne, Frederick had abolished all that long and
absurd list of titles and dignities which had heretofore adorned the
royal declarations. Even that highest of all titles, "King by the
grace of God," had Frederick the Second set aside. He declared that,
in saying King of Prussia, all was said. His father had called
himself King of Prussia, by the grace of God; he, therefore, would
call himself simply the King of Prussia, and if he did not boast of
God's grace, it was because he would prove by deeds, not words, that
he possessed it.
After this little digression we will return to our drummer, who now
began to read, or rather to cry out the command of the king.
"We, Frederick, King of Prussia, order and command that no one of
our subjects shall, under any circumstances, lend gold to our master
of ceremonies, whom we have again taken into our service, or assist
him in any way to borrow money. Whoever, therefore, shall, in
despite of this proclamation, lend money to said Baron Pollnitz,
must bear the consequences; they shall make no demand for repayment,
and the case shall not be considered in court. Whosoever shall
disobey this command, shall pay a fine of fifty thalers, or suffer
fifteen days' imprisonment."
A wild shout of laughter from the entire assembly was the reply to
this proclamation, in which the worldly-wise Pollnitz joined
heartily, while his young companion had not the courage to raise his
eyes from the ground.
"The old courtier will burst with rage," said a gay voice from the
"He is a desperate borrower," cried another.
"He has richly deserved this public shame and humiliation from the
king," said another.
"And you call this a humiliation, a merited punishment!" cried
Pollnitz. "Why, my good friends, can you not see that this is an
honor which the king shows to his old and faithful servant? Do you
not know that by this proclamation he places Baron Pollnitz exactly
on the same footing with the princes of the blood, with the prince
"How is that? explain that to us," cried a hundred voices in a
"Well, it is very simple. Has not the king recently renewed the law
which forbids, under pain of heavy punishment, the princes of the
blood to borrow money? Is not this law printed in our journals, and
made public in our collections of laws?"
"Yes, yes! so it is," said many voices simultaneously.
"Well, certainly, our exalted sovereign, who loves his royal
brothers so warmly, would not have cast shame upon their honor.
Certainly he would not have wished to humiliate them, and has not
done so. The king, as you must now plainly perceive, has acted
toward Baron Pollnitz precisely as he has done to his brothers."
"And that is, without doubt, a great honor for him," cried many
voices. No one guessed the name of the speaker who was so
fortunately at hand to defend the honor of the master of ceremonies.
A general murmur of applause was heard, and even the public crier
stood still and listened to the eloquent unknown speaker, and forgot
for a while to hurry off to the next street-corner and proclaim the
"Besides, this law is 'sans consequence,' as we are accustomed to
say," said Pollnitz. "Who would not, in spite of the law, lend our
princes gold if they had need of it? And who has right to take
offence if the state refuses to pay the debts which the princes make
as private persons? The baron occupies precisely the same position.
The king, who has honored the newly returned baron with two highly
important trusts, master of ceremonies and master of the robes, will
frighten his rather lavish old friend from making debts. He chooses,
therefore, the same means by which he seeks to restrain his royal
brothers, and forbids all persons to lend gold to Pollnitz: as he
cannot well place this edict in the laws of the land, he is obliged
to make it known by the drummer. And now," said the speaker, who saw
plainly the favorable impression which his little oration had made--
"and now, best of friends, I pray you to make way and allow me to
pass through the crowd; I must go at once to the palace to thank his
majesty for the special grace and distinction which he has showered
upon me to-day. I, myself, am Baron Pollnitz!"
An outcry of amazement burst from the lips of hundreds, and all who
stood near Pollnitz stepped aside reverentially, in order to give
place to the distinguished gentleman who was treated by the king
exactly as if he were a prince of the blood. Pollnitz stepped with a
friendly smile through the narrow way thus opened for him, and
greeted, with his cool, impertinent manner those who respectfully
"I think I have given the king a Roland for his Oliver," he said to
himself. "I have broken the point from the arrow which was aimed at
me, and it glanced from my bosom without wounding me. Public opinion
will be on my side from this time, and that which was intended for
my shame has crowned me with honor. It was, nevertheless, a harsh
and cruel act, for which I will one day hold a reckoning with
Frederick. Ah, King Frederick! King Frederick! I shall not forget,
and I will have my revenge; my cards are also well arranged, and I
hold important trumps. I will wait yet a little while upon our
lovelorn shepherd, this innocent and tender Trenck, who is in a
dangerous way about the little princess."
Pollnitz waited for Trenck, who had with difficulty forced his way
through the crowd and hastened after him.
THE FIRST INTERVIEW.
The ball at the palace was opened. The two queens and the princesses
had just entered the great saloon, in order to receive the
respectful greetings of the ladies of the court; while the king, in
an adjoining room, was surrounded by the gentlemen. A glittering
circle of lovely women, adorned with diamonds and other rich gems,
stood on each side of the room, each one patiently awaiting the
moment when the queens should pass before her, and she might have
the honor of bowing almost to the earth under the glance of the
According to etiquette, Queen Elizabeth Christine, who,
notwithstanding her modest and retired existence, was the reigning
sovereign, should have made the grand tour alone, and received the
first congratulations of the court; but this unhappy, shrinking
woman, had never found the courage to assume the rights or
privileges which belonged to her as wife of the king. She who was
denied the highest and holiest of all distinctions, the first place
in the heart of her husband, cared nothing for these pitiful and
outward advantages. Elizabeth had to-day, as usual, with a soft
smile, given precedence to the queen-mother, Sophia Dorothea, who
was ever thirsting to show that she held the first place at her
son's court, and who, delighted to surround herself with all the
accessories of pomp and power, was ever ready to use her
prerogative. With a proud and erect head, and an almost contemptuous
smile, she walked slowly around the circle of high-born dames, who
bowed humbly before this representative of royalty. Behind her came
the reigning queen, between the two princesses, who now and then
gave special and cordial greetings to their personal friends as they
passed, Elizabeth Christine saw this and sighed bitterly. She had no
personal friend to grace with a loving greeting. No man saw any
thing else in her than a sovereign by sufferance, a woman sans
consequence, a, powerless queen and unbeloved wife. She had never
had a friend into whose sympathetic and silent bosom she could pour
out her griefs. She was alone, so entirely alone and lonely, that
the heavy sighs and complaints dwelling in her heart were ever
reverberating in her cars because of the surrounding silence. And
now, as she made the grand tour with the two princesses, no one
seemed to see her; she was regarded as the statue of a queen, richly
dressed and decked with costly lace and jewels, but only a picture:
yet this picture had a soul and a heart of fire--it was a woman, a
wife, who loved and who endured.
Suddenly she trembled; a light, like the glory of sunshine, flashed
in her eyes, and a soft rosy blush spread over her fair cheek. The
king had entered the room; yes, he was there in all his beauty, his
majesty, his power; Elizabeth felt that the world was bright, her
blood was rushing madly through her veins, her heart was beating as
stormily as that of an impassioned young girl. Oh, it might be that
the eye of the king--that glowing, wondrous eye--might even by
accident rest upon her; it might be that Frederick would be touched
by her patient endurance, her silent resignation, and give her one
friendly word. She had been four years a queen, for four years this
title had been a crown of thorns; during all this weary time her
husband had not vouchsafed to her poor heart, sick unto death, one
single sympathetic word, one affectionate glance; he sat by her side
at the table during the court festivals; he had from time to time,
at the balls and masquerades, opened the dance with her; never,
however, since that day on which he had printed the first kiss upon
her lips, never had he spoken to her; since that moment she was to
him the picture of a queen, the empty form of a woman. [Footnote:
The king never spoke to his wife, but his manner toward her was
considerate and respectful; no one dared to fail in the slightest
mark of courtly observance toward Elizabeth--this the king sternly
exacted. Only once did the king address her. During the seventh year
of their marriage, the queen, by an unhappy accident, had seriously
injured her foot: this was a short time before her birthday, which
event was always celebrated with great pomp and ceremony, the king
honoring the fete with his presence. On this occasion he came as
usual, but in place of the distant and silent bow with which he
usually greeted her, he drew near, gave her his hand, and said with
kindly sympathy, "I sincerely hope that your majesty has recovered
from your accident." A general surprise was pictured in the faces of
all present--but the poor queen was so overcome by this unexpected
happiness, she had no power to reply, she bowed silently. The king
frowned and turned from her. Since that day, the happiness of which
she had bought with an injured foot, the king had not spoken to
her.] But Queen Elizabeth would not despair. Hope was her motto. A
day might come when he would speak to her, when he would forget that
she had been forced upon him as his wife, a day when his heart might
be touched by her grief, her silent and tearless love. Every meeting
with Frederick was to this poor queen a time of hope, of joyful
expectation; this alone sustained her, this gave her strength
silently, even smilingly, to draw her royal robe over her bleeding
And now the king drew near, surrounded by the princesses and the
queen-mother, to whom he gave his hand with an expression of
reverence and filial love. He then bowed silently and indifferently
to his wife, and gave a merry greeting to his two sisters.
"Ladies," said he, in a full, rich voice, "allow me to present to
you and my court my brother, the Prince Augustus William; he is now
placed before you in a new and more distinguished light." He took
the hand of his brother and led him to the queen-mother. "I
introduce your son to you; he will be from this day onward, if it so
please you, also your grandson."
"How is that, your majesty? I confess you have brought about many
seemingly impossible things; but I think it is beyond your power to
make Augustus at the same time both my son and my grandson."
"Ah, mother, if I make him my son, will he not be of necessity, your
grandson? I appoint him my successor; in so doing, I declare him my
son. Embrace him, therefore, your majesty, and be the first to greet
him by his new title. Embrace the Prince of Prussia, my successor."
"I obey," said the queen, "I obey," and she cast her arms
affectionately around her son. "I pray God that this title of
'Prince of Prussia,' which it has pleased your majesty to lend him,
may be long and honorably worn."
The prince bowed low before his mother, who tenderly kissed his
brow, then whispered, "Oh, mother, pray rather that God may soon
release me from this burden."
"How!" cried the queen threateningly, "you have then a strong desire
to be king? Has your vaulting ambition made you forget that to wish
to be king is, at the same time, to wish the death of your brother?"
The prince smiled sadly.
"Mother, I would lay aside this rank of Prince of Prussia, not
because I wish to mount the throne, but I would fain lie down in the
cold and quiet grave."
"Are you always so sad, so hopeless, my son--even now, upon this day
of proud distinction for you? To-day you take your place as Prince
"Yes, your majesty, to-day I am crowned with honor," said he,
bitterly. "This is also the anniversary of my betrothal."
Augustus turned and drew near to the king, who seized his hand and
led him to his wife and the young princesses, saying with a loud
voice, "Congratulate the Prince of Prussia, ladies." He then
beckoned to some of his generals, and drew back with them to the
window. As he passed the queen, his eye rested upon her for a moment
with an expression of sympathy and curiosity; he observed her with
the searching glance of a physician, who sinks the probe into the
bleeding wound, in order to know its depth and danger.
The queen understood his purpose. That piercing glance was a
warning; it gave her courage, self-possession, and proud
resignation. Her husband had spoken to her with his eyes; that must
ever be a consolation, a painful but sweet joy. She controlled
herself so far as to give her hand to the prince with a cordial
"You are most welcome in your double character," she said, in a
voice loud enough to be heard by the king and all around her. "Until
to-day, you have been my beloved brother; and from this time will
you be to me, as also to my husband, a dear son. By the decrees of
Providence a son has been denied me; I accept you, therefore,
joyfully, and receive you as my son and brother."
A profound silence followed these words; here and there in the
crowd, slight and derisive smiles were seen, and a few whispered and
significant words were uttered. The queen had now received the last
and severest blow; in the fulness and maturity of her beauty she had
been placed before the court as unworthy or incapable of giving a
successor to the throne; but she still wished to save appearances:
she would, if possible, make the world believe that the decree of
Providence alone denied to her a mother's honors. She had the cruel
courage to conceal the truth by prevarication.
The watchful eyes of the court had long since discovered the mystery
of this royal marriage: they had long known that the queen was not
the wife of Frederick; her words, therefore, produced contemptuous
Elizabeth cared for none of these things. She looked toward her
husband, whose eyes were fixed upon her; she would read in his
countenance if he were pleased with her words. A smile played upon
the lips of the king, and he bowed his head almost imperceptibly as
a greeting to his wife.
A golden ray of sunlight seemed to play upon her face; content was
written in her eyes; twice to-day her glance had met her husband's,
and both times his eyes had spoken. Elizabeth was happier than she
had been for many days; she laughed and jested with the ladies, and
conversed gayly over the great event of the evening--the first
appearance of the Signora Barbarina. The princesses, also, conversed
unceremoniously with the ladies near them. A cloud darkened the
usually clear brow of the Princess Amelia, and she seemed to be in a
nervous and highly excited state.
At this moment the master of ceremonies, Pollnitz, drew near, with
Count Tessin, the Swedish ambassador. The princess immediately
assumed so scornful an expression, that even Pollnitz scarcely found
courage to present Count Tessin.
"Ah! you come from Sweden," said Amelia, immediately after the
presentation. "Sweden is a dark and gloomy country, and you have
indeed done well to save yourself, by taking refuge in our gay and
The count was evidently wounded.
"Your royal highness calls this a refuge," said he; "you must, then,
think those to be pitied who dwell in my fatherland?"
"I do not feel it necessary to confide my views on that subject to
Count Tessin," said Amelia, with a short, rude laugh.
"Yes, sister, it is necessary," said Ulrica, with a magical smile,
"you must justify yourself to the count, for you have cast contempt
upon his country."
"Ah! your highness is pleased to think better of my fatherland,"
said Tessin, bowing low to Ulrica. "It is true, Sweden is rich in
beauty, and nowhere is nature more romantic or more lovely. The
Swedes love their country passionately, and, like the Swiss, they
die of homesickness when banished from her borders. They languish
and pine away if one is cruel enough to think lightly of their
"Well, sir, I commit this cruelty," cried Amelia, "and yet I
scarcely think you will languish and pine away on that account."
"Dear sister, I think you are out of temper to-day," said Ulrica,
"And you are wise to remind me of it in this courtly style," said
Amelia; "have you taken the role of governess for my benefit to-
Ulrica shrugged her shoulders and turned again to the count, who was
watching the young Amelia with a mixture of astonishment and anger.
She had been represented at the Swedish court as a model of
gentleness, amiability, and grace; he found her rude and
contradictory, fitful and childish. The Princess Ulrica soon led the
thoughts of the count in another direction, and managed to retain
him at her side by her piquant and intellectual conversation; she
brought every power of her mind into action; she was gracious in the
extreme; she overcame her proud nature, and assumed a winning
gentleness; in short, she flattered the ambassador with such
delicate refinement, that he swallowed the magical food offered to
his vanity, without suspecting that he was victimized.
Neither the princess nor the count seemed any longer to remember
Amelia, who still stood near them with a lowering visage. Pollnitz
made use of this opportunity to draw near with his young protege,
Frederick von Trenck, and present him to the princess, who
immediately assumed a gay and laughing expression; she wished to
give the ambassador a new proof of her stormy and fitful nature: she
would humble him by proving that she was not harsh and rude to all
the world. She received the two gentlemen, therefore, with great
cordiality, and laughed heartily over the adventure of the morning;
she recounted to them, merrily and wittily, how and why she had
thrown the sweet roses away. Amelia was now so lovely and so
spirited to look upon, so radiant with youth, animation, and
innocence, that the eyes of the poor young officer were dazzled and
sought the floor; completely intoxicated and bewildered, he could
not join in the conversation, uttering here and there only a
This did not escape the cunning eye of the master of ceremonies. "I
must withdraw," thought he; "I will grant them a first tete-a-tete.
I will observe them from a distance, and be able to decide if my
plan will succeed." Excusing himself upon the plea of duty, Pollnitz
withdrew; he glided into a window and concealed himself behind the
curtains, in order to watch the countenances of his two victims.
Pollnitz had rightly judged. The necessity of taking part in the
conversation with the princess restored to the young officer his
intellect and his courage, and, in the effort to overcome his
timidity, he became too earnest, too impassioned.
But the princess did not remark this; she rejoiced in an opportunity
to show the Swedish ambassador how amiable and gracious she could be
to others, and thus make him more sensible of her rudeness to
himself; he should see and confess that she could be winning and
attractive when it suited her purpose. The count observed her
narrowly, even while conversing with Ulrica; he saw her ready smile,
her beaming eye, her perhaps rather demonstrative cordiality to the
young officer. "She is changeable and coquettish," he said to
himself, while still carrying on his conversation with the talented,
refined, and thoroughly maidenly Princess Ulrica.
The great and, as we have said, somewhat too strongly marked
kindliness of Amelia, added fuel to the passion of Trenck; he became
"I have to implore your highness for a special grace," said he in a
"Speak on," said she, feeling at that moment an inexplicable emotion
which made her heart beat high, and banished the blood from her
"I have dared to preserve one of the roses which you threw into the
garden. It was a mad theft, I know it, but I was under the power of
enchantment; I could not resist, and would at that moment have paid
for the little blossom with my heart's blood. Oh, if your royal
highness could have seen, when I entered my room and closed the
door, with what rapture I regarded my treasure, how I knelt before
it and worshipped it, scarcely daring to touch it with my lips! it
recalled to me a lovely fairy tale of my childhood."
"How could a simple rose recall a fairy tale?" said Amelia.
"It is a legend of a poor shepherd-boy, who, lonely and neglected,
had fallen asleep under a tree near the highway. Before sleeping, he
had prayed to God to have pity upon him; to fill this great and
painful void in his heart, or to send His Minister, Death, to his
release. While sleeping he had a beautiful dream. He thought he saw
the heavens open, and an angel of enchanting grace and beauty
floated toward him. Her eyes glowed like two of the brightest stars.
'You shall be no longer lonely,' she whispered; 'my image shall
abide ever in your heart, and strengthen and stimulate you to all
things good and beautiful.' While saying this, she laid a wondrous
rose upon his eyes, and, floating off, soon disappeared in the
clouds. The poor shepherd-boy awoke, and was enraptured with what he
supposed had been a wild dream. But lo! there was the rose, and with
unspeakable joy he pressed it to his heart. He thanked God for this
sweet flower, which proved to him that the angel was no dream, but a
reality. The rose, the visible emblem of his good angel, was the joy
and comfort of his life, and he wore it ever in his heart.--I
thought of this fairy tale, princess, as I looked upon my rose, but
I felt immediately that I dared not call it mine without the consent
of your highness. Decide, therefore; dare I keep this rose?"
Amelia did not reply. She had listened with a strange embarrassment
to this impassioned tale. The world--all, was forgotten; she was no
longer a princess, she was but a simple young girl, who listened for
the first time to words of burning passion, and whose heart trembled
with sweet alarm.
"Princess, dare I guard this rose?" repeated Frederick, with a
She looked at him; their eyes met; the young maiden trembled, but
the man stood erect. He felt strong, proud, and a conqueror; his
glance was like the eagle's, when about to seize a lamb and bear it
to his eyrie.
"He goes too far; truly, he goes too far," whispered Pollnitz, who
had seen all, and from their glances and movements had almost read
their thoughts and words. "I must bring this tete-a-tete to an end,
and I shall do so in a profitable manner."
"Dare I keep this rose?" said Frederick von Trenck, a third time.
Amelia turned her head aside and whispered, "Keep it."
Trenck would have answered, but in that moment a hand was laid upon
his arm, and Pollnitz stood near him.
"Prudence," whispered he, anxiously. "Do you not see that you are
observed? You will make of your insane and treasonable passion a
fairy tale for the whole court."
Amelia uttered a slight cry, and looked anxiously at Pollnitz. She
had heard his whispered words, and the sly baron intended that she
"Will your royal highness dismiss this madman," whispered he, "and
allow me to awake his sleeping reason?"
"Go, Herr von Trenck," said she lightly.
Pollnitz took the arm of the young officer and led him off, saying
to himself, with a chuckle: "That was a good stroke, and I feel that
I shall succeed; I have betrayed his passion to her, and forced
myself into their confidence. I shall soon be employed as Love's
messenger, and that is ever with princesses a profitable service.
Ah, King Frederick, King Frederick, you have made it impossible for
me to borrow money! Well, I shall not find that necessary; my hands
shall be filled from the royal treasures. When the casket of the
princess is empty, the king must of course replenish it." And the
baron laughed too loudly for a master of ceremonies.
The princess regarded their retreating figures with dreamy eyes.
Then, yielding to an unconquerable desire to be alone, to give
herself up to undisturbed thought, she was about to withdraw; but
the Princess Ulrica, who thought it necessary that the Swedish
ambassador should have another opportunity of observing the proud
and sullen temper of her sister, called her back.
"Remain a moment longer, Amelia," said the princess. "You shall
decide between Count Tessin and myself. Will you accept my sister as
"Without doubt," said the count. "I should be greatly honored if the
princess will be so gracious. Perhaps I may be more fortunate on
"It appears to me," said Amelia, rudely interrupting him, "that
'fortunate' and 'unfortunate' are not terms which can be properly
used in any connection between a princess of Prussia and yourself."
Amelia then turned toward her sister and gave her a glance which
plainly said: Well, do I not play my role in masterly style? Have I
not hastened to follow your counsels? "Speak, sister; name the point
which Count Tessin dares to contest with you."
"Oh, the count is a man and a scholar, and has full right to
differ," said Ulrica, graciously. "The question was a comparison of
Queen Elizabeth of England and Queen Christina of Sweden. I maintain
that Christina had a stronger and more powerful intellect; that she
knew better how to conquer her spirit, to master her womanly
weaknesses; that she was more thoroughly cultivated, and studied
philosophy and science, not as Elizabeth, for glitter and show, but
because she had an inward thirst for knowledge. The count asserts
that Elizabeth was better versed in statecraft, and a more amiable
woman. Now, Amelia, to which of these two queens do you give the
"Oh, without doubt, to Queen Christina of Sweden. This great woman
was wise enough not to regard the crown of Sweden as a rare and
precious gem; she chose a simple life of obscurity and poverty in
beautiful Italy, rather than a throne in cold and unfruitful Sweden.
This act alone establishes her superiority. Yes, sister, you are
right. Christina was the greater woman, even because she scorned to
be Queen of Sweden."
So saying, Amelia bowed slightingly, and, turning aside, she
summoned Madame von Kleist, and commenced a merry chat with her.
Count Tessin regarded her with a dark and scornful glance, and
pressed his lips tightly together, as if to restrain his anger.
"I beseech you, count," said Ulrica, in a low, soft voice, "not to
be offended at the thoughtless words of my dear little sister. It is
true, she is a little rude and resentful to-day; but you will see--
to-morrow, perhaps, will be one of her glorious sunny days, and you
will find her irresistibly charming. Her moods are changeable, and
for that reason we call her our little 'April fee.'"
"Ah, the princess is, then, as uncertain as April?" said the count,
with a frosty smile.
"More uncertain than April," said Ulrica, sweetly. "But what would
you, sir? we all, brothers and sisters, are responsible for that.
You must know that she is our favorite, and is always indulged. I
counsel you not to find fault with our little sister, Count Tessin;
that would be to bring an accusation against us all. You have
suffered to-day from a shower of her April moods; to-morrow you may
rejoice in the sunshine of her favor."
"I shall, however, be doubtful and anxious," said the ambassador,
coolly; "the April sun is sometimes accompanied by rain and storm,
and these sudden changes bring sickness and death."
"Allow me to make one request," said Ulrica. "Let not the king guess
that you have suffered from these April changes."
"Certainly not; and if your royal highness will graciously allow me
to bask in the sunshine of your presence, I shall soon recover from
the chilling effect of these April showers."
"Well, I think we have played our parts admirably," said Ulrica to
herself, as she found time, during the course of the evening, to
meditate upon the events of the day. "Amelia will accomplish her
purpose, and will not be Queen of Sweden. She would have it so, and
I shall not reproach myself."
Princess Ulrica leaned comfortably back in her arm-chair, and gave
her attention to a play of Voltaire, which was now being performed.
This representation took place in the small theatre in the royal
palace. There was no public theatre in Berlin, and the king justly
pronounced the large opera-house unsuited to declamation. Frederick
generally gave his undivided attention to the play, but this evening
he was restless and impatient, and he accorded less applause to this
piquant and witty drama of his favorite author than he was wont to
do. The king was impatient, because the king was waiting. He had so
far restrained all outward expression of his impatient curiosity;
the French play had not commenced one moment earlier than usual.
Frederick had, according to custom, gone behind the scenes, to say a
few friendly and encouraging words to the performers, to call their
attention to his favorite passages, and exhort them to be truly
eloquent in their recitations. And now the king waited; he felt
feverishly impatient to see and judge for himself this capricious
beauty, this world-renowned artiste, this Signora Barbarina, whose
rare loveliness and grace enchanted and bewildered all who looked
At length the curtain fell. In a few moments he would see the
Barbarina dance her celebrated solo. A breathless stillness reigned
throughout the assembly; every eye was fixed upon the curtain. The
bell sounded, the curtain flew up, and a lovely landscape met the
eye: in the background a village church, rose-bushes in rich bloom,
and shady trees on every side; the declining sun gilded the summit
of the mountain, against the base of which the little village
nestled. The distant sound of the evening bell was calling the
simple cottagers to "Ave Maria." It was an enchanting picture of
innocence and peace; in striking contrast to this courtly
assemblage, glittering with gems and starry orders--a startling
opposite to that sweet, pure idyl. And now this select circle seemed
agitated as by an electric shock. There, upon the stage, floated the
The king raised himself involuntarily a little higher in his arm-
chair, in order to examine the signora more closely; he leaned back,
however, ashamed of his impatience, and a light cloud was on his
brow; he felt himself oppressed and overcome by this magical beauty.
He who had looked death in the face without emotion, who had seen
the deadly cannon-balls falling thickly around him without a
trembling of the eyelids, now felt a presentiment of danger, and
shrank from it.
Barbarina was indeed lovely, irresistibly lovely, in her ravishing
costume of a shepherdess; her dress was of crimson satin, her black
velvet bodice was fastened over her voluptuous bosom by rich golden
cords, finished off by tassels glittering with diamonds. A wreath of
crimson roses adorned her hair, which fell in graceful ringlets
about her wondrous brow, and formed a rich frame around her pure,
oval face. The dark incarnate of her full, ripe lip contrasted
richly with the light, rosy blush of her fair, smooth cheek.
Barbarina's smile was a promise of love and bliss; and, when those
great fiery eyes looked at you earnestly, there was such an intense
glow, such a depth of power and passion in their rays, you could not
but feel that there was danger in her love as in her scorn.
To-day, she would neither threaten nor inspire; she was only a
smiling, joyous, simple peasant-girl, who had returned wild with joy
to her native village, and whose rapture found expression in the gay
and graceful mazes of the dance. She floated here and there, like a
wood-nymph, smiling, happy, careless, wonderful to look upon in her
loveliness and beauty, but more wonderful still in her art.
Simplicity and grace marked every movement; there seemed no
difficulties in her path--to dance was her happiness.
The dance was at an end. Barbarina, breathless, glowing, smiling,
bowed low. Then all was still; no hand was moved, no applause
greeted her. Her great burning eyes wandered threateningly and
questioningly over the saloon; then, raising her lovely head
proudly, she stepped back.
The curtain fell, and now all eyes were fixed upon the king, in
whose face the courtiers expected to read the impression which the
signora had made upon him; but the countenance of the king told
nothing; he was quiet and thoughtful, his brow was stern, and his
lips compressed. The courtiers concluded that he was disappointed,
and began at once to find fault, and make disparaging remarks.
Frederick did not regard them. At this moment he was not a king, he
was only a man--a man who, in silent rapture, had gazed upon this
wondrous combination of grace and beauty. The king was a hero, but
he trembled before this woman, and a sort of terror laid hold upon
The curtain rose, and the second act of the drama began; no one
looked at the stage; after this living, breathing, impersonation of
a simple story, a spoken drama seemed oppressive. Every one rejoiced
when the second act was at an end. The curtain would soon rise for
But this did not occur; there was a long delay; there was eager
expectation; the curtain did not rise; the bell did not ring. At
last, Baron Swartz crossed the stage and drew near to the king.
"Sire," said he, "the Signora Barbarina declares she will not dance
again; she is exhausted by grief and anxiety, and fatigued by her
"Go and say to her that I command her to dance," said Frederick, who
felt himself once more a king, and rejoiced in his power over this
enchantress, who almost held him in her toils.
Baron Swartz hastened behind the scenes, but soon returned, somewhat
"Sire, the signora affirms that she will not dance, and that the
king has no power to compel her. She dances to please herself."
"Ah! that is a menace," said the king, threateningly; and without
further speech he stepped upon the stage, followed by Baron Swartz.
"Where is this person?" said the king.
"She is in her own room, your majesty; shall I call her?"
"No, I will go to her. Show me the way."
The baron stepped forward, and Frederick endeavored to collect
himself and assume a cool and grave bearing.
"Sire, this is the chamber of the Signora Barbarina."
"Open the door." But before the baron had time to obey the command,
the impatient hand of the king had opened the door, and he had
entered the room.
THE KING AND BARBARINA.
Barbarina was resting, half reclining, and wholly abstracted, upon a
small crimson divan; her rounded arms were crossed over her breast.
She fixed her blazing, glowing eyes upon the intruders, and seemed
petrified, in her stubborn immobility, her determined silence. She
had the glance of a panther who has prepared herself for death, or
to slay her enemy.
The king stood a moment quiet and waiting, but Barbarina did not
move. Baron Swartz, alarmed by her contemptuous and disrespectful
bearing, drew near, in order to say that the king had vouchsafed to
visit her, but Frederick motioned him to withdraw; and, in order
that Barbarina might not understand him, he told him in German to
leave the room and await him in the corridor.
"I do not wish the signora to know that I am the king," said he. As
the baron withdrew, Frederick said to him, "Leave the door open."
Barbarina was motionless, only her large black eyes wandered
questioningly from one to the other; she sought to read the meaning
of their words, not one of which she understood; but her features
expressed no anxiety, no disquiet; she did not look like a culprit
or a rebel; she had rather the air of a stern queen, withholding her
royal favor. The king drew near her. Her eyes were fixed upon him
with inexpressible, earnest calm; and this cool indifference, so
rarely seen by a king, embarrassed Frederick, and at the same time
"You are, then, determined not to dance again?" said the king.
"Fully determined," said she, in a rich and sonorous voice.
"Beware! beware!" said he; but he could not assume that threatening
tone which he wished. "The king may perhaps compel you."
"Compel me! me, the Barbarina!" said she, with a mocking laugh, aim
disclosing two row? of pearly teeth. "And how can the king compel me
"You must be convinced that he has some power over you, since he
brought you here against your will."
"Yes, that is true," said she, raising herself up proudly; "he
brought me here by force; he has acted like a barbarian, a cold-
"Signora," said Frederick, menacingly, "one does not speak so of
"And why not?" she said, passionately. "What is your king to me?
What claim has he upon my love, upon my consideration, or even my
obedience? What has he done for me, that I should regard him
otherwise than as a tyrant? What is he to me? I am myself a queen;
yes, and believe me, a proud and an obstinate one! Who and what is
this king, whom I do not know, whom I have never seen, who has
forgotten that I am a woman, yes, forgotten that he is a man, though
he bears the empty title of a king? A true king is always and only a
gallant cavalier in his conduct to women. If he fails in this, he is
contemptible and despised."
"How! you despise the king?" said Frederick, who really enjoyed this
"Yes, I despise him! yes, I hate him!" cried the Barbarina, with a
wild and stormy outbreak of her southern nature. "I no longer pray
to God for my own happiness; that this cruel king has destroyed. I
pray to God for revenge; yes, for vengeance upon this man, who has
no heart, and who tramples the hearts of others under his feet. And
God will help me. I shall revenge myself on this man. I have sworn
it--I will keep my word! Go, sir, and tell this to your king; tell
him to beware of Barbarina. Greater, bolder, more magnanimous than
he, I warn him! Cunningly; slyly, unwarned, by night I was fallen
upon by spies, and dragged like a culprit to Berlin."
The king had no wish to put an end to this piquant scene; he was
only accustomed to the voice of praise and of applause; it was a
novelty, and therefore agreeable to be so energetically railed at
"Do you not fear that the king will be angry when I repeat your
"Fear! What more can your king do, that I should fear him? Yes, he
is a king; but am not I a queen? This paltry kingdom is but a small
portion of the world, which is mine, wholly mine; it belongs to me,
as it belongs to the eagle who spreads her proud wings and looks
down upon her vast domains; he has millions in his treasury, but
they are pressed from the pockets of his poor subjects; he requires
many agents to collect his gold, and his people give it grudgingly,
but my subjects bring their tribute joyfully and lay it at my feet
with loving words. Look you! look at these two little feet: they are
my assessors; they collect the taxes from my people, and all the
dwellers in Europe are mine. These are my agents, they bring me in
millions of gold; they are also my avengers, by their aid I shall
revenge myself on your barbaric king."
She leaned back upon the pillows and breathed audibly, exhausted by
her wild passion. The king looked at her with wonder. She was to him
a rare and precious work of art, something to be studied and
worshipped. Her alluring beauty, her impetuous, uncontrolled
passions, her bold sincerity, were all attractions, and he felt
himself under the spell of her enchantments. Let her rail and swear
to be revenged on the barbarian. The king heard her not; a simple
gentleman stood before her; a man who felt that Barbarina was right,
and who confessed to himself that the king had forgotten, in her
rude seizure, that this Barbarina was a woman--forgotten that he, in
all his relations with women, should be only a cavalier.
"Yes, yes," said Barbarina, and an expression of triumph was painted
on her lips--"yes, my little feet will be my avengers. The king will
never more see them dance--never more; they have cost him thousands
of gold; because of them he is at variance with the noble Republic
of Venice. Well, he has seen them for the last time. Ah! it is a
light thing to subdue a province, but impossible to conquer a woman
and an artiste who is resolved not to surrender."
Frederick smiled at these proud words.
"So you will not dance before the king, and yet you have danced for
him this evening?"
"Yes," said she, raising her head proudly. "I have proved to him
that I am an artiste; only when he feels that, will it pain him
never again to see me exercise my art."
"That is, indeed, refined reasoning," said the king. "You danced,
then, in order to make the king thirst anew for this intoxicating
draught, and then deny him? Truly, one must be an Italian to
conceive this plan."
"I am an Italian, and woe to me that I am!" A storm of tears gushed
from her eyes, but in a moment, as if scorning her own weakness, she
drove them back into her heart. "Poor Italian," she said, in a soft,
low tone--"poor child of the South, what are you doing in this cold
North, amongst these frosty hearts whose icy smiles petrify art and
beauty? Ah! to think that even the Barbarina could not melt the ice-
rind from their pitiful souls; to think that she displayed before
them all the power and grace of her art, and they looked on with
motionless hands and silent lips! Ah! this humiliation would have
killed me in Italy, because I love my people, and they understand
and appreciate all that is rare and beautiful. My heart burns with
scorn and contempt for these torpid Berliners."
"I understand you now," said the king; "you heard no bravos, you
were not applauded; therefore you are angry?"
"I laugh at it!" said she, looking fiercely at the king. "Do you not
know, sir, that this applause, these bravos, are to the artiste as
the sound of a trumpet to the gallant war-horse, they invigorate and
inspire, and swell the heart with strength and courage? When the
artiste stands upon the stage, the saloon before him is his heaven,
and there his judges sit, to bestow eternal happiness or eternal
condemnation; to crown him with immortal fame, or cover him with
shame and confusion. Now, sir, that I have explained to you that the
stage saloon is our heaven, and the spectators are our judges, you
will understand that these bravos are to us as the music of the
"Yes, I comprehend," said the king, smiling; "but you must be
indulgent; in this theatre etiquette forbids applause. You have
danced to-day before an invited audience, who pay nothing, and
therefore have not the right to blame or praise; no one dare
applaud--no one but the king."
"Ha! and this rude man did not applaud!" cried she, showing her
small teeth, and raising her hand threateningly toward heaven.
"Perhaps he was motionless and drunk from rapture," said the king,
bowing gracefully; "when he sees you dance again, he will have more
control over himself, and will, perhaps, applaud you heartily."
"Perhaps?" cried she. "I shall not expose myself to this 'perhaps.'
I will dance no more. My foot is sore, and your king cannot force me
"No, he cannot force you, but you will do it willingly; you will
dance for him again this evening, of your own free will."
Barbarina answered by one burst of wild, demoniac laughter,
expressive of her scorn and her resentment.
"You will dance again this evening," repeated Frederick, and his
keen eye gazed steadily into that of Barbarina, who, though weeping
bitterly, shook her lovely head, and gave him back bravely glance
for glance. "You will dance, Barbarina, because, if you do not, you
are lost. I do not mean by this that you are lost because the king
will punish you for your obstinacy. The king is no Bluebeard; he
neither murders women nor confines them in underground prisons; he
has no torture chambers ready for you; for the King of Prussia, whom
you hate so fiercely, has abolished the torture throughout his
kingdom--the torture, which still flourishes luxuriantly by the side
of oranges and myrtles in your beautiful Italy. No, signora, the
king will not punish you if you persist in your obstinacy; he will
only send you away, that is all."
"And that is my only wish, all that I ask of Fate."
"You do not know yourself. You, who are an artiste, who are a lovely
woman, who are ambitious, and look upon fame as worth striving for,
you would not lose your power, trample under foot your ambition, see
your rare beauty slighted, and your enchanting grace despised?"
"I cannot see why all these terrible things will come to pass if I
refuse to dance again before your king?"
"I will explain to you, signora--listen. The king (however
contemptuously you may think and speak of him) is still a man, upon
whom the eyes of all Europe are turned--that is to say," he added,
with a gay smile and a graceful bow, "when his bold eye is not
exactly fixed upon them, signora. The voice of this king has some
weight in your world, though, as yet, he has only stolen provinces
and women. It is well known that the king has so irresistible a
desire to see you and to admire you, that he forgot his knightly
gallantry, or set it aside, and, relying only upon his right, he
exacted the fulfilment of the contract signed by your own lovely
hand. That was, perhaps, not worthy of a cavalier, but it was not
unjust. You were forced to obey. You came to Berlin unwillingly,
that I confess; but you have this evening danced before the king of
your own free will. This, from your stand-point, was a great
mistake. You can no longer say, 'I will not dance before the king,
because I wish to revenge myself.' You have already danced, and no
matter with what refinement of reason you may explain this false
step, no one will believe you if the king raises his voice against
you; and he will do this, believe me. He will say: 'I brought this
Barbarina to Berlin. I wished to see if the world had gone mad or
become childish, or if Barbarina really deserved the enthusiasm and
adoration which followed her steps. Well, I have seen her dance, and
I find the world is mad in folly. I give them back their goddess--
she does not suit me. She is a wooden image in my eyes. I wished to
capture Terpsichore herself, and lo, I found I had stolen her
chambermaid! I have seen your goddess dance once, and I am weary of
her pirouettes and minauderies. Lo, there, thou hast that is
"Sir, sir!" cried Barbarina menacingly, and springing up with
flaming eyes and panting breath.
"That is what the king will say," said Frederick quietly. "You know
that the voice of the king is full and strong; it will resound
throughout Europe. No one will believe that you refused to dance. It
will be said that you did not please the king; this will be proved
by the fact that he did not applaud, did not utter a single bravo.
In a word, it will be said you have made a fiasco."
Barbarina sprang from her seat and laid her hand upon the arm of the
king with indescribable, inimitable grace and passion.
"Lead me upon the stage--I will dance now. Ah, this king shall not
conquer me, shall not cast me down. No, no! I will compel him to
applaud; he shall confess that I am indeed an artiste. Tell the
director to prepare--I will come immediately upon the stage."
Barbarina was right when she compared the artiste to a war-horse. At
this moment she did indeed resemble one: she seemed to hear the
sound of the trumpet calling to battle and to fame. Her cheeks
glowed, her nostrils dilated, a quick and violent breathing agitated
her breast, and a nervous and convulsive trembling for action was
seen in every movement. The king observed and comprehended her. He
understood her tremor and her haste; he appreciated this soul-
thirsting for fame, this fervor of ambition, excited by the
possibility of failure; her boldness enraptured him. The sincerity
and power with which she expressed her emotions, commanded his
respect; and while the king paid this tribute to her intellectual
qualities, the man at the same time confessed to himself that her
personal attractions merited the worship she received. She was
beautiful, endowed with the alluring, gentle, soft, luxurious, and
at the same time modest beauty of the Venus Anadyomene, the goddess
rising from the sea.
"Come," said Frederick, "give me your hand. I will conduct you, and
I promise you that this time the king will applaud."
Barbarina did not reply. In the fire of her impatience, she pressed
the king onward toward the door. Suddenly she paused, and giving him
an enchanting smile, she said, "I am, without doubt, much indebted
to you; you have warned me of a danger, and in fact guarded me from
an abyss. Truly I think this was not done for my sake, but because
your king had commanded that I should dance. Your reasons were well
grounded, and I thank you sincerely. I pray you, sir, give me your
name, that I may guard it in my memory as the only pleasant
association with Berlin."
"From this day, signora, you will confess that you owe me a small
service. You have told ine it was a light task to win provinces, but
to capture and subdue a woman was impossible, I hope now I shall be
a hero in your eyes: I have not only conquered provinces, I have
captured a woman and subdued her."
Barbarina was neither astonished nor alarmed at these words. She had
seen so many kings and princes at her feet to be blinded by the
glitter of royalty. She let go the arm of the king, and said calmly
and coolly: "Sire, I do not ask for pardon or grace. The possessor
of a crown must wear it, if he demands that it should be
acknowledged and respected, and the pomp and glare of royalty is, it
seems, easily veiled. Besides, I would not have acted otherwise, had
I known who it was that dared intrude upon me."
"I am convinced of that," said Frederick, smiling. "You are a queen
who has but small consideration for the little King of Prussia,
because he requires so many agents to impress the gold from the
pockets of his unwilling subjects. You are right--my agents cost me
much money, and bring small tribute, while yours cost nothing and
yield a rich harvest. Come, signora, your assessors must enter upon
He nodded to Baron Swartz, who stood in the corridor, and said in
German, "The signora will dance; she must be received with respect
and treated with consideration." He gave a light greeting to
Barbarina and returned to the saloon, where he found the last act of
the drama just concluded.
Every eye was fixed upon the king as he entered. He had left the
room in anger, and the courtiers almost trembled at the thought of
his fierce displeasure; but Frederick's brow was clear, and an
expression of peace and quiet was written on his features. He took
his place between the two queens, muttered a few words of
explanation to his mother, and bowed smilingly to his wife. Poor
queen! poor Elizabeth Christine! she had the sharp eye of a loving
and jealous woman, and she saw in the king's face what no one, not
even Frederick himself, knew. While every eye was turned upon the
stage; while all with breathless rapture gazed upon the marvellous
beauty and grace of Barbarina, the queen alone fixed a stolen and
trembling glance upon the countenance of her husband. She saw not
that Barbarina, inspired by ambition and passion, was more lovely,
more enchanting than before. Her eyes were fixed upon the face of
her husband, now luminous with admiration and delight; she saw his
soft smile, and the iron entered her soul.
The dance was at an end. Barbarina came forward and bowed low; and
now something happened so unheard of, so contrary to court
etiquette, that the master of ceremonies was filled with surprise
and disapprobation. The king applauded, not as gracious kings
applaud generally, by laying his hands lightly together, but like a
wild enthusiast who wishes to confess to the world that he is
bewildered, enraptured. He then rose from his chair, and turning to
the princesses and generals behind him, he said, "Gentlemen, why do
you not applaud?" and as if these magical words had released the
hands from bondage and given life to the wild rapture of applause
which had before but trembled on the lip, the wide hall rang with
the plaudits and enthusiastic bravos of the spectators. Barbarina
bowed low and still lower, an expression of happy triumph playing
upon her glowing face.
"I have never seen a more beautiful woman," said the king, as he
sank back, seemingly exhausted, in his chair.
Queen Elizabeth pressed her lips together, to suppress a cry of
pain. She had heard the king's words; for her they had a deeper
meaning. "He will love her, I know it, I feel it!" she said to
herself as she returned after this eventful evening to Schonhausen.
"Oh, why has God laid upon me this new trial, this new humiliation?
Until now, no one thought the less of me because I was not loved by
the king. The world said, 'The king loves no woman, he has no heart
for love.' From this day I shall be despised and pitied. The king
has found a heart. He knows now that he has not outlived his youth;
he feels that he is young--that he is young in heart, young in love!
Oh, my God! and I too am young, and love; and I must shroud my heart
in resignation and gloom."
While the queen was pouring out her complaints and prayers to God,
the Swedish ambassador was confiding his wrath to his king. He wrote
to his sovereign, and repeated to him the angry and abusive words of
the little Princess Amelia, who was known at the court as the little
April Fee. She was more changeable than April, and more stormy and
imperious than Frederick himself. He painted skilfully the gentle
and attractive bearing of the Princess Ulrica, and asked for
permission to demand the hand of this gracious and noble princess
for Adolph Frederick. After the ambassador had written his
dispatches, and sent them by a courier to the Swedish ship lying in
the sound, he said to himself, with a triumphant smile: "Ah, my
little Princess Amelia, this is a royal punishment for royal
impertinence. You were pleased to treat me with contempt, but you
did not know that I could avenge myself by depriving you of a
kingdom. Ah, if you had guessed my mission, how smilingly you would
have greeted the Count Tessin!"
The gentlemen diplomatists are sometimes outwitted.
The reader has learned, from the foregoing chapters, what a splendid
role the French theatre and ballet were now playing at the court of
Berlin. A superb house had been built for the Italian opera and the
ballet, a stage had been prepared in the king's palace for the
French comedies, and every representation was honored by the
presence of the king, the royal family, and the court circle. The
most celebrated singers of Italy, the most graceful Parisian dancers
were now to be heard and seen in Berlin. These things assumed such
vast importance, that the king himself appeared as a critic in the
daily journals, and his articles were published in the foreign
papers. While the king favored the strange actors with his presence
and his grace, the German theatre, like a despised step-child, was
given over to misery and contempt. Compelled to seek an asylum in
low dark saloons, its actors had to be thankful for even the
permission to exist, and to plead with Apollo and the Muses for aid
and applause. The king and the so-called good society despised them
altogether. But this step-child carried under her ashes and ragged
garments the golden robes of her future greatness; her cunning step-
sisters had cast her down into obscurity and want, but she was not
extinguished; she could not be robbed of her future! Only a few
propitious circumstances were necessary to enable her to shake the
dust from her head, and bring her kingly crown to light.
The king had given Schonemein permission to bring his company to
Berlin; and by a happy chance, Schonemein had engaged the young and
talented actor Eckhof for the season. Eckhof was destined to give
renown to the German theatre; he was justly called the first and
greatest actor in Germany. Alas, how much of misery, how much of
humiliation, how many choking tears, how much suffering and care,
how much hunger and thirst were then comprised in that one word, a
"German actor!" None but a lost or despairing man, or an enthusiast,
would enroll himself as a German actor; only when he had nothing
more to lose, and was willing to burn his ships behind him, could he
enter upon that thorny path. Religion and art have always had their
martyrs, and truly the German actors were martyrs in the time of
Frederick the Great. Blessings upon those who did not despair, and
took up their cross patiently!
The French comedy and the Italian opera flourished like the green
bay-tree. The German actors took refuge in the saloon of the
Council-house. The lighting up of the Royal Opera-house cost two
hundred and seventy-seven florins every night. The misty light of
sweltering oil lamps illuminated the poor saloon of the Council-
The audience of the German theatre was composed of burghers,
philosophers, poets, bankers, and clerks--the people of the middle
classes, who wore no white plumes in their hats; they were indeed
allowed to enter the opera-house, but through a side passage, and
their boxes were entirely separated from those of the court circle.
These people of the middle classes seemed obscure and unimportant,
but they were educated and intelligent; even then they were a power;
proud and independent, they could not be bribed by flattery, nor
blinded by glitter and pomp. They judged the king as they judged the
beggar, the philosopher as they did the artist, and they judged
boldly and well.
This public voice had declared that Eckhof was a great tragedian,
who rivalled successfully the great French actor, Monsieur Dennis.
This public voice, though but the voice of the people, found
entrance everywhere, even in the saloons of the nobles and cabinets
of princes. Berlin resounded with the name of Eckhof, who dared to
rival the French actor, and with the name of Schonemein, who dared,
every time a drama of Corneille or Racine, of Moliere or Voltaire,
was given in the palace theatre, to represent the same in the
Council-house on the following evening. This was a good idea. Those
who had been so fortunate as to witness the performance at the
palace, wished to compare the glittering spectacle with the poor
caricature, as they were pleased to call it, in the Council-house.
Those whose obscure position prevented them from entering the French
theatre, wished at least to see the play which had enraptured the
king and court; they must be content with a copy, somewhat like the
hungry beggar who stands before the kitchen door, and refreshes
himself by smelling the roast beef he cannot hope to taste. But
there was still a third class who visited the German theatre, not in
derision, not from curiosity, not from a desire to imitate the
nobles in their amusements, but with the seemingly Utopian hope of
building up the German drama. Amongst these were the scholars, who
pronounced the dramas of Gottsched far superior to those of
Corneille and Racine; there were the German patriots, who would not
grant a smile to the best representation of "Le Malade Imaginaire,"
but declared "The Hypochondriac," by Guistorp, the wittiest drama in
the world. In short, this large class of men ranged themselves in
bold opposition to the favoritism shown to Frenchmen by Frederick
the Great. These were the elements which composed the audience in
One afternoon, just before the opening of the theatre, two young men
were walking arm-in-arm in the castle court; with one of them we are
already acquainted, Joseph Fredersdorf, the merry student of Halle,
the brother of the private secretary--he who had been commissioned
to seek the black ram, for the propitiation of the devil. In
obedience to the command of the secretary, he, with ten other
members of this unholy alliance, had been searching in every quarter
for this sacrifice. Joseph Fredersdorf, indebted to fortune or his
own adroitness, was the first to return from his wanderings, and he
brought with him a black ram, on whose glossy coat the sharpest eye
could not detect one white hair.
Fredersdorf, and Baron Kleist, the husband of the lovely Louise von
Schwerin, were truly happy, and paid willingly some hundred thalers
for this coveted object. Indeed, they considered this a very small
interest to pay for the large capital which they would soon realize.
They were the principal leaders in the secret conspiracy for gold-
making, and many other most distinguished nobles, generals, and
officers belonged to the society. Fredersdorf was resolved to fathom
this mystery; he wished to buy himself free from his service to the
king, and wed the woman he had long so passionately loved. Kleist
was riotous and a spendthrift; he felt that gold alone would enable
him to buy smiles and rapture from this worn-out and wearisome
world. Kleist and his beautiful wife required money in large
measure; she had been a faithful companion and aid--had stood by
honestly and assisted in the waste of her own property; and now they
were compelled to confine themselves to the small income of captain
of the king's guard.
Joseph laughed, chatted, and jested with his young companion, who
walked by his side with modest and downcast eyes. Joseph sometimes
put his hand merrily under the dimpled chins of the rosy servant-
girls who passed them from time to time, or peeped rather
impertinently under the silk hoods of the burgher maidens; his
companion blushed and took no part in these bold pastimes.
"Truly," said Joseph, "if I did not have in my pocket a letter from
my former room-mate at Halle, introducing you as a manly, brave boy,
and a future light in the world of science, I should suspect you
were a disguised maiden; you blush like a girl, and are as timid as
a lamb which has never left its mother's side."
"I am a villager, a poor provincial," said the youth, in a somewhat
maidenly voice. "The manners of your great city embarrass me. I
admire but cannot imitate them. I have been always a recluse, a
"A learned monster!" cried Joseph, mockingly, "who knows and
understands every thing except the art of enjoying life. I
acknowledge that you are greatly my superior, but I can instruct you
in that science. You have been so strongly commended to me that I
will at once commence to unfold to you the real, satisfying duties
and pleasures of life."
"I fear," said the youth. "your science is beyond my ability. I have
no organ for it. My father is a celebrated physician in Quedlinburg;
he would be greatly distressed if I should occupy myself with any
thing else than philosophy and the arts. I myself have so little
inclination and so little ability for the enjoyment of mirth and
pleasure, that I dare not exchange the world of books for the world
of men. I do not understand their speech, and their manners are
strange to me."
"But, without doubt, you have come to Berlin to learn something of
"No, I have come to visit the medical college, and to speak with the
learned and renowned Euler."
"Folly and nonsense!" said Fredersdorf, laughing; "keep your dry
pursuits for Halle, and give your time and attention to that which
you cannot find there, gayety and amusement. I promise to be your
counsellor and comrade. Let us begin our studies at once. Do you see
that little theatre-bill fastened to the wall? Eckhof appears as
"Go to the theatre!" said Lupinus, shrinkingly. "How! I go to the
"And why not, friend?" said Joseph. "Perhaps you belong to the
pietists, who look upon the stage as the mother of blasphemy and
sin, and who rail at our noble king because he will not close these
"No, I do not belong to the pietists," said the youth, with a sad
smile, "and I try to serve God, by understanding and admiring His
works: that is my religion."
"Well, it seems to me that this faith does not forbid you to enter
the theatre. If it pleases you to study God's master-work, I promise
to show you this night on the stage the noblest exemplar. Eckhof
plays this evening."
"Who, then, is Eckhof?"
Joseph looked at the young man with surprise, and shrugged his
"You have, indeed, been greatly neglected, and it was high time you
should come to me. You do not know, then, that Eckhof is the first
tragedian who has dared to set aside the old and absurd dress and
manners of the stage, and introduce real, living, feeling men, of
like passions with ourselves, and who move and speak even as we do.
Now we must certainly enter the theatre; look there, at that great
crowd entering the dark and lowly entrance. Let us remove our hats
reverentially; we stand before the temple of art." So saying, he
drew the young man, who had no longer courage to resist, into the
house. "This is Eckhof's benefit. You see the great tragedian has
many admirers; it seems to me that half of Berlin has come to bring
him tribute this evening."
Lupinus sat silent and confused in the parterre, near Joseph. There
was a row of seats slightly elevated and made of common plank,
called loges; one of these nearest the stage was adorned by a golden
eagle, from which some pitiful drapery was suspended; this was
called the king's loge, but, I am constrained to say, it had never
been visited by the king or any member of the royal family. The
royal loge was indeed empty, but the great body of the house was
fearfully crowded, and many an expression of pain was heard from
those who were closely pressed and almost trampled upon.
"It is fortunate for you that Eckhof appears as Cato tonight: it is
his best role. Perhaps your learned soul may be somewhat reconciled
to such vanities when you see a drama of Gottsched, and a hero of
the old and classic time."
"Yes, but will not your Eckhof make a vile caricature of the noble
Roman?" sighed Lupinus.
"You are a pedant, and I trust the Muses will revenge themselves
upon you this night," said Joseph, angrily. "I prophesy that you
will become this evening a wild enthusiast for Eckhof: that is
always the punishment for those who come as despisers and doubters.
If you were a girl, I should know that you would be passionately in
love with Eckhof before you slept; you have taken the first step, by
Joseph said this thoughtlessly, and did not remark the deep
impression his words made upon the stranger. His face flushed, and
his head sank upon his breast. Joseph saw nothing of this. At this
moment the curtain rose and the piece began.
A breathless silence reigned throughout the vast crowd; every eye
was fixed upon the stage; and now, with a stately step and a Roman
toga falling in artistic folds from his shoulders, Eckhof as Cato
stood before them. Every thing about him was antique; his noble and
proud bearing, his firm and measured step, his slow but easy
movements, even the form of his head and the expression of his
finely-cut features, were eminently classic. He was the complete and
perfect picture of an old Roman; nothing was forgotten. The sandals,
laced with red over the powerful and well-formed leg; the white
under-garment and leathern girdle, the blue toga, the cut of his
hair, every thing brought before you the noble Roman, the son of
Liberty, imposing in his majesty and power.
Eckhof was the first who had the courage to clothe his characters in
the costume of the time they represented, to make them move and
speak simply as men. Eckhof did that for the German stage which some
years later Talma introduced on the French boards. Talma was only a
copyist of Eckhof, but this fact was not acknowledged, because at
that time the German stage had not won for itself the sympathy and
consideration of other nations.
As I have said, silence reigned, and from time to time the rapture
of applause, which could not be altogether suppressed, was evidenced
by thundering bravos. Then again all was still; every eye and every
ear were open to the great actor, true to himself and true to
nature; who, glowing with enthusiasm, had cast his whole soul into
his part; who had forgotten the line separating imagination from
reality; who had, indeed, ceased to be Eckhof, and felt and thought
and spoke as Cato. At the close of an act, Eckhof was forced to come
forward and show himself by the wild the stormy applause and loud
cries of the audience.
"Do you not find him beyond all praise?" said Fredersdorf.
Lupinus gazed steadily at the stage; he had only soul, breath,
hearing, for Eckhof. His old world had passed away like a misty
dream--a new world surrounded him. The olden time, the olden time to
which he had consecrated years of study and of thought, to which he
had offered up his sleep and all the pleasures of youth, had now
become a reality for him. He who stood upon the stage was Cato; that
was the Roman forum; there were the proud temples, and the dwelling-
houses consecrated by their household gods. There was, then, outside
of the world of books and letters, another world of light and
gladness! What was it, which made his heart beat and tremble so
powerfully? why did his blood rush so madly through his veins? A
dark veil had fallen from his face; all around him were life, light,
gladness, and rapture. With trembling lips and silent tears he said
to himself: "I will live; I will be young; I will turn to Eckhof; he
shall counsel me, and I will follow his advice as I would a holy
gospel.--Did you not say that you knew Cato?" said he, suddenly
awaking from his dream and turning to his companion.
"Cato?" said Fredersdorf. "Do you mean the drama, or that wearisome
old fellow himself? or Eckhof, who plays the part of Cato?"
"So it is Eckhof," said Lupinus, to himself; "he is called Eckhof?"
The play was at an end; the curtain fell for the last time, and now
the long-suppressed enthusiasm burst forth in wild and deafening
applause. The young stranger was silent, his eyes were full of
tears; and yet he was perhaps the happiest of them all, and these
rapturous tears were a loftier tribute to the great actor than the
loudest bravos. The people had passed a happy evening, and common
cares and sorrows had been forgotten; but Lupinus felt as if his
heart had risen from the dead: he was changed from old age to sunny
youth; he had suddenly discovered in himself something new,
something never suspected--a glowing, loving heart.
"Well, now I am resolved, wholly resolved," said Joseph, as they
forced their way through the crowd. "I no longer hesitate; I give up
to you your dry learning and philosophy; you are welcome to your
dusty books and your imposing cues. I will be an actor."
"Ha! an actor?" said Lupinus, awaking from his dream and trembling
"Why are you shocked at my words? I suppose you despise me because
of this decision; but what do I care? I will be an artiste; I shall
not be disturbed by the turned-up noses and derisive shrugs of you
wise ones. I will be a scholar of Eckhof; so despise me, my learned
Lupinus--I give you permission."
"I am not laughing," said Lupinus. "Each one must walk in that path
at the end of which he hopes to find his ideal."
"Yes, truly, and so I will go to Eckhof," said Fredersdorf, waving
his hat triumphantly in the air.
"Do you know where he dwells?" said the youth.
"Certainly. We are standing now just before his door. See there in
the third story, those two lighted windows? That is Eckhof's home."
"What is the name of this street?"
"What is that to you? Has my prophecy really come true, and are you
in love with the great actor? Do not let go my arm; do not turn away
from me angrily. The Post Strasse is a long way off from where you
dwell; you will lose yourself. Let us go together. I will risk no
more unseemly jests with you. Come!"
"He lives in the Post Strasse; he is called Eckhof," said Lupinus to
himself, as he took Joseph's arm and walked through the dark
streets. "I must see Eckhof; he shall decide my fate."
A LIFE QUESTION.
It was the morning after Eckhof's benefit. The usually quiet
dwelling of the actor resounded with the ringing of glasses and
merry songs after the toils and fatigues of the evening. He wished
to afford to himself and his comrades a little distraction; to give
to the hungry sons of the Muses and Graces a few hours of simple
enjoyment. Eckhof's purse was full and he wished to divide its
contents with his friends.
"Drink and be merry," said he to his gay companions. "Let us forget
for a few hours that we are poor, despised German actors. We will
drink, and picture to ourselves that we belong to the cherished and
celebrated artistes of the French stage, on whom the Germans so
willingly shower gold, honor, and even love. Raise your glasses, and
drink with me to the success of German art!"
"We will drink also to Eckhof," cried one of the youthful company,
raising his glass. "Yes, to the father of the now school of German
"You are that, Eckhof, and you are also our benefactor," said
another. "We thank you, that for some months we have not suffered
from hunger and thirst; that the good people of Berlin take an
interest in the German stage, and treat us with some consideration.
Let us, then, drink to our preserver, to the great Eckhof!"
Every glass was raised, and their shouts rang out merrily. Eckhof
alone was sad and troubled, and his great dreamy eyes gazed
thoughtfully in the distance. His friends observed this, and
questioned him as to the cause of his melancholy.
"I am not melancholy, though a German actor has always good reason
to be so; but I have some new plans which I wish to disclose to you.
You greet me as your benefactor. Alas! how suffering, how pitiful
must your condition be, if such a man as I am can have been useful
to you! You are all artistes, and I say this to you from honest
conviction, and not from contemptible flattery. You are greater in
your art than I am, only you had not the courage to break through
the old and absurd customs of your predecessors. That I have done
this, that I have dared to leave the beaten paths, is the only
service I have rendered. I have tried to banish from the stage the
crazy fools who strutted from side to side, and waved their arms
from right to left; who tried to play the orator by uttering their
pathetic phrases in weird, solemn sounds from the throat, or
trumpeted them through the nose. I have placed living men upon the
boards, who by natural speech and action lend truth and reality to
the scenes they wish to portray. You, comrades, have assisted me
faithfully in this effort. We are in the right path, but we are far
from the goal. Let us go forward, then, bravely and hopefully. You
think yourselves happy now in Berlin; but I say to you that we dare
not remain in Berlin. This vegetation, this bare permission to live,
does not suffice, will not satisfy our honor. I think, with Caesar,
it is better to be the first in a village than the second or third
in a great city. We will leave Berlin; this cold, proud, imperious
Berlin, which cherishes the stranger, but has no kind, cheering word
for her own countrymen. Let us turn our backs upon these French
worshippers, and go as missionaries for the German drama throughout
A long pause followed this speech of Eckhof; every eye was
thoughtful, every face was troubled.
"You do not answer? I have not, then, convinced you?"
"Shall we leave Berlin now," said the hero and lover of the little
company, "even now, when they begin to show a little interest, a
little enthusiasm for us?"
"Alas, friend! the enthusiasm of the Berliners for us is like a fire
of straw--it flashes and is extinguished; to-day, perhaps, they may
applaud us, to-morrow we will be forgotten, because a learned
sparrow or hound, a French dancer, or an Italian singer, occupies
their attention. There is neither endurance nor constancy in the
Berliners. Let us go hence."
"It seems to me that we should make use of the good time while it
lasts," said another. "At present, our daily bread is secured for
ourselves and our families."
"If you are not willing to endure suffering and want," said Eckhof,
sadly, "you will never be true artistes. Poverty and necessity will
be for a long time to come the only faithful companions of the
German actor; and he who has not courage to take them to his arms,
would do better to become an honest tailor or a shoemaker. If the
prosperity of your family is your first consideration, why have you
not contented yourselves with honest daily labor, with being
virtuous fathers of families? The pursuit of art does not accord
with these things; if you choose the one, you must, for a while at
least, be separated from the other."
"That will we do," cried Fredersdorf, who had just entered the room;
"I, for my part, have already set you all a good example. I have
separated from my family, in order to become the husband of Art,
whose sighing and ardent lover I have long been; and now, if the
noble Eckhof does not reject me as a scholar, I am wholly yours."
Eckhof seized his hand, and said, with a soft smile, "I receive you
joyfully; you have the true fire of inspiration. From my heart I say
you are welcome."
"I thank you for the word--and now let us be off. The German actor
is in Germany no better than the Jew was to the Romans. Let us do as
the Jews: we have also found our Moses, who will lead us to the
promised land, where we shall find liberty, honor, and gold."
"Yes," they cried, with one voice, "we will follow Eckhof, we will
obey our master, we will leave Berlin and seek a city where we shall
be truly honored."
"I have found the city," said Eckhof; "we will go to Halle. The wise
men who have consecrated their lives to knowledge are best fitted to
appreciate and treasure the true artiste; we will unite with them,
and our efforts will transform Halle into an Athens, where knowledge
and art shall walk hand-in-hand in noble emulation."
"Off, then, for Halle!" said Fredersdorf, waving his hat in the air,
but his voice was less firm, and his eye was troubled. "Will the
director, Schonemein, consent?"
"Schonemein has resolved to go with us, provided we make no claim
for salaries, but will share with him both gains and losses."
"If the undertaking fails in Halle, we must starve, then," said a
Eckhof said nothing; he crossed the room to his writing-table, and
took out a well-filled purse. "I do not say that we shall succeed in
Halle, that is, succeed as the merchants and Jews do; we go as
missionaries, resolved to bear hunger and thirst, if need be, for
the cause we love and believe in. Look, this purse contains what
remains of my profits from the last two months and from my benefit
last night. It is all I have; take it and divide it amongst you. It
will, at least, suffice to support you all for one month."
"Will you accept this?" said Joseph, with glowing cheeks.
"No, we will not accept it; what we do we will do freely, and no man
shall fetter us by his generosity or magnanimity, not even Eckhof."
Eckhof was radiant with joy. "Hear, now--I have another proposition
to make. You have refused my offer for yourselves, but you dare not
refuse it for your children; take this money and divide it equally
amongst your wives and children. With this gold you shall buy
yourselves free for a while from your families."
After a long and eloquent persuasion, Eckhof's offer was accepted,
and divided fairly. He looked on with a kindly smile.
"I now stand exactly as I did when I resolved two years ago to be an
actor. Before that I was an honest clerk; from day to day I
vegetated, and thanked God, when, after eight hours' hard work, I
could enjoy a little fresh air and the evening sunshine, and declaim
to the fields and groves my favorite lines from the great authors.
It is probable I should still have been a poor clerk and a dreamer,
if my good genius had not stood by me and given me a powerful blow,
which awakened me from dreaming to active life. The justice of the
peace, whose clerk I was, commanded me to serve behind his carriage
as a footman; this aroused my anger and my self-respect, and I left
him, determined rather to die of hunger than to submit to such
humiliation. My good genius was again at hand, and gave me courage
to follow the promptings of my heart, and become an actor. He who
will be great has the strength to achieve greatness. Let us go
onward, then, with bold hearts." He gave his hand to his friends and
dismissed them, warning them to prepare for their journey.
"You are determined to go to Halle?" said Frederedorf, who had
remained behind for the last greeting.
"We will go to Halle; it is the seat of the Muses, and belongs,
therefore, to us."
Joseph shook his head sadly. "I know Halle," said he. "You call it
the seat of the Muses. I know it only as the seat of pedantry. You
will soon know and confess this. There is nothing more narrow-
minded, jealous, arrogant, and conceited than a Halle professor. He
sees no merit in any thing but himself and a few old dusty Greeks
and Romans, and even these are only great because the professor of
Halle has shown them the honor to explain and descant upon them.
But, you are resolved--I would go with you to prison and to death;
in short, I will follow you to Halle."
"And now I am at last alone," said Eckhof; "now I must study my new
role; now stand by me, ye gods, and inspire me with your strength;
give me the right tone, the right emphasis to personate this rare
and wonderful Hippolytus, with which I hope to win the stern
professors of Halle!"
Walking backward and forward, he began to declaim the proud and
eloquent verses of Corneille; he was so thoroughly absorbed that he
did not hear the oft-repeated knock upon the door; he did not even
see that the door was softly opened, and the young Lupinus stood
blushing upon the threshold. He stood still and listened with
rapture to the pathetic words of the great actor; and as Eckhof
recited the glowing and innocent confession of love made by
Hippolytus, a burning blush suffused the cheek of the young student,
and his eyes were filled with tears. He overcame his emotion, and
advanced to Eckhof, who was now standing before the glass, studying
the attitude which would best accord with this passionate
"Sir," said he, with a low and trembling voice, "pardon me for
disturbing you. I was told that I should find Eckhof in this room,
and it is most important to me to see and consult with this great
man. I know this is his dwelling; be kind enough to tell me if he is
"This is his home, truly, but he is neither a great nor a wise man;
only and simply Eckhof the actor."
"I did not ask your opinion of the distinguished man whom I honor,
but only where I can find him."
"Tell me first what you want of Eckhof."
"What I want of him, sir?" said the youth, thoughtfully; "I scarcely
know myself. There is a mystery in my soul which I cannot fathom.
Eckhof has age, wisdom, and experience--perhaps he can enlighten me.
I have faith in his eyes and in his silver beard, and I can say
freely to him what I dare not say to any other."
Eckhof laughed merrily. "As to his white beard, you will find that
in his wardrobe; his wisdom you will find in the books of the
authors, to whose great thoughts he has only given voice; he is
neither old, wise, nor experienced. In short--I, myself, am Eckhof."
"You are Eckhof!" said Lupinus, turning deadly pale, and, stepping
back a few paces, he stared with distended eyes at the actor, whose
noble and intellectual face, glowing with youthful fire, was turned
"I am Eckhof, and I hope you will forgive me for being a little
younger, a little browner, and somewhat less wise than the great
Cato, in which character you no doubt saw me last night. I dare hope
that my confession will not shake your confidence in me; with my
whole heart I beg you will tell me how I can be useful to you and
what mystery you wish to have explained."
"No, no! I cannot explain," cried the youth; "forgive me for having
disturbed you. I have nothing more to say." Confused and ashamed,
Lupinus left the room. The actor gazed after him wonderingly,
convinced that he had been closeted with a madman.
With trembling heart, scarcely knowing what he thought or did, the
student reached his room and closed the door, and throwing himself
upon his knees, he cried out in tones of anguish: "Oh, my God! I
have seen Eckhof: he is young, he is glorious in beauty, unhappy
that I am!" With his hands folded and still upon his knees, he gazed
dreamily in the distance; then springing up suddenly, his eyes
glowing with energy and passion, he cried: "I must go, I must go! I
will return to Halle, to my books and my quiet room; it is lonely,
but there I am at peace; there the world and the voice of Eckhof
cannot enter. I must forget this wild awakening of my youth; my
heart must sleep again and dream, and be buried at last under the
dust of books. Unhappy that I am, I feel that the past is gone
forever. I stand trembling on the borders of a new existence. I will
go at once--perhaps there is yet time; perhaps I may yet escape the
wretchedness which threatens me. Oh! in my books and studies I may
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