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Berlin and Sans-Souci; or Frederick the Great and his friends online

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a warm pressure of the hand.

These students were the special friends of Joseph Fredersdorf. To
them he had confided the danger which threatened the actors this
evening, and had demanded their aid in maintaining peace and quiet.
They scattered about amongst the crowd of students, and whispered to
their friends and acquaintances: "No disturbance this evening. We
must be quiet, whatever occurs."

At length this fluttering, whispering crowd were silenced by the
ringing of the bell which announced the rising of the curtain.

The piece began, and never had Eckhof displayed such fire, such
enthusiasm; the students had never exhibited such rapt and earnest
attention. Their excitement was shown by their flashing eyes and
glowing cheeks, and the low murmurs of delight which arose
occasionally from this dark mass. But at length a moment arrived
when it became impossible to suppress the expression of their
delight, and forgetting all resolve to the contrary, they called
aloud, amid thunders of applause, for their favorite Eckhof, who had
just left the stage.

"A disturbance is now unavoidable," said Lupinus to himself, "but
Eckhof deserves that we should forget all such miserable
considerations. To die for him were to be indeed blessed."

As Eckhof appeared upon the stage, in answer to the repeated calls
upon his name, Lupinus gazed upon him with a beaming countenance,
and joined the others in their cries of delight.

The unalloyed triumph of Eckhof endured but for one moment, for
suddenly, high above the shouts of applause, arose a piercing,
derisive whistle, succeeded by hisses and groans.

As if by magic, the aspect of the parterre was changed. Every
student looked wrathfully at his neighbor, as if determined to
discover and punish the rash offender who dared run counter to the
general approbation. A few students were endeavoring to calm the
rising storm; but renewed hisses and groans made this impossible,
and one voice was heard high above the others: "You hissed, sir; I
forbid it!"

"And I forbid you to applaud," was the answer. "So long as you
applaud, I will hiss. Accommodate yourself to that."

A universal cry of wrath arose as if from one voice. The struggle
was inevitable, as Lupinus had foreseen; the parterre of the theatre
was converted into a battle-ground, and a fierce combat began among
these young, hot-blooded students. The manager ordered the lights to
be extinguished, and the police to be called in, but for a long time
their efforts were ineffectual in subduing the contest.

We will leave the theatre with Lupinus, who, as soon as he could
extricate himself from the battling crowd, hurried through the
streets, toward the lodging of Fredersdorf.

He found a post-carriage before the door, and Fredersdorf, dressed
for a journey, was just leaving the house. As he was stepping into
the carriage, Lupinus placed his hand upon his shoulder, and said,
"Where are you going, Fredersdorf?"

"To Berlin, to the king."

"The king is not in Berlin; he is in Silesia, with the army."

"I received letters from my brother to-day. The king has gone to
Berlin for a few days, and my brother is with him. I will have no
difficulty in obtaining an audience. I shall give the king a correct
version of this affair. He will perceive that this disturbance was
occasioned by the professors, and he will not allow us to be driven
from Halle. Farewell, my friend; in four days I return, and you
shall hear the result of my journey."

"I intend to accompany you."

"You intend to accompany me?"

"Yes; perhaps you will need a witness; I must be with you. I thought
you would have counted on me."

"How could I suppose that Lupinus, the learned student, who will
receive his diploma at the end of a few weeks, would tear himself
from the arms of his beloved Science, to go with a comedian before
the king, and bear witness for the hated and despised actors?"

"Ah, Fredersdorf," said Lupinus; "if you consider Science my
beloved, I fear you will soon have occasion to call me a faithless

"What can you mean? How! you also - "

"Let us be off, my friend. We will discuss that in the carriage."



Four days after the unfortunate occurrences in the theatre,
Fredersdorf and his friend Lupinus returned from their secret
journey, the object of which was unknown even to Eckhof. No sooner
had they alighted from their travelling carriage, than they
proceeded arm-in-arm to Eckhof's lodging. They found him at home and
alone, and Fredersdorf saw from his pale countenance and lustreless
eyes that his sensitive, easily excited nature had been deeply
wounded by the late events.

"I bring you a new pupil, my master," said Fredersdorf, drawing
Lupinus forward, who stood deeply blushing before Eckhof.

Eckhof smiled sadly. "A pupil who desires that I should lead him
through all the classes and degrees of the school of suffering and

"A young student, Eckhof, who up to this time has been the pride and
delight of the university; who, however, now wishes to relinquish
this honor, and become one of your followers. In one word, this is
Lupinus, who desires to waive his right to the prospective dignity
of the title of doctor of medicine, and to become your pupil, and
eventually an actor."

"You are kind and tender-hearted as ever, Joseph," said Eckhof,
gently. "You know that I bear a wound in my heart, and you seek to
heal it with the balm of your friendship, and this kind jest."

"This is no jest, but a reality. Truly, you resemble a pair of
lovers, who have not the courage to believe in their own happiness.
Eckhof will not believe that the learned student Lupinus wishes to
become his follower and pupil, and Lupinus stands there like a young
girl who has received a declaration and does not dare say yes.
Speak, Lupinus, and tell this doubter that you have come
voluntarily; that I have not pressed you into the service as
Frederick William impressed soldiers. Truly, I had trouble enough in
divining from your broken words and repressed sighs, your blushes,
and your deep admiration for Eckhof, this secret which lay in your
bosom. But now that it has been discovered, take courage, my friend,
and raise the veil which conceals your desires."

Lupinus remained speechless, only the heaving of his breast betrayed
his excitement. Eckhof had compassion on the evident embarrassment
of the young student, and approaching him laid his hand gently on
his shoulder. Lupinus trembled and grew pale under Eckhof's gentle,
sympathetic glance.

"Do you wish really to become an actor?" questioned Eckhof.

"Yes," he replied in a low voice, "I have long wished it, I have
struggled with this wish, and thought I had overcome it; but the
struggle has been in vain; in vain have I buried myself in books and
studies. I will keep up this internal strife no longer, but will
follow the inclinations of my heart, which lead me to you. In this
new life I shall be happy and contented; and this I can only hope to
be, in giving my life to poetry and art."

"Ah, he speaks and thinks as I did," said Eckhof to him self; then
turning to Lupinus, he said: "You wish to be an actor; that means,
you desire a life of shame and humiliation. No one shall become an
actor if I can prevent it. Do you know, young man, that, to become
an actor, means to have the whole world, and perhaps even God,
arrayed against you?"

"You are unjust, Eckhof," cried Fredersdorf - "unjust to yourself and
to the world. You scorn your own triumph, and those who prepared
that triumph for you."

"You are right so far, my friend," replied Eckhof sadly. "But is it
not also true that we are persecuted and driven forth? Has it not
been proved that for an actor there is no law, no justice?"

"Who knows," said Fredersdorf, smiling, "that we may not still
triumph over these miserable conspirators?"

"Are you aware that the theatre has been closed, and our
representations forbidden until the decision of the General
Assembly, with regard to the late disturbance in the theatre, shall
be known?"

"The General Assembly will order the theatre to be opened, and our
representations to recommence."

Eckhof heard this with a cutting, derisive laugh. "Dear friend, such
an order would render justice to the scorned and oppressed on

"And they will receive justice; but it must be sought in the right

"Where is that place?"

"Where the king is."

"Ah! the king! That may be true in your case, because your brother
is his private secretary, but it is not true for me - not true for
the German actor."

"Eckhof, you are again unjust. The king is too noble, too free from
prejudice, to be deceived by the dust with which these learned
professors have sought to blind him. The king knows that they
occasioned the late disturbance in the theatre."

"Who has told you that?"

"The king himself."

"You have seen the king?"

"I have. I hope you will allow now, that it is not a good thing for
me only that my brother is private secretary to the king. I have
seen his majesty, and I informed him of this wretched intrigue of
the professors. He might not have put entire faith in the accounts
of the actor, Joseph Fredersdorf, but I was accompanied by a
responsible witness, who confirmed my words."

"Who was this witness?"

"This is he," said Joseph, drawing Lupinus forward.

"Ah!" said Eckhof, "and I was murmuring and complaining against
fate - I, whose friends have shown their love by deeds as well as by
words - friends who worked for me whilst I sat with folded hands
bewailing my bad fortune. Forgive me, Joseph; forgive me, my young
friend; come to my arms, my comrades, my brothers, and say that you
will forget my anger and injustice."

He opened his arms, and Joseph threw himself upon his breast.

"And you, my friend," said Eckhof, turning to Lupinus, who stood
pale and motionless before him.

Joseph drew them together and exclaimed: "Was I not right? You are
like two lovers; Lupinus acts the part of the coy maiden to the
life. I do not believe, Eckhof, that you will ever have a wife who
will love you more entirely, more tenderly, than our young doctor

Lupinus, now folded in the arms of Eckhof, trembled and grew pale at
these words from Joseph.

"Love me, love me, my dear young friend," said Eckhof, softly.
"Friendship is the purest, the holiest gift of God. It is the love
of the souls. Be faithful to me, Lupinus, as I shall be to you."

"I will be faithful so long as I live, faithful beyond the grave,"
whispered Lupinus.

"You whispering, dreaming lovers, are forgetting me," said Joseph,
laughing. "You must not forget, Eckhof, that the future of our
friend is awaiting your decision. Shall he give up his studies as I
did, and become an actor? It is only proper to tell you that the
cases are not quite parallel, for I was a very lazy student, and he
is most industrious. I was considered a good-for-nothing, and
Lupinus is a miracle of knowledge and learning. Shall he abandon
this position and follow you?"

"He must not, indeed," said Eckhof.

"You will not receive me?" said Lupinus, sadly.

"Not at present, dear friend; I wish to be reasonable and careful,
and perhaps a little egotistical. If you should leave the university
at present, you give the professors a new weapon against me, and it
would be said that I had employed arts to seduce you from the paths
of science. And, further, we do not know if you have a talent for
our profession; that must first be proved. Remain for the present
true to your studies; at the end of a year, during which time you
shall pass your novitiate, we will decide this question."

"It shall be as you say," said Lupinus, earnestly. "I will first
gain my diploma, and then you shall decide my future, you and no

"So be it," said Joseph, "and now let us drink to your future
success, Lupinus, in a glass of champagne, and to the confusion of
the professors, who are awaiting with such proud confidence the
decision of the General Assembly."



Joseph Fredersdorf was quite right in saying that the professors
awaited the decision of the General Assembly with proud confidence.
It did not occur to them that it might be unfavorable to their
wishes. A public disturbance had arisen between the students,
occasioned by a performance in the theatre; this was a sufficient
cause for the banishment of the actors. An account of the riot had
been already forwarded by the Senate of the University to the
General Assembly, and the worthy gentlemen who composed this body
did not doubt the fulfilment of their request, that the actors
should be removed from Halle.

President Franke received with the utmost composure the official
dispatch, containing the decision of the General Assembly, and
called an immediate meeting of the Senate for its perusal. Whilst
awaiting the opening of the meeting, Professor Heinrich was
expressing to his friend, Professor Bierman, his impatience to know
the contents of this dispatch.

"I am not at all impatient," replied Bierman. "I am convinced the
decision will be perfectly satisfactory to us; in fact, that it
commands the departure of these actors from our city."

"Have you no doubts? Do you not fear that the king, in his hatred
for the theologians, and his admiration for these comedians, may
decide in their favor rather than in ours?"

"Dear friend, such a doubt would be unworthy the dignity of our
position. The king, seeing that the matter has gone so far, must
decide in our favor. And here is our worthy president; look at his
proud and cheerful aspect, and judge whether the document he holds
in his hand can be unfavorable."

"He does, indeed, seem contented," answered Professor Heinrich, as
he and his friend moved forward to meet the president.

With great solemnity the senators proceeded to take their seats in
the arm-chairs which encircled a high table standing in the centre
of the room.

After a moment's silence the president addressed them: "Worthy
friends and colleagues, I have to announce to you that the hour has
at length arrived which is to end all the doubts and cares that have
oppressed our hearts for many months. We have had a bitter struggle;
we have striven to preserve the honor of our university and the
well-being of the youth committed to our care. The men who work with
such noble motives must eventually triumph."

"The decision is, then, in our favor?" asked Professor Heinrich, no
longer able to subdue his impatient curiosity. "Your excellency has
already read the dispatch of the General Assembly, and are
acquainted with its contents."

"I have not read it, and I do not know its contents. But I rely upon
our worthy cause, and the king's sense of justice. These comedians
were the occasion of a public disturbance - it is, therefore, proper
that they should be punished. As justice is on our side, I cannot
doubt the result. I have not read this dispatch, for I considered it
more in accordance with the dignity of this body that the seal
should be broken in your presence, and I now beg that you, Professor
Bierman, as the secretary of the Senate, will read to us this
dispatch from the General Assembly."

As Bierman broke the seal, all eyes were turned on him, and in this
moment of expectation the professors were aware that their hearts
beat louder and more rapidly. Suddenly Professor Bierman uttered a
cry, a cry of horror, which awakened an echo in every breast.

"Proceed," commanded the president, with stony composure.

"I cannot," murmured Bierman, as he sank back powerless in his

"Then I will read it myself," cried Professor Heinrich, forgetting
all other considerations in his determination to satisfy his
curiosity. "I will read it," he repeated, as he took the paper from
the trembling hands of his friend.

"Read," said the president, in a low voice.

Professor Heinrich then proceeded to read aloud the following
dispatch sent by the General Assembly to the Senate of the
University at Halle.

"We find it most unworthy that you, in your complaint against the
comedians now in Halle, should endeavor to cast on them the blame of
the late disturbance in the theatre. We are well aware of the cause
of this disturbance, and now declare that the actors shall not be
banished from Halle."

A fearful pause followed this reading. The president perceived that
Heinrich was still looking at the paper he held.

"Is that all? Have you finished the dispatch?"

"No, your excellency; there is a note on the margin, in the writing
of the king."

"Read it aloud."

"Your excellency, the king has made use of some expressions that I
cannot bring my lips to utter."

"The king is our master; we must hear what he has to say in all

"You command me, then, to proceed?"

"I command it."

"'This pack of theologians have caused the whole difficulty. The
actors shall continue to play, and Mr. Franke, or whatever else the
scamp calls himself, shall make public reparation, by visiting the
theatre; and I must receive information from the actors themselves
that he has done so.'"

A murmur of horror succeeded the reading of this order. Only
President Franke maintained his erect position, and continued
looking straight before him at Professor Heinrich, who had just
dropped the fatal paper.

"Is that all?" asked the president.

"It is, your excellency."

He bowed gravely, and, rising from his chair, glanced slowly from
one face to another. The senators cast down their eyes before this
glance, not from fear or shame, but from terror at the fearful
expression of the president's countenance.

"If that is all, it is time for me to go," he said solemnly, as he
pushed his chair back, and slowly and stiffly walked forward, like
an automaton which has been set in motion by machinery.

"This has affected his brain. He will have a paralytic stroke,"
murmured the senators to one another.

The president did not hear them, nor did he seem to know what he
wished. He was now standing motionless a few steps from the table.

The professors were terrified at this spectacle, and only Heinrich
had the courage to advance to his side and ask - "Where do you wish
to go, my dear friend?"

"I wish to obey the command of the king - I am going to the theatre,"
he replied, with a cry of despair, and then fell fainting into the
arms of his friend.

Professor Bierman instantly summoned assistance, and the insensible
form of the president was borne from the room, and a messenger sent
for a physician.

When the professors had become somewhat composed, Bierman announced
to them that he had a proposition to make which he hoped would meet
with their approval.

"You doubtless agree with me, my friends, in saying that this cruel
sentence of the king must not be carried out. Our friend the
president would not suffer alone in its fulfilment - the honor of the
university would receive an irreparable wound. We must employ every
effort to alter this decision. It is, in my opinion, fortunate that
our worthy friend has sunk for the time beneath this blow. His
illness relieves him from the necessity of an immediate appearance
in the theatre; and, whether ill or not, he must remain in his bed
until the king can be induced to alter his sentence. We will prepare
a petition and send it immediately to the king."

The proposal of Bierman met with entire approval; and the petition
was prepared, signed by all the professors, and sent to Berlin by
one of their number. The king, however, declined to receive him, and
his only answer was that in eight days the Senate would be made
acquainted with his final decision.

The professors convinced themselves that there was comfort in this
answer. The king evidently did not intend to insist on the execution
of the first sentence, or he would simply have ordered its

The professors were hopeful, and no longer opposed the nightly
visits of the students to the theatre. A few of them determined to
visit the theatre themselves, and see this Eckhof who had caused
them so much sorrow and trouble. The students were delighted at this
concession, and considered the professors the most enlightened and
unprejudiced of the whole body. To show their apreciation of this,
they attended their lectures on the following day.

This unexpected result made the other professors falter in their
determination. Their temporal good depended very much on the
attendance of the students upon their lectures. They found that they
must consent to listen to Eckhof and his companions, if they would
be heard themselves; and, at length, they determined to make peace
with the students and actors, and to visit the theatre.

Peace was now proclaimed, and Eckhof, whose noble and tender heart
was filled with joy and gratitude, played "Britannicus" with such
power and feeling that he even won applause from the professors.

President Franke was still confined to his room. The terror of a
forced visit to the theatre, which would be known as an expiation
for his fault, made his nights sleepless and his days most wretched.

At length, however, the answer to the petition arrived, and, to his
great relief, he found himself condemned to pay a fine of twenty
thalers to the almshouse of Halle; and no further mention was made
of his visit to the theatre.



Deep silence reigned in the encampment which the Prussians had
established near the village of Sohr. The brave soldiers, wearied
with their long march, were sleeping quietly, although they knew
that the Austrian army, which far outnumbered their own, was
hastening toward them, and would attack them within a few hours.
This knowledge did not alarm them, they had not so soon forgotten
their signal victory over Karl von Lothringen, with his Austrians,
Bavarians, and Saxons, at Hohenfriedberg. They did not fear a defeat
at Sohr, although the grand duke was now the leader of forty
thousand men, and Frederick's army had been so diminished by the
forces he had sent to Saxony and Silesia, that it consisted of
scarcely twenty thousand men. The Prussian soldiers relied
confidently upon the good fortune and the strategic talent of their
king; they could sleep quietly, for Frederick watched beside them.

The watch-fires had died out, the lights in the tents of the
officers were extinguished. Now and then might be heard the measured
tread of a sentinel, or the loud breathing of some soldier dreaming
perhaps of his distant home or forsaken bride. No other sounds broke
upon the night air. The Prussian army slept. Alas! how many of them
were now dreaming their last earthly dream; how many on the morrow
would lie with gaping wounds upon a bloody battle ground, with
staring glassy eyes turned upward, and no one near to wipe the
death-drops from their brows! They know not, they care not, they are
lost in sleep. There can be no pressing danger, for the king is in
their midst - the light has been extinguished in his tent also. He
sleeps with his army.

It is midnight, the hour of wandering spirits. Is that a spirit
which has just left so noiselessly the tent of the king, and has so
quickly vanished in the tent of the adjutant, which adjoins that of
the king? No, not vanished, for it has already reappeared; but there
are now three of these shadowy beings quietly approaching the white
tents of the officers, disappearing for an instant into each tent,
then reappearing, and continuing their course.

Where they have been may now be heard a low whispering and moving.
Soon another dark figure is visible; it moves cautiously forward
toward the soldiers' tents in which it disappears, and from these
may be heard the same low whispering, and like a murmuring brook
this babbling glides through the entire camp, always following the
first three shadows who have gone noiselessly and with the rapidity
of the wind through the camp.

Why have these three shadows driven sleep from the encampment? why
have they ordered the horses to be prepared? No one has been told to
mount, no "Forward!" has been thundered through the camp; and but
for the dark figures which may now be seen on all sides, the silence
is so profound that one might almost think the camp still buried in

The Austrians. who can only view the camp from a distance, think, no
doubt, their enemy still sleeps.

The silence of the camp is at last broken by a sound like the heavy
roll of thunder; and if the moon were now to break through the
clouds, it would gleam upon eight field pieces which are being

Online LibraryL. MühlbachBerlin and Sans-Souci; or Frederick the Great and his friends → online text (page 21 of 42)