L. Mühlbach.

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

. (page 4 of 42)
Online LibraryL. MühlbachBerlin and Sans-Souci; or Frederick the Great and his friends → online text (page 4 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

control of all the treasures of the world. By God's help, or the
devil's, you will very soon, I suppose, discover the secret of
making gold."

"He has, indeed, heard my conversation with Joseph," said
Fredersdorf to himself, and ashamed and confused, he cast his eyes
down before the laughing glance of the king.

"Read your Horace diligently," said Frederick - "you know he is also
my favorite author; you shall learn one of his beautiful songs by
heart, and repeat it to me."

The king walked up and down the room, and cast, from time to time, a
piercing glance at Fredersdorf. He then repeated from Horace these
two lines:

"'Torment not your heart
With the rich offering of a bleeding lamb.'"

"I see well," said Fredersdorf, completely confused, "I see well
that your majesty knows - "

"That it is high time," said the king, interrupting him, "to go to
Berlin; you do well to remind me of it. Order my carriage - I will be
off at once."



Princess Ulrica, the eldest of the two unmarried sisters of the
king, paced her room with passionate steps. The king had just made
the queen-mother a visit, and had commanded that his two sisters
should be present at the interview.

Frederick was gay and talkative. He told them that the Signora
Barbarina had arrived, and would appear that evening at the castle
theatre. He invited his mother and the two princesses to be present.
He requested them to make tasteful and becoming toilets, and to be
bright and amiable at the ball and supper after the theatre. The
king implored them both to be gay: the one, in order to show that
she was neither angry nor jealous; the other, that she was proud and

The curiosity of the two young girls was much excited, and they
urged the king to explain his mysterious words. He informed them
that Count Tessin, the Swedish ambassador, would be present at the
ball; that he was sent to Berlin to select a wife for the prince
royal of Sweden, or, rather, to receive one; the choice, it
appeared, had been already made, as the count had asked the king if
he might make proposals for the hand of the Princess Amelia, or if
she were already promised in marriage. The king replied that Amelia
was bound by no contract, and that proposals from Sweden would be
graciously received.

"Be, therefore, lovely and attractive," said the king, placing his
hand caressingly upon the rosy cheek of his little sister; "prove to
the count that the intellectual brow of my sweet sister is fitted to
wear a crown worthily."

The queen-mother glanced toward the window into which the Princess
Ulrica had hastily withdrawn.

"And will your majesty really consent that the youngest of my
daughters shall be first married?"

The king followed the glance of his mother, and saw the frowning
brow and trembling lip of his sister. Frederick feared to increase
the mortification of Ulrica, and seemed, therefore, not to observe
her withdrawal.

"I think," said he, "your majesty was not older than Amelia when you
married my father; and if the crown prince of Sweden wishes to marry
Amelia, I see no reason why we should refuse him. Happily, we are
not Jews, and our laws do not forbid the younger sister to marry
first. To refuse the prince the hand of Amelia, or to offer him the
hand of Ulrica, would indicate that we feared the latter might
remain unsought. I think my lovely and talented sister does not
deserve to be placed in such a mortifying position, and that her
hand will be eagerly sought by other royal wooers."

"And, for myself, I am not at all anxious to marry," said Ulrica,
throwing her head back proudly, and casting a half-contemptuous,
half-pitiful look at Amelia. "I have no wish to marry. Truly, I have
not seen many happy examples of wedded life in our family. All my
sisters are unhappy, and I see no reason why I should tread the same
thorny path."

The king smiled. "I see the little Ulrica shares my aversion to
wedded life, but we cannot expect, dearest, that all the world
should be equally wise. We will, therefore, allow our foolish sister
Amelia to wed, and run away from us. This marriage will cost her
anxiety and sorrow; she must not only place her little feet in the
land of reindeers, bears, and eternal snows, but she must also be
baptized and adopt a new religion. Let us thank God, then, that the
prince has had the caprice to pass you by and choose Amelia, who, I
can see, is resolved to be married. We will, therefore, leave the
foolish child to her fate."

It was Frederick's intention, by these light jests, to comfort his
sister Ulrica, and give her time to collect herself. He did not
remark that his words had a most painful effect upon his younger
sister, and that she became deadly pale as he said she must change
her faith in order to become princess royal of Sweden.

The proud queen-mother had also received this announcement angrily.
"I think, sire," said she, "that the daughter of William the Second,
and the sister of the King of Prussia, might be allowed to remain
true to the faith of her fathers."

"Madame," said the king, bowing reverentially, "the question is not,
I am sorry to say, as to Amelia's father or brother; she will be the
mother of sons, who, according to the law of the land, must be
brought up in the religion of their father. You see, then, that if
this marriage takes place, one of the two contracting parties must
yield; and, it appears to me, that is the calling and the duty of
the woman."

"Oh, yes," said the queen bitterly, "you have been educated in too
good a school, and are too thoroughly a Hohenzollern, not to believe
in the complete self-renunciation of women. At this court, women
have only to obey."

"Nevertheless, the women do rule over us; and even when we appear to
command, we are submissive and obedient," said the king, as he
kissed his mother's hand and withdrew.

The three ladies also retired to their own rooms immediately. Each
one was too much occupied with her own thoughts to bear the presence
of another.

And now, being alone, the Princess Ulrica found it no longer
necessary to retain the smiles which she had so long and with such
mighty effort forced to play upon her lips; every pulse was beating
with glowing rage, and she gave free course to her scorn.

Her younger sister, this little maiden of eighteen years, was to be
married, to wed a future king; while she, the eldest, now two-and-
twenty, remained unchosen! And it was not her own disinclination nor
the will of the king which led to this shameful result; no! the
Swedish ambassador came not to seek her hand, but that of her
sister! She, the elder, was scorned - set aside. The king might
truthfully say there was no law of the land which forbade the
marriage of the younger sister before the elder; but there was a law
of custom and of propriety, and this law was trampled upon.

As Ulrica thought over these things, she rose from her seat with one
wild spring. On entering the room she had completely overcome, and,
with trembling knees, she had fallen upon the divan. She stood now,
however, like a tigress prepared for attack, and looking for the
enemy she was resolved to slay. The raging, stormy blood of the
Hohenzollerns was aroused. The energy and pride of her mother glowed
with feverish pulses in her bosom. She would have been happy to find
an enemy opposed to her, the waves of passion rushing through her
veins might have been assuaged; but she was alone, entirely alone,
and had no other enemy to overcome than herself. She must, then,
declare war against her own evil heart. With wild steps she rushed
to the glass, and scrutinizingly and fiercely examined her own
image. Her eye was cold, searching, and stern. Yes, she would prove
herself; she would know if it were any thing in her own outward
appearance which led the Swedish ambassador to choose her sister
rather than herself.

"It is true, Amelia is more beautiful, in the common acceptation of
the word; her eyes are larger, her cheek rosier, her smile more
fresh and youthful, and her small but graceful figure is at the same
time childlike and voluptuous. She would make an enchanting
shepherdess, but is not fitted to be a queen. She has no majesty, no
presence. She has not by nature that imposing gravity, which is the
gift of Providence, and cannot be acquired, and without which the
queen is sometimes forgotten in the woman. Amelia can never attain
that eternal calm, that exalted composure, which checks all approach
to familiarity, and which, by an almost imperceptible pressure of
the hand and a light smile, bestows more happiness and a more
liberal reward than the most impassioned tenderness and the warmest
caresses of a commonplace woman. No, Amelia could never make a
complete queen, she can only be a beautiful woman; while I - I know
that I am less lovely, but I feel that I am born to rule. I have the
grace and figure of a queen - yes, I have the soul of a queen! I
would understand how to be imposing, and, at the same time, to
obtain the love of my people, not from any weak thirst for love, but
from a queenly ambition. But I am set aside, and Amelia will be a
queen; my fate will be that of my elder sisters, I shall wed a poor
margrave, or paltry duke, and may indeed thank God if I am not an
old maiden princess, with a small pension."

She stamped wildly upon the floor, and paced the room with hasty
steps. Suddenly she grew calmer, her brow, which had been
overshadowed by dark clouds, cleared, and a faint smile played upon
those lips which a moment before had been compressed by passion.

"After all," she said, "the formal demand for the hand of Amelia has
not yet been made; perhaps the ambassador has mistaken my name for
that of Amelia, and as he has made no direct proposition, I am
convinced he wishes to make some observations before deciding. Now,
if the result of this examination should prove to him that Amelia is
not fitted to be the wife of his prince, and if Amelia herself - I
thought I saw that she turned pale as the king spoke of abandoning
her faith; and when she left the room, despair and misery were
written upon that face which should have glowed with pride and
triumph. Ah, I see land!" said Ulrica, breathing freely and sinking
comfortably upon the divan, "I am no longer hopelessly shipwrecked;
I have found a plank, which may perhaps save me. Let me consider
calmly," - and, as if Fate itself were playing into her hand, the
door opened and Amelia entered.

One glance was sufficient to show Ulrica that she was not deceived,
and that this important event had brought no joy to poor Amelia. The
lovely eyes of the princess were red with weeping; and the soft
lips, so generally and gladly given to gay chat and merry laughter,
were now expressive of silent anguish. Ulrica saw all this, and laid
her plans accordingly. In place of receiving Amelia coldly and
repulsively, which but a few moments before she would have done, she
sprang to meet her with every sign of heart-felt love; the little
maiden threw herself weeping convulsively into her sister's arms,
and was pressed closely and tenderly to her bosom.

"Tears!" said Ulrica lovingly, as she drew her sister to the sofa
and pressed her down upon the soft pillows; "you weep, and yet a
splendid future is this day secured to you!"

Amelia sobbed yet more loudly and pressed her tear-stained face more
closely to the bosom of her sister. Ulrica looked down with a
mixture of curiosity and triumph; she could not understand these
tears; but she had a secret satisfaction in seeing the person she
most envied weeping so bitterly.

"How is this? are you not happy to be a queen?"

Amelia raised her face hastily and sobbed out: "No! I am not pleased
to be an apostate, to perjure myself! I am not content to deny my
faith in order to buy a miserable earthly crown! I have sworn to be
true to my God and my faith, and now I am commanded to lay it aside
like a perishable robe, and take another in exchange."

"Ah, is it that?" said Ulrica, with a tone of contempt she could
scarcely control; "you fear this bold step by which your poor
innocent soul may be compromised."

"I will remain true to the belief in which I have been educated, and
to which I have dedicated myself at the altar!" cried Amelia,
bursting again into tears.

"It is easy to see that but a short time only has elapsed since you
took these vows upon you. You have all the fanaticism of a new
convert. How would our blessed father rejoice if he could see you

"He would not force me to deny my religion; he would not, for the
sake of outward splendor, endanger my soul's salvation. Oh! it is
harsh and cruel of my brother to treat me as a piece of merchandise;
he asks not whether my heart or principles can conscientiously take
part in his ambitious plans."

Ulrica cast a long and piercing glance upon her sister. She would
gladly have searched to the bottom of her soul; she wished to know
if this fierce opposition to the marriage was the result of love to
the faith of her fathers.

"And you are not ambitious? you are not excited by the thought of
being a queen, of marrying a man who will fill a place in the
world's history?"

The young girl raised her eyes in amazement, and her tears ceased to

"What has a woman to do with the world's history?" she said; "think
you I care to be named as the wife of a king of Sweden? It is a sad,
unhappy fate to be a princess. We are sold to him who makes the
largest offer and the most favorable conditions. Well, let it be so;
it is the fate of all princesses; it is for this we are educated,
and must bow humbly to the yoke; but liberty of conscience should be
at least allowed us, freedom of thought, the poor consolation of
worshipping God in the manner we prefer, and of seeking help and
protection in the arms of that religion we believe in and love."

"One can be faithful to God even when unfaithful to their first
faith," said Ulrica, who began already to make excuses to herself
for the change of religion she contemplated.

"That is not in my power!" cried Amelia passionately. "I cling to
the religion of my house, and I should tremble before the wrath of
God if I gave it up."

"After all, it is but a small and unimportant difference between the
Reformed and Lutheran Churches," said Ulrica, much excited, and
entirely forgetting that the question had as yet no relation to
herself. "One can be as pious a Christian in the Reformed Church as
in the Lutheran."

"Not I; it is not in my power," said Amelia, with the wilfulness of
a spoiled child not accustomed to opposition. "I will not become a
Lutheran. A Pollnitz may change his faith, but not the daughter of
Frederick William. Did not the king with indignation and contempt
relate to us how Pollnitz had again changed his religion and become
a Protestant? Did we not laugh heartily, and in our hearts despise
the dishonorable man? I will not place myself in such a position."

"Then, my sister, there will be stormy times and stern strife in our
household: the bitter scenes of earlier days will be renewed. Our
royal brother is not less resolute than our stern father. I fear
that his brothers and sisters are nothing more to him than useful
instruments in this great state machine, and they must bow
themselves unquestioningly to his commands."

"Yes, I feel this; I see it clearly," said Amelia, trembling; "and
for this reason, dear sister, you must stand by me and help me. I
swear to you that I will not become a Lutheran."

"Is that your unchangeable resolution?"

"Yes, unchangeable."

"Well, if that is so, I will give you my counsel."

"Speak, speak quickly," said Amelia, breathlessly, and throwing her
arms around the slender waist of her sister, she laid her head
trustingly upon her shoulder.

"Firstly, the Swedish ambassador has not made a formal demand for
your hand; that probably proves that he will first examine and
observe you closely, to see if you are suited to be the wife of the
prince royal. We have still, therefore, a short delay, which, if
wisely used, may conduct you to the desired goal. But, Amelia, prove
yourself once more; ask counsel again of your heart and conscience,
before you make a final resolve. I will not have you complain of me
in future, and say that my foolish and guilty counsel lost you the
throne of Sweden."

"Oh, fear not, my beloved sister. I will not be queen of Sweden at
the cost of my immortal soul."

"You will not, then, reproach me, Amelia?"


"Listen, then. From this moment lay a mask upon your face; that is
to say, assume a proud, rude, overbearing tone to all around you -
toward your friends, your servants, the court circle, yes, even
toward the members of your family. Particularly in the presence of
this Swedish ambassador, show yourself to be a capricious, nervous,
and haughty princess, who scarcely thinks it worth the trouble to
speak a word, or give a friendly glance, to a man in his position.
When you speak to him and he attempts to answer, cut short his
replies, and command him to be silent; if he strives to win your
favor by the most respectful civility, let an unmistakable
expression of contempt be written upon your face, and let that be
your only answer. Regulate your conduct for a few days by these
rules, and I am convinced you will attain your object."

"Yes, yes! I understand, I understand!" said the young girl,
clapping her little white hands, and looking up joyously. "I shall,
by my pride and passion, freeze the words in the mouth of my lord
ambassador, so that the decisive word cannot find utterance. Oh!
this will be a precious comedy, my sweet sister, and I promise you
to carry out my role of heroine to perfection. Oh, I thank you! I
thank you! I am indeed happy to have found so wise a sister, so
brave a comrade in arms, while surrounded with such perils!"

"She would not have it otherwise," said Ulrica, laconically, as she
found herself again alone. "If she is without ambition, so much the
worse for her - so much the better for me! And now, it is high time
to think of my toilet - that is the most important consideration. To-
day I must be not only amiable, but lovely. To-day I will appear an
innocent and unpretending maiden."

With a mocking smile she entered her boudoir, and called her



Princess Ulrica was earnestly occupied with considerations of her
toilet. Amelia had returned to her room, musing and thoughtful.

There were difficulties in the way of the new role she had resolved
to play, and by which she expected to deceive the world. She stood
for a moment before the door of her dressing-room, and listened to
the voices of her attendants, who were gayly laughing and talking.
It was her custom to join them, and take a ready part in their merry
sports and jests. She must now, however, deny herself, and put a
guard over her heart and lips. Accordingly, with a dark frown on her
brow and tightly-compressed lips, she entered the room in which her
maids were at that moment arranging her ball toilet for the evening.

"It seems to me that your loud talking is most unseemly," said
Amelia, in a tone so haughty, so passionate, that the smiles of the
two young girls vanished in clouds. "I will be obliged to you if you
will complete your work noiselessly, and reserve your folly till you
have left my room! And what is that, Mademoiselle Felicien? for what
purpose have you prepared these flowers, which I see lying upon your

"Your royal highness, these flowers are for your coiffure, and these
bouquets are intended to festoon your dress."

"How dare you allow yourself to decide upon my toilet,

"I have not dared," said Felicien, tremblingly; "your royal highness
ordered moss roses for your hair, and bouquets of the same for your
bosom and your robe."

"It appears to me," said Amelia, imperiously, "that to contradict
me, and at the same time assert that which is false, is, to say the
least, unbecoming your position. I am not inclined to appear in the
toilet of a gardener's daughter. To prove this, I will throw these
flowers, which you dare to assert I ordered, from the window; with
their strong odor they poison the air."

With a cruel hand, she gathered up the lovely roses, and hastened to
the window. "Look, mademoiselle, these are the flowers which you
undertook to prepare for my hair," said Amelia, with well-assumed
scorn, as she threw the bouquet into the garden which surrounded the
castle of Monbijou; "look, mademoiselle."

Suddenly the princess uttered a low cry, and looked, blushing
painfully, into the garden. In her haste, she had not remarked that
two gentlemen, at that moment, crossed the great court which led to
the principal door of the castle; and the flowers which she had so
scornfully rejected, had struck the younger and taller of the
gentlemen exactly in the face. He stood completely amazed, and
looked questioningly at the window from which this curious bomb had
fallen. His companion, however, laughed aloud, and made a profound
bow to the princess, who still stood, blushing and embarrassed, at
the window.

"From this hour I believe in the legend of the Fairy of the Roses,"
said the elder of the two gentlemen, who was indeed no other than
Baron Pollnitz. "Yes, princess, I believe fully, and I would not be
at all astonished if your highness should at this moment flutter
from the window in a chariot drawn by doves, and cast another shower
of blossoms in the face of my friend."

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
and ribbons.

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

Online LibraryL. MühlbachBerlin and Sans-Souci; or Frederick the Great and his friends → online text (page 4 of 42)