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- Frederick the Great and His Court - 1/78 -
FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS COURT
An Historical Romance
AUTHOR OF JOSEPH II. AND HIS COURT
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY
MRS. CHAPMAN COLEMAN AND HER DAUGHTERS
I. The Queen Sophia Dorothea, II. Frederick William I., III. The Tobacco Club, IV. Air-Castles, V. Father and Son, VI. The White Saloon, VII. The Maid of Honor and the Gardener, VIII. Von Manteuffel, the Diplomat, IX. Frederick, the Prince Royal, X. The Prince Royal and the Jew, XI. The Princess Royal Elizabeth Christine, XII. The Poem, XIII. The Banquet, XIV. Le Roi est Mort. Vive le Roi! XV. We are King, XVI. Royal Grace and Royal Displeasure,
I. The Garden of Monbijou, II. The Queen's Maid of Honor. III. Prince Augustus William, IV. The King and the Son, V. The Queen's Tailor, VI. The Illustrious Ancestors of a Tailor, VII. Soffri e Taci, VIII. The Coronation, IX. Dorris Ritter, X. Old and New Sufferings, XI. The Proposal of Marriage, XII. The Queen as a Matrimonial Agent, XIII. Proposal of Marriage, XIV. The Misunderstanding, XV. Soiree of the Queen Dowager, XVI. Under the Lindens, XVII. The Politician and the French Tailor, XVIII. The Double Rendezvous,
I. The Intriguing Courtiers, II. The King and the Secretary of the Treasury, III. The Undeceived Courtier, IV. The Bridal Pair, V. The French and German Tailors, or the Montagues and Capulets of Berlin, VI. In Rheinsberg, VII. The King and his Friend, VIII. The Farewell Audience of Marquis von Botta, the Austrian Ambassador, IX. The Masquerade, X. The Maskers, XI. Reward and Punishment, XII. The Return, XIII. The Death of the Old Time, XIV. The Discovery, XV. The Countermine, XVI. The Surprise, XVII. The Resignation of Baron von Pollnitz,
FREDERICK THE GREAT AND HIS COURT.
THE QUEEN SOPHIA DOROTHEA.
The palace glittered with light and splendor; the servants ran here and there, arranging the sofas and chairs; the court gardener cast a searching glance at the groups of flowers which he had placed in the saloons; and the major domo superintended the tables in the picture gallery. The guests of the queen will enjoy to-night a rich and costly feast. Every thing wore the gay and festive appearance which, in the good old times, the king's palace in Berlin had been wont to exhibit. Jesting and merrymaking were the order of the day, and even the busy servants were good-humored and smiling, knowing that this evening there was no danger of blows and kicks, of fierce threats and trembling terror. Happily the king could not appear at this ball, which he had commanded Sophia to give to the court and nobility of Berlin.
The king was ill, the gout chained him to his chamber, and during the last few sleepless nights a presentiment weighed upon the spirit of the ruler of Prussia. He felt that the reign of Frederick the First would soon be at an end; that the doors of his royal vault would soon open to receive a kingly corpse, and a new king would mount the throne of Prussia.
This last thought filled the heart of the king with rage and bitterness. Frederick William would not die! he would not that his son should reign in his stead; that this weak, riotous youth, this dreamer, surrounded in Rheinsberg with poets and musicians, sowing flowers and composing ballads, should take the place which Frederick the First had filled so many years with glory and great results.
Prussia had no need of this sentimental boy, this hero of fashion, who adorned himself like a French fop, and preferred the life of a sybarite, in his romantic castle, to the battle-field and the night- parade; who found the tones of his flute sweeter than the sounds of trumpets and drums; who declared that there were not only kings by "the grace of God, but kings by the power of genius and intellect, and that Voltaire was as great a king--yes, greater than all the kings anointed by the Pope!" What use has Prussia for such a sovereign? No, Frederick William would not, could not die! His son should not reign in Prussia, destroying what his father had built up! Never should Prussia fall into the hands of a dreaming poet! The king was resolved, therefore, that no one should know he was ill; no one should believe that he had any disease but gout; this was insignificant, never fatal. A man can live to be eighty years old with the gout; it is like a faithful wife, who lives with us even to old age, and with whom we can celebrate a golden wedding. The king confessed to himself that he was once more clasped in her tender embraces, but the people and the prince should not hope that his life was threatened.
For this reason should Sophia give a ball, and the world should see that the queen and her daughters were gay and happy.
The queen was indeed really gay to-day; she was free. It seemed as if the chains which bound her bad fallen apart, and the yoke to which she had bowed her royal neck was removed. To-day she was at liberty to raise her head proudly, like a queen, to adorn herself with royal apparel. Away, for to-day at least, with sober robes and simple coiffure. The king was fastened to his arm-chair, and Sophia dared once more to make a glittering and queenly toilet. With a smile of proud satisfaction, she arrayed herself in a silken robe, embroidered in silver, which she had secretly ordered for the ball from her native Hanover. Her eyes beamed with joy, as she at last opened the silver-bound casket, and released from their imprisonment for a few hours these costly brilliants, which for many years had not seen the light. With a smiling glance her eyes rested upon the glittering stones, which sparkled and flamed like falling stars, and her heart beat high with delight. For a queen is still a woman, and Sophia Dorothea had so often suffered the pains and sorrows of woman, that she longed once more to experience the proud happiness of a queen. She resolved to wear all her jewels; fastened, herself, the sparkling diadem upon her brow, clasped upon her neck and arms the splendid brilliants, and adorned her ears with the long pendants; then stepping to the Venetian mirror, she examined herself critically. Yes, Sophia had reason to be pleased; hers was a queenly toilet. She looked in the glass, and thought on bygone days, on buried hopes and vanished dreams. These diamonds her exalted father had given when she was betrothed to Frederick William. This diadem had adorned her brow when she married. The necklace her brother had sent at the birth of her first child; the bracelet her husband had clasped upon her arm when at last, after long waiting, and many prayers, Prince Frederick was born. Each of these jewels was a proud memento of the past, a star of her youth. Alas, the diamonds had retained their brilliancy; they were still stars, but all else was vanished or dead--her youth and her dreams, her hopes and her love! Sophia had so often trembled before her husband, that she no longer loved him. With her, "perfect love had not cast out fear." Fear had extinguished love. How could she love a man who had been only a tyrant and a despot to her and to her children? who had broken their wills, cut off their hopes, and trodden under foot, not only the queen, but the mother? As Sophia looked at the superb bracelet, the same age of her darling, she thought how unlike the glitter and splendor of these gems his life had been; how dark and sad his youth; how colorless and full of tears. She kissed the bracelet, and wafted her greeting to her absent son. Suddenly the door opened, and the Princesses Ulrica and Amelia entered.
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