FRIEDRICH TAKES THE WATERS AT AACHEN, WHERE VOLTAIRE COMES TO SEE HIM.
Months before that of the Opera-House or those Silesian settlements, Friedrich, in the end of August, what is the first thing visible in his Domestic History, makes a visit, for health's sake, to Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle so called), with a view to the waters there. Intends to try for a little improvement in health, as the basis of ulterior things. Health has naturally suffered a little in these War-hardships; and the Doctors recommend Aix. After Wesel, and the Westphalian Inspections, Friedrich, accordingly, proceeds to Aix; and for about a fortnight (23th August-9th September) drinks the waters in that old resting-place of Charlemagne;--particulars not given in the Books; except that "he lodged with Baege" (if any mortal now knew Baege), and did an Audience or so to select persons now unknown. He is not entirely incognito, but is without royal state; the "guard of twenty men, the escort of 160 men," being no men of his, but presumably mere Town-guard of Aix coming in an honorary way. Aix is proud to see him; he himself is intent on the waters here at old Aix:--
My friend, this was Charlemagne's high place; and his dust lies here, these thousand years last past. And there used to soar "a very large Gilt Eagle," ten feet wide or so, aloft on the Cathedral-steeple there; Eagle turned southward when the Kaiser was in Frankenland, eastward when he was in Teutsch or Teuton-land; in fact, pointing out the Kaiser's whereabouts to loyal mankind. [Kohler,
Friedrich's suite was not considerable, says the French spy at Aix on this occasion; pomp of Entrance,--a thing to be mute upon! "Came driving in with the common post-horses of the country; and such a set of carriages as your Lordship, intent on the sublime, has no idea of." [Spy-Letter, in
The French emotions (of which we say little), on Friedrich's making Peace for himself, had naturally been great. To the French Public it was unexpected, somewhat SUDDEN even to the Court; and, sure enough, it was of perilous importance in the circumstances. Few days ago, Broglio (by order given him) "could not spare a man," for the Common Cause;--and now the Common Cause has become entirely the Broglio one, and Broglio will have the full use of all his men! "Defection [plainly treasonous to your Liege Lord and Nation]! horrible to think of!" cried the French Public; the Court outwardly taking a lofty tragic-elegiac tone, with some air of hope that his Prussian Majesty would perhaps come round again, to the side of his afflicted France! Of which, except in the way of helping France and the other afflicted parties to a just Peace if he could, his Prussian Majesty had small thought at this time.
More affecting to Friedrich were the natural terrors of the poor Kaiser on this event. The Kaiser has already had his Messenger at Berlin, in consequence of it; with urgent inquiries, entreaties;-- an expert Messenger, who knows Berlin well. So other than our old friend, the Ordnance-Master Seckendorf, now titular Feldmarschall, --whom one is more surprised than delighted to meet again! Being out with Austria (clamoring for great sums of "arrears," which they will not pay), he has been hanging about this new Kaiser, ever since Election-time; and is again getting into employment, Diplomatic, Strategic, for some years,--though we hope mostly to ignore him and it. Friedrich's own feeling at sight of him,--ask not about it, more than if there had been none! Friedrich gave him "a distinguished reception;" Friedrich's answer sent by him to the Kaiser was all kindness; emphatic assurance, "That, not 'hostility' by any means, that loyalty, friendship, and aid wherever possible within the limits, should always be his rule towards the now Kaiser, lawful Head of the Reich, in difficult circumstances." ["Audience, 30th July" (Adelung, iii. A, 217).] Which was some consolation to the poor man,--stript of his old revenues, old Bavarian Dominions, and unprovided with new; this sublime Headship of the Reich bring moneyless; and one's new "Kingdom of Bohemia" hanging in so uncertain a state, with nothing but a Pharsalia-Sahay to show for itself!--
Among Friedrich's "inconsiderable suite," at Aachen, was Prince Henri (his youngest Brother, age now sixteen, a small, sensitive, shivering creature, but of uncommon parts); and another young man, Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, his Wife's youngest Brother; a soldier, as all the Brothers are; soldier in Friedrich's Army, this one; in whose fine inarticulate eupeptic character are excellent dispositions and capacities discernible. Ferdinand goes generally with the King; much about him in these years. All the Brothers follow soldiering; it is the one trade of German Princes. When at home, Friedrich is still occasionally with his Queen; who lives at Schonhausen, in the environs of Berlin, but goes with him to Charlottenburg, to old Reinsberg; and has her share of galas in his company, with the Queen Mother and cognate Highnesses.