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   Chapter 6 THE PARADE.

Old Fritz and the New Era By L. Muhlbach Characters: 29172

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02


Since early morning a gay, warlike life had reigned at Potsdam and the neighborhood of Sans-Souci. From every side splendid regiments approached, with proud and stately bearing, in glittering uniforms, to take in perfect order the places assigned to them. With flying banners, drums beating, and shrill blasts of trumpets, they came marching on to the great parade-the last, for the king was about to leave for the field. Thousands of spectators poured forth, notwithstanding the early hour, from Potsdam; and from Berlin even they came in crowds, to take a last look of the soldiers-of their king, who was still the hero at sixty-nine-the "Alto Fritz," whom they adored-though they felt the rigor of his government. It was a magnificent spectacle, indeed-this immense square, filled with regiments, their helmets, swords, and gold embroideries glittering in the May sun. Officers, mounted on richly caparisoned steeds, drew up in the centre, or galloped along the front of the lines, censuring with a thundering invective any deviation or irregularity. In the rear of the troops stood the equipages of the distinguished spectators on the one side, while on the other the people in compact masses swayed to and fro, gayly passing judgment upon the different regiments and their generals. The people-that means all those who were not rich enough to have a carriage, or sufficiently distinguished to claim a place upon the tribune reserved for noble ladies and gentlemen-here they stood, the educated and uneducated, shoemaker and tailor, savant and artist-a motley mixture! Two gentlemen of the high citizen class apparently were among the crowd. They were dressed in the favorite style, which, since the "Sorrows of Werther" had appeared, was the fashion-tight-fitting boots, reaching to the knee, with yellow tops; white breeches, over which fell the long-bodied green vest; a gray frock with long pointed tails and large metal buttons, well-powdered cue, tied with little ribbons, surmounted with a low, wide-brimmed hat. Only one of the gentlemen wore the gray frock, according to the faultless Werther costume, a young man of scarcely thirty years, of fine figure, and proud bearing; a face expressive and sympathetic, reminding one of the glorious portraits of men which antiquity has bequeathed to us. It seemed like the head of a god descended to earth, noble in every feature, full of grace and beauty; the slightly Roman nose well marked yet delicate; the broad, thoughtful brow; the cheeks flushed with the hue of youth and power; the well-defined chin and red lips, expressive of goodness, benevolence, roguery, and haughtiness; large, expressive eyes, flashing with the fire which the gods had enkindled. His companion was perhaps eight years younger, less well-proportioned, still of graceful appearance, in his youthful freshness, with frank, cheerful mien, clever, good-natured, sparkling eyes, and red, pouting lips, which never liked to cease chatting.

"See, Wolff! I beg," said the young man, "see that old waddling duck, Mollendorf. I know the old fellow, he is from Gotha; he imagines himself of the greatest importance, and thinks Prussia begets fame and honor from his grace. He trumpets forth his own glories at a dinner, and abuses his king. He makes Frederick the Great an insignificant little being, that he may look over him."

"Unimportant men always do that," answered the other. "They would make great men small, and think by placing themselves on high pedestals they become great. The clown striding through the crowd on his stilts may even look over an emperor. But fortunately there comes a time when the dear clown must come down from his stilts, and then it is clear to others, if not to himself, what little, earth-born snips the men of yesterday are."

"Only look, Wolff, there is just such a moment coming to that stiltsman Mollendorf. How the great man stoops, and how small he looks on his gray horse, for a greater springs past! Look at him well, Wolff-we shall dine with him, and he does not like to be stared at in the face."

"Is that, then, Prince Henry passing?" asked Wolff, with animation; "That little general, who just galloped into the circle with his suite, is that the king's brother?"

"Yes, that is just his misfortune that he is the king's brother," answered a deep, sonorous voice behind them.

Turning, they beheld a young, elegantly dressed man, in the light gray frock and gold-bordered, three-cornered hat, and a Spanish cane, with an ivory handle.

"What did you remark, sir?" asked Herr Wolff; his great, brown eyes flashing over the pale, intellectual face of the other, so that he was quite confused, yet, as if enchanted, could not turn away. "What did you remark, sir?" asked again Herr Wolff.

"I believe," stammered the other, "that I said it was the misfortune of the prince that he was the brother only, as he was worthy of being mentioned for himself; but I beg, sir, be a little indulgent, and do not pry into my very soul with your godlike eyes. It will craze me, and I shall run through the streets of Berlin, crying that the Apollo-Belvedere has arrived at Potsdam, and invite all the poets and authors to come and worship him."

"I believe you are right," cried the youngest of the two gentlemen, laughing. "I believe myself it is the Apollo-Belvedere."

"Be still, my dear sir, hush, and preserve our incognito," interrupted his companion.

"But I cannot help it, Wolff. Am I to blame that this clever fellow sees through your mask, and discovers the divine spark which hides itself under a gray Werther costume?"

"I pray, sir, grant my request, and respect our incognito," begged the other, gently but firmly.

"Well, well, you shall have your way," laughed the other, good-naturedly, and turning to the pale young man, who still kept his eyes fixed on Herr Wolff in a sort of ecstacy, he said: "Let the authors and poets stay in Berlin; we will persuade the disguised Apollo to meet them there, and read them a lecture, for among the Berlin poets and critics there are wicked heretics, who, if the Deity Himself wrote tragedies and verses, would find some fault to object to."

"Pray tell me, sir, do you think Prince Henry a great man?"

"Did not the king call him so in his 'History of the Seven Years' War?'" said the stranger. "Did he not publicly, in the presence of all his generals, say, 'that Prince Henry was the only general who had not made a mistake during the whole war?'"

"Do you believe the king will say that of the prince just riding in with his suite, after the present war?" asked the young man, with earnestness.

"You mean the Prince of Prussia," answered the other, shaking his head. "There are men who call this prince the 'hope of Prussia,' and regard him as a new Aurora in the clouded sky."

"And you, sir, do you regard him so?" cried Herr Wolff.

"Do you mean that the Prince of Prussia will usher in a brighter day for Germany?"

"No," answered the other. "I believe that day expires with Frederick the Great, and that a long night of darkness will succeed."

"Why do you think so?"

"Because it is the course of nature that darkness succeeds light. Look at the prince, gentlemen-the divine light of genius is not stamped upon his brow, as formerly, and care will be taken that it is soon extinguished altogether."

"Who will take care?"

"Those who are the enemies of light, civilization, and freedom."

"Who are they?" asked Herr Wolff.

The other smiled, and answered: "Sir, so far as I, in all humility, call myself a scholar, I also owe to the god Apollo obedience, and must answer him, though it may endanger me. I answer, then, the enemies of light and civilization are the disguised Jesuits."

"Oh, it is easy to perceive that you do not belong to them, or you would not thus characterize them, and-"

A mighty flourish of drums, and shrill blasts of horns and trumpets, drowned the youth's words, and made all further conversation impossible. The king, followed by a brilliant suite, had just arrived at the parade. The regiments greeted their sovereign with loud blasts of trumpets, and the people shouted their farewell. Frederick lifted lightly his hat, and rode along the ranks of the well-ordered troops. He listened to the shouts with calm, composed manner; the Jupiter-flashes from his great eyes seemed to be spent forever. Mounted upon Caesar, his favorite horse, he looked today more bent, his back more bowed with the burden of years; and it was plainly visible that the hand which held the staff crosswise over the horse's neck, holding at the same time the bridle, trembled from very weakness.

"That is Frederick," said Herr Wolff to himself. "That is the hero before whom Europe has trembled; the daring prince who caused the sun to rise upon his country, and awaken the spirits to cheerful life. Oh, how lamentable; how much to be regretted, that a hero, too, can grow feeble and old! Oh, cruel fate, that the noblest spirits embodied in this fragile humanity, and-"

Suddenly he ceased, and looked at the king amazed and with admiration. The old man had become the hero again. The bowed form was erect, the face beamed with energy and conscious power, the eyes flashed with bold daring, strong and sonorous was the voice. The king had turned to his generals, who were drawn up around him in a large circle, saying: "Gentlemen, I come to take leave of you. We shall meet again upon the battle-field, where laurels bloom for the brave. I hope that we may all return, crowned with fresh laurels. Tell my soldiers that I count upon them-that I know they will prove the glory of the Prussian troops anew, and that on the day of battle they will see me at their head.-Farewell!"

"Long live the king!" cried the generals and staff officers, in one voice. The people and the soldiers joined the shout, the ladies waved their handkerchiefs. Herr Wolff and his companions tore off their hats with enthusiasm, and swung them high in the air.

The great eyes of the king, who passed at this moment, rested upon Herr Wolff. "My heart quaked as if I were the pillar of Memnon, and had been touched by the sun's rays," sighed he, as he followed the king with his fiery glance.

"The ceremony is now finished," said the young man near him, "and we must leave, in order to be punctual to dinner at Prince Henry's."

"I wish the king had remained an hour longer," sighed Herr Wolff again. "As I looked at him, it seemed as if I were listening to a song from Homer, and all my faculties were in unison in delight and enthusiasm. Happy those who dare approach him, and remain near him!"

"Then, according to your opinion, his servants must be very fortunate," said the stranger, "and yet they say that he is not very kind to them."

"Because the servant is a little man," cried Herr Wolff, "and every one looks little to his belittling eyes."

"Yes, there are many others no more elevated than servants in the king's surroundings," said the other. The youth reminded him that they must leave.

"Only wait a moment, friend," begged Herr Wolff, as he turned to the stranger, saying, "I would like to continue our conversation of today. You live in Berlin. I will find you out if you will give me your name."

"I pray you to visit me; my name is Moritz. I live in Kloster Strasse, near the gray convent."

"Your name is Moritz?", asked Herr Wolff, earnestly. "Then you are the author of the 'Journey to England?'"

"Yes, the same, and my highest encomium is, that the work is not unknown to you, or the name of the author."

"All Germany knows it, and do you think I could possibly remain a stranger to it?"

"But your name, sir," said the stranger, with anxious curiosity. "Will you not give me your name?"

"I will tell you when we are in your own room," said Herr Wolff, smiling.

"The air is yet enchanted and intoxicated with the breath of the Great Frederick; it should not be desecrated with another name.-Farewell, we will meet in Berlin."

Not far from these gentlemen stood two others, wrapped in long military cloaks, both of striking and foreign appearance; the one, of slight delicate figure, of dark complexion, noble and handsome face, must be an Italian, as his very black hair and eyes betrayed; the other, tall, broad-shouldered, of Herculean stature, belonged to North Germany, as the blond hair, light blue eyes, and features indicated. A pleasing smile played around his thick, curled lips, and only when he glanced at his companion did it die away, and change to one of respectful devotion. At this instant the king passed. The Italian pressed the arm of his companion.

"The arch fiend himself," he murmured softly, "the demon of unbelief, to whom nothing is sacred, and nothing intimidates. The contemptuously smiling spirit of negation, which is called enlightenment, and is but darkness, to whom belief is superstition, and enlightening only deception. Woe to him!"

"Woe to him!" repeated the other.

The king was followed by his brilliant and select staff in motley confusion. First, Prince Henry, and then the Prince of Prussia. As the latter passed the two gentlemen, the Italian pressed the arm of his companion still harder. "Look at him attentively, my son," said he, "that is our future and our hope in this country."

The Hercules turned hastily, with a look of astonishment, to the Italian. "The Prince of Prussia?" asked he, with amazement.

The Italian nodded. "Do you doubt it?" he added, reproachfully. "Would you doubt your lord and master, because he reveals to you what you cannot seize with your clouded spirit?"

"No, no, master, I am only surprised that you hope for good from this lost-in-sin successor to the throne."

"Yes, you are poor, human children," sighed the Italian, compassionately smiling; "prompt to judge, mistaking light for darkness, and darkness for light. I have already remarked that to the celebrated and austere Minister Sully, as he complained to me of the levity and immorality of the French king, Henry IV. I told him that austere morals and moral laws suffered exceptions, and that those through whom the welfare of humanity should be furthered, had to transfer their heavenly bliss of love to the earthly sphere. Sully would contest the question with me, but I defeated him, while I repeated to him what the beautiful and unhappy Queen of Scotland, Mary Stuart, once said to me."

"Mary Stuart!" cried the other, vehemently.

"Yes, Mary Stuart," answered the Italian, earnestly. "Come, m

y son, let us go. We have seen what we wished to see, and that is sufficient. Give me thy arm, and let us depart."

They departed arm in arm, withdrawing from the crowd, and taking the broad walk which crossed to the park.

"You were about to relate to me the answer which Mary Stuart gave to you, sir," said the Hercules, timidly.

"True; I will now relate it to you," he answered, with sadness. "It was in Edinburgh I had surprised Mary (as I was admitted without ceremony), in her boudoir, as the handsome Rizzio sat at her feet, and sang love-songs to her. She was resting upon a gold-embroidered divan, and her figure appeared to great advantage in the heavenly blue, silver-embroidered gauze robe, which covered her beautiful limbs like a cloud. In her hair sparkled two diamonds, like two stars fallen from heaven, and more glowing still were her eyes, which tenderly rested upon Rizzio. Leaning upon her elbow, she inclined toward Rizzio, who, lute in hand, was looking up to her with a countenance expressive of the deepest love. It was a glorious picture, this young and charming couple, in their bliss of love; and never, in the course of this century, have I forgotten this exquisite picture-never have its bright tints faded from my memory. How often have I begged my friend, Antonio Vandyck, to make this picture eternal, with his immortal pencil. He promised to do it, but at the moment he was occupied with the portraits of Charles I. and his family-the grandson of Queen Mary. Later, as I was not with him, unfortunately, to save him, death seized him before he had fulfilled his promise. But her image is stamped upon my heart, and I see her now, as I saw her then, the beautiful queen, with the handsome singer at her feet. I had entered unawares, and stood a few moments at the door before they remarked me. As I approached, Rizzio suddenly ceased in the midst of a tender passage, and sprang to his feet. Mary signed to him, blushing, to withdraw. He glided noiselessly out, his lute under his arm, and I remained alone with the queen. I dared to chide her, gently, for her love affair with the handsome singer, and, above all, to exhort her to fidelity to her husband. Whereupon Mary answered me, with her accustomed smiling manner, 'There is but one fidelity which one must recognize, and that is to the god of gods-Love! Where he is not, I will not be. The god Hymen is a tedious, pedantic fellow, who burns to ashes all the fresh young love of the heart, and all the enthusiasm of the soul, with his intolerable tallow torch, for Love stands not at his side. I am faithful to the god Amor, therefore I can never be faithful to the god Hymen, as it would be unfaithful to Love!' That was the response of the beautiful Queen Mary. I could not contest the question, so I only looked at her and smiled. Suddenly, I felt a dagger, as it were, thrust at my heart, my spiritual eyes were opened, the lovely woman on the divan was fearfully changed. Instead of the gauze robe, sparkling with silver, a black cloth dress covered her emaciated limbs; instead of brilliants, sparkling in her hair, a mourning veil covered her whitened locks. The beauty and roundness of her neck had disappeared, and I saw around it a broad dark-red stripe. Her head moved, and fell at my feet dissevered. I saw it all, as distinctly as if it really happened, and seized with unspeakable pity I prostrated myself at her feet (who was unknowing of my vision), and besought her with all the anxiety and tenderness of friendship to leave Scotland, to fly from England, as there the death-tribunal awaited her. But Mary Stuart only laughed at my warning, and called me a melancholy fool, whom jealousy made prophetic. The more I begged and implored, the more wanton and gay the poor woman became. Then, as I saw all persuasion was vain, that no one could save her from her dreadful fate, I took a solemn oath that I would be at her side at the hour of her peril, and accompany her to the scaffold. Mary laughed aloud, and, with that mocking gayety so peculiarly her own, she accepted the oath, and reached me her white hand, sparkling with diamonds, to seal the vow with a kiss. I faithfully kept it. I had but just arrived in Rome when I received the account of her imprisonment. I presented myself immediately to the pope, the great Sixtus V., who then occupied the chair of St. Peter. Fortunately, he was my friend, and I had formerly been useful to him, in assisting him to carry out his great and liberal ideas for the welfare of humanity. As a return, I prayed the Holy Father to give me a consecrated hostie for the unhappy Queen Mary Stuart, and the permission to carry it to her in her prison. The Holy Father was incredulous of my sad presentiments, as Mary Stuart herself had been, but he granted me the request. I quitted Rome, and travelled with relays day and night. Reaching Boulogne, a Dover packet-boat had just raised anchor; I succeeded in boarding her, and arrived in London the next evening. The day following, the execution of the queen took place at Fotheringay. I was with her in her last hours, and from my hand she received the consecrated water of Pope Sixtus V. I had kept my oath. I accompanied her to the scaffold, and her head rolled at my feet, as I had seen it in my vision at Edinburgh. It was the 18th of April, 1587, and it seems to me as but yesterday. To the intuitive, seeing spirit, time and space disappear; eternity and immortality are to it omnipresent."

Given up to his souvenirs and visions, the Italian appeared not to know where he wandered, and turned unintentionally to the retired, lonely places in the park. His companion heeded not the way either, occupied with the strange account of the Italian. A dreadful feeling of awe and horror took possession of his soul, and, with devoted respect, he hung upon the words which fell from the lips of his companion.

"It was in the year 1587," said he, as the Italian ceased; "almost two hundred years since, and you were present?"

The Italian replied: "I was present. I have witnessed so many dreadful scenes, and been present at so many executions, that this sad spectacle was not an unusual one to me, and would not have remained fixed in my memory had I not loved, devotedly and fervently, the beautiful Queen Mary Stuart. For those who live in eternity, all horrors have ceased; time rushes past in centuries, which seem to them but a day."

"Teach me so to live, master; I thirst for knowledge," cried his companion, fervently.

"I know it, my son; I penetrate thy soul, and I know that thou thirstest. Therefore I am here to quench thy thirst, and feed thy hungry heart." He remained standing upon the grass-plot, which he had reached by lonely paths, and which was encircled by trees and bushes. Not a sound interrupted the peaceful morning stillness of the place, except the distant music of the departing regiments dying away on the air. "I will teach thee to live in eternity!" resumed the Italian, solemnly. "My predecessor the apostle, George Schrepfer, has initiated thee in temporal life, and the knowledge of the present. By the pistol-shot, which disclosed to him the invisible world, and removed him from our earthly eyes, has he to thee, his most faithful and believing disciple, given the great doctrine of the decay of all things earthly, and prepared thee for the doctrine of the imperishableness of the celestial. The original of humanity sends me, to make known to thee this holy doctrine. When I met thee in Dresden, at the side of the Countess Dorothea von Medem, thee, whom I had never seen, I recognized by the blue flame which trembled above thy head, and which was nothing else than the soul of thy teacher, Schrepfer, wrestling in anguish, which has remained with thee, and hopes for delivery from thee. I greeted thee, therefore, not as a stranger but as a friend. No one called thy name, and yet it was known to me. I took thee by the hand, greeting thee. Hans Rudolph von Bischofswerder, be welcome. The blue flame which glows upon thy brow, guides me to thee, and the pistol-shot under the oaks centuries old, at Rosenthal, near Leipsic, was the summons which my spirit received among the pyramids of Egypt, and which recalled me to Europe, to my own, and thou art one of them."[Footnote: George Schrepfer, the founder of the Secret Free Mason Lodge (at the same time proprietor of a restaurant and a conjuror), invited his intimate disciples and believers in the year 1774, to whom Bischofswerder belonged, to meet him at Rosenthal, near Leipsic. He assembled them around him, beneath some old oaks, to take leave of them, as now he would render himself in the invisible realm, whence, as a spirit, he would distribute to some of his disciples gold, to others wisdom. He then commanded them to conceal their faces and pray. The praying ones suddenly heard a loud report, and, as they looked up Schrepfer fell dead. He had shot himself with a pistol.]

"And as thou spakest, oh master, I recognized thee, and I called-' Thou art here, who hast been announced to me. Thou art the master, and my master Schrepfer was the prophet, who preceded thee and prophesied thee. Thou art the great Kophta-thou art Count Alexander Cagliostro!' As I uttered the name, the lights were extinguished, deep darkness and profound stillness reigned. The two countesses Dorothea von Medem and her sister, Eliza von der Necke, clung trembling to me, neither of them daring to break the silence even with a sigh. Suddenly the darkness disappeared, and, with trembling flashes of light, there stood written on the wall: 'Memento Domini Oagliostro et omnis mansuetudinis ejus.' We sank upon our knees, and implored thee to aid us. By degrees the strange, secret characters disappeared, and darkness and silence reigned. The stillness disquieted me at last, and I called for lights. As the servant entered, the two countesses lay fainting upon the floor, and thou hadst disappeared."

"Only to appear to thee at another time," said Cagliostro, "to receive thee with solemn ceremonies into the magic circle-to initiate thee in the secret wisdom of spirits, and prepare thee for the invisible lodge. Recall what I said to thee, three days since, in Dresden. Do you still remember it?"

"I recall it. Thou saidst: 'The secret service calls me to Mittau, with the Countess Medem, to raise hidden treasure, of which the spirit has given me knowledge, and decipher important magical characters on the walls of a cloister. Before I leave, I will lead thee upon the way which thou hast to follow in order to find the light, and let it illuminate the soul which is worthy. Follow me, and I will lead thee to the path of glory, power, and immortality.' These were thy words, master."

"I have now led thee hither," Cagliostro said to him, gently; "thy soul doubts and trembles, for thou art blind seeing eyes, and deaf with hearing ears."

"My soul doubts not, oh master-it comprehends not. I have followed thee, devotedly and believingly. Thou knowest it, master, for thou readest the souls of thy children, and seest their hidden thoughts. Thou hast said to me in Dresden, 'Renounce your service to the Duke of Courland.' I did it, and from equerry and lord chamberlain to the duke, became a simple, private gentleman. I have renounced my titles and dignities for thee, in happy trust in thee. My future lies in thy hands, and, anxious to learn the mysteries of immortality, as a grateful, trustful scholar, I would receive happiness and unhappiness at thy hand."

"Thou shalt receive not only happiness," said Cagliostro, solemnly, "but thou art one of the elect. The blue flame glows upon thy brow, it will illuminate thy soul, and lead thee to the path of glory, power, and might. To-day thou art a simple, private gentleman, as thou sayst, but to-morrow thou wilt become a distinguished lord, before whom hundreds will bow. Fame awaits thee-which thou hast longed for-as power awaits thee. Whom have I named to thee as our future and our hope in this land?"

"Prince Frederick William of Prussia," answered Herr von Bischofswerder, humbly.

"As I spake this name, thou trembledst, and calledst him 'one lost in sin.' Knowest thou, my son, from sin comes penitence, and from penitence elevation and purification. Thou art called and chosen to convert sinners, and lead back the earth-born child to heaven. Engrave these words upon thy memory, fill thy soul with them, as with glowing flames, repeat them in solitude the entire day, then heavenly spirits will arise and whisper the revelations of the future. Then, when thou art consecrated, I will introduce thee into the sacred halls of sublime wisdom. Thou shalt be received as a scholar in the temple hall, and it depends upon thee whether thou advancest to the altar which reaches to the invisible world of miracles."

"Oh, master," cried Bisehofswerder, with a countenance beaming with joy, and sinking upon his knees, "wilt thou favor me, and introduce me to the temple hall? Shall I be received in the sacred world of spirits?"

"Thou shalt, Hans Rudolph von Bischofswerder. The grand master of our order will bestow upon thee this happiness, and to-night shall the star of the future rise over thee. Hold thyself in readiness. At midnight, present thyself at the first portal of the royal palace in Berlin. A man will meet thee, and thou shalt ask, 'Who is our hope?' If he answers thee, 'The Prince of Prussia,' then he is the messenger which I shall have sent thee-follow him. Bow thy head in humility, shut thine eyes to all earthly things, turn thy thoughts inward, and lift them up to the great departed, which hovers over thy head, and speak with the blue flame which glows upon thy brow!"

Bischofswerder bowed still lower, covered his face with his hands, as if inwardly praying, and knelt. Cagliostro bent over him, laid his hand upon his head, breathing three times upon his blond hair.

"I have breathed upon thee with the breath of my spirit," said he. "Thy spirit receives power. Receive it in holy awe, in devotion, and remain immovable."

Bischofswerder continued motionless, with bowed head and concealed face. Cagliostro raised himself, his black eyes fixed upon his disciple, and noiselessly disappeared. Herr von Bischofswerder still remained kneeling. After some time he raised his head, shyly looking about, and, as he found himself alone, he rose. "He has soared away," he murmured, softly. "I shall see him again, and he will consecrate me-the consecration of immortals!"

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