The poor Kaiser himself is otherwise in trouble of his own, at this time. The Spaniards and he have fallen out, in spite of Utrecht Treaty and Rastadt ditto; the Spaniards have taken Sicily from him; and precisely in those days while Karl Philip took to shutting up the HEILIGE-GEIST Church at Heidelberg, there was, loud enough in all the Newspapers, silent as it now is, a "Siege of Messina" going on; Imperial and Piedmontese troops doing duty by land, Admiral Byng still more effectively by sea, for the purpose of getting Sicily back. Which was achieved by and by, though at an extremely languid pace. [Byng's Sea-fight, 10th August, 1718 (Campbell's
Congress of Cambrai, and other high Gatherings and convulsive Doings, which all proved futile, and look almost like Lapland witchcraft now to us, will have to follow this futility of a War. It is the first of a long series of enchanted adventures, on which Kaiser Karl,--duelling with that Spanish Virago, Satan's Invisible World in the rear of her,--has now embarked, to the woe of mankind, for the rest of his life. The first of those terrifico-ludicrous paroxysms of crisis into which he throws the European Universe; he with his Enchanted Barber's-Basin enterprises;--as perhaps was fit enough, in an epoch presided over by the Nightmares. Congress of Cambrai is to follow; and much else equally spectral. About all which there will be enough to say anon! For it was a fearful operation, though a ludicrous one, this of the poor Kaiser; and it tormented not the big Nations only, and threw an absurd Europe into paroxysm after paroxysm; but it whirled up, in its wide-weeping skirts, our little Fritz and his Sister, and almost dashed the lives out of them, as we shall see! Which last is perhaps the one claim it now has to a cursory mention from mankind.
Byng's Sea-fight, done with due dexterity of manoeuvring, and then with due emphasis of broadsiding, decisive of that absurd War, and almost the one creditable action in it, dates itself 10th August, 1718. And about three months later, on the mimic stage at Paris there came out a piece, OEDIPE the title of it, [18th November, 1718.] by one Francois Arouet, a young gentleman about twenty-two; and had such a run as seldom was;--apprising the French Populations that, to all appearance, a new man of genius had appeared among them (not intimating what work he would do); and greatly angering old M. Arouet of the Chamber of Accouuts; who thereby found his Son as good as cast into the whirlpools, and a solid Law-career thenceforth impossible for the young fool.-- The name of that "M. Arouet junior" changes itself, some years hence, into M. DE VOLTAIRE; under which latter designation he will conspicuously reappear in this Narrative.
And now we will go to our little Crown-Prince again;--ignorant, he, of all this that is mounting up in the distance, and that it will envelop him one day.
ON THE CROWN-PRINCE'S PROGRESS IN HIS SCHOOLING.
Wilhelmina says, [
For the rest, that Friedrich Wilhelm's intentions and Rhadamanthine regulations, in regard to him, were fulfilled in every point, we will by no means affirm. Rules of such exceeding preciseness, if grounded here and there only on the SIC-VOLO, how could they be always kept, except on the surface and to the eye merely? The good Duhan, diligent to open his pupil's mind, and give Nature fair-play, had practically found it inexpedient to tie him too rigorously to the arbitrary formal departments where no natural curiosity, but only order from without, urges the ingenious pupil. What maximum strictness in school-drill there can have been, we may infer from one thing, were there no other: the ingenious Pupil's mode of SPELLING. Fritz learned to write a fine, free-flowing, rapid and legible business-hand; "Arithmetic" too, "Geography," and many other Useful Knowledges that had some geniality of character, or attractiveness in practice, were among his acquisitions; much, very much he learned in the course of his life; but to SPELL, much more to punctuate, and subdue the higher mysteries of Grammar to himself, was always an unachievable perfection. He did improve somewhat in after life; but here is the length to which he had carried that necessary art in the course of nine years' exertion, under Duhan and the subsidiary preceptors; it is in the following words and alphabetic letters that he gratefully bids Duhan farewell,--who surely cannot have been a very strict drill-sergeant in the arbitrary branches of schooling!