been the present[398] reward of their diabolical labours.

time:2023-12-01 04:06:43source:iosedit:qsj

Such incurable discrepancies have risen in the Berlin Palace: fountains of bitterness flowing ever wider, till they made life all bitter for Son and for Father; necessitating the proud Son to hypocrisies towards his terrible Father, which were very foreign to the proud youth, had there been any other resource. But there was none, now or afterwards. Even when the young man, driven to reflection and insight by intolerable miseries, had begun to recognize the worth of his surly Rhadamanthine Father, and the intrinsic wisdom of much that he had meant with him, the Father hardly ever could, or could only by fits, completely recognize the Son's worth. Rugged suspicious Papa requires always to be humored, cajoled, even when our feeling towards him is genuine and loyal. Friedrich, to the last, we can perceive, has to assume masquerade in addressing him, in writing to him,--and in spite of real love, must have felt it a relief when such a thing was over. That is, all along, a sad element of Friedrich's education! Out of which there might have come incalculable damage to the young man, had his natural assimilative powers, to extract benefit from all things, been less considerable. As it was, he gained self-help from it; gained reticence, the power to keep his own counsel; and did not let the hypocrisy take hold of him, or be other than a hateful compulsory masquerade. At an uncommonly early age, he stands before us accomplished in endurance, for one thing; a very bright young Stoic of his sort; silently prepared for the injustices of men and things. And as for the masquerade, let us hope it was essentially foreign even to the skin of the man! The reader will judge as he goes on. "Je n'ai jamais trompe personne durant ma vie, I have never deceived anybody during my life; still less will I deceive posterity," [ Memoires depuis la Paix de Huberrtsbourg, 1763-1774 (Avant-Propos), OEUVRES, vii. 8.] writes Friedrich when his head was now grown very gray.

been the present[398] reward of their diabolical labours.


been the present[398] reward of their diabolical labours.

Neither as to intellectual culture, in Duhan's special sphere, and with all Duhan's good-will, was the opportunity extremely golden. It cannot be said that Friedrich, who spells in the way we saw, "ASTEURE" for "A CETTE HEURE," has made shining acquisitions on the literary side. However, in the long-run it becomes clear, his intellect, roving on devious courses, or plodding along the prescribed tram-roads, had been wide awake; and busy all the while, bringing in abundant pabulum of an irregular nature.

been the present[398] reward of their diabolical labours.

He did learn "Arithmetic," "Geography," and the other useful knowledges that were indispensable to him. He knows History extensively; though rather the Roman, French, and general European as the French have taught it him, than that of "Hessen, Brunswick, England," or even the "Electoral and Royal House of Brandenburg," which Papa had recommended. He read History, where he could find it readable, to the end of his life; and had early begun reading it,--immensely eager to learn, in his little head, what strange things had been, and were, in this strange Planet he was come into.

We notice with pleasure a lively taste for facts in the little Boy; which continued to be the taste of the Man, in an eminent degree. Fictions he also knows; an eager extensive reader of what is called Poetry, Literature, and himself a performer in that province by and by: but it is observable how much of Realism there always is in his Literature; how close, here as elsewhere, he always hangs on the practical truth of things; how Fiction itself is either an expository illustrative garment of Fact, or else is of no value to him. Romantic readers of his Literature are much disappointed in consequence, and pronounce it bad Literature;--and sure enough, in several senses, it is not to be called good! Bad Literature, they say; shallow, barren, most unsatisfactory to a reader of romantic appetites. Which is a correct verdict, as to the romantic appetites and it. But to the man himself, this qualityof mind is of immense moment and advantage; and forms truly the basis of all he was good for in life. Once for all, he has no pleasure in dreams, in parti-colored clouds and nothingnesses. All his curiosities gravitate towards what exists, what has being and reality round him. That is the significant thing to him; that he would right gladly know, being already related to that, as friend or as enemy; and feeling an unconscious indissoluble kinship, who shall say of what importance, towards all that. For he too is a little Fact, big as can be to himself; and in the whole Universe there exists nothing as fact but is a fellow-creature of his.

That our little Fritz tends that way, ought to give Noltenius, Finkenstein and other interested parties, the very highest satisfaction. It is an excellent symptom of his intellect, this of gravitating irresistibly towards realities. Better symptom of its quality (whatever QUANTITY there be of it), human intellect cannot show for itself. However it may go with Literature, and satisfaction to readers of romantic appetites, this young soul promises to become a successful Worker one day, and to DO something under the Sun. For work is of an extremely unfictitious nature; and no man can roof his house with clouds and moonshine, so as to turn the rain from him.

It is also to be noted that his style of French, though he spelt it so ill, and never had the least mastery of punctuation, has real merit. Rapidity, easy vivacity, perfect clearness, here and there a certain quaint expressiveness: on the whole, he had learned the Art of Speech, from those old French Governesses, in those old and new French Books of his. We can also say of his Literature, of what he hastily wrote in mature life, that it has much more worth, even as Literature, than the common romantic appetite assigns to it. A vein of distinct sense, and good interior articulation, is never wanting in that thin-flowing utterance. The true is well riddled out from amid the false; the important and essential are alone given us, the unimportant and superfluous honestly thrown away. A lean wiry veracity (an immense advantage in any Literature, good or bad!) is everywhere beneficently observable; the QUALITY of the intellect always extremely good, whatever its quantity may be.

It is true, his spelling--"ASTEURE" for "A CETTE HEURE"--is very bad. And as for punctuation, he never could understand the mystery of it; he merely scatters a few commas and dashes, as if they were shaken out of a pepper-box upon his page, and so leaves it. These are deficiencies lying very bare to criticism; and I confess I never could completely understand them in such a man. He that would have ordered arrest for the smallest speck of mud on a man's buff-belt, indignant that any pipe-clayed portion of a man should not be perfectly pipeclayed: how could he tolerate false spelling, and commas shaken as out of a pepper-box over his page? It is probable he cared little about Literature, after all; cared, at least, only about the essentials of it; had practically no ambition for himself, or none considerable, in that kind;--and so might reckon exact obedience and punctuality, in a soldier, more important than good spelling to an amateur literary man: He never minded snuff upon his own chin, not even upon his waistcoat and breeches: A merely superficial thing, not worth bothering about, in the press of real business!--


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