Изображения страниц






[ocr errors]

CHARACTER OF FREDERIC KING OF PRUSSIA. DUT while I admit his claim to immortality, I am

nog disposed to be his panegyrist. Much as we admire, we are little tempted to love him. Ambition, from the hour of his acceflion to the present moment, has been his only real passion. Neither the faith of treaties nor the laws of nations, nor the principles of justice and equity, have ever sufficiently restrained him from pursuing the aggrandizement of the Pruffian monarchy. The conquest of Silesia, under all the circumstances, can scarcely be justified: the partition of Poland, however its injustice may seem to be diminished by the concurrence of Austria and Russia, was an act that revolted every mind not insensible to the distinations of right and wrong. His own glory, more than the felicity of his people, has constituted, at every period of his reign, the rule of his political conduct. Though 'not cruel, he is nevertheless in some respects oppressive; though he rarely permits capital punishments, he exacts pecuniary contributions from his subjects, scarcely less subversive of their domestic happiness, than would be the utmost severity of penal laws. His vigilance, it is true, never sleeps ; and he is felt on the distant frontier of Courland or of Cleves, at the extremities of his dominions, almost as much as here at Berlin. But so was Philip the Se. cond, the most odious tyrant of modern times. It is for the preservation of his own greatness alone that Frederic wakes. Even his pleasures are gloomy, philosophic, and solitary. Love never invaded the privacy of “ Sans Souci," nor softened the auftere and cheerless hours of Frederic's private life. He is great, but not amiable; we render homage to his talents, his reputation, and his victories : but we defire to live under a more benign and unambitious prince. We are pleased to visit Ber. lin, as an object of liberal curiosity; but we prefer the residence of London, of Vienna, or of Naples.


THE Chevalier de Saxe, third in order of birth, among the natural sons of Augustus the Second, King of Poland, was only half brother to the famous Marshal Saxe, as they'were by different mothers. In right of his wife, who was a Princess Lubomirska, of a very il. fustrious Polith family, the Chevalier inherited confiderable property in that country, as well as in Saxony, He refided principally in Dresden, and died only a few years ago, at his palace in this city; which his nephew Prince Charles, who was his principal heir, occupied after his deceale. In addition to his maternal estates, the Chevalier possessed a vast income from his military and other appointments in the Electoral service ; and as he left no issue, he was supposed to have amassed great sums. Reports had been circulated that money was concealed in the palace; but no one pretended to ascertain the precise place where it was deposited. If his fpirit could be compelled to appear, that interesting secret might be extorted from him. Thus curiosity combining with avarice, or at least with the hope of discovering a considerable treasure, prompted Prince Charles to name his uncle, as the object of the experi, ment *.

On the appointed night, for Schrepfer + naturally preferred darkness, as not only more private in itself,

* Of raifing a deceased person. † The pretended magician.


but better calculated for the effect of incantations ; the company assembled. They were nineteen in number, of whom I personally

know several, who are persons of consideration, character, and respectability. When they were mer in the great gallery of the palace, the first object of all present was to secure the windows and doors, in order equally to prevent intrusion or de. ceprion. As far as precaution could effect it, they did so, and were satisfied that nothing, except violence, could procure access or entrance. Schrepfer then acquainted them, that the act which he was about to perform, would demand all their firmness; and advised them to fortify their nerves by partaking of a bowl of punch, which was placed upon the table. Several of them, indeed, as I believe, all, except one or two, think. ing the exhortation judicious, very readily followed it; but, the gentleman from whom I received these particulars, declined the advice. “ I am come here," said he to Schrepfer, " to be present at raising an apparition. Either I will see all or nothing. My resolution is taken, and no inducement can make me put any thing within my lips.” Another of the company, who pre. served his presence of mind, placed himself close to the principal door, in order to watch if any one attempted to open or forçe it. These preparatory steps being taken, the great work began with the utmost folemnity.

Schrepfer commenced it, by retiring into a corner of the gallery, where kneeling down, with many myfte. rious ceremonies, he invoked the spirits to appear, or rather to come to his aid; for it is allowed that none were ever visible. A very considerable time elapsed beforethey obeyed; during which interval, he laboured apparently, under great agitation of body and mind, being covered with a violent Tweat, and almost in convulsions, like the Pythoness of antiquity. At length a loud clara ter was heard at all the windows on the outside ; which was foon followed by another noise, resembling more


[ocr errors]

the effect produced by a number of wet fingers drawn over the edge of glasses, that any thing else to which it could well be compared. This sound announced, as he faid, the arrival of his good or protecting spirits, and feemed to encourage him to proceed. A short time afterwards a yelling was heard, of a frightful and unusual nature, which came, he declared, from the malignant spirits, whose presence, as it seems, wa's necessary and indispensable to the completion of the catastrophe.

The company were now, at least the greater part, electrified with amazement, or petrified with horror ; and of course fully prepared for every object which could be presented to them. Schrepfer continuing his invocations, the door suddenly opened with violence, and something that resembled a black ball or globe, rolled into the room. It was invested with smoke or cloud, in the midst of which appeared to be a human face, like the countenance of the Chevalier de Saxe; much in the same way, it would seem, that Corregio or Hannibal Carrache, have represented Jupiter appearing to Semelé. From this form issued a loud and angry voice, which exclaimed in German, “ Carl, was wolte du mit mich ?-Charles, what wouldlt thou with me? Why dost thou disturb me?"

Language, as may be supposed, can ill describe the confternation produced among the spectators at such a fight. Either firmly persuaded that the appearance which they beheld, was spiritual and intangible, or deprived of resolution to approach and attempt to seize it; they appear to have made no effort to satisfy themselves of its incorporeal nature. The Prince, whose impious curiosity had fummoned his uncle's ghost, and to whom, * the perfon principally responsible, the spectre addressed itself; far from manifesting coolness, or attempt ing reply, betrayed the strongest marks of horror and contrition. Throwing himself on his knees, he called on God for mercy; while others of the terrified party carnestly befought the magician to give the only re

maining maining proof of his art for which they were now very anxious, by dismilling the apparition. But, Schrepfer, though apparently willing, found, or pretended to find, this effort beyond his power. However incredible, absurd, or ridiculous it may be thought, the persons who witnessed the scene, protest that near an hour elapsed, before, by the force of his invocations, the spectre could be compelled to disappear. Nay, when at length Schrepfer had succeeded in dismissing it: at the moment that the company began to resume a degree of serenity, the door, which had been clored, burst open again, and the same hideous form presented itself anew to their eyes. The most resolute and collected among them, were not proof to its second appearance, and a scene of universal dismay ensued. Schrepfer, however, by reiterated exor. cisms or exertions, finally dismissed the apparition. The terrified spectators foon dispersed, overcome with amazement, and fully satisfied, as they well might be, of Schrepfer's supernatural powers.

COPERNICUS. WHATEVER may be its political fate, the name of Thorn will always recal to the mind a man, whose deep researches ascertained the principle only surmised by antiquity, upon which rests the Newtonian system of philosophy. Nicholas Copernicus, or Kopernic, has immortalized the place of his birth and residence. Every particular relative to him excites curiosity; and after visiting his house as well as his tomb, I endeavoured to obtain fome information concerning his family. It is not a little remarkable, that so sublime a discovery should have originated in a part of Europe the most obscure, and hardly civilized, while it escaped the tiner genius of Italy and of France. Though a part of the building has been destroyed by fire, the chamber is still religioully preserved in which Copernicus was born,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »