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and the theatre were the best in Germany; the former got up by Venetians in the year 1717, under the direction of Lotti. The King gave 70,000 dollars a year to the theatrical companies, and sometimes 50,000 dollars for bringing out a single opera. Yet Sebastian Bach, the rival of Handel in classic elevation of sentiment, and the great predecessor of Beethoven in creating a majestic unity out of the utmost complexity and diversity of parts, lived at Leipsig, as ignored by the great of his own court as Milton had been by the frequenters of Whitehall.
The feminine attachments of Augustus were all but endless, and Dr. Vehse gives a formal Leporello list of them, for which we have no room. The most powerful of these favourites was a Countess Cosel, who ruled him during no less than six yearsfrom 1706 to 1712. She was a tall and exquisitely beautiful person. She had great intelligence, and considerable conversational powers, but a most violent temper, so that the King was often afraid of her resorting to personal extremities. Furiously jealous of rivals, she kept them at a distance by terror of the grossest insults. A Lutheran preacher having inveighed against her in the pulpit as the Bathsheba of Saxony, she wished the King to punish him; but he answered good-humouredly, that preachers could say anything they chose an hour a week in a particular place without having a reckoning to give; but if he inveighed against her at other times and elsewhere, he would then take notice of it. But,' added he, 'the Lutheran pulpit is 'too high for the Pope; so much the more for a secular prince like myself. Augustus had turned Catholic in order to secure his election to the throne of Poland, and had been weak enough to give the Countess Cosel a promise of marriage although his queen was still alive. This promise he wished to get back, but she refused, threatening to put a bullet through his head. However, it was decided by the ministers that a separation should take place, in order that the Poles should not be jealous in consequence of the King not having a Polish lady for his mistress! Such was the singular morality of that period. 1712, when Countess Cosel was thirty-two years of age, and in the height of her beauty, all relations ceased between the King and her, in consequence of his having selected a Countess Dönhoff, of Polish extraction. Madame de Cosel was at first confined to her palace and park at Pillnitz, but escaping, after a residence in Prussia, returned to Saxony, and was imprisoned seventeen years, until the death of Augustus in 1733, in the Tower of Stolpe. All her property and jewels were seized by the King for her children, and she had to content herself with an allowance of 3000 dollars a year instead of 100,000.
Once she unsuccessfully attempted flight through the aid of an officer, who paid the penalty of his head for the exploit. Even after her liberation she continued to reside in her mountain tower, spending the greater part of her time in the study of the Old Testament, the Talmud, Jewish Antiquity, and Rabbinical Theology. At eighty-two years of age she presented the Prince de Ligne, as a great mark of her favour, with a Bible, annotated by herself; and shortly afterwards he received a letter from her in mystical and incomprehensible language. Three years afterwards she ended her miserable life.
The sumptuous architectural decorations of Dresden and its environs date principally from the period of Augustus the Strong. The Zwinger Palace was built in 1711, and in subsequent years the Temple of Venus at Pillnitz, with portraits of his female favourites, the great garden of Dresden, with no less than 1,500 marble statues, and the orangery, completed two years before his death. He moreover founded the celebrated Dresden Gallery, and established a school of design. Bellotto, or, as he is commonly called, Canelletto the Younger, was the court landscape painter, whose views of Dresden and other cities in the manner of his uncle are familiarly known to amateurs of pictures. The Green Vault, with its jewels, was another well-known fancy of Augustus, to which we may add, the Japan Palace, with its countless pieces of porcelain.
The credulity of Augustus in the transmutation of metals was accidentally the cause of the discovery of the celebrated Dresden ware. An apothecary's lad named Böttiger composed a tincture that was supposed to be capable of being transformed into gold. Be this as it may, the talents of the lad as an experimental chemist were indisputable. The reputation of a successful alchymist was, however, fatal to his liberty, and the lad of seventeen was, by the order of Augustus, placed under lock and key, with a complete laboratory at his disposition. This restraint almost drove the vivacious youth into insanity. The governor of Konigstein, the state fortress of Saxony, overlooking the gully of the Elbe, reported on the 12th of April, 1702, that he foamed at the mouth like a horse, roared like a bull, 'knocked his head against the wall, creeped with hands and feet, and trembled so violently that two soldiers could not hold him. He considered the commandant to be the Arch'angel Gabriel; he blasphemed, and drank twelve cans of 'beer a day without getting drunk.' After this he was taken to Dresden, where, although still in a state of surveillance and seclusion, he was allowed a certain liberty, billiards, private walks under control, a court equipage, and certain
safe persons for his companions. Böttiger, from his flow of animal spirits, had the art of enchanting every one to whom he had access. Augustus himself sought his acquaintance, without, however, giving him full liberty; and, consulting his confessor as to his opinion of him, the Jesuit answered, Videtur mihi esse vir honestus egregiæ eruditionis et excellentissimi ingenii.' Böttiger, while pursuing his experiments, accidentally discovered that Meissen porcelain, commonly called Dresden china, which became so celebrated and so sought after in the earlier half of the eighteenth century, and the taste for which has revived with such force. This to Augustus the Strong, who was a great china fancier, was as welcome as gold itself, for he had expended incredible sums on what is now called the Japan Palace. Many workmen were engaged from Delft in order to give vogue to the new ware, and in 1710 the manufactory of Meissen fairly commenced the supply of the demand, which soon became European. Böttiger thenceforth had access to the King as often as he chose, and received from him a ring with his effigy, a young bear, two apes, and credit with the royal banker. In 1715 he obtained not only his full liberty, but the profits of the porcelain manufactory for life. But he proved unequal to the opportunity. Drunkenness, probably brought on by solitude, had so mastered him, that he at last drank half-a-dozen bottles of wine a day, and died, at thirty-four years of age, of his excesses.
Augustus III., son of Augustus the Strong, and second Saxon king of Poland, reigned from 1733 to 1763. His accession was at thirty-seven years of age; but his temper differed from that of his father, for he was apathetic in the extreme. The veritable ruler was the celebrated Count Bruhl, with whose name the readers of Prussian history and the visitors of the Saxon capital are so familiar. He was, indeed, the incarnation of reckless, ruinous splendour, throwing all the Fouquets, Richelieus, and Calonnes completely into the shade. He had been a favourite of Augustus the Strong from his polite manners and agreeable conversation, and under his successor cumulated thirty offices in his person, and acquired a multitude of estates both in Poland and Saxony. He built the celebrated but too ornamental Bruhl Palace in Dresden, furnished internally with incomparable splendour; the picturegallery was one hundred and fifty-six yards long, with paintings on one side, and windows looking out on the Elbe on the other, with vast mirrors, vases, and statues disposed in the intervals. The library was of seventy thousand volumes, and had a splendidly printed catalogue of sixty-one volumes.
This was all mere furniture, for he had never been at an university, or read anything but State papers and police reports. He had his own theatre for the Italian Opera and French Comedy. Three hundred horses stood in his stables, and as many persons were in his household service. His wardrobe filled two halls of the palace, and for each dress was an especial watch, snuff-box, sword, and cane. Every dress was painted in miniature in a book, which was every morning presented to his most serene Excellency,' as he caused himself to be called. His wigs were fifteen hundred in number, so that when his palace was occupied by Frederick the Great, during the Seven Years' War, that prince exclaimed, with contemptuous surprise, "So many perukes for a man who has no head!'
When people spoke to the King about his extravagance, Bruhl told his Majesty that his Countess had the art of making great show with a little money. After a supper to one hundred and sixty-five persons in his great gallery to the Duke de Richelieu, the latter said, Après mon retour en France, je con'seillerai au Roi mon maître d'envoyer à Dresde une douzaine des principaux officiers de sa maison pour apprendre du maître d'hôtel de M. le Comte l'ordre et le service.' Meanwhile, the troops were sometimes two years in arrear, and the whole machinery of the State stood still while the spits of Count Bruhl's kitchen were turning so systematically. One colonel had the courage to inform the King of the true state of affairs, in spite of the manœuvres of Bruhl's agents, who kept at a distance all inconvenient petitions. Bruhl was forthwith called; he flatly denied the charge, and offered to furnish proofs of his innocence. On the same night bills on the Customs' cashier were issued to the army and ready cash for the month, the receipts for which were shown to the King, whom Bruhl made to believe that the officer was not in his right senses. Four of Bruhl's myrmidons then pounced upon the unlucky wight, and gave him his option either to spend the rest of his days in an oubliette of the Konigstein with confiscation of his property, or to make a second petition to the King confessing that he suffered from melancholy occasionally.' The latter alternative was of course elected, on which he was pensioned. Bruhl was an inconceivably bad finance minister, and his luxury was kept up by favouritism so gross that generals were multiplied in the proportion of nearly 1 to 100 men. But his bitterest enemies were enchanted with his manners. King he was a polite Maire du Palais,' for he watched him morning, noon, and night, and his assiduity to the phlegmatic tobacco-smoking monarch was constant. Bruhl, have I monow
in my exchequer?' was the frequent question; to which, in oriental court fashion, a negative answer was never known to have been given.
He died a Protestant in profession, having survived his master a short time. His will was curious: Never,' says this document, 'did I go to bed without saying my prayers, and never did I ' rise to undertake anything without first paying my devotions. I have triumphantly got through every danger by His grace, even those of murder and poison; but, as all was the work of God, he has protected me and my enemies have failed in 'everything.' The wealth disposed of at his death was enormous, and we are informed that the heir-loom porcelain service, valued at 1,000,000 of dollars, is to this day preserved in the cellars of the chief seat of his family at Pforten.
While folly, finery, and profusion exhausted Saxony, strict financial economy, iron military discipline, and resplendent military genius elevated the neighbouring Prussia to be one of the great Powers of continental Europe. We look on the portraiture of the father of Frederick the Great as Dr. Vehse's masterpiece. It has the vivacity and originality of a highlyfinished character in fiction, combining De Foe's impress of probability with the humour of Sir Walter Scott.
A slight sketch in kitcat from this full-length portrait of Frederick William the First, is all that we shall attempt on the present occasion.
This prince, second King of Prussia, was the only son of Frederick the First and his philosophical queen, Charlotte of Hanover. He was born in the year of the English revolution of 1688, and showed himself in infancy to be of a robust and vigorous frame, but of obstinate, ferocious, and untractable temper. He was nevertheless the idol of his mother as well as of his grandmother, the Electress Sophia of Hanover, who sent for him to that residence when he was five years of age; but his quarrels with Prince George, afterwards George the Second of England, were incessant and prolonged, from childhood to mature age and accession to power; for the King of Prussia would talk of my brother the dancing master,' or the mountebank,' and George reciprocated the compliment by styling Frederick William, with his gigantic recruits and his mania for drill, as my brother the sergeant.'
Frederick William very early showed a great aversion to regal pomp, state, and luxury. He threw a dressing gown of old brocade into the fire, and would lie for hours in the sun with his face greased to give it a tanned soldier-like ap