“Who is Captain Montgomery?” with emphasis on the word

"Our anger the said Baron never kindled but once,"--in atrociously violating the grave of an Ancestress (or Step Ancestress) of ours. [Step-Ancestress was Dorothea, the Great Elector's second Wife; of whom Pollnitz, in his Memoirs and Letters, repeats the rumor that once she, perhaps, tried to poison her Stepson Friedrich, First King. (See supra, vol. v. p. 47).] "But as the loveliest countries have their barren spots, the beautifulest forms their imperfections, pictures by the greatest masters their faults, We are willing to cover with the veil of oblivion those of the said Baron; do hereby grant him, with regret, the Congee he requires;--and abolish his Office altogether, to blot it from men's memory, not judging that anybody after the said Baron can be worthy to fill it. "Done at Potsdam, this 1st of April, 1744. FREDERIC." [ OEuvres, xv. 193.]

“Who is Captain Montgomery?” with emphasis on the word

The Office of Grand Master of the Ceremonies was, accordingly, abolished altogether. But Pollnitz, left loose in this manner, did not gallop direct, or go at all, into monkhood, as he had expected; but, in fact, by degrees, crept home to Berlin again; took the subaltern post of Chamberlain; and there, in the old fashion (straitened in finance, making loans, retailing anecdotes, not witty but the cause of wit), wore out life's gray evening; till, about thirty years hence, he died; "died as he had lived, swindling the very night before his decease," writes Friedrich; [Letter to Voltaire, 13th August, 1775 ( OEuvres de Frederic, xxiii. 344). See Preuss, v. 241 (URKUNDENBUCH), the Letters of Friedrich to Pollnitz.] who was always rather kind to the poor old dog, though bantering him a good deal.

“Who is Captain Montgomery?” with emphasis on the word


“Who is Captain Montgomery?” with emphasis on the word

Early in May, the Berlin public first saw its Barberina dance, and wrote ecstatic Latin Epigrams about that miracle of nature and art; [Rodenbeck, pp. 111, 190.]--miracle, alas, not entirely omissible by us. Here is her Story, as the Books give it; slightly mythical, I judge, in some of its non-essential parts; but good enough for the subject:--

Barberina the Dancer had cost Friedrich some trouble; the pains he took with her elegant pirouettings and poussettings, and the heavy salary he gave her, are an unexpected item in his history. He wished to favor the Arts, yes; but did he reckon Opera-dancing a chief one among them? He had indeed built an Opera-House, and gave free admissions, supporting the cost himself; and among his other governings, governed the dancer and singer troops of that establishment. Took no little trouble about his Opera:--yet perhaps he privately knew its place, after all. "Wished to encourage strangers of opulent condition to visit his Capital," say the cunning ones. It may be so; and, at any rate, he probably wished to act the King in such matters, and not grudge a little money. He really loved music, even opera music, and knew that his people loved it; to the rough natural man, all rhythm, even of a Barberina's feet, may be didactic, beneficial: do not higgle, let us do what is to be done in a liberal style. His agent at Venice-- for he has agents everywhere on the outlook for him--reports that here is a Female Dancer of the first quality, who has shone in London, Paris and the Capital Cities, and might answer well, but whose terms will probably be dear. "Engage her," answers Friedrich. And she is engaged on pretty terms; she will be free in a month or two, and then start. [Zimmermann, Fragmente uber Friedrich den Grossen (Leipzig, 1790), i. 88-92; Collini, ubi infra; Denina; &c.: compare Rodenbeck, p. 191.]

Well;--but Barberina had, as is usual, subsidiary trades to her dancing: in particular, a young English Gentleman had followed her up and down, says Zimmermann, and was still here in Venice passionately attached to her. Which fact, especially which young English gentleman, should have been extremely indifferent to me, but for a circumstance soon to be mentioned. The young English gentleman, clear against Barberina's Prussian scheme, passionately opposes the same, passionately renews his own offers;--induces Barberina to inform the Prussian agent that she renounces her engagement in that quarter. Prussian agent answers that it is not renounceable; that he has legal writing on it, and that it must be kept. Barberina rises into contumacy, will laugh at all writing and compulsion. Prussian agent applies to Doge and Senate on the subject, in his King's name; who answer politely, but do nothing: "How happy to oblige so great a King; but--" And so it lasts for certain months; Barberina and the young English gentleman contumacious in Venice, and Doge and Senate merely wishing we may get her.

Meanwhile a Venetian Ambassador happens to be passing through Berlin, in his way to or from some Hyperborean State; arrives at some hotel, in Berlin;--finds, on the morrow, that his luggage is arrested by Royal Order; that he, or at least IT, cannot get farther, neither advance nor return, till Barberina do come. "Impossible, Signor: a bargain is a bargain; and States ought to have law-courts that enforce contracts entered into in their territories." The Venetian Doge and Senate do now lay hold of Barberina; pack her into post-chaises, off towards Berlin, under the charge of armed men, with the proper transit-papers,--as it were under the address, "For his Majesty of Prussia, this side uppermost,"--and thus she actually is conveyed, date or month uncertain, by Innspruck or the Splugen, I cannot say which, over mountain, over valley, from country to country, and from stage to stage, till she arrives at Berlin; Ambassador with baggage having been let go, so soon as the affair was seen to be safe.

As for the young English gentleman passionately attached, he followed, it is understood; faithful, constant as shadow to the sun, always a stage behind; arrived in Berlin two hours after his Barberina, still passionately attached; and now, as the rumor goes, was threatening even to marry her, and so save the matter. Supremely indifferent to my readers and me. But here now is the circumstance that makes it mentionable. The young English is properly a young Scotch gentleman; James Mackenzie the name of him,--a grandson of the celebrated Advocate, Sir George Mackenzie; and younger Brother of a personage who, as Earl of Bute, became extremely conspicuous in this Kingdom in after years. That makes it mentionable,--if only in the shape of MYTH. For Friedrich, according to rumor, being still like to lose his Dancer in that manner, warned the young gentleman's friends; and had him peremptorily summoned home, and the light fantastic toe left free in that respect. Which procedure the indignant young gentleman (thinks my Author) never forgave; continuing a hater of Friedrich all his days; and instilling the same sentiment into the Earl of Bute at a period which was very critical, as we shall see. This is my Author's, the often fallacious though not mendacious Dr. Zimmermann's, rather deliberate account; a man not given to mendacity, though filled with much vague wind, which renders him fallacious in historical points.

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