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an old friend of his father’s, issued orders accordingly.

time:2023-12-01 14:08:59 Source: Originally writtenedit:two

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"Signor Como Alessandro Collini, a young Venetian gentleman of some family and education, but of no employment or resource, had in late years been asking zealously all round among his home circle, What am I to do with myself? mere echo answering, What,--till a Signora Sister of Barberina the Dancer's answered: 'Try Berlin, and King FRIDERICO IL GRANDE there? I could give you a letter to my Sister!' At which Collini grasps; gets under way for Berlin,--through wild Alpine sceneries, foreign guttural populations; and with what thoughts, poor young fellow. It is a common course to take, and sometimes answers, sometimes not. The cynosure of vague creatures, with a sense of faculty without direction. What clouds of winged migratory people gathering in to Berlin, all through this Reign. Not since Noah's Ark a stranger menagerie of creatures, mostly wild. Of whom Voltaire alone is, in our time, worth mention.

an old friend of his father’s, issued orders accordingly.

"Collini gazed upon the Alpine chasms, and shaggy ice-palaces, with tender memory of the Adriatic; courageously steered his way through the inoffensive guttural populations; had got to Berlin, just in this time; been had to dinner daily by the hospitable Barberinas, young Cocceji always his fellow-guest,--'Privately, my poor Signorina's Husband!' whispered old Mamma. Both the Barberinas were very kind to Collini; cheering him with good auguries, and offers of help. Collini does not date with any punctuality; but the German Books will do it for him. August 25th-27th was Carrousel; and Collini had arrived few days before." [Collini, Mon Sejour aupres de Voltaire (Paris, 1807), pp. 1-21.]

an old friend of his father’s, issued orders accordingly.

And now it is time we were at the Carrousel ourselves,--in a brief transient way.

an old friend of his father’s, issued orders accordingly.


Readers have heard of the PLACE DU CARROUSEL at Paris; and know probably that Louis XIV. held world-famous Carrousel there (A.D. 1662); and, in general, that Carrousel has something to do with Tourneying, or the Shadow of Tourneying. It is, in fact, a kind of superb be-tailored running at the ring, instead of be-blacksmithed running at one another. A Second milder Edition of those Tournament sports, and dangerous trials of strength and dexterity, which were so grand a business in the Old iron Ages. Of which, in the form of Carrousel or otherwise, down almost to the present day, there have been examples, among puissant Lords;--though now it is felt to have become extremely hollow; perhaps incapable of fully entertaining anybody, except children and their nurses on a high occasion.

A century ago, before the volcanic explosion of so many things which it has since become wearisome to think of in this earnest world, the Tournament, emblem of an Age of Chivalry, which was gone: but had not yet declared itself to be quite gone, and even to be turned topsy-turvy, had still substance as a mummery,--not enough, I should say, to spend much money upon. Not much real money: except, indeed, the money were offered you gratis, from other parties interested? Sir Jonas kindly informs us, by insinuation, that this was, to a good degree, Friedrich's case in the now Carrousel: "a thing got up by the private efforts of different great Lords and Princes of the blood;" each party tailoring, harnessing and furbishing himself and followers; Friedrich contributing little but the arena and general outfit. I know not whether even the 40,000 lamps (for it took place by night) were of his purchase, though that is likely; and know only that the Suppers and interior Palace Entertainments would be his. "Did not cost the King much money," says Sir Jonas; which is satisfactory to know. For of the Carrousel kind, or of the Royal- Mummery kind in general, there has been, for graceful arrangement, for magnificence regardless of expense,--inviting your amiable Lord Malton, and the idlers of all Countries, and awakening the rapture of Gazetteers,--nothing like it since Louis the Grand's time. Nothing,--except perhaps that Camp of Muhlberg or Radowitz, where we once were. Done, this one, not at the King's expense alone, but at other people's chiefly: that is an unexpected feature, welcome if true; and, except for Sir Jonas, would not have helped to explain the puzzle for us, as it did in the then Berlin circles. Muhlberg, in my humble judgment, was worth two of this as a Mummery;--but the meritorious feature of Friedrich's is, that it cost him very little.

It was, say all Gazetteers and idle eye-witnesses, a highly splendid spectacle. By much the most effulgent exhibition Friedrich ever made of himself in the Expensive-Mummery department: and I could give in extreme detail the phenomena of it; but, in mercy to poor readers, will not. Fancy the assiduous hammering and sawing on the Schloss-Platz, amid crowds of gay loungers, giving cheerful note of preparation, in those latter days of August, 1750. And, on WEDNESDAY NIGHT, 25th AUGUST, look and see,--for the due moments only, and vaguely enough (as in the following Excerpt):--

PALACE-ESPLANADE OF BERLIN, 25th AUGUST, 1750 (dusk sinking into dark): "Under a windy nocturnal sky, a spacious Parallelogram, enclosed for jousting as at Aspramont or Trebisond. Wide enough arena in the centre; vast amphitheatre of wooden seats and passages, firm carpentry and fitted for its business, rising all round; Audience, select though multitudinous, sitting decorous and garrulous, say since half-past eight. There is royal box on the ground-tier; and the King in it, King, with Princess Amelia for the prizes: opposite to this is entrance for the Chevaliers,--four separate entrances, I think. Who come,--lo, at last!--with breathings and big swells of music, as Resuscitations from the buried Ages.