Frederic the Great and Madame De Pompadour
THE publication in Germany, within the past few years, of a number of extremely valuable works, historical and documentary, has thrown a flood of light upon the long negotiations and the busy intrigues which preceded the Seven Years’ War. Many of them are not widely read, it is safe to presume, even in the country of their issue. But in America and in England it would be strange if any of them were known familiarly, or by much more than their titles, except to a few special students of political history. Since, however, this material helps to solve problems that have vexed inquirers for more than a century, — problems, some of which lie indeed near the domain of scandal, while others take us into the higher regions of statesmanship, but all connected with a momentous revolution in the political system of the world, — it is indispensable that it be revealed, at least in its leading features, to that vast public whose literary resources end with the English language. The present paper is an effort in that direction. I shall take only a single subject, — the relations of Frederic the Great, which involve also the relations of Maria Theresa of Austria, to the famous mistress of Louis XV. But the choice needs no explanation or defense. One of the oldest, most widely known, and most generally accepted traditions of history makes Madame de Pompadour, flattered by the empress and neglected by Frederic, the practical author of the crisis of 1756. The object of the following study is to learn how much truth lies at the basis of this venerable theory.
The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 ended a war of nearly eight years, during which the house of Austria had been struggling for its very existence. No sooner was the death of the emperor Charles VI., the last male of the Hapsburg family, announced to the world than half the powers of Europe rushed forward, to dispute the succession of his daughter, Maria Theresa, which nearly all of them had guaranteed in the most solemn and sacred manner. Frederic of Prussia invaded, without excuse and without warning, the neighboring province of Silesia. Spain and Sardinia began hostilities in Italy. The Elector of Bavaria struck at the heart of the Austrian dominions on the upper Danube; and France, putting forward no claim for herself, and assuming the part of an auxiliary, under a formula invented by that most consummate master of diplomatic casuistry, Cardinal Fleury, made a treaty with Frederic, and sent an army to aid the elector. In this crisis the young queen had no allies except England and Holland. The two maritime powers held to the Austrian alliance, as their treaty obligations required, yet quite as much in obedience to the political traditions of a century; and even their support was tardy, without energy, and given always in the form most favorable to their own interests. Against this formidable combination, and supported by such unreasonable allies, the queen, though she faced the crisis with the noblest courage, soon found it hopeless to contend. She bought off the king of Prussia by the cession of Silesia. The king of Sardinia was detached from the league by similar concessions to his rapacity. The Elector of Bavaria, who had for a time enjoyed the vain dignity of emperor, died a fugitive from his own country, and his son hastened to accept a compromise. France remained in the end the only active enemy. But France, through the skillful generalship of Maurice of Saxony, had obtained so firm a hold on the Austrian Netherlands that the combined efforts of the three allies were unable to shake it. Hence, notwithstanding the approach of a Russian army of relief, peace became for the queen, now also empress, an unavoidable necessity. The treaty of 1748 ratified the cessions already made, exacted new ones in Italy, and left the vast hereditary estate of the house of Hapsburg robbed of some of its fairest portions.
When the death of her father let loose this cruel storm upon her, Maria Theresa, though only twenty-three years of age, was already famous throughout Europe for the charms of her person and the virtues of her character. Her rich, noble, and imposing beauty held captive all who were privileged to behold it. She had walked unharmed and unslandered through all the temptations of a court not distinguished for austere habits or a severe standard of morality. With the haughty pride of her ancestors mellowed into a just sense of respect for her own character, her sex, and her station, she had early won the hearts of all by a native frankness of disposition and a certain artlessness of manner, never more attractive than in maidens of her rank. Her education, though loose and unsystematic, had taken a wide range, and given her some acquaintance with many forms of culture. Her natural gifts were good. Her marriage with Francis of Lorraine, Duke of Tuscany, was a marriage of love, and not of convenience. In short, she excelled in all the qualities of the woman, the wife, and the mother ; and these, added to the singular pathos of her situation, as the inexperienced and confiding heir of vast dominions, scattered all over Europe, ought to have stayed the hand of spoliation, and made treachery hide its head with shame. But this was not to be. The age of chivalry ended, not, as Burke declares, when Marie Antoinette was led captive at the head of a ragged mob of Parisian sans-culottes, but fifty years earlier, when the possessions of her mother were simultaneously invaded by half a dozen princes who had solemnly pledged themselves to defend her.
The war was over, the treaty was signed, the belligerents retired to balance the amount of loss and gain. Maria Theresa, great in the fierce excitement of arms, was also great in the quiet councils of peace. With a judgment ripened by experience and disciplined by adversity, and a nature which injustice and misfortune had made more serious without making it cynical or misanthropic, the empress-queen entered upon the second period of her reign, and took up the new task which lay before her. She cherished the memory of a great wrong. She had been robbed by those who had promised to defend her. She had been feebly supported even by those who nominally remained true ; and she felt that, as self-interest alone had governed their policy, no gratitude was due them. But her chief resentment fell upon the king of Prussia. The first offender, he was also the greatest; for he had robbed the house of Austria of the province of Silesia, the fairest jewel in the Hapsburg crown. To the original offense of invading the territory of a friendly neighbor he had added, in 1744, a second breach of faith, which arrested the triumphant march of the queen’s armies upon Paris, and thus wickedly prolonged a cruel and costly war. The lust of conquest, it was believed, would urge him to further aggressions, and make him always a dangerous neighbor. Hence, though his confederates might go free, he must he punished, humiliated, and rendered harmless. This determination was the key-note of Austrian policy for the next few years.
In the mean time, Frederic himself, undisturbed, apparently, by any feeling of remorse, enjoyed the glory which his victories had given him, and passed his days in the gratification of his favorite tastes. He erected costly buildings, laid out spacious parks, founded galleries of art. He reorganized the Academy of Sciences. He wrote histories of his own and his ancestors’ deeds ; poems in every style known to the books of rhetoric; moral and didactic essays, which left no side of life and conduct untouched. Into his literary circle he drew some of the choicest wits and boldest skeptics of Europe. His crowning conquest was Voltaire who, however, quarreled with his patron in 1758, and left Berlin in circumstances which became a European scandal. But during all this time the interests of state were not neglected. Frederic was singularly faithful to his duties as a ruler; and from both his precepts and his practice the most useful lessons of public conduct may be drawn, alike by the crowned and the uncrowned heads of states. In domestic affairs he made many useful and important reforms. In the field of foreign politics his chief object was to thwart the schemes of the court of Vienna, which he knew had in view the recovery of Silesia, and the reduction of Prussia to the insignificant rank held before his accession to the throne.
In the execution of these schemes of revenge, the empress-queen was aided, or rather guided, by one of the foremost statesmen in the history of Austria. Count Kaunitz was still a young man, when a correct instinct led Maria Theresa to send him as her principal representative to the congress of Aix-laChapelle; and thenceforward, for forty years, he was her closest and most confidential adviser.
Kaunitz was a strange compound of the most contradictory qualities, good and bad, manly and effeminate, winning and repulsive. He was a fop, a profligate, a libertine, and a cynic. His toilets were the wonder of society. His dressing-room, full of powder and perfumes, of laces, frills, and puffs, seemed rather the retreat of a fashionable beauty than of a sober man of affairs. His bluntness of speech spared not even the empress herself. It is related that when, at an official interview, she ventured to remonstrate with him upon his riotous living, he coolly replied that he had come to discuss her affairs, not his Own. Yet beneath all this flippancy, dissoluteness, and vanity there lay a deep political purpose, a consummate knowledge of human nature, and a sagacity which was rarely deceived. His foresight looked far into the future, and controlled a wide range of combinations. He adhered tenaciously to a purpose once formed; but, with the flexibility of mind which marks a true statesman, he was always prepared for the changing circumstances of the hour.
Now the great end of Austrian statecraft, as Kaunitz and Maria Theresa saw it after the peace of Aix-Ia-Chapelle, was to isolate Prussia by means of a reconciliation between the houses of France and Austria. Russia was already secured by a treaty concluded in 1746. The maritime powers, England and Holland, could join the league, or remain neutral; it was not supposed that they would take an active part against their ancient ally, or that, if they did, their aid would be of much value to Prussia. But the main thing was to gain France. With this end in view, Kaunitz himself was sent as ambassador to Paris, and remained three years as an energetic advocate of the new policy. But officially he met with no success. France still adhered to the Prussian alliance, and Kaunitz seemed at times willing to return to the old system of dependence on the naval powers. In the end, however, his opportunity came. When war again broke out between England and France, the king of Prussia, instead of renewing the alliance with France, which expired in 1756, changed his system, and formed an engagement with England. France was naturally indignant at this step, and welcomed the advances which Kaunitz promptly made. The result was the treaty of Versailles, which brought France and Austria into alliance, and the Seven Years’ War, with Prussia fighting against overwhelming odds.
Such was, in brief, the course of events. But did other influences than mere policy lead France to accept the Austrian advances, and make such a sudden rupture with her own past ? This has always been answered in the affirmative. And hundreds or thousands of books have not only stated that this influence was Madame de Pompadour, but have also explained, with the most minute details, the cause of her aversion to Frederic, and the arts by which she was won for Austria.
The marchioness was then at the height of her power. Of low extraction and little culture; with an accent which made the courtiers stare, and manners which were easy rather than correct, she won her place in 1745 not more by her beauty, which, to judge by the portraits, was of a soft, luxuriant, Oriental type, than by the adroitness and audacity with which she approached the king. But once installed as the recognized mistress, she soon acquired an authority which ended only with her death. To maintain her position she adopted a careful scheme of policy, which was based on an exact knowledge of the character of the king. But it was a low, selfish, and cynical policy; and it places her far below some of the other reigning favorites of the kings of France. In spite of her relations to Louis XIV., it is possible to feel a certain respect for Madame de Maintenon, because her influence was often used for generous ends, and because, according to such light as she possessed, she was sincere, pious, and devout. The Duchess of Châteauroux was high-spirited and ambitious, and in politics appealed always to the nobler impulses of Louis XV. But Madame de Pompadour desired power only for the sake of power. She liked to be an object of flattery and adulation ; to live in luxury ; to dispense bounty and patronage ; to receive ambassadors in her boudoir ; to be surrounded by poets and artists, scholars and philosophers ; to be the centre of a brilliant, showy, and gallant society. Her æsthetic tastes, though ambitious, were indeed liable to err. She bought paintings without discriminating clearly between those which were good and those which were bad. She failed to understand why Voltaire was a greater poet than Crébillon. But she discovered at a very early day that the true way to retain her influence over Louis, and thus to be the real dispenser of the court’s favors in art and in letters, in civil administration and in military administration, was to cater assiduously to his corrupted tastes, and to oppose every effort of those who demanded energy, ambition, achievement. This part she played with consummate skill. When her own charms began to wane, she founded the infamous Parc aux Cerfs, which enabled her to gratify the passions of Louis, without introducing any rival to contest her own claims and prerogatives. As her power over the affections of the lover declined, her influence on the policy of the king became the greater. The minister of war, Count d’Argenson, suffered from her hostility. She caused the disgrace of Maurepas. She barred the path of preferment to Marshal Belleisle, the most gifted of contemporary Frenchmen. But Machault, Séchelles, Saint - Florentin, Puysieux, Saint - Contest, Rouillé, were her own creatures, or were maintained in office by her favor. It had come, in fact, to be almost a recognized axiom in French politics that no man could obtain an important office without first paying his court and pledging his fealty to Madame de Pompadour. The foreign policy of the court of Versailles was especially supposed to be under her influence.
It was, therefore, natural that the abrupt change of system in 1756 should be ascribed to her. Frederic of Prussia, so the gossips related, had answered her compliments, brought by Voltaire in 1750, with the curt reply that he had not the honor of her acquaintance; and had even aggravated his offense by further sarcasms directed at her origin, character, and career. But Maria Theresa, less fastidious than the king of Prussia, had condescended to address the powerful favorite as her dear cousin, in a letter intended to gain her support for the plans of Kaunitz. Carlyle describes the supposed facts in his history of Frederic. " The Pompadour, for instance,” he writes, “who was it that answered, ‘Je ne la connais pas,’ I don’t know her, I ? How gladly would the imperial Maria Theresa, sold of propriety, have made that answer! But she did not ; she had to answer differently. For Kaunitz was imperative : A kind little note to the Pompadour ; one, and then another, and another ; it is indispensable, your imperial majesty! ’ And imperial majesty always had to do it. And there exist in writing, at this hour, various flattering little notes from imperial majesty to that address, which begin, ‘ ma cousine ; ’ 4 princesse et cousine,’ say many witnesses ; nay, 1 madame ma très chère sœur,’ says one good witness : notes which ought to have been printed before this, or given at least to the museums.” The reader will observe the extreme delicacy of this suggestion. Carlyle continues, however, in a foot-note, “ While the ministers of all the other powers went assiduously to pay their court to Madame, the Baron von Knyphausen alone, by his master’s orders, never once went.” Macaulay, though he does not pass, like Carlyle, for an authority on Prussian history, may also properly be heard. He tells the same melancholy story, though without the truculent exultation which Carlyle displays. After mentioning the manner in which Frederic repelled the Pompadour’s overtures, he says, “ The empress took a very different course. Though the haughtiest of princesses and the most austere of matrons, she forgot, in her thirst for revenge, both the dignity of her race and the purity of her character, and condescended to flatter the low-born and low-minded favorite. . . . She actually wrote with her own hand a note, full of expressions of esteem and friendship, to her dear cousin, the daughter of the butcher Poisson, the wife of the publican Etiolles, — a strange cousin for the descendant of so many emperors of the West.” Other authors without number give the story in essentially the same form. But no other, so far as my reading goes, has been reckless enough to state with Carlyle that the notes are still in existence.
There is no doubt that a story of this kind was current at Paris. The contemporary memoirs mention it. Mr. Stanley, whom Pitt sent to Paris in 1761 to open negotiations for peace, reported that it had been told to him by the Duke of Choiseul, the French minister ; and his letter, which is printed in Thackeray’s biography of Pitt, was perhaps the earliest recorded version. In gossip, hearsay evidence, and the general belief of the time the story thus found support, which historians were long willing to accept as sufficient. Yet, to take up first the charge against Maria Theresa, not only does Carlyle give no evidence for his rash assertion that notes written by her to Madame de Pompadour were still in existence, but there was absolutely none to give. On the contrary, the evidence is now nearly conclusive that no such notes were ever written.
The principal agent in exploding the ancient delusion was the Chevalier von Arneth, chief director of the archives at Vienna, and author of a voluminous history of Maria Theresa. He is indeed an Austrian, and a warm admirer of his heroine. But he is a writer of learning, diligence, ability, and candor; and his statements deserve implicit confidence. Having complete freedom of the archives, he seems to have left no corner of them unexplored; and he declares that after the most laborious search he failed to find any copies of notes between the empress and Madame de Pompadour, or any evidence that such notes had ever been exchanged, Kaunitz, indeed, when at Paris, paid his court to the marchioness, like the other ambassadors. He gave Count Stahremberg, his successor, a letter of recommendation to her. When it was decided, in 1755, to renew overtures to France, and Stahremberg was authorized to use the services either of the Pompadour or of Prince Conti, as he might think best, in gaining private access to the king, he selected the mistress as likely to be the most successful. The marchioness entered into the scheme, and was undoubtedly both active and useful in support of it. After the treaty was signed, Kaunitz sent her a letter of acknowledgment. Two years later he forwarded her a present, which was represented as coming from the empress, and which Louis permitted her to accept. But no letter from the empress or reply from the Pompadour can be found. Finally, Ranke, a Prussian historian, and one whose great reputation allowed, or rather required, him to be just even to an enemy, discovered, and published in the thirtieth volume of his collected works, a letter from Maria Theresa, in which she indignantly denied the charge. The letter was written in 1763 to a private correspondent; if only as a literary curiosity, it deserves insertion here in its original orthography and syntax. " Vous vous trompez,” she writes, “ si vous croyez que nous avonts jamais eut des liaisons avec la pompadour, jamais une lettre, ni que notre ministre aye passée par son canal, ils ont dut lui faire la cour comme tout les autres, mais jamais aucune intimité. Ce canal n’auroit pas convenut, je lui ais fais un present plutot gallant que magnifique l’année 1756 et avec la permition du roy, je ne la crois pas capable d’en accepter autrement.” On this letter Ranke justly observes that, though the empress errs in respect to the date of the present, and might easily have forgotten, if indeed she ever knew, the full extent of her minister’s connection with the marchioness, the denial of any personal correspondence with her must be accepted as final. In this view all right-minded and candid persons will coincide.
Let us now take up the other part of the story. Is it true that Frederic made an enemy of the Pompadour by rejecting her advances in 1750, that he used subsequently no effort to win her support, and that he even ordered his envoys to have no intercourse with her ?
It seems clear that, in the gilded saloons of Paris and Versailles, it. was an accepted article of faith that the mistress of Louis was the mortal enemy of Frederic. Yet the common account of the origin of this enmity rests only on the authority of Voltaire, and Voltaire leaves much to be desired in the way both of precision and of consistency. He states in a private letter to his niece, Madame Dénis, that when, on reaching Berlin in 1750, he made the compliments of the marchioness, as commanded by her, Frederic gave the famous reply that he had not the honor of her acquaintance. But Voltaire added that he would be careful not to let the favorite hear of the reception which her message met; and, so far as his own correspondence shows, he kept his word. It pleased him to call the Pompadour Venus, and the king Achilles. Now to Venus he wrote, soon after his arrival, in a rollicking letter: —
Vos complimens sont parvenus:
Vos myrtes sont dans cat asile
Avec les lauriers confondus :
J’ai l’honneur de la part d’Achille
De rendre grâces à Vénus ; ”
and there is no evidence that the poet ever undeceived his friend. In the scurrilous Vie Privée du Roi de Prusse no mention is made of the incident. The Siècle de Louis XV. alludes only in general terms to the sarcasms of Frederic, which had exasperated the Pompadour, but fails to offer anything more specific. Frederic’s own history of this period is silent on the subject. The only corroborative evidence which I can find in the king’s writings is a letter to Voltaire, in the year 1760, in which he defends himself against the charge of needlessly offending the marchioness by the observation that she had been guilty of presumption and disrespect. This seems to give it certain support to the theory that his self-respect prevented him from seeking the aid of a depraved though influential woman.
The late Professor Arnold Schaefer, in his admirable history of the Seven Years’ War, admitted that such a theory was irreconcilable with the evidence afforded by the Prussian archives. The published volumes of Frederic’s political correspondence, which are edited with rare erudition, and are indispensable to all students of history, complete its overthrow. In this series an early volume, the third, raises the question whether scruples of propriety could have prevented Frederic from courting the favor of the Pompadour. The volume contains the correspondence for the year 1744. In that year Frederic concluded a new treaty of alliance with France, and his special envoy, Count Rothenburg, was warmly supported by the reigning mistress of Louis, the Duchess of Châteauroux. Her services were acknowledged by Frederic in a private letter, dated the 12th of May, 1744. “It is very agreeable to me,” he writes, “ to know that I am in part indebted to you for the disposition which the king shows to re-cement between us the bonds of an eternal alliance. To the esteem which I have always had for you are now added sentiments of gratitude. ... It is unfortunate that Prussia is obliged to conceal her obligations to you ; but they will not the less remain engraved on my heart.” And in begging her to believe this, the king remained ever her most devoted friend. Thus Frederic wrote to the Pompadour of 1744. Is it probable that the author of this letter would have failed to address the Pompadour of 1756, the real Pompadour, if his political interests had made it necessary ? Here, also, the evidence is conclusive.
When Frederic wrote the letter of 1760 to Voltaire, explaining why he had refused the overtures of the Pompadour, he knew that he had made repeated efforts between the years 1748 and 1756 to win her as an ally. Indeed, he began, before Voltaire’s arrival in Berlin, to inquire about the extent of her credit and influence. In 1750 he renewed his efforts, tentatively as before, but with his purpose more distinctly in view. The following spring he threw off all reserve. Having in view, he said, only the interests of the state, he cared not to whom, of either sex, he addressed himself ; and Chambrier, his envoy at Paris, was accordingly instructed to make her as many visits, and show her as many attentions, nay, to insinuate such assurances on his master’s part, as he in his judgment might deem advisable. In 1752 the king urged upon the earlmarshal, William Keith, Chambrier’s successor, the necessity of securing the marchioness, and inquired how that could be done. Keith, in reply, intimated that bribes would not be accepted, or, at least, would have no effect, and for a year or two Frederic let the matter rest. But in 1756, as the European crisis approached, the Pompadour again became an object of attention. In January of that year the Duke of Nivernois arrived in Berlin as French envoy. He seems to have been the bearer of a friendly message from the Pompadour, or to have given assurances of her esteem ; for Frederic, writing to Baron Knyphausen, then his envoy at Paris, ordered him to make the marchioness a visit, and give her his compliments in return. In a letter of the 3d of February he repeats the statement that she had made advances to him through Nivernois; and, adding that he had replied civilly through the same channel, again instructs Knyphausen to visit her frequently, and keep her assured of his, Frederic’s, favorable regards. As the crisis drew near, these efforts became more urgent. On the 28th of February Knyphausen is to do everything humanly possible to gain the marchioness. Three days later, a letter from Frederic to Knyphausen says, “ As to Madame de Pompadour, I shall not conceal from you my reluctance to write to her directly, as you propose; but in case it should be absolutely necessary, let her make some overtures which I can acknowledge, and thus find an occasion for writing her a direct letter.”
Here, in consequence, it would seem, of Knyphausen’s discouraging reports, the matter was dropped. The envoy reported that Madame de Pompadour showed no great desire to receive his visits, and that in his judgment she had never been well disposed toward the king of Prussia. She had gladly made use of the irritation caused at Paris by Frederic’s treaty with England to bring France and Austria together. The treaty of Versailles was largely her work. But what was the secret of her feelings toward Frederic, and why was she so anxious to have Louis transfer his friendship from Prussia to Austria ? Was it because Frederic had treated her with haughty contempt ? Is it the fact that she supported the plan of a Franco-Austrian alliance in a spirit of revenge, hoping by its aid to crush a prince who had spurned and derided her, — her, Madame la Marquise de Pompadour, before whom the proudest nobles of France bent the knee ? Not according to the view of Knyphausen, which Frederic seemed also to adopt.
That view was that the Pompadour looked with uneasiness upon the alliance with Prussia, because she was in constant fear, so long as it lasted, that Frederic’s ardent nature and ambitious plans would again lead Louis into dangerous enterprises, give the military party an ascendency at Versailles, raise the credit of the minister of war, Count d’Argenson, whom she hated, and end the reign of ease and indolence on which she felt her power to depend. For this reason, she rejoiced when Frederic voluntarily cut loose from his French connection. The same line of thoughts led her to the alliance between France and Austria. It was hoped that the loss of her ancient ally, and the appearance of so formidable a combination, would make England hesitate to embark in the struggle, and even preserve the peace of Europe. Thus, in the Pompadour’s view, dissipation and debauchery would remain the chief occupation of the king of France, and her own authority would stand unshaken. How wofully the base schemer was deceived it did not take her long to learn. But if Knypliausen’s version of her motives was correct, it is clear that the old and almost universally accepted theory, which describes her as infuriated by Frederic’s conduct, and revengefully organizing a plot for his destruction, will have to be abandoned.
The fact that one part of the history of this period will have to be rewritten in the school-books ought not, however, to cause much surprise to those who are familiar with Frederic’s character, and will reflect upon the probable nature of his feelings toward Madame de Pompadour. Undoubtedly he regarded her with contempt. But this contempt must have been intellectual rather than moral, and not of a kind, therefore, to make it likely that he would hesitate to use her services whenever they could be used to advantage. He employed other instruments quite as disreputable. He adopted expedients which would to a person of delicate scruples have been not less offensive than the solicitation of a depraved woman who happened to have an immense power for good and evil. These things were generally known ; and the theory that Frederic, in obedience to a lofty sense of virtue, had refused to purchase peace and safety by the display of common civility toward Madame de Pompadour ought always to have been regarded with suspicion.
That is, however, not the only consideration. It must also be borne in mind that the standard of conduct which prevailed in the age of Frederic made it possible for an upright and even austere prince or statesman to address himself to persons of influence, whose antecedents or character would to-day exclude them from public recognition. Elizabeth, empress of Russia, was not a pattern of the virtues ; yet no state declared non-intercourse because she was corrupt and depraved. Many a modest English matron has doubtless read with horror that Maria Theresa wrote letters to the Pompadour, and with delight that the king of Prussia scorned to use so base an instrument, in blessed ignorance of my Lord Hervey’s memoirs, that ghastly picture of manners and morals at the court of George II., with Sir Robert Walpole bargaining for the aid of Mrs. Howard, and Queen Caroline, a pure and in many respects a noble woman, helping her own husband to choose a suitable mistress. Even Madame de Pompadour was first lady of the palace to the queen of France. With such a state of things diplomacy had to deal; and Frederic would have received little sympathy from his contemporaries in any troubles brought upon him by his own too scrupulous respect for propriety. The worthy Doctor Preuss, editor of Frederic’s works and his biographer, understood this better than Carlyle. Both accepted the current version of Frederic’s relations to the Pompadour, and to that extent they were in harmony. But while Carlyle made it the occasion for a contrast between Frederic and Maria Theresa, wholly to the advantage of the former, Preuss regretted that Frederic’s unruly tongue should have made an enemy of one who, by a little flattery, might have been converted into a useful ally. If the two could now be recalled to life, and confronted with the new evidence, it would be interesting to observe their attitudes. Preuss, indeed, would probably hasten to withdraw the mild censure passed upon Frederic, and admit that he was not guilty of the unstatesmanlike folly of offending, or at least neglecting, a woman whose favor every prince and cabinet of Europe was anxious to gain. But for Carlyle the situation would be awkward and full of embarrassment.