Page images

children are eating their suppers, or feeding the animals, or listening to strains of music from the orchestra, the scene is exceedingly bright and attractive.

A road across the Thiergarten leads to the rapidly increasing, but somewhat dull, town of Charlottenburg, with its 25,000 inhabitants. Here formerly stood the village of Lietzow, at which, at the end of the seventeenth century, Sophia Charlotte, the wife of Frederick I., built herself a country residence. The group of buildings forming the Royal Palace have not been inhabited since the death, in 1873, of the Dowager Queen Elizabeth. The rooms once occupied by the Great Frederick, with their rococo decorations, and those appertaining to Queen Louise, with their Louis XVI. fittings, are very characteristic of their epochs. The Palace garden is a pleasant spot, and was laid out by the noted landscape gardener Le Nôtre.

Near at hand is the mausoleum of Frederick William III. and Queen Louise, the father and mother of the present aged Emperor. Very impressive are the recumbent marble figures of the illustrious pair, from the chisel of Rauch, whose fame, indeed, was established by the beautiful figure of the queen, which was executed at Carrara and Rome in 1812-3. The crucifix and candelabra near the tomb are also beautiful pieces of work. In a marble casket at the feet of his parents is the heart of Frederick William IV. The members of the royal family observe by a private service in the mausoleum the anniversaries of the deaths of the king and queen. The statue of the beautiful but unfortunate Queen Louise is a perfect portrait, suggesting not death, but sleep; the features and folded hands are full of calm and serene beauty ; and gazing upon this marvellous and life-like triumph of the sculptor's skill, shrouded in a simple drapery perfect in every fold, we may remember her words, uttered not long before her death : " Posterity will not set down my name among celebrated women, but whoever reads concerning the calamities of these times will say of me, ‘She suffered much, and suffered with constancy ;' and may after-times be able to add, 'She gave birth to children who deserved better days, who struggled to bring them round, and at last succeeded.'” A practical comment upon these words is the career of the aged warrior who is now not merely King of Prussia, but Emperor of Germany.

History tells the story of his mother's vicissitudes and sufferings, of her resolution and energy; how she roused her country to take the field in 1806; how the conqueror treated her with insolent scorn, and how Prussian hatred for the French became intensified; how she was with the king before the disastrous battle of Jena, and how subsequently she nerved herself to meet the conqueror at Tilsit, and vainly strove to soften her country's doom. Napoleon treated the poor queen with heartless scorn, but afterwards paid a high tribute to her talents and charms. She returned from Tilsit, to struggle for awhile with failing health, and to die. She saw the monarchy humbled in the dust, and ber last words to her husband and children were : “When I am gone, you will weep for me as I have wept for poor Prussia ; but you must act—free your people from the degradation in which they are plunged, and prove yourself worthy of the Great Frederick.” How these words have been responded to is a matter of European history.

Charlottenburg is a good deal visited from Berlin, on account of the Palm House, Winter Garden, and Concert Room of the Flora Society: a favourite resort, with musical and other attractions. Beyond Charlottenburg, on the Spandau Road, villas and mansions have sprung up in great numbers, and the name of Westend has been given to the district.

Intimately associated with Berlin is the town of POTSDAM, sixteen miles distant, and easily reached by rail in little more than half an hour. Potsdam has 45,000 inhabitants, of whom 7,000 form the garrison. It is beautifully situated on an island in the river Havel, which here resembles a chain of lakes surrounded by luxuriantly wooded hills. Though of ancient Slavonic origin, the Great Elector really made the town, and Frederick the Great gave it its modern splendour and the chief interest attaching to it.

It is a town of somewhat dull streets, though containing many fine mansions, as well as the four Palaces. Of its steamboats, tramways, and restaurants, its schools, and manufactories of fire-arms and chemicals, and other ordinary matters, we need not speak, but confine ourselves to those objects which give to the place its historic interest. On approaching the Palace by the Lange-Brücke, a lime-tree is seen (now defended by a metal covering), under which people with petitions used to stand and wait to attract the attention of the Great Frederick. In the adjacent Lustgarten are various statues and bronze busts, mostly in honour of military men. Within the Palace there is little worth notice, except the rooms occupied by Frederick the Great, and which are still kept in nearly the same condition as when last used by him; the writing-table, over which he bas thrown the ink about very freely, and the identical inkstand in which he was wont to dip his royal pen. Some music in his handwriting, and composed by himself, occupies the stand by the piano at which he played. There are the green eye-shade that protected the royal eyes, and a book-case filled with his favourite French books; the chairs and sofas which he used, with their silken covers nearly torn off by his favourite dogs, who were his constant companions, and the marks of the very plates from which these highly-favoured animals were fed, still visible. Behind the silver balustrades once stood the truckle-bed upon which he slept, for he regarded with contempt anything more luxurious; but the relic-hunters had almost pulled to pieces this austere-looking couch, and had left so little of it that it was resolved to remove the remainder before it should entirely vanish. Close to the bed-room there is a small cabinet with double doors to prevent eavesdropping, and with trap-door arrangements in the floor for sending up a well-spread table, and for sending down plates and dishes without the necessity for any servants to enter the room. There Frederick could dine téle-à-tête with a particular friend when he wished the conversation to be entirely secret. Napoleon visited all these rooms, and scrupulously regarded the existing arrangements, allowing nothing to be disturbed except one or two pictures, which he sent to Paris. The apartments of other monarchs are also shown to visitors; in the room of Frederick William I. is a picture painted by that king when suffering tortures from a fit of the gout. In a detached building, called the Haus-am-Bassin, the remarkable smoking club known as the Tabaks Collegium, founded by the father of Frederick the Great, uel to hold its extraonlinary convivial gatherings.

The domed church of St. Nicholas, north of the Palace, is a modern building, with fine sculptures by Kiss, and frescoes by Cornelius. An obelisk in honour of the Great Elector and the first three Prussian kings stands in front of the contiguous gable-ended


Rathhaus, built in 1751. But a far greater interest attaches to the Garnison Kirche, where, in a vault behind the pulpit, repose the mortal remains of Frederick the Great, in a plain metal sarcophagus. In the same vault is the marble coffin of the father of Frederick, the stern, halfmad old king, the strange mixture of soldier and devotee, whom Carlyle has made so familiar to English readers. Upon the plain brick floor of the arched vault rest the two coffins.

It was over that bronze sarcophagus at midnight that the Emperor Alexander of Russia and the King of Prussia joined hands, and swore eternal friendship and alliancea compact eventually pregnant with great events. In less than a twelvemonth, to this same vault came the conqueror Napoleon, and reverently bowing his knee where his imperial foemen had pledged their mutual faith, gazed on the sarcophagus. “ Hadst thou been alive, I should never have been here !” he exclaimed. It was one of Napoleon's grand moments, but a very mean moment succeeded, for, rising from his knees, he stole the sword and scarf of the dead hero, which had hitherto lain on the sarcophagus. He also had the standards of the Prussian guards, which decorated the vaults, carried away to Paris; and what became of these relics is a mystery, although it is said that just previously to the entrance into Paris of the allied armies, Joseph Bonaparte bad the sword broken up and the flags burnt. But the insult to the great hero has been amply atoned, for now around the church hang the standards and eagles captured at Waterloo, as well as flags captured in the Franco-German war of 1870-1. Here also are suspended Austrian standards from the Bohemian campaign, and the names of heroes of Potsdam who perished in these wars are inscribed on tablets affixed to the walls.

The other churches, the military asylums, barracks and so forth, we must pass

Beside the new Friedenskirche, or Church of Peace, is the entrance to the famous park of Sans Souci. Here are the fountains that play on Sundays in the summer, and the great fountain that twice a week sends up its silvery column to the height of one hundred and twenty feet. The gardens are laid out in the stiff, formal French style, with alleys and close-cut hedges, with vases and sculptures, and flights of steps and terraces.

Upon the highest terrace is a statue of Flora reclining on a polished slab, veiling the entrance to a marble vault in which the great king intended to be buried.

From the windows of his bed-chamber he could daily gaze at the guardian of his grave, and the name now applied to the Palace and park is said by some to have originated in his remark, “Quand je serai là, je serai sans souci.” The Palace, a onestoreyed building above the terraces, erected by Knobelsdorf in 1715, was restored and re-fitted for Frederick William IV., the late King of Prussia, who died here in 1861.

The terrace in front of the Palace was the favourite resort of the great king; his favourite dogs and chargers are buried near it, but his own injunction that he should be buried amongst them was not complied with. It was here that, shortly before his death, he was brought out in his arm-chair to bask in the sun.

Before setting out for bis second Silesian War, Frederick was so captivated by the beauty of the scenery round Potsdam, that he resolved to build a Palace here, and drew the plans himself from which Knobelsdorf built. The bed-room of the great king contains the arm-chair in which he breathed his last, and a clock which he always wound up with his own hand, and which has not been meddled with since. It is said to record the moment of


his death, when it says at teiste pa* tu, ca the Lorting of August 17, 17.

But kas biz the soarte resort sé Fretbe Gresi, Sans Svaci is a's websrate as that are for a time of the witty 2 szt. French pai ober, Voltaire, wbre Literary irtinary with the Kig of Praca is a prominent feature in the distinguished's carsa. Tie apartments be care are under those of the king, and from the wisdows there is a gloiris prospect.

[graphic][merged small]

The walls have been decorated with wood carvings, understood to be pictorial epigrams reflecting on Voltaire's character and habits. There is a monkey, which is said to be a striking portrait of the philosopher; parrots denote his volubility; a stork symbolises bis migrations, and so forth. For some time after Voltaire's arrival, the king and the philosopher were inseparable: both seemed to be enjoying a happy time of social intercourse and literary activity ; but Voltaire began at length to find that in giving up family and country for the sake of a pension, he had sacrificed freedom and independence. He himself, in describing his brief residence at Sans Souci, says: “Astolpho did not meet a kinder reception in the palace of Aleina. To be lodged in the same apartments that Marshal Saxe had occupied, to have the royal cooks at my command when I chose to dinc alone, and the royal coachman when I preferred to ride alone—these were but trifling

[ocr errors]
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »