KING. "That is excellent; very fine indeed. You have a something of soft and flowing in your verses; them I understand altogether. But there was Gottsched, one day, reading me his Translation of IPHIGENIE; I had the French Copy in my hand, and could not understand a word of him [a Swan of Saxony, laboring in vain that day]! They recommended me another Poet, one Peitsch [Herr Peitsch of Konigsberg, Hofrath, Doctor and Professor there, Gottsched's Master in Art; edited by Gottsched thirty years ago; now become a dumb idol, though at one time a god confessed]; him I flung away."
GELLERT. "IHRO MAJESTAT, him I also fling away."
KING. "Well, if I continue here, you must come again often; bring your FABLES with you, and read me something."
GELLERT. "I know not if I can read well; I have the singing kind of tone, native to the Hill Country."
KING. "JA, like the Silesians. No, you must read me the FABLES yourself; they lose a great deal otherwise. Come back soon." [
KING (to Icilius, as we learn from a different Record). "That is quite another man than Gottsched!" (EXUENT OMNES.)
The modest Gellert says he "remembered Jesus Sirach's advice, PRESS NOT THYSELF ON KINGS,--and never came back;" nor was specially sent for, in the hurries succeeding; though the King never quite forgot him. Next day, at dinner, the King said, "He is the reasonablest man of all the German Literary People, C'EST LE PLUS RAISONNABLE DE TOUS LES SAVANS ALLEMANDS." And to Garve, at Breslau, years afterwards: "Gellert is the only German that will reach posterity; his department is small, but he has worked in it with real felicity." And indeed the King had, before that, as practical result of the Gellert Dialogue, managed to set some Berlin Bookseller upon printing of these eligible FABLES, "for the use of our Prussian Schools;" in which and other capacities the FABLES still serve with acceptance there and elsewhere. [Preuss, ii. 274.]
In regard to Gellert's Horse-exercise, I had still to remember that Gellert, not long after, did get a Horse; two successive Horses; both highly remarkable. The first especially; which was Prince Henri's gift: "The Horse Prince Henri had ridden at the Battle of Freyberg" (Battle to be mentioned hereafter);--quadruped that must have been astonished at itself! But a pretty enough gift from the warlike admiring Prince to his dyspeptic Great Man. This Horse having yielded to Time, the very Kurfurst (grandson of Polish Majesty that now is) sent Gellert another, housing and furniture complete; mounted on which, Gellert and it were among the sights of Leipzig;--well enough known here to young Goethe, in his College days, who used to meet the great man and princely horse, and do salutation, with perhaps some twinkle of scepticism in the corner of his eye. [DICHTUNG UND WAHRHEIT, Theil ii. Buch 6 (in Goethe's WERKE, xxv. 51 et seq).] Poor Gellert fell seriously ill in December, 1769; to the fear and grief of all the world: "estafettes from the Kurfurst himself galloped daily, or oftener, from Dresden for the sick bulletin;" but poor Gellert died, all the same (13th of that month); and we have (really with pathetic thoughts, even we) to bid his amiable existence in this world, his bits of glories and him, adieu forever.