Frederick the Great and His Court: Appearances can be deceiving

This is the sixth and final post in a series retelling Luise Mühlbach’s Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court), originally published in serial form in Germany and later reprinted by the Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent in 1858. Jill Fosse of the Division of Digital Systems and Stewardship has been translating the story from Der Deutsche Correspondent for our enjoyement. At the end of last month, Jill retired after nine years of service to the Libraries. A huge thanks to Jill for, not only her willingness to translate snippets of Der Deutsche Correspondent for us, but for her genuine enthusiasm for the task. I hope you all have enjoyed the fruits of Jill’s labor as much as the staff of the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project has!

Unfortunately for us readers, Jill’s departure means that we’ll be leaving the story right before a masked ball AND a war. Don’t despair! To finish reading the story in German, head over to the January 19, 1858, issue of Der Deutsche Correspondent on Chronicling America. The story continues thru the February 20, 1858, issue and is found on page 1 in the sixth column of each issue. Those of us who require an English translation can access a copy through Project Gutenberg and resume the story in Book III, Chapter IX, “The Masquerade.”

In out last installment, Frederick is ready to go to war to reclaim Silesia, an region that is his by royal birthright but is currently under Austrian control.

January 15, 1858.

To his people, their new, 28 year-old king is quite satisfactory, apparently dedicating his time to pleasure and fun. Nobody suspects that behind the jokes, smiles, and concerts—where he plays the flute—he is planning to upset the whole of European politics and create a new direction for Germany. Tonight, during the glittering masked ball that will be the climax of the season, he plans to march out of Berlin with his regiments of soldiers towards Silesia and battle.

After a final briefing with his generals, Friedrich’s servant comes to dress him in his new suit in the latest French style, so he could appear to the court at his most magnificent, before turning himself into a rough warrior. At a last glance in the mirror, he murmurs that the Marquis von Botta, the Austrian Ambassador, will be totally bluffed by this dandy.

January 16, 1858.

Count Mannteuffel, a member of King Friedrich’s cabinet, urges the marquis to leave as soon as possible and make all haste to Vienna to warn the Empress Maria Theresa to ready her army, or Friedrich and his troops will swarm over Silesia and conquer it. He sows a seed of doubt in the Marquis’s mind.

The king beckons to the marquis for the exchange of farewells and polite wishes for a good journey. The marquis piles on the horrors of having to travel through Silesia, such as terrible roads, the like of which are unknown in the rest of Austria and weather that has made them worse.

“Then you stay here in Berlin, and I will go to Silesia and tell the Empress with the voice of my cannons that those terrible roads are too dangerous for Austrians, but very comfortable for Prussia. And I’ll take my army with me, to keep my wagons from falling over.” The marquis is dismayed and rebukes the king for his plans. The generals in the room put their hands on their swords.

January 18, 1858.

The king waves his generals back and assures the marquis he is not going to attack the lands belonging to Austria, but claim what is his by right, by inheritance, and by treaty. With that the audience is ended, and the ambassador leaves the room, which is dead silent.

We hope you’ve all enjoyed our series on Frederick the Great and His Court! If you find any other works of fiction in Der Deutsche Correspondent, let us know in the comments!

Frederick the Great and His Court: Kings don’t cry

This is the fifth post in a series retelling Luise Mühlbach’s Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court), originally published in serial form in Germany and later reprinted by the Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent in 1858. Jill Fosse is translating the story from German for our enjoyment.

In the last installment, three men summoned by Frederick had just arrived, although their purpose wasn’t revealed until now…

January 12, 1858.

“The emperor of Austria is dead. What use can we make of this?” Friedrich is bent on retaking Silesia, which Austria wrenched away from his ancestors. They swore revenge, and Friedrich can be that avenger.

“Are you ready to help and give me advice in this quest?”

“Yes!” they roar. The king then brings out the battle plans he has been working on. He has also prepared a document to publish to the people, justifying the war to win back lands from the Austrians. The three men are sworn to secrecy.

January 13, 1858.

Further consultations on war plans leave the king pumped and ready to avenge Prussia’s treatment by Austria as a constantly snubbed vassal. He also feels the need to do something heroic, to earn the love and respect of the people. And he wants fame. He can only get all this on the battlefield, as he tells his friend Jordan, who swears undying loyalty to him. But Friedrich is alarmed at his old friend’s appearance—he looks close to death.

January 14, 1858.

Friedrich is gloomily staring out of the window, self pityingly musing on how lonely is the life of a prince, with few friends—and those may be dying. At that moment Jordan comes back with the sad news that the king’s friend Ulrich Friedrich von Suhm has indeed died and hands the king Suhm’s last letter. This is the last straw, and after reading the letter the king bewails his terrible loss and sheds bitter tears. He then pulls himself together and says that death can no longer have any hold over him. He will not die in battle as death has taken his friend in his place.

Poor Fredrick. I guess it really is lonely at the top, but I suspect the king won’t be down for long with a war to think about. Frederick’s plan kicks into action in the next post.

Frederick the Great and His Court: Return of the king

This is the fourth post in a series retelling Luise Mühlbach’s Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court), originally published in serial form in Germany and later reprinted by the Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent in 1858. Special thanks to Jill Fosse for translating the story from German as it was published in Der Deutsche Correspondent.

In today’s post, we finally meet the namesake of the story, Frederick the Great.

January 8, 1858.

At the palace of Rheinsberg, the king has returned. He locks himself in his library, ignoring even his favorite flute, and busies himself with maps and plans, astrolabes and land surveyors.

January 9, 1858.

While courtiers worry over what the king is up to, he himself is preparing to take the part of Brutus in Voltaire’s Death of Caesar. However, he is suddenly felled by a fever and takes to his bed. His doctor has no idea what to do to help, except—there is one possible remedy but he cannot not give it to the king as its safety and efficacy has not been tried out yet on a lesser mortal. The doctor and the king tussle back and forth over the medicine, the king insisting on trying it, the doctor hesitating. It is a brown powder from Peru that the Peruvians call quinine. Several courtiers come into the room, wanting to relay important news.

January 11, 1858.

It appears that Emperor Charles IV has died.

“Oh, such a fuss about such unimportant news,” says the king, lying back on his pillows. “It just means that Maria Theresa is now Empress of Germany [sic]. That’s all and it doesn’t concern us. But, it is also important that the king should be completely well when he hears this news. It should not be said that the news made me ill. Give me that powder!”

Once again the king and the doctor argue about the quinine, but of course the king wins and takes the powder. Now he feels totally restored and ready to enjoy the festivities of the play the court is about to perform. He gets up, dresses, dictates three letters requesting the immediate presence of certain powerful men at his court, then goes to the music room and his waiting court, where he is the life and soul of the party, playing his flute better than ever, and ignoring the news about the emperor’s death.

The next day, the three important men arrive at the palace…

Cliffhanger! Who are these three important men that Frederick has summoned to his court? And what is Fredrick really up to?

Frederick the Great and His Court: Fashion forward

This is the third post in a series retelling Luise Mühlbach’s Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court), originally published in serial form in Germany. Jill Fosse from the Libraries’ Division of Digital Systems and Stewardship is translating the German text as it was published in 1858 in the Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent.

When we last left them, the happy(?) couple was en route to see Pricker, the court tailor, so that Caroline could purchase outfits for her presentation at court during the king’s masked ball.

January 5, 1858.

The bride is to have a sky-blue velvet gown with silver brocade train for the presentation and a velvet and gold gown for the ball made of fabric her father had obtained from India. Mutual compliments ensue about the honor each side will gain from these beautiful garments, only they have to be ready in a week.

“In four days if necessary,” says the tailor airily, measuring Caroline with his tape.

Then comes the blow.

“I’ll leave all the decorations up to you,” says Caroline, “but of course the dress must be made in the very latest French design.” In horror, the tailor whisks the tape away from the bride’s waist.

“You want what?”

“Of course,” smiles Catherine. “No elegant and decent tailor would still make those heavy skirts with ruffles, it’s ridiculous. No, I want the tight waist and long points, with sleeves to the elbows and lots of lace—the French fashion!”

Pricker declaims his loyalty to tradition, how he would only make clothes in the German style and cut and would never betray his forefathers, generations of court tailors.

With a mocking bow, therefore, the Count and his lady take their leave of this “excellent tailor and complete fool.”

Poor, Tailor Pricker, punished for his loyalty to German tradition! But in Caroline’s defense, I suspect I also would have preferred French fashions to German…

In the next installment, the story switches gears, and we’re introduced to the namesake of the story, Frederick the Great.

Frederick the Great and His Court: A marriage of convenience

This is the second post in a series retelling Luise Mühlbach’s Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court), originally published in serial form in Germany and later reprinted by the Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent in 1858. Special thanks to Jill Fosse from the Libraries’ Division of Digital Systems and Stewardship for providing the translation from German. In the previous post, Jill introduced us to the characters of Miss Catherine Orguelin, daughter of a wealthy merchant, and her fiancé, the heavily indebted Count Rhedern. Catherine says that she and the count need to share an understanding about the nature of their relationship.

January 2, 1858.

Caroline lays it all out for the count. She isn’t deceived by his conventional protestations of love and devotion, although she gives him credit for acting. She knows she’s not young and pretty enough to attract him by herself, but she also knows he’s flat broke and in need of a rich wife. She states frankly that she would do anything to be able to be near the king, with whose nobility, magnificence, benevolence and flashing eyes she fell in love at his coronation. So on that day, she decided to marry one of the courtiers who surrounded the king. Most were married, but Count Rhederer was not, so she went to her father and said,

“I want to marry Count Rhederer. Buy him for me, the way you recently bought me that gold and diamond Nuremburg jewelry.”

“Very flattering,” murmurs the count.

In addition to her one-million thaler dowry, Caroline’s father will give her another million, which stays in his company but she can draw on the interest. She makes it very clear this is her money to do what she likes with. Maybe she’ll spend it on the count if he behaves, maybe not.

January 4, 1858.

The count is enchanted by the idea of a second million, but Caroline warns him that his 1,000 thaler per month can be withdrawn in an instant if he fails to show respect to her, her father, or his bourgeois friends. He promises to be a good husband and son-in-law. She goes on to remind him that she has bought him and knows his worth but also wants to be treasured and respected by him, and he should never think he has conferred an honor on her by making her his countess. Rather, he has married the only daughter and heir of a millionaire who has paid him for his title and entry to court.

The count is unexpectedly delighted and enchanted to be marrying such a clever, spirited, and piquant wife and is convinced that in the fullness of time he really will fall passionately in love with her. She tells him not to bother since she will never fall in love with him.

Who says romance is dead, eh? Look for upcoming posts from the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project that continue the tale of Caroline and her count.

Frederick the Great and His Court: Getting to know members of the royal court

In the 1800s, it wasn’t uncommon for long works of fiction to be published serially in newspapers and other periodicals. Books were luxury items and inaccessible to many, but periodicals reached a much broader audience. Several renowned authors published in this format—Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Alexander Dumas, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Leo Tolstoy just to name a few.

Serialized fiction was popular in Germany as well, and stories published in German periodicals eventually made their way to the States. The first issues of Der Deutsche Correspondent digitized by the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project contain such a story by Luise Mühlbach, called Friedrich der Grosse und sein Hof (Frederick the Great and His Court). To read the story as it was published in Der Deutsche Correspondent, head over to Chronicling America and look for the story on page 1, column 6 beginning January 1, 1858.

If you are not fluent in German, you’re in luck! My colleague in the Division of Digital Systems and Stewardship Jill Fosse has been tirelessly translating the story for our enjoyment. Over the next few weeks, we’ll get a taste of this novel as it was originally intended to be read—piece by piece. Enjoy Frederick the Great and His Court!

When we join the newspaper in January, 1858, the serial is well underway and is initially concentrating less on the court of Frederick, new King of Prussia, and more on those aspiring to join it. Miss Catherine Orguelin, daughter of an extremely wealthy merchant, is due to marry impoverished and heavily indebted Count Rhedern. When we enter the story, Catherine and her father are going over the wedding guest list.

January 1, 1858.

The count shudders at the names—too bourgeois, nobody of any worth, horrid, barbaric creatures who could never appear at court. Mr. Orguelin, meanwhile, is thrilled that the richest and most elegant merchants in all Berlin will be coming to this wedding. It will be the most everything –sumptuous, elegant, delicious (French chefs have been retained), lavish, extravagant (fireworks!) wedding ever seen. The horrified count tries to wriggle out of this by suggesting that he and Caroline get married quietly, very soon and then have the celebration later, so as not to clash with the masked ball that the king will be holding later that week. Caroline is thrilled at the idea of a masked ball at court and immediately agrees with the count.

“So we are to marry the day after next?” asks Caroline.

“Yes, and on that day I will be the happiest of men,” sighs her fiancé.

“Your creditors are pressing for my dowry, no doubt?” responds Caroline sardonically. “I think it’s time you and I understand each other once and for all.”

Not even married and Catherine and her Count are already fighting about money—that can’t be good. Check back in a few days to see what happens next. Or for those of you who have been spoiled by marathoning TV shows on Netflix, you can read an English translation of the entire novel here thanks to the Gutenberg Project. We join the story in Book III, Chapter IV “The Bridal Pair.”

Dear Humoristisches: German Romance Advice and Married Life for Charm City

Today’s post is written by Elliott Wrenn, Student Assistant for the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project and MLS candidate in UMD’s College of Information Studies. Many thanks go to Jill Fosse for translating the Humoristisches captions from the original German to English.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we at the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project decided to ask: how did Baltimoreans a century ago write and joke about romance? So we peeked into the cartoon section of Der Deutsche Correspondent, a German-language paper published in Baltimore from 1848-1918.

Text reads "Humoristisches" with illustration of man and dog. From Der Deutsche Correspondent.


In April 1900, Der Sonntags Correspondent (Der Deutsche Correspondent’s Sunday edition) started to include a cartoon section titled “Humoristisches.” Then in January 1910, Der Deutsche Correspondent changed the name of the section to “Witz und Humor.”

The section clearly is meant for the adult persuasion in Charm City. The artist(s) enjoyed poking fun at society’s titled individuals who had fallen on harder financial times: a Baron marries at the behest of his creditors and a woman mocks a suitor’s testimony that he “cannot live without her.” Indeed! She responds her father is curious how the suitor can live without her too.

Illustration of a bride and groom walking down the aisle while others look on.

Der Sonntags Correspondent, 27 May 1900

Obeying A Need.

“So the Baron got married after all!”

“Yes, he was due his creditors.”

Illustration of a man and woman dancing with German text underneath.

Der Sonntags Correspondent, 29 April 1900


“I can’t live without you, Siddy. May I speak with your Mama?”

“Oh, go straight to Papa, he’s been waiting for you a long time.”


“Yes, he said just recently: ‘I’m really curious how long the Lieutenant—judging by his debts—can carry on living without you!'”

Men provide compliments, either honest and self-deprecating or for the purpose of their own advancement. Below a man refers to his better quarter, rather than his better half. Then in the comic strip, the artist makes sure the lieutenant is anything but “flawless.”

Illustration of two men, one more rotund than the other, and a woman laughing.

Der Sonntags Correspondent, 20 May 1900

The Thin Wife.

“Here, dear friend, let me introduce you to my better quarter!”

Two Illustrations: A lieutenant with a large feather in his caps sees two ladies drinking coffee. He apporaches them and bows, dunking his feather in their coffee.

Der Sonntags Correspondent, 22 April 1900

Too, Too Polite.

Lieutenant: “Oh there are the daughters of my commandant (or commanding officer) drinking coffee. I must pay them a flawless compliment—”

“My compliments to you, Mesdemoiselles!”

Perhaps a play on Baltimore’s merchant roots, a classy charity event goes awry for a sale of kisses.

Illustration of a woman standing, shouting at a stage, where a man and woman stand in front of a piano. Others look on.

Der Sonntags Correspondent, 15 April 1900

Too Charitable.

At the end of a charity concert a gentleman ventures to suggest that the famous and beautiful singer, Miss Bellini, might agree to help increase the profits by auctioning a kiss. To the cheers of the audience the heavenly diva agrees to join in the joke. The man steps up to the stage and grabs, instead of a hammer, a baton, and begins in a loud voice, “$25 for a kiss . . . who will give more . . . going once, going . . . ” At that the wife of the merchant Goldblum stands up and shouts, “I’ll give three kisses for $5!”

But perhaps something is universal—”in-laws” always have been depicted as a curse.

Illustration of a  guide talking to a man and woman. A circle above the guide's head depicts a distressed man pulling his own hair.

Der Sonntags Correspondent, 27 May 1900

Too Much.

Guide: “Here is the echo that multiplies twenty-four times, which last year sent a man suddenly mad.”

Lady: “How did that happen?”

Guide: “His wife’s mother called into it—and when he heard twenty-four mothers-in-law—well, you understand!”

Cartoon Caption Contest

Try your own Humoristisches skills. Post suggested captions for the cartoon below in the Leave a Reply section.

Illustration of a man holding a top hat speaking to a father holding a baby that looks nearly identical to his father.

Der Sonntags Correspondent, 13 May 1900