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Brawls, and to put his concise Yes and No into au official form. Of the higher intellectual faculties, there is as much in a copying machine, or a lithographic piess, as he required from a secretary of the cabinet.
His own exertions were such as were hardly to be expected from a human body or a human mind. At Potsdam, his ordinary residence, he rose at three in summer and four in winter. A page soon appeared, with a large basket full of all the letters which liad arrived for the King by the last courier, despatches from ambassadors, reports from officers of revenue, plans of buildings, proposals for draining marshes, complaints from persons who thought themselves aggrieved, applications from persons who wanted titles, military commissions and civil situations. He examined the seals with a keen eye; for he was never for a moment free from the suspicion that some fraud might be practised on him. Then he read the letters, divided them into several packets, and signified his pleasure, generally by a mark, often by two or three words, now and then by some cutting epigram. By eight he had generally finished this part of his task. The adjutant-general was then in attendance, and received instructions for the day as to all the military a rangements of the kingdom. Then the King went to review his guards, not as kings ordinarily review their guards, but with the minute attention and severity of an old drill-sergeant. In the inean time the four cabinet secretaries had been einployed in answering the letters on which the King had that morning signified his will. These unhappy men were forced to work all the year round like negro slaves in tl:e time of the sugar-crop. They never had a holiday. They never knew what it was to dine. It was necessary that, before they stirred, they should finish
the whole of their work. The King, always on his guard against treachery, took from the heap a Landful of letters at random, and looked into them to see whether his instructions had been exactly followed. This was no bad security against foul play on the part of the secretaries; for if one of them were detected in a trick, he might think himself fortunate if he escaped with five years of imprisonment in a dungeon. Frederic then signed the replies, and all were sent off the same evening.
The general principles on which this strange government was conducted, deserve attention. The policy of Frederic was essentially the same as his father's ; but Frederic, while he carried that policy to lengths to which his father never thought of carrying it, cleared it at the same time from the absurdities with which his father had encumbered it. The King's first object was to have a great, efficient, and well-trained army. He had a kingdom which in extent and population was hardly in the second rank of European powers; and yet he aspired to a place not inferior to that of the sovereigns of England, France, and Austria. For that end it was necessary that Prussia should be all sting. Lewis the Fifteenth, with five times as many subjects as Frederic, and more than five times as large a revenue, had not a more formidable army. The proportion which the soldiers in Prussia bore to the people seems hardly credible. Of the males in the vigour of life, a seventh part were probably under arms; and this great force hai, by drilling, by reviewing, and by the unsparing use of cane and scourge, been taught to perform all evolutions with a rapidity and a precision which would have astonished Villars or Eugene. The elevated feelings which are necessary to the best kind of army wete the
wanting to the Prussian service. In those ranks were not found the religious and political enthusiasm which inspired the pikemen of Cromwell, the patriotic ardour, the thirst of glory, the devotion to a great leader, which inflamed the Old Guard of Napoleon. But in all the mechanical parts of the military calling, the Prussians were as superior to the English and French troops of that day as the English and French troops to a rustic militia.
Though the pay of the Prussian soldier was small, though every rixdollar of extraordinary charge was scrutinised by Frederic with a vigilance and suspicion such as Mr. Joseph Hume never brought to the examination of an army estimate, the expense of such an establishment was, for the means of the country, enormous. In order that it might not be utterly ruinous, it was necessary that every other expense should be cut down to the lowest possible point. Accordingly Frederic, though his dominions bordered on the sea, had no navy. He neither had nor wished to have colonies. His judges, his fiscal officers, were meanly paid. His ininisters at foreign courts walked on foot, or drove shabby old carriages till the axletrees gave way. Even to his highest diplomatic agents, who resided at Londor and Paris, he allowed less than a thousand pounds ster ling a year. The royal household was managed with frugality unusual in the establishments of opulent sub ects, unexampled in any other palace. The King loved good eating and drinking, and during great part of bis life took pleasure in seeing his table surrounded by guests ; yet the whole charge of his kitchen was brought within the sum of two thousand pounds sterling a year. He examined every extraordinary itera with a care which might be thought to suit the mistress of a board
ing house better than a great prince. When more than four rixdollars were asked of him for a nunded oysters, he stormed as if he had heard that one of his generals had sold a fortress to the Empress Queen. Not a bottle of Champagne was uncorked without his express order. The game of the roval parks and forests, a serious head of expenditure in most kingdoms, was to him a source of profit. The whole was farmed out; and though the farmers were almost ruined by their contract, the King would grant them no remission. His wardrobe consisted of one fine gala dress, which lasted him all his life; of two or three old coats fit for Monmouth Street, of yellow waistcoats soiled with snuff, and of huge boots embrowned by time. One taste alone sometimes allured him beyond the limits of parsimony, nay, even beyond the limits of prudence, the taste for building. In all other things his economy was such as we might call by a harsher name, if we did not reflect that his funds were drawn from a heavily taxed people, and that it was impossible for him, without excessive tyranny, to keep up at once a formidable army and a splendid court.
Considered as an administrator, Frederic had undc abtedly many titles to praise. Order was strictly vaintained throughout his dominions. Property was tecure. A great liberty of speaking and of writing was allowed.
Confident in the irresistible strength Lerived from a great army, the King looked down on malcontents and libellers with a wise disdain ; and gave little encouragement to spies and informers. When he was told of the disaffection of one of his subjects, he merely asked, “ How many thousand men can he bring into the field ?” He once saw a crowd staring at something on a wall. He rode up, and found that the object of curiosity was a scurrilous placard against himself. The placard had been posted up so high that it was not easy to read it. Frederic ordered his attendants to take it down and put it lower. My people and I,” he said, “ have come to an agreement which satisfies us both. They are to say what they please, and I am to do what I please.” No person would have dared to publish in London satires on George the Second approaching to the atrocity of those satires on Frederic, which the booksellers at Berlin sold with impunity. One bookseller sent to the palace a copy of the most stinging lampoon that perhaps was ever written in the world, the Memoirs of Voltaire, published by Beaumarchais, and asked for his majesty's orders. "Do not advertise it in an offensive manner," said the King, “ but sell it by all means. I hope it will pay you well.” Even among statesmen accustomed to the license of a free press, such steadfastness of mind as this is not very common.
It is due also to the memory of Frederic to say that he earnestly laboured to secure to his people the great blessing of cheap and speedy justice. He was one of the first rulers who abolished the cruel and absurd practice of torture. No sentence of death, pronounced by the ordinary tribunals, was executed without his sanction; and his sanction, except in cases of murder, was rarely given. Towards his troops he acted in a rery different manner. Military offences were punwhed with such barbarous scourging that to be shot was considered by the Prussian soldier as a secondary punishment. Indeed, the principle which pervaded Frederic's whole policy was this, that the more severely the army is gnverned, the safer it is to treat the rest of the community with lenity.