HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH II. OF PRUSSIA
FREDERICK THE GREAT
By Thomas Carlyle
BOOK IV. — FRIEDRICH'S APPRENTICESHIP, FIRST STAGE. - 1713-1728.
CHAPTER I. — CHILDHOOD: DOUBLE EDUCATIONAL ELEMENT.
Of Friedrich's childhood, there is not, after all our reading, much that it would interest the English public to hear tell of. Perhaps not much of knowable that deserves anywhere to be known. Books on it, expressly handling it, and Books on Friedrich Wilhelm's Court and History, of which it is always a main element, are not wanting: but they are mainly of the sad sort which, with pain and difficulty, teach us nothing, Books done by pedants and tenebrific persons, under the name of men; dwelling not on things, but, at endless length, on the outer husks of things: of unparalleled confusion, too;—not so much as an Index granted you; to the poor half-peck of cinders, hidden in these wagon-loads of ashes, no sieve allowed! Books tending really to fill the mind with mere dust-whirlwinds,—if the mind did not straightway blow them out again; which it does. Of these let us say nothing. Seldom had so curious a Phenomenon worse treatment from the Dryasdust, species.
Among these Books, touching on Friedrich's childhood, and treating of his Father's Court, there is hardly above one that we can characterize as fairly human: the Book written by his little Sister Wilhelmina, when she grew to size and knowledge of good and evil; [Memoires de Frederique Sophie Wilhelmine de Prusse, Margrave de Bareith (Brunswick, Paris et Londres, l8l2), 2 vols. 8vo.]—and this, of what flighty uncertain nature it is, the world partly knows. A human Book, however, not a pedant one: there is a most shrill female soul busy with intense earnestness here; looking, and teaching us to look. We find it a VERACIOUS Book, done with heart, and from eyesight and insight; of a veracity deeper than the superficial sort. It is full of mistakes, indeed; and exaggerates dreadfully, in its shrill female way; but is above intending to deceive: deduct the due subtrahend,—say perhaps twenty-five per cent, or in extreme cases as high as seventy-five,—you will get some human image of credible actualities from Wilhelmina. Practically she is our one resource on this matter. Of the strange King Friedrich Wilhelm and his strange Court, with such an Heir-Apparent growing up in it, there is no real light to be had, except what Wilhelmina gives,—or kindles dark Books of others into giving. For that, too, on long study, is the result of her, here and there. With so flickery a wax-taper held over Friedrich's childhood,—and the other dirty tallow-dips all going out in intolerable odor,—judge if our success can be very triumphant!
We perceive the little creature has got much from Nature; not the big arena only, but fine inward gifts, for he is well-born in more senses than one;—and that in the breeding of him there are two elements noticeable, widely diverse: the French and the German. This is perhaps the chief peculiarity; best worth laying hold of, with the due comprehension, if our means allow.
FIRST EDUCATIONAL ELEMENT, THE FRENCH ONE.
His nurses, governesses, simultaneous and successive, mostly of French breed, are duly set down in the Prussian Books, and held in mind as a point of duty by Prussian men; but, in foreign parts, cannot be considered otherwise than as a group, and merely with generic features. He had a Frau von Kamecke for Head Governess,—the lady whom Wilhelmina, in her famed Memoires, always writes KAMKEN; and of whom, except the floating gossip found in that Book, there is nothing to be remembered. Under her, as practical superintendent, SOUS-GOUVERNANTE and quasi-mother, was the Dame de Roucoulles, a more important person for us here. Dame de Roucoulles, once de Montbail, the same respectable Edict-of-Nantes French lady who, five-and-twenty years ago, had taken similar charge of Friedrich Wilhelm; a fact that speaks well for the character of her performance in that office. She had done her first edition of a Prussian Prince in a satisfactory manner; and not without difficult accidents and singularities, as we have heard: the like of which were spared her in this her second edition (so we may call it); a second and, in all manner of ways, an improved one. The young Fritz swallowed no shoe-buckles; did not leap out of window, hanging on by the hands; nor achieve anything of turbulent, or otherwise memorable, in his infantine history; the course of which was in general smooth, and runs, happily for it, below the ken of rumor. The Boy, it is said, and is easily credible, was of extraordinary vivacity; quick in apprehending all things, and gracefully relating himself to them. One of the prettiest, vividest little boys; with eyes, with mind and ways, of uncommon brilliancy;—only he takes less to soldiering than the paternal heart could wish; and appears to find other things in the world fully as notable as loud drums, and stiff men drawn up in rows. Moreover, he is apt to be a little unhealthy now and then, and requires care from his nurses, over whom the judicious Roucoulles has to be very vigilant.
Of this respectable Madame de Roucoulles I have read, at least seven times, what the Prussian Books say of her by way of Biography; but it is always given in their dull tombstone style; it has moreover next to no importance; and I,—alas, I do not yet too well remember it! She was from Normandy; of gentle blood, never very rich; Protestant, in the Edict-of-Nantes time; and had to fly her country, a young widow, with daughter and mother-in-law hanging on her; the whole of them almost penniless. However, she was kindly received at the Court of Berlin, as usual in that sad case; and got some practical help towards living in her new country. Queen Sophie Charlotte had liked her society; and finding her of prudent intelligent turn, and with the style of manners suitable, had given her Friedrich Wilhelm to take charge of. She was at that time Madame de Montbail; widow, as we said: she afterwards wedded Roucoulles, a refugee gentleman of her own Nation, who had gone into the Prussian Army, as was common for the like of him: She had again become a widow, Madame de Roucoulles this time, with her daughter Montbail still about her, when, by the grateful good sense of Friedrich Wilhelm, she was again intrusted as we see;—and so had the honor of governessing Frederick the Great for the first seven years of his life. Respectable lady, she oversaw his nurses, pap-boats,—"beer-soup and bread," he himself tells us once, was his main diet in boyhood,—beer-soups, dress-frocks, first attempts at walking; and then also his little bits of intellectualities, moralities; his incipiencies of speech, demeanor, and spiritual development; and did her function very honestly, there is no doubt.
Wilhelmina mentions her, at a subsequent period; and we have a glimpse of this same Roucoulles, gliding about among the royal young-folk, "with only one tooth left" (figuratively speaking), and somewhat given to tattle, in Princess Wilhelmina's opinion. Grown very old now, poor lady; and the dreadfulest bore, when she gets upon Hanover and her experiences, and Queen Sophie Charlotte's, in that stupendously magnificent court under Gentleman Ernst. Shun that topic, if you love your peace of mind! [Memoires (above cited).]—She did certainly superintend the Boy Fritzkin for his first seven years; that is a glory that cannot be taken from her. And her pupil, too, we agreeably perceive, was always grateful for her services in that capacity. Once a week, if he were in Berlin, during his youthful time, he was sure to appear at the Roucoulles Soiree, and say and look various pleasant things to his "CHER MAMAN (dear Mamma)," as he used to call her, and to the respectable small parts she had. Not to speak of other more substantial services, which also were not wanting.
Roucoulles and the other female souls, mainly French, among whom the incipient Fritz now was, appear to have done their part as well as could be looked for. Respectable Edict-of-Nantes French ladies, with high head-gear, wide hoops; a clear, correct, but somewhat barren and meagre species, tight-laced and high-frizzled in mind and body. It is not a very fertile element for a young soul: not very much of silent piety in it; and perhaps of vocal piety more than enough in proportion. An element founding on what they call "enlightened Protestantism," "freedom of thought," and the like, which is apt to become loquacious, and too conscious of itself; terming, on the whole, rather to contempt of the false, than to deep or very effective recognition of the true.
But it is, in some important senses, a clear and pure element withal. At lowest, there are no conscious semi-falsities, or volunteer hypocrisies, taught the poor Boy; honor, clearness, truth of word at least; a decorous dignified bearing; various thin good things, are honestly inculcated and exemplified; nor is any bad, ungraceful or suspicious thing permitted there, if recognized for such. It might have been a worse element; and we must be thankful for it. Friedrich, through life, carries deep traces of this French-Protestant incipiency: a very big wide-branching royal tree, in the end; but as small and flexible a seedling once as any one of us.
The good old Dame de Roucoulles just lived to witness his accession; on which grand juncture and afterwards, as he had done before, he continued to express, in graceful and useful ways, his gratitude and honest affection to her and hers. Tea services, presents in cut-glass and other kinds, with Letters that were still more precious to the old Lady, had come always at due intervals, and one of his earliest kingly gifts was that of some suitable small pension for Montbail, the elderly daughter of this poor old Roucoulles, [Preuss, Friedrich der Grosse, eine Lebensgeschichte (5 vols. Berlin, 1832-1834), v. (Urkundenbuch, p. 4). OEuvres de Frederic (same Preuss's Edition, Berlin, 1846-1850, &c.), xvi. 184, 191.—The Herr Doctor J. D. E. Preuss, "Historiographer of Brandenburg," devoted wholly to the study of Friedrich for five-and-twenty years past, and for above a dozen years busily engaged in editing the OEuvres de Frederic,—has, besides that Lebensgeschichte just cited, three or four smaller Books, of indistinctly different titles, on the same subject. A meritoriously exact man; acquainted with the outer details of Friedrich's Biography (had he any way of arranging, organizing or setting them forth) as few men ever were or will be. We shall mean always this Lebensgeschichte here, when no other title is given: and OEuvres de Frederic shall signify HIS Edition, unless the contrary be stated.] who was just singing her DIMITTAES as it were, still in a blithe and pious manner. For she saw now (in 1740) her little nursling grown to be a brilliant man and King; King gone out to the Wars, too, with all Europe inquiring and wondering what the issue would be. As for her, she closed her poor old eyes, at this stage of the business; piously, in foreign parts, far from her native Normandy; and did not see farther what the issue was. Good old Dame, I have, as was observed, read some seven times over what they call biographical accounts of her; but have seven times (by Heaven's favor, I do partly believe) mostly forgotten them again; and would not, without cause, inflict on any reader the like sorrow. To remember one worthy thing, how many thousand unworthy things must a man be able to forget!
From this Edict-of-Mantes environment, which taught our young Fritz his first lessons of human behavior,—a polite sharp little Boy, we do hope and understand,—he learned also to clothe his bits of notions, emotions, and garrulous utterabilities, in the French dialect. Learned to speak, and likewise, what is more important; to THINK, in French; which was otherwise quite domesticated in the Palace, and became his second mother-tongue. Not a bad dialect; yet also none of the best. Very lean and shallow, if very clear and convenient; leaving much in poor Fritz unuttered, unthought, unpractised, which might otherwise have come into activity in the course of his life. He learned to read very soon, I presume; but he did not, now or afterwards, ever learn to spell. He spells indeed dreadfully ILL, at his first appearance on the writing stage, as we shall see by and by; and he continued, to the last, one of the bad spellers of his day. A circumstance which I never can fully account for, and will leave to the reader's study.
From all manner of sources,—from inferior valetaille, Prussian Officials, Royal Majesty itself when not in gala,—he learned, not less rootedly, the corrupt Prussian dialect of German; and used the same, all his days, among his soldiers, native officials, common subjects and wherever it was most convenient; speaking it, and writing and misspelling it, with great freedom, though always with a certain aversion and undisguised contempt, which has since brought him blame in some quarters. It is true, the Prussian form of German is but rude; and probably Friedrich, except sometimes in Luther's Bible, never read any German Book. What, if we will think of it, could he know of his first mother-tongue! German, to this day, is a frightful dialect for the stupid, the pedant and dullard sort! Only in the hands of the gifted does it become supremely good. It had not yet been the language of any Goethe, any Lessing; though it stood on the eve of becoming such. It had already been the language of Luther, of Ulrich Hutten, Friedrich Barbarossa, Charlemagne and others. And several extremely important things had been said in it, and some pleasant ones even sung in it, from an old date, in a very appropriate manner,—had Crown-Prince Friedrich known all that. But he could not reasonably be expected to know:—and the wiser Germans now forgive him for not knowing, and are even thankful that he did not.
Chapter II. — THE GERMAN ELEMENT.
So that, as we said, there are two elements for young Fritz, and highly diverse ones, from both of which he is to draw nourishment, and assimilate what he can. Besides that Edict-of-Nantes French element, and in continual contact and contrast with it, which prevails chiefly in the Female Quarters of the Palace,—there is the native German element for young Fritz, of which the centre is Papa, now come to be King, and powerfully manifesting himself as such. An abrupt peremptory young King; and German to the bone. Along with whom, companions to him in his social hours, and fellow-workers in his business, are a set of very rugged German sons of Nature; differing much from the French sons of Art. Baron Grumkow, Leopold Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (not yet called the "OLD Dessauer," being under forty yet), General Glasenap, Colonel Derschau, General Flans; these, and the other nameless Generals and Officials, are a curious counterpart to the Camases, the Hautcharmoys and Forcades, with their nimble tongues and rapiers; still more to the Beausobres, Achards, full of ecclesiastical logic, made of Bayle and Calvin kneaded together; and to the high-frizzled ladies rustling in stiff silk, with the shadow of Versailles and of the Dragonnades alike present to them.
Born Hyperboreans these others; rough as hemp, and stout of fibre as hemp; native products of the rigorous North. Of whom, after all our reading, we know little.—O Heaven, they have had long lines of rugged ancestors, cast in the same rude stalwart mould, and leading their rough life there, of whom we know absolutely nothing! Dumb all those preceding busy generations; and this of Friedrich Wilhelm is grown almost dumb. Grim semi-articulate Prussian men; gone all to pipe-clay and mustache for us. Strange blond-complexioned, not unbeautiful Prussian honorable women, in hoops, brocades, and unintelligible head-gear and hair-towers,—ACH GOTT, they too are gone; and their musical talk, in the French or German language, that also is gone; and the hollow Eternities have swallowed it, as their wont is, in a very surprising manner!—
Grumkow, a cunning, greedy-hearted, long-headed fellow, of the old Pomeranian Nobility by birth, has a kind of superficial polish put upon his Hyperboreanisms; he has been in foreign countries, doing legations, diplomacies, for which, at least for the vulpine parts of which, he has a turn. He writes and speaks articulate grammatical French; but neither in that, nor in native Pommerish Platt-Deutsch, does he show us much, except the depths of his own greed, of his own astucities and stealthy audacities. Of which we shall hear more than enough by and by.
OF THE DESSAUER, NOT YET "OLD."
As to the Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, rugged man, whose very face is the color of gunpowder, he also knows French, and can even write in it, if he like,—having duly had a Tutor of that nation, and strange adventures with him on the grand tour and elsewhere;—but does not much practise writing, when it can be helped. His children, I have heard, he expressly did not teach to read or write, seeing no benefit in that effeminate art, but left them to pick it up as they could. His Princess, all rightly ennobled now,—whom he would not but marry, though sent on the grand tour to avoid it,—was the daughter of one Fos an Apothecary at Dessau; and is still a beautiful and prudent kind of woman, who seems to suit him well enough, no worse than if she had been born a Princess. Much talk has been of her, in princely and other circles; nor is his marriage the only strange thing Leopold has done. He is a man to keep the world's tongue wagging, not too musically always; though himself of very unvocal nature. Perhaps the biggest mass of inarticulate human vitality, certainly one of the biggest, then going about in the world. A man of vast dumb faculty; dumb, but fertile, deep; no end of ingenuities in the rough head of him:—as much mother-wit, there, I often guess, as could be found in whole talking parliaments, spouting themselves away in vocables and eloquent wind!
A man of dreadful impetuosity withal. Set upon his will as the one law of Nature; storming forward with incontrollable violence: a very whirlwind of a man. He was left a minor; his Mother guardian. Nothing could prevent him from marrying this Fos the Apothecary's Daughter; no tears nor contrivances of his Mother, whom he much loved, and who took skilful measures. Fourteen months of travel in Italy; grand tour, with eligible French Tutor,—whom he once drew sword upon, getting some rebuke from him one night in Venice, and would have killed, had not the man been nimble, at once dexterous and sublime:—it availed not. The first thing he did, on re-entering Dessau, with his Tutor, was to call at Apothecary Fos's, and see the charming Mamsell; to go and see his Mother, was the second thing. Not even his grand passion for war could eradicate those; he went to his grand passion for Dutch William's wars; the wise mother still counselling, who was own aunt to Dutch William, and liked the scheme. He besieged Namur; fought and besieged up and down,—with insatiable appetite for fighting and sieging; with great honor, too, and ambitions awakening in him;—campaign after campaign: but along with the flamy-thundery ideal bride, figuratively called Bellona, there was always a soft real one, Mamsell Fos of Dessau, to whom he continued constant. The Government of his Dominions he left cheerfully to his Mother, even when he came of age: "I am for learning War, as the one right trade; do with all things as you please, Mamma,— only not with Mamsell, not with her!"—
Readers may figure this scene too, and shudder over it. Some rather handsome male Cousin of Mamsell, Medical Graduate or whatever he was, had appeared in Dessau:—"Seems, to admire Mamsell much; of course, in a Platonic way," said rumor:—"He? Admire?" thinks Leopold;—thinks a good deal of it, not in the philosophic mood. As he was one day passing Fos's, Mamsell and the Medical Graduate are visible, standing together at the window inside. Pleasantly looking out upon Nature,—of course quite casually, say some Histories with a sneer. In fact, it seems possible this Medical Graduate may have been set to act shoeing-horn; but he had better not. Leopold storms into the House, "Draw, scandalous canaille, and defend yourself!"—And in this, or some such way, a confident tradition says, he killed the poor Medical Graduate there and then. One tries always to hope not: but Varnhagen is positive, though the other Histories say nothing of it. God knows. The man was a Prince; no Reichshofrath, Speyer-Wetzlar KAMMER, or other Supreme Court, would much trouble itself, except with formal shakings of the wig, about such a peccadillo. In fine, it was better for Leopold to marry the Miss Fos; which he actually did (1698, in his twenty-second year), "with the left-hand,"—and then with the right and both hands; having got her properly ennobled before long, by his splendid military services. She made, as we have hinted, an excellent Wife to him, for the fifty or sixty ensuing years.
This is a strange rugged specimen, this inarticulate Leopold; already getting mythic, as we can perceive, to the polished vocal ages; which mix all manner of fables with the considerable history he has. Readers will see him turn up again in notable forms. A man hitherto unknown except in his own country; and yet of very considerable significance to all European countries whatsoever; the fruit of his activities, without his name attached, being now manifest in all of them. He invented the iron ramrod; he invented the equal step; in fact, he is the inventor of modern military tactics. Even so, if we knew it: the Soldiery of every civilized country still receives from this man, on parade-fields and battle-fields, its word of command; out of his rough head proceeded the essential of all that the innumerable Drill-sergeants, in various languages, daily repeat and enforce. Such a man is worth some transient glance from his fellow-creatures,—especially with a little Fritz trotting at his foot, and drawing inferences from him.
Dessau, we should have said for the English reader's behoof, was and still is a little independent Principality; about the size of Huntingdonshire, but with woods instead of bogs;—revenue of it, at this day, is 60,000 pounds, was perhaps not 20, or even 10,000 in Leopold's first time. It lies some fourscore miles southwest of Berlin, attainable by post-horses in a day. Leopold, as his Father had done, stood by Prussia as if wholly native to it. Leopold's Mother was Sister of that fine Louisa, the Great Elector's first Wife; his Sister is wedded to the Margraf of Schwedt, Friedrich Wilhelm's half-uncle. Lying in such neighborhood, and being in such affinity to the Prussian House, the Dessauers may be said to have, in late times, their headquarters at Berlin. Leopold and Leopold's sons, as his father before him had done, without neglecting their Dessau and Principality, hold by the Prussian Army as their main employment. Not neglecting Dessau either; but going thither in winter, or on call otherwise; Leopold least of all neglecting it, who neglects nothing that can be useful to him.
He is General Field-Marshal of the Prussian Armies, the foremost man in war-matters with this new King; and well worthy to be so. He is inventing, or brooding in the way to invent, a variety of things,—"iron ramrods," for one; a very great improvement on the fragile ineffective wooden implement, say all the Books, but give no date to it; that is the first thing; and there will be others, likewise undated, but posterior, requiring mention by and by. Inventing many things;—and always well practising what is already invented, and known for certain. In a word, he is drilling to perfection, with assiduous rigor, the Prussian Infantry to be the wonder of the world. He has fought with them, too, in a conclusive manner; and is at all times ready for fighting.
He was in Malplaquet with them, if only as volunteer on that occasion. He commanded them in Blenheim itself; stood, in the right or Eugene wing of that famed Battle of Blenheim, fiercely at bay, when the Austrian Cavalry had all fled;—fiercely volleying, charging, dexterously wheeling and manoeuvring; sticking to his ground with a mastiff-like tenacity,—till Marlborough, and victory from the left, relieved him and others. He was at the Bridge of Cassano; where Eugene and Vendome came to hand-grips;—where Mirabeau's Grandfather, COL-D'ARGENT, got his six-and-thirty wounds, and was "killed" as he used to term it. [Carlyle's Miscellanies, v. ? Mirabeau.] "The hottest fire I ever saw," said Eugene, who had not seen Malplaquet at that time. While Col-d'Argent sank collapsed upon the Bridge, and the horse charged over him, and again charged, and beat and were beaten three several times,—Anhalt-Dessau, impatient of such fiddling hither and thither, swashed into the stream itself with his Prussian Foot: swashed through it, waist-deep or breast-deep; and might have settled the matter, had not his cartridges got wetted. Old King Friedrich rebuked him angrily for his impetuosity in this matter, and the sad loss of men.
Then again he was at the Storming of the Lines of Turin,—Eugene's feat of 1706, and a most volcanic business;—was the first man that got-over the entrenchment there. Foremost man; face all black with the smoke of gunpowder, only channelled here and there with rivulets of sweat;—not a lovely phenomenon to the French in the interior! Who still fought like madmen, but were at length driven into heaps, and obliged to run. A while before they ran, Anhalt-Dessau, noticing some Captain posted with his company in a likely situation, stept aside to him for a moment, and asked, "Am I wounded, think you?—No? Then have you anything to drink?" and deliberately "drank a glass of aqua-vitae," the judicious Captain carrying a pocket-pistol of that sort, in case of accident; and likewise "eat, with great appetite, a bit of bread from one of the soldiers' haversacks; saying, He believed the heat of the job was done, and that there was no fear now!"—[Des weltberumkten Leopoldi, &c. (Anonymous, by Ranfft, cited above), pp. 42-45, 52, 65.]
A man that has been in many wars; in whose rough head, are schemes hatching. Any religion he has is of Protestant nature; but he has not much,—on the doctrinal side, very little. Luther's Hymn, Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott, he calls "God Almighty's grenadier-march." On joining battle, he audibly utters, with bared head, some growl of rugged prayer, far from orthodox at times, but much in earnest: that lifting of his hat for prayer, is his last signal on such occasions. He is very cunning as required, withal; not disdaining the serpentine method when no other will do. With Friedrich Wilhelm, who is his second-cousin (Mother's grand-nephew, if the reader can count that), he is from of old on the best footing, and contrives to be his Mentor in many things besides War. Till his quarrel with Grumkow, of which we shall hear, he took the lead in political advising, too; and had schemes, or was thought to have, of which Queen Sophie was in much terror.
A tall, strong-boned, hairy man; with cloudy brows, vigilant swift eyes; has "a bluish tint of skin," says Wilhelmina, "as if the gunpowder still stuck to him." He wears long mustaches; triangular hat, plume and other equipments, are of thrifty practical size. Can be polite enough in speech; but hides much of his meaning, which indeed is mostly inarticulate, and not always joyful to the by-stander. He plays rough pranks, too, on occasion; and has a big horse-laugh in him, where there is a fop to be roasted, or the like. We will leave him for the present, in hope of other meetings.
Remarkable men, many of those old Prussian soldiers: of whom one wishes, to no purpose, that there had more knowledge been attainable. But the Books are silent; no painter, no genial seeing-man to paint with his pen, was there. Grim hirsute Hyperborean figures, they pass mostly mute before us: burly, surly; in mustaches, in dim uncertain garniture, of which the buff-belts and the steel, are alone conspicuous. Growling in guttural Teutsoh what little articulate meaning they had: spending, of the inarticulate, a proportion in games, of chance, probably too in drinking beer; yet having an immense overplus which they do not so spend, but endeavor to utter in such working as there may be. So have the Hyperboreans lived from of old. From the times of Tacitus and Pytheas, not to speak of Odin and Japhet, what hosts of them have marched across Existence, in that manner;—and where is the memory that would, even if it could, speak of them all!—
We will hope the mind of our little Fritz has powers of assimilation. Bayle-Calvin logics, and shadows of Versailles, on this hand, and gunpowder Leopolds and inarticulate Hyperboreans on that: here is a wide diversity of nutriment, all rather tough in quality, provided for the young soul. Innumerable unconscious inferences he must have drawn in his little head! Prince Leopold's face, with the whiskers and blue skin, I find he was wont, at after periods, to do in caricature, under the figure of a Cat's;—horror and admiration not the sole feelings raised in him by the Field-Marshal.—For bodily nourishment he had "beer-soup;" a decided Spartan tone prevailing, wherever possible, in the breeding and treatment of him.
And we need not doubt, by far the most important element of his education was the unconscious Apprenticeship he continually served to such a Spartan as King Friedrich Wilhelm. Of whose works and ways he could not help taking note, angry or other, every day and hour; nor in the end, if he were intelligent, help understanding them, and learning from them. A harsh Master and almost half-mad, as it many times seemed to the poor Apprentice; yet a true and solid one, whose real wisdom was worth that of all the others, as he came at length to recognize.
Chapter III. — FRIEDRICH WILHELM IS KING.
With the death of old King Friedrich, there occurred at once vast changes in the Court of Berlin; a total and universal change in the mode of living and doing business there. Friedrich Wilhelm, out of filial piety, wore at his father's funeral the grand French peruke and other sublimities of French costume; but it was for the last time: that sad duty once done, he flung the whole aside, not without impatience, and on no occasion wore such costume again. He was not a friend to French fashions, nor had ever been; far the contrary. In his boyhood, say the Biographers, there was once a grand embroidered cloth-of-gold, or otherwise supremely magnificent, little Dressing-gown given him; but he would at no rate put it on, or be concerned with it; on the contrary, stuffed it indignantly "into the fire;" and demanded wholesome useful duffel instead.
He began his reform literally at the earliest moment. Being summoned into the apartment where his poor Father was in the last struggle, he could scarcely get across for KAMMERJUNKER, KAMMERHERRN, Goldsticks, Silversticks, and the other solemn histrionic functionaries, all crowding there to do their sad mimicry on the occasion: not a lovely accompaniment in Friedrich Wilhelm's eyes. His poor Father's death-struggle once done, and all reduced to everlasting rest there, Friedrich Wilhelm looked in silence over the Unutterable, for a Short space, disregardful of the Goldsticks and their eager new homaging; walked swiftly away from it to his own room, shut the door with a slam; and there, shaking the tears from his eyes, commenced by a notable duty,—the duty nearest hand, and therefore first to be done, as it seemed to him. It was about one in the afternoon, 25th February, 1713; his Father dead half an hour before: "Tears at a Father's death-bed, must they be dashed with rage by such a set of greedy Histrios?" thought Friedrich Wilhelm. He summoned these his Court-people, that is to say, summoned their OBER-HOFMARSCHALL and representative; and through him signified to them, That, till the Funeral was over, their service would continue; and that on the morrow after the Funeral, they were, every soul of them, discharged; and from the highest Goldstick down to the lowest Page-in-waiting, the King's House should be swept entirely clean of them;—said House intending to start afresh upon a quite new footing. [Forster, i. 174; Pollnitz, Memoiren, ii. 4.] Which spread such a consternation among the courtier people, say the Histories, as was never seen before.
The thing was done, however; and nobody durst whisper discontent with it; this rugged young King, with his plangent metallic voice, with his steady-beaming eyes, seeming dreadfully in earnest about it, and a person that might prove dangerous if you crossed him. He reduced his Household accordingly, at once, to the lowest footing of the indispensable; and discharged a whole regiment of superfluous official persons, court-flunkies, inferior, superior and supreme, in the most ruthless manner. He does not intend keeping any OBER-HOFMARSCHALL, or the like idle person, henceforth; thinks a minimum of the Goldsticks ought to suffice every man.
Eight Lackeys, in the ante-chambers and elsewhere, these, with each a JAGERBURSCH (what we should call an UNDER-KEEPER) to assist when not hunting, will suffice: Lackeys at "eight THALERS monthly," which is six shillings a week. Three active Pages, sometimes two, instead of perhaps three dozen idle that there used to be. In King Friedrich's time, there were wont to be a thousand saddle-horses at corn and hay: but how many of them were in actual use? Very many of them were mere imaginary quadrupeds; their price and keep pocketed by some knavish STALLMEISTER, Equerry or Head-groom. Friedrich Wilhelm keeps only thirty Horses; but these are very actual, not imaginary at all; their corn not running into any knave's pocket; but lying actually in the mangers here; getting ground for you into actual four-footed speed, when, on turf or highway, you require such a thing. About, thirty for the saddle,—with a few carriage-teams, are what Friedrich Wilhelm can employ in any reasonable measure: and more he will not have about him.
In the like ruthless humor he goes over his Pension-list; strikes three fourths of that away, reduces the remaining fourth to the very bone. In like humor, he goes over every department of his Administrative, Household and other Expenses: shears everything down, here by the hundred thalers, there by the ten, willing even to save HALF A THALER. He goes over all this three several times;—his Papers, the three successive Lists he used on that occasion, have been printed. [Rodenbeck, Beitrage zur Bereicherung der Lebembeschreibungen Friedrich Wilhelms I. und Friedrichs des Grossen (Berlin, 1836), pp. 99-127.] He has satisfied himself, in about two months, what, the effective minimum is; and leaves it so. Reduced to below the fifth of what it was; 55,000 THALERS, instead of 276,000. [Stenzel, iii. 237.]
By degrees he went over, went into and through, every department of Prussian Business, in that fashion; steadily, warily, irresistibly compelling every item of it, large and little, to take that same character of perfect economy and solidity, of utility pure and simple. Needful work is to be rigorously well done; needless work, and ineffectual or imaginary workers, to be rigorously pitched out of doors. What a blessing on this Earth; worth purchasing almost at any price! The money saved is something, nothing if you will; but the amount of mendacity expunged, has any one computed that? Mendacity not of tongue; but the far feller sort, of hand, and of heart, and of head; short summary of all Devil's-worship whatsoever. Which spreads silently along, once you let it in, with full purse or with empty; some fools even praising it: the quiet DRY-ROT of Nations! To expunge such is greatly the duty of every man, especially of every King. Unconsciously, not thinking of Devil's-worship, or spiritual dry-rot, but of money chiefly, and led by Nature and the ways she has with us, it was the task of Friedrich Wilhelm's life to bring about this beneficent result in all departments of Prussian Business, great and little, public and even private. Year after year, he brings it to perfection; pushes it unweariedly forward every day and hour. So that he has Prussia, at last, all a Prussia made after his own image; the most thrifty, hardy, rigorous and Spartan country any modern King ever tied over; and himself (if he thought of that) a King indeed. He that models Nations according to his own image, he is a King, though his sceptre were a walking-stick; and, properly no other is.
Friedrich Wilhelm was wondered at, and laughed at, by innumerable mortals for his ways of doing; which indeed were very strange. Not that he figured much in what is called Public History, or desired to do so; for, though a vigilant ruler, he did not deal in protocolling and campaining,—he let a minimum of that suffice him. But in court soirees, where elegant empty talk goes on, and of all materials for it scandal is found incomparably the most interesting. I suppose there turned up no name oftener than that of his Prussian Majesty; and during these twenty-seven years of his Reign, his wild pranks and explosions gave food for continual talk in such quarter.
For he was like no other King that then existed, or had ever been discovered. Wilder Son of Nature seldom came into the artificial world; into a royal throne there, probably never. A wild man, wholly in earnest, veritable as the old rocks,—and with a terrible volcanic fire in him too. He would have been strange anywhere; but among the dapper Royal gentlemen of the Eighteenth Century, what was to be done with such an Orson of a King?—Clap him in Bedlam, and bring out the ballot-boxes instead? The modern generation, too, still takes its impression of him from these rumors,—still more now from Wilhelmina's Book; which paints the outside savagery of the royal man, in a most striking manner; and leaves the inside vacant, undiscovered by Wilhelmina or the rumors.
Nevertheless it appears there were a few observant eyes even of contemporaries, who discerned in him a surprising talent for "National Economics" at least. One Leipzig Professor, Saxon, not Prussian by nation or interest, recognizes in Friedrich Wilhelm "DEN GROSSEN WIRTH (the great Manager, Husbandry-man, or Landlord) of the epoch;" and lectures on his admirable "works, arrangements and institutions" in that kind. [Rodenbeck's Beitrage (p. 14),—Year, or Name of Lecturer, not mentioned.] Nay the dapper Royal gentlemen saw, with envy, the indubitable growth of this mad savage Brother; and ascribed it to "his avarice," to his mean ways, which were in such contrast to their sublime ones. That he understood National Economics has now become very certain. His grim semi-articulate Papers and Rescripts, on these subjects, are still almost worth reading, by a lover of genuine human talent in the dumb form. For spelling, grammar, penmanship and composition, they resemble nothing else extant; are as if done by the paw of a bear: indeed the utterance generally sounds more like the growling of a bear than anything that could be handily spelt or parsed. But there is a decisive human sense in the heart of it; and there is such a dire hatred of empty bladders, unrealities and hypocritical forms and pretences, what he calls "wind and humbug (WIND UND BLAUER DUNST)," as is very strange indeed. Strange among all mankind; doubly and trebly strange among the unfortunate species called Kings in our time. To whom,—for sad reasons that could be given,—"wind and blue vapor (BLAUER DUNST)," artistically managed by the rules of Acoustics and Optics, seem to be all we have left us!—
It must be owned that this man is inflexibly, and with a fierce slow inexorable determination, set upon having realities round him. There is a divine idea of fact put into him; the genus sham was never hatefuler to any man. Let it keep out of his way, well beyond the swing of that rattan of his, or it may get something to remember! A just man, too; would not wrong any man, nor play false in word or deed to any man. What is Justice but another form of the REALITY we love; a truth acted out? Of all the humbugs or "painted vapors" known, Injustice is the least capable of profiting men or kings! A just man, I say; and a valiant and veracious: but rugged as a wild bear; entirely inarticulate, as if dumb. No bursts of parliamentary eloquence in him, nor the least tendency that way. His talent for Stump-Oratory may be reckoned the minimum conceivable, or practically noted a ZERO. A man who would not have risen in modern Political Circles; man unchoosable at hustings or in caucus; man forever invisible, and very unadmirable if seen, to the Able Editor and those that hang by him. In fact, a kind of savage man, as we say; but highly interesting, if you can read dumb human worth; and of inexpressible profit to the Prussian Nation.
For the first ten years of his reign, he had a heavy, continual struggle, getting his finance and other branches of administration extricated from their strangling imbroglios of coiled nonsense, and put upon a rational footing. His labor in these years, the first of little Fritz's life, must have been great; the pushing and pulling strong and continual. The good plan itself, this comes not of its own accord; it is the fruit of "genius" (which means transcendent capacity of taking trouble, first of all): given a huge stack of tumbled thrums, it is not in your sleep that you will find the vital centre of it, or get the first thrum by the end! And then the execution, the realizing, amid the contradiction, silent or expressed, of men and things? Explosive violence was by no means Friedrich Wilhelm's method; the amount of slow stubborn broad-shouldered strength, in all kinds, expended by the man, strikes us as very great. The amount of patience even, though patience is not reckoned his forte.
That of the RITTER-DIENST (Knights'-Service), for example, which is but one small item of his business, the commuting of the old feudal duty of his Landholders to do Service in Wartime, into a fixed money payment: nothing could be fairer, more clearly advantageous to both parties; and most of his "Knights" gladly accepted the proposal: yet a certain factious set of them, the Magdeburg set, stirred up by some seven or eight of their number, "hardly above seven or eight really against me," saw good to stand out; remonstrated, recalcitrated; complained in the Diet (Kaiser too happy to hear of it, that he might have a hook on Friedrich Wilhelm); and for long years that paltry matter was a provocation to him. [1717-1725. Forster, ii. 162-165, iv. 31-34; Stenzel, iii. 316-319; Samuel Buchholz, Neueste Preussisch-Brandenburgische Geschichte (Berlin, 1775), i. 197.] But if your plan is just, and a bit of Nature's plan, persist in it like a law of Nature. This secret too was known to Friedrich Wilhelm. In the space of ten years, by actual human strength loyally spent, he had managed many things; saw all things in a course towards management. All things, as it were, fairly on the road; the multiplex team pulling one way, in rational human harness, not in imbroglios of coiled thrums made by the Nightmares.
How he introduced a new mode of farming his Domain Lands, which are a main branch of his revenue, and shall be farmed on regular lease henceforth, and not wasted in peculation and indolent mismanagement as heretofore; [Forster, ii. 206, 216.] new modes of levying his taxes and revenues of every kind: [Ib. ii. 190, 195.] How he at last concentrated, and harmonized into one easy-going effective GENERAL DIRECTORY, [Completed 19th January, 1723 (Ib. ii. 172).] the multifarious conflicting Boards, that were jolting and jangling in a dark use-and-wont manner, and leaving their work half done, when he first came into power: [Dohm, Denkwurdigkeiten meiner Zeit (Lemgo und Hanover, 1814-1819), iv. 88.] How he insisted on having daylight introduced to the very bottom of every business, fair-and-square observed as the rule of it, and the shortest road adopted for doing it: How he drained bogs, planted colonies, established manufactures, made his own uniforms of Prussian wool, in a LAGERHAUS of his own: How he dealt with the Jew Gompert about farming his Tobacoo;—how, from many a crooked case and character he, by slow or short methods, brought out something straight; would take no denial of what was his, nor make any demand of what was not; and did prove really a terror to evildoers of various kinds, especially to prevaricators, defalcators, imaginary workers, and slippery unjust persons: How he urged diligence on all mortals, would not have the very Apple-women sit "without knitting" at their stalls; and brandished his stick, or struck it fiercely down, over the incorrigibly idle:—All this, as well as his ludicrous explosions and unreasonable violences, is on record concerning Friedrich Wilhelm, though it is to the latter chiefly that the world has directed its unwise attention, in judging of him. He was a very arbitrary King. Yes, but then a good deal of his ARBITRIUM, or sovereign will, was that of the Eternal Heavens as well; and did exceedingly behoove to be done, if the Earth would prosper. Which is an immense consideration in regard to his sovereign will and him! He was prompt with his rattan, in urgent cases; had his gallows also, prompt enough, where needful. Let him see that no mistakes happen, as certainly he means that none shall!
Yearly he made his country richer; and this not in money alone (which is of very uncertain value, and sometimes has no value at all, and even less), but in frugality, diligence, punctuality, veracity,—the grand fountains from which money, and all real values and valors spring for men. To Friedrich Wilhelm in his rustio simplicity, money had no lack of value; rather the reverse. To the homespun man it was a success of most excellent quality, and the chief symbol of success in all kinds. Yearly he made his own revenues, and his people's along with them and as the source of them, larger: and in all states of his revenue, he had contrived to make his expenditure less than it; and yearly saved masses of coin, and "reposited them in barrels in the cellars of his Schloss,"—where they proved very useful, one day. Much in Friedrich Wilhelm proved useful, beyond even his expectations. As a Nation's HUSBAND he seeks his fellow among Kings, ancient and modern. Happy the Nation which gets such a Husband, once in the half-thousand years. The Nation, as foolish wives and Nations do, repines and grudges a good deal, its weak whims and will being thwarted very often; but it advances steadily, with consciousness or not, in the way of well-doing; and afterlong times the harvest of this diligent sowing becomes manifest to the Nation and to all Nations.
Strange as it sounds in the Republic of Letters, we are tempted to call Friedrich Wilhelm a man of genius;—genius fated and promoted to work in National Husbandry, not in writing Verses or three-volume Novels. A silent genius. His melodious stanza, which he cannot bear to see halt in any syllable, is a rough fact reduced to order; fact made to stand firm on its feet, with the world-rocks under it, and looking free towards all the winds and all the stars. He goes about suppressing platitudes, ripping off futilities, turning deceptions inside out. The realm of Disorder, which is Unveracity, Unreality, what we call Chaos, has no fiercer enemy. Honest soul, and he seemed to himself such a stupid fellow often; no tongue-learning at all; little capable to give a reason for the faith that was in him. He cannot argue in articulate logic, only in inarticulate bellowings, or worse. He must DO a thing, leave it undemonstrated; once done, it will itself tell what kind of thing it is, by and by. Men of genius have a hard time, I perceive, whether born on the throne or off it; and must expect contradictions next to unendurable,—the plurality of blockheads being so extreme!
I find, except Samuel Johnson, no man of equal veracity with Friedrich Wilhelm in that epoch: and Johnson too, with all his tongue-learning, had not logic enough. In fact, it depends on how much conviction you have. Blessed be Heaven, there is here and there a man born who loves truth as truth should be loved, with all his heart and all his soul; and hates untruth with a corresponding perfect hatred. Such men, in polite circles, which understand that certainly truth is better than untruth, but that you must be polite to both, are liable to get to the end of their logic. Even Johnson had a bellow in him; though Johnson could at any time withdraw into silence, HIS kingdom lying all under his own hat. How much more Friedrich Wilhelm, who had no logic whatever; and whose kingdom lay without him, far and wide, a thing he could not withdraw from. The rugged Orson, he needed to be right. From utmost Memel down to Wesel again, ranked in a straggling manner round the half-circumference of Europe, all manner of things and persons were depending on him, and on his being right, not wrong, in his notion.
A man of clear discernment, very good natural eyesight; and irrefragably confident in what his eyes told him, in what his belief was;—yet of huge simplicity withal. Capable of being coaxed about, and led by the nose, to a strange degree, if there were an artist dexterous enough, daring enough! His own natural judgment was good, and, though apt to be hasty and headlong, was always likely to come right in the end; but internally, we may perceive, his modesty, self-distrust, anxiety and other unexpected qualities, must have been great. And then his explosiveness, impatience, excitability; his conscious dumb ignorance of all things beyond his own small horizon of personal survey! An Orson capable enough of being coaxed and tickled, by some first-rate conjurer;—first-rate; a second-rate might have failed, and got torn to pieces for his pains. But Seckendorf and Grumkow, what a dance they led him on some matters,—as we shall see, and as poor Fritz and others will see!
He was full of sensitiveness, rough as he was and shaggy of skin. His wild imaginations drove him hither and thither at a sad rate. He ought to have the privileges of genius. His tall Potsdam Regiment, his mad-looking passion for enlisting tall men; this also seems to me one of the whims of genius,—an exaggerated notion to have his "stanza" polished to the last punctilio of perfection; and might be paralleled in the history of Poets. Stranger "man of genius," or in more peculiar circumstances, the world never saw!
Friedrich Wilhelm, in his Crown-Prince days, and now still more when he was himself in the sovereign place, had seen all along, with natural arithmetical intellect, That his strength in this world, as at present situated, would very much depend upon the amount of potential-battle that lay in him,—on the quantity and quality of Soldiers he could maintain, and have ready for the field at any time. A most indisputable truth, and a heartfelt one in the present instance. To augment the quantity, to improve the quality, in this thrice-essential particular: here lay the keystone and crowning summit of all Friedrich Wilhelm's endeavors; to which he devoted himself, as only the best Spartan could have done. Of which there will be other opportunities to speak in detail. For it was a thing world-notable; world-laughable, as was then thought; the extremely serious fruit of which did at length also become notable enough.
In the Malplaquet time, once on some occasion, it is said, two English Officers, not well informed upon the matter, and provoking enough in their contemptuous ignorance, were reasoning with one another in Friedrich Wilhelm's hearing, as to the warlike powers of the Prussian State, and Whether the King of Prussia could on his own strength maintain a standing army of 15,000? Without subsidies, do you think, so many as 15,000? Friedrich Wilhelm, incensed at the thing and at the tone, is reported to have said with heat: "Yes, 30,000!" [Forster, i. 138.] whereat the military men slightly wagged their heads, letting the matter drop for the present. But he makes it good by degrees; twofold or threefold;—and will have an army of from seventy to a hundred thousand before he dies, ["72,000 field-troops, 30,000 garrison-troops" (Gestandnisse eines OEster reichischen Veterans, Breslau, 1788, i. 64).] the best-drilled of fighting men; and what adds much to the wonder, a full Treasury withal. This is the Brandenburg Spartan King; acquainted with National Economics. Alone of existing Kings he lays by money annually; and is laying by many other and far more precious things, for Prussia and the little Boy he has here.
Friedrich Wilhelm's passion for drilling, recruiting and perfecting his army attracted much notice: laughing satirical notice; in the hundred months of common rumor, which he regarded little; and notice iracund and minatory, when it led him into collision with the independent portions of mankind, now and then. This latter sort was not pleasant, and sometimes looked rather serious; but this too he contrived always to digest in some tolerable manner. He continued drilling and recruiting,—we may say not his Army only, but his Nation in all departments of it,—as no man before or since ever did: increasing, by every devisable method, the amount of potential-battle that lay in him and it.
In a military, and also in a much deeper sense, he may be defined as the great Drill-sergeant of the Prussian Nation. Indeed this had been the function of the Hohenzollerns all along; this difficult, unpleasant and indispensable one of drilling. From the first appearance of Burggraf Friedrich, with good words and with HEAVY PEG, in the wreck of anarchic Brandenburg, and downwards ever since, this has steadily enough gone on. And not a little good drilling these populations have had, first and last; just orders given them (wise and just, which to a respectable degree were Heaven's orders as well): and certainly Heavy Peg, for instance,—Heavy Peg, bringing Quitzow's strong House about his ears,—was a respectable drummer's cat to enforce the same. This has been going on these three hundred years. But Friedrich Wilhelm completes the process; finishes it off to the last pitch of perfection. Friedrich Wilhelm carries it through every fibre and cranny of Prussian Business, and so far as possible, of Prussian Life; so that Prussia is all a drilled phalanx, ready to the word of command; and what we see in the Army is but the last consummate essence of what exists in the Nation everywhere. That was Friedrich Wilhelm's function, made ready for him, laid to his hand by his Hohenzollern foregoers; and indeed it proved a most beneficent function.
For I have remarked that, of all things, a Nation needs first to be drilled; and no Nation that has not first been governed by so-called "Tyrants," and held tight to the curb till it became perfect in its paces and thoroughly amenable to rule and law, and heartily respectful of the same, and totally abhorrent of the want of the same, ever came to much in this world. England itself, in foolish quarters of England, still howls and execrates lamentably over its William Conqueror, and rigorous line of Normans and Plantagenets; but without them, if you will consider well, what had it ever been? A gluttonous race of Jutes and Angles, capable of no grand combinations; lumbering about in pot-bellied equanimity; not dreaming of heroic toil and silence and endurance, such as leads to the high places of this Universe, and the golden mountain-tops where dwell the Spirits of the Dawn. Their very ballot-boxes and suffrages, what they call their "Liberty," if these mean "Liberty," and are such a road to Heaven, Anglo-Saxon high-road thither,—could never have been possible for them on such terms. How could they? Nothing but collision, intolerable interpressure (as of men not perpendicular), and consequent battle often supervening, could have been appointed those undrilled Anglo-Saxons; their pot-bellied equanimity itself continuing liable to perpetual interruptions, as in the Heptarchy time. An enlightened Public does not reflect on these things at present; but will again, by and by. Looking with human eyes over the England that now is, and over the America and the Australia, from pole to pole; and then listening to the Constitutional litanies of Dryasaust, and his lamentations on the old Norman and Plantagenet Kings, and his recognition of departed merit and causes of effects,—the mind of man is struck dumb!
Chapter IV. — HIS MAJESTY'S WAYS.
Friedrich Wilhelm's History is one of ECONOMICS; which study, so soon as there are Kings again in this world, will be precious to them. In that happy state of matters, Friedrich Wilhelm's History will well reward study; and teach by example, in a very simple and direct manner. In what is called the Political, Diplomatic, "Honor-to-be" department, there is not, nor can ever be, much to be said of him; this Economist King having always kept himself well at home, and looked steadily to his own affairs. So that for the present he has, as a King, next to nothing of what is called History; and it is only as a fellow-man, of singular faculty, and in a most peculiar and conspicuous situation, that he can be interesting to mankind. To us he has, as Father and daily teacher and master of young Fritz, a continual interest; and we must note the master's ways, and the main phenomena of the workshop as they successively turned up, for the sake of the notable Apprentice serving there.
He was not tall of stature, this arbitrary King: a florid-complexioned stout-built man; of serious, sincere, authoritative face; his attitudes and equipments very Spartan in type. Man of short firm stature; stands (in Pesne's best Portraits of him) at his ease, and yet like a tower. Most solid; "plumb and rather more;" eyes steadfastly awake; cheeks slightly compressed, too, which fling the mouth rather forward; as if asking silently, "Anything astir, then? All right here?" Face, figure and bearing, all in him is expressive of robust insight, and direct determination; of healthy energy, practicality, unquestioned authority,—a certain air of royalty reduced to its simplest form. The face in Pictures by Pesne and others, is not beautiful or agreeable; healthy, genuine, authoritative, is the best you can say of it. Yet it may have been, what it is described as being, originally handsome. High enough arched brow, rather copious cheeks and jaws; nose smallish, inclining to be stumpy; large gray eyes, bright with steady fire and life, often enough gloomy and severe, but capable of jolly laughter too. Eyes "naturally with a kind of laugh in them," says Pollnitz;—which laugh can blaze out into fearful thunderous rage, if you give him provocation. Especially if you lie to him; for that he hates above all things. Look him straight in the face: he fancies he can see in your eyes, if there is an internal mendacity in you: wherefore you must look at him in speaking; such is his standing order.
His hair is flaxen, falling into the ash-gray or darker; fine copious flowing hair, while he wore it natural. But it soon got tied into clubs, in the military style; and at length it was altogether cropped away, and replaced by brown, and at last by white, round wigs. Which latter also, though bad wigs, became him not amiss, under his cocked-hat and cockade, says Pollnitz. [Pollnitz, Memoiren (Berlin, 1791), ii. 568.] The voice, I guess, even when not loud, was of clangorous and penetrating, quasi-metallic nature; and I learn expressly once, that it had a nasal quality in it. [Busching, Beitrage, i. 568.] His Majesty spoke through the nose; snuffled his speech in an earnest ominously plangent manner. In angry moments, which were frequent, it must have been—unpleasant to listen to. For the rest, a handsome man of his inches; conspicuously well-built in limbs and body, and delicately finished off to the very extremities. His feet and legs, says Pollnitz, were very fine. The hands, if he would have taken care of them, were beautifully white; fingers long and thin; a hand at once nimble to grasp, delicate to feel, and strong to clutch and hold: what may be called a beautiful hand, because it is the usefulest.
Nothing could exceed his Majesty's simplicity of habitudes. But one loves especially in him his scrupulous attention to cleanliness of person and of environment. He washed like a very Mussulman, five times a day; loved cleanliness in all things, to a superstitious extent; which trait is pleasant in the rugged man, and indeed of a piece with the rest of his character. He is gradually changing all his silk and other cloth room-furniture; in his hatred of dust, he will not suffer a floor-carpet, even a stuffed chair; but insists on having all of wood, where the dust may be prosecuted to destruction. [Forster, i. 208.] Wife and womankind, and those that take after them, let such have stuffing and sofas: he, for his part, sits on mere wooden chairs;—sits, and also thinks and acts, after the manner of a Hyperborean Spartan, which he was. He ate heartily, but as a rough farmer and hunter eats; country messes, good roast and boiled; despising the French Cook, as an entity without meaning for him. His favorite dish at dinner was bacon and greens, rightly dressed; what could the French Cook do for such a man? He ate with rapidity, almost with indiscriminate violence: his object not quality but quantity. He drank too, but did not get drunk: at the Doctor's order he could abstain; and had in later years abstained. Pollnitz praises his fineness of complexion, the originally eminent whiteness of his skin, which he had tanned and bronzed by hard riding and hunting, and otherwise worse discolored by his manner of feeding and digesting: alas, at last his waistcoat came to measure, I am afraid to say how many Prussian ells,—a very considerable diameter indeed! [Ib. i. 163.]
For some years after his accession he still appeared occasionally in "burgher dress," or unmilitary clothes; "brown English coat, yellow waistcoat" and the other indispensables. But this fashion became rarer with him every year; and ceased altogether (say Chronologists) about the year 1719: after which he appeared always simply as Colonel of the Potsdam Guards (his own Lifeguard Regiment) in simple Prussian uniform: close military coat; blue, with red cuffs and collar, buff waistcoat and breeches; white linen gaiters to the knee. He girt his sword about the loins, well out of the mud; walked always with a thick bamboo in his hand; Steady, not slow of step; with his triangular hat, cream-white round wig (in his older days), and face tending to purple,—the eyes looking out mere investigation, sharp swift authority, and dangerous readiness to rebuke and set the cane in motion:—it was so he walked abroad in this earth; and the common run of men rather fled his approach than courted it.
For, in fact, he was dangerous; and would ask in an alarming manner, "Who are you?" Any fantastic, much more any suspicious-looking person, might fare the worse. An idle lounger at the street-corner he has been known to hit over the crown; and peremptorily despatch: "Home, Sirrah, and take to some work!" That the Apple-women be encouraged to knit, while waiting for custom;—encouraged and quietly constrained, and at length packed away, and their stalls taken from them, if unconstrainable,—there has, as we observed, an especial rescript been put forth; very curious to read. [In Rodenbeck, Beitrage, p. 15.]
Dandiacal figures, nay people looking like Frenchmen, idle flaunting women even,—better for them to be going. "Who are you?" and if you lied or prevaricated ("Er blicke mich gerade an, Look me in the face, then!"), or even stumbled, hesitated, and gave suspicion of prevaricating, it might be worse for you. A soft answer is less effectual than a prompt clear one, to turn away wrath. "A Candidatus Theoligiae, your Majesty," answered a handfast threadbare youth one day, when questioned in this manner.—"Where from?" "Berlin, your Majesty."—"Hm, na, the Berliners are a good-for-nothing set." "Yes, truly, too many of them; but there are exceptions; I know two."—"Two? which then?" "Your Majesty and myself!"—Majesty burst into a laugh: the Candidatus was got examined by the Consistoriums, and Authorities proper in that matter, and put into a chaplaincy.
This King did not love the French, or their fashions, at all. We said he dismissed the big Peruke,—put it on for the last time at his Father's funeral, so far did filial piety go; and then packed it aside, dismissing it, nay banishing and proscribing it, never to appear more. The Peruke, and, as it were, all that the Peruke symbolized. For this was a King come into the world with quite other aims than that of wearing big perukes, and, regardless of expense, playing burst-frog to the ox of Versailles, which latter is itself perhaps a rather useless animal. Of Friedrich Wilhelm's taxes upon wigs; of the old "Wig-inspectors," and the feats they did, plucking off men's periwigs on the street, to see if the government-stamp were there, and to discourage wiggery, at least all but the simple scratch or useful Welsh-wig, among mankind: of these, and of other similar things, I could speak; but do not. This little incident, which occurred once in the review-ground on the outskirts of Berlin, will suffice to mark his temper in that respect. It was in the spring of 1719; our little Fritz then six years old, who of course heard much temporary confused commentary, direct and oblique, triumphant male laughter, and perhaps rebellious female sighs, on occasion of such a feat.
Count Rothenburg, Prussian by birth, [Buchholz, Neueste Preuwssisch-Brandenburgische Geschichte, i. 28.] an accomplished and able person in the diplomatic and other lines of business, but much used to Paris and its ways, had appeared lately in Berlin, as French envoy,—and, not unnaturally, in high French costume; cocked-hat, peruke, laced coat, and the other trimmings. He, and a group of dashing followers and adherents, were accustomed to go about in that guise; very capable of proving infectious to mankind. What is to be done with them? thinks the anxious Father of his People. They were to appear at the ensuing grand Review, as Friedrich Wilhelm understood. Whereupon Friedrich Wilhelm took his measures in private. Dressed up, namely, his Scavenger-Executioner people (what they call PROFOSSEN in Prussian regiments) in an enormous exaggeration of that costume; cocked-hats about an ell in diameter, wigs reaching to the houghs, with other fittings to match: these, when Count Rothenburg and his company appeared upon the ground, Friedrich Wilhelm summoned out, with some trumpet-peal or burst of field-music; and they solemnly crossed Count Rothenburg's field of vision; the strangest set of, Phantasms he had seen lately. Awakening salutary reflections in him. [Forster, i. 165; Faasmann, Leben und Thaten des allerdurchlauchtigsten gc. Konigs von Preussen Frederici Wilhelmi (Hambug und Breslau, 1735), pp. 223, 319.] Fancy that scene in History; Friedrich Wilhelm for comic-symbolic Dramaturgist. Gods and men (or at least Houyhnhnm horses) might have saluted it; with a Homeric laugh,—so huge and vacant is it, with a suspicion of real humor too:—but the men were not permitted, on parade, more than a silent grin, or general irrepressible rustling murmur; and only the gods laughed inextinguishably, if so disposed. The Scavenger-Executioners went back to their place; and Count Rothenburg took a plain German costume, so long as he continued in those parts.
Friedrich Wilhelm has a dumb rough wit and mockery, of that kind, on many occasions; not without geniality in its Brobdignag exaggeration and simplicity. Like a wild bear of the woods taking his sport; with some sense of humor in the rough skin of him. Very capable of seeing through sumptuous costumes; and respectful of realities alone. Not in French sumptuosity, but in native German thrift, does this King see his salvation; so as Nature constructed him: and the world which has long lost its Spartans, will see again an original North-German Spartan; and shriek a good deal over him; Nature keeping her own counsel the while, and as it were, laughing in her sleeve at the shrieks of the flunky world. For Nature, when she makes a Spartan, means a good deal by it; and does not expect instant applauses, but only gradual and lasting.
"For my own part," exclaims a certain Editor once, "I perceive well there was never yet any great Empire founded, Roman, English, down to Prussian or Dutch, nor in fact any great mass of work got achieved under the Sun, but it was founded even upon this humble-looking quality of Thrift, and became achievable in virtue of the same. Which will seem a strange doctrine, in these days of gold-nuggets, railway-fortunes, and miraculous, sumptuosities regardless of expense. Earnest readers are invited to consider it, nevertheless. Though new; it is very old; and a sad meaning lies in it to us of these times! That you have squandered in idle fooleries, building where there was no basis, your Hundred Thousand Sterling, your Eight Hundred Million Sterling, is to me a comparatively small matter. You may still again become rich, if you have at last become wise. But if you have wasted your capacity of strenuous, devoutly valiant labor, of patience, perseverance, self-denial, faith in the causes of effects; alas, if your once just judgment of what is worth something and what is worth nothing, has been wasted, and your silent steadfast reliance on the general veracities, of yourself and of things, is no longer there,—then indeed you have had a loss! You are, in fact, an entirely bankrupt individual; as you will find by and by. Yes; and though you had California in fee-simple; and could buy all the upholsteries, groceries, funded-properties, temporary (very temporary) landed properties of the world, at one swoop, it would avail you nothing. Henceforth for you no harvests in the Seedfield of this Universe, which reserves its salutary bounties, and noble heaven-sent gifts, for quite other than you; and I would not give a pin's value for all YOU will ever reap there. Mere imaginary harvests, sacks of nuggets and the like; empty as the east-wind;—with all the Demons laughing at you! Do you consider that Nature too is a swollen flunky, hungry for veils; and can be taken in with your sublime airs of sumptuosity, and the large balance you actually have in Lombard Street? Go to the—General Cesspool, with your nuggets and your ducats!"
The flunky world, much stript of its plush and fat perquisites, accuses Friedrich Wilhelm bitterly of avarice and the cognate vices. But it is not so; intrinsically, in the main, his procedure is to be defined as honorable thrift,—verging towards avarice here and there; as poor human virtues usually lean to one side or the other! He can be magnificent enough too, and grudges no expense, when the occasion seems worthy. If the occasion is inevitable, and yet not quite worthy, I have known him have recourse to strange shifts. The Czar Peter, for example, used to be rather often in the Prussian Dominions, oftenest on business of his own: such a man is to be royally defrayed while with us; yet one would wish it done cheap. Posthorses, "two hundred and eighty-seven at every station," he has from the Community; but the rest of his expenses, from Memel all the way to Wesel? Friedrich Wilhelm's marginal response to his FINANZ-DIRECTORIUM, requiring orders once on that subject, runs in the following strange tenor: "Yes, all the way (except Berlin, which I take upon myself); and observe, you contrive to do it for 6,000 thalers (900 pounds),—which is uncommonly cheap, about 1 pound per mile;—won't allow you one other penny (nit einen Pfennig gebe mehr dazu); but you are (sollen Sie)," this is the remarkable point, "to give out in the world that it costs me from Thirty to Forty Thousand!" [1717: Forster, i. 213.] So that here is the Majesty of Prussia, who beyond all men abhors lies, giving orders to tell one? Alas, yes; a kind of lie, or fib (white fib, or even GRAY), the pinch of Thrift compelling! But what a window into the artless inner-man of his Majesty, even that GRAY fib;—not done by oneself, but ordered to be done by the servant, as if that were cheaper!
"Verging upon avarice," sure enough: but, unless we are unjust and unkind, he can by no means be described as a MISER King. He collects what is his; gives you accurately what is yours. For wages paid he will see work done; he will ascertain more and more that the work done be work needful for him; and strike it off, if not. A Spartan man, as we said,—though probably he knew as little of the Spartans as the Spartans did of him. But Nature is still capable of such products: if in Hellas long ages since, why not in Brandenburg now?
Chapter V. — FRIEDRICH WILHELM'S ONE WAR.
One of Fritz's earliest strong impressions from the outer world chanced to be of War,—so it chanced, though he had shown too little taste that way, and could not, as yet, understand such phenomena;—and there must have been much semi-articulate questioning and dialoguing with Dame de Roucoulles, on his part, about the matter now going on.
In the year 1715, little Fritz's third year, came grand doings, not of drill only, but of actual war and fighting: the "Stralsund Expedition," Friedrich Wilhelm's one feat in that kind. Huge rumor of which fills naturally the maternal heart, the Berlin Palace drawing-rooms; and occupies, with new vivid interests, all imaginations young and old. For the actual battledrums are now beating, the big cannon-wains are creaking under way; and military men take farewell, and march, tramp, tramp; Majesty in grenadier-guard uniform at their head: horse, foot and artillery; northward to Stralsund on the Baltic shore, where a terrible human Lion has taken up his lair lately. Charles XII. of Sweden, namely; he has broken out of Turkish Bender or Demotica, and ended his obstinate torpor, at last; has ridden fourteen or sixteen days, he and a groom or two, through desolate steppes and mountain wildernesses, through crowded dangerous cities;—"came by Vienna and by Cassel, then through Pommern;" leaving his "royal train of two thousand persons" to follow at its leisure. He, for his part, has ridden without pause, forward, ever forward, in darkest incognito, the indefatigable man;—and finally, on Old-Hallowmas Eve (22d-11th November, 1714), far in the night, a Horseman, with two others still following him, travel-splashed, and "white with snow," drew bridle at the gate of Stralsund; and, to the surprise of the Swedish sentinel there, demanded instant admission to the Governor. The Governor, at first a little surly of humor, saw gradually how it was; sprang out of bed, and embraced the knees of the snowy man; Stralsund in general sprang out of bed, and illuminated itself, that same Hallow-Eve:—and in brief, Charles XII., after five years of eclipse, has reappeared upon the stage of things; and menaces the world, in his old fashion, from that City. From which it becomes urgent to many parties, and at last to Friedrich Wilhelm himself, that he be dislodged.
The root of this Stralsund story belongs to the former reign, as did the grand apparition of Charles XII. on the theatre of European History, and the terror and astonishment he created there. He is now thirty-three years old; and only the winding up, both of him and of the Stralsund story, falls within our present field. Fifteen years ago, it was like the bursting of a cataract of bomb-shells in a dull ball-room, the sudden appearance of this young fighting Swede among the luxurious Kings and Kinglets of the North, all lounging about and languidly minuetting in that manner, regardless of expense! Friedrich IV. of Denmark rejoicing over red wine; August the Strong gradually producing his "three hundred and fifty-four bastards;" [Memoires de Bareith (Wilhelmina's Book, Londres, 1812), i. 111.] these and other neighbors had confidently stept in, on various pretexts; thinking to help themselves from the young man's properties, who was still a minor; when the young minor suddenly developed himself as a major and maximus, and turned out to be such a Fire-King among them!
In consequence of which there had been no end of Northern troubles; and all through the Louis-Fourteenth or Marlborough grand "Succession War," a special "Northern War" had burnt or smouldered on its own score; Swedes VERSUS Saxons, Russians and Danes, bickering in weary intricate contest, and keeping those Northern regions in smoke if not on fire. Charles XII., for the last five years (ever since Pultawa, and the summer of 1709), had lain obstinately dormant in Turkey; urging the Turks to destroy Czar Peter. Which they absolutely could not, though they now and then tried; and Viziers not a few lost their heads in consequence. Charles lay sullenly dormant; Danes meanwhile operating upon his Holstein interests and adjoining territories; Saxons, Russians, battering continually at Swedish Pommern, continually marching thither, and then marching home again, without success,—always through the Brandenburg Territory, as they needs must. Which latter circumstance Friedrich Wilhelm, while yet only Crown-Prince, had seen with natural displeasure, could that have helped it. But Charles XII. would not yield a whit; sent orders peremptorily, from his bed at Bender or Demotica, that there must be no surrender. Neither could the sluggish enemy compel surrender.
So that, at length, it had grown a feeble wearisome welter of inextricable strifes, with worn-out combatants, exhausted of all but their animosity; and seemed as if it would never end. Inveterate ineffective war; ruinous to all good interests in those parts. What miseries had Holstein from it, which last to our own day! Mecklenburg also it involved in sore troubles, which lasted long enough, as we shall see. But Brandenburg, above all, may be impatient; Brandenburg, which has no business with it except that of unlucky neighborhood. One of Friedrich Wilhelm's very first operations, as King, was to end this ugly state of matters, which he had witnessed with impatience, as Prince, for a long while.
He had hailed even the Treaty of Utrecht with welcome, in hopes it might at least end these Northern brabbles. This the Treaty of Utrecht tried to do, but could not: however, it gave him back his Prussian Fighting Men; which he has already increased by six regiments, raised, we may perceive, on the ruins of his late court-flunkies and dismissed goldsticks;—with these Friedrich Wilhelm will try to end it himself. These he at once ordered to form a Camp on his frontier, close to that theatre of contest; and signified now with emphasis, in the beginning of 1713, that he decidedly wished there were peace in those Pommern regions. Negotiations in consequence; [10th June, 1713: Buchholz, i. 21.] very wide negotiations, Louis XIV. and the Kaiser lending hand, to pacify these fighting Northern Kings and their Czar: at length the Holstein Government, representing their sworn ally, Charles XII., on the occasion, made an offer which seemed promising. They proposed that, Stettin and its dependencies, the strong frontier Town, and, as it were, key of Swedish Pommern, should be evacuated by the Swedes, and be garrisoned by neutral troops, Prussians and Holsteiners in equal number; which neutral troops shall prohibit any hostile attack of Pommern from without, Sweden engaging not to make any attack through Pommern from within. That will be as good as peace in Pommern, till we get a general Swedish Peace. With which Friedrich Wilhelm gladly complies. [22d June, 1713: Buchholz, i. 21.]
Unhappily, however, the Swedish Commandant in Stettin would not give up the place, on any representative or secondary authority; not without an express order in his King's own hand. Which, as his King was far away, in abstruse Turkish circumstances and localities, could not be had at the moment; and involved new difficulties and uncertainties, new delay which might itself be fatal. The end was, the Russians and Saxons had to cannonade the man out by regular siege: they then gave up the Town to Prussia and Holstein; but required first to be paid their expenses incurred in sieging it,—400,000 thalers, as they computed and demonstrated, or some where about 60,000 pounds of our money.
Friedrich Wilhelm paid the money (Holstein not having a groschen); took possession of the Town, and dependent towns and forts; intending well to keep them till repaid. This was in October, 1713; and ever since, there has been actual tranquillity in those parts: the embers of the Northern War may still burn or smoulder elsewhere, but here they are quite extinct. At first, it was a joint possession of Stettin, Holsteiners and Prussians in equal number; and if Friedrich Wilhelm had been sure of his money, so it would have continued. But the Holsteiners had paid nothing; Charles XII's sanction never could be expressly got, and the Holsteiners were mere dependents of his. Better to increase our Prussian force, by degrees; and, in some good way, with a minimum of violence, get the Holsteiners squeezed out of Stettin: Friedrich Wilhelm has so ordered and contrived. The Prussian force having now gradually increased to double in this important garrison, the Holsteiners are quietly disarmed, one night, and ordered to depart, under penalties;—which was done. Holding such a pawn-ticket as Stettin, buttoned in our own pocket, we count now on being paid our 60,000 pounds before parting with it.
Matters turned out as Friedrich Wilhelm had dreaded they might. Here is Charles XII. come back; inflexible as cold Swedish iron; will not hear of any Treaty dealing with his properties in that manner: Is he a bankrupt, then, that you will sell his towns by auction? Charles does not, at heart, believe that Friedrich Wilhelm ever really paid the 60,000 pounds Charles demands, for his own part, to have, his own Swedish Town of Stettin restored to him; and has not the least intention, or indeed ability, to pay money. Vain to answer: "Stettin, for the present, is not a Swedish Town; it is a Prussian Pawn-ticket!"—There was much negotiation, correspondence; Louis XIV. and the Kaiser stepping in again to produce settlement. To no purpose. Louis, gallant old Bankrupt, tried hard to take Charles's part with effect. But he had, himself, no money now; could only try finessing by ambassadors, try a little menacing by them; neither of which profited. Friedrich Wilhelm, wanting only peace on his borders, after fifteen years of extraneous uproar there, has paid 60,000 pounds in hard cash to have it: repay him that sum, with promise of peace on his borders, he will then quit Stettin; till then not. Big words from a French Ambassador in big wig, will not suffice: "Bullying goes for nothing (Bange machen gilt nicht),"—the thing covenanted for will need to be done! Poor Louis the Great, whom we now call "BANKRUPT-Great," died while these affairs were pending; while Charles, his ally, was arguing and battling against all the world, with only a grandiloquent Ambassador to help him from Louis. "J'ai trop aime la guerre," said Louis at his death, addressing a new small Louis (five years old), his great-grandson and successor: "I have been too fond of war; do not imitate me in that, ne m'imitez pas en cela." [1st September, 1715.] Which counsel also, as we shall see, was considerably lost in air.
Friedrich Wilhelm had a true personal regard for Charles XII., a man made in many respects after his own heart; and would fain have persuaded him into softer behavior. But it was to no purpose. Charles would not listen to reasons of policy; or believe that his estate was bankrupt, or that his towns could be put in pawn. Danes, Saxons, Russians, even George I. of England (George-having just bought, of the Danish King, who had got hold of it, a great Hanover bargain, Bremen and Verden, on cheap terms, from the quasi-bankrupt estate of poor Charles),—have to combine against him, and see to put him down. Among whom Prussia, at length actually attacked by Charles in the Stettin regions, has reluctantly to take the lead in that repressive movement. On the 28th of April, 1715, Friedrich Wilhelm declares war against Charles; is already on march, with a great force, towards Stettin, to coerce and repress said Charles. No help for it, so sore as it goes against us: "Why will the very King whom I most respect compel me to be his enemy?" said Friedrich Wilhelm. [ OEuvres de Frederic (Histoire de Brandebourg), i. 132; Buchholz, i. 28.]
One of Friedrich Wilhelm's originalities is his farewell Order and Instruction, to his three chief Ministers, on this occasion. Ilgen, Dohna, Prinzen, tacit dusky figures, whom we meet in Prussian Books, and never gain the least idea of, except as of grim, rather cunning, most reserved antiquarlan gentlemen,—a kind of human iron-safes, solemnly filled (under triple and quadruple patent-locks) with what, alas, has now all grown waste-paper, dust and cobweb, to us:—these three reserved cunning Gentlemen are to keep a thrice-watchful eye on all subordinate boards and persons, and see well that nobody nod or do amiss. Brief weekly report to his Majesty will be expected; staffettes, should cases of hot haste occur: any questions of yours are "to be put on a sheet of paper folded down, to which I can write marginalia:" if nothing particular is passing, "NIT SCHREIBEN, you don't write." Pay out no money, except what falls due by the Books; none;—if an extraordinary case for payment arise, consult my Wife, and she must sign her order for it. Generally in matters of any moment, consult my Wife; but her only, "except her and the Privy Councillors, no mortal is to poke into my affairs:" I say no mortal, "SONST KEIN MENSCH."
"My Wife shall be told of all things," he says elsewhere, "and counsel asked of her." The rugged Paterfamilias, but the human one! "And as I am a man," continues he, "and may be shot dead, I command you and all to take care of Fritz (FUR FRITZ ZU SORGEN), as God shall reward you. And I give you all, Wife to begin with, my curse (MEINEN PLUCH), that God may punish you in Time and Eternity, if you do not, after my death,—do what, O Heavens?—bury me in the vault of the Schlosskirche," Palace-Church at Berlin! "And you shall make no grand to-do (KEIN FESTIN) on the occasion. On your body and life, no festivals and ceremonials, except that the regiments one after the other fire a volley over me." Is not this an ursine man-of-genius, in some sort, as we once defined him? He adds suddenly, and concludes: "I am assured you will manage everything with all the exactness in the world; for which I shall ever zealously, as long as I live, be your friend." [26th April, 1715: Cosmars und Klaproths Staatsrath,s. 223 (in Stenzel, iii. 269)]. Russians, Saxons affected to intend joining Friedrich Wilhelm in his Pommern Expedition; and of the latter there did, under a so-called Field-Marshal von Wackerbarth, of high plumes and titles, some four thousand—of whom only Colonel von Seckendorf, commanding one of the horse-regiments, is remarkable to us—come and serve. The rest, and all the Russians, he was as well pleased to have at a distance. Some sixteen thousand Danes joined him, too, with the King of Denmark at their head; very furious, all, against the Swedish-iron Hero; but they were remarked to do almost no real service, except at sea a little against the Swedish ships. George I. also had a fleet in the Baltic; but only "to protect English commerce." On the whole, the Siege of Stralsund, to which the Campaign pretty soon reduced itself, was done mainly by Friedrich Wilhelm. He stayed two months in Stettin, getting all his preliminaries completed; his good Queen, Wife "Feekin," was with him for some time, I know not whether now or afterwards. In the end of June, he issued from Stettin; took the interjacent outpost places; and then opened ground before Stralsund, where, in a few days more, the Danes joined him. It was now the middle of July: a combined Army of well-nigh forty thousand against Charles; who, to man his works, musters about the fourth part of that number. [Pauli, viii. 85-101; Buchholz, i. 31-39; Forster, ii. 34-39; Stenzel, iii. 272-218.]