with her which had been looked forward to with such intoxicating

time:2023-12-01 04:57:51source:xsnedit:news

Strolling along, Fassmann came upon a certain booth with an enormous Picture hung aloft in front of it: "Picture of a very tall man, in HEYDUC livery, coat reaching to his ankles, in grand peruke, cap and big heron-plume, with these words, 'LE GEANT ALLEMAND (German Giant),' written underneath. Partly from curiosity, partly "for country's sake," Fassmann expended twopence; viewed the gigantic fellow-creature; admits he had never seen one so tall; though "Bentenrieder, the Imperial Diplomatist," thought by some to be the tallest of men, had come athwart him once. This giant's name was Muller; birthplace the neighborhood of Weissenfels;--"a Saxon like myself. He had a small German Wife, not half his size. He made money readily, showing himself about, in France, England, Holland;"--and Fassmann went his way, thinking no more of the fellow.--But now, continues Fassmann:--

with her which had been looked forward to with such intoxicating

"Coming to Potsdam, thirteen years after, in the spring of 1726, by his Majesty's order, to"--in fact, to read the Newspapers to his Majesty, and be generally useful, chiefly in the Tobacco-College, as we shall discover,--"what was my surprise to find this same 'GEANT ALLEMAND' of St. Germain ranked among the King's Grenadiers! No doubt of the identity: I renewed acquaintance with the man; his little German Wife was dead; but he had got an English one instead, an uncommonly shifty creature. They had a neat little dwelling-house [as most of the married giants had], near the Palace: here the Wife sold beer [brandy not permissible on any terms], and lodged travellers;-- I myself have lodged there on occasion. In the course of some years, the man took swelling in the legs; good for nothing as a grenadier; and was like to fall heavy on society. But no, his little Wife snatched him up, easily getting his discharge; carried him over with her to England, where he again became a show-giant, and they were doing very well, when last heard of,"-- in the Country-Wakes of George II.'s early time. And that is the real Biography of one Potsdam Giant, by a literary gentleman who had lodged with him on occasion. [Fassmann, pp. 723-730.]

with her which had been looked forward to with such intoxicating

The pay of these sublime Footguards is greatly higher than common; they have distinguished privileges and treatment: on the other hand, their discipline is nonpareil, and discharge is never to be dreamt of, while strength lasts. Poor Kirkman, does he sometimes think of the Hill of Howth, and that he will never see it more? Kirkman, I judge, is not given to thought;--considers that he has tobacco here, and privileges and perquisites; and that Howth, and Heaven itself, is inaccessible to many a man.

with her which had been looked forward to with such intoxicating


Tall men, not for this regiment only, had become a necessary of life to Friedrich Wilhelm. Indispensable to him almost as his daily bread, To his heart there is no road so ready as that of presenting a tall man or two. Friedrich Wilhelm's regiments are now, by his exact new regulations, levied and recruited each in its own Canton, or specific district: there all males as soon as born are enrolled; liable to serve, when they have grown to years and strength. All grown men (under certain exceptions, as of a widow's eldest son, or of the like evidently ruinous cases) are liable to serve; Captain of the Regiment and AMTMANN of the Canton settle between them which grown man it shall be. Better for you not to be tall! In fact it is almost a kindness of Heaven to be gifted with some safe impediment of body, slightly crooked back or the like, if you much dislike the career of honor under Friedrich Wilhelm. A general shadow of unquiet apprehension we can well fancy hanging over those rural populations, and much unpleasant haggling now and then;--nothing but the King's justice that can be appealed to. King's justice, very great indeed, but heavily checked by the King's value for handsome soldiers.

Happily his value for industrial laborers and increase of population is likewise great. Townsfolk, skilful workmen as the theory supposes, are exempt; the more ingenious classes, generally, his Majesty exempts in this respect, to encourage them in others. For, on the whole, he is not less a Captain of Work, to his Nation, than of other things. What he did for Prussia in the way of industries, improvements, new manufactures, new methods; in settling "colonies," tearing up drowned bogs and subduing them into dry cornfields; in building, draining, digging, and encouraging or forcing others to do so, would take a long chapter. He is the enemy of Chaos, not the friend of it, wherever you meet with him.

For example, Potsdam itself. Potsdam, now a pleasant, grassy, leafy place, branching out extensively in fine stone architecture, with swept pavements; where, as in other places, the traveller finds land and water separated into two firmaments,--Friedrich Wilhelm found much of it a quagmire, land and water still weltering in one. In these very years, his cuttings, embankments, buildings, pile-drivings there, are enormous; and his perseverance needs to be invincible. For instance, looking out, one morning after heavy rain, upon some extensive anti-quagmire operations and strong pile-drivings, he finds half a furlong of his latest heavy piling clean gone. What in the world has become of it? Pooh, the swollen lake has burst it topsy-turvy; and it floats yonder, bottom uppermost, a half-furlong of distracted liquid-peat. Whereat his Majesty gave a loud laugh, says Bielfeld, [Baron de Bielfeld, Lettres Familieres (second edition, a Leide, 1767), i. 31.] and commenced anew. The piles now stand firm enough, like the rest of the Earth's crust, and carry strong ashlar houses and umbrageous trees for mankind; and trivial mankind can walk in clean pumps there, shuddering or sniggering at Friedrich Wilhelm, as their humor may be.

No danger of this "Canton-system" of recruitment to the more ingenious classes, who could do better than learn drill. Nor, to say truth, does the poor clayey peasant suffer from it, according to his apprehensions. Often perhaps, could he count profit and loss, he might find himself a gainer: the career of honor turns out to be, at least, a career of practical Stoicism and Spartanism; useful to any peasant or to any prince. Cleanliness, of person and even of mind; fixed rigor of method, sobriety, frugality, these are virtues worth acquiring. Sobriety in the matter of drink is much attended to here: his Majesty permits no distillation of strong-waters in Potsdam, or within so many miles; [Fassmann, p. 728.] nor is sale of such allowed, except in the most intensely select manner. The soldier's pay is in the highest degree exiguous; not above three halfpence a day, for a common foot-soldier, in addition to what rations he has:--but it is found adequate to its purpose, too; supports the soldier in sound health, vigorously fit for his work; into which points his Majesty looks with his own eyes, and will admit no dubiety. Often, too, if not already OFTENEST (as it ultimately grew to be), the peasant-soldier gets home for many months of the year, a soldier-ploughman; and labors for his living in the old way. His Captain (it is one of the Captain's perquisites, who is generally a veteran of fifty, with a long Spartan training, before he gets so high) pockets the pay of all these furloughs, supernumerary to the real work of the regiment;--and has certain important furnishings to yield in return.


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