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time:2023-12-01 05:48:57source:qsjedit:android

These are the chief Friedrich-Wilhelm traits; the rest of the document corresponds in general to what the late Majesty had written for Friedrich Wilhelm himself on the like occasion. [Stenzel, iii. 572.] Ruthless contempt of Useless Knowledge; and passionate insight into the distinction between Useful and Useless, especially into the worth of Soldiering as a royal accomplishment, are the chief peculiarities here. In which latter point too Friedrich Wilhelm, himself the most pacific of men, unless you pulled the whiskers of him, or broke into his goods and chattels, knew very well what he was meaning,--much better than we of the "Peace Society" and "Philanthropic Movement" could imagine at first sight! It is a thing he, for his part, is very decided upon.

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Already, a year before this time, [1st September, 1717: Preuss, i. 13.] there had been instituted, for express behoof of little Fritz, a miniature Soldier Company, above a hundred strong; which grew afterwards to be near three hundred, and indeed rose to be a permanent Institution by degrees; called Kompagnie der Kronprinzlichen Kadetten (Company of Crown-Prince Cadets). A hundred and ten boys about his own age, sons of noble families, had been selected from the three Military Schools then extant, as a kind of tiny regiment for him; where, if he was by no means commander all at once, he might learn his exercise in fellowship with others. Czar Peter, it is likely, took a glance of this tiny regiment just getting into rank and file there; which would remind the Czar of his own young days. An experienced Lieutenant-Colonel was appointed to command in chief. A certain handy and correct young fellow, Rentsel by name, about seventeen, who already knew his fugling to a hair's-breadth, was Drill-master; and exencised them all, Fritz especially, with due strictness; till, in the course of time and of attainments, Fritz could himself take the head charge. Which he did duly, in a year or two: a little soldier thenceforth; properly strict, though of small dimensions; in tight blue bit of coat and cocked-hat:-- miniature image of Papa (it is fondly hoped and expected), resembling him as a sixpence does a half-crown. In 1721 the assiduous Papa set up a "little arsenal" for him, "in the Orange Hall of the Palace:" there let him, with perhaps a chosen comrade or two, mount batteries, fire exceedingly small brass ordnance,-- his Engineer-Teacher, one Major von Senning, limping about (on cork leg), and superintending if needful.

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Rentzel, it is known, proved an excellent Drill-sergeant;--had good talents every way, and was a man of probity and sense. He played beautifully on the flute too, and had a cheerful conversible turn; which naturally recommended him still farther to Fritz; and awoke or encouraged, among other faculties, the musical faculty in the little Boy. Rentzel continued about him, or in sight of him, through life; advancing gradually, not too fast, according to real merit and service (Colonel in 1759); and never did discredit to the choice Friedrich Wilhelm had made of him. Of Senning, too, Engineer-Major von Senning, who gave Fritz his lessons in Mathematics, Fortification and the kindred branches, the like, or better, can be said. He was of graver years; had lost a leg in the Marlborough Campaigns, poor gentleman; but had abundant sense, native worth and cheery rational talk, in him: so that he too could never be parted with by Friedrich, but was kept on hand to the last, a permanent and variously serviceable acquisition.

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Thus, at least, is the military education of our Crown-Prince cared for. And we are to fancy the little fellow, from his tenth year or earlier, going about in miniature soldier figure, for most part; in strict Spartan-Brandenburg costume, of body as of mind. Costume little flattering to his own private taste for finery; yet by no means unwholesome to him, as he came afterwards to know, In October, 1723, it is on record, when George I. came to visit his Son-in-law and Daughter at Berlin, his Britannic Majesty, looking out from his new quarters on the morrow, saw Fritzchen "drilling his Cadet Company;" a very pretty little phenomenon. Drilling with clear voice, military sharpness, and the precision of clock-work on the Esplanade (LUSTGARTEN) there;--and doubtless the Britannic Majesty gave some grunt of acquiescence, perhaps even a smile, rare on that square heavy-laden countenance of his. That is the record: [Forster, i. 215.] and truly it forms for us by far the liveliest little picture we have got, from those dull old years of European History. Years already sunk, or sinking, into lonesome unpeopled Dusk for all men; and fast verging towards vacant Oblivion and eternal Night;--which (if some few articles were once saved out of them) is their just and inevitable portion from afflicted human nature.

Of riding-masters, fencing-masters, swimming-masters; much less of dancing-masters, music-masters (celebrated Graun, "on the organ," with Psalm-tunes), we cannot speak; but the reader may be satisfied they were all there, good of their kind, and pushing on at a fair rate. Nor is there lack anywhere of paternal supervision to our young Apprentice, From an early age, Papa took the Crown-Prince with him on his annual Reviews. From utmost Memel on the Russian border, down to Wesel on the French, all Prussia, in every nook of it, garrison, marching-regiment, board of management, is rigorously reviewed by Majesty once a year. There travels little military Fritz, beside the military Majesty, amid the generals and official persons, in their hardy Spartan manner; and learns to look into everything like a Rhadamanthine Argus, and how the eye of the master, more than all other appliances, fattens the cattle.

On his hunts, too, Papa took him. For Papa was a famous hunter, when at Wusterhausen in the season:--hot Beagle-chase, hot Stag-hunt, your chief game deer; huge "Force-Hunt" (PARFORCE-JAGD, the woods all beaten, and your wild beasts driven into straits and caudine-forks for you); Boar-hunting (SAUHETZE, "sow-baiting," as the Germans call it), Partridge-shooting, Fox- and Wolf-hunting;-- on all grand expeditions of such sort, little Fritz shall ride with Papa and party. Rough furious riding; now on swift steed, now at places on WURSTWAGEN,--WURSTWAGEN, "Sausage-Car" so called, most Spartan of vehicles, a mere STUFFED POLE or "sausage" with wheels to it, on which you sit astride, a dozen or so of you, and career;--regardless of the summer heat and sandy dust, of the winter's frost-storms and muddy rain. All this the little Crown-Prince is bound to do;--but likes it less and less, some of us are sorry to observe! In fact he could not take to hunting at all, or find the least of permanent satisfaction in shooting partridges and baiting sows,--"with such an expenditure of industry and such damage to the seedfields," he would sometimes allege in extenuation. In later years he has been known to retire into some glade of the thickets, and hold a little Flute-Hautbois Concert with his musical comrades, while the sows were getting baited. Or he would converse with Mamma and her Ladies, if her Majesty chanced to be there, in a day for open driving. Which things by no means increased his favor with Papa, a sworn hater of "effeminate practices."

He was "nourished on beer-soup," as we said before. Frugality, activity, exactitude were lessons daily and hourly brought home to him, in everything he did and saw. His very sleep was stingily meted out to him: "Too much sleep stupefies a fellow!" Friedrich Wilhelm was wont to say;--so that the very doctors had to interfere, in this matter, for little Fritz. Frugal enough, hardy enough; urged in every way to look with indifference on hardship, and take a Spartan view of life.

Money-allowance completely his own, he does not seem to have had till he was seventeen. Exiguous pocket-money, counted in GROSCHEN (English PENCE, or hardly more), only his Kalkstein and Finkenstein could grant as they saw good;--about eighteenpence in the month, to start with, as would appear. The other small incidental moneys, necessary for his use, were likewise all laid out under sanction of his Tutors, and accurately entered in Day-books by them, audited by Friedrich Wilhelm; of which some specimens remain, and one whole month, September, 1719 (the Boy's eighth year), has been published. Very singular to contemplate, in these days of gold-nuggets and irrational man-mountains fattened by mankind at such a price! The monthly amount appears to have been some 3 pounds 10 shillings:--and has gone, all but the eighteenpence of sovereign pocket-money, for small furnishings and very minute necessary luxuries;--as thus:-- "To putting his Highness's shoes on the last;" for stretching them to the little feet,--and only one "last," as we perceive. "To twelve yards of Hairtape,"--HAARBAND, for our little queue, which becomes visible here. "For drink-money to the Postilions." "For the Housemaids at Wusterhausen," Don't I pay them myself? objects the auditing Papa, at that latter kind of items: No more of that. "For mending the flute, four GROSCHEN [or pence];" "Two Boxes of Colors, sixteen ditto;" "For a live snipe, twopence;" "For grinding the hanger [little swordkin];" "To a Boy whom the dog bit;" and chiefly of all, "To the KLINGBEUTEL,"-- Collection-plate, or bag, at Church,--which comes upon us once, nay twice, and even thrice a week, eighteenpence each time, and eats deep into our straitened means. [Preuss, i. 17.]


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