The things ordered with such rigorous minuteness, if but arbitrary things, were apt to be neglected; the things forbidden, especially in the like case, were apt to become doubly tempting. It appears, the prohibition of Latin gave rise to various attempts, on the part of Friedrich, to attain that desirable Language. Secret lessons, not from Duhan, but no doubt with Duhan's connivance, were from time to time undertaken with this view: once, it is recorded, the vigilant Friedrich Wilhelm, going his rounds, came upon Fritz and one of his Preceptors (not Duhan but a subaltern) actually engaged in this illicit employment. Friedrich himself was wont to relate this anecdote in after 1ife. [Busching,
Friedrich's Latin could never come to much, under these impediments. But he retained some smatterings of it in mature life; and was rather fond of producing his classical scraps,-- often in an altogether mouldy, and indeed hitherto inexplicable condition.
The worst fruit of these contraband operations was, that they involved the Boy in clandestine practices, secret disobediences, apt to be found out from time to time, and tended to alienate his Father from him. Of which sad mutual humor we already find traces in that early Wusterhausen Document: "Not to be so dirty," says the reproving Father. And the Boy does not take to hunting at all, likes verses, story-books, flute-playing better; seems to be of effeminate tendencies, an EFFEMINIRTER KERL; affects French modes, combs out his hair like a cockatoo, the foolish French fop, instead of conforming to the Army-regulation, which prescribes close-cropping and a club!
This latter grievance Friedrich Wilhelm decided, at last, to abate, and have done with; this, for one. It is an authentic fact, though not dated,--dating perhaps from about Fritz's fifteenth year. "Fritz is a QUERPFEIFER UND POET," not a Soldier! would his indignant Father growl; looking at those foreign effeminate ways of his. QUERPFEIFE, that is simply "German-flute," "CROSS-PIPE" (or FIFE of any kind, for we English have thriftily made two useful words out of the Deutsch root); "Cross-pipe," being held across the mouth horizontally. Worthless employment, if you are not born to be of the regimental band! thinks Friedrich Wilhelm. Fritz is celebrated, too, for his fine foot; a dapper little fellow, altogether pretty in the eyes of simple female courtiers, with his blond locks combed out at the temples, with his bright eyes, sharp wit, and sparkling capricious ways. The cockatoo locks, these at least we will abate! decides the Paternal mind.
And so, unexpectedly, Friedrich Wilhelm has commanded these bright locks, as contrary to military fashion, of which Fritz has now unworthily the honor of being a specimen, to be ruthlessly shorn away. Inexorable: the HOF-CHIRURGUS (Court-Surgeon, of the nature of Barber-Surgeon), with scissors and comb, is here; ruthless Father standing by. Crop him, my jolly Barber; close down to the accurate standard; soaped club, instead of flowing locks; we suffer no exceptions in this military department: I stand here till it is done. Poor Fritz, they say, had tears in his eyes; but what help in tears? The judicious Chirurgus, however, proved merciful. The judicious Chirurgus struck in as if nothing loath, snack, snack; and made a great show of clipping. Friedrich Wilhelm took a newspaper till the job were done; the judicious Barber, still making a great show of work, combed back rather than cut off these Apollo locks; did Fritz accurately into soaped club, to the cursory eye; but left him capable of shaking out his chevelure again on occasion,--to the lasting gratitude of Fritz. [Preuss, i. 16.]
THE NOLTENIUS-AND-PANZENDORF DRILL-EXERCISE.
On the whole, as we said, a youth needs good assimilating power, if he is to grow in this world! Noltenius aud Panzendorf, for instance, they were busy "teaching Friedrich religion." Rather a strange operation this too, if we were to look into it. We will not look too closely. Another pair of excellent most solemn drill-sergeants, in clerical black serge; they also are busy instilling dark doctrines into the bright young Boy, so far as possible; but do not seem at any time to have made too deep an impression on him. May we not say that, in matter of religion too, Friedrich was but ill-bested? Enlightened Edict-of-Nantes Protestantism, a cross between Bayle and Calvin: that was but indifferent babe's milk to the little creature. Nor could Noltenius's Catechism, and ponderous drill-exercise in orthodox theology, much inspire a clear soul with pieties, and tendencies to soar Heavenward.
Alas, it is a dreary litter indeed, mere wagon-load on wagon-load of shot-rubbish, that is heaped round this new human plant, by Noltenius and Company, among others. A wonder only that they did not extinguish all Sense of the Highest in the poor young soul, and leave only a Sense of the Dreariest and Stupidest. But a healthy human soul can stand a great deal. The healthy soul shakes off, in an unexpectedly victorious manner, immense masses of dry rubbish that have been shot upon it by its assiduous pedagogues and professors. What would become of any of us otherwise! Duhan, opening the young soul, by such modest gift as Duhan had, to recognize black from white a little, in this embroiled high Universe, is probably an exception in some small measure. But, Duhan excepted, it may be said to have been in spite of most of his teachers, and their diligent endeavors, that Friedrich did acquire some human piety; kept the sense of truth alive in his mind; knew, in whatever words he phrased it, the divine eternal nature of Duty; and managed, in the muddiest element and most eclipsed Age ever known, to steer by the heavenly loadstars and (so we must candidly term it) to FOLLOW God's Law; in some measure, with or without Noltenius for company. Noltenius's CATECHISM, or ghostly Drill-manual for Fritz, at least the Catechism he had plied Wilhelmina with, which no doubt was the same, is still extant. [Preuss, i. 15;--specimens of it in Rodenbeck.] A very abstruse Piece; orthodox Lutheran-Calvinist, all proved from Scripture; giving what account it can of this unfathomable Universe, to the young mind. To modern Prussians it by no means shines as the indubitablest Theory of the Universe. Indignant modern Prussians produce excerpts from it, of an abstruse nature; and endeavor to deduce therefrom some of Friedrich's aberrations in matters of religion, which became notorious enough by and by. Alas, I fear, it would not have been easy, even for the modern Prussian, to produce a perfect Catechism for the use of Friedrich; this Universe still continues a little abstruse!