A very rough Document, giving Friedrich Wilhelm's regulations on this subject, from his own hand, has come down to us. Most dull, embroiled, heavy Document; intricate, gnarled, and, in fine, rough and stiff as natural bull-headedness helped by Prussian pipe-clay can make it;--contains some excellent hints, too; and will show us something of Fritzchen and of Friedrich Wilhelm both at once. That is to say, always, if it can be read! If by aid of abridging, elucidating and arranging, we can get the reader engaged to peruse it patiently;--which seems doubtful. The points insisted on, in a ponderous but straggling confused manner, by his didactic Majesty, are chiefly these:-- 1. Must impress my Son with a proper love and fear of God, as the foundation and sole pillar of our temporal and eternal welfare. No false religions, or sects of Atheist, Arian (ArRian), Socinian, or whatever name the poisonous things have, which can so easily corrupt a young mind, are to be even named in his hearing: on the other hand, a proper abhorrence (ABSCHEU) of Papistry, and insight into its baselessness and nonsensicality (UNGRUND UND ABSURDITAT), is to be communicated to him:"--Papistry, which is false enough, like the others, but impossible to be ignored like them; mention that, and give him due abhorrence for it. For we are Protestant to the bone in this country; and cannot stand ABSURDITAT, least of all hypocritically religious ditto! But the grand thing will be, "To impress on him the true religion, which consists essentially in this, That Christ died for all men," and generally that the Almighty's justice is eternal and omnipresent, --"which consideration is the only means of keeping a sovereign person (SOUVERAINE MACHT), or one freed from human penalties, in the right way." 2. "He is to learn no Latin;" observe that, however it may surprise you. What has a living German man and King, of the eighteenth Christian SOECULUM, to do with dead old Heathen Latins, Romans, and the lingo THEY spoke their fraction of sense and nonsense in? Frightful, how the young years of the European Generations have been wasted, for ten centuries back; and the Thinkers of the world have become mere walking Sacks of Marine-stores, "GELEHRTEN, Learned," as they call themselves; and gone LOST to the world, in that manner, as a set of confiscated Pedants;--babbling about said Heathens, and THEIR extinct lingo and fraction of sense and nonsense, for the thousand years last past! Heathen Latins, Romans;--who perhaps were no great things of Heathen, after all, if well seen into? I have heard judges say, they were INferior, in real worth and grist, to German home-growths we have had, if the confiscated Pedants could have discerned it! At any rate, they are dead, buried deep, these two thousand years; well out of our way;--and nonsense enough of our own left, to keep sweeping into corners. Silence about their lingo and them, to this new Crown-Prince! "Let the Prince learn French and German," so as to write and speak, "with brevity and propriety," in these two languages, which may be useful to him in life. That will suffice for languages,--provided he have anything effectually rational to say in them. For the rest, 3. "Let him learn Arithmetic, Mathematics, Artillery,-- Economy to the very bottom." And, in short, useful knowledge generally; useless ditto not at all. "History in particular;-- Ancient History only slightly (NUR UBERHIN);--but the History of the last hundred and fifty Years to the exactest pitch. The JUS NATURALE and JUS GENTIUM," by way of hand-lamp to History, "he must be completely master of; as also of Geography, whatever is remarkable in each Country. And in Histories, most especially the History of the house of Brandenburg; where he will find domestic examples, which are always of more force than foreign. And along with Prussian History, chiefly that of the Countries which have been connected with it, as England, Brunswick, Hessen and the others. And in reading of wise History-books there must be considerations made (
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.
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
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.
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.