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Elector, receiving along with his instructions a powder which he was to swallow as soon as he had perpetrated the deed. It was warranted to make him invisible, but Pegenau distrusting its efficacy, gave it to a dog, who died howling before his eyes. The record ends with the sentence of death passed on him, and we learn no more about the feud. Indeed there is something extremely tantalising in Dr. Weber's communications, although their incompleteness is an evidence of their authenticity so far as they go.
The practice of resorting to reprisals for redress lasted till far into the eighteenth century, and was especially congenial to the temper of Mr. Carlyle's pattern monarch, Frederic William, whose inordinate passion for giants was constantly engaging him in discreditable broils. The audacity of his recruiting officers or crimps, stimulated by high rewards and severe threats, grew to such a height that no country in Europe was safe from outrage, and it was found necessary to make an example of some of them. Two were shot, and a third hanged,
a in Maestricht, in 1733. Frederic William retaliated by arresting several officers of the Low Countries who chanced to be in his dominions, and by demanding 250,000 dollars from the Dutch Commissaries in Königsberg, under a threat of levying contributions on the warehouses belonging to the Dutch. This difference was arranged; but, six years afterwards, a Prussian officer, taken in the mainour, was hanged at Liège, in full uniform, with the Order of Merit round his neck.
The Prussian ambassador at the English Court, M. de Bork, had contrived, by force or fraud, to export a good many subjects of his Britannic Majesty, which was the more irritating because, as is well known, his master and George II. cordially hated each other, and were with difficulty prevented from fighting a duel, for which the preliminary arrangements had actually been made. Whilst de Bork was absent on leave, the English Government took the opportunity to request that he might be replaced, as in case of his return he would be exposed to illtreatment from the mob. The King of Prussia refused to recall him, and accompanied the refusal with an intimation that whatever was done to the Prussian minister in London should be done to the English minister in Berlin.
A tall tenant of the Circensian Abbey of Paradies, in Poland, had long been watched with desiring eyes by the Prussian crimps. Aware of his danger, he never ventured across the boundary, and frequently shifted his night quarters. It was shrewdly guessed, however, that he would remain at home during the confinement of his wife ; and, on the occurrence of
this event, a recruiting party broke into his house, found the couple in bed together, and immediately proceeded to bind and carry him off. In the darkness and confusion, instead of tying his legs, as they intended, they fastened one of his legs to one of his wife's, and pulled her out of bed along with him. She died from fright and exhaustion; but this trifling mishap was disregarded by the captors, who bore off their prize exultingly, turning a deaf ear to the moans of the dying woman and the despairing cries of her bereaved helpmate. The Abbot of Paradies claimed his liegeman. The Prussians held him fast, and the abbot, a true member of the Church militant, seized, as hostages, several traders from the Prussian town of Züllichan, who were attending a market near the abbey, and, to the demand for their restitution, gallantly replied that he would keep them till his tall farmer was released. The result is graphically described in a magisterial report.
On the 21st of March, 1740, at six in the morning, a company of musqueteers and a troop of hussars, reinforced by a number of townsmen from Züllichan, about 400 in alí, appeared before the abbey-gate, with waggons laden with grenades, scaling-ladders, and other munitions of war. Prior to the assault, they were formed in three divisions
one to attack the convent outwork, one the hospital-gate, and the third to act as a corps of observation and reserve.
The monks opposed only a passive resistance, and breaches were speedily effected with levers and axes. Father Deodatus, the first monk who encountered the enemy, received a sabre-cut in the head. Father Amadeus, besides having his ears boxed, was thrown into agonies of fear by a sabre drawn backwards and forwards under his nose, and compelled to act as guide to the abbey, which was speedily cleared of all its valuables, sncred and profane. The prior, who, like Prior Eustace in the • Monastery,' took the post of danger properly appertaining to his superior, ventured to demand their business, and ran imminent risk of being sabred and bayonetted for his pains. A hussar aimed a blow at him, which was providentially intercepted by a vine-branch. The monks were assembled in the church, to celebrate a religious feast, the saint day of St. Benedict. The assailants mingled with the congregation; and after vainly calling for the prior, who had wisely withdrawn, proceeded to cuff, kick, and push about the monks, vowing that, if any defence were attempted, they would set fire to the cloisters. Much to the relief of the pious sufferers, the trumpets at length sounded the retreat. The concluding demand of the commander was a florin for each of his people, by way of re
muneration for the fatigue they had undergone; but he was obliged to rest satisfied with an assurance that there was no money in the establishment. At last the troops marched off, to the cry of · Victory! See what the Brandenburghers are capable of l' to which the hussar captain added, “ If you try • reprisals again, we shall pay you a second visit.'
Another inroad of three hundred Prussians into Poland, for a similar purpose, did not turn out quite so well for the Brandenburghers. They were driven back in confusion; and the Russian ambassador notified the intention of his government to resent any future invasion of the kind. On hearing this, the King flung a dish, with all its contents, at the head of the officer who had planned the assault of the abbey,
It will be remembered that Mr. Carlyle invites us to pity a 'man of genius' mounted on his hobby, and makes the 'poetic temperament' answerable for the aberrations of a despot who had no one quality of genius but its wilfulness — who was the most essentially prosaic and stupidly practical of human beings -- who understood no argument but force - who used no instrument of persuasion but the cudgel — whose administration of justice resembled that of the Tartar monarch who caused the stomach of a wretch to be ripped open, to see if the stolen milk was in it- and whose economy, financial and political, was that of the savage who cuts down the tree to get at the fruit. Unlike the wordy commonplace absurdities of his contemporary and countryman, Sir Archibald Alison, Mr. Carlyle's paradoxes exercise a widespread and baleful influence on many of the most promising of the rising generation in both hemispheres, who reverence him as a prophet. We were, therefore, not sorry to find in the book before us some new and curious illustrations of his fallibility, in the shape of detailed and decided proofs that what he would fain pass off as the incidental caprices or weaknesses of his patriot-king formed, in fact, the very staple of the character. The greater part of them have been derived from the despatches of the Count de Manteuffel, Saxon Minister at Berlin, who was in the habit of transmitting to his Court reports resembling those which were regularly required by the Venetian republic, in its palmy days, from its ambassadors. An English minister at the Court of Berlin at a somewhat later period, whose credit for priority of information was at stake, took the bold and self-sacrificing step of making love to the unattractive wife of a colleague who had access to her husband's cabinet. The Count de Manteuffel was not a whit more scrupulous in his sources of information ; and so long as the tobacco-parliaments lasted, he experienced little difficulty in ascertaining what
was said or done at its sittings, or elsewhere, by its royal president.
The extravagance of Frederic William's passion for giants very far exceeds the popular estimate of it, based on three or four good stories which many believe to be apocryphal. He procured, through his emissaries, a registry of all the tall men in Saxony, and was constantly intriguing or conspiring for the legal or illegal possession of some of them. Dr. Weber prints the heads of a contract for the exchange of various rarities and objects of art, to be selected from the Prussian museums, for tall fellows (lange Kerls). He enumerates a collection of medals ; statues of Diana, Priapus, and Momus; an equestrian statue; a bronze St. George, and rare skins from the Indies; the whole valued at 500,000 dollars. The tall Saxons were put down by the Prussian negotiator at the low figure of 300 dollars a head, which so disgusted the Saxon agent that he broke off the bargain. . Marshal von Flemming sold the King two recruits for a sum of money and the pardon of M. de Sparfeld.' The King of Denmark, after vainly demanding, upon the faith of treaties and international law, the extradition of a criminal (Prætorius, who had murdered Count Christian von Rantzan), bought him for a dozen tall men. The Bishop of Wilna, a Polish refugee, had procured a safe-conduct by a promise of giants, which he failed to supply. He was consequently detained at Tilsit; and the Count de Manteuffel, when requested to intercede for him, writes :
'Je m'emploierois volontiers pour son élargissement s'il était accusé d'avoir voulu p. e. détrôner le Roi de Prusse ou attenter à sa vie, mais que de parler pour quelqu'un qui a promis des grands hommes, ce seroit m’exposer à tout qui pouvoit m'arriver de facheux sans la moindre espérance de réussir.'
The commanders of companies were often placed in the most embarrassing dilemma, for the King required them to have lange • Kerls,' and if possible foreigners, on the right flank. If they were found wanting, cassation (breaking) and Spandau was the word. In November 1739, a major was sent to Spandau for six years for having no tall foreign recruits. In the preceding June two majors were broken in front of their regiments for no other assignable delinquency. One of them, Thatt, had already spent 10,000 dollars, probably his whole fortune, in tall recruits. A
A foreign fugleman, who had cost his captain 1500 dollars, got drunk, fell from a bridge into the Spree, and was drowned. The captain complained to the King, alleging that the loss had arisen through the negligence of the bridge superintendent, who should have seen to the security of the balustrade. His Majesty
took this view of the question, and quartered a subaltern with six men on the superintendent till he replaced the soldier or compensated the captain.
A rich resident of Amsterdam had relatives in Prussia, whom, not being on good terms with them, he declared his intention to cut off with a shilling on his decease. The relatives applied to the King, and promised him a number of grosse Kerls,' if he would send their wealthy cousin to Spandau for life. The proposition was favourably received : and the Amsterdam cousin, lured into Prussia on some pretence or another, was seized and sent to Spandau, where he remained till the King's death.
His Majesty's notions of justice were equally under the influence of the poetic temperament' when he was not mounted on his favourite hobby. On August 22, 1736, he was walking in the garden smoking his pipe, when there appeared before him the wife of a hautboy-player, named Fischbach, to complain of her husband for adultery with a girl. The accused was confronted with her, and a scene of rude altercation ensued; in the course of which he admitted his intimacy with the girl, but denied its criminality, as well as all knowledge of what had become of her. On the assertion of the wife that their son, fourteen years old, was privy to the father's infidelity and the place of concealment of the girl, the lad was sent for and examined. A storm arising during the inquiry, the King, instead of adjourning it within doors, ordered a tent to be pitched. The son was as obstinate or honestly ignorant as the father, and two buffoon attendants of the King tried to make him speak by caning him, which simply had the
common effect of torture in inducing him to heap story upon story to obtain momentary relief. His tormentors did not give over till he was nearer dead than alive with pain and terror. Determined not to be baffled, the Prussian Solon caused Fischbach to be brought before him again, and as he still refused to give information against his supposed paramour, four noncommissioned officers were ordered to cudgel him, which they did with such severity that, adds an eyewitness, Manteuffel, it was a wonder he survived. He never uttered a syllable, preferring to die under the cane than betray his beloved. The concluding words of the report are remark
J'avoue que cette exécution m'a inspiré une terreur dont je ne suis
pas encore revenu : l'opiniâtreté du hautbois et de son fils m'a frappé, mais moins que la iranquillité avec laquelle on voyait tourmenter ces malheureux.'