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means of softening. He diverted his mind from the scenes about him by studies and liberal amusements. The studies of princes seldom produce great effects, for princes draw with meaner mortals the lot of understanding; and since of many students not more than one can be hoped to advance far towards perfection, it is scarcely to be expected that we should find that one a prince; that the desire of science should overpower in any mind the love of pleasure, when it is always present, or always within call; that laborious meditation should be preferred in the days of youth to amusements and festivity ; or that perseverance should
forward in contempt of flattery: and that he, in whom moderate acquisitions would be extolled as prodigies, should exact from himself that excellence of which the whole world conspires to spare him the necessity.
In every great performance, perhaps in every great character, part is the gift of nature, part the contribution of accident, and part, very often not the greatest part, the effect of voluntary election, and regular design. The king of Prussia was undoubtedly born with more than common abilities ; but that he has cultivated them with more than common diligence, was probably the effect of his peculiar condition, of that which he then considered as cruelty and misfortune.
In this long interval of unhappiness and obscurity, he acquired skill in the mathematical sciences, such as is said to put him on the level with those who have made them the business of their lives. This is
probably to say too much : the acquisitions of kings are always magnified. His skill in poetry and in the VOL. XII.
French language has been loudly praised by Voltaire, a judge without exception, if his honesty were equal to his knowledge. Musick he not only understands, but practises on the German flute in the highest perfection; so that, according to the regal censure of Philip of Macedon, he may be ashamed to play so well.
He may be said to owe to the difficulties of his youth an advantage less frequently obtained by princes than literature and mathematicks. The necessity of passing his time without pomp, and of partaking of the pleasures and labours of a lower station, made him acquainted with the various forms of life, and with the genuine passions, interests, desires, and distresses, of mankind. Kings, without this help, from temporary infelicity, see the world in a mist, which magnifies every thing near them, and bounds their view to a narrow compass, which few are able to extend by the mere force of curiosity. I have always thought that what Cromwell had more than our lawful kings, he owed to the private condition in which he first entered the world, and in which he long continued : in that state he learned his art of secret transaction, and the knowledge by which he was able to oppose zeal to zeal, and make one enthusiast destroy another.
The king of Prussia gained the same arts, and, being born to fairer opportunities of using them, brought to the throne the knowledge of a private man without the guilt of usurpation. Of this general acquaintance with the world there may be fonnd some traces in his whole life. His conversation is like that of other men upon common topics, his letters have an air of familiar elegance, and his whole conduct is that of a man who has to do with men, and who is not ignorant what motives will prevail over friends or enemies.
In 1740, the old king fell sick, and spoke and acted in his illness with his usual turbulence and roughness, reproaching his physicians in the grossest terms with their unskilfulness and impotence, and imputing to their ignorance or wickedness the pain which their prescriptions failed to relieve. These insults they bore with the submission which is commonly paid to despotiek monarchs; till at last the celebrated Hoffman was consulted, who failing, like the rest, to give ease to his majesty, was, like the rest, treated with injurious language. Hoffman, conscious of his own merit, replied, that he could not bear reproaches which he did not deserve; that he had tried all the remedies that art could supply, or nature could admit; that he was, indeed, a professor by his majesty's bounty ; but that, if his abilities or integrity were doubted, he was willing to leave, not only the University, but the kingdom, and that he could not be driven into any place where the name of Hoffman would want respect. The king, however unrccustomed to such returns, was struck with conviction of his own indecency, told Hoffman, that he had spoken well, and requested him to continue his attendance.
The king, finding his distemper gaining upon his strength, grew at last sensible that his end was approaching, and, ordering the prince to be called to his bed, laid several injunctions upon him, of which one was to perpetuate the tall regiment by continual
recruits, and another to receive his espoused wife. The prince gave him a respectful answer, but wisely avoided to diminish his own right or power by an absolute promise ; and the king died uncertain of the fate of the tall regiment.
The young king began his reign with great expectations, which he has yet surpassed. His father's faults produced many advantages to the first years of his reign. He had an army of seventy thousand men well disciplined, without any imputation of severity to himself, and was master of a vast treasure without the crime or reproach of raising it. It was publickly said in our house of commons, that he had eight millions sterling of our money ; but I believe he that said it had not considered how difficultly eight millions would be found in all the Prussian dominions. Men judge of what they do not see by that which they see. We are used to talk in England of millions with great familiarity, and imagine that there is the same affluence of money in other countries, in countries whose manufactures are few, and commerce little.
Every man's first cares are necessarily domestick. The king, being now no longer under influence, or its appearance, determined how to act towards the unhappy lady who had possessed for seven years the 'empty title of the princess of Prussia. The papers of those times exhibited the conversation of their first interview ; as if the king, who plans campaigns in silence, would not accommodate a difference with his wife, but with writers of news admitted as witnesses. It is certain that he received her as queen, but whether he treats her as a wife is yet in dispute.
In a few days his resolution was known with regard to the tall regiment; for some recruits being offered him, he rejected them; and this body of giants, by continued disregard, mouldered away.
He treated his mother with great respect, ordered that she should bear the title of Queen-mother, and that, instead of addressing him as His Majesty, she should only call him Son.
As he was passing soon after between Berlin and Potsdam, a thousand boys, who had been marke lout for military service, surrounded his coach, and cried out, “ Merciful king ! deliver us from our slavery.” He promised them their liberty, and ordered, the next day, that the badge should be taken off.
He still continued that correspondence with learned men which he began when he was prince; and the eyes of all scholars, a race of mortals formed for dependence, were upon him, as a man likely to renew the times of patronage, and to emulate the bounties of Lewis the Fourteenth.
It soon appeared that he was resolved to govern with very little ministerial assistance: he took cognizance of every thing with his own eyes; declared, that in all contrarieties of interest between him and his subjects, the publick good should have the preference; and in one of the first exertions of regal power banished the prime minister and favourite of his father, as one that had betrayed his master, and abused his trust.
He then declared his resolution to grant a general toleration of religion, and among other liberalities of concession allowed the profession of Free Masonry. It is the great taint of his character, that he has