广西投资促进信息平台--广西频道--人民网

As the prince was anxious to come up with his majesty again, and knew not where he would meet him, we had to be very swift in the business. We found the king, with Anhalt and Winterfeld, by-and-by, sitting in a village in front of a barn, eating a cold pie there which the Marquis of Anhalt chanced to180 have with him. His majesty, owing to what he had seen on the parade-ground, was in the utmost ill-humor. Next day, Saturday, he went a hundred and fifty or two hundred miles, and arrived in Berlin at ten oclock at night, not expected there till the morrow, so that his rooms were locked, her majesty being over in Monbijou giving her children a ball.

He conversed cheerfully upon literature, history, and the common topics of the day. But he seemed studiously to avoid any allusion to God, to the subject of religion, or to death. He had from his early days very emphatically expressed his disbelief in any God who took an interest in the affairs of men. Throughout his whole life he had abstained from any recognition of such a God by any known acts of prayer or worship. Still Mr. Carlyle writes:

The months rolled rapidly on, and Fritz, having entered his fourteenth year, was appointed by his father, in May, 1725, captain in the Potsdam Grenadier Guard. This giant regiment has attained world-wide renown, solely from the peculiarity of its organization. Such a body of men never existed before, never will again. It was one of the singular freaks of the Prussian king to form a grenadier guard of men of gigantic stature. In the prosecution of this senseless aim not only his own realms were ransacked, but Europe and even Asia was explored in search of giants. The army was with Frederick William the great object of life, and the giant guard was the soul of the army. This guard consisted of three battalions, 800 in each, 2400 in all. The shortest of the men were nearly seven feet high. The tallest were almost nine feet in height. They had been gathered, at an enormous expense, out of every country where they could be found. No greater favor could be conferred upon the king than to obtain for him a giant. Many amusing anecdotes are related of the stratagems to which the king resorted to obtain these mammoth soldiers. Portraits were painted of all of them. Frederick William paid very little regard to individual rights or to the law of nations if any chance presented itself by which he could seize upon one of these monster men. Reigning in absolutism, compared with which the despotism of Turkey is mild, if he found in his domains any young woman of remarkable stature, he would compel her to marry one of his giants. It does not, however, appear that he thus succeeded in perpetuating a gigantic race.

There was to be a grand review on the parade-ground just out from Berlin, at which the French embassy was to be present. The king caused a party equal in number, composed of the lowest of the people, to be dressed in an enormous exaggeration of the French costume. Their cocked hats were nearly a yard in diameter. Immense wigs reached to their heels; and all other parts of the French court costume were caricatured in the most grotesque manner possible. As soon as the French embassy appeared, there was a great sound of trumpets and martial bands from another part of the field, and these harlequins were brought forward to the gaze of every eye, and conspicuously to the view of Count Rothenburg and his companions. Military discipline prevented any outburst of derisive laughter. Perfect silence reigned. The king sat upon his horse as stolid and grim as fate. Count Rothenburg yielded to this gross discourtesy of the king, and ever after, while he remained in Berlin, wore a plain German costume.

From this exhausting journey for so old a man the king returned to Potsdam through a series of state dinners, balls, and illuminations. On the night of the 18th of September he was awoke by a very severe fit of suffocation. It was some time before he could get any relief, and it was thought that he was dying. The next day gout set in severely. This was followed by dropsy. The king suffered severely through the winter. There is no royal road through the sick-chamber to the tomb. The weary months of pain and languor came and went. The renowned Mirabeau visited the king in his sick-chamber on the 17th of April, 1786. He writes: