Read NOTES ON THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF PRUSSIA of The Crown of Wild Olive, free online book, by John Ruskin, on ReadCentral.com.

I am often accused of inconsistency; but believe myself defensible against the charge with respect to what I have said on nearly every subject except that of war. It is impossible for me to write consistently of war, for the groups of facts I have gathered about it lead me to two precisely opposite conclusions.

When I find this the case, in other matters, I am silent, till I can choose my conclusion: but, with respect to war, I am forced to speak, by the necessities of the time; and forced to act, one way or another. The conviction on which I act is, that it causes an incalculable amount of avoidable human suffering, and that it ought to cease among Christian nations; and if therefore any of my boy-friends desire to be soldiers, I try my utmost to bring them into what I conceive to be a better mind. But, on the other hand, I know certainly that the most beautiful characters yet developed among men have been formed in war; that all great nations have been warrior nations, and that the only kinds of peace which we are likely to get in the present age are ruinous alike to the intellect, and the heart.

The lecture on “War,” in this volume, addressed to young soldiers, had for its object to strengthen their trust in the virtue of their profession. It is inconsistent with itself, in its closing appeal to women, praying them to use their influence to bring wars to an end. And I have been hindered from completing my long intended notes on the economy of the Kings of Prussia by continually increasing doubt how far the machinery and discipline of war, under which they learned the art of government, was essential for such lesson; and what the honesty and sagacity of the Friedrich who so nobly repaired his ruined Prussia, might have done for the happiness of his Prussia, unruined.

In war, however, or in peace, the character which Carlyle chiefly loves him for, and in which Carlyle has shown him to differ from all kings up to this time succeeding him, is his constant purpose to use every power entrusted to him for the good of his people; and be, not in name only, but in heart and hand, their king.

Not in ambition, but in natural instinct of duty. Friedrich, born to govern, determines to govern to the best of his faculty. That “best” may sometimes be unwise; and self-will, or love of glory, may have their oblique hold on his mind, and warp it this way or that; but they are never principal with him. He believes that war is necessary, and maintains it; sees that peace is necessary, and calmly persists in the work of it to the day of his death, not claiming therein more praise than the head of any ordinary household, who rules it simply because it is his place, and he must not yield the mastery of it to another.

How far, in the future, it may be possible for men to gain the strength necessary for kingship without either fronting death, or inflicting it, seems to me not at present determinable. The historical facts are that, broadly speaking, none but soldiers, or persons with a soldierly faculty, have ever yet shown themselves fit to be kings; and that no other men are so gentle, so just, or so clear-sighted. Wordsworth’s character of the happy warrior cannot be reached in the height of it but by a warrior; nay, so much is it beyond common strength that I had supposed the entire meaning of it to be metaphorical, until one of the best soldiers of England himself read me the poem, and taught me, what I might have known, had I enough watched his own life, that it was entirely literal. There is nothing of so high reach distinctly demonstrable in Friedrich: but I see more and more, as I grow older, that the things which are the most worth, encumbered among the errors and faults of every man’s nature, are never clearly demonstrable; and are often most forcible when they are scarcely distinct to his own conscience, how much less, clamorous for recognition by others!

Nothing can be more beautiful than Carlyle’s showing of this, to any careful reader of Friedrich. But careful readers are but one in the thousand; and by the careless, the masses of detail with which the historian must deal are insurmountable.

My own notes, made for the special purpose of hunting down the one point of economy, though they cruelly spoil Carlyle’s own current and method of thought, may yet be useful in enabling readers, unaccustomed to books involving so vast a range of conception, to discern what, on this one subject only, may be gathered from that history. On any other subject of importance, similar gatherings might be made of other passages. The historian has to deal with all at once.

I therefore have determined to print here, as a sequel to the Essay on War, my notes from the first volume of Friedrich, on the economies of Brandenburg, up to the date of the establishment of the Prussian monarchy. The economies of the first three Kings of Prussia I shall then take up in Fors Clavigera, finding them fitter for examination in connection with the subject of that book than of this.

I assume, that the reader will take down his first volume of Carlyle, and read attentively the passages to which I refer him. I give the reference first to the largest edition, in six volumes (1858-1865); then, in parenthesis, to the smallest or “people’s edition” (1872-1873). The pieces which I have quoted in my own text are for the use of readers who may not have ready access to the book; and are enough for the explanation of the points to which I wish them to direct their thoughts in reading such histories of soldiers or soldier-kingdoms.

I.

Year 928 to 936. Dawn of Order in Christian Germany.

Book II. Chap. i. (47).

Henry the Fowler, “the beginning of German kings,” is a mighty soldier in the cause of peace; his essential work the building and organization of fortified towns for the protection of men.

Read with utmost care (51), “He fortified towns,” to end of small print. I have added some notes on the matter in my lecture on Giovanni Pisano; but whether you can glance at them or not, fix in your mind this institution of truly civil or civic building in Germany, as distinct from the building of baronial castles for the security of robbers: and of a standing army consisting of every ninth man, called a “burgher” ("townsman") a soldier, appointed to learn that profession that he may guard the walls the exact reverse of our notion of a burgher.

Frederick’s final idea of his army is, indeed, only this.

Brannibor, a chief fortress of the Wends, is thus taken, and further strengthened by Henry the Fowler; wardens appointed for it; and thus the history of Brandenburg begins. On all frontiers, also, this “beginning of German kings” has his “Markgraf.” “Ancient of the marked place.”

II.

936-1000. History of Nascent Brandenburg.

The passage I last desired you to read ends with this sentence: “The sea-wall you build, and what main floodgates you establish in it, will depend on the state of the outer sea.”

From this time forward you have to keep clearly separate in your minds, (A) the history of that outer sea, Pagan Scandinavia, Russia, and Bor-Russia, or Prussia proper; (B) the history of Henry the Fowler’s Eastern and Western Marches; asserting themselves gradually as Austria and the Netherlands; and (C) the history of this inconsiderable fortress of Brandenburg, gradually becoming considerable, and the capital city of increasing district between them. That last history, however, Carlyle is obliged to leave vague and gray for two hundred years after Henry’s death. Absolutely dim for the first century, in which nothing is evident but that its wardens or Markgraves had no peaceable possession of the place. They bring the story of Brandenburg itself down, at any rate, from 936 to 1000.

III.

936-1000. State of the Outer Sea.

Read now Chapter II., wherein you will get account of the beginning of vigorous missionary work on the outer sea, in Prussia proper; of the death of St. Adalbert, and of the purchase of his dead body by the Duke of Poland.

You will not easily understand Carlyle’s laugh in this chapter, unless you have learned yourself to laugh in sadness, and to laugh in love.

“No Czech blows his pipe in the woodlands without certain precautions and preliminary fuglings of a devotional nature.” (Imagine St. Adalbert, in spirit, at the railway station in Birmingham!)

My own main point for notice in the chapter is the purchase of his body for its “weight in gold.” Swindling angels held it up in the scales; it did not weigh so much as a web of gossamer. “Had such excellent odor, too, and came for a mere nothing of gold,” says Carlyle. It is one of the first commercial transactions of Germany, but I regret the conduct of the angels on the occasion. Evangelicalism has been proud of ceasing to invest in relics, its swindling angels helping it to better things, as it supposes. For my own part, I believe Christian Germany could not have bought at this time any treasure more precious; nevertheless, the missionary work itself you find is wholly vain. The difference of opinion between St. Adalbert and the Wends, on Divine matters, does not signify to the Fates. They will not have it disputed about; and end the dispute adversely, to St. Adalbert adversely, even, to Brandenburg and its civilizing power, as you will immediately see.

IV.

1000-1030. History of Brandenburg in Trouble.

Book II. Chap. iii. (59).

The adventures of Brandenburg in contest with Pagan Prussia, irritated, rather than amended, by St. Adalbert. In 1023, roughly, a hundred years after Henry the Fowler’s death, Brandenburg is taken by the Wends, and its first line of Markgraves ended; its population mostly butchered, especially the priests; and the Wends’ God, Triglaph, “something like three whales’ cubs combined by boiling,” set up on the top of St. Mary’s Hill.

Here is an adverse “Doctrine of the Trinity” which has its supporters! It is wonderful, this Tripod and Triglyph three-footed, three-cut faith of the North and South, the leaf of the oxalis, and strawberry, and clover, fostering the same in their simple manner. I suppose it to be the most savage and natural of notions about Deity; a prismatic idol-shape of Him, rude as a triangular log, as a trefoil grass. I do not find how long Triglaph held his state on St. Mary’s Hill. “For a time,” says Carlyle, “the priests all slain or fled shadowy Markgraves the like church and state lay in ashes, and Triglaph, like a triple porpoise under the influence of laudanum, stood, I know not whether on his head or his tail, aloft on the Harlungsberg, as the Supreme of this Universe for the time being.”

V.

1030-1130. Brandenburg under the Ditmarsch Markgraves, or Ditmarsch-Stade Markgraves.

Book II. Chap. iii. (60).

Of Anglish, or Saxon breed. They attack Brandenburg, under its Triglyphic protector, take it dethrone him, and hold the town for a hundred years, their history “stamped beneficially on the face of things, Markgraf after Markgraf getting killed in the business. ‘Erschlagen,’ ‘slain,’ fighting with the Heathen say the old books, and pass on to another.” If we allow seven years to Triglaph we get a clear century for these as above indicated. They die out in 1130.

VI.

1130-1170. Brandenburg under Albert the Bear.

Book II. Chap iv. (64).

He is the first of the Ascanien Markgraves, whose castle of Ascanica is on the northern slope of the Hartz Mountains, “ruins still dimly traceable.”

There had been no soldier or king of note among the Ditmarsch Markgraves, so that you will do well to fix in your mind successively the three men, Henry the Fowler, St. Adalbert, and Albert the Bear. A soldier again, and a strong one. Named the Bear only from the device on his shield, first wholly definite Markgraf of Brandenburg that there is, and that the luckiest of events for Brandenburg.

Nothing better is known to me of Albert the Bear than his introducing large numbers of Dutch Netherlanders into those countries; men thrown out of work, who already knew how to deal with bog and sand, by mixing and delving, and who first taught Brandenburg what greenness and cow-pasture was. The Wends, in presence of such things, could not but consent more and more to efface themselves either to become German, and grow milk and cheese in the Dutch manner, or to disappear from the world.

After two-hundred and fifty years of barking and worrying, the Wends are now finally reduced to silence; their anarchy well buried and wholesome Dutch cabbage planted over it; Albert did several great things in the world; but this, for posterity, remains his memorable feat. Not done quite easily, but done: big destinies of nations or of persons are not founded gratis in this world, He had a sore, toilsome time of it, coercing, warring, managing among his fellow-creatures, while his day’s work lasted fifty years or so, for it began early. He died in his castle of Ballenstaedt, peaceably among the Hartz Mountains at last, in the year 1170, age about sixty-five.

Now, note in all this the steady gain of soldiership enforcing order and agriculture, with St. Adalbert giving higher strain to the imagination. Henry the Fowler establishes walled towns, fighting for mere peace. Albert the Bear plants the country with cabbages, fighting for his cabbage-fields. And the disciples of St. Adalbert, generally, have succeeded in substituting some idea of Christ for the idea of Triglaph. Some idea only; other ideas than of Christ haunt even to this day those Hartz Mountains among which Albert the Bear dies so peacefully. Mephistopheles, and all his ministers, inhabit there, commanding mephitic clouds and earth-born dreams.

VII.

1170-1320. Brandenburg 150 years under the Ascanien Markgraves.

Vol. I. Book II Chap. viii. (96).

“Wholesome Dutch cabbages continued to be more and more planted by them in the waste sand: intrusive chaos, and Triglaph held at bay by them,” till at last in 1240, seventy years after the great Bear’s death, they fortify a new Burg, a “little rampart,” Wehrlin, diminutive of Wehr (or vallum), gradually smoothing itself, with a little echo of the Bear in it too, into Ber-lin, the oily river Spree flowing by, “in which you catch various fish;” while trade over the flats and by the dull streams, is widely possible. Of the Ascanien race, the notablest is Otto with the Arrow, whose story see, noting that Otto is one of the first Minnesingers; that, being a prisoner to the Archbishop of Magdeburg, his wife rescues him, selling her jewels to bribe the canons; and that the Knight, set free on parole and promise of farther ransom, rides back with his own price in his hand; holding himself thereat cheaply bought, though no angelic legerdemain happens to the scales now. His own estimate of his price “Rain gold ducats on my war-horse and me, till you cannot see the point of my spear atop.”

Emptiness of utter pride, you think?

Not so. Consider with yourself, reader, how much you dare to say, aloud, you are worth. If you have no courage to name any price whatsoever for yourself, believe me, the cause is not your modesty, but that in very truth you feel in your heart there would be no bid for you at Lucian’s sale of lives, were that again possible, at Christie and Manson’s.

Finally (1319 exactly; say 1320, for memory), the Ascanien line expired in Brandenburg, and the little town and its electorate lapsed to the Kaiser: meantime other economical arrangements had been in progress; but observe first how far we have got.

The Fowler, St. Adalbert and the Bear have established order, and some sort of Christianity; but the established persons begin to think somewhat too well of themselves. On quite honest terms, a dead saint or a living knight ought to be worth their true “weight in gold.” But a pyramid, with only the point of the spear seen at top, would be many times over one’s weight in gold. And although men were yet far enough from the notion of modern days, that the gold is better than the flesh, and from buying it with the clay of one’s body, and even the fire of one’s soul, instead of soul and body with it, they were beginning to fight for their own supremacy, or for their own religious fancies, and not at all to any useful end, until an entirely unexpected movement is made in the old useful direction forsooth, only by some kind ship-captains of Luebeck!

VIII.

1210-1320. Civil work, aiding military, during the Ascanien period.

Vol. I. Book II. Chap. vi. (77).

In the year 1190, Acre not yet taken, and the crusading army wasting by murrain on the shore, the German soldiers especially having none to look after them, certain compassionate ship-captains of Luebeck, one Walpot von Bassenheim taking the lead, formed themselves into an union for succor of the sick and the dying, set up canvas tents from the Luebeck ship stores, and did what utmost was in them silently in the name of mercy and heaven. Finding its work prosper, the little medicinal and weather-fending company took vows on itself, strict chivalry forms, and decided to become permanent “Knights Hospitallers of our dear Lady of Mount Zion,” separate from the former Knights Hospitallers, as being entirely German: yet soon, as the German Order of St. Mary, eclipsing in importance Templars, Hospitallers, and every other chivalric order then extant; no purpose of battle in them, but much strength for it; their purpose only the helping of German pilgrims. To this only they are bound by their vow, “geluebde,” and become one of the usefullest of clubs in all the Pall Mall of Europe.

Finding pilgrimage in Palestine falling slack, and more need for them on the homeward side of the sea, their Hochmeister, Hermann of the Salza, goes over to Venice in 1210. There the titular bishop of still unconverted Preussen advises him of that field of work for his idle knights. Hermann thinks well of it: sets his St. Mary’s riders at Triglaph, with the sword in one hand and a missal in the other.

Not your modern way of affecting conversion! Too illiberal, you think; and what would Mr. J. S. Mill say?

But if Triglaph had been verily “three whales’ cubs combined by boiling,” you would yourself have promoted attack upon him for the sake of his oil, would not you? The Teutsch Ritters, fighting him for charity, are they so much inferior to you?

They built, and burnt, innumerable stockades for and against; built wooden forts which are now stone towns. They fought much and prevalently; galloped desperately to and fro, ever on the alert. In peaceabler ulterior times, they fenced in the Nogat and the Weichsel with dams, whereby unlimited quagmire might become grassy meadow as it continues to this day. Marienburg (Mary’s Burg), with its grand stone Schloss still visible and even habitable: this was at length their headquarter. But how many Burgs of wood and stone they built, in different parts; what revolts, surprisals, furious fights in woody, boggy places they had, no man has counted.

But always some preaching by zealous monks, accompanied the chivalrous fighting. And colonists came in from Germany; trickling in, or at times streaming. Victorious Ritterdom offers terms to the beaten heathen: terms not of tolerant nature, but which will be punctually kept by Ritterdom. When the flame of revolt or general conspiracy burnt up again too extensively, high personages came on crusade to them. Ottocar, King of Bohemia, with his extensive far-shining chivalry, “conquered Samland in a month;” tore up the Romova where Adalbert had been massacred, and burned it from the face of the earth. A certain fortress was founded at that time, in Ottocar’s presence; and in honor of him they named it King’s Fortress, “Koenigsberg.” Among King Ottocar’s esquires, or subaltern junior officials, on this occasion, is one Rudolf, heir of a poor Swiss lordship and gray hill castle, called Hapsburg, rather in reduced circumstances, whom Ottocar likes for his prudent, hardy ways; a stout, modest, wise young man, who may chance to redeem Hapsburg a little, if he lives.

Conversion, and complete conquest once come, there was a happy time for Prussia; ploughshare instead of sword: busy sea-havens, German towns, getting built; churches everywhere rising; grass growing, and peaceable cows, where formerly had been quagmire and snakes, and for the Order a happy time. On the whole, this Teutsch Ritterdom, for the first century and more, was a grand phenomenon, and flamed like a bright blessed beacon through the night of things, in those Northern countries. For above a century, we perceive, it was the rallying place of all brave men who had a career to seek on terms other than vulgar. The noble soul, aiming beyond money, and sensible to more than hunger in this world, had a beacon burning (as we say), if the night chanced to overtake it, and the earth to grow too intricate, as is not uncommon. Better than the career of stump-oratory, I should fancy, and its Hesperides apples, golden, and of gilt horse-dung. Better than puddling away one’s poor spiritual gift of God (loan, not gift), such as it may be, in building the lofty rhyme, the lofty review article, for a discerning public that has sixpence to spare! Times alter greatly.

We must pause here again for a moment to think where we are, and who is with us. The Teutsch Ritters have been fighting, independently of all states, for their own hand, or St. Adalbert’s; partly for mere love of fight, partly for love of order, partly for love of God. Meantime, other Riders have been fighting wholly for what they could get by it; and other persons, not Riders, have not been fighting at all, but in their own towns peacefully manufacturing and selling.

Of Henry the Fowler’s Marches, Austria has become a military power, Flanders a mercantile one, pious only in the degree consistent with their several occupations. Prussia is now a practical and farming country, more Christian than its longer-converted neighbors.

Towns are built, Koenigsberg (King Ottocar’s town), Thoren (Thorn, City of the Gates), with many others; so that the wild population and the tame now lived tolerably together, under Gospel and Luebeck law; and all was ploughing and trading.

But Brandenburg itself, what of it?

The Ascanien Markgraves rule it on the whole prosperously down to 1320, when their line expires, and it falls into the power of Imperial Austria.

IX.

1320-1415. Brandenburg under the Austrians.

A century the fourteenth of miserable anarchy and decline for Brandenburg, its Kurfuersts, in deadly succession, making what they can out of it for their own pockets. The city itself and its territory utterly helpless. “The towns suffered much, any trade they might have had going to wreck. Robber castles flourished, all else decayed, no highway safe. What are Hamburg pedlars made for but to be robbed?”

X.

1415-1440. Brandenburg under Friedrich of Nueremberg.

This is the fourth of the men whom you are to remember as creators of the Prussian monarchy, Henry the Fowler, St. Adalbert, Albert the Bear, of Ascanien, and Friedrich of Nueremberg; (of Hohenzollern, by name, and by country, of the Black Forest, north of the Lake of Constance).

Brandenburg is sold to him at Constance, during the great Council, for about 200,000l. of our money, worth perhaps a million in that day; still, with its capabilities, “dog cheap.” Admitting, what no one at the time denied, the general marketableness of states as private property, this is the one practical result, thinks Carlyle (not likely to think wrong), of that oecumenical deliberation, four years long, of the “elixir of the intellect and dignity of Europe. And that one thing was not its doing; but a pawnbroking job, intercalated,” putting, however, at last, Brandenburg again under the will of one strong man. On St. John’s day, 1412, he first set foot in his town, “and Brandenburg, under its wise Kurfuerst, begins to be cosmic again.” The story of Heavy Peg is one of the most brilliant and important passages of the first volume; specially to our purpose, must be given entire:

The offer to be Kaiser was made him in his old days; but he wisely declined that too. It was in Brandenburg, by what he silently founded there, that he did his chief benefit to Germany and mankind. He understood the noble art of governing men; had in him the justness, clearness, valor, and patience needed for that. A man of sterling probity, for one thing. Which indeed is the first requisite in said art: if you will have your laws obeyed without mutiny, see well that they be pieces of God Almighty’s law; otherwise all the artillery in the world will not keep down mutiny.

Friedrich “travelled much over Brandenburg;” looking into everything with his own eyes; making, I can well fancy, innumerable crooked things straight; reducing more and more that famishing dog-kennel of a Brandenburg into a fruitful arable field. His portraits represent a square-headed, mild-looking, solid gentleman, with a certain twinkle of mirth in the serious eyes of him. Except in those Hussite wars for Kaiser Sigismund and the Reich, in which no man could prosper, he may be defined as constantly prosperous. To Brandenburg he was, very literally, the blessing of blessings; redemption out of death into life. In the ruins of that old Friesack Castle, battered down by Heavy Peg, antiquarian science (if it had any eyes) might look for the taproot of the Prussian nation, and the beginning of all that Brandenburg has since grown to under the sun.

Which growth is now traced by Carlyle in its various budding and withering, under the succession of the twelve Electors, of whom Friedrich, with his heavy Peg, is first, and Friedrich, first King of Prussia, grandfather of Friedrich the Great, the twelfth.

XI.

1416-1701. Brandenburg under the Hohenzollern Kurfuersts.

Book III.

Who the Hohenzollerns were, and how they came to power in Nueremberg.

Their succession in Brandenburg is given. I copy it, in absolute barrenness of enumeration, for our momentary convenience, here:

Friedrich 1st of Brandenburg (6th of Nueremberg), 1412-1440
Friedrich II., called “Iron Teeth,”               1440-1472
Albert,                                           1472-1486
Johann,                                           1486-1499
Joachim I.,                                       1499-1535
Joachim II.,                                      1535-1571
Johann George,                                    1571-1598
Joachim Friedrich,                                1598-1608
Johann Sigismund,                                 1608-1619
George Wilhelm,                                   1619-1640
Friedrich Wilhelm (the Great Elector),            1640-1688
Friedrich, first King; crowned 18th January,      1701

Of this line of princes we have to say they followed generally in their ancestor’s steps, and had success of the like kind more or less; Hohenzollerns all of them, by character and behaviour as well as by descent. No lack of quiet energy, of thrift, sound sense. There was likewise solid fair-play in general, no founding of yourself on ground that will not carry, and there was instant, gentle, but inexorable crushing of mutiny, if it showed itself, which after the Second Elector, or at most the Third, it had altogether ceased to do.

This is the general account of them; of special matters note the following:

II. Friedrich, called “Iron-teeth,” from his firmness, proves a notable manager and governor. Builds the palace at Berlin in its first form, and makes it his chief residence. Buys Neumark from the fallen Teutsch Ritters, and generally establishes things on securer footing.

III. Albert, “a fiery, tough old Gentlemen,” called the Achilles of Germany in his day; has half-a-century of fighting with his own Nuerembergers, with Bavaria, France, Burgundy, and its fiery Charles, besides being head constable to the Kaiser among any disorderly persons in the East. His skull, long shown on his tomb, “marvellous for strength and with no visible sutures.”

IV. John, the orator of his race; (but the orations unrecorded). His second son, Archbishop of Maintz, for whose piece of memorable work (143) and read in connection with that the history of Margraf George,(152-154), and the 8th chapter of the third book.

V. Joachim I., of little note; thinks there has been enough Reformation, and checks proceedings in a dull stubbornness, causing him at least grave domestic difficulties.

VI. Joachim II. Again active in the Reformation, and staunch,

though generally in a cautious, weighty, never in a rash, swift way, to the great cause of Protestantism and to all good causes. He was himself a solemnly devout man; deep, awe-stricken reverence dwelling in his view of this universe. Most serious, though with a jocose dialect, commonly having a cheerful wit in speaking to men. Luther’s books he called his Seelenschatz, (soul’s treasure); Luther and the Bible were his chief reading. Fond of profane learning, too, and of the useful or ornamental arts; given to music, and “would himself sing aloud” when he had a melodious leisure hour.

VII. Johann George, a prudent thrifty Herr; no mistresses, no luxuries allowed; at the sight of a new-fashioned coat he would fly out on an unhappy youth and pack him from his presence. Very strict in point of justice; a peasant once appealing to him in one of his inspection journeys through the country

“Grant me justice, Durchlaucht, against so and so; I am your
Highness’s born subject.” “Thou shouldst have it, man, wert
thou a born Turk!” answered Johann George.

Thus, generally, we find this line of Electors representing in Europe the Puritan mind of England in a somewhat duller, but less dangerous, form; receiving what Protestantism could teach of honesty and common sense, but not its anti-Catholic fury, or its selfish spiritual anxiety. Pardon of sins is not to be had from Tetzel; neither, the Hohenzollern mind advises with itself, from even Tetzel’s master, for either the buying, or the asking. On the whole, we had better commit as few as possible, and live just lives and plain ones.

A conspicuous thrift, veracity, modest solidity, looks
through the conduct of this Herr; a determined Protestant he
too, as indeed all the following were and are.

VIII. Joachim Friedrich. Gets hold of Prussia, which hitherto, you observe, has always been spoken of as a separate country from Brandenburg. March 11, 1605 “squeezed his way into the actual guardianship of Preussen and its imbecile Duke, which was his by right.”

For my own part, I do not trouble myself much about these rights, never being able to make out any single one, to begin with, except the right to keep everything and every place about you in as good order as you can Prussia, Poland, or what else. I should much like, for instance, just now, to hear of any honest Cornish gentleman of the old Drake breed taking a fancy to land in Spain, and trying what he could make of his rights as far round Gibraltar as he could enforce them. At all events, Master Joachim has somehow got hold of Prussia; and means to keep it.

IX. Johann Sigismund. Only notable for our economical purposes, as getting the “guardianship” of Prussia confirmed to him. The story(226), “a strong flame of choler,” indicates a new order of things among the knights of Europe “princely etiquettes melting all into smoke.” Too literally so, that being one of the calamitous functions of the plain lives we are living, and of the busy life our country is living. In the Duchy of Cleve, especially, concerning which legal dispute begins in Sigismund’s time. And it is well worth the lawyers’ trouble, it seems.

It amounted, perhaps, to two Yorkshires in extent. A naturally opulent country of fertile meadows, shipping capabilities, metalliferous hills, and at this time, in consequence of the Dutch-Spanish war, and the multitude of Protestant refugees, it was getting filled with ingenious industries, and rising to be what it still is, the busiest quarter of Germany. A country lowing with kine; the hum of the flax-spindle heard in its cottages in those old days “much of the linen called Hollands is made in Juelich, and only bleached, stamped, and sold by the Dutch,” says Buesching. A country in our days which is shrouded at short intervals with the due canopy of coal-smoke, and loud with sounds of the anvil and the loom.

The lawyers took two hundred and six years to settle the question concerning this Duchy, and the thing Johann Sigismund had claimed legally in 1609 was actually handed over to Johann Sigismund’s descendant in the seventh generation. “These litigated duchies are now the Prussian provinces, Juelich, Berg, Cleve, and the nucleus of Prussia’s possessions in the Rhine country.”

X. George Wilhelm. On this Elector and German Protestantism, now fallen cold, and somewhat too little dangerous. But George Wilhelm is the only weak prince of all the twelve. For another example how the heart and life of a country depend upon its prince, not on its council, read this, of Gustavus Adolphus, demanding the cession of Spandau and Kuestrin:

Which cession Kurfuerst George Wilhelm, though giving all his prayers to the good cause, could by no means grant. Gustav had to insist, with more and more emphasis, advancing at last with military menace upon Berlin itself. He was met by George Wilhelm and his Council, “in the woods of Coepenick,” short way to the east of that city; there George Wilhelm and his Council wandered about, sending messages, hopelessly consulting, saying among each other, “Que faire? ils ont des canons.” For many hours so, round the inflexible Gustav, who was there like a fixed mile-stone, and to all questions and comers had only one answer.

On our special question of war and its consequences, read this of the Thirty Years’ one:

But on the whole, the grand weapon in it, and towards the latter times, the exclusive one, was hunger. The opposing armies tried to starve one another; at lowest, tried each not to starve. Each trying to eat the country or, at any rate, to leave nothing eatable in it; what that will mean for the country we may consider. As the armies too frequently, and the Kaiser’s armies habitually, lived without commissariat, often enough without pay, all horrors of war and of being a seat of war, that have been since heard of, are poor to those then practised, the detail of which is still horrible to read. Germany, in all eatable quarters of it, had to undergo the process; tortured, torn to pieces, wrecked, and brayed as in a mortar, under the iron mace of war. Brandenburg saw its towns seized and sacked, its country populations driven to despair by the one party and the other. Three times first in the Wallenstein-Mecklenburg times, while fire and sword were the weapons, and again, twice over, in the ultimate stages of the struggle, when starvation had become the method Brandenburg fell to be the principal theatre of conflict, where all forms of the dismal were at their height. In 1638, three years after that precious “Peace of Prag,"... the ravages of the starving Gallas and his Imperialists excelled all precedent,... men ate human flesh, nay, human creatures ate their own children. “Que faire? ils ont des canons!”

“We have now arrived at the lowest nadir point” (says Carlyle) “of the history of Brandenburg under the Hohenzollerns.” Is this then all that Heavy Peg and our nine Kurfuersts have done for us?

Carlyle does not mean that; but even he, greatest of historians since Tacitus, is not enough careful to mark for us the growth of national character, as distinct from the prosperity of dynasties.

A republican historian would think of this development only, and suppose it to be possible without any dynasties.

Which is indeed in a measure so, and the work now chiefly needed in moral philosophy, as well as history, is an analysis of the constant and prevalent, yet unthought of, influences, which, without any external help from kings, and in a silent and entirely necessary manner, form, in Sweden, in Bavaria, in the Tyrol, in the Scottish border, and on the French sea-coast, races of noble peasants; pacific, poetic, heroic, Christian-hearted in the deepest sense, who may indeed perish by sword or famine in any cruel thirty years’ war, or ignoble thirty years’ peace, and yet leave such strength to their children that the country, apparently ravaged into hopeless ruin, revives, under any prudent king, as the cultivated fields do under the spring rain. How the rock to which no seed can cling, and which no rain can soften, is subdued into the good ground which can bring forth its hundredfold, we forget to watch, while we follow the footsteps of the sower, or mourn the catastrophes of storm. All this while, the Prussian earth the Prussian soul has been thus dealt upon by successive fate; and now, though laid, as it seems, utterly desolate, it can be revived by a few years of wisdom and of peace.

Vol. I. Book III. Chap, xviii. The Great Elector, Friedrich Wilhelm. Eleventh of the dynasty:

There hardly ever came to sovereign power a young man of twenty under more distressing, hopeless-looking circumstances. Political significance Brandenburg had none; a mere Protestant appendage, dragged about by a Papist Kaiser. His father’s Prime Minister, as we have seen, was in the interest of his enemies; not Brandenburg’s servant, but Austria’s. The very commandants of his fortresses, Commandant of Spandau more especially, refused to obey Friedrich Wilhelm on his accession; “were bound to obey the Kaiser in the first place.”

For twenty years past Brandenburg had been scoured by hostile armies, which, especially the Kaiser’s part of which, committed outrages new in human history. In a year or two hence, Brandenburg became again the theatre of business, Austrian Gallas advancing thither again (1644) with intent “to shut up Torstenson and his Swedes in Jutland.” Gallas could by no means do what he intended; on the contrary, he had to run from Torstenson what feet could do; was hunted, he and his Merode Brueder (beautiful inventors of the “marauding” art), till they pretty much all died (crepirten) says Koehler. No great loss to society, the death of these artists, but we can fancy what their life, and especially what the process of their dying, may have cost poor Brandenburg again!

Friedrich Wilhelm’s aim, in this as in other emergencies, was sun-clear to himself, but for most part dim to everybody else. He had to walk very warily, Sweden on one hand of him, suspicious Kaiser on the other: he had to wear semblances, to be ready with evasive words, and advance noiselessly by many circuits. More delicate operation could not be imagined. But advance he did; advance and arrive. With extraordinary talent, diligence, and felicity the young man wound himself out of this first fatal position, got those foreign armies pushed out of his country, and kept them out. His first concern had been to find some vestige of revenue, to put that upon a clear footing, and by loans or otherwise to scrape a little ready-money together. On the strength of which a small body of soldiers could be collected about him, and drilled into real ability to fight and obey. This as a basis: on this followed all manner of things, freedom from Swedish-Austrian invasions, as the first thing. He was himself, as appeared by-and-by, a fighter of the first quality, when it came to that; but never was willing to fight if he could help it. Preferred rather to shift, manoeuvre, and negotiate, which he did in most vigilant, adroit, and masterly manner. But by degrees he had grown to have, and could maintain it, an army of twenty-four thousand men, among the best troops then in being.

To wear semblances, to be ready with evasive words, how is this, Mr. Carlyle? thinks perhaps the rightly thoughtful reader.

Yes, such things have to be; There are lies and lies, and there are truths and truths. Ulysses cannot ride on the ram’s back, like Phryxus; but must ride under his belly. Read also this, presently following:

Shortly after which, Friedrich Wilhelm, who had shone much in the battle of Warsaw, into which he was dragged against his will, changed sides. An inconsistent, treacherous man? Perhaps not, O reader! perhaps a man advancing “in circuits,” the only way he has; spirally, face now to east, now to west, with his own reasonable private aim sun-clear to him all the while?

The battle of Warsaw, three days long, fought with Gustavus, the grandfather of Charles XII., against the Poles, virtually ends the Polish power:

Old Johann Casimir, not long after that peace of Oliva, getting tired of his unruly Polish chivalry and their ways, abdicated retired to Paris, and “and lived much with Ninon de l’Enclos and her circle,” for the rest of his life. He used to complain of his Polish chivalry, that there was no solidity in them; nothing but outside glitter, with tumult and anarchic noise; fatal want of one essential talent, the talent of obeying; and has been heard to prophesy that a glorious Republic, persisting in such courses, would arrive at results which would surprise it.

Onward from this time, Friedrich Wilhelm figures in the world; public men watching his procedure; kings anxious to secure him Dutch print-sellers sticking up his portraits for a hero-worshipping public. Fighting hero, had the public known it, was not his essential character, though he had to fight a great deal. He was essentially an industrial man; great in organizing, regulating, in constraining chaotic heaps to become cosmic for him. He drains bogs, settles colonies in the waste places of his dominions, cuts canals; unweariedly encourages trade and work. The Friedrich Wilhelm’s Canal, which still carries tonnage from the Oder to the Spree, is a monument of his zeal in this way; creditable with the means he had. To the poor French Protestants in the Edict-of-Nantes affair, he was like an express benefit of Heaven; one helper appointed to whom the help itself was profitable. He munificently welcomed them to Brandenburg; showed really a noble piety and human pity, as well as judgment; nor did Brandenburg and he want their reward. Some twenty thousand nimble French souls, evidently of the best French quality, found a home there; made “waste sands about Berlin into potherb gardens;” and in spiritual Brandenburg, too, did something of horticulture which is still noticeable.

Now read carefully the description of the man; the story of the battle of Fehrbellin, “the Marathon of Brandenburg,” and of the winter campaign of 1679, beginning with its week’s marches at sixty miles a day; his wife, as always, being with him;

Louisa, honest and loving Dutch girl, aunt to our William of Orange, who trimmed up her own “Orange-burg” (country-house), twenty miles north of Berlin, into a little jewel of the Dutch type, potherb gardens, training-schools for young girls, and the like, a favorite abode of hers when she was at liberty for recreation. But her life was busy and earnest; she was helpmate, not in name only, to an ever busy man. They were married young; a marriage of love withal. Young Friedrich Wilhelm’s courtship; wedding in Holland; the honest, trustful walk and conversation of the two sovereign spouses, their journeyings together, their mutual hopes, fears, and manifold vicissitudes, till death, with stern beauty, shut it in; all is human, true, and wholesome in it, interesting to look upon, and rare among sovereign persons.

Louisa died in 1667, twenty-one years before her husband, who married again (little to his contentment) died in 1688; and Louisa’s second son, Friedrich, ten years old at his mother’s death, and now therefore thirty-one, succeeds, becoming afterwards Friedrich I. of Prussia.

And here we pause on two great questions. Prussia is assuredly at this point a happier and better country than it was, when inhabited by Wends. But is Friedrich I. a happier and better man than Henry the Fowler? Have all these kings thus improved their country, but never themselves? Is this somewhat expensive and ambitious Herr, Friedrich I. buttoned in diamonds, indeed the best that Protestantism can produce, as against Fowlers, Bears, and Red Beards? Much more, Friedrich Wilhelm, orthodox on predestination; most of all, his less orthodox son; have we, in these, the highest results which Dr. Martin Luther can produce for the present, in the first circles of society? And if not, how is it that the country, having gained so much in intelligence and strength, lies more passively in their power than the baser country did under that of nobler men?

These, and collateral questions, I mean to work out as I can, with Carlyle’s good help; but must pause for this time; in doubt, as heretofore. Only of this one thing I doubt not, that the name of all great kings, set over Christian nations, must at last be, in fufilment, the hereditary one of these German princes, “Rich in Peace;” and that their coronation will be with Wild olive, not with gold.