home birdtext

grandson to the Duke of ?, and inheriting a large property

bird 2023-12-01 18:32:2251749

"Saxony, as Prime Author of this War, was from the first laid hold of, collared tightly: 'Pay the shot, then, what you can' (in the end it was almost what you cannot)! As to Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the grudge against Prussia was of very old standing, some generations now; and the present Duke, not a very wise Sovereign more than his Ancestors, had always been ill with Friedrich; willing to spite and hurt him when possible: in Reichs Diet he, of all German Princes, was the first that voted for Friedrich's being put to Ban of the Reich,--he; and his poor People know since whether that was a wise step! The little Anhalt Princes, too, all the Anhalts, Dessau, Bernburg, Cothen, Zerbst [perhaps the latter partially excepted, for a certain Russian Lady's sake], had voted, or at least had ambiguously half-voted, in favor of the Ban, and done other unfriendly things; and had now to pay dear for their bits of enmities. Poor souls, they had but One Vote among them all Four;-- and they only half gave it, tremulously pulling it back again. I should guess it was their terrors mainly, and over-readiness to reckon Friedrich a sinking ship; and to leap from the deck of him, --with a spurn which he took for insolent! The Anhalt-Dessauers particularly, who were once of his very Army, half Prussians for generations back, he reckoned to have used him scandalously ill.

grandson to the Duke of ?, and inheriting a large property

"This Year the requisition on the Four Anhalts--which they submit to patiently, as people who have leapt into the wrong ship--is, in precise tale: of money, 330,000 thalers (about 50,000 pounds); recruits, 2,200; horses, 1,800. In Saxony, besides the fixed Taxes, strict confiscation of Meissen Potteries and every Royalty, there were exacted heavy 'Contributions,' more and more heavy, from the few opulent Towns, chiefly from Leipzig; which were wrung out, latterly, under great severities,--'chief merchants of Leipzig all clapt in prison, kept on bread-and-water till they yielded,'--AS great severities as would suffice, but NOT greater; which also was noted. Unfortunate chief merchants of Leipzig,--with Bruhl and Polish Majesty little likely to indemnify them! Unfortunate Country altogether. An intelligent Saxon, who is vouched for as impartial, bears witness as follows: 'And this I know, that the oppressions and plunderings of the Austrians and Reichsfolk, in Saxony, turned all hearts away from them; and it was publicly said, We had rather bear the steady burden of the Prussians than such help as these our pretended Deliverers bring.' [Stenzel (citing from KRIEGSKANZLEI, which I have not), v. 137 n.] Whereby, on the whole, the poor Country got its back broken, and could never look up in the world since. Resource FIRST was abundantly severe.

grandson to the Duke of ?, and inheriting a large property

"Resource SECOND is strangest of all;--and has given rise to criticism enough! It is no other than that of issuing base money; mixing your gold and silver coin with copper,--this, one grieves to say, is the Second and extreme resource. (A rude method--would we had a better--of suspending Cash-payments, and paying by bank-notes instead!' thinks Friedrich, I suppose. From his Prussian Mints, from his Saxon [which are his for the present], and from the little Anhalt-Bernburg Mint [of which he expressly purchased the sad privilege,--for we are not a Coiner, we are a King reduced to suspend Cash-payments, for the time being], Friedrich poured out over all Germany, in all manner of kinds, huge quantities of bad Coin. This, so long as it would last, is more and more a copious fountain of supply. This, for the first time, has had to appear as an item in War-Budget 1759: and it fails in no following, but expands more and more. It was done through Ephraim, the not lovely Berlin Jew, whom we used to hear of in Voltaire's time;--through Ephraim and two others, Ephraim as President: in return for a net Sum, these shall have privilege to coin such and such amounts, so and so alloyed; shall pay to General Tauentzien, Army Treasurer, at fixed terms, the Sums specified: 'Go, and do it; our Mint-Officers sharply watching you; Mint-Officers, and General Tauentzien [with a young Herr Lessing, as his Chief Clerk, of whom the King knows nothing]; Go, ye unlovely!' And Ephraim and Company are making a great deal of money by the unlovely job. Ephraim is the pair of tongs, the hand, and the unlovely job, are a royal man's. Alas, yes. And none of us knows better than King Friedrich, perhaps few of us as well, how little lovely a job it was; how shockingly UNkingly it was,--though a practice not unknown to German Kings and Kinglets before his time, and since down almost to ours. [In STENZEL (v. 141) enumeration of eight or nine unhappy Potentates, who were busy with it in those same years.] In fact, these are all unkingly practices;--and the English Subsidy itself is distasteful to a proud Friedrich: but what, in those circumstances, can any Friedrich do?

grandson to the Duke of ?, and inheriting a large property

"The first coinages of Ephraim had, it seems, in them about 3-7ths of copper; something less than the half, and more than the third," --your gold sovereign grown to be worth 28s. 6d. "But yearly it grew worse; and in 1762 [English Subsidy having failed] matters had got inverted; and there was three times as much copper as silver. Commerce, as was natural, went rocking and tossing, as on a sea under earthquakes; but there was always ready money among Friedrich's soldiers, as among no other: nor did the common people, or retail purchasers, suffer by it. 'Hah, an Ephraimite!' they would say, grinning not ill-humoredly, at sight of one of these pieces; some of which they had more specifically named 'BLUE-GOWNS' [owing to a tint of blue perceivable, in spite of the industrious plating in real silver, or at least "boiling in some solution" of it]; these they would salute with this rhyme, then current:--

"Von aussen schon, van innen schlimm; Von aussen Friedrich, von innen Ephraim. Outside noble, inside slim: Outside Friedrich, inside Ephraim.

"By this time, whatever of money, from any source, can be scraped together in Friedrich's world, flows wholly into the Army-Chest, as the real citadel of life. In these latter years of the War, beginning, I could guess, from 1759, all Civil expenditures, and wages of Officials, cease to be paid in money; nobody of that kind sees the color even of bad coin; but is paid only in 'Paper Assignments,' in Promises to Pay 'after the Peace.' These Paper Documents made no pretence to the rank of Currency: such holders of them as had money, or friends, and could wait, got punctual payment when the term did arrive; but those that could not, suffered greatly; having to negotiate their debentures on ruinous terms,-- sometimes at an expense of three-fourths.--I will add Friedrich's practical Schedule of Amounts from all these various Sources; and what Friedrich's own view of the Sources was, when he could survey them from the safe distance.

"SCHEDULE OF AMOUNTS [say for 1761]. To make up the Twenty-five Million thalers, necessary for the Army, there are:--

"From our Prussian Countries, ruined, harried as THALERS they have been, . . . . . . . . . . 4 millions only. From Saxony and the other Wringings, . . . . . 7 millions. English Subsidy (4 of good gold; becoppered into double), . . . . . . . . . . . 8 " From Ephraim and his Farm of the Mint (MUNZ-PATENT), . . . . . . . . . . 7 "

Copyright Notice

he website materials are all from the internet. If there are any infringement issues, please contact us and delete them immediately after verification!