grandson to the Duke of ?, and inheriting a large property
"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.
"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.
"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?
"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:--
"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 "
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