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King Of Prussia
by [?]

Charles Frederick, the present king of Prussia, whose actions and designs now keep Europe in attention, is the eldest son of Frederick William, by Sophia Dorothea, daughter of George the first, king of England. He was born January 24, 1711-12. Of his early years nothing remarkable has been transmitted to us. As he advanced towards manhood, he became remarkable by his disagreement with his father.

The late king of Prussia was of a disposition violent and arbitrary, of narrow views, and vehement passions, earnestly engaged in little pursuits, or in schemes terminating in some speedy consequence, without any plan of lasting advantage to himself or his subjects, or any prospect of distant events. He was, therefore, always busy, though no effects of his activity ever appeared, and always eager, though he had nothing to gain. His behaviour was, to the last degree, rough and savage. The least provocation, whether designed or accidental, was returned by blows, which he did not always forbear to the queen and princesses.

From such a king and such a father it was not any enormous violation of duty in the immediate heir of a kingdom, sometimes to differ in opinion, and to maintain that difference with decent pertinacity. A prince of a quick sagacity and comprehensive knowledge, must find many practices in the conduct of affairs which he could not approve, and some which he could scarcely forbear to oppose.

The chief pride of the old king was to be master of the tallest regiment in Europe. He, therefore, brought together, from all parts, men above the common military standard. To exceed the height of six feet, was a certain recommendation to notice, and to approach that of seven, a claim to distinction. Men will readily go where they are sure to be caressed; and he had, therefore, such a collection of giants, as, perhaps, was never seen in the world before.

To review this towering regiment was his daily pleasure, and to perpetuate it was so much his care, that when he met a tall woman, he immediately commanded one of his Titanian retinue to marry her, that they might propagate procerity, and produce heirs to the father’s habiliments.

In all this there was apparent folly, but there was no crime. The tall regiment made a fine show at an expense not much greater, when once it was collected, than would have been bestowed upon common men. But the king’s military pastimes were sometimes more pernicious. He maintained a numerous army, of which he made no other use than to review and to talk of it; and when he, or perhaps his emissaries, saw a boy, whose form and sprightliness promised a future soldier, he ordered a kind of badge to be put about his neck, by which he was marked out for the service, like the sons of Christian captives in Turkey; and his parents were forbidden to destine him to any other mode of life.

This was sufficiently oppressive, but this was not the utmost of his tyranny. He had learned, though otherwise perhaps no very great politician, that to be rich was to be powerful; but that the riches of a king ought to be seen in the opulence of his subjects, he wanted either ability or benevolence to understand. He, therefore, raised exorbitant taxes from every kind of commodity and possession, and piled up the money in his treasury, from which it issued no more. How the land which had paid taxes once, was to pay them a second time, how imposts could be levied without commerce, or commerce continued without money, it was not his custom to inquire. Eager to snatch at money, and delighted to count it, he felt new joy at every receipt, and thought himself enriched by the impoverishment of his dominions.

By which of these freaks of royalty the prince was offended, or whether, as perhaps more frequently happens, the offences of which he complains were of a domestick and personal kind, it is not easy to discover. But his resentment, whatever was its cause, rose so high, that he resolved not only to leave his father’s court, but his territories, and to seek a refuge among the neighbouring or kindred princes. It is generally believed that his intention was to come to England, and live under the protection of his uncle, till his father’s death, or change of conduct, should give him liberty to return.