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Frederick the Great

Anecdotes Home






Frederick the Great rang the bell one day, and nobody
answered. He opened the door, and found the page sleeping on a sofa. About
to wake him, he perceived the end of a billet out of his pocket, and had
the curiosity to know the contents: Frederick carefully drew it out, and
read it; it was a letter from the mother of the young man, who thanked him
for having sent her part of his wages, to assist her in her distress; and
it concluded by beseeching God to bless him for his filial goodness. The
king returned softly to his room, took a roller of ducats, and slid them,
with the letter, into the page's pocket; and then returning to his
apartment, rung so violently, that the page came running breathlessly to
know what had happened. "You have slept well," said the king. The page made
an apology, and, in his embarrassment, he happened to put his hand into his
pocket, and felt with astonishment the roller. He drew it out, turned pale,
and looking at the king, burst into tears, without being able to speak a
word. "What is the matter?" said the king, "what ails you?" "Ah, sire,"
answered the youth, throwing himself at his feet, "somebody would wish to
ruin me; I know not how I came by this money in my pocket." "My friend,"
said Frederick, "God often sends us good in our sleep. Send this to your
mother. Salute her in my name, and assure her I shall take care of her and
of you."


Frederick, conqueror as he was, sustained a severe defeat at Coslin in the
war of 1755. Some time after, at a review, he jocosely asked a soldier, who
had got a deep cut in his cheek, "Friend, at what alehouse did you get that
scratch?" "I got it," said the soldier, "at Coslin, _where your majesty
paid the reckoning_."


Frederick was very fond of disputation; but as he generally terminated the
discussion by collaring his antagonist and kicking his shins, few of his
guests were disposed to enter the arena against him. One day, when he was
particularly disposed for an argument, he asked one of his suite why he did
not venture to give his opinion on a particular question. "It is
impossible, your majesty," was the reply, "to express an opinion before a
sovereign who has such very strong convictions, and who _wears such very
thick boots_."





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