Willibald Alexis: “Fredericus Rex”
Excerpt, “The Book of German Songs from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century.” Translated and Edited by H. W. Dulcken. 1856.
FREDERICUS REX, our king and lord,
To all of his soldiers “To arms!” gave the word;
“Two hundred battalions, a thousand squadrons here!”
And he gave sixty cartridges to each grenadier.
“You rascally fellows,” his majesty began,
“Look that each of you stands for me in battle like a man
They’re grudging Silesia and Glatz to me,
And the hundred millions in my treasury.
“The Empress with the French an alliance has signed,
And raised the Roman kingdom against me, I find;
The Russians my territories do invade,
Up, and show ’em of what stuff we Prussians are made.
“My generals, Schwerin, and Field-marshal Von Keit,
And Major-general Ziethen, are all ready quite.
By the thunders and lightnings of battle, I vow,
They don’t know Fritz and his soldiers now.
“Now farewell, Louisa; Louisa, dry your eyes;
Not straight to its mark ev’ry bullet flies;
For if all the bullets should kill all the men,
From whence should we kings get our soldiers then?
“The musket bullet makes a little round hole,
A much larger wound both the cannon ball dole;
The bullets are all of iron and lead,
Yet many a bullet misses many a head.
“Our guns they are heavy and well supplied,
Not one of the Prussians to the foe hath hied;
The Swedes they have cursed bad money, I trow;
If the Austrians have better, who can know?
“The French king pays his soldiers at his ease,
We get it, stock and stiver, every week, if we please;
By the thunders and the lightnings of battle, I say,
Who gets like the Prussian so promptly his pay?”
Fredericus, my king, whom the laurel doth grace,
Hadst thou but now and then let us plunder some place,
Fredericus, my hero, I verily say,
We’d drive for thee the devil from the world away.