was equal to one twenty seventh part of
its collective population; by the landgrave of Hesse
was equal to one out of every twenty of his subjects, or one in four of the able bodied men; a proportionate conscription in 1776 would have shipped to America
alone an army of more than four hundred thousand.
Soldiers were impressed from the plough, the workshop, the highway; no man was safe from the inferior agents of the princes, who kidnapped without scruple.
Almost every family in Hesse
mourned for one of its members; light-hearted joyousness was not to be found among its peasantry; most of the farm work was thrown upon women, whose large hands and feet, lustreless eye, and imbrowned and yellowing skin showed that the beauty of the race suffered for a generation from the avarice of their prince.
In a letter to Voltaire
, the landgrave, announcing his contribution of troops, expressed his zeal to learn ‘the difficult principles of the art of governing men, and of making them perceive that all which their ruler does is for their special good.’
He wrote also a catechism for princes, in which Voltaire
professed to find traces of a pupil of the king of Prussia
: ‘Do not attribute his education to me,’ answered the great Frederick
: ‘were he a graduate of my school, he would never have turned Catholic, and would never have sold his subjects to the English
as they drive cattle to the shambles.
He a preceptor of sovereigns!
The sordid passion for gain is the only motive of his vile procedure.’
From avarice he sold the flesh of his own people while they were yet alive, depriving many of existence