Back Next

Frederick the Great (1712-1786); King of Prussia, fancied himself an enlightened monarch, and in some respects he was. On one occasion he took an interest in the conditions within the Berlin prison and arranged to be escorted on an extensive tour of the facility.

It was arranged that he might speak with the prisoners. One after another they fell at his feet, bewailing their lot and, predictably, protesting their utter innocence of any and all charges brought against them.

One prisoner, however, remained aloof. this caught the King's interest.

"You," called he, "You there!"

"Yes, Majesty," came the reply.

"Why are you here?" was the question.

"Piracy," said the prisoner.

"And are you guilty?"

"Entirely guilty, Majesty. I richly deserve my punishment."

At this Frederick rapped his cane sharply upon the ground.

"Release this guilty wretch at once," said he. "I shall not have him here where, by example, he will corrupt all the splendid innocent persons within these walls."