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The King had been married to her when he was fifteen and she two-and-twenty; and after the first few years had lived in an open immorality which was very general at his court, and for a long time did not much affect his popularity with the nation, though every now and then caricatures and epigrams more witty than prudent appeared; as, for instance, the following, written upon the base of the pedestal of an equestrian statue of him, around which were grouped the figures of Strength, Prudence, Justice, and Peace:
Only a few paces from Colonel Disney's villa there was a stately house that had gone to ruin. The roof was off in some places; there were neither floors nor windows left; and the walls were open to the wind and rainfrescoed walls, upon which might be traced figures of saint and martyr, angel and madonna. There was a spacious garden, with an avenue of cypressesa garden where the flowers had been growing wild for years, and where Isola and Allegra wandered and explored as they pleased. It was higher on the hillside than their own villa, and from the eastward edge of this garden they lookedacross a yawning gulf in which lay all the lower town of San Remoto the Sanctuary and the Leper Hospital, conspicuous on the crest of the opposite hill.
"You are very kind," she faltered. "I am sorry to be so troublesome. I ought not to have come so far in such doubtful weather."
This rude, coarse discipline was thoroughly uncongenial to the Crown Prince. He was a boy of delicate feelings and sensitive temperament. The poetic nature very decidedly predominated in him. He was fond of music, played the flute, wrote verses, and was literary in his tastes. He simply hated chasing boars, riding on the sausage car, and being drenched with rain and spattered with mud. The old king, a mere animal with an active intellect, could not appreciate, could not understand even, the34 delicate mental and physical organization of his child. It is interesting to observe how early in life these constitutional characteristics will develop themselves, and how unavailing are all the efforts of education entirely to obliterate them. When Frederick William was a boy, he received, as a present, a truly magnificent dressing-gown, of graceful French fashion, richly embroidered with gold. Indignantly he thrust the robe into the fire, declaring that he would wear no such finery, and demanded instead a jacket of wholesome homespun. Fritz, on the contrary, could not endure the coarse homespun, but, with almost girlish fondness, craved handsome dress. He had no money allowance until he was seventeen years of age. A minute account was kept of every penny expended for him, and the most rigid economy was practiced in providing him with the mere necessaries of life. When Fritz was in the tenth year of his age, his father gave the following curious directions to the three teachers of his son in reference to his daily mode of life. The document, an abridgment of which we give, was dated Wusterhausen, September 3, 1721: