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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Sunday, March 04, 2007

frederick the great on the death of his dog

Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712 - 1786) was a man of accomplishments both political and intellectual. Under his rule Prussia was transformed into a modernized state; he also built the beautiful palace of Sanssouci ("without cares"). Please note that name. Though royal, he had had a cruel childhood, as his father Frederick William I of Prussia was a brute who hit anyone he liked and mocked his son's artistic temperament.

Small wonder that Frederick the Great sought two great consolations during his life: the letters of his sister Wilhelmina, who had gone through those years with him; and the companionship of his pet dogs, from whom he got loyalty and love. The letters these siblings wrote over the years are full of warm observations about their creatures. When, as pets must, Frederick's beloved greyhound Biche died, his grief is as heartfelt as a boy's:
I have had a domestic loss which has completely upset my philosophy.
I confide all my frailties in you: I have lost Biche, and her death has
reawoken in me the loss of all my friends, particularly of him who gave her to
me. I was ashamed that a dog could so deeply affect my soul; but the
sedentary life I lead and the faithfulness of this poor creature had so strongly
attached me to her, her suffering so moved me, that, I confess, I am sad and
afflicted. Does one have to be hard? Must one be insensitive?
I believe that anyone capable of indifference towards a faithful animal is
unable to be grateful towards an equal, and that, if one must choose, it is best
to be too sensitive than too hard.

--Frederic II, Oeuvres historiques (Berlin, 1846-56) vol. 26
p. 288; from Katharine MacDonough, Reigning Cats and Dogs (New York: St.
Martin's Press, 1999), p. 190.

2 comments:

isabellam70 said...

Yes, he was a lover of animals and particularly devoted to his dogs, gray hounds and whippets.
They were freely roaming in the castle of Sans Souci.
Friedrich der Grosse ... Frederick the Great was not great in height but in his deeds and his love for creatures.

Pball said...

And of course he left instructions to be buried with his greyhounds.a few hundred years later, his wishes were honoured.