Vittorio Alfieri: The infamous trade of soldier, the sole basis of all arbitrary authority
From Memoirs (1803)
Anonymous translation of 1810
In the month of September I continued my journey through Prague and Dresden, where I remained a month. From thence I went to Berlin, and in this city took up my abode for an equal length of time. On entering the states of the great Frederick, which appeared to me like a vast guard-house, my hatred was still more increased of the infamous trade of soldier, the sole basis of all arbitrary authority, which must always rely on so many thousand hired minions. On being presented to His Majesty, I experienced not the slightest emotion either of surprise or respect, but on the contrary, a rising feeling of indignation, which became daily strengthened in my mind on beholding oppression and despotism assuming the mask of virtue. Count de Finch, who introduced me to the royal presence inquired why, as I was in the service of my sovereign, I did not wear my uniform. To which I replied that I thought the Court was already sufficiently crowded with uniforms. The King addressed to me the few words customary on such occasions. I regarded him with the greatest attention, fixing my eyes respectfully on his, while I mentally thanked heaven I was not born his slave. Towards the middle of November I left this Prussian barracks which I regarded with detestation and horror as it deserves.