Youth of the Great Elector - George Upton

The Sixteenth of February

On the sixteenth of February, 1629, the Prince was nine years old. At an early hour in the morning, while it was still dark outside, he was awakened by singing. In an adjoining room, the door of which was open, Baron Leuchtmar, Preceptor Muller, six pages, and some of the servants were singing a chorale together. When they had finished, Leuchtmar and Muller greeted the Prince, wished him God's blessing, and expressed hearty personal congratulations in their own names as well as in the names of his parents. As soon as he was dressed he went to the apartment. Nine wax candles were burning upon a table covered with gifts. One of the pages read a poem in his honor, and the servants congratulated him. After he had shaken hands with them all and thanked them he went to the table. Among the gifts were two which he cherished and kept all his life. His mother sent him an armlet with the following inscription: "I send you this as an assurance of my heartfelt love and to remind you not to forget my earnest exhortation to love God above all else, to practise the virtues, and to hate vice. Then God's help will strengthen you, and all temporal and eternal blessings will follow you." Besides this, there was a large package, covered with a cloth, which at once arrested his attention. He lifted the cloth and saw a large volume, bound in leather with silver corner pieces. He opened it. It was a Bible. He was overcome with delight. At that time there were no children's libraries. If there had been, he would have had a large one and one book more or less would have made little impression upon him. Up to this time his entire library was comprised in one volume,—the Catechism. Now, he had another, the Bible, which Leuchtmar, and Muller had given him as the most precious symbol of manhood. His joy was indescribable. He knew a great number of the Bible stories already, and it was an added pleasure to find this or that one illustrated. On his way to church (his birthday fell on a Sunday) and when he left it, he could think of nothing but his treasure.

Baron Leuchtmar soon observed that the Prince returned again and again to the pictures illustrating the story of David. Preceptor Muller had told him already much about it and David, the shepherd, singer, hero, and king occupied all his attention. Leuchtmar also increased his interest. He decided to read the entire history of David, from his anointing to his death, with the Prince. "I must share his delight in this narrative," he said to himself, "and thus our reading will prove a double blessing." He also decided to look it over himself in advance, so that when they read together he could better explain it. The more he read, the more he was delighted, and the clearer understanding he had of the hero youth and king. For an entire evening he left the oversight o the Prince to the preceptor and sat until midnight at his table. He read not only the history of David but the larger part of the Psalms. The life of the pious singer was reflected in them, and they seemed to him as a whole like a stately song of David's. An hour was set apart every evening for their study of the history. Leuchtmar read, and the Prince and pages sat at the table. Muller was also present. Seldom have the Holy Scriptures been perused with such ardent devotion. The elders and the youths were alike interested. From time to time they stopped reading and Leuchtmar and Muller would explain the text to their young listeners, or read passages from the Psalms which made the narrative still clearer.