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Frederick II ("the Great"), "Forms of Government and the Duties of Rulers" (1777)

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If a ruler abandons the helm of the ship of State and places it into the hands of paid men, of the Ministers appointed by him, one will steer to the right and another to the left. A general plan is no longer followed. Every Minister disapproves of the actions of his predecessor, and makes changes even if they are quite unnecessary, wishing to originate a new policy which often is harmful. [ . . . ]

Men are attached to their own. As the State does not belong to the Ministers in power they have no real interest in its welfare. Hence the government is carried on with careless indifference, and the result is that the administration, the public finances, and the army deteriorate. Thus the monarchy becomes an oligarchy. Ministers and generals direct affairs in accordance with their fancy. Systematic administration disappears. Everyone follows his own notions. No link is left which connects the directing factors.

As all the wheels and springs of the watch serve together the single object of measuring time, all the springs and wheels of a Government should be so arranged and coordinated that all the departments of the national administration work together with the single aim of promoting the greatest good of the State. That aim should not be lost sight of for a single moment. Besides, the individual interests of ministers and generals usually cause them to oppose each other. Thus personal differences often prevent the carrying through of the most necessary measure.

[ . . . ]

The sovereign is the representative of his State. He and his people form a single body. Ruler and ruled can be happy only if they are firmly united. The sovereign stands to his people in the same relation in which the head stands to the body. He must use his eyes and his brain for the whole community, and act on its behalf to the common advantage. If we wish to elevate monarchical above republican government, the duty of sovereigns is clear. They must be active, hard-working, upright and honest, and concentrate all their strength upon filling their office worthily. That is my idea of the duties of sovereigns.

A sovereign must possess an exact and detailed knowledge of the strong and of the weak points of his country. He must be thoroughly acquainted with its resources, the character of the people, and the national commerce. [ . . . ]

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