THE THIEF, THE PRIESTS, AND THE GREAT KING OF PRUSSIA
An Anecdotal Fact, and a touch at Superstition.
To this monarch have many good sayings been ascribed; for many noble and generous deeds has he been accredited; and more is yet due to his memory than comes to the share of conscience in a whole batch of Buonaparte's kings.
A Prussian soldier on duty, in a small garrison town in Silesia, being suspected of making free with some offerings made by pious Catholics to the Blessed Virgin, was watched and detected, and two silver hearts were found upon him, for which, he was sentenced to die. The man pleaded innocence, and insisted that the Virgin, in pity to his poverty, had appeared to him, and ordered him to take the two pieces. And on this plea he appealed to the King, who, on the soldier's representation, consulted with the ablest of the Roman Catholic divines, if they thought such a miracle impossible, who unanimously declared, that the case was extraordinary, but not impossible.
On which his Majesty wrote, with his own hand, words to, the following effect.:
"The convict cannot justly be put to death, because he owes the present of the two pieces of silver to the bounty of the Blessed Virgin; and the divines of his religion are unanimously of opinion, that the miracle wrought in his favour is not impossible; but have strictly forbid him to receive any more such presents from any saint whatever."