“‘Amitié, plaisir des grandes ames; Amitié, que les rois, ces illustres ingrats Sont assez malheureux de ne conna?tre pas!’“I arrived at last about one in the morning. I instantly threw myself on a bed. I was like to die of weariness, and in mortal terror that something had happened to my brother or the hereditary prince. The latter relieved me on his own score. He arrived at last about four o’clock; had still no news of my brother. I was beginning to doze a little, when they came to inform me that M. von Knobelsdorf wished to speak to me from the Prince Royal. I darted out of bed and ran to him.
“‘Oh, spare my brother,’ I cried, ‘and I will marry the Duke of Weissenfels.’ But in the great noise he did not hear me. And while I strove to repeat it louder, Madam Sonsfeld clapped99 her handkerchief on my mouth. Pushing aside to get rid of the handkerchief, I saw Katte crossing the square. Four soldiers were conducting him to the king. My brother’s trunks and his were following in the rear. Pale and downcast, he took off his hat to salute me. He fell at the king’s feet imploring pardon.
Frederick was accustomed to cover his deep designs of diplomacy322 by the promotion of the utmost gayety in his capital. Never did Berlin exhibit such spectacles of festivity and pleasure as during the winter of 1742 and 1743. There was a continued succession of operas, balls, fêtes, and sleigh-parties. Frederick’s two younger sisters were at that time brilliant ornaments of his court. They were both remarkably beautiful and vivacious. The Princess Louise Ulrique was in her twenty-third year. The following letter to Frederick from these two princesses will be keenly appreciated by many of our young lady readers whose expenses have exceeded their allowance. It shows very conclusively that there may be the same pecuniary annoyances in the palaces of kings as in more humble homes.
When they reached Strasbourg they provided themselves with French dresses. The king and his brother put up at different inns, that they might be less liable to suspicion. Frederick,200 with several of his party, took lodgings at the Raven Hotel. He sent the landlord out to invite several army officers to sup with a foreign gentleman, Count Dufour, from Bohemia, who was an entire stranger in the place. Some of the officers very peremptorily declined the invitation, considering it an imposition. Three, however, allured by the singularity of the summons, repaired to the inn. The assumed count received them with great courtesy, apologized for the liberty he had taken, thanked them for their kindness, and assured them that, being a stranger, he was very happy to make the acquaintance of so many brave officers, whose society he valued above that of all others.“He saw his ministers, saw all who had business with him, many who had little; and in the sore coil of bodily miseries, as569 Hertzberg observed with wonder, never was the king’s intellect clearer, or his judgment more just and decisive. Of his disease, except to the doctors, he spoke no word to any body.Early on the morning of the 4th the prince left Nürnberg, and reached the camp at Weisenthal on the 7th. Here the imperial and Prussian troops were collected, who had been sent to attempt to raise the siege of Philipsburg. But the French lines investing the city were so strong that Prince Eugene, in command of the imperial army, did not venture to make an attack. The Crown Prince almost immediately rode out to reconnoitre the lines of the foe. As he was returning through a strip of forest a cannonade was opened, and the balls went crashing around him through the trees. Pride of character probably came to the aid of constitutional courage. The prince did not in the slightest degree quicken his pace. Not the least tremor could be perceived in his hand as he held the reins. He continued conversing with the surrounding generals in perfect tranquillity, as if unconscious of any danger.
Though Frederick, in his private correspondence, often spoke very contemptuously of Voltaire, it would seem, if any reliance can be placed on the testimony of Voltaire himself, that Frederick sedulously courted the author, whose pen was then so potential in Europe. By express invitation, Voltaire spent a week with Frederick at Aix la Chapelle early in September, 1742. He writes to a friend from Brussels under date of December 10:
On the 15th, after a restless night, he did not wake until eleven o’clock in the morning. For a short time he seemed confused. He then summoned his generals and secretaries, and gave his orders with all his wonted precision. He then called in his three clerks and dictated to them upon various subjects. His directions to an embassador, who was about leaving, filled four quarto pages.“The seventh day after our accession to the throne of all the Russias we received information that the late emperor, Peter III., was attacked with a violent colic. That we might not be wanting in Christian duty, or disobedient to the divine command by which we are enjoined to preserve the life of our neighbor, we immediately ordered that the said Peter should be furnished with every thing that might be judged necessary to restore his health by the aids of medicine. But, to our great regret and affliction, we were yesterday evening apprized that, by permission of the Almighty, the late emperor departed this life.”“I have nothing to add to this. I will only inform your curiosity that we passed the Elbe the day before yesterday; that to-morrow we march toward Leipsic, where I hope to be on the 31st, where I hope we shall have a battle, and whence you shall receive news of us as it occurs.”详情
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