“One day the king entered the town of Collin, with his horse and foot guard and the whole of the baggage. We had but four small field-pieces with us. The squadron to which I belonged was placed in the suburb. In the evening our advanced posts were driven back into the town, and the huzzas of the enemy followed them pell-mell. All the country around was covered with the light troops of the Austrians. My commandant sent me to the king to take his orders.Sir Thomas, who was not aware of the engagement into which the allies had entered to keep Russia busy by a war with Sweden, intimated that there were powers which might yet come to the rescue of the queen, and mentioned Russia as one.
“I assure you he is a prince who has talent, but who will be the slave of his passions, and will like nobody but such as encourage him therein. For me, I think all princes are cast in the same mould. There is only a more and a less.”Voltaire and the Jew.—Letter from Frederick to D’Arget.—Letter to Wilhelmina.—Caustic Letters to Voltaire.—Partial Reconciliation.—Frederick’s brilliant Conversational Powers.—His Neglect of his Wife.—All Females excluded from his Court.—Maupertuis and the Academy.—Voltaire’s Malignity.—Frederick’s Anger.—Correspondence between Voltaire and Maupertuis.—Menaces of War.—Catt and the King.The raven was a tame one, which had got lost and was seeking for its home. The story, however, spread, and created great sympathy for the imprisoned princess. There was a large number of French refugees in Berlin. With characteristic kindness, at the risk of incurring the royal displeasure, they sent daily a basket of food, which was placed in a situation from which Wilhelmina’s maids could easily convey the contents to her, while compassionate sentries kindly looked the other way. The princess wrote to her father, imploring permission to receive the sacrament, from which she had been debarred for nearly a year. The reply from her-father was couched in the following terms:
Lafayette, Lord Cornwallis, and the Duke of York were his565 guests at the dinner-table that day. The king suffered from his exposure, was very feverish, and at an early hour went to bed. The next day he completed his review; and the next day “went—round by Neisse, inspection not to be omitted there, though it doubles the distance—to Brieg, a drive of eighty miles, inspection work included.”196
“Hardly,” he replied, “in that dress. Besides, your majesty has grown thinner.”It was Saturday, the 8th of April. A blinding, smothering storm of snow swept over the bleak plains. Breasting the gale, and wading through the drifts, the Prussian troops tramped along, unable to see scarcely a rod before them. At a little hamlet called Leipe the vanguard encountered a band of Austrian251 hussars. They took several captives. From them they learned, much to their chagrin and not a little to their alarm, that the Austrian army was already in possession of Grottkau.
“My dear Sister,—Your letter has arrived. I see in it your regrets for the irreparable loss we have had of the best and worthiest mother in this world. I am so overwhelmed by these blows from within and without that I feel myself in a sort of stupefaction.“How glorious,” he exclaimed, “is my king, the youngest of kings, and the grandest! A king who carries in the one hand an all-conquering sword, but in the other a blessed olive-branch, and is the arbiter of Europe for peace or war.”
“Prosperity, my dear lord, often inspires a dangerous confidence. Twenty-three battalions were not sufficient to drive sixty thousand men from their intrenchments. Another time we will take our precautions better. Fortune has this day turned her back upon me. I ought to have expected it. She is a female, and I am not gallant. What say you to this league against the Margrave of Brandenburg? How great would be the astonishment of the great elector if he could see his great-grandson at war at the same time with the Russians, the Austrians, almost all Germany, and one hundred thousand French auxiliaries! I do not know whether it will be disgraceful in me to be overcome, but I am sure there will be no great glory in vanquishing me.”102Frederick retreated down the banks of the Elbe, and sent couriers to the camp at Prague, ordering the siege immediately to be raised, and the troops to retire down the Moldau to join him at Leitmeritz. The news was received at the camp at two o’clock on Sunday morning, June 19, creating amazement and consternation. As Frederick was on his retreat with his broken battalions from the field of battle, parched with thirst, burning with heat, and smothered with dust, it is recorded that an old dragoon brought to the king, in his steel cap, some water which he had drawn from a well, saying to his sovereign, consolingly,
The fifth campaign of the Seven Years’ War closed with the year 1760. By exertions such as mortal man perhaps never made before, Frederick succeeded, during the winter, in raising an army of ninety-six thousand men. In the mean time the allies had concentrated in Bohemia, to crush him, seventy-two thousand Austrians and sixty thousand Russians. The capture of four fortresses would drive Frederick hopelessly out of Silesia. Early in May, Frederick, leaving his brother Henry with about forty thousand men to protect Saxony, set out with fifty thousand for the relief of Neisse, which was then besieged. General Goltz, probably the most able of the Prussian commanders, was detached to the fortified camp at Glogau.“Russia may be counted as the bigger half of all he had to strive with; the bigger, or at least the far uglier, more ruinous, and incendiary; and, if this were at once taken away, think what a daybreak when the night was at the blackest.”170
Prince Charles had arrived in Dresden the night before. He heard the roar of the cannonade all the day, but, for some unexplained reason, did not advance to the support of his friends. The very unsatisfactory excuse offered was, that his troops were exhausted by their long march; and that, having been recently twice beaten by the Prussians, his army would be utterly demoralized if led to another defeat.
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The king then, having ordered his guard to watch him with the utmost vigilance, assuring them that their heads should answer for it if they allowed him to escape, sent his son to another boat. He was prevailed upon to do so, as no one could tell to what length the king’s ungovernable passions might lead him.Soon after this Frederick dispatched a young and impetuous479 officer, General Wedell, invested with dictatorial powers, at the head of twenty-six thousand men, to attack the Russian army, at every hazard, and arrest its march. The heroic little band of Prussians met the Russians at Züllichau. One of General Wedell’s officers remonstrated against the attack.125 Grumkow then goes on to relate, quite in detail, that the king took up the subject of theology. “He set forth the horrible results of that absolute decree notion which makes God the author of sin; and that Jesus Christ died only for some.” The prince declared that he had thoroughly renounced that heresy. The king then added:
Wilhelmina was appalled in view of the difficulty and danger of the enterprise. It was a long distance from Dresden to the coast. Head winds might detain the vessel. The suspicious king would not long remain ignorant that he was missing. He would be pursued with energy almost demoniac. Being captured,80 no one could tell how fearful would be his doom. The sagacious sister was right. Fritz could not but perceive the strength of her arguments, and gave her his word of honor that he would not attempt, on the present occasion, to effect his flight. Fritz accordingly went to Dresden with his father, and returned.“Voltaire has conducted himself like a blackguard and a consummate rascal. I have talked to him as he deserved. He is a sad fellow. I am quite ashamed for human abilities that a man who has so much of them should be so full of wickedness. I am not surprised that people talk at Paris of the quarrel of our beaux esprits. Voltaire is the most mischievous madman I ever knew. He is only good to read. It is impossible for you to388 imagine the duplicities, the impositions, the infamies he practiced here. I am quite indignant that so much talent and acquirement do not make men better. I took the part of Maupertuis because he is a good sort of man, and the other had determined upon ruining him. A little too much vanity had rendered him too sensitive to the man?uvres of this monkey, whom he ought to have despised after having castigated him.”95详情
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