The reader would not be interested in the details of the battle which ensued. It lasted for five hours. It was, as is every battle, an indescribable scene of tumult, uproar, and confusion. The result was long doubtful. Defeat to Frederick would have been utter ruin. It is wonderful how one determined man can infuse his spirit into a whole host. Every Prussian seemed to363 have the same desperate valor, and determination to conquer or to die, which animated his king.In the following terms Thiebault describes their parting: The final interview between Frederick and Voltaire took place on the parade at Potsdam, where the king was then occupied with393 his soldiers. One of the attendants announced Voltaire to his majesty with these words:“‘There is a furious discount to be deducted from said glory. Chance came in for almost the whole of it. I would far rather have written Racine’s Athalie than have performed all the achievements of this war.’
“My dear Monsieur Jordan, my sweet Monsieur Jordan, my quiet Monsieur Jordan, my good, my benign, my pacific, my most humane Monsieur Jordan,—I announce to thy serenity the conquest of Silesia. I warn thee of the bombardment of Neisse, and I prepare thee for still more projects, and instruct thee of the happiest successes that the womb of fortune ever bore.”47
511 “After having sacrificed my youth to my father, and my maturer age to my country, I think that I have acquired the right to dispose of my old age as I please. I have told you, and I repeat it, my hand shall never sign a disgraceful peace. I shall continue this campaign with the resolution to dare all, and to try the most desperate things, either to succeed or to find a glorious end.
Voltaire seems to have formed a very different estimate of his329 own diplomatic abilities from those expressed by the King of Prussia. Voltaire writes:
Others, however, urged that this was ignoble and cowardly; that it would expose them to the derision of the world if they, with their overwhelming numbers, were to take shelter behind their ramparts, fearing to attack so feeble a band. Prince Charles, anxious to regain lost reputation, and elated by the reconquest of Silesia, adopted the more heroic resolve, and marched out to meet the foe.
Poland, ever in turmoil, was at this time choosing a king. The emperor advocated the claims of August of Saxony. France urged Stanislaus, a Polish noble, whose daughter had married the French dauphin. War ensued between France and Germany. Frederick William became the ally of the emperor. An army of ten thousand men, admirably equipped and organized, was upon the march for the Rhine, to act with the emperor against France. The Crown Prince was very eager to join the expedition, and obtained permission to do so.The Elbe was now frozen. The storms of winter covered the icy fields with snow. Daun retired to Dresden. Frederick established himself in the little town of Freiberg, about thirty miles southwest from Dresden. His troops were in cantonments in the adjoining villages. Here he took up his abode in a humble cottage. Thus terminated the fourth campaign of the Seven Years’ War.
Lord Hyndford here came to the rescue of his colleague, and said, meekly,“Here his whole conversation consisted in quizzing whatever he saw, and repeating to me, above a hundred times over, the words ‘little prince,’ ‘little court.’ I was shocked, and could not understand how he had changed so suddenly toward me. The etiquette of all courts in the empire is, that nobody who has not at least the rank of captain can sit at a prince’s table. My brother put a lieutenant there who was in his suite, saying, ‘A king’s lieutenant is as good as a margraf’s minister.’ I swallowed this incivility, and showed no sign.Frederick, in his Histoire de mon Temps, states that, in the negotiations which at this time took place in Berlin, France pressed the king to bring forward his armies into vigorous co-operation; that England exhorted him to make peace with Austria; that Spain solicited his alliance in her warfare against England; that Denmark implored his counsel as to the course it was wise for that kingdom to pursue; that Sweden entreated his aid against Russia; that Russia besought his good offices to make298 peace with the court at Stockholm; and that the German empire, anxious for peace, entreated him to put an end to those troubles which were convulsing all Europe.
From the church the prince was conducted, not back to his prison in the fortress, but to a town mansion, which was assigned as his residence. His sword was restored to him. But he was still not fully liberated. Officials, appointed by his father, surrounded him, who watched and reported all his movements. The first act of the young prince, upon reaching his apartment after this partial liberation, was to write as follows to his father. We give the letter as translated by Carlyle:“The king, as was not unnatural, had begun to get angry at her first answer. This last put him quite in a fury. But all his anger fell on my brother and me. He first threw a plate at my brother’s head, who ducked out of the way. He then let fly another at me, which I avoided in like manner. A hail-storm of abuse followed these first hostilities. He rose into a passion against the queen, reproaching her with the bad training which she gave her children, and, addressing my brother, said,详情
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