“With twenty-one thousand your beaten and maltreated servant has hindered an army of fifty thousand from attacking him, and has compelled them to retire to Neusatz.”
“Since this time he has spared no expense for the furtherance of his salutary intentions. He first established wise regulations and laws. He rebuilt whatever had been allowed to go to ruin in consequence of the plague. He brought and established there thousands of families from the different countries of Europe. The lands became again productive, and the country populous. Commerce reflourished; and at the present time abundance reigns in this country more than ever before. There are now half a million of inhabitants in Lithuania. There are more towns than formerly; more flocks, and more riches and fertility than in any other part of Germany.“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.”47The principal companions of Frederick at Reinsberg were gay, pleasure-loving men. Among them were Major Keyserling, a thoughtless young man, full of vivacity, and of very agreeable manners; and M. Jordan, a French young gentleman, formerly a168 preacher, very amiable, and an author of considerable note. M. Jordan was devotedly attached to the prince, and continued so through life. He gives the following testimony to the good qualities of Frederick:
The Marquis of Botta, the Austrian envoy, endeavoring to penetrate the plans of Frederick, descanted upon the horrible condition of the roads in Silesia, which province he had traversed in coming to Berlin. The king listened with a quiet smile, and then, with much apparent indifference, replied,
At half past three o’clock on Friday morning, Frederick, with his whole army, was again upon the march. He swept quite around the eastern end of the Russian square, and approached it from the south. By this sagacious movement he could, in case of disaster, retreat to Cüstrin.The king himself became much fascinated with the personal loveliness and the sparkling intelligence of the young dancer. He even condescended to take tea with her, in company with others. Not long after her arrival in Berlin she made a conquest of a young gentleman of one of the first Prussian families, M. Cocceji, son of the celebrated chancellor, and was privately married to him. For a time Barberina continued upon the stage. At length, in the enjoyment of ample wealth, she purchased a splendid mansion, and, publicly announcing her marriage, retired with her husband to private life. But the mother of Cocceji, and other proud family friends, scorned the lowly alliance. A320 divorce was the result. Soon after, Barberina was married to a nobleman of high rank, and we hear of her no more.
When the child was but six years of age his father organized a miniature soldiers’ company for him, consisting of one hundred lads. Gradually the number was increased to three hundred. The band was called “The Crown Prince Cadets.” A very spirited, mature boy of seventeen, named Rentzel, was drill-sergeant, while an experienced colonel was appointed commander-in-chief. Fritz was very thoroughly instructed in his duties, and was furnished with a military dress, almost the fac-simile of that which his father wore. An arsenal was also provided for the child on the palace grounds at Potsdam, where he mounted batteries and practiced gunnery with small brass ordnance. Nothing was omitted which could inspire the prince with military enthusiasm, and render him skillful in the art of war. A Prussian gentleman of letters testifies as follows respecting Fritz in his seventh year:
Dessau was a little independent principality embracing a few square miles, about eighty miles southwest of Prussia. The prince had a Liliputian army, and a revenue of about fifty thousand dollars. Leopold’s mother was the sister of the great Elector of Brandenburg’s first wife. The little principality was thus, by matrimonial alliance as well as location, in affinity with Prussia.
“When did you get rid of your guests?” inquired the king.“Certainly I will fight. But do not flatter yourself about the result. A happy chance alone can help us. Go, in God’s name to Tangermünde. Wait there how destiny shall have disposed of us. I will reconnoitre the enemy to-morrow. Next day, if there is any thing to do, we will try it. If the enemy still holds to the Wine Hills of Frankfort, I shall not dare to attack him.The king, upon receiving these strange and unexpected tidings, immediately rode into Lowen. It was an early hour in the261 morning. He entered the place, not as a king and a conqueror, but as a starving fugitive, exhausted with fatigue, anxiety, and sleeplessness. It is said that his hunger was so great that he stopped at a little shop on the corner of the market-place, where “widow Panzern” served him with a cup of coffee and a cold roast fowl. Thus slightly refreshed, the intensely humiliated young king galloped back to his victorious army at Mollwitz, having been absent from it, in his terror-stricken flight, for sixteen hours.
On the 19th of December the king wrote, from the vicinity of Glogau, to M. Jordan. Perhaps he would not so frankly have revealed his ambition and his want of principle had he supposed that the private letter would be exposed to the perusal of the whole civilized world.The boorish king hated the refinement and polish of the French. If he met a lady in rich attire, she was pretty sure to be rudely assailed; and a young man fashionably dressed could hardly escape the cudgel if he came within reach of the king’s arm. The king, stalking through the streets, was as marked an object as an elephant would have been. Every one instantly recognized him, and many fled at his approach. One day he met a pale, threadbare young man, who was quietly passing him, when the king stopped, in his jerking gait, and demanded, in his coarse, rapid utterance, “Who are you?” “I am a theological student,” the young man quietly replied. “Where from?” added the king. “From Berlin,” was the response. “From Berlin?” the king rejoined; “the Berliners are all a good-for-nothing set.” “Yes, your majesty, that is true of many of them,” the young man added; “but I know of two exceptions.” “Of two?” responded the king; “which are they?” “Your majesty and myself,” the young man replied. The king burst into a good-humored laugh, and,28 after having the young man carefully examined, assigned him to a chaplaincy.
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Taking off his hat, he slightly saluted them, and retired behind the curtain into the interior tent.Indeed, it would seem that, at the time, Voltaire must have been very favorably impressed by the appearance of his royal host. The account he then gave of the interview was very different from that which, in his exasperation, he wrote twenty years afterward. In a letter to a friend, M. De Cideville, dated October 18th, 1740, Voltaire wrote:
“Remember me always, but console yourself for my death. The glory of the Prussian arms and the honor of the house have set me in action, and will guide me to my last moment. You are my sole heir. I recommend to you, in dying, those whom I have the most loved during my life—Keyserling, Jordan, Wartensleben, Hacke, who is a very honest man, Fredersdorf, and Eichel, in whom you may place entire confidence.详情
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