The Crown Prince met the masons by agreement at “Korn’s Hotel.” On the night of Tuesday, August 14th, 1738, the king having that evening continued his journey, Frederick, after adopting177 extreme precautions to prevent any publicity of the act, fearing probably only lest it should reach his father’s ears, passed through the mysterious rites of initiation. It does not, however, appear that subsequently he took any special interest in the society.28“My dear Voltaire,—France has been considered thus far as the asylum of unfortunate monarchs. I wish that my capital should become the temple of great men. Come to it, then, my dear Voltaire, and give whatever orders can tend to render a residence in it agreeable to you. My wish is to please you, and wishing this, my intention is to enter entirely into your views.
FREDERICK AND THE BRITISH MINISTERS.
“When the king, after the Seven Years’ War, now and then in carnival season dined with the queen in her apartments, he usually said not a word to her. He merely, on entering, on sitting down at table, and leaving it, made the customary bows, and sat opposite to her. Once the queen was ill of gout. The table was in her apartments, but she was not there. She sat in an easy-chair in the drawing-room. On this occasion the king stepped up to the queen and inquired about her health. The circumstance occasioned among the company present, and all over the town, as the news spread, great wonder and sympathy. This is probably the last time he ever spoke to her.”193At the custom-house the poor man’s coin was seized as contraband. He was informed that the king, had forbidden the circulation of that kind of money in Berlin. The heartless officials laughed at the poor man’s distress, paid no regard to his remonstrances and pleadings, and locked up his confiscated coin.
There still remained to Frederick twenty-three years of life. He now engaged very vigorously in the endeavor to repair the terrible ravages of war by encouraging agriculture, commerce, and all useful arts. He invited the distinguished French philosophers Helvetius and D’Alembert to visit his court, and endeavored, though unavailingly, to induce them to take up their residence in Berlin. They were both in sympathy with the king in their renunciation of Christianity.The king coolly replied, “We must hope that they are more afraid of us than even of the gallows.”
The Battle of Chotusitz.—Letter to Jordan.—Results of the Battle.—Secret Negotiations.—The Treaty of Breslau.—Entrance into Frankfort.—Treachery of Louis XV.—Results of the Silesian Campaigns.—Panegyrics of Voltaire.—Imperial Character of Maria Theresa.—Her Grief over the Loss of Silesia.—Anecdote of Senora Barbarina.—Duplicity of both Frederick and Voltaire.—Gayety in Berlin.—Straitened Circumstances.—Unamiability of Frederick.
“My dear Voltaire,—In spite of myself, I have to yield to the quartan fever, which is more tenacious than a Jansenist. And whatever desire I had of going to Antwerp and Brussels, I find myself not in a condition to undertake such a journey without risk. I would ask of you, then, if the road from Brussels to Cleves would not to you seem too long for a meeting? It is the one means of seeing you which remains to me. Confess that I am unlucky; for now, when I could dispose of my person, and nothing hinders me from seeing you, the fever gets its hand into the business, and seems to intend disputing me that satisfaction.Quite unexpectedly, the latter part of January the virulence of the king’s complicated diseases of gout, dropsy, and ulcers seemed to abate. Though but forty-seven years of age, he was, from his intemperate habits, an infirm old man. Though he lingered along for many months, he was a great sufferer. His unamiability filled the palace with discomfort.
“The queen was alone, in his majesty’s apartment, waiting for him as he approached. As soon as he saw her at the end of the suite of rooms, and long before he arrived in the one where she was, he cried out, ‘Your unworthy son has at last ended himself. You have done with him.’“Fearful tugging, swagging, and swaying is conceivable in this Sterbohol problem! And, after long scanning, I rather judge that it was in the wake of that first repulse that the veteran Schwerin himself got his death. No one times it for us; but the fact is unforgetable; and in the dim whirl of sequences dimly places itself there. Very certain it is ‘at sight of his own regiment in retreat,’ Field-marshal Schwerin seized the colors, as did other generals, who are not named, that day. Seizes the colors, fiery old man: ‘This way, my sons!’ and rides ahead along the straight dam again; his ‘sons’ all turning, and with hot repentance following. ‘On, my children, this way!’ Five bits of grape-shot, deadly each of them, at once hit the old man; dead he sinks there on his flag; and will never fight more.
To his sister, Fritz wrote, about the same time, in a more subdued strain, referring simply to his recent life in Cüstrin: “Thus far my lot has been a tolerably happy one. I have lived quietly in the garrison. My flute, my books, and a few affectionate friends have made my way of life there sufficiently agreeable. They now want to force me to abandon all this in order to marry me to the Princess of Bevern, whom I do not know. Must one always be tyrannized over without any hope of a change? Still, if my dear sister were only here, I should endure all with patience.”
492 The Russians did not attempt to march upon Berlin. About the middle of September General Soltikof gathered all his forces in hand, and commenced a march into Silesia to effect a junction with General Daun. Frederick followed, and, by a very rapid march, took possession of Sagan, on the Bober, where he was in direct communication with Henry. On the 24th of September the king wrote to his younger brother Ferdinand, in Berlin:详情
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