Frederick.”“As a fit of illness has come on me, which I do not think will have dangerous results, I have, for the present, left the command of my troops to Lieutenant General Von Finck, whose orders you are to execute as if coming directly from myself. On this I pray God139 to have you in his holy and worthy keeping.
“And if the hussar took me into the palace, it was now the secretary took me out again. And there, yoked with six horses, stood a royal wagon, which, having led me to, the secretary said, ‘You people, the king has given order that you are to take this stranger to Berlin, and you are to accept no drink-money from him.’ I again testified my thankfulness for the royal kindness, took my place, and rolled away.“‘Amitié, plaisir des grandes ames; Amitié, que les rois, ces illustres ingrats Sont assez malheureux de ne conna?tre pas!’In this frame of mind, the king began to talk seriously of abdicating in favor of Frederick, and of retiring from the cares of state to a life of religious seclusion in his country seat at Wusterhausen. He matured his plan quite to the details. Wilhelmina thus describes it:
The works were pushed with the utmost vigor. On the 8th the siege cannon arrived; late in the night of Wednesday, the 9th, they were in position. Immediately they opened their rapid, well-aimed, deadly fire of solid shot and shell from three quarters—the north, the west, and the east. Frederick, watching the bombardment from an eminence, was much exposed to the return fire of the Austrians. He called upon others to take care of themselves, but seemed regardless of his own personal safety. His cousin, Prince William, and a page, were both struck down at his side by a cannon-ball.
About this time Frederick was somewhat alarmed by a statement issued by the court of Austria, that the emperor, Charles Albert, was no legitimate emperor at all; that the election was not valid; and that Austria, which had the emperor’s kingdom of Bavaria by the throat, insisted upon compensation for the Silesia she had lost. It was evident that Maria Theresa, whose armies were every where successful, was determined that her husband, Duke Francis, should be decorated with the imperial crown. It now seemed probable that she would be able to accomplish her design. Frederick was alarmed, and deemed it necessary to strengthen himself by matrimonial alliances.
“I march to-morrow for Breslau, and shall be there in four days. You Berliners have a spirit of prophecy which goes beyond me. In fine, I go my road; and you will shortly see Silesia ranked in the list of our provinces. Adieu! this is all I have time to tell you. Religion and our brave soldiers will do the rest.”The first letter from Frederick to Voltaire was dated August 8th, 1736. The following extracts will show the spirit of this flattering epistle:
“Grumkow led me to the young man in gray. Coming near, I recognized him, though with difficulty. He had grown much stouter, and his neck was much shorter. His face also was much changed, and was no longer as handsome as it had been. I fell upon his neck. I was so overcome that I could only speak in an unconnected manner. I wept, I laughed like a person out of her senses. In my life I have never felt so lively a joy. After these first emotions were subsided I went and threw myself at the feet of the king, who said to me aloud, in the presence of my brother,
The young prince had also become dissolute in life. The sacred110 volume denounced such a career as offensive to God, as sure to bring down upon the guilty prince the divine displeasure in this life, and, if unrepented of, in the life to come. No man who believes the Bible to be true can, with any comfort whatever, indulge in sin. The prince wished to indulge his passions without restraint. He therefore, thus living, found it to be a necessity to renounce that religion which arrayed against his sinful life all the terrors of the final judgment. A wicked life and true Christian faith can not live in peace together. The one or the other must be abandoned. Frederick chose to abandon Christian faith.“In the midst of these preparations for a new campaign against a veteran army of two hundred and eighty thousand enemies, Frederick yet found sufficient leisure for peaceable occupations. He consecrated some hours every day to reading, to music, and to the conversation of men of letters.”164
Fully conscious that the respect which would be paid to him as a European sovereign greatly depended upon the number of men he could bring into the field of battle, Frederick William devoted untiring energies to the creation of an army. By the most severe economy, watching with an eagle eye every expenditure, and bringing his cudgel down mercilessly upon the shoulders26 of every loiterer, he succeeded in raising and maintaining an army of one hundred thousand men; seventy-two thousand being field troops, and thirty thousand in garrison.2 He drilled these troops as troops were never drilled before.
In the cold of the winter morning the Old Dessauer carefully reconnoitred the position of his foes. Their batteries seemed innumerable, protected by earth-works, and frowning along a cliff which could only be reached by plunging into a gully and wading through a half-frozen bog. There was, however, no alternative but to advance or retreat. He decided to advance.
CAMPAIGN OF HOCHKIRCH.“‘Sir,’ said he, ‘allow me to remark, on my side, that you understand as little of it as I.’Five days after this letter was written to Voltaire by Wilhelmina from Baireuth, Frederick, on the 17th of September, 1757, wrote his sister from near Erfurt. This letter, somewhat abbreviated, was as follows:详情
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