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Title: History of Frederick the Second - Called Frederick the Great.
Author: Abbott, John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "History of Frederick the Second - Called Frederick the Great." ***




[Illustration: FREDERICK THE GREAT. ÆT. 73.]








  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by


  In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


It is not surprising that many persons, not familiar with the wild
and wondrous events of the past, should judge that many of the honest
narratives of history must be fictions--mere romances. But it is
difficult for the imagination to invent scenes more wonderful than can
be found in the annals of by-gone days. The novelist who should create
such a character as that of Frederick William, or such a career as that
of Frederick the Great, would be deemed guilty of great exaggeration,
and yet the facts contained in this volume are beyond all contradiction.

Mr. Carlyle has written the Life of Frederick the Great in six closely
printed volumes of over five hundred pages each. It is a work of much
ability and accuracy. There are, however, but few persons, in this
busy age, who can find time to read three thousand pages of fine type,
descriptive of events, many of which have lost their interest, and
have ceased to possess any practical value. Still, the student who has
leisure to peruse these voluminous annals of all the prominent actors
in Europe during the reign of Frederick and of his half-insane father,
will find a rich treat in the wonderfully graphic and accurate pages of

This volume is intended to give a clear and correct idea of the man--of
his public and private character, and of his career. It would be
difficult to find, in the whole range of English literature, a theme
more full of the elements of entertainment and instruction.

The reader of these pages will be oppressed with the consciousness of
how vast a proportion of the miseries of humanity is caused by the
cruelty of man to his brother man. This globe might be a very happy
home for those who dwell upon it. But its history, during the last six
thousand years, has presented one of the most appalling tragedies of
which the imagination can conceive. Among all the renowned warriors of
the past, but few can be found who have contributed more to fill the
world with desolated homes, with the moans of the dying, with the cry
of the widow and the orphan, than Frederick the Great; but he laid the
foundations of an empire which is at this moment the most potent upon
the globe.





  Origin of the Prussian Monarchy.--The Duchies of Brandenburg and
    Prussia.--The Elector crowned King Frederick I.--Frederick
    William.--His Childhood, Youth, and Marriage.--Birth of Fritz.--
    Death of Frederick I.--Eccentric Character of Frederick William.--
    His defective Education.--His Energy.--Curious Anecdotes.--
    Hatred of the French.--Education of Fritz.--The Father’s Plan of
    Instruction                                                       17



  The Palace of Wusterhausen.--Wilhelmina and Fritz.--Education of
    the Crown Prince.--Rising Dislike of the Father for his Son.--The
    Mother’s Sympathy.--The double Marriage.--Character of George I.--
    The King of England visits Berlin.--Wilhelmina’s Account of the
    Interview.--Sad Fate of the Wife of George I.--The Giant Guard.--
    Despotism of Frederick William.--The Tobacco Parliament.--A
    brutal Scene.--Death of George I.--The Royal Family of Prussia.--
    Augustus, King of Poland.--Corruption of his Court.--Cruel
    Treatment of Fritz.--Insane Conduct of the King                   36



  The King an Artist.--Cruel Exactions of the King.--Conflicts of
    Etiquette.--Quarrel with George II.--Nuptial Intrigues.--Energetic
    Action of Frederick William.--Marriage of Frederica Louisa.--Fritz
    and his Flute.--Wrath of the King.--Beats Wilhelmina and Fritz.--
    Attempts to strangle Fritz.--The Hunt at Wusterhausen.--Intrigues
    in reference to the Double Marriage.--Anguish of Wilhelmina.--
    Cruelty of her Mother.--Resolve of Fritz to escape to England     58



  Objections to the British Alliance.--Obstinacy of the King.--
    Wilhelmina’s Journal.--Policy of Frederick William and of George
    II.--Letter from Fritz.--The Camp of Mühlberg.--The Plan of
    Escape.--The Flight arrested.--Ungovernable Rage of the King.--
    Endeavors to kill his Son.--Arrest and Imprisonment of Fritz.--
    Terror of his Mother and Sister.--Wilhelmina imprisoned           80



  Spirited Conduct of Fritz.--Fortress of Cüstrin.--Prison Fare.--
    Wilhelmina’s Captivity.--Sad Fate of Doris Ritter.--Motives of
    the King.--Doom of Lieutenant Katte.--Pathetic Supplications.--
    The Execution.--Peril of Fritz.--Theology of the King.--Letter
    from Fritz.--Sufferings of Wilhelmina.--Brutality of the King.--
    Wilhelmina brought to Terms                                      100



  Wilhelmina’s Letter to her Mother.--Cruel Response.--The Court
    Festival.--First Interview with the Prince of Baireuth.--His
    Character and Appearance.--Interview between the King and Fritz.--
    The Partial Reconciliation.--Divine Decrees.--The King’s Sense
    of Justice.--The King’s Discipline of the Judges.--Character of
    Fritz.--Wilhelmina’s Annoyances.--Her Marriage.--Interview between
    Wilhelmina and Fritz.--The Departure                             118



  Matrimonial Intrigues.--Letters from the King to his Son.--Letter
    from Fritz to Grumkow.--Letter to Wilhelmina.--The Betrothal.--
    Character of Elizabeth.--Her cruel Reception by the Prussian
    Queen.--Letter from Fritz to Wilhelmina.--Disappointment and
    Anguish of Elizabeth.--Studious Habits of Fritz.--Continued
    Alienation of his Father.--The Marriage.--Life in the Castle at
    Reinsberg                                                        136



  The Castle at Reinsberg.--Slender Purses of Fritz and Wilhelmina.--
    Liberality of Fritz.--The Ball at Monbijou.--Adventures of Fritz
    and Wilhelmina.--Letters.--The Interview.--Anecdote of the King.--
    Wilhelmina’s Account of her Brother.--Mental and Physical Maladies
    of the King.--Frederick’s cruel Neglect of his Wife.--Daily Habits
    of the young Prince.--The shameful Carousal                      152



  Voltaire and Madame Du Châtelet.--Letter from Frederick to Voltaire.--
    The Reply.--Visit to the Prince of Orange.--Correspondence.--The
    Crown Prince becomes a Mason.--Interesting Letter from the Crown
    Prince.--Petulance and declining Health of the King.--Scenes in the
    Death-chamber.--Characteristic Anecdotes.--The Dying Scene       172



  Establishment of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.--Religious
    Toleration.--A Free Press.--Sternness of the young King.--Domestic
    Habits of the King.--Provision for the Queen-mother.--Absolutism of
    the King.--Journey to Strasbourg.--First Interview with Voltaire



  The Herstal Affair.--The Summons.--Voltaire’s Manifesto.--George II.
    visits Hanover.--The Visit of Wilhelmina to Berlin.--Unpopularity
    of the King.--Death of the Emperor Charles VI.                   206



  Deceptive Measures of Frederick.--Plans for the Invasion of Silesia.--
    Avowed Reasons for the Invasion.--The Ball in Berlin.--The March of
    the Army.--Hardships and Successes.--Letter to Voltaire.--Capture
    of Glogau.--Capture of Brieg.--Bombardment of Neisse             218



  Embarrassments of Frederick.--Attempts a Compromise.--New Invasion
    of Silesia.--Intrigues for the Imperial Crown.--Rivalry between
    England and France.--Death of Anne of Russia.--Energy of
    Austria.--Narrow Escape of Frederick.--Frederick’s Antipathy to
    Christianity.--Capture of Glogau.--Peril of Frederick.--The Siege
    of Neisse                                                        237



  Preparing for the Battle.--The Surprise.--The Snow-encumbered
    Plain.--Horror of the Scene.--Flight of Frederick.--His Shame
    and Despair.--Unexpected Victory of the Prussians.--Letters of
    Frederick.--Adventures of Maupertuis                             254



  The Encampment at Brieg.--Bombardment.--Diplomatic Intrigues.--
    Luxury of the Spanish Minister.--Rising Greatness of Frederick.--
    Frederick’s Interview with Lord Hyndford.--Plans of France.--
    Desperate Prospects of Maria Theresa.--Anecdote of Frederick.--
    Joint Action of England and Holland.--Heroic Character of Maria
    Theresa.--Coronation of the Queen of Hungary                     265



  An extraordinary Interview.--Carlyle’s Sympathy.--Trifling Demeanor
    of Frederick.--Conspiracy in Breslau.--Guile of Frederick.--The
    successful Stratagem.--Crossing the Neisse.--The Co-operation of
    France.--Anguish of Maria Theresa.--Inflexible Will of Frederick.--
    Duplicity of the King.--The Surrender of Neisse                  275



  Frederick’s Motives for the War.--Marriage of William Augustus.--
    Testimony of Lord Macaulay.--Frederick and his Allies.--Visit to
    Dresden.--Military Energy.--Charles Albert chosen Emperor.--The
    Coronation.--Effeminacy of the Saxon Princes.--Disappointment and
    Vexation of Frederick.--He withdraws in Chagrin.--The Cantonment on
    the Elbe.--Winter Campaigning.--The Concentration at Chrudim     295



  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    309



  Correspondence between Frederick and Voltaire.--Voltaire’s Visit to
    Frederick.--Domestic Habits of the King.--Unavailing Diplomacy
    of Voltaire.--The New Alliance.--The Renewal of War.--The Siege
    of Prague.--The Advance upon Vienna.--Darkening Prospects.--The
    Pandours.--Divisions in Council.--Sickness of Louis XV.--Energy of
    Frederick.--Distress of the Army                                 326



  The Retreat ordered.--Awful Suffering.--Narrow Escape of the King.--
    The Flight from Prague.--Military Mistakes of the King.--Frederick
    returns to Berlin.--His wonderful administrative Ability.--Poland
    joins Austria.--The Austrians enter Silesia.--Unreasonable Demands
    of Frederick.--Humiliation of the King.--Prince Charles and his
    Bride.--Character of Leopold.--Death of the Emperor.--Bavaria
    turns against Frederick.--Anecdotes of Prince Leopold.--Peril of
    Frederick.--Battle of Hohenfriedberg.--Signal Victory of Frederick



  Battle of Hohenfriedberg.--Religious Antagonism.--Anecdote of the
    King.--Retreat of the Austrians.--Horrors of War.--“A slight
    Pleasantry.”--Sufferings of the Prussian Army.--The Victory of
    Fontenoy.--Frederick’s Pecuniary Embarrassments.--Executive
    Abilities of Maria Theresa.--Inflexibility of the Austrian Queen.--
    The Retreat to Silesia.--The Surprise at Sohr.--Military Genius of
    Frederick.--Great Victory of Sohr                                352



  Sufferings of the Peasantry.--Renown and Peril of Frederick.--New
    Plan of Maria Theresa.--Despondency of Frederick.--Surprise and
    Rout of the Austrians.--The “Old Dessauer” enters Saxony.--Battle
    of Kesseldorf.--Singular Prayer of the Old Dessauer.--Signal
    Victory of the Prussians.--Elation of Frederick.--The Peace of
    Dresden.--Death of M. Duhan                                      364



  Days of Peace and Prosperity.--The Palace of Sans Souci.--Letter
    from Marshal Keith.--Domestic Habits of the King.--Frederick’s
    Snuff-boxes.--Anecdotes.--Severe Discipline of the Army.--
    Testimony of Baron Trenck.--The Review.--Death of the “Divine
    Emilie.”--The King’s Revenge.--Anecdote of the Poor Schoolmaster.--
    The Berlin Carousal.--Appearance of his Majesty.--Honors conferred
    upon Voltaire                                                    375



  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                                          387



  Secret Preparations for a Coalition.--Frederick’s Embarrassments.--
    The uncertain Support of England.--Causes of the War.--Commencement
    of Hostilities.--Letter from Frederick to his Sister Amelia.--
    Letter to his Brother.--The Invasion of Saxony.--Misfortunes of the
    Royal Family of Poland.--Battle of Lobositz.--Energetic Military
    Movements.--Prisoners of War compelled to enlist in the Prussian
    Service.--Dispatches from Frederick.--Battle of Prague.--Battle of
    Kolin.--Retreat of Frederick.--Death of Sophia Dorothea          402



  Grief of the King over his Mother’s Death.--Interesting Letters.--
    Forces in the Field.--The March upon Dresden.--Devotion of
    Wilhelmina.--Atheism of the King.--Wilhelmina to Voltaire.--
    Despair of Frederick.--Great Victory of Rossbach.--Description of
    the Battle.--Utter Rout of the Allies.--Elation of Frederick.--His
    Poem on the Occasion.--Ravages of War                            418



  Results of the Battle of Rossbach.--The Attack upon Breslau.--
    Extraordinary Address of the King to his Troops.--Confidence of the
    Prussians in their Commander.--Magnificent Array of the Austrians
    at Leuthen.--Tactics of Frederick.--The Battle Hymn.--The Battle
    and the Victory.--Scenes after the Battle.--Recapture of Breslau by
    Frederick                                                        434



  Destruction of the Army of Prince Charles.--Dismay in Vienna.--
    Testimony of Napoleon I.--Of Voltaire.--Wretchedness of the King.--
    Compromise rejected.--New Preparations for War.--Treaty between
    England and Prussia.--Plan of the Campaign.--Siege of Olmütz.--
    Death of Prince Augustus William.--The Baggage Train.--The
    irreparable Disaster.--Anxiety of Frederick for Wilhelmina.--The
    March against the Russians.--The Battle of Zorndorf.--Anecdotes of
    Frederick                                                        445



  Frederick’s Attempt to Rescue his Brother.--Captured Dispatches.--
    Battle of Hochkirch.--Defeat and Retreat of Frederick.--Death of
    Wilhelmina.--Letter to Voltaire.--Rejoicings at Vienna.--The Siege
    of Neisse.--The Siege of Dresden.--Conflagrations and Terror.--
    The Siege raised by Frederick.--Results of the Third Campaign.--
    Unavailing Efforts for Peace.--Despair of Frederick              463



  Desperate Exertions of Frederick.--Aid from England.--Limited
    Resources.--Opening of the Campaign.--Disgraceful Conduct of
    Voltaire.--Letter to Voltaire.--An Act of Desperation.--Letter to
    Count Finckenstein.--Frankfort taken by the Prussians.--Terrible
    Battle of Kunersdorf.--Anguish of Frederick.--The Disastrous
    Retreat.--Melancholy Dispatch.--Contemplating Suicide.--Collecting
    the Wrecks of the Army.--Consternation in Berlin.--Letters to
    D’Argens.--Wonderful Strategical Skill.--Literary Efforts of the
    King                                                             475



  Winter Encampment.--Death of Maupertuis.--Infamous Conduct of
    Voltaire.--Reproof by the King.--Voltaire’s Insincerity.--
    Correspondence.--The King publishes his Poems.--Dishonorable
    Conduct of the King.--New Encampment near Dresden.--Destruction
    of Frederick’s Army in Silesia.--Atrocities perpetrated by the
    Austrians.--Astonishing March.--The Austrians outwitted.--Dresden
    bombarded and almost destroyed by Frederick.--Battle of Liegnitz.--
    Utter Rout of the Austrians.--Undiminished Peril of Frederick.--
    Letter to D’Argens                                               495



  Incessant Marches and Battles.--Letter from Frederick to D’Argens.--
    Letter to his Brother Henry.--Berlin summoned to Surrender.--
    Sacking of the City.--Letter to D’Argens.--Desperate Resolves of
    Frederick.--The Resort of Suicide.--Remarkable Address of Frederick
    to his Generals.--Bloody Battle of Torgau.--Dismal Night-scene.--
    Familiarity of the King with the Soldiers.--Winter Quarters at
    Freiberg.--Singular Letter to the Countess of Camas.--Death of the
    Princess Amelia.--Anecdotes of the King.--His domestic Habits.--
    His unscrupulous Measures to obtain Men and Money.--Letter of
    Charlotte of Mecklenburg                                         507



  Commencement of the Sixth Campaign.--The Fortified Camp at
    Bunzelwitz.--Skillful Engineering.--Unintermitted Toil of the
    Soldiers.--Retreat of the Russians.--Loss of Schweidnitz.--
    Peculiar Treatment of General Zastrow.--Close of the Sixth
    Campaign.--The King at Breslau.--Desponding Letter to D’Argens.--
    Death of Elizabeth of Russia.--Accession of Peter III.--His
    Marriage with the Daughter of a Prussian General.--Takes the
    Baptismal Name of Catharine.--Assassination of Peter III.--
    Curious Proclamation by the Empress.--Commencement of the Seventh
    Campaign.--Alliance of Russia with Prussia.--Withdrawal from the
    Alliance.--Termination of the War                                522



  The King patronizes literary and scientific Men.--Anecdotes.--
    The Family Quarrel.--Birth of Frederick William III.--Rapid
    Recuperation of Prussia.--The King’s Tour of Observation.--Desolate
    Aspect of the Country.--Absolutism of Frederick.--Interview between
    Frederick and D’Alembert.--Unpopularity of Frederick.--Death of the
    King of Poland.--Plans for the Partition of Poland.--Intrigues of
    Catharine.--Interview between Frederick and the Emperor Joseph.--
    Poland seized by Russia, Prussia, and Austria.--The Division of the
    Spoil.--Remorse of Maria Theresa.--Indifference of Frederick to
    public Opinion                                                   536



  Character of the Crown Prince.--Stratagem of the Emperor Joseph
    II.--Death of the Empress Catharine of Russia.--Matrimonial
    Alliance of Russia and Prussia.--Death of the King of Bavaria.--
    Attempt to Annex Bavaria to Austria.--Unexpected Energy of
    Frederick.--Court Intrigues.--Preparations for War.--Address to
    the Troops.--Declaration of War.--Terror in Vienna.--Irritability
    of Frederick.--Death of Voltaire.--Unjust Condemnation of the
    Judges.--Death of Maria Theresa.--Anecdote.--The King’s Fondness
    for Children.--His Fault-finding Spirit.--The King’s Appearance.--
    The Last Review.--Statement of Mirabeau.--Anecdote related by Dr.
    Moore.--Frederick’s Fondness for Dogs.--Increasing Weakness.--
    Unchanging Obduracy toward the Queen.--The Dying Scene           550


  Frederick the Great. Æt. 73              _Frontispiece._
  Frederick the Great                                   19

  Baptism of Frederick                                  22

  Frederick William                                     23

  The little Drummer                                    29

  The Arsenal                                           31

  The Sausage Car                                       33

  Making a Soldier of him                               39

  Captain of the Giant Guards                           43

  The Tobacco Parliament                                46

  Royalty at Dinner                                     57

  Wilhelmina                                            62

  The Dressing-gown                                     68

  A Royal Executioner                                   71

  Frederick and his Sister                              79

  The Flight arrested                                   90

  Frederick William enraged                             94

  Destroying the Letters                                96

  Wilhelmina Imprisoned                                 99

  Frederick in Prison                                  102

  Doris Ritter’s Punishment                            104

  Frederick at Katte’s Execution                       108

  Grumkow’s conference with Wilhelmina                 116

  Disciplining the Judges                              126

  Berlin Palace                                        129

  The Reconciliation                                   133

  The Betrothal                                        143

  Frederick and Wilhelmina                             159

  The King and his Servant                             162

  Fritz in his Library                                 165

  The Banquet                                          170

  The Crown Prince entering the Tobacco Parliament     182

  Frederick meeting his Ministers                      190

  Frederick in the Garden                              196

  Frederick’s first Interview with Voltaire            204

  The Death-scene of the Emperor                       215

  Map of Silesia                                       217

  The March into Silesia                               224

  Attack upon Neisse                                   235

  Frederick on the Field of Baumgarten                 241

  The Assault on Glogau                                246

  Map illustrating the Mollwitz Campaign               247

  The Night before Mollwitz                            251

  Flight of Frederick                                  257

  Frederick at the Mill                                260

  Battle of Mollwitz                                   261

  Frederick’s Interview with Valori                    272

  Frederick and the British Ministers                  276

  The Queen’s Appeal to the Hungarian Nobles           289

  The King approaching Schnellendorf                   290

  Map of the second Silesian Campaign                  294

  Frederick the Great. Æt. 30                          296

  The young Lords of Saxony on a winter Campaign       303

  Map illustrating the Campaign in Moravia             306

  Frederick concentrating his Army at Chrudim          308

  Battle of Chotusitz                                  310

  Maria Theresa at the head of her Army                317

  The Pandours                                         332

  The King in the Tower at Collin                      337

  Prince Leopold inspecting the Army in his “Cart.”    343

  Battle of Hohenfriedberg, June 4, 1745               350

  The Retreat of the Austrians                         354

  A slight Pleasantry                                  357

  Frederick and the Old Dessauer                       371

  Frederick at the Death-bed of M. Duhan               374

  Sans Souci                                           375

  The new Palace at Potsdam                            376

  Frederick and Linsenbarth                            382

  Tournament at Berlin in honor of Frederick           386

  The Invasion of Saxony                               405

  Battle of Lobositz, October 1, 1756                  407

  The Battle of Prague, May 6, 1757                    412

  Battle of Kolin, June 18, 1757                       416

  After the Defeat                                     417

  Sophia Dorothea                                      419

  Map of the Campaign of Rossbach                      430

  Battle of Rossbach, November 5, 1757                 431

  Map of the Leuthen Campaign                          438

  Battle of Leuthen, December 5, 1757                  440

  The King in search of Lodgings                       444

  Siege of Olmütz, May 12-July 2, 1758                 450

  Charge of General Seidlitz at Zorndorf               457

  Battle of Zorndorf, August 25, 1758                  459

  Campaign of Hochkirch                                464

  Battle of Hochkirch, October 14, 1758                467

  Frederick crossing the Oder                          481

  Battle of Kunersdorf, August 12, 1759                485

  Frederick asleep in the hut at Oetscher              488

  Battle of Maxen, November 20, 1759                   494

  The winter Camp                                      496

  Battle of Liegnitz, August 16, 1760                  505

  Sacking the Palace                                   510

  Battle of Torgau, November 3, 1760                   512

  The King’s Bivouac                                   525

  The Empress Catharine                                530

  Assassination of Peter III.                          531

  The Officer and the Curate                           535

  Frederick the Great. Æt. 59                          537

  Map of the East                                      546

  Condemnation of the Judges                           558

  Maria Theresa at the Tomb of her Husband             560

  The last Review                                      564

  Frederick and his Dogs                               567




  Origin of the Prussian Monarchy.--The Duchies of Brandenburg and
    Prussia.--The Elector crowned King Frederick I.--Frederick
    William.--His Childhood, Youth, and Marriage.--Birth of Fritz.--
    Death of Frederick I.--Eccentric Character of Frederick William.--
    His defective Education.--His Energy.--Curious Anecdotes.--
    Hatred of the French.--Education of Fritz.--The Father’s Plan of

On the southern coasts of the Baltic Sea, between the latitudes
of 52° and 54°, there lies a country which was first revealed to
civilized eyes about three hundred years before the birth of Christ.
The trading adventurers from Marseilles, who landed at various points
upon the coast, found it a cold, savage region of lakes, forests,
marshy jungles, and sandy wastes. A shaggy tribe peopled it, of
semi-barbarians, almost as wild as the bears, wolves, and swine
which roamed their forests. As the centuries rolled on, centuries of
which, in these remote regions, history takes no note, but in which
the gloomy generations came and went, shouting, fighting, weeping,
dying, gradually the aspect of a rude civilization spread over those
dreary solitudes. The savage inhabitants, somewhat tamed, increased in
numbers, and there appeared a tall and manly race of fair complexion,
light hair, stern aspect, great physical strength, and very formidable
in battle.

Still centuries elapsed, leaving little for history to record but war
and woe. Fierce tribes swept in all directions. Battle was life’s
great business. Man, ignorant, degraded, brutal, could have had but
few if any joys. Perhaps, through his degradation, his woes were only
such as beasts feel. By degrees, from this chaos, a certain kind of
governmental order emerged. Small tribes became united under powerful
chieftains. Kings arose. There were all varieties of political
organizations, dukedoms, principalities, marquisates, and electorates.
It is recorded that Adalbert, bishop of Prag, about the year 997,
with two companions, as apostles of Christianity, first penetrated
these wilds. Like Christian heroes they went, with staff and scrip,
regardless of danger. The bishop was fifty years of age, and his gray
hairs floated in the breeze. As he landed a stout savage struck him
with the flat of his oar, and sent him headlong to the ground.

The zealous bishop, perhaps not unwilling to secure the crown of
martyrdom, pressed on, preaching the Gospel, in face of prohibitions
and menaces, until he entered one of the sacred inclosures which was
a sanctuary of the idols of these heathen. The priests rushed upon
him, endeavored to drive him out, and struck him with a dagger in
the back of his neck. He uttered but one cry, “Jesus, receive me!”
and, stretching out his arms, fell with his face to the ground, and
lay dead there “in the form of a crucifix.” The place is yet pointed
out where Adalbert fell. Still the seeds of Christianity were sown.
Other missionaries followed. Idolatry disappeared, and the realm
became nominally Christian. Revealed religion introduced increased
enlightenment and culture, though there still remained much of the
savagery of ancient days.

When the Reformation in the sixteenth century was presented to Europe,
and was rejected by Italy, France, Austria, and Spain, it was accepted,
though not unanimously, yet very generally, by the inhabitants of this
wild region. In the year 1700 there was, in the midst of the realm
of which we are about to write, and which is now called Prussia, a
province then known as the Marquisate of Brandenburg. It embraced
a little over fifteen thousand square miles, being about twice as
large as the State of Massachusetts. It was one of the electorates
of Germany, and the elector or marquis, Frederick, belonged to the
renowned family of Hohenzollern. To the east of Brandenburg there was a
duchy called Prussia. This duchy, in some of the political agitations
of the times, had been transferred to the Marquis of Brandenburg. The
Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick, an ambitious man, rejoicing in the
extent of his domain, which was large for a marquisate, though small
for a monarchy, obtained from the Emperor of Germany its recognition
as a kingdom, and assumed the title of Frederick I. of Prussia. Many
of the proud monarchies of Europe did not conceal the contempt with
which they regarded this petty kingdom. They received the elector
into their society very much as haughty nobles, proud of a long line
of illustrious ancestry, would receive a successful merchant who had
purchased a title. Frederick himself was greatly elated with the honor
he had attained, and his subjects shared with him in his exultation.

[Illustration: FREDERICK THE GREAT.]

Berlin was the capital of Brandenburg. Königsberg, an important
sea-port on the Baltic, nearly five hundred miles east of Berlin, was
the capital of the Prussian duchy. The ceremony of coronation took
place at Königsberg. The road, for most of the distance, was through
a very wild, uncultivated country. Eighteen hundred carriages, with
thirty thousand post-horses, were provided to convey the court to the
scene of coronation. Such a cavalcade was never beheld in those parts
before. The carriages moved like an army, in three divisions of six
hundred each. Volumes have been written descriptive of the pageant. It
is said that the diamond buttons on the king’s coat cost seven thousand
five hundred dollars each. The streets were not only tapestried with
the richest cloth of the most gorgeous colors, but many of them were
softly carpeted for the feet of the high-born men and proud dames who
contributed, by their picturesque costume, to the brilliance of the
spectacle. Frederick, with his own hands, placed the crown upon his
brow. Thus was the kingdom of Prussia, ushered into being at the close
of the year 1700.

Frederick I. had a son, Frederick William, then twelve years of age.
He accompanied his father upon this coronation tour. As heir to the
throne he was called the Crown Prince. His mother was a Hanoverian
princess, a sister of the Elector George of Hanover, who subsequently
became George I. of England. George I. did not succeed to the British
crown until the death of Anne, in 1714. When Frederick William was but
five years of age he had been taken by his mother to Hanover, to visit
her brother, then the elector. George had two children--a little girl,
named Sophie Dorothee, a few months older than Frederick William, and
a son, who subsequently became George II. of England. The two boys did
not love each other. They often quarreled. Though Frederick William
was the younger, it is said that on one occasion he severely beat his
cousin, the future King of England, causing the blood to flow freely.
He developed a very energetic but unamiable character. Among other
anecdotes illustrative of his determined spirit, it is recorded that at
one time, during this visit, his governess ordered some task which he
was unwilling to perform. The headstrong boy sprang out of the third
story window of the castle, and, clinging to the sill with his hands,
threatened to let himself drop. The terrified Madame Montbail was thus
brought to terms.[1]

Sophie Dorothee was a very pretty child. The plan was probably already
contemplated by the parents that the two should be married in due
time. Soon after this Frederick William lost his mother, and with her
all of a mother’s care and gentle influences. Her place was taken by
a step-mother, whose peevishness and irritability soon developed into
maniacal insanity. When Frederick William was eighteen years of age he
was allowed to choose between three princesses for his wife. He took
his pretty cousin, Sophie Dorothee. They were married with great pomp
on the 28th of November, 1706.

A son was born and died. A daughter came, Wilhelmina. But a daughter
could not inherit the crown. Another son was born and died. There was
great anxiety at court, from fear that the direct line of succession
might not be preserved. But on the 24th of January, 1712, when the
monarchy was but twelve years old, the little prince was born who
subsequently obtained such renown as Frederick the Great. The king,
his grandfather, was aged and infirm. The excessive joy with which he
greeted little Fritz, as he fondly called the child, was cordially
reciprocated throughout the Prussian nation. The realm blazed with
bonfires and illuminations, and resounded with every demonstration of
public joy. The young prince was christened with great pomp, Charles
Frederick. The emperor, Charles VI., was present on the occasion,
and in the solemnities there were blended the most imposing civil,
military, and ecclesiastical rites. The baptism took place on the
31st of January, 1712, when the babe was a week old. The young prince
subsequently dropped the name of Charles, and Frederick became his sole
designation. Wilhelmina, Frederick’s sister, was about three years
older than himself. We shall have frequent occasion to allude to her in
the course of this history, as between her and her brother there sprang
up a warm attachment, which was of life-long continuance. Ten children
were subsequently born to the royal pair, making fourteen in all, most
of whom attained mature years.

Frederick William, the Crown Prince, was at the time of the birth of
his son Frederick twenty-four years of age. He was a very peculiar
man, sturdy and thick-set in figure, of strong mental powers, but quite
uneducated. He was unpolished in manners, rude in his address, honest
and sincere, a stern, persevering worker, despising all luxurious
indulgence, and excessively devoted to the routine of military duties.


The king, Frederick I., had for some time been in a feeble state of
health. The burden of life had proved heavier than he was able to
bear. His wife was crazed, his home desolate, his health broken, and
many mortifications and disappointments had so crushed his spirits
that he had fallen into the deepest state of melancholy. As he was
sitting alone and sad in a chill morning of February, 1713, gazing
into the fire, absorbed in painful musings, suddenly there was a crash
of the glass door of the apartment. His frenzied wife, half-clad,
with disheveled hair, having escaped from her keepers, came bursting
through the shattered panes. Her arms were gashed with glass, and she
was in the highest state of maniacal excitement. The shock proved a
death-blow to the infirm old king. He was carried to his bed, which
he never left, dying in a few days. His grandson Frederick was then
fourteen months old.

[Illustration: FREDERICK WILLIAM.]

Frederick William was too stern a man to shed many tears over his
father’s death. The old king was ostentatious in his tastes, fond of
parade and splendor. The son had almost an insane contempt for all
court etiquette and all the elegancies of life. As he stood by his
father’s dying bed, his unamiable, rugged nature developed itself in
the disgust, almost rage, with which he regarded the courtly pageantry
with which the expiring monarch was surrounded. The remains of the king
were allowed to be conveyed to the tomb with that pomp which had been
dear to him while living.

But, immediately after these ceremonies were over, the new monarch,
who assumed the crown with the title of Frederick William, not with
that of Frederick II., to the utter consternation of the court,
dismissed nearly every honorary official of the palace, from the
highest dignitary to the humblest page. His flashing eye and determined
manner were so appalling that no one ventured to remonstrate. A clean
sweep was made, so that the household was reduced to the lowest
footing of economy consistent with the supply of indispensable wants.
Eight servants were retained at six shillings a week. His father had
thirty pages; all were dismissed but three. There were one thousand
saddle-horses in the royal stables; Frederick William kept thirty.
Three fourths of the names were struck from the pension-list. Thus
rigidly the king went on through every department of administrative and
household expenses, until they were reduced to below a fifth of what
they had been under his father.

For twenty-seven years this strange man reigned. He was like no other
monarch. Great wisdom and shrewdness were blended with unutterable
folly and almost maniacal madness. Though a man of strong powers of
mind, he was very illiterate. He certainly had some clear views of
political economy. Carlyle says of him, “His semi-articulate papers
and rescripts on these subjects are still almost worth reading by a
lover of genuine human talent in the dumb form. For spelling, grammar,
penmanship, and composition they resemble nothing else extant--are as
if done by the paw of a bear; indeed, the utterance generally sounds
more like the growling of a bear than any thing that could be handily
spelled or parsed. But there is a decisive human sense in the heart of
it; and there is such a dire hatred of empty bladders, unrealities, and
hypocritical forms and pretenses, which he calls wind and humbug, as is
very strange indeed.”

His energy inspired the whole kingdom, and paved the way for the
achievements of his son. The father created the machine with which the
son attained such wonderful results. He commuted the old feudal service
into a fixed money payment. He goaded the whole realm into industry,
compelling even the apple-women to knit at the stalls. The crown
lands were carefully farmed out. He drained bogs, planted colonies,
established manufactures, and in every way encouraged the use of
Prussian products. He carried with him invariably a stout rattan cane.
Upon the slightest provocation, like a madman, he would thrash those
who displeased him. He was thoroughly an arbitrary king, ruling at his
sovereign will, and disposing of the liberty, the property, and the
lives of his subjects at his pleasure. Every year he was accumulating
large masses of coin, which he deposited in barrels in the cellar
of his palace. He had no powers of graceful speech, but spent his
energetic, joyless life in grumbling and growling.

The Prussian minister, Baron Pöllnitz, in a letter from Berlin dated
June 6, 1729, writes: “The king’s prime minister is the king himself,
who is informed of every thing, and is desirous to know every thing.
He gives great application to business, but does it with extraordinary
ease; and nothing escapes his penetration nor his memory, which is a
very happy one. No sovereign in the world is of more easy access, his
subjects being actually permitted to write to him without any other
formality than superscribing the letter _To the King_. By writing
underneath, _To be delivered into his Majesty’s own hands_, one may be
sure that the king receives and reads it, and that the next post he
will answer it, either with his own hands or by his secretary. These
answers are short, but peremptory. There is no town in all the King
of Prussia’s dominions, except Neufchatel, where he has not been; no
province which he does not know full well; nor a court of justice but
he is acquainted with its chief members.”

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 shoulders 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

Regardless himself of comfort, insensible to fatigue, dead to
affection, he created perhaps the most potent military machine earth
has ever known. Prussia was an armed camp. The king prized his soldiers
as a miser prizes his gold coin, and was as unwilling to expose them
to any danger as the miser is to hazard his treasures. War would thin
his regiments, soil his uniforms, destroy his _materiel_. He hated war.
But his army caused Prussia to be respected. If needful, he could throw
one hundred thousand of the best drilled and best furnished troops in
Europe, like a thunderbolt, upon any point. Unprincipled monarchs would
think twice before they would encroach upon a man thus armed.

There was but one short war in which Frederick William engaged during
his reign of twenty-seven years. That was with Charles XII. of Sweden.
It lasted but a few months, and from it the Prussian king returned
victorious. The demands of Frederick William were not unreasonable. As
he commenced the brief campaign, which began and ended with the siege
of Stralsund, he said: “Why will the very king whom I most respect
compel me to be his enemy?” In his characteristic farewell order to his
ministers, he wrote: “My wife shall be told of all things, and counsel
asked of her. And as I am a man, and may be shot dead, I command you
and all to take care of Fritz, as God shall reward you. And I give
you all, wife to begin with, my curse that God may punish you in time
and eternity if you do not, after my death, bury me in the vault of
the palace church at Berlin. And you shall make no grand to-do on the
occasion. On your body and life no festivals and ceremonials, except
that the regiments, one after the other, fire a volley over me. I am
assured that you will manage every thing with all the exactness in the
world, for which I shall ever, zealously, as long as I live, be your

The king was scrupulously clean, washing five times a day. He would
allow no drapery, no stuffed furniture, no carpets in his apartments.
They caught dust. He sat upon a plain wooden chair. He ate roughly,
like a farmer, of roast beef, despising all delicacies. His almost
invariable dress was a close military blue coat, with red cuffs and
collar, buff waistcoat and breeches, and white linen gaiters to the
knee. A sword was belted around his loins, and, as we have said, a
stout rattan or bamboo cane ever in his hand. A well-worn, battered,
triangular hat covered his head. He walked rapidly through the streets
which surrounded his palaces at Potsdam and Berlin. If he met any
one who attracted his attention, male or female, he would abruptly,
menacingly inquire, “Who are you?” A street-lounger he has been known
to hit over the head with his cane, exclaiming, “Home, you rascal, and
go to work.” If any one prevaricated or hesitated, he would sternly
demand, “Look me in the face.” If there were still hesitancy, or the
king were dissatisfied with the answers, the one interrogated was lucky
if he escaped without a caning.[3]

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,
after having the young man carefully examined, assigned him to a

The French minister at the court of Berlin, Count Rothenburg, was a
Prussian by birth. He was a man of much diplomatic ability, and a very
accomplished gentleman. Having spent much of his life in Paris, he had
acquired the polished manners of the French court, and wore the costume
appropriate to the Tuileries and Versailles. He and his associates
in the embassy attracted much attention as they appeared in their
cocked hats, flowing wigs, laced coats, and other gorgeous trimmings.
The king, in his homespun garb, was apprehensive that the example so
obnoxious to him might spread.

There was to be a grand review on the parade-ground just out from
Berlin, at which the French embassy was to be present. The king caused
a party equal in number, composed of the lowest of the people, to be
dressed in an enormous exaggeration of the French costume. Their cocked
hats were nearly a yard in diameter. Immense wigs reached to their
heels; and all other parts of the French court costume were caricatured
in the most grotesque manner possible. As soon as the French embassy
appeared, there was a great sound of trumpets and martial bands from
another part of the field, and these harlequins were brought forward
to the gaze of every eye, and conspicuously to the view of Count
Rothenburg and his companions. Military discipline prevented any
outburst of derisive laughter. Perfect silence reigned. The king sat
upon his horse as stolid and grim as fate. Count Rothenburg yielded to
this gross discourtesy of the king, and ever after, while he remained
in Berlin, wore a plain German costume.

Frederick William was very anxious that little Fritz should be
trained to warlike tastes and habits; that, like himself, he should
scorn all effeminacy; that, wearing homespun clothes, eating frugal
food, despising all pursuits of pleasure and all literary tastes, he
should be every inch a soldier. But, to the bitter disappointment
of the father, the child manifested no taste for soldiering. He was
gentle, affectionate, fond of books and music,[4] and with an almost
feminine love clung to his sister. The stern old king was not only
disappointed, but angered. These were qualities which he deemed
unmanly, and which he thoroughly despised.

[Illustration: THE LITTLE DRUMMER.]

One day the father, returning home, found, to his inexpressible
delight, little Fritz strutting about beating a drum, with Wilhelmina
marching by his side. The king could scarcely restrain his joy. At last
the military element was being developed in his child. He hastened
with the tidings to his wife, whom he called by the pet name of
“Phiekin”--a word apparently coined from Sophie. The matter was talked
about all over the palace. A painter was sent for to transfer the
scene to canvas. This picture, greatly admired, still hangs upon the
walls of the Charlottenburg palace. Of this picture Carlyle writes:
“Fritz is still, if not in ‘long-clothes,’ at least in longish and
flowing clothes of the petticoat sort, which look as of dark blue
velvet, very simple, pretty, and appropriate; in a cap of the same;
has a short raven’s feather in the cap, and looks up with a face and
eyes full of beautiful vivacity and child’s enthusiasm, one of the
beautifulest little figures, while the little drum responds to his bits
of drumsticks. Sister Wilhelmina, taller by some three years, looks on
in pretty stooping attitude, and with a graver smile. Blackamoor and
room-furniture elegant enough; and finally the figure of a grenadier on
guard, seen far off through an open window, make up the background.”

The early governess of little Fritz was a French lady of much
refinement and culture, Madame Racoule. She was in entire sympathy with
her pupil. Their tastes were in harmony. Fritz became as familiar with
the French language as if it were his mother tongue. Probably through
her influence he acquired that fondness for French literature and that
taste for French elegance which continued with him through life.

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:

“The Crown Prince manifests in this tender age an uncommon capacity,
nay, we may say, something quite extraordinary. He is a most alert
and vivacious prince. He has fine and sprightly manners, and shows a
certain kindly sociality and so affectionate a disposition that all
things may be hoped of him. The French lady who has had charge of him
hitherto can not speak of him without enthusiasm. ‘He is a little
angel,’ she is wont to say. He takes up and learns whatever is placed
before him with the greatest facility.”

[Illustration: THE ARSENAL.]

When Fritz was seven years of age, he was taken from the care of his
female teachers and placed under tutors who had been carefully selected
for him. They were all military officers who had won renown on fields
of blood. The first of these was M. Duhan, a French gentleman of
good birth and acquirements. He was but thirty years of age. By his
accomplishments he won the esteem, and by his amiability the love, of
his pupil. Count Finkenstein, the second, was a veteran general, sixty
years old, who also secured the affections of little Fritz. Colonel
Kalkstein was twenty-eight years of age. He was a thorough soldier
and a man of honor. For forty years, until his death, he retained the
regards of his pupil, who was ever accustomed to speak of him as “my
master Kalkstein.” In the education of the young prince every thing
was conducted in accordance with the most inflexible routine. From the
minute directions given to the teachers in a document drawn up by the
father, bunglingly expressed and wretchedly spelled, we cull out the

“My son must be impressed with love and fear of God, as the foundation
of our temporal and eternal welfare. No false religions or sects of
Atheist, Arian, Socinian, or whatever name the poisonous things have,
which can so easily corrupt a young mind, are to be even named in his
hearing. He is to be taught a proper abhorrence of papistry, and to
be shown its baselessness and nonsensicality. Impress on him the true
religion, which consists essentially in this, that Christ died for all
men. He is to learn no Latin, but French and German, so as to speak and
write with brevity and propriety.

“Let him learn arithmetic, mathematics, artillery, economy, to the
very bottom; history in particular; ancient history only slightly,
but the history of the last hundred and fifty years to the exactest
pitch. He must be completely master of geography, as also of whatever
is remarkable in each country. With increasing years you will more and
more, to an especial degree, go upon fortification, the formation of a
camp, and other war sciences, that the prince may, from youth upward,
be trained to act as officer and general, and to seek all his glory in
the soldier profession. You have, in the highest measure, to make it
your care to infuse into my son a true love for the soldier business,
and to impress on him that, as there is nothing in the world which
can bring a prince renown and honor like the sword, so he would be a
despised creature before all men if he did not love it and seek his
glory therein.”

In October, 1723, when the prince was eleven years of age, his
grandfather, George I., came to Berlin to visit his daughter and his
son-in-law, the mother and father of Fritz. From the windows of his
apartment he looked out with much interest upon Fritz, drilling his
cadet company upon the esplanade in front of the palace. The clock-work
precision of the movements of the boy soldiers greatly surprised him.

Every year Frederick William rigorously reviewed all his garrisons.
Though accompanied by a numerous staff, he traveled with Spartan
simplicity, regardless of exposure and fatigue. From an early age he
took Fritz with him on these annual reviews. A common vehicle, called
the sausage car, and which was the most primitive of carriages, was
often used by the king in his rough travels and hunting excursions.
This consisted of a mere stuffed pole, some ten or twelve feet long,
upon which one sits astride, as if riding a rail. It rested upon
wheels, probably with a sort of stirrup for the feet, and the riders,
ten or a dozen, were rattled along over the rough roads, through dust
or mud, alike regardless of winter’s frost or summer’s rain. The
cast-iron king, rejoicing in hardship and exposure, robbed his delicate
child even of needful sleep, saying, “Too much sleep stupefies a

[Illustration: THE SAUSAGE CAR.]

This rude, coarse discipline was thoroughly uncongenial to the Crown
Prince. He was a boy of delicate feelings and sensitive temperament.
The poetic nature very decidedly predominated in him. He was fond of
music, played the flute, wrote verses, and was literary in his tastes.
He simply hated chasing boars, riding on the sausage car, and being
drenched with rain and spattered with mud. The old king, a mere animal
with an active intellect, could not appreciate, could not understand
even, the delicate mental and physical organization of his child.
It is interesting to observe how early in life these constitutional
characteristics will develop themselves, and how unavailing are all
the efforts of education entirely to obliterate them. When Frederick
William was a boy, he received, as a present, a truly magnificent
dressing-gown, of graceful French fashion, richly embroidered with
gold. Indignantly he thrust the robe into the fire, declaring that he
would wear no such finery, and demanded instead a jacket of wholesome
homespun. Fritz, on the contrary, could not endure the coarse homespun,
but, with almost girlish fondness, craved handsome dress. He had no
money allowance until he was seventeen years of age. A minute account
was kept of every penny expended for him, and the most rigid economy
was practiced in providing him with the mere necessaries of life. When
Fritz was in the tenth year of his age, his father gave the following
curious directions to the three teachers of his son in reference to his
daily mode of life. The document, an abridgment of which we give, was
dated Wusterhausen, September 3, 1721:

“On Sunday he is to rise at seven o’clock, and, as soon as he has got
his slippers on, shall kneel at his bedside and pray to God, so as all
in the room may hear, in these words:

“‘Lord God, blessed Father, I thank thee from my heart that thou hast
so graciously preserved me through this night. Fit me for what thy holy
will is, and grant that I do nothing this day, nor all the days of my
life, which can divide me from thee; for the Lord Jesus my Redeemer’s
sake. Amen.’

“After which the Lord’s Prayer; then rapidly and vigorously wash
himself clean; dress, and powder, and comb himself. While they are
combing and queuing him, he is to breakfast on tea. Prayer, washing,
breakfast, and the rest to be done pointedly within fifteen minutes.

“This finished, his domestics and preceptor, Duhan, shall come in
and perform family worship. Prayer on their knees. Duhan to read a
chapter of the Bible, and sing some proper psalm or hymn. All the
domestics then withdraw, and Duhan reads my son the Gospel of the
Sunday, expounds it a little, adducing the main points of Christianity,
and questioning him from Noltenius’s Catechism. It will then be nine

“At nine o’clock he brings my son down to me, who goes to church and
dines with me at twelve o’clock. The rest of the day is his own. At
half past nine in the evening he shall come and bid me good-night;
shall then go directly to his room; very rapidly get off his clothes,
wash his hands, and, as soon as that is done, Duhan shall make a prayer
on his knees and sing a hymn, all the servants being there again.
Instantly after which my son shall get into bed; shall be _in_ bed at
half past ten.

“On Monday, as on all week-days, he is to be called at six o’clock, and
so soon as he is called he is to rise. You are to stand by him that
he do not loiter or turn in bed, but briskly and at once get up and
say his prayers the same as on Sunday morning. This done, he shall, as
rapidly as he can, get on his shoes and spatterdashes, also wash his
face and hands, but not with soap; shall put on his dressing-gown, have
his hair combed and queued, but not powdered. While being combed and
queued, he shall, at the same time, take breakfast of tea, so that both
jobs go on at once; and all this shall be ended before half past six.
Preceptor and domestics shall then come in with Bible and hymn-books,
and have family worship as on Sunday. This shall be done by seven

“From seven till nine Duhan takes him on history; at nine o’clock comes
Noltenius” (a clergyman from Berlin) “with the Christian religion till
a quarter to eleven. Then Fritz rapidly washes his face with water, his
hands with soap and water; clean shirt; powders and puts on his coat.
At eleven o’clock he comes to the king, dines with him at twelve, and
stays till two.

“Directly at two he goes back to his room. Duhan is then ready; takes
him upon maps and geography from two to three o’clock, giving account
of all the European kingdoms, their strength and weakness; the size,
riches, and poverty of their towns. From three o’clock till four Duhan
shall treat of morality; from four till five shall write German letters
with him, and see that he gets a good style. About five o’clock Fritz
shall wash his hands and go to the king; ride out, and divert himself
in the air, and not in his room, and do what he likes if it is not
against God.”

Thus the employments of every hour were strictly specified for every
day in the week. On Wednesday he had a partial holiday. After half
past nine, having finished his history and “got something by heart to
strengthen the memory, Fritz shall rapidly dress himself and come to
the king, and the rest of the day belongs to little Fritz.” On Saturday
he was to be reviewed in all the studies of the week, “to see whether
he has profited. General Finkenstein and Colonel Kalkstein shall be
present during this. If Fritz has profited, the afternoon shall be his
own. If he has not profited, he shall from two o’clock till six repeat
and learn rightly what he has forgotten on the past days. In undressing
and dressing, you must accustom him to get out of and into his clothes
as fast as is humanly possible. You will also look that he learn to put
on and put off his clothes himself, without help from others, and that
he be clean, and neat, and not so dirty.”



  The Palace of Wusterhausen.--Wilhelmina and Fritz.--Education of
    the Crown Prince.--Rising Dislike of the Father for his Son.--The
    Mother’s Sympathy.--The double Marriage.--Character of George I.--
    The King of England visits Berlin.--Wilhelmina’s Account of the
    Interview.--Sad Fate of the Wife of George I.--The Giant Guard.--
    Despotism of Frederick William.--The Tobacco Parliament.--A
    brutal Scene.--Death of George I.--The Royal Family of Prussia.--
    Augustus, King of Poland.--Corruption of his Court.--Cruel
    Treatment of Fritz.--Insane Conduct of the King.

Wusterhausen, where the young Crown Prince spent many of these early
years of his life, was a rural retreat of the king about twenty miles
southeast from Berlin. The palace consisted of a plain, unornamented,
rectangular pile, surrounded by numerous outbuildings, and rising
from the midst of low and swampy grounds tangled with thickets and
interspersed with fish-pools. Game of all kinds abounded in those
lakelets, sluggish streams, and jungles.

In the court-yard there was a fountain with stone steps, where
Frederick William loved to sit on summer evenings and smoke his pipe.
He frequently took his frugal dinner here in the open air under a
lime-tree, with the additional protection of an awning. After dinner
he would throw himself down for a nap on a wooden bench, apparently
regardless of the flaming sun.

There seems to have been but little which was attractive about this
castle. It was surrounded by a moat, which Wilhelmina describes as a
“black, abominable ditch.” Its pets were shrieking eagles, and two
black bears ugly and vicious. Its interior accommodations were at
the farthest possible remove from luxurious indulgence. “It was a
dreadfully crowded place,” says Wilhelmina, “where you are stuffed into
garrets and have not room to turn.”

Still Wusterhausen was but a hunting-lodge, which was occupied by
the king only during a few weeks in the autumn. Fritz had many
playmates--his brothers and sisters, his cousins, and the children of
General Finkenstein. To most boys, the streams, and groves, and ponds
of Wusterhausen, abounding with fish and all kinds of game, with ponies
to drive and boats to row, with picturesque walks and drives, would
have been full of charms. But the tastes of Fritz did not lie in that
direction. He does not seem to have become strongly attached to any of
his young companions, except to his sister Wilhelmina. The affection
and confidence which united their hearts were truly beautiful. They
encountered together some of the severest of life’s trials, but
heartfelt sympathy united them. The nickname which these children gave
their unamiable father was _Stumpy_.

There were other abodes of the king, the Berlin and Potsdam palaces,
which retained much of the splendor with which they had been
embellished by the splendor-loving monarch, Frederick I. There were but
few regal mansions in the world which then surpassed them. And though
the king furnished his own apartments with Spartan simplicity and
rudeness, there were other portions of these royal residences, as also
their surroundings in general, which were magnificent in the highest
degree. The health of little Fritz was rather frail, and at times he
found it hard to devote himself to his sturdy tasks with the energy
which his father required.

Though Fritz wrote a legible business hand, was well instructed in most
points of useful knowledge, and had a very decided taste for elegant
literature, he never attained correctness in spelling. The father
was bitterly opposed to Latin. Perhaps it was the prohibition which
inspired the son with an intense desire to learn that language. He took
secret lessons. His vigilant father caught him in the very act, with
dictionary and grammar, and a teacher by his side. The infuriated king,
volleying forth his rage, would have caned the teacher had he not in
terror fled.[5]

The king soon learned, to his inexpressible displeasure and
mortification, that his boy was not soldierly in his tastes; that he
did not love the rude adventures of the chase, or the exposure and
hardships which a martial life demands. He had caught Fritz playing the
flute, and even writing verses. He saw that he was fond of graceful
attire, and that he was disposed to dress his hair in the French
fashion. He was a remarkably handsome boy, of fine figure, with a
lady’s hand and foot, and soft blonde locks carefully combed. All this
the king despised. Scornfully and indignantly he exclaimed, “My son is
a flute-player and a poet!” In his vexation he summoned Fritz to his
presence, called in the barber, and ordered his flowing locks to be cut
off, cropped, and soaped in the most rigid style of military cut.

The father was now rapidly forming a strong dislike to the character
of his son. In nothing were they in harmony. Five princesses had been
born, sisters of Fritz. At last another son was born, Augustus William,
ten years younger than Frederick. The king turned his eyes to him,
hoping that he would be more in sympathy with the paternal heart. His
dislike for Fritz grew continually more implacable, until it assumed
the aspect of bitter hatred.

Sophie Dorothee tenderly loved her little Fritz, and, with a mother’s
fondness, endeavored to shield him, in every way in her power, from his
father’s brutality. Wilhelmina also clung to her brother with devotion
which nothing could disturb. Thus both mother and daughter incurred
in some degree the hatred with which the father regarded his son. It
will be remembered that the mother of Fritz was daughter of George I.
of England. Her brother subsequently became George II. He had a son,
Fred, about the age of Wilhelmina, and a daughter, Amelia, six months
older than Fritz. The mother, Sophie Dorothee, had set her heart upon a
double marriage--of Wilhelmina with Fred, and of Fritz with Amelia.
But many obstacles arose in the way of these nuptials.

[Illustration: MAKING A SOLDIER OF HIM.]

George was a taciturn, jealous, sullen old man, who quarreled with his
son, who was then Prince of Wales. The other powers of Europe were
decidedly opposed to this double marriage, as it would, in their view,
create too intimate a union between Prussia and England, making them
virtually one. Frederick William also vexatiously threw hinderances
in the way. But the heart of the loving mother, Sophie Dorothee, was
fixed upon these nuptials. For years she left no efforts of diplomacy
or intrigue untried to accomplish her end. George I. is represented by
Horace Walpole as a stolid, stubborn old German, living in a cloud of
tobacco-smoke, and stupefying his faculties with beer. He had in some
way formed a very unfavorable opinion of Wilhelmina, considering her,
very falsely, ungainly in person and fretful in disposition. But at
last the tact of Sophie Dorothee so far prevailed over her father, the
British king, that he gave his somewhat reluctant but positive consent
to the double matrimonial alliance. This was in 1723. Wilhelmina was
then fourteen years of age. Fritz, but eleven years old, was too young
to think very deeply upon the subject of his marriage. The young
English Fred bore at that time the title of the Duke of Gloucester.
He soon sent an envoy to Prussia, probably to convey to his intended
bride presents and messages of love. The interview took place in the
palace of Charlottenburg, a few miles out from Berlin. The vivacious
Wilhelmina, in the following terms, describes the interview in her

“There came, in those weeks, one of the Duke of Gloucester’s gentlemen
to Berlin. The queen had a soiree. He was presented to her as well
as to me. He made a very obliging compliment on his master’s part. I
blushed and answered only by a courtesy. The queen, who had her eye on
me, was very angry that I had answered the duke’s compliments in mere
silence, and rated me sharply for it, and ordered me, under pain of her
indignation, to repair that fault to-morrow. I retired all in tears to
my room, exasperated against the queen and against the duke. I vowed I
would never marry him.

“Meanwhile the King of England’s time of arrival was drawing nigh. We
repaired on the 6th of October to Charlottenburg to receive him. My
heart kept beating. I was in cruel agitations. King George arrived on
the 8th about seven in the evening. The King of Prussia, the queen, and
all their suite received him in the court of the palace, the apartments
being on the ground floor. So soon as he had saluted the king and queen
I was presented to him. He embraced me, and, turning to the queen,
said, ‘Your daughter is very large of her age.’ He gave the queen his
hand and led her into her apartment, whither every body followed them.
As soon as I came in he took a light from the table and surveyed me
from head to foot. I stood motionless as a statue, and was much put out
of countenance. All this went on without his uttering the least word.
Having thus passed me in review, he addressed himself to my brother,
whom he caressed much and amused himself with for a good while.

“The queen made me a sign to follow her, and passed into a neighboring
apartment, where she had the English and Germans of King George’s suite
successively presented to her. After some talk with these gentlemen she
withdrew, leaving me to entertain them, and saying, ‘Speak English to
my daughter; you will find she speaks it very well.’ I felt much less
embarrassed when the queen was gone, and, picking up a little courage,
entered into conversation with these English. As I spoke their language
like my mother tongue I got pretty well out of the affair, and every
body seemed charmed with me. They made my eulogy to the queen; told her
I had quite the English air, and was made to be their sovereign one
day. It was saying a great deal on their part; for these English think
themselves so much above all other people that they imagine that they
are paying a high compliment when they tell any one he has got English

“Their king” (Wilhelmina’s grandfather) “was of extreme gravity,
and hardly spoke a word to any body. He saluted Madam Sonsfeld, my
governess, very coldly, and asked if I was always so serious, and if my
humor was of a melancholy turn. ‘Any thing but that, sire,’ answered
Madam Sonsfeld; ‘but the respect she has for your majesty prevents her
from being as sprightly as she commonly is.’ He shook his head and said
nothing. The reception he had given me, and this question, gave me such
a chill that I never had the courage to speak to him.”

The wife of George I., the mother of Sophie Dorothee, was the subject
of one of the saddest of earthly tragedies. Her case is still involved
in some obscurity. She was a beautiful, haughty, passionate princess
of Zelle when she married her cousin George, Elector of Hanover.
George became jealous of Count Königsmark, a very handsome courtier of
commanding address. In an angry altercation with his wife, it is said
that the infuriate husband boxed her ears. Suddenly, on the 1st of
July, 1694, Count Königsmark disappeared. Mysteriously he vanished from
earth, and was heard of no more. The unhappy wife, who had given birth
to the daughter Sophie Dorothee, bearing her mother’s name, and to a
son, afterward George II., almost frenzied with rage, was divorced
from her husband, and was locked up in the gloomy castle of Ahlden,
situated in the solitary moors of Luneburg heath. Here she was held in
captivity for thirty years, until she died. In the mean time, George,
ascending the throne of England, solaced himself in the society of
female favorites, none of whom he honored with the title of wife. The
raging captive of Ahlden, who seems never to have become submissive to
her lot, could, of course, exert no influence in the marriage of her

Wilhelmina says that her grandpapa George was intolerably proud after
he had attained the dignity of King of England, and that he was
much disposed to look down upon her father, the King of Prussia, as
occupying a very inferior position. Vexatiously he delayed signing
the marriage treaty, to which he had given a verbal assent, evading
the subject and presenting frivolous excuses. The reputation of the
English Fred was far from good. He had attained eighteen years of age,
was very unattractive in personal appearance, and extremely dissolute.
George I., morose and moody, was only rendered more obstinate by being
pressed. These delays exasperated Frederick William, who was far from
being the meekest of men. Poor Sophie Dorothee was annoyed almost
beyond endurance. Wilhelmina took the matter very coolly, for she
declared that she cared nothing about her cousin Fred, and that she had
no wish to marry him.

The months rolled rapidly on, and Fritz, having entered his fourteenth
year, was appointed by his father, in May, 1725, captain in the Potsdam
Grenadier Guard. This giant regiment has attained world-wide renown,
solely from the peculiarity of its organization. Such a body of men
never existed before, never will again. It was one of the singular
freaks of the Prussian king to form a grenadier guard of men of
gigantic stature. In the prosecution of this senseless aim not only his
own realms were ransacked, but Europe and even Asia was explored in
search of giants. The army was with Frederick William the great object
of life, and the giant guard was the soul of the army. This guard
consisted of three battalions, 800 in each, 2400 in all. The shortest
of the men were nearly seven feet high. The tallest were almost nine
feet in height. They had been gathered, at an enormous expense, out
of every country where they could be found. No greater favor could be
conferred upon the king than to obtain for him a giant. Many amusing
anecdotes are related of the stratagems to which the king resorted to
obtain these mammoth soldiers. Portraits were painted of all of them.
Frederick William paid very little regard to individual rights or to
the law of nations if any chance presented itself by which he could
seize upon one of these monster men. Reigning in absolutism, compared
with which the despotism of Turkey is mild, if he found in his domains
any young woman of remarkable stature, he would compel her to marry one
of his giants. It does not, however, appear that he thus succeeded in
perpetuating a gigantic race.


Prussian recruiters were sent in all directions to search with eagle
eyes for candidates for the Potsdam Guard. Their pay was higher than
that of any other troops, and they enjoyed unusual privileges. Their
drill and discipline were as perfect as could by any possibility be
achieved. The following stories are apparently well-authenticated,
describing the means to which the king often resorted to obtain these

In the town of Zulich there was a very tall young carpenter by the
name of Zimmerman. A Prussian recruiting officer, in disguise, Baron
von Hompesch, entered the shop and ordered a stout chest to be made,
“six feet six inches in length, at least--at all events, longer than
yourself, Mr. Zimmerman. Mind you,” he added, “if too short it will
be of no service to me.” At the appointed time he called for the
chest. Looking at it, he exclaimed, in apparent disappointment, “Too
short, as I dreaded!” “I am certain it is over six feet six,” said the
carpenter, taking out his rule. “But I said that it was to be longer
than yourself,” was the reply. “Well, it is,” rejoined the carpenter.
To prove it, he jumped into the chest. Hompesch slammed down the lid,
locked it, whistled, and three stout fellows came in, who shouldered
the chest and carried it through the streets to a remote place outside
of the town. Here the chest was opened, and poor Zimmerman was found
dead, stifled to death.

On another occasion, an Austrian gentleman, M. Von Bentenrieder, who
was exceedingly tall, was journeying from Vienna to Berlin as the
embassador from the Emperor Charles VI. to the Congress of Cambrai.
When near Halberstadt some part of his carriage broke. While the smith
was repairing it, M. Bentenrieder walked on. He passed a Prussian
guard-house, alone, in plain clothes, on foot, an immensely tall,
well-formed man. It was too rich a prize to be lost. The officials
seized him, and hurried him into the guard-house. But soon his carriage
came along with his suite. He was obsequiously hailed as “Your
Excellency.” The recruiting officers of Frederick William, mortified
and chagrined, with many apologies released the embassador of the

As we have mentioned, the agents of the King of Prussia were eager
to kidnap tall men, in whatever country they could find them. This
greatly exasperated the rulers of the various realms of all sizes and
conditions which surrounded the Prussian territory. Frederick William
was always ready to apologize, and to aver that each individual act was
done without his orders or knowledge. Still, there was no abatement of
this nuisance. Several seizures had been made in Hanover, which was the
hereditary domain of George I., King of England. George was very angry.
He was increasingly obstinate in withholding his assent to the double
marriage, and even, by way of reprisal, seized several of the subjects
of Frederick William, whom he caught in Hanover.

Sophie Dorothee seemed to have but one thought--the double marriage.
This would make Wilhelmina queen of England, and would give her
dear son Frederick an English princess for his bride. Her efforts,
embarrassments, disappointments, were endless. Frederick William began
to be regarded by the other powers as a very formidable man, whose
alliance was exceedingly desirable. His army, of sixty thousand men,
rapidly increasing, was as perfect in drill and discipline as ever
existed. It was thoroughly furnished with all the appliances of war.
The king himself, living in Spartan simplicity, and cutting down the
expenses of his court to the lowest possible figure, was consecrating
the resources of his realm to the promotion of its physical strength,
and was accumulating iron-bound casks of gold and silver coin in the
cellars of his palace. It became a matter of much moment to every court
in Europe whether such a monarch should be its enemy or its ally.

After a long series of intrigues, a narrative of which would not
interest the reader, Frederick William was induced to enter into an
alliance, offensive and defensive, with the Emperor Charles VI. of
Germany. This was renouncing the alliance with England, and threw an
additional obstacle in the way of the double marriage. Sophie Dorothee
was bitterly disappointed, and yet pertinaciously struggled on to
accomplish her end.

There was an institution, if we may so call it, in the palace of
the King of Prussia which became greatly renowned, and which was
denominated “The Tobacco College,” or “Tobacco Parliament.” It
consisted simply of a smoking-room very plainly furnished, where the
king and about a dozen of his confidential advisers met to smoke and
to talk over, with perfect freedom and informality, affairs of state.
Carlyle thus quaintly describes this _Tabagie_:


“Any room that was large enough, and had height of ceiling and air
circulation, and no cloth furniture, would do. And in each palace is
one, or more than one, that has been fixed upon and fitted out for that
object. A high room, as the engravings give it us; contented, saturnine
human figures, a dozen or so of them, sitting around a large, long
table furnished for the occasion; a long Dutch pipe in the mouth of
each man; supplies of knaster easily accessible; small pan of burning
peat, in the Dutch fashion (sandy native charcoal, which burns slowly
without smoke), is at your left hand; at your right a jug, which I find
to consist of excellent, thin, bitter beer; other costlier materials
for drinking, if you want such, are not beyond reach. On side-tables
stand wholesome cold meats, royal rounds of beef not wanting, with
bread thinly sliced and buttered; in a rustic, but neat and abundant
way, such innocent accommodations, narcotic or nutritious, gaseous,
fluid, and solid, as human nature can require. Perfect equality is the
rule; no rising or no notice taken when any body enters or leaves. Let
the entering man take his place and pipe without obligatory remarks.
If he can not smoke, let him at least affect to do so, and not ruffle
the established stream of things. And so puff, slowly puff! and any
comfortable speech that is in you, or none, if you authentically have
not any.”

Distinguished strangers were often admitted to the _Tabagie_. The Crown
Prince Fritz was occasionally present, though always reluctantly. The
other children of this numerous family not unfrequently came in to bid
papa good-night. Here every thing was talked of, with entire freedom,
all court gossip, the adventures of the chase, diplomacy, and the
administrative measures of the government. Frederick William had but
very little respect for academic culture. He had scarcely the slightest
acquaintance with books, and gathered around him mainly men whose
knowledge was gained in the practical employments of life. It would
seem, from many well-authenticated anecdotes, which have come down to
us from the _Tabagie_, that these smoking companions of the king, like
Frederick William himself, must have been generally a coarse set of men.

One of this smoking cabinet was a celebrated adventurer named Gundling,
endowed with wonderful encyclopedian knowledge, and an incorrigible
drunkard. He had been every where, seen every thing, and remembered all
which he had either heard or seen. Frederick William had accidentally
picked him up, and, taking a fancy to him, had clothed him, pensioned
him, and introduced him to his Tabagie, where his peculiar character
often made him the butt of ridicule. He was excessively vain, wore
a scarlet coat, and all manner of pranks were cut up by these boon
companions, in the midst of their cups, at his expense.

Another adventurer, by the name of Fassman, who had written books, and
who made much literary pretension, had come to Berlin and also got
introduced to the Tabagie. He was in character very like Gundling, and
the two could never agree. Fassman could be very sarcastic and bitter
in his speech. One evening, as the king and his smoking cabinet were
sitting enveloped in the clouds which they were breathing forth, and
were all muddled with tobacco and beer--for the king himself was a
hard drinker--Fassman so enraged Gundling by some cutting remarks,
that the latter seized his pan of burning peat and red-hot sand and
dashed it into the face of his antagonist. Fassman, who was much the
more powerful of the two, was seriously burned. He instantly grasped
his antagonist, dragged him down, and beat him savagely with his hot
pan, amidst roars of laughter from the beer-stupefied bacchanals.

The half-intoxicated king gravely suggests that such conduct is hardly
seemly among gentlemen; that the duel is the more chivalric way of
settling such difficulties. Fassman challenges Gundling. They meet
with pistols. It is understood by the seconds that it is to be rather
a Pickwickian encounter. The trembling Gundling, when he sees his
antagonist before him, with the deadly weapon in his hand, throws his
pistol away, which his considerate friends had harmlessly loaded with
powder only, declaring that he would not shoot any man, or have any
man shoot him. Fassman sternly advances with his harmless pistol, and
shoots the powder into Gundling’s wig. It blazes into a flame. With
a shriek Gundling falls to the ground as if dead. A bucket of water
extinguishes the flames, and roars of laughter echo over the chivalric
field of combat.

Such was the Tobacco Parliament in its trivial aspects. But it had
also its serious functions. Many questions were discussed there which
stirred men’s souls, and which roused the ambition or the wrath of the
stern old king to the utmost pitch.

We have now reached the year 1726. The Emperor of Germany declares that
he can never give his consent to the double marriage with the English
princes. Frederick William, who is not at all fond of his wife’s
relatives, and is annoyed by the hesitancy which his father-in-law
has manifested in reference to it, is also turning his obstinate
will against the nuptial alliance. A more imperative and inflexible
man never breathed. This year the unhappy wife of George I. died,
unreconciled, wretched, exasperated, after thirty years’ captivity
in the castle of Ahlden. Darker and darker seemed the gloom which
enveloped the path of Sophie Dorothee. She still clung to the marriages
as the dearest hope of her heart. It was with her an ever-present
thought. But Frederick William was the most obdurate and obstinate of

“The wide, overarching sky,” writes Carlyle, “looks down on no more
inflexible sovereign man than him, in the red-collared blue coat and
white leggins, with the bamboo in his hand; a peaceable, capacious, not
ill-given sovereign man, if you will let him have his way; but to bar
his way, to tweak the nose of his sovereign royalty, and ignominiously
force _him_ into another way, that is an enterprise no man or devil, or
body of men or devils, need attempt. The first step in such an attempt
will require to be the assassination of Frederick Wilhelm, for you may
depend upon it, royal Sophie, so long as he is alive the feat can not
be done.”

While these scenes were transpiring the Crown Prince was habitually
residing at Potsdam, a favorite royal residence about seventeen miles
west from Berlin. Here he was rigidly attending to his duties in
the giant regiment. We have now, in our narrative, reached the year
1727. Fritz is fifteen years of age. He is attracting attention by
his vivacity, his ingenuous, agreeable manners, and his fondness for
polite literature. He occasionally is summoned by his father to the
Smoking Cabinet. But the delicacy of his physical organization is such
that he loathes tobacco, and only pretends to smoke, with mock gravity
puffing from his empty, white clay pipe. Neither has he any relish for
the society which he meets there. Though faithful to the mechanical
duties of the drill, they were very irksome to him. His books and his
flute were his chief joy. Voltaire was just then rising to celebrity
in France. His writings began to attract the attention of literary
men throughout Europe. Fritz, in his youthful enthusiasm, was charmed
by them. In the latter part of June, 1729, a courier brought the
intelligence to Berlin that George I. had suddenly died of apoplexy. He
was on a journey to Hanover when he was struck down on the road. Almost
insensible, he was conveyed, on the full gallop, to Osnabrück, where
his brother, who was a bishop, resided, and where medical aid could be
obtained. But the shaft was fatal. At midnight his carriage reached
Osnabrück. The old man, sixty-seven years of age, was heard to murmur,
“It is all over with me,” and his spirit passed away to the judgment.

The death of George I. affected the strange Frederick William very
deeply. He not only shed tears, but, if we may be pardoned the
expression, blubbered like a child. His health seemed to fail, and
hypochondria, in its most melancholy form, tormented him. As is not
unusual in such cases, he became excessively religious. Every enjoyment
was deemed sinful, if we except the indulgence in an ungovernable
temper, which the self-righteous king made no attempt to curb.
Wilhelmina, describing this state of things with her graphic pen,

“He condemned all pleasures; damnable all of them, he said. You were
to speak of nothing but the Word of God only. All other conversation
was forbidden. It was always he who carried on the improving talk at
table, where he did the office of reader, as if it had been a refectory
of monks. The king treated us to a sermon every afternoon. His valet de
chambre gave out a psalm, which we all sang. You had to listen to this
sermon with as much devout attention as if it had been an apostle’s. My
brother and I had all the mind in the world to laugh. We tried hard to
keep from laughing, but often we burst out. Thereupon reprimand, with
all the anathemas of the Church hurled on us, which we had to take with
a contrite, penitent air--a thing not easy to bring your face to at
the moment.”

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:

“He used to say that he would reserve for himself ten thousand crowns
a year, and retire with the queen and his daughters to Wusterhausen.
‘There,’ added he, ‘I will pray to God, and manage the farming economy,
while my wife and girls take care of the household matters. You,
Wilhelmina, are clever; I will give you the inspection of the linen,
which you shall mend and keep in order, taking good charge of laundry
matters. Frederica, who is miserly, shall have charge of all the stores
of the house. Charlotte shall go to market and buy our provisions. My
wife shall take charge of the little children and of the kitchen.’”

At that time the family consisted of nine children. Next to Wilhelmina
and Fritz came Frederica, thirteen; Charlotte, eleven; Sophie Dorothee,
eight; Ulrique, seven; August Wilhelm, five; Amelia, four; and Henry, a
babe in arms.

Some of the courtiers, in order to divert the king from his melancholy,
and from these ideas of abdication, succeeded in impressing upon him
the political necessity of visiting Augustus, the King of Poland, at
Dresden. The king did not intend to take Fritz with him. But Wilhelmina
adroitly whispered a word to Baron Suhm, the Polish embassador, and
obtained a special invitation for the Crown Prince. It is a hundred
miles from Berlin to Dresden--a distance easily traversed by post in a
day. It was the middle of January, 1728, when the Prussian king reached
Dresden, followed the day after by his son. They were sumptuously
entertained for four weeks in a continuous round of magnificent
amusements, from which the melancholic King of Prussia recoiled, but
could not well escape.

Augustus, King of Poland, called “Augustus the Strong,” was a man
of extraordinary physical vigor and muscular strength. It was said
that he could break horseshoes with his hands, and crush half-crowns
between his finger and thumb. He was an exceedingly profligate man,
introducing to his palaces scenes of sin and shame which could scarcely
have been exceeded in Rome in the most corrupt days of the Cæsars.
Though Frederick William, a stanch Protestant, was a crabbed, merciless
man, drinking deeply and smoking excessively, he was irreproachable
in morals, according to the ordinary standard. Augustus, nominally a
Catholic, and zealously advocating political Catholicism, though a
good-natured, rather agreeable man, recognized no other law of life
than his own pleasure.

Augustus had formed apparently the deliberate resolve to test his
visitor by the most seductive and adroitly-arranged temptations.
But, so far as Frederick William was concerned, he utterly failed.
Upon one occasion his Prussian majesty, when conducted by Augustus,
whirled around and indignantly left the room. That evening, through his
minister, Grumkow, he informed the King of Poland that if there were
any repetition of such scenes he would immediately leave Dresden.

Fritz, however, had not his father’s strength to resist the allurements
of this wicked court. He was but sixteen years of age. From childhood
he had been kept secluded from the world, and had been reared under
the sternest discipline. He was remarkably handsome, full of vivacity,
which qualified him to shine in any society, and was heir to the
Prussian monarchy. He was, consequently, greatly caressed, and every
conceivable inducement was presented to him to lure him into the paths
of guilty pleasure. He fell. From such a fall one never on earth
recovers. Even though repentance and reformation come, a scar is left
upon the soul which time can not efface.

This visit to Dresden, so fatal to Fritz, was closed on the 12th
of February. The dissipation of those four weeks introduced the
Crown Prince to habits which have left an indelible stain upon his
reputation, and which poisoned his days. Upon his return to Potsdam
he was seized with a fit of sickness, and for many years his health
remained feeble. But he had entered upon the downward course. His
chosen companions were those who were in sympathy with his newly-formed
tastes. The career of dissipation into which the young prince had
plunged could not be concealed from his eagle-eyed father. The king’s
previous dislike to his son was converted into contempt and hatred,
which feelings were at times developed in almost insane ebullitions of

Still the queen-mother, Sophie Dorothee, clung to the double marriage.
Her brother, George II., was now King of England. His son Fred, who
had been intended for Wilhelmina, was not a favorite of his father’s,
and had not yet been permitted to go to England. In May, 1728, he was
twenty-one years of age. He was living idly in Hanover, impatient to
wed his cousin Wilhelmina, who was then nineteen years of age. He
seems to have secretly contemplated, in conference with Wilhelmina’s
mother, Sophie Dorothee, a trip incognito to Berlin, where he would
marry the princess clandestinely, and then leave it with the royal
papas to settle the difficulty the best way they could. The plan was
not executed. Wilhelmina manifested coquettish indifference to the
whole matter. She, however, writes that Queen Sophie was so confidently
expecting him that “she took every ass or mule for his royal highness.”

In May the King of Poland returned the visit of Frederick William.
He came with a numerous retinue and in great splendor. During the
past year his unhappy wife had died; and he, then fifty-five years of
age, was seeking to bargain for the hand of Wilhelmina, hoping, by
an alliance with Prussia, to promote some of his political schemes.
The wicked old Polish king was much broken by age and his “terrible
debaucheries.” He had recently suffered the amputation of two toes
from an ulcerated foot, which no medical skill could cure. He was
brought into the palace at Berlin in a sedan, covered with red velvet
embroidered with gold. Wilhelmina had no suspicion of the object of
his visit, and was somewhat surprised by the intensity of his gaze and
his glowing compliments. Diplomatic obstacles arose which silenced
the question of the marriage before Wilhelmina knew that it had been

Fritz had been for some time confined to his chamber and to his bed. He
was now getting out again. By his mother’s persuasion he wrote to his
aunt, Queen Caroline of England, expressing, in the strongest terms,
his love for her daughter the Princess Amelia, and his unalterable
determination never to marry unless he could lead her to the altar.
Though Frederick William knew nothing of these intrigues, he hated
his son with daily increasing venom. Sometimes, in a surly fit, he
would not speak to him or recognize him. Again he would treat him with
studied contempt, at the table refusing to give him any food, leaving
him to fast while the others were eating. Not unfrequently, according
to Wilhelmina’s account, he even boxed his ears, and smote him with
his cane. Wilhelmina gives us one of the letters of her brother to
his father about this time, and the characteristic paternal answer.
Frederick writes, under date of September 11, 1728, from Wusterhausen:

  “MY DEAR PAPA,--I have not, for a long while, presumed to come
  near my dear papa, partly because he forbade me, but chiefly
  because I had reason to expect a still worse reception than
  usual; and for fear of angering my dear papa by my present
  request, I have preferred making it in writing to him.

  “I therefore beg my dear papa to be gracious to me; and can here
  say that, after long reflection, my conscience has not accused
  me of any the least thing with which I could reproach myself.
  But if I have, against my will and knowledge, done any thing
  which has angered my dear papa, I herewith most submissively beg
  forgiveness, and hope my dear papa will lay aside that cruel
  hatred which I can not but notice in all his treatment of me.
  I could not otherwise suit myself to it, as I always thought I
  had a gracious papa, and now have to see the contrary. I take
  confidence, then, and hope that my dear papa will consider all
  this, and again be gracious to me. And in the mean while I assure
  him that I will never, all my days, fail with my will; and,
  notwithstanding his disfavor to me, remain my dear papa’s most
  faithful and obedient servant and son,


The returning messenger took back the following reply. It was, as
usual, ungrammatical, miserably spelled, and confused. Contemptuously
the king spoke of his son in the third person, writing _he_ and _his_
instead of _you_ and _yours_. Abruptly he commences:

  “His obstinate perverse disposition which does not love his
  father; for when one does every thing, and really loves one’s
  father, one does what the father requires, not while he is there
  to see it, but when his back is turned too. For the rest he
  knows very well that I can endure no effeminate fellow who has
  no human inclination in him; who puts himself to shame, can not
  ride or shoot; and, withal, is dirty in his person, frizzles his
  hair like a fool, and does not cut it off. And all this I have a
  thousand times reprimanded, but all in vain, and no improvement
  in nothing. For the rest, haughty; proud as a churl; speaks to
  nobody but some few, and is not popular and affable; and cuts
  grimaces with his face as if he were a fool; and does my will in
  nothing but following his own whims; no use to him in any thing
  else. This is the answer.


Still the question of the marriages remained the subject of innumerable
intrigues. There were several claimants for the hand of Wilhelmina, and
many nuptial alliances suggested for Fritz. Frederick William proposed
the marriage of Wilhelmina to Fred, the Prince of Wales, and to let
the marriage of Fritz and Amelia for the present remain undecided. But
England promptly replied “No; both marriages or none.” It is intimated
by the ministers of the Prussian king that he was influenced in his
vacillating course respecting the marriages not only by his doubts
whether the English or a German alliance would be most desirable, but
also by avarice, as he knew not what dowry he could secure with the
English princess, and by jealousy, as he was very unwilling to add to
the importance and the power of his hated son Fritz. He also disliked
extremely his brother-in-law, George II.[6]

About the middle of January, 1729, the king went upon a hunt with his
companions, taking with him Fritz, who he knew detested the rough
barbaric sport. This hunting expedition to the wilds of Brandenburg and
Pommern was one of great renown. Three thousand six hundred and two
wild swine these redoubtable Nimrods boasted as the fruits of their
prowess. Frederick William was an economical prince. He did not allow
one pound of this vast mass of wild pork to be wasted. Every man,
according to his family, was bound to take a certain portion at a fixed
price. From this fierce raid through swamps and jungles in pursuit of
wild boars the king returned to Potsdam. Soon after he was taken sick.
Having ever been a hard drinker, it is not strange that his disease
proved to be the gout. He was any thing but an amiable patient. The
pangs of the disease extorted from him savage growls, and he vented
his spleen upon all who came within the reach of his crutch or the
hearing of his tongue. Still, even when suffering most severely, he
never omitted any administrative duties. His secretaries every morning
came in with their papers, and he issued his orders with his customary
rigorous devotion to business. It was remarked that this strange man
would never allow a profane expression or an indelicate allusion in his
presence. This sickness lasted five weeks, and Wilhelmina writes, “The
pains of Purgatory could not equal those which we endured.”

During this sickness a very curious scene occurred, characteristic of
the domestic life of this royal family. The second daughter, Frederica
Louisa, “beautiful as an angel, and a spoiled child of fifteen,” was
engaged to the Marquis of Anspach. We will allow Wilhelmina to describe
the event which took place at the table. It was early in March, 1729,
while the king was still suffering from the gout:

“At table his majesty told the queen that he had letters from Anspach;
the young marquis to be at Berlin in May for his wedding; that M.
Bremer, his tutor, was just coming with the ring of betrothal for
Louisa. He asked my sister if that gave her pleasure, and how she would
regulate her housekeeping when married. My sister had got into the way
of telling him whatever she thought, and home truths sometimes, without
his taking it ill. She answered, with her customary frankness, that she
would have a good table, which should be delicately served, and, added
she, ‘which shall be better than yours. And if I have children I will
not maltreat them like you, nor force them to eat what they have an
aversion to.’

“‘What do you mean by that?’ replied the king; ‘what is there wanting
at my table?’

“‘There is this wanting,’ she said, ‘that one can not have enough; and
the little there is consists of coarse pot-herbs that nobody can eat.’

“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,

“‘You have reason to curse your mother, for it is she who causes your
being an ill-governed fellow. I had a preceptor,’ continued he, ‘who
was an honest man. I remember always a story which he told me in his
youth. There was a man at Carthage who had been condemned to die for
many crimes he had committed. While they were leading him to execution
he desired he might speak to his mother. They brought his mother. He
came near, as if to whisper something to her, and bit away a piece of
her ear. “I treat you thus,” said he, “to make you an example to all
parents who take no heed to bring up their children in the practice
of virtue.” Make the application,’ continued he, always addressing my
brother; and, getting no answer from him, he again set to abusing us
till he could speak no longer.

[Illustration: ROYALTY AT DINNER.]

“We rose from table. As we had to pass near him in going out, he
aimed a great blow at me with his crutch, which, if I had not jerked
away from it, would have ended me. He chased me for a while in his
wheel-chair, but the people drawing it gave me time to escape to the
queen’s chamber.”

That evening Wilhelmina was taken sick with burning fever and severe
pain. Still she was compelled to rise from her bed and attend a court
party. The next morning she was worse. The king, upon being told of
it, exclaimed gruffly, “Ill? I will cure you!” and compelled her to
swallow a large draught of wine. Soon her sickness showed itself to be
small-pox. Great was the consternation of her mother, from the fear
that, even should she survive, her beauty would be so marred that the
English prince would no longer desire her as his bride. Fortunately she
escaped without a scar.



  The King an Artist.--Cruel Exactions of the King.--Conflicts of
    Etiquette.--Quarrel with George II.--Nuptial Intrigues.--Energetic
    Action of Frederick William.--Marriage of Frederica Louisa.--Fritz
    and his Flute.--Wrath of the King.--Beats Wilhelmina and Fritz.--
    Attempts to strangle Fritz.--The Hunt at Wusterhausen.--Intrigues
    in reference to the Double Marriage.--Anguish of Wilhelmina.--
    Cruelty of her Mother.--Resolve of Fritz to escape to England.

While Frederick William was confined to his room, tormented by the
gout, he endeavored to beguile the hours in painting in oil. Some of
these paintings still exist, with the epigraph, “Painted by Frederick
William in his torments.” Wilhelmina writes:

“For the most part, one of his own grenadiers was the model from
which he copied. And when the portrait had more color in it than the
original, he was in the habit of coloring the cheeks of the soldier to
correspond with the picture. Enchanted with the fruits of his genius,
he showed them to his courtiers, and asked their opinion concerning
them. As he would have been very angry with any one who had criticised
them, he was quite sure of being gratified with admiration.

“‘Well,’ said he one day to an attendant, who was extolling the
beauties of one of his pictures, ‘how much do you think that picture
would bring at a sale?’

“‘Sire, it would be cheap at a hundred ducats.’

“‘You shall have it for fifty,’ said the king, ‘because you are a good
judge, and I am therefore anxious to do you a favor.’

“The poor courtier,” Wilhelmina adds, “obliged to become possessor of
this miserable performance, and to pay so dear for it, determined for
the future to be more circumspect in his admiration.”

While the king was thus suffering the pangs of the gout, his
irascibility vented itself upon his wife and children. “We were
obliged,” says Wilhelmina, “to appear at nine o’clock in the morning
in his room. We dined there, and did not dare to leave it even for
a moment. Every day was passed by the king in invectives against my
brother and myself. He no longer called me any thing but ‘the English
blackguard.’ My brother was named the ‘rascal Fritz.’ He obliged us to
eat and drink the things for which we had an aversion. Every day was
marked by some sinister event. It was impossible to raise one’s eyes
without seeing some unhappy people tormented in one way or other. The
king’s restlessness did not allow him to remain in bed. He had himself
placed in a chair on rollers, and was thus dragged all over the palace.
His two arms rested upon crutches, which supported them. We always
followed this triumphal car, like unhappy captives who are about to
undergo their sentence.”

We have now reached the summer of 1729. George II. was a weak-minded,
though a proud, conceited man, who, as King of England, assumed airs
of superiority which greatly annoyed his irascible and petulant
brother-in-law, Frederick William. Flushed with his new dignity, he
visited his hereditary domain of Hanover. The journey led him through
a portion of the Prussian territory. Courtesy required that George
II. should announce that intention to the Prussian king. Courtesy
also required that, as the British monarch passed over Prussian soil,
Frederick William should furnish him with free post-horses. “I will
furnish the post-horses,” said Frederick William, “if the king apprise
me of his intention. If he do not, I shall do nothing about it.”
George did not write. In affected unconsciousness that there was any
such person in the world as the Prussian king, he crossed the Prussian
territory, paid for his own post-horses, and did not even condescend to
give Frederick William any notice of his arrival in Hanover. The King
of Prussia, who could not but be conscious of the vast inferiority of
Prussia to England, stung to the quick by this contemptuous treatment,
growled ferociously in the Tobacco Parliament.

The English minister at Berlin, Dubourgay, wrote to Hanover, urging
that some notification of the king’s arrival should be sent to the
Prussian court to appease the angry sovereign. George replied through
Lord Townshend that, “under the circumstances, it is not necessary.”
Thus the two kings were no longer on speaking terms. It is amusing,
while at the same time it is humiliating, to observe these traits of
frail childhood thus developed in full-grown men wearing crowns. When
private men or kings are in such a state of latent hostility, an open
rupture is quite certain soon to follow. George accused Frederick
William of recruiting soldiers in Hanover. In retaliation, he seized
some Prussian soldiers caught in Hanoverian territory. There was an
acre or so of land, called the “Meadow of Clamei,” which both Hanover
and Brandenburg claimed. The grass, about eight cart-loads, had been
cut by Brandenburg, and was well dried.

On the 28th of June, 1729, the population of Bühlitz, a Hanoverian
border village, sallied forth with carts, escorted by a troop of
horse, and, with demonstrations both defiant and exultant, raked up
and carried off all the hay. The King of Prussia happened to be at
that time about one hundred miles distant from Bühlitz, at Magdeburg,
reviewing his troops. He was thrown into a towering passion. Sophie
Dorothee, Wilhelmina, Fritz, all felt the effects of his rage.
Dubourgay writes, under date of July 30, 1729:

“Her majesty, all in tears, complained of her situation. The king is
nigh losing his senses on account of the differences with Hanover; goes
from bed to bed in the night-time, and from chamber to chamber, like
one whose brains are turned. Took a fit at two in the morning lately to
be off to Wusterhausen. Since his return he gives himself up entirely
to drink. The king will not suffer the prince royal to sit next his
majesty at table, but obliges him to go to the lower end, where things
are so ordered that the poor prince often rises without getting one
bit, insomuch that the queen was obliged two days ago to send, by one
of the servants who could be trusted, a box of cold fowls and other
eatables for his royal highness’s subsistence.”

Frederick William, in his extreme exasperation, seriously contemplated
challenging George II. to a duel. In his own mind he arranged all the
details--the place of meeting, the weapons, the seconds. With a stern
sense of justice, characteristic of the man, he admitted that it would
not be right to cause the blood of his subjects to flow in a quarrel
which was merely personal. But the “eight cart-loads of hay” had been
taken under circumstances so insulting and contemptuous as to expose
the Prussian king to ridicule; and he was firm in his determination to
settle the difficulty by a duel. The question was much discussed in the
Tobacco Parliament. The Prussian ministers opposed in vain. “The true
method, I tell you,” said the king, “is the duel, let the world cackle
as it may.”

But at length one of the counselors, Baron Borck, urged the following
consideration: “Swords will be the weapons used. Your majesty has
been very sick, is now weak, and also crippled with gout. The King of
England is in health and vigor. There is great danger that your majesty
may be worsted in the combat. That would render matters tenfold worse.”

The king was staggered. War seemed the only alternative. But war would
empty his money-casks, disfigure his splendid troops, and peril the
lives even of his costly giants. One of these men, James Kirkman,
picked up in the streets of London, cost the king six thousand dollars
“before he could be inveigled, shipped, and brought to hand.” Nearly
all had cost large sums of money. Such men were too valuable to be
exposed to danger. Frederick William was in a state of extreme nervous
excitement. There was no rest for him night or day. His deep potations
did not calm his turbulent spirit. War seemed imminent. Military
preparations were in vigorous progress. Ovens were constructed to bake
ammunition bread. Artillery was dragged out from the arsenals. It was
rumored that the Prussian troops were to march immediately upon the
duchy of Mecklenburg, which was then held by George II. as an appendage
to Hanover.

All thoughts of the double marriage were for the moment relinquished.
The Czar of Russia had a son and a daughter. It was proposed to marry
Wilhelmina to the son and Fritz to the daughter, and thus to secure a
Russian instead of an English alliance. Harassed by these difficulties,
Frederick William grew increasingly morose, venting his spite upon
his wife and children. Fritz seriously contemplated escaping from his
father’s abuse by flight, and to take refuge with his uncle George in
England, and thus to secure his marriage with Amelia. The portraits
of the princess which he had seen proved her to be very beautiful.
All reports pronounced her to be as lovely in character as in person.
He was becoming passionately attached to her. Wilhelmina was his only
confidante. Regard for her alone restrained him from attempting to
escape. “He would have done so long ago,” writes Dubourgay, under date
of August 11, 1729, “were it not for his sister, upon whom the whole
weight of his father’s resentment would then fall. Happen what will,
therefore, he is resolved to share with her all the hardships which the
king, his father, may be pleased to put upon her.”

[Illustration: WILHELMINA.]

One night, about the middle of August, as the king was tossing
restlessly upon his pillow, he sprang from his bed, exclaiming
“Eureka! I now see what will bring a settlement.” Immediately a special
messenger was dispatched, with terms of compromise, to Kannegiesser,
the king’s embassador at Hanover. We do not know what the propositions
were. But the king was exceedingly anxious to avoid war. He had, in
many respects, a very stern sense of justice, and would not do that
which he considered to be wrong. When he abused his family or others he
did not admit that he was acting unjustly. He assumed, and with a sort
of fanatical conscientiousness, detestable as it was, that he was doing
right; that they deserved the treatment. And now he earnestly desired
peace, and was disposed to present the most honorable terms to avert a

Kannegiesser, at Hanover, received the king’s propositions for
reconciliation at ten o’clock in the morning of the 15th of August,
1729. George II. was then absent on a hunting excursion. The Prussian
embassador called immediately at the council-chamber of the Hanoverian
court, and informed M. Hartoff, the privy secretary, that he wished
an audience with the ministry, then in session, to make a proposition
to them from the Prussian court. Hartoff, who had met Kannegiesser
in a room adjoining the council-chamber, reported the request to
the council, and returned with the disrespectful answer that “M.
Kannegiesser must defer what he has to say to some other time.”

The Prussian minister condescended then so importunately to urge an
audience, in view of the menacing state of affairs, that M. Hartoff
returned to the council-chamber, and in seven minutes came back with an
evasive answer, still refusing to grant an audience. The next day M.
Kannegiesser called again at the council-chamber. “I let them know in
the mildest terms,” he writes in his dispatch home, “that I desired to
be admitted to speak with them, which was refused me a second time.” He
then informed M. Hartoff that the Prussian court expected a definite
answer to some propositions which had previously been sent to the
council at Hanover; that he would remain two days to receive it; that,
in case he did not receive it, he would call again, to remind them that
an answer was desired.

The next day M. Hartoff called at the residence of M. Kannegiesser, and
informed him “that the ministers, understanding that he designed to ask
an audience to-morrow to remind them of the answer which he demanded,
wished to say that such applications were not customary among sovereign
princes; that they dared not treat farther in that affair with him;
that, as soon as they received instructions from his Britannic majesty,
they would communicate to him the result.”

The Prussian minister replied that he could not conceive why he
should be refused an audience; that he should not fail to be at the
council-chamber at eleven o’clock the next day to receive an answer
to the proposals already made, and also to the proposals which he was
prepared to make. He endeavored to inform Hartoff of the terms of
compromise which the Prussian king was ready to present. But Hartoff
refused to hear him, declaring that he had positive orders not to
listen to any thing he had to say upon the subject. We will give the
conclusion in the words of the Prussian minister, as found in his
dispatch of the 18th of August, 1729:

“At eleven this day I went to the council-chamber for the third time,
and desired Secretary Hartoff to prevail with the ministry to allow
me to speak with them, and communicate what the King of Prussia had
ordered me to propose. Herr von Hartoff gave them an account of my
request, and brought me, for answer, that I must wait a little, because
the ministers were not yet all assembled; which I did. But after having
made me stay almost an hour, and after the president of the council was
come, Herr von Hartoff came out to me and repeated what he had said
yesterday, in very positive and absolute terms, that the ministers were
resolved not to see me, and had expressly forbid him taking any paper
at my hands.

“To which I replied, that this was very hard usage, and the world would
see how the King of Prussia would relish it. But having strict orders
from his majesty, my most gracious master, to make a declaration to the
ministers of Hanover in his name, and finding that Herr von Hartoff
would neither receive it nor take a copy of it, I had only to tell
him that I was under the necessity of leaving it in writing, and had
brought the paper with me; and that now, as the council were pleased
to refuse to take it, I was obliged to leave the said declaration on
a table in an adjoining room, in the presence of Herr von Hartoff and
other secretaries of the council, whom I desired to lay it before the

“After this I went home, but had scarcely entered my apartment when
a messenger returned me, by order of the ministers, the declaration,
still sealed as I left it; and perceiving that I was not inclined to
receive it, he laid it on my table, and immediately left the house.”

Having met with this repulse, Kannegiesser returned to Berlin with the
report. Frederick William was exasperated in the highest degree by such
treatment from a brother-in-law whom he both hated and despised. He
had at his command an army in as perfect condition, both in equipment
and drill, as Europe had ever seen. Within a week’s time forty-four
thousand troops, horse, foot, and artillery, were rendezvoused at
Magdeburg. Fritz was there, looking quite soldierly on his proud
charger, at the head of his regiment of the giant guard. Vigorously
they were put upon the march. George II., who had already in his
boyhood felt the weight of Frederick William’s arm, and who well knew
his desperate energy when once roused, was terrified. He had no forces
in Hanover which could stand for an hour in opposition to the army
which the Prussian king was bringing against him.

War between Prussia and England might draw all the neighboring nations
into the conflict. There was excitement in every continental court. The
Pope, it is reported, was delighted. “He prays,” says Carlyle, “that
Heaven would be graciously pleased to foment and blow up to the proper
degree this quarrel between the two chief heretical powers, Heaven’s
chief enemies, whereby holy religion might reap a good benefit.”

In the general alarm, France, Holland, and other neighboring courts
interposed and called loudly for a settlement. Frederick William had
never wished for war. George II. was thoroughly frightened. As it was
certain that he would be severely chastised, he was eager to escape
from the difficulty through the mediation of others. An arbitration was
agreed upon, and the quarrel was settled without bloodshed.

On the 8th of September Fritz returned to Potsdam from this his first
military expedition, with his regiment of giants. He was then seventeen
years of age. His soldierly bearing had quite rejoiced the king, and
he began to think that, after all, possibly something might be made of

Just as these troubles were commencing, there was, in May, 1729, a
marriage in the Prussian royal family. Some two hundred miles south of
Brandenburg there was, at that time, a small marquisate called Anspach,
next in dignity to a dukedom. The marquis was a frail, commonplace
boy of seventeen, under the care of a young mother, who was widowed,
sick, and dying. Much to the dissatisfaction of Sophie Dorothee, the
queen-mother, Frederick William had arranged a marriage between this
young man, who was far from rich, and his second daughter, Frederica
Louisa, who was then fifteen years of age.[7]

Fritz went in the royal carriage, with suitable escort, to meet the
young marquis on the Prussian frontier, as he came to his bridals.
They returned together in the carriage to Potsdam with great military
display. The wedding took place on the 30th of May, 1729. It was very
magnificent. Fritz was conspicuous on the occasion in a grand review
of the giant grenadiers. Wilhelmina, in her journal, speaks quite
contemptuously of her new brother-in-law, the Marquis of Anspach,
describing him as a foolish young fellow. It was, indeed, a marriage
of children. The bridegroom was a sickly, peevish, undeveloped boy
of seventeen; and the bride was a self-willed and ungoverned little
beauty of fifteen. The marriage proved a very unhappy one. There was
no harmony between them. Frederick writes: “They hate one another like
the fire” (_comme le feu_). They, however, lived together in incessant
petty quarrelings for thirty years. Probably during all that time
neither one of them saw a happy day.

Fritz had now attained eighteen years of age, and Wilhelmina
twenty-one. Fritz was very fond of music, particularly of his
flute, upon which he played exquisitely, being, however, careful
never to sound its notes within hearing of his father. A celebrated
music-master from Dresden, by the name of Quantz, was his teacher. He
came occasionally from Dresden and spent a week or two at Potsdam,
secretly teaching the young prince. The mother of Fritz was in warm
sympathy with her son, and aided him in all ways in her power in this
gratification. Still it was a very hazardous measure. The fierce
old king was quite uncertain in his movements. He might at any hour
appear at Potsdam, and no one could tell to what lengths, in case of
a discovery, he might go in the intensity of his rage. Fritz had an
intimate friend in the army, a young man of about his own age, one
Lieutenant Katte, who, when Fritz was with his music-teacher, was
stationed on the look-out, that he might give instant warning in case
there were any indications of the king’s approach. His mother also was
prepared, when Quantz was at Potsdam, promptly to dispatch a messenger
to her son in case she suspected his father of being about to turn his
steps in that direction.

Fritz, having thus established his outposts, was accustomed to retire
to his room with his teacher, lay aside his tight-fitting Prussian
military coat, which he detested, and called his shroud, draw on a very
beautiful, flowing French dressing-gown of scarlet, embroidered with
gold, and decorated with sash and tags, and, with his hair dressed in
the most fashionable style of the French court, surrender himself to
the indulgence of his own luxurious tastes for sumptuous attire as well
as for melodious sounds. He was thus, one day, in the height of his
enjoyment, taking his clandestine music-lesson, when Lieutenant Katte
came rushing into the room in the utmost dismay, with the announcement
that the king was at the door. The wily and ever-suspicious monarch
had stolen the march upon them. He was about to make his son a very
unwelcome surprise visit.

A bomb bursting in the room could scarcely have created a greater
panic. Katte and Quantz seized the flutes and music-books, and rushed
into a wood-closet, where they stood quaking with terror. Fritz threw
off his dressing-gown, hurried on his military coat, and sat down at
the table, affecting to be deeply engaged with his books. The king,
frowning like a thunder-cloud--for he always frowned when he drew near
Fritz--burst into the room. The sight of the frizzled hair of his
son “kindled the paternal wrath into a tornado pitch.” The king had a
wonderful command of the vocabulary of abuse, and was heaping epithets
of vituperation upon the head of the prince, when he caught sight of
the dressing-gown behind a screen. He seized the glittering garment,
and, with increasing outbursts of rage, crammed it into the fire. Then
searching the room, he collected all the French books, of which Fritz
had quite a library, and, sending for a bookseller near by, ordered him
to take every volume away, and sell them for what they would bring.
For more than an hour the king was thus raging, like a maniac, in the
apartment of his son. Fortunately he did not look into the wood-closet.
Had he done so, both Quantz and Katte would have been terribly beaten,
even had they escaped being sent immediately to the scaffold.

[Illustration: THE DRESSING-GOWN.]

“The king,” writes Wilhelmina, “almost caused my brother and myself to
die of hunger. He always acted as carver, and served every body except
us. When, by chance, there remained any thing in the dish, he spit in
it, to prevent our eating of it. We lived entirely upon coffee, milk,
and dried cherries, which ruined our health. I was nourished with
insults and invectives, and was abused all day long, in every possible
manner, and before every body. The king’s anger went so far against my
brother and myself that he drove us from him, forbidding us to appear
in his presence except at meals.

“The queen had contrived in her bedroom a sort of labyrinth of screens,
so arranged that I could escape the king without being seen, in case
he suddenly entered. One day the king came and surprised us. I wished
to escape, but found myself embarrassed among these screens, of which
several fell, and prevented my getting out of the room. The king was at
my heels, and tried to catch hold of me in order to beat me. Not being
able any longer to escape, I placed myself behind my governess. The
king advanced so much that she was obliged to fall back, but, finding
herself at length near the chimney, she was stopped. I found myself in
the alternative of bearing the fire or the blows. The king overwhelmed
me with abuse, and tried to seize me by the hair. I fell upon the
floor. The scene would have had a tragical end had it continued, as my
clothes were actually beginning to take fire. The king, fatigued with
crying out and with his passion, at length put an end to it and went

These sufferings bound the brother and sister very intimately together.
“This dear brother,” Wilhelmina writes, “passed all his afternoons with
me. We read and wrote together, and occupied ourselves in cultivating
our minds. The king now never saw my brother without threatening
him with the cane. Fritz repeatedly told me that he would bear any
thing from the king except blows; but that, if he ever came to such
extremities with him, he would regain his freedom by flight.”

On the 10th of December, 1729, Dubourgay writes in his journal: “His
Prussian majesty can not bear the sight of either the prince or the
princess royal. The other day he asked the prince, ‘Kalkstein makes you
English, does not he?’ To which the prince answered, ‘I respect the
English, because I know the people there love me.’ Upon which the king
seized him by the collar, struck him fiercely with his cane, and it was
only by superior strength that the poor prince escaped worse. There is
a general apprehension of something tragical taking place before long.”

Wilhelmina gives the following account of this transaction, as
communicated to her by her brother: “As I entered the king’s room
this morning, he first seized me by the hair and then threw me on the
floor, along which, after having exercised the vigor of his arm upon
my unhappy person, he dragged me, in spite of all my resistance, to a
neighboring window. His intention apparently was to perform the office
of the mutes of the seraglio, for, seizing the cord belonging to the
curtain, he placed it around my neck. I seized both of his hands, and
began to cry out. A servant came to my assistance, and delivered me
from his hands.”

In reference to this event, the prince wrote to his mother from
Potsdam, “I am in the utmost despair. What I had always apprehended has
at last come on me. The king has entirely forgotten that I am his son.
This morning I came into his room as usual. At the first sight of me
he sprang forward, seized me by the collar, and struck me a shower of
blows with his rattan. I tried in vain to screen myself, he was in so
terrible a rage, almost out of himself. It was only weariness that made
him give up. I am driven to extremity. I have too much honor to endure
such treatment, and I am resolved to put an end to it in one way or

Wilhelmina well understood that her brother contemplated running away,
escaping, if possible, to England. We have mentioned that the young
prince, after his return from Dresden, had become quite dissipated.
The companions he chose were wild young army officers of high birth,
polished address, and, in godless lives, fashionable men of the world.
Lieutenant Katte was a genteel man of pleasure. Another of his bosom
companions, Lieutenant Keith, a young man of illustrious lineage, was
also a very undesirable associate for any young man whose principles
of virtue were not established.[8] Of Keith and Katte, the two most
intimate friends of Fritz, Wilhelmina writes, about this time:

[Illustration: A ROYAL EXECUTIONER.]

“Lieutenant Keith had been gone some time, stationed in Wesel with his
regiment. Keith’s departure had been a great joy to me, in the hope
my brother would now lead a more regular life. But it proved quite
otherwise. A second favorite, and a much more dangerous, succeeded
Keith. This was a young man of the name of Katte, captain lieutenant
in the regiment _Gens d’Armes_. He was highly connected in the army.
His mother was daughter of Field-marshal Wartensleben. General Katte,
his father, had sent him to the universities, and afterward to travel,
desiring that he should be a lawyer. But, as there was no favor to be
hoped for out of the army, the young man found himself at last placed
there, contrary to his expectation. He continued to apply himself to
studies. He had wit, book-culture, and acquaintance with the world.
The good company which he continued to frequent had given him polite
manners to a degree then rare in Berlin. His physiognomy was rather
disagreeable than otherwise. A pair of thick black eyebrows almost
covered his eyes. His look had in it something ominous, presage of
the fate he met with. A tawny skin, torn by small-pox, increased his
ugliness. He affected the freethinker, and carried libertinism to
excess. A great deal of ambition and headlong rashness accompanied this
vice. Such a favorite was not the man to bring back my brother from his

Early in January, 1730, the king, returning from a hunt at
Wusterhausen, during which he had held a drinking carouse and a
diplomatic interview with the King of Poland, announced his intention
of being no longer annoyed by matrimonial arrangements for Wilhelmina.
He resolved to abandon the English alliance altogether, unless an
immediate and unequivocal assent were given by George II. for the
marriage of Wilhelmina with the Prince of Wales, without any compact
for the marriage of Fritz with the Princess Amelia. Count Finckenstein,
Baron Grumkow, and General Borck were sent to communicate this, the
king’s unalterable resolve, to the queen. The first two were friends
of the queen. Grumkow was understood to be the instigator of the king.
Wilhelmina chanced to be with her mother when the gentlemen announced
themselves as the bearers of a very important message from the king to
her majesty. Wilhelmina trembled, and said in a low tone to her mother,
“This regards me. I have a dreading.” “No matter,” the worn and weary
mother replied; “one must have firmness, and that is not what I shall
want.” The queen retired with the ministers to the audience-chamber.

There they informed her that they had each received a letter the night
before from the king, the contents of which they were forbidden,
under penalty of death, from communicating to any one but to her. The
king wished them to say to her majesty that he would no longer endure
her disobedience in reference to the marriage of Wilhelmina; that, in
case this disobedience continued, there should be an entire separation
between him and his wife--a divorce--and that she and her daughter
should both be banished to the château of Oranienburg, about twenty
miles from Berlin, and there held in close imprisonment. The king was
willing that Sophie Dorothee should write once more, and only once
more, to her brother, George II., and demand of him a categorical
answer, yes or no, whether he would consent to the immediate marriage
of the Prince of Wales and Wilhelmina. The king would wait a fortnight
for an answer, or, if the winds were contrary, three weeks; but not a
day more. Should no answer in that time be returned, or a negative or
an evasive answer, then Wilhelmina was to make her immediate choice
of a husband between either the Duke of Weissenfels or the Marquis of
Schwedt, and to be married without delay.[9]

Weissenfels was a small duchy in Saxony. The duke, so called by
courtesy, had visited Berlin before in the train of his sovereign, King
Augustus, when his majesty returned the visit of Frederick William. He
was then quite captivated by the beauty and vivacity of Wilhelmina.
He was titular duke merely, his brother being the real duke; and he
was then living on his pay as officer in the army, and was addicted to
deep potations. Carlyle describes him as “a mere betitled, betasseled,
elderly military gentleman of no special qualities, evil or good.”
Sophie Dorothee, noticing his attentions to Wilhelmina, deemed it the
extreme of impudence for so humble a man to aspire to the hand of her
illustrious child. She reproved him so severely that he retired from
the court in deep chagrin. He never would have presumed to renew the
suit but for the encouragement given by Frederick William.

The Marquis of Schwedt was a very indifferent young man, living under
the tutelage of his dowager mother. She was a cousin of the King of
Prussia, and had named her son Frederick William. Having rendered
herself conspicuously ridiculous by the flaunting colors of her dress,
which tawdry display was in character with her mind, both she and her
son were decidedly disagreeable to Wilhelmina.

There was no alternative left the young princess. Unless there were
an immediate consummation of the marriage contract with the English
Frederick, she was, without delay, to choose between Weissenfels and
Schwedt. The queen, in response to this communication, said, “I will
immediately write to England; but, whatever may be the answer, it is
impossible that my daughter should marry either of the individuals whom
the king has designated.” Baron Grumkow, who was in entire accord with
the king, “began,” says Wilhelmina, “quoting Scripture on her majesty,
as the devil can on occasion. ‘Wives, be obedient to your husbands,’
said he. The queen very aptly replied, ‘Yes; but did not Bethuel, the
son of Milcah, when Abraham’s servant asked his daughter in marriage
for young Isaac, answer, “We will call the damsel, and inquire of her
mouth?” It is true, wives must obey their husbands, but husbands must
command things just and reasonable.’

“The king’s procedure,” added the unhappy mother, “is not in accordance
with that law. He is doing violence to my daughter’s inclinations, thus
rendering her wretched for the remainder of her days. He wishes to
give her for a husband a brutal debauchee, a younger brother, who is
nothing but an officer in the army of the King of Poland; a landless
man, without the means of living according to his rank. I will write to
England. But, whatever the answer, I had rather a thousand times see my
child in the grave than hopelessly miserable.”

The queen, looking reproachfully at Grumkow, remarked, “I know full
well to whom I owe all this.” She then excused herself, saying that
she was not well, and retired to her apartment. There she communicated
to the anxious Wilhelmina the cruel message of the king. Sophie
Dorothee then wrote a very earnest letter to Queen Caroline, the wife
of George II., imploring that all obstacles in the way of the marriage
of Wilhelmina with the Prince of Wales might be withdrawn. The idea
of marriage with either Weissenfels or Schwedt was dreadful. But,
on the other hand, the wrath of the king, the divorce of the queen,
and the imprisonment of both mother and daughter in the château of
Oranienburg, were also dreadful. Fritz was taken into the councils
of his mother and sister. It was decided that he should also write
to his aunt, urging his suit for the Princess Amelia. It is true
that George II. was ready to accede to this marriage, but Frederick
William threw obstacles in the way. It was probably the hope of Fritz
to secure Amelia, notwithstanding his father’s opposition. The ready
pen of Wilhelmina was employed to draft the letter, which her brother
submissively copied. As it was not probable, in the intricacies in
which the question was now involved, that both marriages could take
place together, Fritz wrote pleading for the marriage of Wilhelmina at
once, pledging his word that he would remain faithful to the Princess

“I have already,” he wrote, “given your majesty my word of honor never
to wed any one but the Princess Amelia, your daughter. I here reiterate
that promise, in case your majesty will consent to my sister’s

Sophie Dorothee dispatched a courier with these documents, to go with
the utmost speed to England. It was a long journey in those days, and
the winds were often contrary. A fortnight passed. Three weeks were
gone. Still there was no answer. On the 25th of January, 1730--“a
day,” writes Wilhelmina, “which I shall never forget”--Finckenstein,
Borck, and Grumkow again called upon the queen, with the following
message from the king:

“Whatever answer may now be returned from England I will have nothing
to do with it. Whether negative, affirmative, or evasive, to me it
shall be as nothing. You, madam, must now choose between the Duke of
Weissenfels and the Marquis of Schwedt. If you do not choose, you and
Wilhelmina may prepare for Oranienburg, where you shall suffer the just
penalty of mutiny against the authority set over you by God and men.”

The queen summoned firmness to reply: “You can inform the king that he
will never make me consent to render my daughter miserable; and that,
so long as a breath of life remains in me, I will not permit her to
take either the one or the other of these persons.”

Then addressing Grumkow, she said, in tones deliberate and intense,
“For you, sir, who are the author of my misfortunes, may my curse fall
upon you and your house. You have this day killed me. But I doubt not
that Heaven will hear my prayer and avenge my wrongs.”

The queen was at this time in a delicate state of health, and anxiety
and sorrow threw her upon a sick-bed. The king, who felt as much
affection for “Phiekin” as such a coarse, brutal man could feel for any
body, was alarmed; but he remained obdurate. He stormed into her room,
where, in the fever of her troubles, she tossed upon her pillow, and
obstreperously declared that Wilhelmina should be married immediately,
and that she must take either Weissenfels or Schwedt. As both mother
and daughter remained firm in their refusal to choose, he resolved to
decide the question himself.

Accordingly, he made proposals to the Marquise of Schwedt that
Wilhelmina should marry her son. The lady replied, in terms very
creditable both to her head and her heart, “Such a union, your majesty,
would be in accordance with the supreme wish of my life. But how can I
accept such happiness against the will of the princess herself? This
I can positively never do.” Here she remained firm. The raging king
returned to the bedside of his wife, as rough and determined as ever.
He declared that the question was now settled that Wilhelmina was to
marry the old Duke of Weissenfels.

The unhappy princess, distracted by these griefs, had grown thin and
pale. It was soon rumored throughout the court that the king had
written to Weissenfels, and that the duke was on his way to seize
his reluctant bride. In this emergence, the queen’s friend, Baron
Borck, suggested to her that, in order to get rid of the obnoxious
Weissenfels, she should so far yield to the wishes of the king as to
give up the English alliance, and propose a third party, who might be
more acceptable to Wilhelmina. But who shall this substitute be?

About two hundred miles south of Berlin there was quite an important
marquisate called Baireuth. The marquis had a good-looking young
son, the heir-apparent, who had just returned from the grand tour
of Europe. Upon the death of his father he would enter upon quite
a rich inheritance. This young marquis, Frederick by name, Baron
Borck proposed as a substitute for the Duke of Weissenfels. It was
understood that Wilhelmina was such a prize that kings, even, would be
eager to obtain her hand. There could therefore be no doubt but that
the Marquis of Baireuth would feel signally honored by such nuptials.
The worn and weary mother eagerly accepted this proposal. She suggested
it to the king. Sullenly he gave it his assent, saying, “I will
passively submit to it, but will take no active part whatever in the
affair. Neither will I give Wilhelmina one single copper for dowry.”

The queen, delighted in having obtained even this measure of
acquiescence on the part of the king, now conferred with Wilhelmina.
But, to her surprise and bitter disappointment, the young princess did
not share in her mother’s joy. She was not disposed to be thus bartered
away, and presented sundry objections. The poor mother, harassed by
these interminable difficulties, now lost all patience. She broke out
upon her equally unhappy daughter with cruel reproaches.

“Take, then,” she exclaimed, “the Grand Turk or the Great Mogul for
your husband. Follow your own caprice. Had I known you better I would
not have brought so many sorrows upon myself. You may follow the king’s
bidding. It is henceforth your own affair. I will no longer trouble
myself about your concerns. And spare me, if you please, the sorrows of
your odious presence. I can not stand it.”

Wilhelmina endeavored to reply. But the angry mother sternly exclaimed,
“Silence!” and the tortured girl left the apartment, weeping bitterly.
Even Fritz took his mother’s part, and reproached Wilhelmina for not
acceding to her plan. New troubles were thickening around him. He was
in debt. The king had found it out. To his father’s stern questioning,
Fritz, in his terror, had uttered deliberate falsehood. He confessed
a debt of about eight hundred dollars, which his father had detected,
and solemnly declared that this was all. In fact, he owed an additional
sum of seven thousand dollars. Should the king discover this debt, and
thus detect Fritz in a lie, his rage would be tremendous. The king paid
the eight hundred dollar debt of his son, and then issued a decree
declaring that to lend money to any princes of the blood, even to the
prince royal, was a high crime, to be punished, not only by forfeiture
of the money, but by imprisonment. The king had begun to suspect that
Fritz intended to escape. He could not escape without money. The king
therefore took special precautions that his purse should be ever empty,
and watched him with renewed vigilance.

While matters were in this extremity, the British minister,
Dubourgay, and Baron Knyphausen, a distinguished Prussian official,
dispatched Rev. Dr. Villa, a scholarly man, who had been Wilhelmina’s
teacher of English, on a secret mission to the court of England, to
communicate the true state of affairs, and to endeavor to secure some
disentanglement of the perplexities. Dr. Villa was a warm friend of
Wilhelmina, and, in sympathy with her sorrows, wept as he bade her
adieu. The king was in such ill humor that his daughter dared not
appear in his presence. If Fritz came within reach of his father’s arm
he was pretty sure to receive a blow from his rattan.

On the 18th of February, 1730, some affairs of state led the king to
take a trip to Dresden to see the King of Poland. He decided to take
Fritz with him, as he was afraid to leave him behind. Fritz resolved
to avail himself of the opportunity which the journey might offer to
attempt his escape. He was unwilling to do this without bidding adieu
to his sister, who had been the partner of so many of his griefs. It
was not easy to obtain a private interview. On the evening of the 17th
of February, as Wilhelmina, aided by her governess, was undressing for
bed, the door of the anteroom of her chamber was cautiously opened, and
a young gentleman, very splendidly dressed in French costume, entered.
Wilhelmina, terrified, uttered a shriek, and endeavored to hide herself
behind a screen. Her governess, Madam Sonsfeld, ran into the anteroom
to ascertain what such an intrusion meant. The remainder of the story
we will give in the words of Wilhelmina:

“But she returned the next moment accompanying the cavalier, who was
laughing heartily, and whom I recognized for my brother. His dress so
altered him he seemed a different person. He was in the best humor
possible. ‘I am come to bid you farewell once more, my dear sister,’
said he; ‘and as I know the friendship you have for me, I will not
keep you ignorant of my designs. I go, and do not come back. I can
not endure the usage I suffer. My patience is driven to an end. It is
a favorable opportunity for flinging off that odious yoke. I will
glide out of Dresden and get across to England, where, I do not doubt,
I shall work out your deliverance too, when I am got thither. So I
beg you calm yourself. We shall soon meet again in places where joy
shall succeed our tears, and where we shall have the happiness to see
ourselves in peace, and free from these persecutions.’”


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, 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.



  Objections to the British Alliance.--Obstinacy of the King.--
    Wilhelmina’s Journal.--Policy of Frederick William and of George
    II.--Letter from Fritz.--The Camp of Mühlberg.--The Plan of
    Escape.--The Flight arrested.--Ungovernable Rage of the King.--
    Endeavors to kill his Son.--Arrest and Imprisonment of Fritz.--
    Terror of his Mother and Sister.--Wilhelmina imprisoned.

In the mean time Dr. Villa reached England. In conference with the
British cabinet, the members deemed it very desirable, at all events,
to effect the marriage of the Prince of Wales with the Prussian
princess. The main consideration was that it would tend to detach
Prussia from Germany, and secure its alliance with England. It was
also a good Protestant match, and would promote the interests of
Protestantism. The king desired this marriage. But he was inflexible
in his resolve that both marriages should take place or neither.
The Prussian king was equally inflexible in his determination that,
while he would consent to one marriage, he would not consent to both.
Colonel Hotham, a man of good family and of some personal distinction,
was accordingly sent, as envoy extraordinary, to Berlin, to make new
efforts in favor of the double marriage.

The Queen of Prussia had recently given birth to another prince. She
was on a bed of languor. The king was somewhat mollified, and was
anxious to be relieved from these protracted difficulties. Colonel
Hotham reached the palace of Charlottenburg on the 2d of April, 1730,
and was graciously received by the king. The next day quite a splendid
dinner was given in honor of the British envoy. All the notables who
surrounded the table, the English and the Prussian, in accordance with
the degrading custom of those times, drank deeply. Hotham, in his
dispatch, without any apparent sense of shame, writes, “We all got
immoderately drunk.”

The object of Colonel Hotham’s mission was well known. The cordial
reception he had met from the king indicated that his message was not
an unwelcome one to his Prussian majesty. In the indecent hilarity of
the hour, it was assumed that the marriage contract between Wilhelmina
and the Prince of Wales was settled. Brains addled with wine gave birth
to stupid jokes upon the subject. “A German ducat was to be exchanged
for an English half guinea.” At last, in the semi-delirium of their
intoxication, one proposed as a toast, “To the health of Wilhelmina,
Princess of Wales.” The sentiment was received with uproarious jollity.
Though all the company were in the same state of silly inebriation,
neither the king nor the British ministers, Hotham and Dubourgay, for
a moment lost sight of their settled policy. The king remained firm
in his silent resolve to consent only to the marriage of Wilhelmina
and the Prince of Wales. Hotham and Dubourgay could not swerve from
the positive instructions which they had received, to insist upon
both marriages or neither. Thus, notwithstanding this bacchanal
jollification, neither party was disposed to swerve a hair’s breadth
from its fixed resolve, and the question was no nearer a settlement
than before.

Still, most of the courtly carousers did not comprehend this. And when
the toast to Wilhelmina as Princess of Wales was received with such
acclaim, they supposed that all doubt was at an end. The news flew
upon the wings of the wind to Berlin. It was late in the afternoon of
Monday, April 30. Wilhelmina writes:

“I was sitting quiet in my apartment, busy with work, and some one
reading to me, when the queen’s ladies rushed in, with a torrent of
domestics in their rear, who all bawled out, putting one knee to the
ground, that they were come to salute the Princess of Wales. I fairly
believed these poor people had lost their wits. They would not cease
overwhelming me with noise and tumult; their joy was so great they knew
not what they did. When the farce had lasted some time, they told me
what had occurred at the dinner.

“I was so little moved by it that I answered, going on with my work,
‘Is that all?’ which greatly surprised them. A while after, my sisters
and several ladies came to congratulate me. I was much loved, and I
felt more delighted at the proofs each gave me of that than at what had
occasioned their congratulations. In the evening I went to the queen’s.
You may readily conceive her joy. On my first entrance she called
me her dear Princess of Wales, and addressed Madam De Sonsfeld as
‘Miladi.’ This latter took the liberty of hinting to her that it would
be better to keep quiet; that the king, having yet given no notice of
this business, might be provoked at such demonstration, and that the
least trifle could still ruin all her hopes.”

The king, upon his return from Charlottenburg to Berlin, made no
allusion whatever in his family to the matter. In the court, however,
it was generally considered that the question, so far as Wilhelmina was
concerned, was settled. Hotham held daily interviews with the king, and
received frequent communications from the Prince of Wales, who appears
to have been very eager for the consummation of the marriage. Many of
these letters were shown to Wilhelmina. She was much gratified with the
fervor they manifested on the part of a lover who had never yet seen
her. In one of these letters the prince says: “I conjure you, my dear
Hotham, get these negotiations finished. I am madly in love (_amoureux
comme un fou_), and my impatience is unequaled.”

The question arises, Why was Frederick William so averse to the
marriage of Fritz with the Princess Amelia? Probably the real reason
was his rooted antipathy to his son, and his consequent unwillingness
to do any thing which would promote his interests or increase his
influence. His advisers strengthened him in this sentiment. The English
were very unpopular at Berlin. Their assumption of superiority over all
other peoples was a constant annoyance. The Prussian king said to his
confidential friends,

“If the English Princess Amelia come here as the bride of my son, she
will bring with her immense wealth. Accustomed to grandeur, she will
look contemptuously upon our simplicity. With her money she can dazzle
and bribe. I hate my son. He hates me. Aided by the gold of England,
my son can get up a party antagonistic to me. No! I will never, never
consent to his marrying the Princess Amelia. If he is never married it
is no matter. Fortunately I have other sons, and the succession will
not be disturbed.”[10]

The king had made many efforts to force his son to surrender his rights
of primogeniture, and to sign an act renouncing his claim to the
succession of the Prussian throne in favor of his next brother. His
only answer was, “Declare my birth illegitimate, and I will give up the
throne.” But the king could never consent to fix such a stain upon the
honor of his wife.

And why was George II. so averse to the single marriage of the Prince
of Wales to Wilhelmina? It is supposed that the opposition arose
simply from his own mulish obstinacy. He hated his brother-in-law, the
Prussian king. He was a weak, ill-tempered man; and having once said
“_Both marriages or none_,” nothing could induce him to swerve from
that position. In such a difficulty, with such men, there could be no
possible compromise.

George II. was far from popular in England. There was but little in the
man to win either affection or esteem. The Prince of Wales was also
daily becoming more disliked. He was assuming haughty airs. He was very
profligate, and his associates were mainly actresses and opera girls.
The Prussian minister at London, who was opposed to any matrimonial
connection whatever between the Prussian and the English court, watched
the Prince of Wales very narrowly, and wrote home quite unfavorable
reports respecting his character and conduct. He had searched out the
fact that Fritz had written to his aunt, Queen Caroline, pledging to
her his word “never to marry any body in the world except the Princess
Amelia of England, happen what will.” This fact was reported to the
king, greatly exciting his wrath.

To obviate the difficulty of the Crown Prince becoming the head of
a party in Berlin antagonistic to the king, the plan was suggested
of having him appointed, with his English princess, vice-regent of
Hanover. But this plan failed. Hotham now became quite discouraged. He
wrote home, on the 22d of April, that he had that day dined with the
king; that the Crown Prince was present, but dreadfully dejected, and
that great sympathy was excited in his behalf, as he was so engaging
and so universally popular. He evidently perceived some indications
of superiority in the Crown Prince, for he added, “If I am not much
mistaken, this young prince will one day make a very considerable

After much diplomatic toil, the ultimatum obtained from Frederick
William was the ever inflexible answer: “1. The marriage of the Prince
of Wales to Wilhelmina I consent to. 2. The marriage of the Crown
Prince Frederick with the Princess Amelia must be postponed. I hope it
may eventually take place.”

Hotham, quite indignant, sent this dispatch, dated May 13, to London,
including with it a very earnest letter from the Crown Prince to his
uncle, in which Fritz wrote:

“The Crown Prince begs his Britannic majesty not to reject the king’s
proposals, whatever they may be, for his sister Wilhelmina’s sake. For,
though the Crown Prince is determined to lose his life sooner than
marry any body but the Princess Amelia, yet, if this negotiation were
broken off, his father would go to extremities to force him and his
sister into other engagements.”

The return mail brought back, under date of May 22, the stereotype
British answer: “Both marriages or none.” Just before the reception of
this reply, as Colonel Hotham was upon the eve of leaving Berlin, the
Crown Prince addressed to him, from Potsdam, the following interesting

  “MONSIEUR,--I believe that it is of the last importance that
  I should write to you, and I am very sad to have things to say
  which I ought to conceal from all the earth. But one must take
  that bad leap, and, reckoning you among my friends, I the more
  easily resolve to open myself to you.

  “The case is this: I am treated in an unheard of manner by the
  king; and I know that there are terrible things in preparation
  against me touching certain letters which I wrote last winter,
  of which I believe you are informed. In a word, to speak frankly
  to you, the real, secret reason why the king will not consent to
  this marriage is, that he wishes to keep me on a low footing
  constantly, and to have the power of driving me mad whenever the
  whim takes him, throughout his life. Thus he will never give his

  “For my own part, therefore, I believe it would be better to
  conclude my sister’s marriage in the first place, and not even
  to ask from the king any assurance in regard to mine, the rather
  as his word has nothing to do with it. It is enough that I here
  reiterate the promises which I have already made to the king, my
  uncle, never to take another wife than his second daughter, the
  Princess Amelia. I am a person of my word, and shall be able to
  bring about what I set forth, provided that there is trust put in
  me. I promise it to you. And now you may give your court notice
  of it, and I shall manage to keep my promise. I remain yours

In June, 1730, Augustus, King of Poland, had one of the most
magnificent military reviews of which history gives any record. The
camp of Mühlberg, as it was called, was established upon an undulating
field, twelve miles square, on the right bank of the Elbe, a few
leagues below Dresden. It is hardly too much to say that all the beauty
and chivalry of Europe were gathered upon that field. Fabulous amounts
of money and of labor were expended to invest the scene with the utmost
sublimity of splendor. A military review had great charms for Frederick
William. He attended as one of the most distinguished of the invited
guests. The Crown Prince accompanied the king, as his father dared not
leave him behind. But Fritz was exposed to every mortification and
every species of ignominy which the ingenuity of this monster parent
could heap upon him.

In the presence of monarchs, of lords and ladies, of the highest
dignitaries of Europe, the young heir apparent to the throne of
Prussia, beautiful in person, high-spirited, and of superior genius,
was treated by his father with studied contumely and insult. Every
thing was done to expose him to contempt. He even openly flogged the
prince with his rattan. It would seem that the father availed himself
of this opportunity so to torture the sensibilities of his son as to
drive him to suicide. Professor Ranke writes:

“In that pleasure-camp of Mühlberg, where the eyes of many strangers
were directed to him, the Crown Prince was treated like a disobedient
boy, and at one time even with blows, to make him feel that he was
such. The enraged king, who never weighed the consequences of his
words, added mockery to his manual outrage. ‘Had I been so treated,’ he
said, ‘by my father, I would have blown my brains out. But this fellow
has no honor. He takes all that comes.’”

It would seem that if ever there were an excuse for suicide it was to
be found here. But what folly it would have been! Dark as these days
were, they led the prince to a crown, and to achievements of whose
recital the world will never grow weary. Fritz, goaded to madness,
again adopted the desperate resolve to attempt an escape. A young
Englishman, Captain Guy Dickens, secretary of the British embassador,
Dubourgay, had become quite the intimate friend of the Crown Prince.
They conferred together upon plans of escape. But the precautions
adopted by the father were such that no plan which they could devise
seemed feasible at that time. Fritz confided his thoughts to his
friend, Lieutenant Keith, at Berlin.

It is probable that the suspicions of the king were excited, for
suddenly he sent Lieutenant Keith to a garrison at Wesel, at a great
distance from Berlin, in a small Prussian province far down the
Rhine. The three had, however, concocted the following plan, to be
subsequently executed. Immediately after the return from Mühlberg the
king was to undertake a long journey to the Rhine. The Crown Prince,
as usual, was to be dragged along with him. In this journey they would
pass through Stuttgart, within a few miles of Strasbourg, which was on
the French side of the river. From Stuttgart the prince was to escape
in disguise, on fleetest horses, to Strasbourg, and thence proceed
to London. Colonel Hotham, who had accompanied the Prussian king to
the camp of Mühlberg, was apprised of all this by his secretary. He
immediately dispatched the secretary, on the 16th of June, to convey
the confidential intelligence to London.

At the close of these festivities at Mühlberg Frederick William and
his suite took boat down the River Elbe to his hunting palace at
Lichtenberg. Here they killed, in a grand hunting bout, a thousand
animals, boars and deer. The Crown Prince, dishonored by insults
which he could not revenge, and stung to the quick by innumerable
humiliations, followed, dejected, like a guarded captive, in the train
of his father. The unhappy prince had but just returned to his garrison
at Potsdam, where spies ever kept their eyes vigilantly upon him, when
his friend, Captain Guy Dickens, brought him the answer, returned from
London, to the confidential communication of the Crown Prince to his
uncle, the British king. The substance of the document was as follows:

“Mr. Guy Dickens may give to the prince the assurance of the deep
compassion which the king feels in view of the sad condition in which
the prince finds himself, and of the sincere desire of his majesty to
aid, by all the means in his power, to extricate him. While waiting
the result of some negotiations now on foot, his majesty is of the
opinion that it would be best for the prince to defer for a time his
present design; that the present critical state of affairs in Europe
do not present a favorable opportunity for the execution of the
contemplated plan; that the idea of retiring to France demands very
careful deliberation; and that there is not time now to ascertain how
such a step would be regarded by the French court, which his majesty
would think to be essential before he advise a prince so dear to him to
withdraw to that country.”

Soon after this, Colonel Hotham, having received a gross insult from
the king, demanded his passports. The English embassador had presented
the king with a document from his court. Frederick William angrily
threw the paper upon the floor, exclaiming, “I have had enough of those
things!” and, turning upon his heel, left the room. Colonel Hotham, a
high-bred English gentleman, could not brook such an indignity, not
only to himself, but to his sovereign. The passionate king had scarcely
left the apartment before he perceived the impolicy of his conduct. He
tried to make amends. But Colonel Hotham, justly regarding it as an
insult to his court, persisted in demanding his passports, and returned
to London. The Crown Prince in vain begged Colonel Hotham to remain.
Very properly he replied that the incivility was addressed to his king,
and that it was for him only to judge what satisfaction was due for the
indignity offered.

All negotiation in reference to the marriages was now apparently at an
end. Lieutenant Katte remained at Potsdam. In the absence of Lieutenant
Keith he became more than ever the friend and confidant of the Crown
Prince. Wilhelmina, aware of the dissipated character of Katte, mourned
over this intimacy. The king was very much annoyed by the blunder of
which he himself had been guilty in insulting the court of England in
the person of its embassador. He declared, in his vexation, that he
would never again treat in person with a foreign minister; that his hot
temper rendered it unsafe for him to do so.

He informed Wilhelmina that the question of her marriage with the
Prince of Wales was now settled forever, and that, as she declined
taking the Duke of Weissenfels for a husband, she might prepare to
retire to the abbey of Hereford, a kind of Protestant nunnery for
ladies of quality, who, for any reason, wished to be buried from
the world. He mercilessly resolved to make her the abbess of this
institution. This living burial was almost the last situation to suit
the taste of Wilhelmina. The king was in the worst possible humor. “He
bullies and outrages his poor Crown Prince almost worse than ever.
There have been rattan showers hideous to think of, descending this
very week (July, 1730) on the fine head and far into the high heart of
a royal young man, who can not in the name of manhood endure, and must
not in the name of sonhood resist, and vainly calls to all the gods to
teach him what he shall do in this intolerable, inextricable state of

As soon as Hotham had left Berlin the Crown Prince held a secret
midnight interview with Captain Dickens and Lieutenant Katte, to devise
some new plan of escape during the journey to the Rhine, which was to
commence in a few days. He made arrangements to leave all his private
papers with Katte, provided himself with a large gray overcoat as a
partial disguise, and, with much difficulty, obtained about a thousand
ducats to defray his expenses. Lieutenant Keith was at Wesel. He was
written to with the utmost secrecy, as he might be able to render
efficient aid, could the Crown Prince reach him.

On Saturday, the 15th of July, 1730, the king, with a small train,
which really guarded Fritz, set out at an early hour from Potsdam on
this memorable journey. Three reliable officers of the king occupied
the same carriage with Fritz, with orders to keep a strict watch over
him, and never to leave him alone. Thus, throughout the journey,
one of his guards sat by his side, and the other two on the seat
facing him. The king was not a luxurious traveler. He seemed to covet
hardship and fatigue. Post-horses were provided all along the route.
The meteoric train rushed along, scarcely stopping for food or sleep,
but occasionally delayed by business of inspection, until it reached
Anspach, where the king’s beautiful daughter, then but sixteen years of
age, resided with her uncongenial husband. Here the Crown Prince had
some hope of escape. He endeavored to persuade his brother-in-law, the
young Marquis of Anspach, to lend him a pair of saddle-horses, and to
say nothing about it. But the characterless young man, suspecting his
brother, and dreading the wrath of his terrible father-in-law, refused,
with many protestations of good-will.

When near Augsburg, Fritz wrote a letter to Lieutenant Katte, stating
that he should embrace the first opportunity to escape to the Hague;
that there he should assume the name of the Count of Alberville. He
wished Katte to join him there, and to bring with him the overcoat and
the one thousand ducats which he had left in his hands. On Thursday,
August 3d, the royal party reached the little hamlet of Steinfurth, not
far from the Rhine. Here, as was not unfrequently the case, they slept
in barns, carefully swept and prepared for them. The usual hour of
starting was three o’clock in the morning.

Just after midnight, the prince, seeing his associates soundly asleep,
cautiously rose, dressed, and crept out into the open air. He had
secretly made arrangements with his valet, a brother of Lieutenant
Keith, to meet him with some horses on the village green. He reached
the green. His valet soon appeared with the horses. Just at that
moment, one of his guard, Rochow, who had been aroused by a servant
whom he had left secretly on the watch, came forward through the gloom
of the night, and, sternly addressing Keith, inquired, “Sirrah, what
are you doing with those horses?” With much self-possession Keith
replied, “I am getting the horses ready for the hour of starting.” “His
majesty,” Rochow replied, “does not start till five o’clock. Take the
horses directly back to the stable.”

[Illustration: THE FLIGHT ARRESTED.]

Keith, trembling in every limb, returned to the stable. Though Rochow
pretended not to suspect any attempt at escape, it was manifestly
pretense only. The prince had provided himself with a red overcoat as
a disguise to his uniform, the gray one having been left with Katte
at Potsdam. As Fritz was returning to the barn with Rochow, wearing
this suspicious garment, they met the minister Seckendorf, whom Fritz
and his mother thoroughly hated as one of the counselors of the king.
Very coolly and cuttingly Rochow inquired of Seckendorf, “How do you
like his royal highness in the red overcoat?” It was a desperate game
these men were playing; for, should the king suddenly die, Fritz would
surely inherit the crown, and they would be entirely at his mercy.
All hope of escape seemed now to vanish, and the prince was quite in

The king was doubtless informed of all that had occurred. They reached
Manheim the next night. Keith was so terrified, fearing that his life
would be the penalty, that he there threw himself upon his knees
before the king, confessing all, and imploring pardon. The king, in
tones of intense agitation, informed the vigilance trio that death
would be their inevitable doom if they allowed the prince to escape.
Thus far the prince had been nominally free. Those who occupied the
carriage with him--Rochow, Waldau, and Buddenbrock--had assumed to
be merely his traveling companions. Their office of guardship had been
scrupulously concealed. But henceforth he was regarded and treated as a
culprit in the custody of his jailers.

The king, smothering his wrath, did not immediately seek an
interview with his son. But the next day, encountering him, he said,
sarcastically, “Ah! you are still here, then; I thought that by this
time you would have been in Paris.” The prince, somewhat emboldened by
despair, ventured to reply, “I certainly could have been there had I
wished it.”

At Frankfort-on-the-Main the party were to take boats to descend the
river. The prince was informed that the king had given express orders
that he should not be permitted to enter the town, but that he should
be conducted immediately to one of the royal yachts. Here the king
received an intercepted letter from the Crown Prince to Lieutenant
Katte. Boiling with indignation, he stalked on board the yacht, and
assailed his captive son in the coarsest and most violent language of
abuse. In the frenzy of his passion he seized Fritz by the collar,
shook him, hustled him about, tore out handfuls of hair, and thrust his
cane into his face, causing the blood to gush from his nose. “Never
before,” exclaimed the unhappy prince, pathetically, “did a Brandenburg
face suffer the like of this.”

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.

The royal yachts glided down the Main to the Rhine, and thence down the
Rhine to Wesel. Probably a heavier heart than that of the prince never
floated upon that world-renowned stream. Lost in painful musings, he
had no eye to gaze upon the picturesque scenes of mountain, forest,
castle, and ruins through which they were gliding. At Bonn he had an
interview with Seckendorf, whose influence was great with his father,
and whom he hoped to interest in his favor. To him he said,

“I intended to have escaped at Steinfurth. I can not endure the
treatment which I receive from my father--his abuse and blows. I
should have escaped long ago had it not been for the condition in which
I should have thus left my mother and sister. I am so miserable that I
care but little for my own life. My great anxiety is for those officers
who have been my friends, and who are implicated in my attempts. If
the king will promise to pardon them, I will make a full confession
of every thing. If you can help me in these difficulties, I shall be
forever grateful to you.”

It is probable that even Seckendorf was somewhat moved by this pathetic
appeal. Fritz succeeded in sending a letter to the post-office,
addressed to Lieutenant Keith at Wesel, containing simply the words
“_Sauvez vous; tout est decouvert_” (Save yourself; all is found out).
Keith received the letter but an hour or so before a colonel of gens
d’armes arrived to arrest him. Seckendorf had an interview with the
king, and seems to have endeavored to mitigate his wrath. He assured
the infuriate monarch of his son’s repentance, and of his readiness to
make a full confession if his father would spare those who had been led
by their sympathies to befriend him. The unrelenting father received
this message very sullenly, saying that he had no faith that his son
would make an honest confession, but that he would see what he had to
say for himself.

At Geldern, when within a few miles of Wesel, the king’s wrath flamed
up anew as he learned that Lieutenant Keith had escaped. The imperiled
young officer, warned of his danger, had saddled his horse as if for an
evening ride in the country. He passed out at one of the gates of the
city, and, riding gently till darkness came, he put spurs to his horse
and escaped to the Hague. Here, through the friendly offices of Lord
Chesterfield, the British embassador, he embarked for England. The
authorities there received him kindly, and he entered the British army.
For ten years he was heard of no more. The king dispatched officers in
pursuit of the fugitive, and redoubled the vigilance with which Fritz
was guarded.

Upon the king’s arrival at Wesel he ordered his culprit son to be
brought on shore and to be arraigned before him. It was Saturday
evening, August 12, 1730. A terrible scene ensued. The despairing Crown
Prince, tortured by injustice, was not disposed to humble himself
before his father. Receiving no assurance that his friends would
be pardoned, he evaded all attempts to extort from him confessions
which would implicate them. General Mosel alone was present at this

“Why,” asked the king, furiously, “did you attempt to desert?”

“I wished to escape,” the prince boldly replied, “because you did not
treat me like a son, but like an abject slave.”

“You are a cowardly deserter,” the father exclaimed, “devoid of all
feelings of honor.”

“I have as much honor as you have,” the son replied; “and I have only
done that which I have heard you say a hundred times you would have
done yourself had you been treated as I have been.”

The wrath of the king was now ungovernable. He drew his sword,
threatening to thrust it through the heart of his son, and seemed upon
the point of doing so, when General Mosel threw himself before the
king, exclaiming, “Sire, you may kill me, but spare your son.”[12]

The prince was withdrawn, and placed in a room where two sentries
watched over him with fixed bayonets. The king malignantly assumed that
the prince, being a colonel in the army and attempting to escape, was a
_deserter_, whose merited doom was death. General Mosel urged the king
not to see his son again, as his presence was sure to inflame his anger
to so alarming a pitch. The father did not again see him for a year and
three days.

A stern military commission was, however, appointed to interrogate the
prince from questions drawn up by the king. The examination took place
the next day. The prince confessed that it was his intention to cross
the Rhine at the nearest point, and to repair to Strasbourg, in France.
There he intended to enlist incognito as a volunteer in the French
army. He refused to tell how he obtained his money, or to make any
revelations which would implicate his friends Katte and Keith.


As this report was made to the king, he exclaimed, angrily, “Let him
lie in ward, then, and await the doom which the laws adjudge to him. He
is my colonel. He has attempted to desert. He has endeavored to induce
others to desert with him. The law speaks plainly enough as to the
penalty for such crimes.”

In the mean time, the queen and Wilhelmina, at Berlin, unconscious of
the dreadful tidings they were soon to receive, were taking advantage
of the absence of the king in seeking a few hours of social enjoyment.
They gave a ball at the pretty little palace of Monbijou, on the banks
of the Spree, a short distance out from Berlin. In the midst of the
entertainment the queen received, by a courier, the following dispatch
from Frederick William:

“I have arrested the rascal Fritz. I shall treat him as his crime and
his cowardice merit. He has dishonored me and all my family. So great a
wretch is no longer worthy to live.”

Wilhelmina, in the following graphic narrative, describes the scene:
“Mamma had given a ball in honor of papa’s birthday. We recommenced the
ball after supper. For six years I had not danced before. It was new
fruit, and I took my fill of it, without heeding much what was passing.
Madam Bulow, who, with others, had worn long faces all night, pleading
illness when one noticed it, said to me several times,

“‘It is late. I wish you had done.’

“‘Oh dear me!’ I exclaimed; ‘do let me have enough of dancing this one
new time. It may be long before it comes again.’

“She returned to me an hour after, and said, with a vexed air, ‘Will
you end, then? You are so engaged you have eyes for nothing.’

“I replied, ‘You are in such a humor I know not what to make of it.’

“‘Look at the queen, then,’ she added, ‘and you will cease to reproach

“A glance which I gave that way filled me with terror. There sat the
queen, in a corner of the room, paler than death, in low conference
with Madam Sonsfeld and Countess Finckenstein. As my brother was most
in my anxieties, I asked if it concerned him. Madam Bulow shrugged her
shoulders, answering, ‘I do not know at all.’”

They repaired to the carriage, which was immediately ordered. Not a
word was spoken until they reached the palace. Wilhelmina did not
venture to ask any questions. Fearing that her brother was dead, she
was in terrible trepidation. Having arrived at the palace, Madam
Sonsfeld informed her of the contents of the dispatch.


The next morning they learned that Lieutenant Katte had been arrested.
All the private papers of Fritz were left, under Katte’s charge, in
a small writing-desk. These letters would implicate both the mother
and the daughter. They were terror-stricken. Count Finckenstein, who
was in high authority, was their friend. Through him, by the aid of
Madam Finckenstein, they obtained the desk. It was locked and sealed.
Despair stimulated their ingenuity. They succeeded in getting the
letters. To destroy them and leave nothing in their place would only
rouse to greater fury the suspicion and rage of the king. The letters
were taken out and burned. The queen and Wilhelmina immediately set
to work writing new ones, of a very different character, with which
to replace them. For three days they thus labored almost incessantly,
writing between six and seven hundred letters. They were so careful to
avoid any thing which might lead to detection that paper was employed
for each letter bearing the date of the year in which the letter was
supposed to be written. “Fancy the mood,” writes Carlyle, “of these
two royal women, and the black whirlwind they were in. Wilhelmina’s
dispatch was incredible. Pen went at the gallop night and day. New
letters of old date and of no meaning are got into the desk again, the
desk closed without mark of injury, and shoved aside while it is yet

Wesel was the fortress of a small province belonging to Prussia, on the
Rhine, many leagues from Berlin. The intervening territory belonged
to Hanover and Hesse Cassel. The king ordered his captive son to be
taken, under a strong guard, by circuitous roads, so as not to attract
attention, to the castle of Mittenwalde, near Berlin. The king then
started for home, probably as wretched as he was making every body
about him. After a very rapid journey, he reached Berlin late in the
afternoon of Sunday, the 27th of August, 1730. It was the evening after
the fabrication of the letters had been completed. We give, from the
graphic pen of Wilhelmina, the account of the king’s first interview
with his family:

“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.’

“‘What!’ cried the queen, ‘have you had the barbarity to kill him?’

“‘Yes, I tell you,’ the king replied; ‘but I must have his
writing-case.’ For he had already informed himself that it was in the
queen’s possession.

“The queen went to her own apartment to fetch it. I ran in to her there
for a moment. She was out of her senses, wringing her hands, crying
incessantly, and exclaiming, ‘O God, my son, my son!’ Breath failed me.
I fell fainting into the arms of Madam Sonsfeld. The queen took the
writing-desk to the king. He immediately broke it open and tore out
the letters, with which he went away. The queen came back to us. We
were comforted by the assurance, from some of the attendants, that my
brother at least was not dead.

“Pretty soon the king came back, and we, his children, ran to pay our
respects to him, by kissing his hands. But he no sooner noticed me than
rage and fury took possession of him. He became black in the face, his
eyes sparkling fire, his mouth foaming. ‘Infamous wretch!’ said he,
‘dare you show yourself before me? Go and keep your scoundrel brother

“So saying, he seized me with one hand, striking me several blows in
the face with the other fist. One of the blows struck me on the temple,
so that I fell back, and should have split my head against a corner of
the wainscot had not Madam Sonsfeld caught me by the head-dress and
broken the fall. I lay on the floor without consciousness. The king, in
his frenzy, proceeded to kick me out of a window which opened to the
floor. The queen, my sisters, and the rest, ran between, preventing
him. They all ranged themselves around me, which gave Mesdames De
Kamecke and Sonsfeld time to pick me up. They put me in a chair in an
embrasure of a window. Madam Sonsfeld supported my head, which was
wounded and swollen with the blows I had received. They threw water
upon my face to bring me to life, which care I lamentably reproached
them with, death being a thousand times better in the pass things had
come to. The queen was shrieking. Her firmness had entirely abandoned
her. She ran wildly about the room, wringing her hands in despair.
My brothers and sisters, of whom the youngest was not more than four
years old, were on their knees begging for me. The king’s face was so
disfigured with rage that it was frightful to look upon.

“The king now admitted that my brother was still alive, but vowed
horribly that he would put him to death, and lay me fast within four
walls for the rest of my life. He accused me of being the prince’s
accomplice, whose crime was high treason. ‘I hope now,’ he said,
‘to have evidence enough to convict the rascal Fritz and the wretch
Wilhelmina, and to cut their heads off. As for Fritz, he will always,
if he lives, be a worthless fellow. I have three other sons, who will
all turn out better than he has done.’

“‘Oh, spare my brother,’ I cried, ‘and I will marry the Duke of
Weissenfels.’ But in the great noise he did not hear me. And while I
strove to repeat it louder, Madam Sonsfeld clapped her handkerchief
on my mouth. Pushing aside to get rid of the handkerchief, I saw Katte
crossing the square. Four soldiers were conducting him to the king. My
brother’s trunks and his were following in the rear. Pale and downcast,
he took off his hat to salute me. He fell at the king’s feet imploring


The king kicked him, and struck him several heavy blows with his cane.
He was hit repeatedly in the face, and blood gushed from the wounds.
With his own hands the king tore from Katte’s breast the cross of the
Order of Saint John. After this disgraceful scene the interrogatory
commenced. Katte confessed all the circumstances of the prince’s
intended escape, but denied that there had been any design against the
king or the state. His own and the prince’s letters were examined,
but nothing was found in them to criminate either. Katte was then
remanded to prison. Wilhelmina, after receiving the grossest possible
insults from her father, who accused her, in coarsest terms, of being
the paramour of Lieutenant Katte, was ordered to her room. Two sentries
were placed at her door, and directions were given that she should be
fed only on prison fare.

“Tell your unworthy daughter,” said the king to the queen, “that her
room is to be her prison. I shall give orders to have the guard there
doubled. I shall have her examined in the most rigorous manner, and
will afterward have her removed to some fit place, where she may repent
of her crimes.”

The whole city of Berlin was agitated by the rumor of these events.
The violent scene in the palace had taken place in an apartment on the
ground floor. The loud and angry tones of the king, the shrieks of the
queen, the cries of the children, the general clamor, had so attracted
the attention of the passers-by that a large crowd had assembled before
the windows. It was necessary to call out the guard to disperse them.
Difficult as it was to exaggerate outrages so infamous, still they were
exaggerated. The report went to all foreign courts that the king, in
his ungovernable rage, had knocked down the Princess Wilhelmina and
trampled her to death beneath his feet.



  Spirited Conduct of Fritz.--Fortress of Cüstrin.--Prison Fare.--
    Wilhelmina’s Captivity.--Sad Fate of Doris Ritter.--Motives of
    the King.--Doom of Lieutenant Katte.--Pathetic Supplications.--
    The Execution.--Peril of Fritz.--Theology of the King.--Letter
    from Fritz.--Sufferings of Wilhelmina.--Brutality of the King.--
    Wilhelmina brought to Terms.

The captive Crown Prince was conveyed from Wesel to the castle of
Mittenwalde, where he was imprisoned in a room without furniture or
bed. An old chest which chanced to be there was his only seat. One
of the king’s favorite ministers, Grumkow, with other officials, was
sent to interrogate him. The prince, probably aware that nothing which
he could now do could make matters worse than they actually were,
displayed much spirit in the interview. Frankly avowing his intention
to escape, he refused to make any disclosures which should implicate
his friends. Grumkow insolently informed him that the use of the rack
was not yet abolished in his majesty’s dominions, and that, if he were
not more pliant, the energies of that instrument might be called into
requisition. Frederick admitted afterward that his blood ran cold at
that suggestion. Still he had the nerve to reply, according to the
testimony of Wilhelmina,

“A hangman such as you naturally takes pleasure in talking of his tools
and of his trade, but on me they will produce no effect. I have owned
every thing, and almost regret to have done so. I ought not to degrade
myself by answering the questions of a scoundrel such as you are.”

Grumkow gathered up his papers, and, with his associate officials,
departed, probably meditating upon his own prospects should the Crown
Prince ever become King of Prussia. The next day, September 5, the
captive was taken from the castle of Mittenwalde, and sent to the
fortress of Cüstrin, a small and quiet town about seventy miles from
Berlin. The strong, dungeon-like room in which he was incarcerated
consisted of bare walls, without any furniture, the light being
admitted by a single aperture so high that the prince could not look
out at it. He was divested of his uniform, of his sword, of every mark
of dignity.

Coarse brown clothes of plainest cut were furnished him. His flute was
taken from him, and he was deprived of all books but the Bible and a
few devotional treatises. He was allowed a daily sum, amounting to
twelve cents of our money, for his food--eight cents for his dinner
and four for his supper. His food was purchased at a cook-shop near by,
and cut for him. He was not permitted the use of a knife. The door was
opened three times a day for ventilation--morning, noon, and night--but
not for more than four minutes each time. A single tallow-candle
was allowed him; but that was to be extinguished at seven o’clock in
the evening.

Thus deprived of all the ordinary comforts of life, the prince, in
the nineteenth year of his age, was consigned to an imprisonment
of absolute solitude. For weeks and months he was left to his own
agitating thoughts, with the apparent blighting of every earthly hope,
awaiting whatever doom his merciless father might award to him. His
jailers, not unmindful of the embarrassing fact that their captive
might yet become King of Prussia, with their fate in his hands,
gradually treated him with all the secret kindness which they dared to

[Illustration: FREDERICK IN PRISON.]

Though Wilhelmina was also a close prisoner in her apartment in the
Berlin palace, and was fed upon the coarsest fare, she still had a
comfortable room, her musical instruments, and the companionship of
her governess, Madam Sonsfeld. It was rather a relief to the unhappy
princess to be shut out from the presence of her father and from the
sound of his voice. She occasionally obtained a smuggled letter from
her mother, and even got one, in pencil, from her brother, full of
expressions of tenderness.

All the friends of Fritz were treated by the infuriate father with
the most cruel severity. No mercy was shown to any one who had ever
given the slightest indication of sympathy with the Crown Prince. A
bookseller, who had furnished Fritz with French books, was cruelly
exiled to the remote shores of the Baltic, on the extreme northern
frontiers of Prussia. A French gentleman, Count Montholieu, who had
loaned the Crown Prince money, would probably have perished upon the
scaffold had he not escaped by flight. His effigy was nailed to the

There was a young lady in Potsdam by the name of Doris Ritter. She was
the daughter of highly respectable parents, and was of unblemished
character. As Fritz was extremely fond of music, and she played sweetly
on the harpsichord, he loaned her pieces of music, and occasionally,
under the eye of her parents, accompanied her with the flute. The life
of a colonel in garrison at Potsdam was so dull, that this innocent
amusement was often quite a help in beguiling the weary hours.

The young lady was not beautiful, and there was no evidence of the
slightest improprieties, or of any approach even to flirtation. But the
infuriate king, who, without the shadow of reason, could accuse his own
daughter of infamy, caused this young lady, under the pretext that she
had been the guilty intimate of his son, to be taken from her parents,
to be delivered to the executioners, and to be publicly conveyed in a
cart and whipped on the bare back through the principal streets of the
town. She was then imprisoned, and doomed to beat hemp as a culprit for
three years.

One’s faith in a superintending Providence is almost staggered by such
outrages. It would seem that there could scarcely be any compensation
even in the future world for so foul a wrong inflicted upon this
guileless and innocent girl. There can be no possible solution of the
mystery but in the decree, “After death cometh the judgment.”


“It is impossible,” writes Lord Dover, “not to perceive that the real
reason of his conduct was his enmity to his son, and that the crime of
the poor girl was the having assisted in making the son’s existence
more supportable. The intention of Frederick William apparently
being that the infliction of so infamous a punishment in so public a
manner should prevent the possibility of Frederick’s ever seeing her

A court-martial was convened to pronounce sentence upon the Crown
Prince and his confederates. The court was appointed by the king, and
consisted of three major generals, three colonels, three lieutenant
colonels, three majors, three captains, and three belonging to the
civil courts, called auditors. The court, thus composed of eighteen
members, met on the 20th of October, 1730, in the little town of
Copenick, a few miles from Berlin. Grumkow, well aware that these
proceedings would attract the attention of every court in Europe, had
persuaded the king to submit to the formality of a court-martial.

It was well understood that a verdict was to be returned in accordance
with the wishes of the king, and also that the king desired that no
mercy should be shown to his son.[15] After a session of six days the
verdict of the court was rendered. The crime of the Crown Prince, in
endeavoring to escape from the brutality of his father, was declared to
be _desertion_, and the penalty was death. Lieutenant Keith was also
declared to be a deserter, and doomed to die. But as he had escaped,
and could not be recaptured, he was sentenced to be hanged in effigy,
which effigy was then to be cut in four quarters and nailed to the
gallows at Wesel. Lieutenant Katte, who certainly had not deserted, and
whose only crime was that he had been a confidant of the Crown Prince
in his plan to escape, was condemned to imprisonment in a fortress for
two years, some say for life.

The king approved of the first two sentences of the court. The mildness
of the last roused his indignation. “Katte,” he exclaimed, “is guilty
of high treason. He shall die by the sword of the headsman. It is
better that he should die than that justice depart out of the world.”
His doom was thus fixed as irreversible as fate.

Fortunately for the young man’s mother, she was in her grave. His
father was at that time commandant of Königsberg, in high favor
with the king. His illustrious grandfather on his mother’s side,
Field-marshal Wartensleben, was still living. For half a century he
had worthily occupied the most eminent posts of honor. The tears, the
agonizing entreaties of these friends were not of the slightest avail.
The king’s heart was as impervious to appeals for mercy as are the
cliffs of Sinai.

There are several letters still remaining which Lieutenant Katte wrote
to his friends during those hours of anguish in which he was awaiting
his death. No one can read them without compassionate emotion, and
without execrating the memory of that implacable tyrant who so unjustly
demanded his execution. The young man wrote to the king a petition
containing the following pathetic plea:

  “SIRE,--It is not to excuse myself that I address this letter
  to your majesty; but, moved by sincere repentance and heartfelt
  sorrow, I implore your clemency, and beseech you, sire, to have
  some consideration for my youth, which renders me capable of
  imprudence without any bad design.

  “God does not always follow the impulse of his justice toward
  sinners, but often, by his mercy, reclaims those who have gone
  astray. And will not your majesty, sire, who are a resemblance
  of the divinity, pardon a criminal who is guilty of disobedience
  to his sovereign? The hope of pardon supports me, and I flatter
  myself that your majesty will not cut me off in the flower of my
  age, but will give me time to prove the effect your majesty’s
  clemency will have on me.

  “Sire, I own that I am guilty. Will not your majesty grant me
  a pardon, which God never refuses to the greatest sinner who
  sincerely confesses his sins? I shall be always ready to shed
  even the last drop of my blood to show your majesty what grateful
  sentiments your clemency can raise in me.”

It was all in vain. On Sunday evening, September 5th, as the condemned
young man was sitting alone in his prison cell, sadly awaiting his
doom, yet clinging to hopes of mercy, an officer entered with the
startling intelligence that the carriage was at the door to convey
him to the fortress of Cüstrin, at a few leagues distance, where he
was to be executed. For a moment he was greatly agitated. He soon,
however, regained his equanimity. It must indeed have been a fearful
communication to one in the vigor of health, in the prime of youth,
and surrounded by every thing which could render life desirable. Two
brother-officers and the chaplain accompanied him upon this dismal
midnight ride. Silence, pious conversation, prayers, and occasional
devotional hymns occupied the hours. The dawn of a cold winter’s
morning was just appearing as they reached the fortress.

His companions had no heart to witness the bloody execution of their
friend and brother-officer. The chaplain, Müller, who had accompanied
the condemned to Cüstrin, and also Besserer, the chaplain of the
garrison there, were either obliged by their official position, or
were constrained by Christian sympathy, to ride by his side in the
death-cart to the scaffold. Of the rest of his friends he took an
affectionate leave, saying, “Adieu, my brothers; may God be with you
evermore!” He was conveyed to the rampart of the castle dressed in
coarse brown garments precisely like those worn by the prince.

By order of the king, Fritz, who had also been condemned to die and
was awaiting his doom, was brought down into a lower room of the
fortress, before whose window the scaffold was erected, that he might
be compelled “to see Katte die.” At his entrance the curtains were
closed, shutting out the view of the court-yard. Upon the drawing of
the curtains, Fritz, to his horror, beheld the scaffold draped in black
on a level with the window, and directly before it.

The unhappy Crown Prince was in an agony of despair. Again and again
he frantically exclaimed, “In the name of God, I beg you to stop the
execution till I write to the king! I am ready to renounce all my
rights to the crown if he will pardon Katte!” As the condemned was
led by the window to ascend the scaffold, Fritz cried out to him, in
anguish as intense as a generous heart can endure, “Pardon me, my dear
Katte, pardon me! Oh that this should be what I have done for you!”

A smile flitted across Katte’s pallid features as he replied, “Death
is sweet for a prince I love so well.” With fortitude he ascended
the scaffold. The executioner attempted to bandage his eyes, but he
resisted, and, looking to heaven, said, “Father, into thy hands I
surrender my soul!” Four grenadiers held Fritz with his face toward the
window. Fainting, he fell senseless upon the floor. At the same moment,
by a single blow, Katte’s head rolled upon the scaffold. As the prince
recovered consciousness, he found himself still at the window, in full
view of the headless and gory corpse of his friend. Another swoon
consigned him to momentary unconsciousness.[16]


The body of Katte remained upon the scaffold during the short wintry
day, and at night was buried in one of the bastions of the fortress.
This cruel tragedy was enacted more than a century ago; but there are
few who even now can read the record without having their eyes flooded,
through the conflicting emotions of sympathy for the sufferers and
indignation against the tyrant who could perpetrate such crimes.

When Frederick returned to consciousness his misery plunged him into a
high fever. Delirium ensued, during which Chaplain Müller, who remained
with him, says that he frequently attempted to destroy himself. As
the fever abated and he became more tranquil, floods of tears gushed
from his eyes. He for some time refused to take any nourishment. It
seemed to him now that every hope in life was forever blighted. He had
no doubt that his own death was fully decided upon, and that he would
soon be led to his execution. In his moments of delirious anguish he
at times longed for death to come as speedily as possible. And again
it seemed awful to have his young life--for he was then but eighteen
years of age--cut off by the bloody sword.[17]

Chaplain Müller seems to have enjoyed the confidence of the king to
an unusual decree. He was ordered to remain at Cüstrin, and to have
daily interviews with the prince, to instruct him in religion. The king
professed to be eminently a religious man. While torturing the body and
the mind of the prince in every way, he expressed great anxiety for
the salvation of his soul. It is not strange that the example of such
a father had staggered the faith of the son. Illogically he renounced
that religion which condemned, in the severest terms, the conduct of
the father, and which caused the king often to tremble upon his throne,
appalled by the declaration, “Know thou that for all these things God
will bring thee into judgment.”

The young prince had also become dissolute in life. The sacred 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

It seems that the Crown Prince had an inquiring mind. He was interested
in metaphysical speculations. He had adopted, perhaps, as some excuse
for his conduct, the doctrine of predestination, that God hath
foreordained whatsoever cometh to pass. The idea that there is a power,
which Hume calls philosophical necessity, which Napoleon calls destiny,
which Calvin calls predestination, by which all events are controlled,
and that this necessity is not inconsistent with free agency, is a
doctrine which ever has commanded the assent, and probably ever will,
of many of the strongest thinkers in the world.

“The heresy about predestination,” writes Carlyle, “or the election
by free grace, as his majesty terms it, according to which a man is
preappointed, from all eternity, either to salvation or the opposite,
which is Fritz’s notion, and indeed Calvin’s, and that of many
benighted creatures, this editor among them, appears to his majesty an
altogether shocking one. What! may not deserter Fritz say to himself,
even now, or in whatever other deeps of sin he may fall into, ‘I was
foredoomed to it? How could I or how can I help it?’ The mind of his
majesty shudders as if looking over the edge of an abyss.”

Chaplain Müller was especially directed to argue with Frederick upon
this point, and, if possible, to convert him to Christianity. The
correspondence which ensued between the king and Müller is preserved.
The king wrote to the chaplain, under date of November 3d, 1730:

“I have been assured that you are an honest and pious clergyman, and a
faithful minister of the Word of God. Since, therefore, you are going
to Cüstrin, on account of the execution of Lieutenant Katte, I command
you, after the execution, to pay a visit to the Prince Royal; to reason
with him and to represent to him that whosoever abandons God is also
abandoned by God; and that, when God has abandoned a man, and has taken
away his grace from him, that man is incapable of doing what is good,
and can only do what is evil. You will exhort him to repent, and to
ask pardon for the many sins he has committed, and into which he has
seduced others, one of whom has been just punished with death.

“If you then find the prince contrite and humble, you will engage
him to fall on his knees with you, to ask pardon of God with tears
of penitence. But you must proceed with prudence and circumspection,
for the prince is cunning. You will represent to him also, in a
proper manner, the error he labors under in believing that some are
predestinated to one thing and some to another; and that thus he
who is predestinated to evil can do nothing but evil, and he who is
predestinated to good can do nothing but good, and that, consequently,
we can change nothing of what is to happen--a dreadful error,
especially in what regards our salvation.

“Now, as I hope that his present situation, and the execution which
has just taken place before his eyes, will touch and soften his heart,
and will lead him to better sentiments, I charge you, as you value
your conscience, to do all that is humanly possible to represent
forcibly to the prince these things; and particularly, in what relates
to predestination, to convince him by means of passages from the
Scriptures which satisfactorily prove what I wish you to advance.”

This letter was addressed to the “reverend, well-beloved, and faithful
Müller,” and was signed “your affectionate king.” Though the king had
not yet announced any intention of sparing the life of his son, and
probably was fully resolved upon his execution, he was manifestly
disturbed by the outcry against his proceedings raised in all the
courts of Europe. Three days before the king wrote the above letter,
the Emperor of Germany, Charles VI., had written to him, with his own
hand, earnestly interceding for the Crown Prince. In addition to the
letter, the emperor, through his minister Seckendorf, had presented a
very firm remonstrance. He announced to Frederick William that Prince
Frederick was a prince of the empire, and that he was entitled to the
protection of the laws of the Germanic body; that the heir-apparent of
the Prussian monarchy was under the safeguard of the Germanic empire,
and that the king was bound to surrender to this tribunal the accused,
and the documents relative to this trial.

The emperor was probably induced to this decisive course not merely by
motives of humanity, but also by the consideration that by thus saving
the life of Frederick he would forever attach him to the interests of
the house of Austria. The kings of Poland and Sweden also wrote to the
king, earnestly interceding for the life of the Crown Prince.

The king was at first much incensed by these attempts at interference.
It was not safe for him to bid defiance to the opinions of the
civilized world. Emotions of anger and mortification struggled in the
bosom of the king. Captain Guy Dickens, secretary of Dubourgay, writes:

“The King of Prussia can not sleep. The officers sit up with him
every night, and in his slumbers he raves and talks of spirits and

He drank deeply, wandering about by night as if possessed by fiends.
“He has not,” writes Captain Dickens, “gone to bed sober for a month
past.” Once he rose, about midnight, and, with a candle in his hand,
entered the apartment of the queen, apparently in a state of extreme
terror, saying that there was something haunting him. His agitation was
so great that a bed was made up for him there.

Two days after the death of Katte, the king wrote to Chaplain Müller,
under date of November 7th, 1730, a letter closing with the following

  “As God often, by wondrous guidance, strange paths, and thorny
  steps, will bring men into the kingdom of Christ, so may our
  divine Redeemer help that this prodigal son be brought into his
  communion; that his godless heart be beaten until it is softened
  and changed, and so he be snatched from the claws of Satan. This
  grant us, the Almighty God and Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ
  and his passion and death’s sake. Amen.

       “I am, for the rest, your well-affectioned king,
            “FREDERICK WILLIAM.”

The prince supposed that the object of Muller’s visits was to
prepare him for his death. But upon receiving the full assurance
that his father contemplated pardoning him, should there be evidence
of repentance, he promised to take an oath of entire submission to
his father’s will. Seven commissioners were sent to the prison of
Cüstrin, on the 19th of November, to administer this oath with the
utmost solemnity. He was conducted to the church. A large crowd was
in attendance. A sermon appropriate to the occasion was preached. The
sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered to him. And then he
audibly repeated the oath and attached to it his signature.

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:

            “Cüstrin, November 19, 1730.

  majesty, my all-graciousest Father, I have, by my disobedience as
  Their subject and soldier, not less than by my undutifulness as
  Their son, given occasion to a just wrath and aversion against
  me. With the all-obedientest respect I submit myself wholly
  to the grace of my most All-gracious Father, and beg him most
  All-graciously to pardon me, as it is not so much the withdrawal
  of my liberty, in a sad arrest, as my own thoughts of the fault
  I have committed that have brought me to reason, who, with
  all-obedientest respect and submission, continue till my end
  my All-graciousest king’s and Father’s faithfully-obedientest
  servant and son,


Here, in the little town of Cüstrin, in a house very meagerly
furnished, the Crown Prince established his household upon the humblest
scale. The prince was allowed to wear his sword, but not his uniform.
He was debarred all amusements, and was forbidden to read, write,
or speak French. To give him employment, he was ordered to attend
regularly the sittings of the Chamber of Counselors of that district,
though he was to take his seat as the youngest member. Three persons
were appointed constantly to watch over him. Lord Dover writes:

“His diet was regulated at a sum which made it barely sufficient to
prevent actual starvation. His apartment was most miserable, and almost
entirely devoid of furniture. He was in great want of linen, and of
others of the first necessaries of life. At nine o’clock at night his
candle was taken from him, while pen, ink, paper, and books were alike
denied him.”

“His very flute,” Carlyle writes, “most innocent ‘Princess,’ as he used
to call his flute in old days, is denied him ever since he came to
Cüstrin. But by degrees he privately gets her back, and consorts much
with her; wails forth, in beautiful adagios, emotions for which there
is no other utterance at present. He has liberty of Cüstrin and the
neighborhood. Out of Cüstrin he is not to lodge any night without leave
had of the commandant.”

While these sad scenes were transpiring, the Princess Wilhelmina was
held in close captivity in her apartment at the palace in Berlin. The
king had convened a council of eight clergymen, and had put to them
the question whether a father had not a right to give his daughter in
wedlock to whom he pleased. Much to the honor of these clergymen, they
replied, with but one exception, in the negative.

The queen remained firm in her determination that Wilhelmina should
marry the Prince of Wales. The king was equally inflexible in his
resolve that she should not marry the Prince of Wales. The queen
occasionally had interviews with Wilhelmina, when they wept together
over their disappointments and trials. The spirited young princess had
no special predilections for the English prince, but she was firm in
her resolve not to have a repugnant husband forced upon her. On the
night of the 27th of January, 1731, as the queen was about to leave
Berlin for Potsdam, she said to her daughter,

“Be firm, my child. Trust in my management. Only swear to me, on your
eternal salvation, that never, on any compulsion, will you marry
another than the Prince of Wales. Give me that oath.”

But Wilhelmina evaded the oath upon the ground of religious scruples.
Anxiety, confinement, and bad diet had so preyed upon her health that
she was reduced almost to a skeleton. The following extract from her
journal gives a graphic account of her painful condition:

“I was shut up in my bedchamber, where I saw nobody, and continued
always to fast. I was really dying of hunger. I read as long as there
was daylight, and made remarks upon what I read. My health began
to give way. I became as thin as a skeleton from want of food and
exercise. One day Madam De Sonsfeld and myself were at table, looking
sadly at one another, having nothing to eat but soup made with salt
and water, and a ragout of old bones, full of hairs and other dirt,
when we heard a knocking at the window. Surprised, we rose hastily to
see what it was. We found a raven with a morsel of bread in its beak,
which it laid down on the sill of the window so soon as it saw us, and
flew away. Tears came into our eyes at this adventure. ‘Our lot is
very deplorable,’ said I to my governess, ‘since it even touches the
creatures devoid of reason. They have more compassion for us than men,
who treat us with so much cruelty.’”

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:

“My blackguard daughter may receive the sacrament.”

Her sisters were now permitted occasionally to visit her, and her
situation became somewhat ameliorated. On the 10th of May Wilhelmina
received a letter from her mother which caused her to wring her hands
in anguish. It informed her that the next day a deputation was to call
upon her from the king, to insist upon her giving her consent to marry
the Prince of Baireuth.

The letter was as follows:

“All is lost, my dear daughter. The king is determined, at all hazards,
upon your marriage. I have sustained several dreadful contests on
this subject, but neither my prayers nor my tears have had any
effect. Eversman has orders to make the purchases necessary for your
marriage. You must prepare yourself to lose Madam Sonsfeld. The king
is determined to have her degraded with infamy if you do not obey
him. Some one will be sent to persuade you. In God’s name consent to
nothing, and God will support you in it. A prison is better than a
bad marriage. Adieu, my dear daughter! I expect every thing from your


A deputation of four ministers, headed by Baron Grumkow, the next day
presented themselves to the princess. To overawe Wilhelmina, they
approached her with all the solemnity of state. Grumkow opened the

“Obey the wishes of the king,” said he, “and the royal favor will be
restored to you. Refuse to do it, and no one can tell what will be the
doom which will fall upon your mother, your brother, and yourself.”

They all united their entreaties, arguments, prayers, and threats. The
princess was in a state of terrible agitation. Almost distracted she
paced the floor. That she might have a little time to reflect, the four
deputies retired into the recess of a window. One of them, M. Tulmier,
then approached the princess, and, in a low tone of voice, said to her,

“Do not resist any longer. Submit to whatever is required of you. I
will answer with my life that the marriage will never really take
place. It is necessary, at whatever cost, to appease the king for the
present. I will explain to the queen that this is the only means of
obtaining a favorable declaration from the King of England.”

Thus influenced, she yielded. Tears flooded her eyes, and her voice was
broken with sobs as she said, “I am ready to sacrifice myself for the
peace of the family.” The deputation withdrew, leaving the princess in
despair. Baron Grumkow conveyed to the king the pleasing intelligence
of her submission.



  Wilhelmina’s Letter to her Mother.--Cruel Response.--The Court
    Festival.--First Interview with the Prince of Baireuth.--His
    Character and Appearance.--Interview between the King and Fritz.--
    The Partial Reconciliation.--Divine Decrees.--The King’s Sense
    of Justice.--The King’s Discipline of the Judges.--Character of
    Fritz.--Wilhelmina’s Annoyances.--Her Marriage.--Interview between
    Wilhelmina and Fritz.--The Departure.

Wilhelmina, having thus given her very reluctant assent to her marriage
with the Prince of Baireuth, wrote as follows to her mother:

“I have hardly strength enough to trace these lines. My state is
altogether worthy of pity. It is not through any menaces, however
violent they may have been, that I have yielded my consent to the
king’s wishes. An interest still more dear to me has determined me to
this sacrifice. I have been till now the innocent cause of all the
unhappiness which your majesty has endured. My too sensible heart has
been penetrated by the touching details you have latterly made of them.

“You have been willing to suffer for me. Is it not much more natural
that I should sacrifice myself for you, and that I should finish,
once for all, this fatal division in the family? Could I balance a
moment between the choice of unhappiness for myself and the pardon of
my brother? What dreadful discourses have there not been held to me
on this subject! I tremble when I think of them. All the objections I
could allege against the king’s proposal were refuted to me beforehand.
Your majesty yourself had proposed to him the Prince of Baireuth as
a fit alliance for me. I can not therefore imagine that you will
disapprove of my resolution. Besides, necessity is not to be resisted.
I shall have the honor to offer a more circumstantial detail of the
whole transaction to your majesty when I shall be permitted to throw
myself at your feet. I can understand easily what must be your grief on
the occasion. It is that which touches me the most.”

The king, in response to the report of Baron Grumkow, which was
so gratifying to him, sent the same evening the following note to

“I am delighted, my dear Wilhelmina, that you are so submissive to
the wishes of your father. The good God will bless you for it; and I
will never abandon you. I will take care of you all my life, and will
endeavor to prove to you that I am your very affectionate father.”

The next morning the princess received the following cruel epistle from
her mother:

“You have cut me to the heart, and have inflicted on me the greatest
misery I ever endured. I had placed all my hope in you, in consequence
of my ignorance of your character. You have had the address to disguise
to me the bad propensities of your heart, and the baseness of your
disposition. I repent a thousand times the kindness I have shown you,
the care I have taken of your education, and all that I have suffered
on your account. I no longer acknowledge you as my daughter, and shall,
in future, never regard you but as my most cruel enemy, since it is
you who have sacrificed me to my persecutors, who now triumph over me.
Never count upon me again. I vow eternal hatred to you, and will never
forgive you.”

Soon after, the king returned to Berlin and summoned his daughter to
his presence. He received her very graciously. The queen, however,
remained quite unreconciled, and was loud in the expression of her
anger: “I am disgraced, vanquished, and my enemies are triumphant!” she
exclaimed. Her chagrin was so great that she fell quite sick. To a few
words of sympathy which her child uttered, she replied, “Why do you
pretend to weep? It is you who have killed me.”

Frederick William was in high spirits. Many distinguished strangers
were invited to his court, and they were received with great
magnificence. There were costly and showy entertainments, served
by “six-and-twenty blackamoors,” bands of music, with much pomp of
etiquette, and reviews of the giant guard and of the marvelously
drilled army. Preparations were made for a review of great splendor on
Monday, the 28th of May. The Prince of Baireuth was invited, though
neither the queen nor Wilhelmina were aware of it. At the early hour of
seven o’clock of the preceding evening the king went to bed, that he
might be fresh for the review on the morrow. His high-born guests were
left to be entertained by the queen and the princess. Just as they were
passing in to supper, the sound of carriage wheels, approaching the
foot of the grand staircase, was heard in the court-yard. As that was
an honor conferred only upon princes, the queen was a little surprised,
and sent to inquire who had arrived. To her consternation, she found
that it was the Prince of Baireuth.

“The head of Medusa,” writes the princess, “never produced such horror
as did this piece of news to the queen. For some time she could not
utter a word, and changed color so often that we thought she would
faint. Her state went to my heart. I remained as immovable as she.
Every one present appeared full of consternation.”

The prince retired to his chamber, to be presented to the royal family
at the review the next day. Wilhelmina passed a miserable night.
She could not sleep, and in the morning found herself so ill that
she begged to be excused from the review. She also greatly dreaded
encountering the coarse jests of her father. But she could not be
released from the review. Both she and her mother were compelled to
go. In an open carriage, the queen and princess, with attendant ladies
of the court, passed before the line. The Marquis of Schwedt, whom
the princess had so emphatically discarded, was at the head of his
regiment. He seemed “swollen with rage,” and saluted the royal party
with his eyes turned away. The royal carriages were then withdrawn to a
little distance that the ladies might witness the spectacle.

“Such a show for pomp and circumstance, Wilhelmina owns, as could
not be equaled in the world; such wheeling, rhythmic coalescing and
unfolding, accurate as clock-work, far and wide; swift, big column
here hitting big column there at the appointed place and moment; with
their volleyings and trumpetings, bright uniforms, and streamers, and
field-music, in equipment and manœuvre perfect all, to the meanest
drummer or black kettle-drummer; supreme drill sergeant playing on the
thing as on his huge piano, several square miles in area.”[18]

As the ladies of the court were gazing upon this spectacle, an officer
rode up to the royal carriage, cap in hand, and said that he was
directed to present to the queen and princess his Highness the Prince
of Baireuth. Immediately a tall young man, in rich dress and of very
courtly air, rode up to the carriage and saluted his future mother
and his destined bride. His reception was very chilling. The queen,
with frigid civility, scarcely recognized his low bow. Wilhelmina,
faint from fasting, anxiety, and sleeplessness, was so overcome by her
emotions that she fell back upon her seat in a swoon.

Wilhelmina had never seen the Prince of Wales. Her mother had not
attempted to conceal from her that he was exceedingly plain in person,
slightly deformed, weak in intellect, and debased by his debaucheries.
But the ambitious queen urged these considerations, not as objections,
but as incentives to the marriage. “You will be able,” she said, “to
have him entirely under your direction. You will thus be virtually King
of England, and can exert a powerful control over all the nations of
Europe.” These considerations, however, did not influence the princess
so much as they did her mother. She had never taken any special
interest in her marriage with the Prince of Wales. Indeed, at times,
she had said that nothing should ever induce her to marry him.

The first glance at the Prince of Baireuth prepossessed the princess in
his favor. She subsequently, when better acquainted with him, described
him in the following terms:

“The prince is tall, well made, and has a noble air. His features are
neither handsome nor regular; but his countenance, which is open,
engaging, and very agreeable, stands him in the place of beauty.
He is of a hasty temper, and replies with quickness and without
embarrassment. Though his nature is inclined to anger, he knows
so well how to overcome it that it is never perceived, and no one
has ever suffered by it. He is very gay. His conversation is very
agreeable, though he has some difficulty in making himself intelligible
from lisping so much. His conception is quick, and his intellect
penetrating. The goodness of his heart gains him the attachment of
all who know him. He is generous, charitable, compassionate, polite,
engaging, and enjoys very equal spirits. The only fault I know in him
is too much levity, which I must mention here, as otherwise I should
be accused of partiality. He has, however, much corrected himself of

The next Sunday, June 3d, the betrothal took place with great
magnificence. The ceremony was attended by a large concourse of
distinguished guests. Lord Dover says that the very evening of the
day of the betrothing a courier arrived from England with dispatches
announcing that the English court had yielded to all the stipulations
demanded by the King of Prussia in reference to the marriage of
Wilhelmina to the Prince of Wales. It was now too late to retract.
Probably both the king and Wilhelmina were gratified in being able to
decline the offer. But the chagrin of the queen was terrible. She fell
into a violent fever, and came near dying, reproaching her daughter
with having killed her.

There seems to be no end to the complications and troubles of this
royal family. It is said that Wilhelmina, to soothe her mother, treated
her betrothed with great coldness; that her younger sister Charlotte
fell deeply in love with the Prince of Baireuth, and endeavored to win
him to herself; and that the prince himself, attracted by warmth on the
one hand, and repelled by coldness on the other, was quite disposed
to make the exchange.[19] The king, irritated by these interminable
annoyances, and the victim of chronic petulance and ill nature,
recommenced his brutal treatment of his daughter.

While these scenes were transpiring, the Crown Prince was at Cüstrin,
upon probation, being not yet admitted to the presence of his father.
He seems to have exerted himself to the utmost to please the king,
applying himself diligently to become familiar with all the tedious
routine and details of the administration of finance, police, and the
public domains. Fritz was naturally very amiable. He was consequently
popular in the little town in which he resided, all being ready to do
every thing in their power to serve him. The income still allowed him
by his father was so small that he would have suffered from poverty had
not the gentry in the neighborhood, regardless of the prohibition to
lend money to the prince, contributed secretly to replenish his purse.

A year and a day had elapsed since the father had seen the son. On
the 15th of August, the king, being on a journey, stopped for a couple
of hours at Cüstrin, and held an interview with Fritz. The monarch
was attended by a retinue of several hundred persons. The scene which
ensued is described by Grumkow in his summary of what took place at
Cüstrin on the 15th of August, 1731. The king sent for the prince to be
brought before him at the government house. As Fritz entered he fell
upon his knees at his father’s feet. The king coldly ordered him to
rise, saying,

“You will now recall to mind what passed a year and a day ago--how
scandalously you behaved, and what a godless enterprise you undertook.
As I have had you about me from the beginning, and must know you
well, I did all in the world that was in my power, by kindness and by
harshness, to make an honorable man of you. As I rather suspected your
evil purposes, I treated you in the harshest and sharpest way in the
Saxon camp, in hopes you would consider yourself, and take another
line of conduct; would confess your faults to me, and beg forgiveness.
But all in vain. You grew ever more stiff-necked. You thought to carry
it through with your headstrong humor. But hark ye, my lad! if thou
wert sixty or seventy instead of eighteen, thou couldst not cross my
resolutions. And as up to this date I have managed to sustain myself
against any comer, there will be methods found to bring thee to reason

“Have I not, on all occasions, meant honorably by you? Last time I got
wind of your debts, did I not, as a father, admonish you to tell me
all? I would pay all; you were only to tell me the truth; whereupon you
said there were still two thousand thalers beyond the sum named. I paid
these also at once, and fancied I had made peace with you. And then it
was found, by-and-by, you owed many thousands more. And as you knew you
could not pay, it was as good as if the money had been stolen--not to
reckon how the French vermin, Montholieu and partner, cheated you with
their new loans.

“Nothing touched me so much as that you had not any trust in me. All
this that I was doing for the aggrandizement of the house, the army,
and the finances, could only be for you, if you made yourself worthy of
it. I here declare that I have done all things to gain your friendship,
and all has been in vain.”

The Crown Prince, either deeply touched with penitence or affecting
to be so, again threw himself upon his knees before his father, as if
imploring pardon. The king continued:

“Was it not your intention to go to England?”

“Yes,” the prince replied.

“Then hear what the consequences would have been. Your mother would
have got into the greatest misery. I could not but have suspected she
was the author of the business. Your sister I would have cast for life
into a place where she would never have seen sun or moon again. Then on
with my army to Hanover, and burn and ravage--yes, if it had cost me
life, land, and people. Your thoughtless and godless conduct, see what
it was leading to. I intended to employ you in all manner of business,
civil and military. But how, after such action, could I show your face
to my officers?”

Here the young prince made the most solemn promises to try to regain
his father’s favor. The king then asked: “Was it thou that temptedst
Katte, or did Katte tempt thee?” Fritz promptly replied, “I tempted
Katte.” “I am glad,” rejoined the king, “to hear the truth from you, at
any rate.”

The king then rattled on without waiting for replies: “How do you like
your Cüstrin life? Do you still have as much aversion to Wusterhausen,
and to wearing your shroud, as you called your uniform? Likely enough
my company does not suit you. I have no French manners, and can not
bring out witty sayings in the coxcomb way; and I truly consider all
that as a thing to be thrown to the dogs. I am a German prince, and
mean to live and die in that character. But you can now say what you
have got by your caprices and obstinate heart, hating every thing that
I liked, and if I distinguished any one, despising him. If an officer
was put in arrest, you took to lamenting about him. Your real friends,
who intended your good, you hated and calumniated. Those who flattered
you and encouraged your bad purpose you caressed. You see what that has
come to. In Berlin, in all Prussia, for some time back, nobody asks
after you, whether you are in the world or not. And were it not that
one or the other coming from Cüstrin reports you as playing tennis or
wearing French hair-bags, nobody would know whether you were dead, or

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:

“When godless fellows about you speak against your duties to God, the
king, and your country, fall instantly on your knees and pray with your
whole soul to Jesus Christ to deliver you from such wickedness, and
lead you on better ways. And if it come in earnest from your heart,
Jesus, who would have all men saved, will not leave you unheard.”

The Crown Prince, with what degree of sincerity we know not, was now in
tears. Prostrating himself before his majesty, he kissed his feet. The
king, much moved, was in tears also, and retired to another room.

“It being his majesty’s birthday,” writes Grumkow, “the prince, in
deep emotion, followed his father, and, again falling prostrate,
testified such heartfelt joy, gratitude, and affection over this
blessed anniversary as quite touched the heart of the king, who at
last clasped him in his arms, and hurried out to avoid sobbing aloud.
The Crown Prince followed his majesty, and, in the presence of many
hundred people, kissed his majesty’s feet, and was again embraced by
his majesty, who said, ‘Behave well, as I see you mean, and I will take
care of you.’ Which words,” writes Grumkow, “threw the Crown Prince
into such an ecstasy of joy as no pen can express.”

Two events occurred at this time highly characteristic of the king.
There was a nobleman by the name of Schlubhut, occupying a high
official position, who was found a defaulter to the amount of a sum
equal to twenty-five thousand dollars. The supreme court sentenced him
to three or four years’ imprisonment. The king was indignant at the
mildness of the sentence. “What,” said he, “when the private thief is
sent to the gallows, shall a nobleman and a magistrate escape with fine
and imprisonment?” Schlubhut was immediately sent to prison. All night
long he was disturbed with the noise of carpentering in the castle
square in front of his cell. In the morning he saw directly before his
window a huge gallows erected. Upon that gallows he was immediately
hung, and his body was left to swing in the wind for several days, some
say for weeks.


Soon after, a soldier, six feet three inches tall, the ringleader of
a gang, broke into a house and robbed it of property to the amount of
about five thousand dollars. He was sentenced to be hung. We give the
result in the words of Carlyle:

“Friedrich Wilhelm feels this sad contrast very much; the more, as the
soldier is his own chattel withal, and of superlative inches. Friedrich
Wilhelm flames up into wrath; sends off swift messengers to bring these
judges, one and all, instantly into his presence. The judges are still
in their dressing-gowns, shaving, breakfasting. They make what haste
they can. So soon as the first three or four are reported to be in the
anteroom, Friedrich Wilhelm, in extreme impatience, has them called in;
starts discoursing with them upon the two weights and two measures.
Apologies, subterfuges, do but provoke him farther. It is not long till
he starts up growling terribly, ‘Ye scoundrels, how could you?’ and
smites down upon the crown of them with the royal cudgel itself. Fancy
the hurry-scurry, the unforensic attitudes and pleadings! Royal cudgel
rains blows right and left. Blood is drawn, crowns cracked, crowns
nearly broken; and several judges lost a few teeth and had their noses
battered before they could get out. The second relay, meeting them in
this dilapidated state on the staircases, dashed home again without the
honor of a royal interview. This is an actual scene, of date, Berlin,
1731, of which no constitutional country can hope to see the fellow.
Schlubhut he hanged, Schlubhut being only Schlubhut’s chattel. This
musketeer, his majesty’s own chattel, he did not hang, but set him
shouldering arms again after some preliminary dusting.”

The king, after his apparent reconciliation with Fritz, granted him
a little more liberty. He was appointed to travel over and carefully
inspect several of the crown domains. He was ordered to study
thoroughly the practical husbandry of those domains--how they were
to be plowed, enriched, and sown. He was also to devote his attention
to the rearing of cattle; to the preparing of malt and the brewing of
ale. “Useful discourse,” said the king, “is to be kept up with him on
these journeys, pointing out why this is and that, and whether it could
not be better.” On the 22d of September the Crown Prince wrote to his
father as follows:

“I have been to Lebus. There is excellent land there; fine weather for
the husbandmen. Major Röder passed this way, and dined with me last
Wednesday. He has got a fine fellow for my most all-gracious father’s
regiment. I depend on my most all-gracious father’s grace that he will
be good to me. I ask for nothing, and for no happiness in the world
but what comes from him; and hope that he will some day remember me in
grace, and give me the blue coat to put on again.”

It is very evident, from the glimpses we catch of Fritz at this time,
that he was a wild fellow, quite frivolous, and with but a feeble
sense of moral obligation. General Schulenburg, an old soldier, of
stern principles, visited him at Cüstrin, and sent an account of the
interview to Baron Grumkow, under date of October 4th, 1731. From this
letter we cull the following statement:

“I found him much grown; an air of health and gayety about him. He
caressed me greatly. We went to dinner. He asked me to sit beside him.
Among other things, he said that he liked the great world, and was
charmed to observe the ridiculous, weak side of some people.”

The prince inquired, in quite an indifferent tone, respecting the
marriages his father had in contemplation for him. He objected to the
marriage with the Princess of Mecklenburg, niece of the Czar Peter,
that it would require him to change his religion, which he would not
do. He expressed himself as inclined to take the second daughter of the
Emperor of Germany, if the emperor would throw in a duchy or two.

“Since you speak so much of marriages,” said the general, “I suppose
you wish to be married?”

“No,” the prince replied; “but if the king absolutely will have it, I
will marry to obey him. After that I will shove my wife into a corner,
and live after my own fancy.”

Against this unprincipled declaration General Schulenburg remonstrated,
declaring it to be unchristian and dishonorable. But the prince seemed
to regard such suggestions very contemptuously. “I can perceive,” the
general adds, “that if he marries, it will only be that he may have
more liberty than now. It is certain that if he had his elbows free he
would strike out. He said to me several times, ‘I am young; I want to
profit by my youth.’”

A fortnight later General Schulenburg wrote, under date of the 19th
of October: “I introduced to the Crown Prince all the officers of my
regiment who are here. He received them in the style of a king. It is
certain he feels what he is born to; and if he ever get to it, he will
stand on the top of it. As to me, I mean to keep myself retired, and
shall see as little of him as I can. I perceive well he does not like
advice, and does not take pleasure except with men inferior to him in
mind. His first aim is to find out the ridiculous side of every one,
and he loves to banter and quiz.

“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.”

[Illustration: BERLIN PALACE.]

On Tuesday, the 20th of November, 1731, Wilhelmina, eight months after
her betrothal, was married to the Prince of Baireuth. The marriage
ceremony was attended with great magnificence in the royal palace of
Berlin. The father of Frederick William, who was fond of pageantry,
had reared one of the most sumptuous mansions in Europe, and had
furnished it with splendor which no other court could outvie. Entering
the interior of the palace through the outer saloon, one passed
through nine apartments _en suite_, of grand dimensions, magnificently
decorated, the last of which opened into the picture-gallery, a room
ninety feet in length, and of corresponding breadth. All these were
in a line. Then turning, you entered a series of fourteen rooms, each
more splendid than the preceding. The chandeliers were of massive solid
silver. The ceilings were exquisitely painted by Correggio. Between
each pair of windows there were mirrors twelve feet high, and of such
width that before each mirror tables could be spread for twelve guests.
The last of these magnificent apartments, called the Grand Saloon, was
illuminated by “a lustre weighing fifty thousand crowns; the globe of
it big enough to hold a child of eight years, and the branches of solid

Though Frederick the First had reared and originally furnished this
Berlin palace, yet the masses of solid silver wrought into its
ornamentation were mainly the work of Frederick William. Conscious
that his influence in Europe depended not only upon the power of his
army, but also upon the fullness of his treasury, he had been striving,
through all his reign, to accumulate coin. But the money, barreled up
and stored away in the vaults of his palace, was of no service while
thus lying idle. Banking institutions seem not then to have been
in vogue in his realms. But the silver, wrought into chandeliers,
mirror-frames, and music balconies, added to the imposing splendor of
his court, gave him the reputation of great wealth, and could, at any
time when necessary, be melted down and coined. The wealth thus hoarded
by the father afterward saved the son from ruin, when involved in wars
which exhausted his treasury.

The queen remained bitterly unreconciled to the marriage of Wilhelmina
with any one but the Prince of Wales. Stung by the sense of defeat, she
did every thing in her power, by all sorts of intrigues, to break off
the engagement with the Prince of Baireuth. When she found her efforts
entirely unavailing, she even went so far as to take her daughter aside
and entreat her, since the ceremony must take place, to refuse, after
the marriage, to receive the Prince of Baireuth as her husband, that
the queen might endeavor to obtain a divorce.

The annoyances to which Wilhelmina was exposed, while thus preparing
for her wedding, must have been almost unendurable. Not only her mother
was thus persistent and implacable in her hostility, but her father
reluctantly submitted to the connection. He had fully made up his mind,
with all the strength of his inflexible will, that Wilhelmina should
marry either the Margrave of Schwedt or the Duke of Weissenfels. It was
with extreme reluctance, and greatly to his chagrin, that the stern old
man found himself constrained, perhaps for the first time in his life,
to yield to others.

Even Wilhelmina had accepted the Prince of Baireuth, whom she had
never seen, only to avoid being sacrificed to men whom she utterly
loathed. Fortunately for the princess, her affections were not
otherwise engaged, and when introduced to her intended she became quite
reconciled to the idea of accepting him as her husband.

On the day of the marriage, the princess, having formally renounced all
her rights to the personal property of the family, dined with the royal
household and her intended, and then retired to her apartment to dress
for the wedding. It would seem that the queen must have become quite
insane upon this point. Even at this late hour she did every thing
she could to delay operations and to gain time, hoping every moment
that some courier would arrive from England with proposals which would
induce the king to break off the engagement. As fast as the princess’s
hair on one side was dressed the queen would contrive to undo it,
so that at last the hair would no longer curl, making her look, as
Wilhelmina said, “like a mad woman.” She adds:

“A royal crown was placed upon my head, together with twenty-four curls
of false hair, each as big as my arm. I could not hold up my head, as
it was too weak for so great a weight. My gown was a very rich silver
brocade, trimmed with gold lace, and my train was twelve yards long. I
thought I should have died under this dress.”

The marriage took place in the Grand Saloon. The moment the benediction
was pronounced, a triple discharge of cannon announced the event to
the inhabitants of Berlin. Then the newly-married pair, seated under
a gorgeous canopy, received the congratulations of the court. A ball
followed, succeeded by a supper. After supper there came, according to
the old German custom, what was called the _dance of torches_. This
consisted of the whole company marching to music in procession through
the rooms, each holding a lighted torch. The marriage festivities were
continued for several days, with a succession of balls each night.
Wilhelmina had not yet been permitted to see her brother since his
arrest. But the king had promised Wilhelmina, as her reward for giving
up the wretched Prince of Wales, that he would recall her brother and
restore him to favor. On Friday evening, the 23d, three days after the
wedding, there was a brilliant ball in the Grand Apartment. Wilhelmina
thus describes the event which then took place:

“I liked dancing, and was taking advantage of my chances. Grumkow came
up to me, in the middle of a minuet, and said, ‘_Mon dieu, madame_, you
seem to have got bit by the tarantula. Don’t you see those strangers
who have just come in?’ I stopped short, and, looking all around, I
noticed at last a young man, dressed in gray, whom I did not know. ‘Go,
then,’ said Grumkow, ‘and embrace the Crown Prince. There he is before
you.’ My whole frame was agitated with joy. ‘Oh, heavens, my brother!’
cried I; ‘but I do not see him. Where is he? For God’s sake show him to

“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,

“‘Are you content with me? You see that I have kept my word with you.’

“I took my brother by the hand, and implored the king to restore his
affection to him. This scene was so touching that it drew tears from
all present. I then approached the queen. She was obliged to embrace
me, the king being close opposite. But I remarked that her joy was
only affected. I turned to my brother again. I gave him a thousand
caresses, to all which he remained cold as ice, and answered only in
monosyllables. I presented to him my husband, to whom he did not say
one word. I was astonished at this; but I laid the blame of it on the
king, who was observing us, and who I judged might be intimidating my
brother. But even the countenance of my brother surprised me. He wore a
proud air, and seemed to look down upon every body.”


Neither the king nor the Crown Prince appeared at the supper. With
a select circle, to which neither Wilhelmina nor her mother were
admitted, they supped in a private apartment. At the report that the
king was treating the Crown Prince with great friendliness, the queen
could not conceal her secret pique. “In fact,” says Wilhelmina, “she
did not love her children except as they served her ambitious views.”
She was jealous of Wilhelmina because she, and not her mother, had
been the means of the release of Fritz. After supper the dancing was
resumed, and Wilhelmina embraced an opportunity to ask her brother why
he was so changed, and why he treated her so coldly. He assured her
that he was not changed; that his reserve was external only; that he
had reasons for his conduct. Still he did not explain his reasons, and
Wilhelmina remained wounded and bewildered.

Before the king released the Crown Prince he extorted from him an
oath that he would be, in all respects, obedient to his father; that
he would never again attempt to escape, or take any journey without
permission; that he would scrupulously discharge all the duties of
religion, and that he would marry any princess whom his father might
select for him. The next morning, after the interview to which we have
above alluded, the prince called upon his sister. They had a short
private interview, Madam Sonsfeld alone being present. The prince gave
a recital of his adventures and misfortunes during the many months
since they last had met. The princess gave an account of her great
trials, and how she had consented to a marriage, which was not one of
her choice, to obtain her brother’s release.

“He appeared,” she writes, “quite discountenanced at this last part
of my narrative. He returned thanks for the obligations I have laid
on him, with some caressings which evidently did not proceed from the
heart. To break this conversation he started some indifferent topic,
and, under pretense of seeing my apartment, moved into the next room,
where the prince, my husband, was. Him he surveyed with his eyes from
head to foot for some time; then, after some constrained civilities to
him, he went his way.”

Wilhelmina and her husband soon left for Baireuth. Though the princess
thus left the splendors of a royal palace for the far more quiet and
humble state of a ducal mansion, still she was glad to escape from a
home where she had experienced so many sorrows.

“Berlin,” she writes, “had become as odious to me as it once was dear.
I flattered myself that, renouncing grandeurs, I might lead a soft and
tranquil life in my new home, and begin a happier year than the one
which had just ended.”

As the king was about to take leave of his child, whom he had treated
so cruelly, he was very much overcome by emotion. It is a solemn hour,
in any family, when a daughter leaves the parental roof, never to
return again but as a visitor. Whether the extraordinary development of
feeling which the stern old monarch manifested on the occasion was the
result of nervous sensibility, excited by strong drink or by parental
affection, it is not easy to decide. Wilhelmina, in a few words of
intense emotion, bade her father farewell.

“My discourse,” she writes, “produced its effect. He melted into tears,
and could not answer me for sobs. He explained his thoughts by his
embracings of me. Making an effort at length, he said, ‘I am in despair
that I did not know thee. They had told me such horrible tales--I
hated thee as much as I now love thee. If I had addressed myself direct
to thee I should have escaped much trouble, and thou too. But they
hindered me from speaking. They said that thou wert ill-natured as the
devil, and wouldst drive to extremities, which I wanted to avoid. Thy
mother, by her intriguings, is in part the cause of the misfortunes
of the family. I have been deceived and duped on every side. But my
hands are tied. Though my heart is torn in pieces, I must leave these
iniquities unpunished.’”

“The queen’s intentions were always good,” Wilhelmina kindly urged. The
king replied, “Let us not enter into that detail. What is past is past.
I will try to forget it. You are the dearest to me of all the family.
I am too sad of heart to take leave of you. Embrace your husband on my
part. I am so overcome that I must not see him.”

Wilhelmina, with flooded eyes, entered her carriage, bidding a final
adieu to the home of her childhood, where she had passed through so
many scenes, eventful and afflictive. Though she afterward visited
Berlin, it was her home no more. The Crown Prince returned to Cüstrin,
where he impatiently awaited his future destinies.



  Matrimonial Intrigues.--Letters from the King to his Son.--Letter
    from Fritz to Grumkow.--Letter to Wilhelmina.--The Betrothal.--
    Character of Elizabeth.--Her cruel Reception by the Prussian
    Queen.--Letter from Fritz to Wilhelmina.--Disappointment and
    Anguish of Elizabeth.--Studious Habits of Fritz.--Continued
    Alienation of his Father.--The Marriage.--Life in the Castle at

Upon the return of the Crown Prince to Cüstrin after the marriage of
Wilhelmina, several of the officers of the army sent in a petition
to the king that he would restore to the prince his uniform and his
military rank. The king consented, and made out his commission anew as
colonel commandant of the Goltz regiment at Ruppin. This was a small
town about seventy-five miles northeast of Berlin. His commission
was signed on the 29th of February, 1732, he being then twenty years
of age. In this little hamlet, mainly engaged in the dull routine of
garrison duties, the prince passed most of his time for the next eight

The Crown Prince was quite exasperated that the English court would not
listen to his earnest plea for the marriage of Wilhelmina to the Prince
of Wales, and accept his vows of fidelity to the Princess Amelia. The
stubborn adhesion of the King of England to the declaration of “both
marriages or none” so annoyed him that he banished Amelia from his
thoughts. In his reckless way he affirmed that the romance of marriage
was all over with him; that he cared not much what bride was forced
upon him, provided only that she were rich, and that she were not too
scrupulous in religious principle. The tongues of all the court gossips
were busy upon this theme. Innumerable were the candidates suggested
to share the crown of the future Prussian king. The Archduchess Maria
Theresa, subsequently the renowned Empress of Germany, was proposed
by Prince Eugene. But the imperial court could not wed its Catholic
heiress to a Protestant prince. Still the emperor, though unwilling
to give his daughter to the Crown Prince, was anxious for as close
an alliance as possible with Prussia, and recommended a niece of the
empress, the young Princess Elizabeth Christina, only daughter of
Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick Bevern. She was seventeen years of age,
rather pretty, with a fine complexion, not rich, of religious tastes,
and remarkably quiet and domestic in her character.

The Crown Prince did not fancy this connection at all. His first wish
was to journey about, through the courts of Europe, to select him
a wife. But that measure his father would not think of. Frederick
professed a willingness to submit to marry Anna, Princess of
Mecklenburg, or the Princess of Eisenach. Seckendorf, the embassador of
the emperor, aided by Grumkow, who had been bribed, urged the marriage
with Elizabeth. The king adopted their views. His decision was like a
decree of fate. The following letter, written by the king to his son,
dated Potsdam, February 4, 1732, very clearly expresses his views:

  “MY DEAR SON FRITZ,--I am glad you need no more medicine. But
  you must have a care of yourself some days yet, for the severe
  weather gives me and every body colds. So pray be on your guard.

  “You know, my dear son, that when my children are obedient I love
  them much. So when you were at Berlin, I from my heart forgave
  you every thing; and from that Berlin time, since I saw you, have
  thought of nothing but of your well-being, and how to establish
  you; not in the army only, but also with a right step-daughter,
  and so see you married in my lifetime. You may be well persuaded
  I have had the Princesses of Germany taken survey of, so far as
  possible, and examined by trusty people what their conduct is,
  their education, and so on. And so a princess has been found, the
  eldest one of Bevern, who is well brought up, modest and retiring
  as a woman ought to be.

  “You will quickly write me your mind on this. I have purchased
  the Von Katsch house. The field marshal, as governor of Berlin,
  will get that to live in. His government house I will have made
  new for you, and furnish it all, and give you enough to keep
  house yourself there.

  “The princess is not ugly nor beautiful. You must mention it to
  no mortal. Write indeed to mamma that I have written to you. And
  when you shall have a son, I will let you go on your travels;
  wedding, however, can not be before next winter. Meanwhile I
  will try and contrive opportunity that you see one another a few
  times, in all honor, yet so that you get acquainted with her. She
  is a God-fearing creature, will suit herself to you, as she does
  to the parents-in-law.

  “God give his blessing to it, and bless you and your posterity,
  and keep you as a good Christian. And have God always before your
  eyes, and don’t believe that damnable _predestination_ tenet; and
  be obedient and faithful. So shall it here in time, and there in
  eternity, go well with thee. And whosoever wishes that from the
  heart, let him say Amen.

      “Your true father to the death,

  “When the Duke of Lorraine comes I will have thee come. I think
  the bride will be here then. Adieu; God be with you.”

One week after the reception of this letter the Crown Prince wrote
to Baron Grumkow in the following flippant and revolting strain. He
probably little imagined that the letter was to be read by all Europe
and all America. But those whose paths through life lead over the
eminences of rank and power can not conceal their words or deeds from
the scrutiny of the world. Grumkow, a very shrewd man, had contrived to
secure influence over both the father and the son. The prince’s letter
was dated Cüstrin, February 11, 1732:

  “MY DEAR GENERAL AND FRIEND,--I was charmed to learn, by your
  letter, that my affairs are on so good a footing. You may depend
  on it I am prepared to follow your advice. I will lend myself
  to whatever is possible for me. And, provided I can secure the
  king’s favor by my obedience, I will do all that is within my

  “Nevertheless, in making my bargain with the Duke of Bevern,
  manage that my intended be brought up under her grandmother.[20]
  I should rather have a wife who would dishonor me than to marry a
  blockhead who would drive me mad by her awkwardness, and whom I
  should be ashamed to produce.

  “I beg you labor at this affair. When one hates romantic heroines
  as heartily as I do, one dreads those timid virtues; and I had
  rather marry the greatest profligate[21] in Berlin than a devotee
  with half a dozen bigots at her beck. If it were still possible
  to make her a Calvinist! But I doubt that. I will insist,
  however, that her grandmother have the training of her. What you
  can do to help me in this, my dear friend, I am persuaded you
  will do.

  “It afflicted me a little that the king still has doubts of me,
  while I am obeying in such a matter diametrically opposite to my
  own ideas. In what way shall I offer stronger proofs? I may give
  myself to the devil, it will be to no purpose. Nothing but the
  old song over again, doubt on doubt. Don’t imagine I am going to
  disoblige the duke, the duchess, or the daughter, I beseech you.
  I know too well what is due to them, and too much respect their
  merits, not to observe the strictest rules of what is proper,
  even if I hated their progeny and them like the pestilence.

  “I hope to speak to you with open heart at Berlin. You may think,
  too, how I shall be embarrassed in having to act the lover
  without being it, and to feign a passion for mute ugliness; for I
  have not much faith in Count Seckendorf’s taste in this article.
  Monsieur, once more get this princess to learn by heart the
  _Ecole des Maris_ and the _Ecole des Femmes_. That will do her
  much more good than _True Christianity_ by the late Arndt. If,
  beside, she would learn steadiness of humor, learn music, become
  rather too free than too virtuous--ah! then, my dear general,
  then I should feel some liking for her; and a Colin marrying a
  Phillis, the couple would be in accordance. But if she is stupid,
  naturally I renounce the devil and her.

  “It is said she has a sister who at least has common sense. Why
  take the eldest, if so? To the king it must be all one. There is
  also a princess, Christina Marie, of Eisenach, who would be quite
  my fit, and whom I should like to try for. In fine, I mean soon
  to come into your countries, and perhaps will say, like Cæsar,
  _Veni, vidi, vici_.”

In another letter to Grumkow, he writes: “As to what you tell me of
the Princess of Mecklenburg, could not I marry her? She would have a
dowry of two or three million rubles.[22] Only fancy how I could live
with that. I think that project might succeed. I find none of these
advantages in the Princess of Bevern, who, as many people even of the
duke’s court say, is not at all beautiful, speaks almost nothing, and
is given to pouting. The good empress has so little money herself that
the sums she could afford her niece would be very moderate.”

Again, on the 19th of February, 1732, the Crown Prince wrote from
Cüstrin to Baron Grumkow. From his letter we make the following

“Judge, my dear general, if I have been much charmed with the
description you give of the abominable object of my desires. For the
love of God disabuse the king in regard to her. Let him remember that
fools are commonly the most obstinate of creatures. Let the king
remember that it is not for himself that he is marrying me, but for
_my_self. Nay, he too will have a thousand chagrins to see two persons
hating one another, and the most miserable marriage in the world; to
hear their mutual complaints, which will be to him so many reproaches
for having fashioned the instrument of our yoke. As a good Christian,
let him consider if it is well done to wish to force people, to cause
divorces, and to be the occasion of all the sins that an ill-assorted
marriage leads us to commit. I am determined to front every thing in
the world sooner. Since things are so, you may, in some good way,
apprise the Duke of Bevern that, happen what may, I never will have her.

“I have been unhappy all my life, and I think it is my destiny to
continue so. One must be patient, and take the time as it comes.
Perhaps a sudden tract of good fortune, on the back of all the chagrins
I have encountered since I entered this world, would have made me too
proud. I have suffered sufficiently, and I will not engage myself
to extend my miseries into future times. I have still resources. A
pistol-shot can deliver me from my sorrows and my life, and I think
a merciful God would not damn me for that, but, taking pity on me,
would, in exchange for a life of wretchedness, grant me salvation. This
is whitherward despair can lead a young person whose blood is not so
quiescent as if he were seventy.

“I have received a letter from the king, all agog about the princess.
When his first fire of approbation is spent, you might, praising her
all the while, lead him to notice her faults. _Mon Dieu_, has he not
already seen what an ill-assorted marriage comes to--my sister of
Anspach and her husband, who hate one another like the fire? He has a
thousand vexations from it every day.

“And what aim has the king? If it is to assure himself of me, that is
not the way. Madam of Eisenach might do it, but a fool not. On the
contrary, it is morally impossible to love the cause of our misery. The
king is reasonable, and I am persuaded he will understand this himself.”

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.”

Queen Sophie, who still clung pertinaciously to the idea of the English
match, was, of course, bitterly hostile to the nuptial alliance with
Elizabeth. Indeed, the queen still adhered to the idea of the double
English marriage, and exhausted all the arts of diplomacy and intrigue
in the endeavor to secure the Princess Amelia for the Crown Prince,
and to unite the Prince of Wales to a younger sister of Wilhelmina.
Very naturally she cherished feelings of strong antipathy toward
Elizabeth, who seemed to be the cause, though the innocent cause, of
the frustration of her plans. She consequently spoke of the princess
in the most contemptuous manner, and did every thing in her power to
induce her son to regard her with repugnance. But nothing could change
the inexorable will of the king. Early in March the doomed Princess
Elizabeth, a beautiful, artless child of seventeen years, who had seen
but little of society, and was frightened in view of the scenes before
her, was brought to Berlin to be betrothed to the Crown Prince, whom
she had never seen, of whom she could not have heard any very favorable
reports, and from whom she had never received one word of tenderness.
The wreck of happiness of this young princess, which was borne so
meekly and uncomplainingly, is one of the saddest which history
records. Just before her arrival, Fritz wrote to his sister as follows.
The letter was dated Berlin, March 6, 1732:

  “MY DEAREST SISTER,--Next Monday comes my betrothal, which will
  be done just as yours was. The person in question is neither
  beautiful nor ugly; not wanting in sense, but very ill brought
  up, timid, and totally behind in fashionable address. That is
  the candid portrait of the princess. You may judge by that, my
  dearest sister, if I find her to my taste or not.

  “You never can believe, my adorable sister, how concerned I am
  about your happiness. All my wishes centre there, and every
  moment of my life I form such wishes. You may see by this that
  I preserve still that sincere friendship which has united our
  hearts from our tenderest years. Recognize at least, my dear
  sister, that you did me a sensible wrong when you suspected me of
  fickleness toward you, and believed false reports of my listening
  to tale-bearers--me, who love only you, and whom neither absence
  nor lying rumors could change in respect of you. At least, don’t
  again believe such things on my score, and never mistrust me till
  you have had clear proof, or till God has forsaken me, or I have
  lost my wits.

     “Your most humble brother and servant,

The betrothal took place in the Berlin palace on Monday evening, March
10, 1732. Many distinguished guests from foreign courts were present.
The palace was brilliantly illuminated. The Duke and Duchess of Bevern,
with their son, had accompanied their daughter Elizabeth to Berlin. The
youthful pair, who were now to be betrothed only, not married, stood in
the centre of the grand saloon, surrounded by the brilliant assemblage.
With punctilious observance of court etiquette, they exchanged rings,
and plighted their mutual faith. The old king embraced the bride
tenderly. The queen-mother, hoping that the marriage would never take
place, saluted her with repulsive coldness. And, worst of all, the
prince himself scarcely treated her with civility. The sufferings of
this lovely princess must have been terrible. The testimony to her
beauty, her virtues, her amiable character, is uncontradicted. The
following well-merited tribute to her worth is from the pen of Lord

[Illustration: THE BETROTHAL.]

“Elizabeth Christina, who became the wife of Frederick the Great, was a
princess adorned with all the virtues which most dignify human nature;
religious, benevolent, charitable, affectionate, of the strictest
and most irreproachable conduct herself, yet indulgent and forgiving
for the faults of others. Her whole life was passed in fulfilling the
circle of her duties, and, above all, in striving without ceasing to
act in the way she thought would be most pleasing to her husband,
whom she respected, admired, and even loved, in spite of his constant
neglect of her.”

Baron Bielfeld, a member of the court, thus describes her personal
appearance: “Her royal highness is tall of stature, and her figure is
perfect. Never have I seen a more regular shape in all its proportions.
Her neck, her hands, and her feet might serve as models to the painter.
Her hair, which I have particularly admired, is of a most beautiful
flaxen, but somewhat inclining to white, and shines, when not powdered,
like rows of pearls. Her complexion is remarkably fine; and in her
large blue eyes vivacity and sweetness are so happily blended as to
make them perfectly animated.

“The princess has an open countenance; her eyebrows are neat and
regular; her nose is small and angular, but very elegantly defined; and
her coral lips and well-turned neck are equally admirable. Goodness
is strongly marked in her countenance; and we may say, from her whole
figure, that the Graces have exerted themselves in forming a great
princess. Her highness talks but little, especially at table, but all
she says is sterling sense. She appears to have an uncommon genius,
which she ornaments by the continual study of the best French authors.”

The reception of the princess was so cruel, by Queen Sophie and her
younger daughter Charlotte, that the inexperienced maiden of but
seventeen summers must have been perfectly wretched. But she could only
bear her anguish in silence. There was nothing for her to say, and
nothing for her to do. She was led, by resistless powers, a victim to
the sacrifice.

About three weeks after this sad betrothal, Fritz wrote to his sister
Wilhelmina, under date of Berlin, March 24, 1732, as follows:

“God be praised, my dearest sister, that you are better. Nobody can
love you more tenderly than I do. As to the Princess of Bevern, the
queen bids me answer that you need not style her ‘Highness,’ but that
you may write to her quite as to an indifferent princess. As to
‘kissing the hands,’ I assure you I have not kissed them nor will kiss
them. They are not pretty enough to tempt me that way.

“Believe, my charming sister, that never brother in the world loved
with such tenderness a sister so charming as mine.”

The betrothed princess, bewildered, wounded, heart-broken, returned
with her parents to her home, there to await the consummation of her
sacrifice by being married to a man who had never addressed to her a
loving word, and who, in his heart, had resolved never to receive her
as his wife. The Crown Prince, unfeeling and reckless, returned to his
dissolute life in garrison at Ruppin. The queen continued an active
correspondence with England, still hoping to break the engagement of
her son with Elizabeth, and to secure for him the Princess Amelia.

Ruppin, where the Crown Prince continued to reside for several years,
was a small, dull town of about two thousand inhabitants. The only life
it exhibited was found in the music and drillings of the garrison.
The only important event in its history was the removal of the Crown
Prince there. Of what is called society there was none. The hamlet
was situated in the midst of a flat, marshy country, most of it quite
uncultivated. The region abounded in peat bogs, and dark, still lakes,
well stocked with fish.

A comfortable house, with garden and summer-house, was provided for
the Crown Prince. He occasionally gave a dinner-party to his brother
officers; and from the summer-house rockets were thrown into the sky,
to the great gratification of the rustic peasantry.

Both father and son had become by this time fully satisfied that their
tastes and characters were so different that it was not best for them
to live near each other. The prince spent much of his time with his
flute. He also engaged in quite a wide range of reading to occupy the
listless hours. Works of the most elevated and instructive character
especially interested him, such as history, biography, moral and
intellectual philosophy, and polite literature in its higher branches
of poetry and the drama. “What mankind have done and been in this
world,” writes Carlyle, “and what the wisest men, poetical or other,
have thought about mankind and their world, this is what he evidently
had the appetite for--appetite insatiable, which lasted him to the
very end of his days.”

It is unquestionable that the mental discipline acquired by this
elevated course, to which he consecrated so diligently his hours,
prepared him for the wonderful career upon which he soon entered, and
enabled him to act with efficiency which filled Europe with his renown.

It appears, moreover, that Fritz devoted himself very assiduously to
his military duties, earnestly studying the art of war, and making
himself familiar with the achievements of the most renowned commanders.
His frugal father allowed him but a very meagre income for a
prince--not above four thousand five hundred dollars a year. With this
sum it was scarcely possible to keep up even the appearance of such an
establishment as belonged to his rank. Such glimpses as we get of his
moral and social developments during this period are not favorable.
He paid no respect to the claims of religion, and was prone to revile
Christianity and its advocates. He was particularly annoyed if the
chaplain uttered, in his sermons, any sentiments which the prince
thought had a bearing against the sensual indulgences and the wild
amusements of himself and his companions. On one occasion the chaplain
said in his sermon, “There was Herod, who had Herodias to dance before
him, and he gave her John the Baptist’s head for her pains.”

The prince assumed to make a personal application of this. Herod meant
the Crown Prince; Herodias, his boon companions; and John the Baptist
was the chaplain. To punish the offender, the prince, with several
brother officers, went at night, smashed the windows of the chaplain,
and threw in a shower of fire-crackers upon him and his wife, who was
in delicate health, driving them in dismay out into the stable-yard.
The stern old king was very indignant at this conduct. Grumkow affirms,
we hope falsely, that the prince threw the whole charge upon his
associate officers, and that they were punished for the deed, while he

Thus the summer of 1732 passed away. In November Wilhelmina returned
from Baireuth to Berlin on a visit. She remained at home for ten
months, leaving her babe, Frederica, at Baireuth. There must have
been some urgent reason to have induced her to make this long visit,
for her reception, by both father and mother, was far from cordial.
Neither of them had been really in favor of the match with the young
prospective Margraf of Baireuth, but had yielded to it from the force
of circumstances. The journey to Berlin was long and cold. Her mother
greeted her child with the words, “What do you want here? What is a
mendicant like you come hither for?” The next day her father, who had
been upon a journey, came home. His daughter had been absent for two
years. And yet this strange father addressed her in the following cruel
and sarcastic words:

“Ah! here you are. I am glad to see you.” Then, taking a light, he
carefully examined her from head to foot. After a moment’s silence, he
added, “How changed you are! I am sorry for you, on my word. You have
not bread to eat, and but for me you might go a-begging. I am a poor
man myself; not able to give you much; will do what I can. I will give
you now and then twenty or thirty shillings, as my affairs permit. It
will always be something to assuage your want. And you, madam,” turning
to the queen, “will sometimes give her an old dress, for the poor child
hasn’t a shift to her back.”

This merciless banter from her parents cut the unhappy princess to the
heart. With the utmost difficulty she refrained from bursting into
convulsive crying. Her husband seems to have been a kind man, inspired
with true and tender affection for his wife. But much of the time he
was necessarily absent on regimental duty. The old Marquis of Baireuth,
her husband’s father, was penurious, irascible, and an inebriate.
Wilhelmina often suffered for the necessaries of life. There seemed to
be no refuge for her. The home of her step-parents was unendurable, and
the home of her childhood was still more so. Few and far between must
have been the joys which visited her crushed heart.

A few days after her arrival at Berlin, Fritz, on short leave of
absence, ran over from Ruppin, and had a brief interview with his
sister, whom he had not seen since her marriage. The royal family
supped together, with the exception of the king, who was absent. At
the table the conversation turned upon the future princess royal,
Elizabeth. The queen said, addressing Wilhelmina, and fixing her eyes
on Fritz,

“Your brother is in despair at the idea of marrying her. And he is not
wrong. She is an actual fool. She can only answer whatever is said to
her by _yes_ or _no_, accompanied by a silly laugh, which is painful to

Charlotte added, in terms still more bitter and unpardonable, “Your
majesty is not yet aware of all her merit. I was one morning at her
toilet. I remarked that she is deformed. Her gown is stuffed on one
side, and she has one hip higher than the other.” The cruel girl even
went so far as to accuse the princess of suffering from loathsome
ulcers. This discourse was uttered in a loud voice, in presence of the
domestics. Fritz was evidently greatly annoyed, and blushed deeply,
but said nothing. Immediately after supper he retired. Wilhelmina
soon followed him, and they met again privately in Wilhelmina’s room.
The princess asked her brother how he was now getting along with his
father. He replied,

“My situation changes every moment. Sometimes I am in favor, sometimes
in disgrace. My chief happiness consists in my being absent from him.
I lead a quiet and tranquil life with my regiment at Ruppin. Study and
music are my principal occupations. I have built me a house there, and
laid out a garden where I can read and walk about.”

“Then,” writes Wilhelmina, “as to his bride, I begged him to tell me
candidly if the portrait the queen and my sister had been making of her
were the true one.”

“We are alone,” Fritz replied, “and I will conceal nothing from you.
The queen, by her miserable intrigues, has been the source of our
misfortunes. Scarcely were you gone when she began again with England.
She wished to substitute our sister Charlotte for you, and to contrive
her marriage with the Prince of Wales.

“You may easily imagine that she used every endeavor for the success of
her plan, and also to marry me to the English Princess Amelia. The king
was informed of this design from its commencement. He was much nettled
at these fresh intrigues, which have caused many quarrels between
the queen and him. Seckendorf finally took part in the affair, and
counseled the king to make an end of all these plans by concluding my
marriage with the Princess of Bevern.

“The queen can not console herself for this reverse. She vents her
despair in the abuse of that poor princess. She wanted me to refuse the
marriage decidedly, and told me that she should not mind my quarreling
again with the king provided I would only show firmness, in which
case she would be well able to support me. I would not follow her
advice, and declared to her plainly that I did not choose to incur the
displeasure of my father, which had already caused me so much suffering.

“With regard to the princess herself, I do not dislike her as much as I
pretend. I affect not to be able to bear her, in order to make the more
merit of my obedience to the king. She is pretty--a complexion of lily
and rose. Her features are delicate, and her whole face is that of a
beautiful person. She has no breeding, and dresses ill. But I flatter
myself that when she comes here you will have the goodness to assist
in forming her. I recommend her to you, my dear sister; and I hope you
will take her under your protection.”

On Monday, the 8th of June, 1733, the Crown Prince left Ruppin, and,
joining his father and mother, set out, with a suitable retinue, for
the ducal palace of Salzdahlum, in Brunswick, where the marriage
ceremony was to be solemnized. Fritz was twenty-one years of age.
Elizabeth was not quite eighteen. The wedding took place at noon of
Friday, the 12th, in the beautiful chapel of the palace, with the usual
display of splendor and rejoicing. The mansion, situated a few miles
from Wolfenbüttel, was renowned for its gardens and picture-galleries,
and was considered one of the finest in Europe.

The ceremony was performed by the Reverend Johann Lorenz Mosheim,
favorably known throughout Christendom for his treatise upon
Ecclesiastical History. Immediately after the nuptial benediction had
been pronounced, Fritz wrote as follows to Wilhelmina:

            “Salzdahlum, Noon, June 12, 1733.

  “MY DEAR SISTER,--A minute since the whole ceremony was
  finished. God be praised, it is over. I hope you will take it as
  a mark of my friendship that I give you the first news of it. I
  hope that I shall have the honor to see you again soon, and to
  assure you, my dear sister, that I am wholly yours. I write in
  great haste, and add nothing that is merely formal. Adieu.


The queen behaved very unamiably, “plunged in black melancholy,” and
treating her new daughter-in-law with great contempt. There have been
many sad weddings, but this was surely one of the saddest. Frederick
had often declared that he never would receive the princess as his
wife. In the evening, just after the newly-married couple had retired
to their room, through the arrangement of the prince, a false alarm of
fire was raised by some of his friends. This furnished him with the
opportunity to rush from the apartment. He did not return. Ever after
he saw the princess but unfrequently, treating her with cold politeness
when they met, though on public occasions giving her, with all external
forms of civility, the position of honor to which, as his wedded wife,
she was entitled.

It was apparently easy for the Crown Prince to relinquish Amelia.
But the English princess, being very unhappy at home, had fixed her
affections upon Frederick with the most romantic tenderness. In beauty
of person, in chivalric reputation, in exalted rank, he was every thing
an imaginative maiden could have desired. She regarded him probably
as, in heart, true to her. He had often sent his protestations to the
English court that he would never marry any one but Amelia. Though the
marriage ceremony had been performed with Elizabeth, he recognized
only its legal tie. Poor Amelia was heart-crushed. Earth had no longer
any joys for her. She never married, but wore the miniature of the
prince upon her breast for the rest of her days. We have no record of
the weary years during which grief was consuming her life. Her eyelids
became permanently swollen with weeping. And when, at the age of sixty,
she died, the miniature of the Crown Prince was still found resting
upon her true and faithful heart. Amelia and Elizabeth--how sad their
fate! Through no fault of their own, earth was to them both truly a
vale of tears. The only relief from the contemplation of the terrible
tragedies of earth is found in the hope that the sufferers may find
compensation in a heavenly home.

On Tuesday, the 16th, the King and Queen of Prussia left Salzdahlum
to return to Potsdam. At the close of the week the Crown Prince and
his bride, escorted by a brilliant retinue of Brunswick notabilities,
set out on their return. In most of the intervening towns they were
received with great pomp. On the 27th, the last day of the next week,
the bridal pair had a grand entrance into Berlin. The troops were all
out upon parade. The clang of bells, the roar of cannon, and peals of
martial music filled the air. All the inhabitants of Berlin and the
surrounding region were in the streets, which were spanned by triumphal
arches, and garlanded with flowers. Gladly would the princess have
exchanged all this for one loving word from her husband. But that word
was not uttered. Two days before the grand reception at Berlin the
princess arrived at Potsdam. Here Wilhelmina, for the first time, met
her cruelly-wronged and heart-crushed sister-in-law. In the following
terms she describes the interview:

“The king led the princess into the queen’s apartment. Then seeing,
after she had saluted us all, that she was much heated and her hair
deranged, he bade my brother take her to her own room. I followed them
thither. My brother said to her, introducing me,

“‘This is a sister I adore, and to whom I am obliged beyond measure.
She has the goodness to promise me that she will take care of you and
help you with her good counsel. I wish you to respect her beyond even
the king and queen, and not to take the least step without her advice.
Do you understand?’

“I embraced the Princess Royal,” Wilhelmina continues, “and gave her
every assurance of my attachment. But she remained like a statue, not
answering a word. Her people not being come, I arranged her hair and
readjusted her dress a little, without the least sign of thanks or any
answer to all my caressings. My brother got impatient at last, and said

“‘Devil’s in the blockhead! Thank my sister, then?’

“She made me a courtesy on the model of that of Agnes in the _Ecole des
Femmes_. I took her back to the queen’s apartment, little edified by
such a display of talent.”

It is probable that the princess, in the strangeness of her position,
very young and inexperienced, and insulted by cruel neglect, in the
freshness of her great grief dared not attempt to utter a syllable,
lest her voice should break in uncontrollable sobbings. The Crown
Prince returned to Ruppin, leaving the princess at Berlin. Charles,
the heir-apparent to the ducal crown of Brunswick, and brother of the
Princess Elizabeth, about a week after the arrival of the princess
in Berlin, was married to Fritz’s sister Charlotte--that same wicked
Charlotte who had flirted with Wilhelmina’s intended, and who had so
shamelessly slandered the betrothed of her brother. Several fêtes
followed these marriages, with the usual concomitants of enjoyment and
disappointment. Wilhelmina thus describes one of them:

“The next day there was a great promenade. We were all in phaetons,
dressed out in our best. All the nobility followed in carriages,
of which there were eighty-five. The king, in a Berline, led the
procession. He had beforehand ordered the round we were to take, and
very soon fell asleep. There came on a tremendous storm of wind and
rain, in spite of which we continued our procession at a foot’s pace.
It may easily be imagined what state we were in. We were as wet as if
we had been in the river. Our hair hung about our ears, and our gowns
and head-dresses were destroyed. We got out at last, after three hours’
rain, at Monbijou, where there was to be a great illumination and ball.
I never saw any thing so comical as all these ladies, looking like so
many Xantippes, with their dresses sticking to their persons. We could
not even dry ourselves, and were obliged to remain all the evening in
our wet clothes.”



  The Castle at Reinsberg.--Slender Purses of Fritz and Wilhelmina.--
    Liberality of Fritz.--The Ball at Monbijou.--Adventures of Fritz
    and Wilhelmina.--Letters.--The Interview.--Anecdote of the King.--
    Wilhelmina’s Account of her Brother.--Mental and Physical Maladies
    of the King.--Frederick’s cruel Neglect of his Wife.--Daily Habits
    of the young Prince.--The shameful Carousal.

About six miles from Ruppin there was the village of Reinsberg,
containing about one thousand inhabitants, clustered around an ancient
dilapidated castle. Frederick was with his regiment in Ruppin. The
Princess Royal, his wife, resided in Berlin. There was an ostensible
reason for this separation in the fact that there was no suitable
mansion for the royal couple at Ruppin. The castle, with its extensive
grounds, belonged to a French refugee. The king purchased it, and
assigned it to his son. As the whole estate was in a condition of
extreme dilapidation, Frederick immediately commenced improvements and
repairs. The building, the gardens, the forests, and the surrounding
lands rapidly assumed a new aspect, until Reinsberg became one of the
most attractive spots in Europe.

The situation of the castle was admirable. A beautiful sheet of water
bathed its walls on one side, while a dense forest of oaks and beeches
rose like an amphitheatre upon the other. The whole edifice assumed
the form of a square, with two towers connected by a double colonnade,
richly ornamented with vases and statuary. Over the majestic portal
was inscribed the motto, _Frederico, tranquillitatem colenti_.[23]
The interior of the palace, in the magnitude and arrangement of the
apartments, their decoration and furniture, was still more imposing
than the exterior. The grand saloon was a superb hall, the walls lined
with mirrors and costly marbles, and the ceiling painted by the most
accomplished artists of the day. The garden, with its avenues, and
bowers, and labyrinth of bloom, extended the whole length of the lake,
upon whose waters two beautiful barges floated, ever ready, under the
impulse of sails or oars, to convey parties on excursions of pleasure.

This immense building presented a front of nearly a thousand feet;
for, being in a quadrangular form, it fronted four ways. It was all
faced with hammered stone. In one of the towers this bachelor husband
constructed his library. It was a magnificent apartment, provided with
every convenience, and decorated with the most tasteful adornments
which the arts could furnish. Its windows commanded an enchanting
prospect of the lake, with its tufted islands and the densely wooded
heights beyond.

The apartments prepared for the Princess Royal were also very
magnificent. Her parlor was twenty feet high. It had six windows,
three opening in the main front toward the town, and the other three
opening toward the interior court. The spaces between the windows were
covered with immense mirrors, so arranged as to display the ceiling,
beautifully painted by one of the finest artists of the day. The artist
had spread his colors with such delicacy and skill, so exquisitely
blending light and shade, that the illusion was almost perfect. The
spectator felt that the real sky, with its fleecy clouds and infinite
depth of blue, overarched him.

Three years were occupied in enlarging and decorating this palace.
In the mean time the Princess Elizabeth resided in Berlin, or in a
small country house provided for her at Schönhausen. The Crown Prince
occasionally visited her, always treating her with the marked respect
due a lady occupying her high position.

The king was by no means pleased with the costly luxuries with which
his son was surrounding himself. But he had, in a very considerable
degree, lost his control over the Crown Prince. Frederick was now
twenty-one years of age. He had married the niece of the Emperor of
Germany. The emperor had probably once saved his life, and was disposed
particularly to befriend him, that he might secure his alliance when
he should become King of Prussia. Frederick was now the rising sun,
and his father the setting luminary. All the courts in Europe were
interested in winning the regards of the Crown Prince.

The king, as we have mentioned, allotted to his son a very moderate
income, barely enough for the necessary expenses of his establishment.
But the prince borrowed money in large sums from the Empress of
Germany, from Russia, from England. It was well known that, should his
life be preserved, he would soon have ample means to repay the loan.
Frederick William probably found it expedient to close his eyes against
these transactions. But he did not attempt to conceal the chagrin with
which he regarded the literary and voluptuous tastes of his son.

“When I am dead,” he said, petulantly, “you will see Berlin full of
madmen and freethinkers, and the sort of people who walk about the

Wilhelmina’s purse was generally empty, and she was often in great want
of money. Her penurious father had married her below her rank that he
might escape settling upon her a dowry. Though her husband was heir to
the marquisate of Baireuth, his father was still living. That father
was a drunkard and a miser. It seems that the son received but little
more than his wages as colonel in the army. Wilhelmina records that one
day her brother Fritz came to her and said,

“Seckendorf” (the embassador of the emperor) “sometimes sends me money,
of which I have great need. I have already taken measures that he
should procure some for you. My _galleons_ arrived yesterday, and I
will divide their contents with you.”

He then gave her a thousand crowns. Wilhelmina manifested a little
natural reluctance in receiving the money. But he shrugged his
shoulders and said,

“Take them freely. The empress sends me as much money as I wish. I
assure you that by this means I get rid of the demon of poverty as soon
as I find him approaching me.”

“The empress, then,” added Wilhelmina, “is a better exorcist than other

“Yes,” the Crown Prince replied; “and I promise you that she will drive
away your demon as well as mine.”

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.

On the evening of the 29th of June, 1734, there was a grand ball at
the little palace of Monbijou. At three o’clock in the morning the
Crown Prince changed his ball-dress for a military suit, and with his
staff set out at full speed for the seat of war. They traveled in
carriages, by post, night and day, hastening to take part in the siege
of Philipsburg. A little after midnight on the morning of the 2d of
July, they reached Hof, having traveled two hundred miles, and having
two hundred miles still farther to go. At Hof the prince was within
thirty-five miles of Baireuth, to which place Wilhelmina had some time
before returned. He was very anxious to see her. But his father had
strictly prohibited his going through Baireuth, under the assumption
that it would occasion loss of time. Frederick made arrangements with
Wilhelmina, who was in a very delicate state of health, to meet him at
Berneck, about twelve miles from Baireuth. But, unfortunately, one of
the carriages which conveyed the Crown Prince and his companions lost a
wheel, which detained them several hours. The commands of the king were
explicit that the Crown Prince should not be separated from the rest of
the company.

Thus Wilhelmina, upon reaching Berneck, according to appointment,
did not find her brother there, and could hear nothing from him. The
prince, upon his arrival at Hof, wrote as follows to his sister

            “Hof, July 2, 1734, not long after 4 A.M.

  “MY DEAR SISTER,--Here I am, within six leagues of a sister I
  love, and I have to decide that it will be impossible to see
  her after all. I have never so lamented the misfortune of not
  depending on myself as at this moment. The king being very sour
  sweet on my score, I dare not risk the least thing. A week from
  next Monday, when he arrives himself, I should be queerly treated
  in the camp if I were found to have disobeyed orders.

  “The queen commands me to give you a thousand regards from her.
  She appeared much affected at your illness. But I can not warrant
  you how sincere it was, for she is totally changed, and I no
  longer comprehend her. She has done me all the hurt with the king
  she could. As to Sophie, she is no longer the same. She approves
  all the king says or does, and is charmed with her big clown of a

  “The king is more difficult than ever. He is content with
  nothing. He has no gratitude for whatever favors one can do him.
  As to his health, it is one day better, another worse; but the
  legs they are always swelled. Judge what my joy must be to get
  out of that turpitude; for the king will only stay a fortnight at
  most in camp.

  “Adieu! my adorable sister. I am so tired I can not stir, having
  left on Tuesday night, or rather Wednesday morning, at three
  o’clock, from a ball at Monbijou, and arrived here this Friday
  morning at four. I recommend myself to your gracious remembrance,
  and am, for my own part, till death, dearest sister, your


In the mean time, Wilhelmina, disappointed in not finding her brother,
wrote to him the following account of her adventures:

“I got to Berneck at ten. The heat was excessive. I found myself quite
worn out with the little journey I had taken. I alighted at the house
which had been got ready for my brother. We waited for him, and in
vain waited till three in the afternoon. At three we lost patience;
had dinner served without him. While we were at table there came on
a frightful thunder-storm. I have witnessed nothing so terrible. The
thunder roared and reverberated among the rocky cliffs which begirdle
Berneck, and it seemed as if the world were going to perish. A deluge
of rain succeeded the thunder.

“It was four o’clock, and I could not understand what had become of my
brother. I had sent out several persons on horseback to get tidings of
him, and none of them came back. At length, in spite of all my prayers,
the hereditary prince[24] himself would go in search. I was in cruel
agitations. These cataracts of rain are very dangerous in the mountain
countries. The roads get suddenly overflowed, and accidents often
happen. I thought for certain one had happened to my brother, or to the
hereditary prince.

“At last, about nine, somebody brought word that my brother had
changed his route and gone to Culmbach, there to stay overnight. I was
for setting out thither. Culmbach is twenty miles from Berneck. But
the roads are frightful, and full of precipices. Every body rose in
opposition. And whether I would or not they put me into the carriage
for Himmelkron, which is only about ten miles off. We had like to have
got drowned on the road, the waters were so swollen. The horses could
not cross but by swimming.

“I arrived at last about one in the morning. I instantly threw myself
on a bed. I was like to die of weariness, and in mortal terror that
something had happened to my brother or the hereditary prince. The
latter relieved me on his own score. He arrived at last about four
o’clock; had still no news of my brother. I was beginning to doze a
little, when they came to inform me that M. von Knobelsdorf wished to
speak to me from the Prince Royal. I darted out of bed and ran to him.”

Knobelsdorf was the bearer of a second letter from the Crown Prince.
The first had not reached her. Frederick, having taken an hour or two
of sleep at Hof, rose much refreshed, and, continuing his journey about
fifteen miles farther, wrote this second letter as follows to his

            “Munchberg, July 2, 1734.

  MY DEAREST SISTER,--I am in despair that I can not satisfy my
  impatience and my duty, to throw myself at your feet this day.
  But, alas! dear sister, it does not depend upon me. We poor
  princes are obliged to wait here till our generals come up. We
  dare not go along without them. They broke a wheel in Gera.
  Hearing nothing of them since, we are absolutely forced to wait
  here. Judge in what a mood I am, and what sorrow must be mine.
  Express order not to go by Baireuth or Anspach. Forbear, dear
  sister, to torment me on things not depending on myself at all.

  “I waver between hope and fear of paying my court to you. I hope
  it might still be at Berneck, if you could contrive a road into
  the Nürnberg highway again, avoiding Baireuth; otherwise I dare
  not go. The bearer, Captain Knobelsdorf, will apprise you of
  every particular. Let him settle something that may be possible.
  This is how I stand at present: instead of having to expect some
  favor from the king, I get nothing but chagrin. But what is more
  cruel upon me than all is that you are ill. God, in his grace, be
  pleased to help you, and restore that health which I so much wish
  for you.


Arrangements were made for them to meet at eight o’clock Saturday
morning, at the Lake House, situated on a small island in a beautiful
artificial sheet of water a couple of miles north of Baireuth. The
prince thus obeyed the letter of the order not to go to Baireuth. The
following account of the interview which ensued is from the pen of

“My brother overwhelmed me with caresses, but found me in so pitiable
a state that he could not restrain his tears. I was not able to stand
on my limbs, and felt like to faint every moment, so weak was I. He
told me that the king was very angry at the margraf for not letting his
son make the campaign. I told him all the margraf’s reasons, and added
surely they were good, in respect of my dear husband.

“‘Well,’ said he, ‘let him quit soldiering then, and give back his
regiment to the king. But quiet yourself as to the fears you may have
about him if he do; for I know, by certain information, that there will
be no blood spilt.’

“The hereditary prince came in while we were talking, and earnestly
entreated my brother to get him away from Baireuth. They went to a
window and talked a long time together. My brother told me he would
write a letter to the margraf, and give him such reasons in favor of
the campaign that he doubted not it would turn the scale. He promised
to obtain the king’s express leave to stop at Baireuth on his return,
after which he went away. It was the last time I saw him on the old
footing with me. He has much changed since then. We returned to
Baireuth, where I was so ill that for three days they did not think I
should get over it.”


After this interview the Crown Prince hurried away on his route to
Philipsburg. He reached Nürnberg that night, where he wrote the
following brief but affectionate letter to his sister:

            “Nürnberg, July 3, 1734.

  “MY VERY DEAR SISTER,--It would be impossible to leave this
  place without signifying, dearest sister, my lively gratitude
  for all the marks of favor you showed me in the House on the
  Lake. The highest of all that it was possible to do was that
  of procuring me the satisfaction of paying my court to you. I
  beg millions of pardons for so incommoding you, dearest sister,
  but I could not help it, for you know my sad circumstances well
  enough. I entreat you write me often about your health. Adieu, my
  incomparable and dear sister. I am always the same to you, and
  will remain so till my death.


Early on the morning of the 4th the prince left Nürnberg, and reached
the camp at Weisenthal on the 7th. Here the imperial and Prussian
troops were collected, who had been sent to attempt to raise the siege
of Philipsburg. But the French lines investing the city were so strong
that Prince Eugene, in command of the imperial army, did not venture
to make an attack. The Crown Prince almost immediately rode out to
reconnoitre the lines of the foe. As he was returning through a strip
of forest a cannonade was opened, and the balls went crashing around
him through the trees. Pride of character probably came to the aid of
constitutional courage. The prince did not in the slightest degree
quicken his pace. Not the least tremor could be perceived in his hand
as he held the reins. He continued conversing with the surrounding
generals in perfect tranquillity, as if unconscious of any danger.

A week after the arrival of the prince the Prussian king entered the
camp. As it was expected that some remarkable feats of war would be
exhibited in the presence of the king, under the leadership of the
renowned Prince Eugene, a very large assemblage of princes and other
distinguished personages was collected on the field. The king remained
for a month, dwelling in a tent among his own troops, and sharing all
their hardships. He, with his son, attended all the councils of war.
Still no attempt was made to relieve Philipsburg. The third day after
the king’s arrival the city surrendered to the French. The campaign
continued for some time, with unavailing manœuvring on both sides of
the Rhine; but the Crown Prince saw but little active service. About
the middle of August the king left the camp to return home. His health
was seriously impaired, and alarming symptoms indicated that he had
not long to live. His journey was slow and painful. Gout tortured him.
Dropsy threatened to strangle him. He did not reach home until the
middle of September. The alarming state of the king’s health added very
much to the importance of the Crown Prince. It was evident that ere
long he must come into power. The following characteristic anecdote is
related of the king during this illness:

One evening, being too unwell to read his usual devotions, he called
upon his _valet de chambre_ to read prayers. In the prayer occurred the
words, “May God bless thee.” The servant, not deeming it respectful to
use _thee_ in reference to the king, took the liberty to change the
phrase, and read it, “May God bless _you_.” The king, exasperated,
hurled something at the head of the speaker, exclaiming, “It is not so;
read it again.” The terrified servant, not conceiving in what he had
done wrong, read again, “May God bless you.” The irascible monarch,
having nothing else he could grasp, took off his night-cap and threw it
into the man’s face, exclaiming, “It is not so; read it over again.”
The servant, frightened almost out of his senses, read for the third
time, “May God bless you.” “_Thee_, rogue,” shouted the king. “‘May God
bless _thee_.’ Dost thou not know, rascal, that, in the eyes of God, I
am only a miserable rascal like thyself?”

Early in October, the Crown Prince, not socially or morally improved by
his campaigning, set out on his return to Berlin. He was by no means
insensible to the fact that the crown of Prussia would soon rest upon
his brow. On the 5th he called again upon his sister at Baireuth. She
was sick and very sad. The following is Wilhelmina’s account of the

“My brother arrived on the 5th of October. He seemed to me in ill
humor. To break off conversation with me, he said that he had to write
to the king and queen. I ordered him pen and paper. He wrote in my
room, and spent more than a good hour in writing a couple of letters
of a line or two each. He then had all the court, one after another,
introduced to him; said nothing to any of them; looked merely with a
mocking air at them; after which we went to dinner.


“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.

“After dinner, being alone with me, he said, ‘Our sire is approaching
his end. He will not live out this month. I know that I have made you
great promises, but I am not in the condition to keep them. I will
leave you the half of the sum which my predecessor lent you. I think
that you will have every reason to be satisfied with that.’

“I answered that my regard for him had never been of an interested
nature; that I would never ask any thing of him but the continuance of
his friendship; and that I did not wish for one penny if it would in
the least inconvenience him.

“‘No, no,’ said he; ‘you shall have those one hundred thousand thalers.
I have destined them for you. People will be much surprised to see me
act quite differently from what they had expected. They imagine I am
going to lavish all my treasures, and that money will become as common
as pebbles in Berlin. But they will find that I know better. I mean to
increase my army, and to leave all other things on the old footing.
I will have every consideration for the queen, my mother, and will
satiate her with honors. But I do not mean that she shall meddle with
my affairs. If she try it she will find so.’

“I fell from the clouds on hearing all that, and knew not if I were
sleeping or waking. He then questioned me on the affairs of this
country. I gave him the detail of them. He said to me, ‘When your goose
of a father-in-law dies, I advise you to break up the whole court, and
reduce yourselves to the footing of a private gentleman’s establishment
in order to pay your debts. In real truth, you have no need of so many
people. And you must try to reduce the wages of those whom you can not
help keeping. You have been accustomed to live, at Berlin, with a table
of four dishes. That is all you want here. I will invite you now and
then to Berlin, which will spare table and house expenses.’

“For a long time my heart had been swelling. I could not restrain my
tears at hearing all these indignities. ‘Why do you cry?’ said he. ‘Ah!
ah! I see that you are in low spirits. We must dissipate that dark
humor. The music waits us. I will drive that fit out of you by an air
or two on the flute.’ He gave me his hand and led me into the other
room. I sat down to the harpsichord, which I inundated with my tears.”

On the fourth day after the arrival of the Crown Prince at Baireuth,
a courier came with a letter from the queen conjuring him to return
immediately, as the king was growing worse and worse. Frederick
immediately hastened to Potsdam, and on the 12th of October entered
the sick-chamber of his father in the palace there. He seems to have
thought nothing of his wife, who was at Berlin. We have no evidence
that he wrote to her during his absence, or that he visited her upon
his return. For four months the king remained a great sufferer in
Potsdam, trembling between life and death. It was often with great
difficulty that he could breathe. He was impatient and irritable in the
extreme. As he was rolled about in his Bath chair, he would petulantly
cry out, “Air! air!” as if his attendants were to blame for his
shortness of breath. The distress from the dropsy was very great. “If
you roll the king a little fast,” writes an attendant, “you hear the
water jumble in his body.” The Crown Prince was deeply affected in view
of the deplorable condition of his father, and wept convulsively. The
stern old king was stern to the end. He said one day to Frederick, “If
you begin at the wrong end with things, and all go topsy-turvy after I
am gone, I will laugh at you out of my grave.”

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.

Frederick returned to Ruppin. Though he treated his wife with ordinary
courtesy, as an honored member of the court, his attentions were
simply such as were due to every lady of the royal household. It does
not appear that she accompanied him to Ruppin or to Reinsberg at that
time, though the apartments to which we have already alluded were
subsequently provided for her at Reinsberg, where she was ever treated
with the most punctilious politeness. Lord Dover says that after the
accession of the prince to the throne he went to see his wife but
once a year, on her birthday. She resided most of the time at Berlin,
surrounded by a quiet little court there. However keen may have been
her sufferings in view of this cruel neglect, we have no record that
any word of complaint was ever heard to escape her lips. “This poor
Crown Princess, afterward queen,” says Carlyle, “has been heard, in her
old age, reverting in a touching, transient way to the glad days she
had at Reinsberg. Complaint openly was never heard of her in any kind
of days; but these, doubtless, were the best of her life.”

[Illustration: FRITZ IN HIS LIBRARY.]

Frederick had become very ambitious of high intellectual culture and of
literary renown. He gathered around him a numerous class of scholarly
men, and opened an extensive correspondence with the most distinguished
philosophers, poets, and historians all over Europe. He commenced and
persevered in a course of very rigorous study, rising at an early
hour, and devoting the unbroken morning to intellectual pursuits. The
renowned men of earth have not attained their renown but by untiring
exertions. For six or seven consecutive hours every day the prince was
busy in his library, when no one was allowed to interrupt him. He wrote
to a friend about this time:

“Having been not quite well lately, my physician has advised me to
take more exercise than I have hitherto done. This has obliged me to
mount my horse and take a gallop every morning. But, in order not to
be obliged on that account to change my ordinary way of life, I get up
earlier, in order to regain on the one hand what I lose on the other.”

He rose about five o’clock. After a horseback ride of an hour he
devoted the mornings to his books. The remainder of the day was given
to society, music, and recreation. The following extract from his
correspondence throws additional light upon the employment of his time.
The letter was addressed to an intimate friend, Baron Von Suhm, of

“I think you will not be sorry if I say a few words to you respecting
our rural amusements, for with persons who are dear to us we love to
enter even into the smallest details. We have divided our occupations
into two classes, of which the first consists of what is useful, and
the second of what is agreeable. I reckon in the list of the usefuls
the study of philosophy, history, and languages. The agreeables are
music, the tragedies and comedies which we represent, the masquerades
and presents which we give. The serious occupations, however, have
always the prerogative of going before the others. And I think I can
say that we make a reasonable use of our pleasures, only indulging
in them to relieve the mind, and to prevent moroseness and too much
philosophic gravity, which is apt not to yield a smile even to the

Again he wrote a few months after, while absent from home: “I set
off on the 25th to return to my dear garden at Ruppin. I burn with
impatience to see again my vineyards, my cherries, and my melons.
There, tranquil and free from all useless cares, I shall live really
for myself. I become every day more avaricious of my time, of which
I render an account to myself, and never lose any of it without much
regret. My mind is now wholly turned toward philosophy. That study
renders me wonderful services, which are repaid by me with affection. I
find myself happy because I am more tranquil than formerly. My soul is
much less agitated with violent and tumultuous emotions. I suppress the
first impulses of my passions, and do not proceed to act upon them till
after having well considered the question before me.”

Immediately after his return he wrote again: “I am now a peaceable
inhabitant of Reinsberg, applying myself to study and reading almost
from morning till night. With regard to the news of this world, you
will learn them better through the gazetteers than through me. They
contain the history of the madness and folly of the great, the wars
of some, the quarrels of others, and the childish amusements of all.
These news are as little worthy the attention of a man of sense as the
quarrels of rats and mice would be.”[25]

The king was not at all pleased either with his son’s studies or his
recreations. Philosophy and literature were as obnoxious to the sturdy
old monarch as were music and all amusements save the rough pastime
of hunting stags and boars. He was a thorough materialist, having no
other thought than to drill his troops and develop the resources of
his realm. Beer and tobacco, both of which he used inordinately, were
almost his only luxuries. He often growled loudly at what he deemed
the coxcombry of his son and companions at Reinsberg, and frequently
threatened to disperse his associates.

But Frederick was now a full-grown man. His heirship to the throne
rendered him a power among the courts of Europe. It was doubtful
whether he would again submit to a caning. The infirm old king, gouty,
dropsical, weakened, and lamed by ulcers, could not conceal from
himself that his power, with his energies, was rapidly waning. Indeed,
at times, he even talked of abdicating in favor of his son. Whenever
there was a transient abatement in his maladies, he roused himself to
the utmost, took short journeys, and tried to deceive himself into the
belief that he was well again.

The 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 a 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:

“It is not the king that I love in him; it is the man. If I considered
the dignity and the power of the king, I should only seek to keep
myself at a distance from him. But the qualities which are personal to
him, both of the heart and of the head, they attach me to him for life,
without reserve and without fear.”[26]

Lieutenant Chasot, another of his friends, was a French officer who had
killed a brother officer in a duel at Philipsburg, and, in consequence,
had fled to the Prussian lines. He had brightness of intellect and
winning manners, which rendered him a universal favorite. Captain
Knobelsdorf was a distinguished musician and architect. He rendered
signal service in enlarging and decorating the chateau at Reinsberg.
Baron De Suhm, with whom Frederick kept up a constant correspondence,
was then in Saxony, translating for the Crown Prince the philosophy of
Wolff. He sent the prince chapter by chapter, with copious notes.

In this assembly of gay young men religion was generally a topic
of ridicule. Even Jordan, the ex-preacher, was either willingly or
unwillingly borne along by the current. Subsequently, when youth and
health had fled, and he was on a sick-bed suffering from lingering
disease, he felt the need of those consolations which Christianity
alone can give. He wrote, under date of April, 1745, to Frederick, who
was then king, and whose friendship continued unabated:

“My complaint increases so much that I no longer even hope to recover
from it. I feel strongly, in the situation in which I at present
find myself, the necessity of an enlightened religion arising from
conviction. Without that, we are the beings on earth most to be pitied.
Your majesty will, after my death, do me the justice to testify that if
I have combated superstition with vehemence, I have always supported
the interests of the Christian religion, though differing from the
ideas of some theologians. As it is only possible when in danger to
discover the necessity of bravery, so no one can really have the
consoling advantage of religion except through sufferings.”

It speaks well for Frederick that during this illness, which was long
and painful, he almost daily visited at the bedside of his friend,
ministering to his wants with his own hand. After his death the king
continued his kindness to the bereaved family. Baron Bielfeld gives the
following account of one of the scenes of carousal in which these men
engaged, when in the enjoyment of youth and health:

“About a fortnight ago the prince was in a humor of extraordinary
gayety at the table. His gayety animated all the rest; and some glasses
of Champagne still more enlivened our mirth. The prince, perceiving
our disposition, was willing to promote it, and on rising from table,
told us that he was determined that we should recommence our jollity at

“We were scarcely seated at supper before he began by drinking a number
of interesting healths, which there was a necessity of pledging.
This first skirmish being over, it was followed by an incessant flow
of sallies and repartees. The most contracted countenances became
expanded. The gayety was general, even the ladies assisting in
promoting our jollity.

“After about two hours I stepped out for a moment into the vestibule.
I had placed before me a large glass of water, which the princess,
opposite to whom I had the honor to sit, in a vein of mischievous
pleasantry, had ordered to be emptied, and had filled it with Sellery
wine, which was as clear as rock water. Having already lost my taste, I
mixed my wine with wine. Thinking to refresh myself, I became joyous,
but it was a kind of joy that leaned toward intoxication.

“To finish my picture--the prince ordered me to come and sit by him.
He said many gracious things to me, and let me see into futurity as far
as my feeble sight was then capable of discovering. At the same time,
he made me drink bumper after bumper of his Lunelle wine. The rest of
the company, however, were not less sensible than I of the effects of
the nectar which there flowed in such mighty streams.

“At last, whether by accident or design, the princess broke a glass.
This was the signal for our impetuous jollity, and an example that
appeared highly worthy of our imitation. In an instant all the glasses
flew to the several corners of the room. All the crystals, porcelain,
mirrors, branches, bowls, and vases were broken into a thousand pieces.
In the midst of this universal destruction, the prince stood, like the
man in Horace who contemplates the crush of worlds, with a look of
perfect tranquillity.

[Illustration: THE BANQUET.]

“To this tumult succeeded a fresh burst of mirth, during which
the prince slipped away, and, aided by his pages, retired to his
apartment; and the princess immediately followed. The day after this
adventure the court was at its last gasp. Neither the prince nor any of
the courtiers could stir from their beds.”

Baron Bielfeld himself was so intoxicated that, in attempting to
retire, he fell down the grand staircase from top to bottom. He was
severely bruised, and was taken up senseless. “After lying about a
fortnight in bed,” he writes, “where the prince had the goodness to
come every day to see me, and to contribute every thing possible to my
cure, I got abroad again.”

Frederick William, through spies, kept himself informed of every thing
which was said or done at Reinsberg. Such orgies as the above excited
his contempt and abhorrence. But, notwithstanding the above narrative,
there is abundant testimony that the prince was not ordinarily addicted
to such shameful excesses. The Italian Count Algarotti, distinguished
alike for his familiarity with the sciences and his cultivated taste
for the fine arts, was an honored guest at Reinsberg. In a letter
addressed to Lord Hervey, under date of September 30th, 1739, the count

“What shall I say to you, my lord, of the Prince Royal, the lover and
the favorite of the Muses? Several days, which we passed with him in
his castle of Reinsberg, seemed to be but a few hours. He is the most
intelligent and the most amiable of men. Though I could notice only his
private virtues, I can boldly assure you, my lord, that the world will
one day admire his royal qualifications, and that when he shall be upon
the throne he will show himself to be the greatest of sovereigns. There
is all the reason in the world to believe that he will seek out for
great men with as much eagerness as his father does for giants.”

Baron Bielfeld gives the following account of the ordinary employments,
and the tone of conversation of the prince: “All the employments and
all the pleasures of the prince are those of a man of understanding. He
is, at this time, actually engaged in refuting the dangerous political
reveries of Machiavel. His conversation at table is charming. He talks
much and excellently well. His mind seems to be equal to all sorts of
subjects, and his imagination produces on each of them a number of new
and just ideas. His genius resembles the fire of the vestals that was
never extinct. A decent and polite contradiction is not disagreeable
to him. He possesses the rare talent of displaying the wit of others,
and of giving them opportunity to shine on those subjects in which
they excel. He jests frequently, and sometimes rallies, but never with
asperity; and an ingenious retort does not displease him.

“Nothing can be more elegant than this prince’s library. It has a view
of the lake and gardens. A collection, not very numerous, but well
chosen, of the best books in the French language are ranged in glass
cases, which are ornamented with carvings and gildings in excellent
taste. The portrait of M. De Voltaire occupies an honorable place in
this library. He is the favorite author of the prince, who has, in
general, a high esteem for good French writers both in prose and verse.

“The evenings are devoted to music. The prince has a concert in his
saloon, where no one enters who is not invited, and such invitation is
regarded as an extraordinary favor. The prince has commonly performed a
sonata and a concert for the flute, on which he plays in the greatest
perfection. He fills the flute admirably well, has great agility with
the fingers, and a vast fund of music. He composes himself sonatas. I
have had the honor of standing behind him more than once while he was
playing, and was charmed with his taste, especially in the _adagio_. He
has a continual creation of new ideas.”



  Voltaire and Madame Du Châtelet.--Letter from Frederick to Voltaire.--
    The Reply.--Visit to the Prince of Orange.--Correspondence.--The
    Crown Prince becomes a Mason.--Interesting Letter from the Crown
    Prince.--Petulance and declining Health of the King.--Scenes in the
    Death-chamber.--Characteristic Anecdotes.--The Dying Scene.

The Crown Prince had for some time been inspired with an
ever-increasing ambition for high intellectual culture. Gradually he
was gathering around him, in his retreat at Reinsberg, men of high
literary reputation, and was opening correspondence with the most
distinguished men of letters in all the adjacent countries.

Voltaire was, at this time, about forty years of age. His renown as
a man of genius already filled Europe. He was residing, on terms of
the closest intimacy, with Madame Du Châtelet, who had separated from
her husband. With congenial tastes and ample wealth they occupied
the chateau of Cirey, delightfully situated in a quiet valley in
Champagne, and which they had rendered, as Madame testifies, a
perfect Eden on earth. It is not always, in the divine government,
that sentence against an evil work is “executed speedily.” Madame Du
Châtelet, renowned in the writings of Voltaire as the “divine Emilie,”
was graceful, beautiful, fascinating. Her conversational powers were
remarkable, and she had written several treatises upon subjects
connected with the pure sciences, which had given her much deserved

Still it is evident that the serpent was in this Eden. Carlyle writes:
“An ardent, aerial, gracefully predominant, and, in the end, somewhat
termagant female, this divine Emilie. Her temper, radiant rather than
bland, was none of the patientest on occasion. Nor was M. De Voltaire
the least of a Job if you came athwart him in a wrong way. I have heard
that their domestic symphony was liable to furious flaws; that plates,
in presence of the lackeys, actual crockery or metal, have been known
to fly from end to end of the dinner-table; nay, they mention ‘knives,’
though only in the way of oratorical action; and Voltaire has been
heard to exclaim, ‘Don’t fix those haggard, sidelong eyes on me in that
way!’--mere shrillness of pale rage presiding over the scene.”

Voltaire had already written the epic poem the _Henriade_, the history
of _Charles XII._, and several tragedies.

The first letter from Frederick to Voltaire was dated August 8th, 1736.
The following extracts will show the spirit of this flattering epistle:

  “MONSIEUR,--Although I have not the satisfaction of knowing you
  personally, you are not the less known to me through your works.
  They are treasures of the mind, if I may so express myself;
  and they reveal to the reader new beauties at every perusal. I
  think I have recognized in them the character of their ingenious
  author, who does honor to our age and to human nature. If ever
  the dispute on the comparative merits of the moderns and the
  ancients should be revived, the modern great men will owe it to
  you, and to you only, that the scale is turned in their favor.
  With the excellent quality of poet you join innumerable others
  more or less related to it.

  “Monsieur, there is nothing I wish so much as to possess all
  your writings. Pray do communicate them to me without reserve.
  If there be among your manuscripts any that you wish to conceal
  from the eyes of the public, I engage to keep them in profoundest

  “I should think myself richer in the possession of your works
  than in that of all the transient goods of fortune.

  “You inspire the ambition to follow in your footsteps. But I, how
  often have I said to myself, unhappy man! throw down a burden
  which is above thy strength! One can not imitate Voltaire without
  being Voltaire.

  “It is in such moments that I have felt how small are those
  advantages of birth, those vapors of grandeur, with which vanity
  would solace us. They amount to little, properly to nothing. Ah!
  would glory but make use of me to crown your successes!

  “If my destiny refuse me the happiness of being able to possess
  you, may I at least hope one day to see the man whom I have
  admired so long now from afar, and to assure you, by word of
  mouth, that I am, with all the esteem and consideration due those
  who, following the torch of truth for guide, consecrate their
  labors to the public, Monsieur, your affectionate friend,

            “FREDERICK, _Prince Royal of Prussia_.”

Voltaire promptly replied to this letter in corresponding terms of
flattery. His letter was dated Cirey, August 26th, 1736:

  “MONSEIGNEUR,--A man must be void of all feeling who were not
  infinitely moved by the letter which your royal highness has
  deigned to honor me with. My self-love is only too much flattered
  by it. But my love of mankind, which I have always nourished
  in my heart, and which, I venture to say, forms the basis of
  my character, has given me a very much purer pleasure to see
  that there is now in the world a prince who thinks as a man--a
  _Philosopher_ prince, who will make men happy.

  “Permit me to say there is not a man on the earth but owes
  thanks for the care you take to cultivate, by sound philosophy,
  a soul that is born for command. Good kings there never were
  except those who had begun by seeking to instruct themselves; by
  knowing good men from bad; by loving what was true; by detesting
  persecution and superstition. No prince, persisting in such
  thoughts, but might bring back the golden age into his countries.

  “Unless one day the tumult of business and the wickedness of
  men alter so divine a character, you will be worshiped by your
  people and loved by the whole world. Philosophers, worthy of the
  name, will flock to your states. The illustrious Queen Christina
  quitted her kingdom to go in search of the arts. Reign you,
  Monseigneur, and the arts will come to seek you.

  “I will obey your commands as to sending those unpublished
  pieces. Your criticism will be my reward. It is a price few
  sovereigns can pay. I am sure of your secrecy. Your virtue and
  your intellect must be in proportion. I should indeed consider
  it a precious happiness to come and pay my court to your royal
  highness. One travels to Rome to see paintings and ruins. A
  prince such as you is a much more singular object, worthier of a
  long journey.

  “In whatever corner of the world I may end my life, be assured,
  Monseigneur, my wishes will be continually for you. My heart will
  rank itself among your subjects. Your glory will be ever dear
  to me. I shall wish, May you always be like yourself, and may
  other kings be like you. I am, with profound respect, your royal
  highness’s most humble


The correspondence thus commenced was prosecuted with great vigor. It
seemed difficult to find language sufficiently expressive of their
mutual admiration. Frederick received many of Voltaire’s unpublished
manuscripts, and sent him many tokens of regard. Some of Frederick’s
manuscripts Voltaire also examined, and returned with slight
corrections and profuse expressions of delight.

In the summer of 1738 the infirm old king undertook a journey to
Holland, on a visit of diplomacy to the Prince of Orange. The Crown
Prince accompanied him. It does not, however, appear that they had much
intercourse with each other on the journey. They spent several days
at the beautiful palace of Loo, in Geldern, occupied by the Prince
of Orange and his English bride, a niece to his Prussian majesty. The
palace was imposing in its architectural structure, containing many
gorgeous saloons, and surrounded with beautiful gardens. In a letter
which Frederick wrote from Loo to Voltaire, dated August 6th, we find
the following sentiments:

“I write from a place where there lived once a great man,[27] which
is now the Prince of Orange’s house. The demon of ambition sheds its
unhappy poisons over his days. He might be the most fortunate of men,
and he is devoured by chagrins in his beautiful palace here, in the
middle of his gardens and of a brilliant court.”

In one of the letters of the Crown Prince, speaking of the mode of
traveling with his father, he says: “We have now been traveling near
three weeks. The heat is as great as if we were riding astride upon
a ray of the sun. The dust is like a dense cloud, which renders us
invisible to the eyes of the by-standers. In addition to this, we
travel like the angels, without sleep, and almost without food. Judge,
then, what my condition must be.”

While on this journey to Holland the Crown Prince was one day dining
with a prince of Lippe-Bückeburg. Freemasonry became one of the topics
of conversation at the table. King Frederick William denounced the
institution in his usual style of coarse vituperation, as tomfoolery,
atheism, and every thing else that was bad. But the Prince of
Bückeburg, himself a mason and a very gentlemanly man, defended the
craft with such persuasive eloquence as quite captivated the Crown
Prince. After dinner the prince took him secretly aside, conversed
with him more fully upon the subject, expressed his admiration
of the system, and his wish to be admitted into the fraternity:
But it was necessary carefully to conceal the step from the irate
king. Arrangements were immediately made to assemble at Brunswick a
sufficient number of masons from Hamburg, where the Crown Prince, on
his return, could be received in a secret meeting into the mystic

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 adopting 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]

The year 1739 was spent by the prince mostly at Reinsberg. Many
distinguished visitors were received at the chateau. Frederick
continued busily engaged in his studies, writing both prose and
verse, and keeping up a lively correspondence with Voltaire and other
literary friends. He engaged very earnestly in writing a book entitled
_Anti-Machiavel_, which consisted of a refutation of Machiavel’s
_Prince_. This book was published, praised, and read, but has long
since been forgotten. The only memorable thing about the book now
is that in those dark days of absolutism, when it was the almost
universally recognized opinion that power did not ascend from the
people to their sovereign, but descended from the monarch to his
subjects, Frederick should have spoken of the king as the “born servant
of his people.”

In July of this year the Crown Prince took another journey with his
father through extensive portions of the Prussian territory. The
following extract from one of his letters to Voltaire reflects pleasing
light upon the heart of Frederick, and upon the administrative ability
of his father:

“Prussian Lithuania is a hundred and twenty miles long, by from forty
to sixty broad. It was ravaged by pestilence at the beginning of this
century, and they say three hundred thousand people died of disease and
famine. The disorder carried off the people, and the lands remained
uncultivated and full of weeds. The most flourishing of our provinces
was changed into the most miserable of solitudes.

“Meanwhile Frederick the First died, and with him was buried all his
false grandeur, which consisted only in a vain magnificence, and in the
pompous display of frivolous ceremonies. My father, who succeeded him,
compassionated the general misery. He visited the spot, and saw, with
his own eyes, this vast country laid waste, and all the dreadful traces
which a contagious malady, a famine, and the sordid avarice of a venal
administration leave behind them. Twelve or fifteen towns depopulated,
and four or five hundred villages uninhabited, presented themselves
to his view. Far from being discouraged by such a sad spectacle, his
compassion only became the more lively from it; and he resolved to
restore population, plenty, and commerce to this land, which had even
lost the appearance of an inhabited country.

“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.

“And all that I have been relating to you is due to the king alone, who
not only gave the orders, but himself saw that they were faithfully
obeyed. He both conceived the designs and executed them. He spared
neither care, nor trouble, nor vast treasures, nor promises, nor
recompenses, in order to assure the existence and the comfort of half a
million of rational beings, who owe to him alone their happiness. There
is something in my mind so heroic in the generous and laborious manner
in which the king has devoted himself to the restoring to this deserted
country its population, fertility, and happiness, that I think you will
see his conduct in the same light as I do when you are made acquainted
with the circumstances.”

It would be unjust alike to the father and the son to withhold a letter
which reflects so much credit upon them both--upon the father for his
humane measures, and upon the son for his appreciation of their moral

The king was so pleased with the conduct of his son during this journey
that, in a moment of unusual good-nature, he made him a present of a
very extensive horse-breeding establishment near Tilsit, consisting of
seven farms, all in the most perfect order, as every thing was sure
to be which was under the control of Frederick William. The profits
of this establishment added about ten thousand dollars to the annual
income of the Crown Prince. He was quite overjoyed at the unexpected
gift, and wrote to his sister Wilhelmina a letter glowing with

During the first part of his journey the king had been remarkably
cheerful and genial, but toward its close he was attacked by a new
fit of very serious illness. To the discomfort of all, his chronic
moodiness returned. A few extracts from Pöllnitz’s account of this
journey throws interesting light upon those scenes:

“Till now his majesty has been in especial good-humor. But in Dantzig
his cheerfulness forsook him, and it never came back. He arrived about
ten o’clock at night in that city, slept there, and was off again next
morning at five. He drove only fifty miles this day; stopped in Luppow.
From Luppow he went to a poor village near Belgard, and staid there

“At Belgard next morning he reviewed the dragoon regiment, and was
very ill content with it. And nobody, with the least understanding of
that business, but must own that never did Prussian regiment manœuvre
worse. Conscious themselves how bad it was, they lost head and got into
confusion. The king did every thing that was possible to help them
into order again, but it was all in vain. The king, contrary to wont,
restrained himself amazingly, and would not show his displeasure in
public. He got into his carriage and drove away, not staying to dine
with General Von Platen, as was always his custom with commandants whom
he had reviewed.

“As the prince was anxious to come up with his majesty again, and knew
not where he would meet him, we had to be very swift in the business.
We found the king, with Anhalt and Winterfeld, by-and-by, sitting in a
village in front of a barn, eating a cold pie there which the Marquis
of Anhalt chanced to have with him. His majesty, owing to what he
had seen on the parade-ground, was in the utmost ill-humor. Next day,
Saturday, he went a hundred and fifty or two hundred miles, and arrived
in Berlin at ten o’clock at night, not expected there till the morrow,
so that his rooms were locked, her majesty being over in Monbijou
giving her children a ball.”

Late in the fall of 1739 the health of Frederick William was so rapidly
failing that it became manifest to all that his days on earth would
soon be ended. He sat joylessly in his palace, listening to the moaning
of the wind, the rustle of the falling leaves, and the pattering of the
rain. His gloomy spirit was in accord with the melancholy days. More
dreary storms darkened his turbid soul than those which wrecked the
autumnal sky.

Early in November he came to Berlin, languid, crippled, and wretched.
The death-chamber in the palace is attended with all the humiliations
and sufferings which are encountered in the poor man’s hut. The king,
through all his life, had indulged his irritable disposition, and
now, imprisoned by infirmities and tortured with pain, his petulance
and abuse became almost unendurable. Miserable himself, he made every
one wretched around him. He was ever restless--now in his bed, now
out of it, now in his wheel-chair, continually finding fault, and
often dealing cruel blows to those who came within his reach. He was
unwilling to be left for a moment alone. The old generals were gathered
in his room, and sat around his bed talking and smoking. He could not
sleep at night, and allowed his attendants no repose. Restlessly he
tried to divert his mind by whittling, painting, and small carpentry.
The Crown Prince dared not visit him too often, lest his solicitude
should be interpreted into impatience for the king to die, that he
might grasp the crown. In the grossest terms the king insulted his
physicians, attributing all his sufferings to their wickedness or their
ignorance. Fortunately the miserable old man was too weak to attempt
to cane them. A celebrated physician, by the name of Hoffman, was
sent for to prescribe for the king. He was a man of much intellectual
distinction, and occupied an important position in the university.
As his prescriptions failed to give relief to his majesty, he was
assailed, like the rest, in the vilest language of vituperation. With
great dignity Professor Hoffman replied:

“Sire, I can not bear these reproaches, which I do not deserve. I have
tried, for the relief of your majesty, all the remedies which art
can supply, or which nature can admit. If my ability or my integrity
is doubted, I am willing to leave not only the university, but the
kingdom. But I can not be driven into any place where the name of
Hoffman will not be respected.”

The king was so impressed by this firm attitude of his physician that
he even made an apology for his rudeness. As Frederick William was
now convinced that ere long he must appear before the tribunal of
God, he gradually became a little more calm and resigned.[29] It is,
however, evident that the Crown Prince still had his share of earthly
annoyances, and certainly his full share of earthly frailties. In a
letter to his friend Suhm, written this summer, he says:

“Tantalus never suffered so much while standing in the river, the
waters of which he could not drink, as I when, having received your
package of the translation of Wolff, I was unable to read it. All the
accidents and all the bores in the world were, I think, agreed to
prevent me. A journey to Potsdam, daily reviews, and the arrival of my
brother in company with Messrs. De Hacke and De Rittberg, have been my
impediments. Imagine my horror, my dear Diaphanes,[30] at seeing the
arrival of this caravan without my having in the least expected them.
They weigh upon my shoulders like a tremendous burden, and never quit
my side, in order, I believe, to make me wish myself at the devil.”

As the king’s infirmities and sufferings increased, the sympathies
of his son were more and more excited. He seemed to forget all his
father’s cruel treatment, and to remember only his kingly energies.
The thought of his death became very painful to him, and at times he
recoiled from the oppressive cares he must of necessity assume with the


One evening in April, the king, feeling a little better, decided to
dress and hold a tobacco parliament, as formerly. Quite a numerous
party of his customary cabinet was assembled, and the circle was full.
The pipes were lighted; the king was in good-humor; the beer-pots
circulated merrily; and as every one made an effort to be agreeable,
the scene was unusually animated. Quite unexpectedly, in the midst
of the lively talk, the door opened, and the Crown Prince entered.
Simultaneously, as by a common instinct, the whole company arose and
bowed profoundly to the young prince. The king was exceedingly annoyed.
Trembling with rage, he exclaimed,

“This is the homage you render the rising sun, though you know that the
rule in the tobacco parliament is to rise to no one. You think I am
dead. But I will teach you that I am yet living.”

Ringing violently for his servants, and deaf to all protestations
and excuses, he had himself immediately rolled from the room. As the
courtiers stood bewildered and gazing at each other in consternation,
an officer came in with an order from the king that they should all
leave the palace immediately, and come not back again. The next morning
Pöllnitz, who occupied a position somewhat similar to that of prime
minister, applied for admission to his majesty’s apartment. But a
gendarme seized him by the shoulder and turned him around, saying,
“There is no admittance.” It was several days, and not till after
repeated acts of humiliation, that the king would permit any member of
the parliament again to enter his presence.

In the latter part of April, the weather being very fine, the king
decided to leave Berlin and retire to his rural palace at Potsdam.
It seems, however, that he was fully aware that his days were nearly
ended, for upon leaving the city he said, “Fare thee well, then,
Berlin; I am going to die in Potsdam.” The winter had been one of
almost unprecedented severity, and the month of May was cold and
wet. As the days wore on the king’s health fluctuated, and he was
continually struggling between life and death. The king, with all his
great imperfections, was a thoughtful man. As he daily drew near the
grave, the dread realities of the eternal world oppressed his mind.
He sent for three clergymen of distinction, to converse with them
respecting his preparation for the final judgment. It seems that they
were very faithful with him, reminding him of his many acts of violence
and tyranny, alluding particularly to his hanging Baron Schlubhut,
at Königsberg, without even a trial. The king endeavored to defend
himself, saying,

“It is true that Schlubhut had no trial, but he certainly deserved his
doom. He was a public thief, stealing the taxes he was sent to gather;
insolently offering to repay, as if that were all the amends required;
and saying that it was not good manners to hang a nobleman.”

Still the clergymen pressed upon him his sins, his many acts of
oppression, his unrelenting and unforgiving spirit. Singularly enough,
most of the members of the tobacco parliament were present at this
strange interview; and some of them, courtier like, endeavored to
defend the king against several of the charges brought against him.
The king might emphatically be called a good hater; and he hated his
brother-in-law, the King of England, perhaps with passion as implacable
as ever took possession of a human heart. In allusion to this, one of
the clergymen, M. Roloff, said,

“There is the forgiveness of enemies. Your majesty is bound to forgive
all men. If you do not do this, how can you ask to be forgiven?”

The king had a logical mind. He could keenly feel where the argument
pinched. He seemed quite troubled. After a moment’s pause, he said,
“Well, I will do it.” Then, turning to the queen, he said, “You,
Phiekin, may write to your brother, _after I am dead_, and tell him
that I forgave him, and died at peace with him.”

“It would be better,” M. Roloff mildly suggested, “that your majesty
should write at once.”

“No,” said the king, sternly and peremptorily. “Write after I am dead.
That will be safer.”

At parting, the king bore magnanimous testimony to the fidelity of his
spiritual advisers. He said to M. Roloff, who had been the principal
speaker, “You do not spare me. It is right. You do your duty like an
honest Christian man.”

For such a mind and such a body there could be no possible peace or
repose in the dying-chamber. Feverish, restless, sleepless, impatient,
he knew not what to do with himself. He was incessantly passing from
his bed to his wheel-chair and back again, irascibly demanding this and
that, complaining of every body and every thing. Sometimes he would
declare that he would no longer be sick, but would dress and be well;
and scarcely would he get his clothes on ere he would sink in fainting
weakness, as though he had not another hour to live. Thus the sad days
of sickness wore away as death drew near.

On the 26th of May the Crown Prince received an express informing him
that his father was dying, and that he must hasten to Potsdam with the
utmost speed if he would ever again see him alive. Reinsberg was about
thirty miles north from Potsdam. It took the courier some hours to
reach the place. Frederick, with emotions not easily imagined, started
before the dawn of the morning, followed by a train of attendants, to
hasten to the death-bed of his father, and to receive the kingly crown
of Prussia.

As he reached Potsdam and turned the corner of the palace, he saw,
at a little distance, a small crowd gathered around some object; and
soon, to his inexpressible surprise, beheld his father, dressed, in
his wheel-chair, out of doors, giving directions about laying the
foundations of a house he had undertaken to build. The old king, at the
sight of his son, threw open his arms, and Frederick, kneeling before
him, buried his face in his fathers lap, and they wept together. The
affecting scene forced tears into the eyes of all the by-standers.
Frederick William, upon recovering from a fainting-fit, had insisted
that he would not die, and had compelled his attendants to dress him
and conduct him to the open air.

But the exertion, and the emotion occasioned by the interview with his
son, prostrated him again. He was taken back into his palace and to
his bed more dead than alive. Reviving a little in the afternoon, he
dictated to Frederick all the arrangements he wished to have adopted in
reference to his funeral. This curious document is characteristic, in
every line, of the strange man. His coffin, which was of massive oak
carpentry, had been made for some time, and was in the king’s chamber
awaiting its occupant. He not unfrequently, with affected or real
complacency, fixed his eyes upon it, saying, “I shall sleep right well
there.” In the minute directions to his son as to his burial, he said,

“As soon as I am dead, my body must be washed, a white shirt must be
placed upon it, and it must be stretched out upon a table. They must
then shave and wash me, and cover me with a sheet. After four hours my
body must be opened. The surgeons of the regiments in town will examine
into the malady which has caused my death. They will then dress me in
my best clothes, with all my decorations. Then I am to be placed in my
coffin, and thus left all night.

“The next day the battalions will be formed in complete order, each
grenadier with three cartridges. Crape will be placed about the colors,
the drums, the fifes, and hautboys. Every officer will have crape on
his hat, around his arm, and on the hilt of his sword. The funeral car
will be placed near the green staircase, with the heads of the horses
toward the river. Eight captains of my regiment will carry me toward
the funeral car. These eight captains will also take me out of the car,
and carry me into the church.

“As soon as the car shall begin to move, the drums shall beat the dead
march, and the hautboys shall play the well-known anthem, ‘O blessed
head, covered with blood and wounds!’ The car will stop at the iron
gate. The regiment will defile before it. My two sons, Augustus William
and Henry, will remain with the regiment. You, as my eldest son, with
little Ferdinand, my youngest son, will walk in uniform behind the car.

“When the body has been carried into the church, there shall be
placed upon the coffin my handsomest sword, my best scarf, a pair of
gilt spurs, and a gilt helmet. There shall be brought from Berlin
twenty-four six-pounders, which shall make twelve discharges singly.
Then the battalions will fire.

“I forbid any funeral sermon to be preached over me. In the evening a
festival will be given in the great room in the garden. The cask of
hock which I have in my cellar must be opened. At this repast good wine
alone shall be drank.

“A fortnight after a funeral sermon shall be preached for me in all
the churches. The text shall be, ‘I have fought a good fight; I have
finished my course; I have kept the faith.’ They shall not speak any
thing of my life, of my actions, nor any thing personal of me. But they
shall tell the people that I confessed my sins, and that I died in full
confidence of the goodness of God and of my Savior.”

During the next three days the king suffered much from weakness and
a violent cough. He was often heard murmuring prayers, and would
say to those around him, “Pray for me; pray for me.” Several times
he pathetically exclaimed, “Lord, enter not into judgment with thy
servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” A favorite
hymn was often sung to him containing the words, “Naked came I into the
world, and naked shall I go out of it.” At this passage he repeatedly
exclaimed, with much vivacity, as though it were an admirable joke,
“No, not quite naked; I shall have my uniform on.”

At one o’clock in the morning of May 31 he sent for a clergyman, M.
Cochius, and seemed to be in great distress both of body and of mind.
“I fear,” said he, “that I have a great deal of pain yet to suffer. I
can remember nothing. I can not pray. I have forgotten all my prayers.”
M. Cochius endeavored to console him. At the close of the interview the
king said, sadly, “Fare thee well. We shall most probably never meet
again in this world.” He was then rolled, in his wheel-chair, into the
chamber of the queen.

“Oh, Phiekin, my Phiekin!” said he, “thou must rise and help me what
thou canst. This day I am going to die. Thou must be with me this day.”

The dying king strangely decided, at that late hour, to abdicate. All
the officials were hurriedly summoned to his chamber. The poor old
man, bandaged, with his night-cap on, and a mantle thrown over him,
was wheeled into the anteroom where the company was assembled. As he
saw Pöllnitz he exclaimed, sadly, “It is all over.” Noticing one in
tears, he said to him, kindly, “Nay, my friend, this is a debt we all
have to pay.” The king then solemnly abdicated in favor of his “good
son Frederick.” The deed was made out, signed, and sealed. But scarcely
was it executed ere the king fainted, and was carried to his bed. Still
the expiring lamp of life flickered in its socket. About eleven o’clock
the clergyman, M. Cochius, was sent for. The king was in his bed,
apparently speechless. He, however, revived a little, and was in great
pain, often exclaiming, “Pray for me; pray for me; my trust is in the
Savior.” He called for a mirror, and carefully examined his face for
some moments, saying at intervals, “Not so worn out as I thought.” “An
ugly face.” “As good as dead already.”[31]

He then summoned his physician, M. Pitsch, and said, “Feel my pulse.
Tell me how long this will last.”

The physician replied, “Alas! not long.”

“Say not alas,” added the king. “But how do you know?”

“The pulse is gone,” the physician said, sadly.

The king seemed surprised, raised his hand, opening and shutting the
fingers, and then said, “It is impossible. How could I move my fingers
so if the pulse were gone?”

M. Pitsch made no reply. The king, probably feeling at the moment some
physical monition of approaching death, cried out, “Lord Jesus, to thee
I live. Lord Jesus, to thee I die. In life and in death thou art my

These were his last words. He fainted, and, after a few gasps, died.
It was about two o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday, the 31st of May,
1740. Thus the soul of Frederick William passed to the spirit land, in
the fifty-first year of its sojourn here on earth.

The king having breathed his last, Frederick, in tears, retired to a
private room, there to reflect upon the sad receding past, and upon the
opening future, with the vast responsibilities thus suddenly thrown
upon him. He was now King of Prussia; and not only absolute master of
himself, but absolute monarch over a realm containing two millions two
hundred and forty thousand souls. He was restrained by no Parliament,
no Constitution, no customs or laws superior to his own resolves. He
could take advice of others, and call energetic men to his aid, but his
will alone was sovereign.

The Prussian kingdom, which thus fell to Frederick by “divine right,”
consisted of an assemblage of duchies, marquisates, principalities,
and lordships, comprising an area of nearly fifty-seven thousand
square miles, being about the size of the State of Michigan, and very
similarly situated as to climate and soil. It was unfortunately not
a compact country, as several of the states could only be reached by
passing through the territories of other powers. The annual revenue
amounted to a little over six million dollars. There was also in the
treasury a sum, which Frederick William had saved, of about seven
million dollars. The army consisted of seventy-six thousand men, in
the highest state of discipline, and abundantly furnished with all the
_materiel_ of war.

Quite an entire change seemed immediately to take place in the
character of the young king. M. Bielfeld was the first who was
introduced to his apartment after the death of Frederick William.
Frederick was in tears, and seemed much affected.

“You do not know,” said he to M. Bielfeld, “what I have lost in losing
my father.”

“It is true, sire,” Bielfeld replied, “but I know very well what you
have gained in getting a kingdom. Your loss is great, but your motives
for consolation are very powerful.”

The king smiled, and immediately entered very vigorously upon business.
It was not possible, under these circumstances, for him deeply to mourn
over the death of so tyrannical a father. Frederick was twenty-eight
years of age. He is described as a handsome young man, five feet seven
inches in stature, and of graceful presence. The funeral ceremonies
of the deceased monarch were conducted essentially according to the
programme already given. The body of the king mouldered to dust in the
sepulchre of his fathers. His spirit returned to the God who gave it.

   “The mind is its own place, and in itself
    Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

If these words are true, which Milton places in the lips of the
apostate fiend, it is appalling to think of the ungoverned and
ungovernable spirit with which the king entered the unseen world. We
know not that there is any power in the alembic of death to transform
the character; and certain it is that if Frederick William carried
with him to the abode of spirits the same character which he cherished
in this world, there are but few who could be rendered happy by his
society. But we must leave him with his God, and return to the stormy
scenes upon which his son now entered.

The young sovereign commenced his reign with the utterance of very
noble sentiments. The day after his accession he assembled the chief
officers of his father to administer to them the oath of allegiance. He
urged them to be humane in the exercise of all authority which might be
delegated to them.

“Our grand care,” said he, “will be to further the country’s
well-being, and to make every one of our subjects contented and happy.
If it ever chance that my particular interest and the general good
of my country should seem to conflict, it is my wish that the latter
should always be preferred.”




  Establishment of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.--Religious
    Toleration.--A Free Press.--Sternness of the young King.--Domestic
    Habits of the King.--Provision for the Queen-mother.--Absolutism of
    the King.--Journey to Strasbourg.--First Interview with Voltaire.

The conduct of Frederick the Second, upon his accession to the throne,
was in accordance with his professions. The winter had been intensely
cold. The spring was late and wet. There was almost a famine in the
land. The public granaries, which the foresight of his father had
established, contained large stores of grain, which were distributed
to the poor at very low prices. A thousand aged and destitute women
in Berlin were provided with rooms, well warmed, where they spun in
the service of the king, with good wages, and in their grateful hearts
ever thanking their benefactor. He abolished the use of _torture_ in
criminal trials, not forgetting that he himself had come very near
having his limbs stretched upon the rack. This important decree, which
was hailed with joy all over Prussia, was issued the third day after
his accession.

Very vigorous measures were immediately adopted to establish an Academy
of Sciences. The celebrated French philosopher Maupertuis, who had just
obtained great renown from measuring a degree of the meridian at the
polar circle, was invited to organize this very important institute.
The letter to the philosopher, written by the king but a few days after
his accession, was as follows:

  “My heart and my inclination excited in me, from the moment I
  mounted the throne, the desire of having you here, that you might
  put our Berlin Academy in the shape you alone are capable of
  giving it. Come then, come, and insert into this wild crab-tree
  the sciences, that it may bear fruit. You have shown the figure
  of the earth to mankind; show also to a king how sweet it is to
  possess such a man as you.

    “Monsieur De Maupertuis, your very affectionate

On the 22d of June a complaint was made to the king that the Roman
Catholic schools were perverted to seducing Protestants to become
Catholics. Frederick returned the complaint with the following words
written upon the margin:

“All religions must be tolerated, and the king’s solicitor must have an
eye that none of them make unjust encroachments on the other; for in
this country every man must get to heaven his own way.”

It is a fact worthy of mention, as illustrative of the neglect with
which the king had regarded his own German language in his devotion to
the French tongue, that in these three lines there were eleven words
wrongly spelled.

But the good sense of the utterance, so rare in those dark days,
electrified thousands of minds. It drew the attention of Europe to
Frederick, and gave him wide-spread renown.

Under Frederick William the newspaper press in Berlin amounted to
nothing. The capital had not a single daily paper. Speedy destruction
would crush any writer who, in journal, pamphlet, or book, should
publish any thing displeasing to the king. Frederick proclaimed freedom
of the press. Two newspapers were established in Berlin, one in French
and one in German. Distinguished men were selected to edit them. One
was a noted writer from Hamburg. Frederick, in his absolutism, had
adopted the resolve not to interfere with the freedom of the press
unless there were some gross violation of what he deemed proper. He
allowed very bitter satires to be circulated in Berlin against himself,
simply replying to the remonstrances of his ministers, “_The press is

Such were the measures adopted during the first week of Frederick’s
reign. He soon abolished the enormously expensive regiment of giants,
and organized, instead of them, four regiments composed of men of the
usual stature.[32] Within a few months he added sixteen thousand men to
his already large army, thus raising the number of the standing army
of his little realm to over ninety thousand men. He compelled his old
associates to feel, and some of them very keenly, that he was no longer
their comrade, but their king. One of the veteran and most honored
officers of Frederick William, in his expressions of condolence and
congratulation, ventured to suggest the hope that he and his sons might
continue to “occupy the same posts and retain the same authority as in
the last reign.”

“You will retain your _posts_,” said the king, severely. “I have no
thought of making any change. But as to _authority_, I know of none
there can be but what resides in the king that is sovereign.”

The Marquis of Schwedt advanced to meet the new-made sovereign, his
face beaming jovially, and with outstretched hands, as in the days of
their old companionship. Frederick, fixing his cold eye steadfastly
upon him, almost floored him with the rebuff, “My cousin, I am now

General Schulenburg, trembling in memory of the fact that he had
once, in court-martial, given his vote in favor of beheading the
Crown Prince, hastened from his post at Landsberg to congratulate the
prince upon his accession to the throne. To his extreme chagrin and
indignation, he was repelled by the words, “An officer should not quit
his post without order. Return immediately to Landsberg.”

As an administrative officer the young sovereign was inexorable and
heartless in the extreme. Those who had befriended him in the days
of his adversity were not remembered with any profusion of thanks
or favors. Those who had been in sympathy with his father in his
persecution of the Crown Prince encountered no spirit of revenge.
Apparently dead to affection, and oblivious of the past, the young
sovereign only sought for those agents who could best assist him in
the work to which he now consecrated all his energies--the endeavor
to aggrandize the kingdom of Prussia. Poor Doris Ritter received but a
trivial pension for her terrible wrongs. Lieutenant Keith, his friend
and confederate in his contemplated flight, who had barely escaped with
his life from Wesel, after ten years of exile hastened home, hoping
that his faithful services and sufferings would meet with a reward. The
king appointed him merely lieutenant colonel, with scarcely sufficient
income to keep him from absolute want. Perhaps the king judged that the
young man was not capable of filling, to the advantage of the state,
a higher station, and he had no idea of sacrificing his interests to

Ten years later the king made poor Keith a present of a purse of gold,
containing about seven thousand dollars, under circumstances which
reflected much credit upon the donor. In the following quaint style
Carlyle records the incident:

“The king did a beautiful thing to Lieutenant Keith the other day--that
poor Keith who was nailed to the gallows, in effigy, for him at Wesel,
long ago, and got far less than he expected. The other day there had
been a grand review, part of it extending into Madame Knyphausen’s
grounds, who is Keith’s mother-in-law.

“‘Monsieur Keith,’ said the king to him, ‘I am sorry we had to spoil
Madame’s fine shrubbery by our manœuvres; have the goodness to give her
that, with my apologies,’ and handed him a pretty casket with key to
it, and in the interior 10,000 crowns.

“Not a shrub of Madame’s had been cut or injured. But the king, you
see, would count it £1500 of damage done, and here is acknowledgment
for it, which please accept. Is not that a gracious little touch?”

One wretched man, who had been the guilty accomplice of the Crown
Prince in former scenes of guilt and shame, was so troubled by the
neglect with which he was treated that he hanged himself.

Frederick, as Crown Prince, had been quite methodical in the
distribution of his time, and had cultivated rigid habits of industry.
Now, fully conscious of the immense duties and cares which would
devolve upon him as king, he entered into a very systematic arrangement
of the employments of each hour, to which he rigidly adhered during
nearly the whole of his reign of forty-six years. He ordered his
servants to wake him at four o’clock every morning. Being naturally
inclined to sleep, he found it hard to shake off his lethargy. The
attendants were therefore directed, every morning, to place upon his
forehead a towel dipped in cold water. He thus continued to rise at
four o’clock, summer and winter, until an advanced age.

A single servant lighted his fire, shaved him, and dressed his hair.
He always wore the uniform of his guards, and allowed only fifteen
minutes for his morning toilet. He did not indulge in the luxury of
slippers or dressing-gown, though occasionally, when ill, he put on a
sort of linen wrapper, but even then he wore his military boots. Only
on one day in the year did he appear in silk stockings, and that was on
the birthday of his neglected wife, when he formally called upon her
with his congratulations.

The ordinary routine of the day, when not absent on travels or
campaigns, was as follows: As soon as dressed, one of his pages brought
the packet of letters. The number was usually very large. He employed
himself in reading these letters till eight o’clock. By a particular
style of folding, he designated those to which no reply was to be
returned, those to which there was to be an immediate reply, and those
which required further consideration. At eight o’clock one of the four
secretaries of the cabinet entered, took the three parcels, and, while
the king was breakfasting, received from him very briefly the character
of the response to be made.

At nine o’clock Frederick received one of the general officers,
and arranged with him all the military affairs of the day, usually
dismissing him loaded with business. At ten o’clock he reviewed some
one of the regiments; and then, after attending parade, devoted himself
to literary pursuits or private correspondence until dinner-time. This
was the portion of the day he usually appropriated to authorship.
He was accustomed to compose, both in prose and verse, while slowly
traversing the graveled walks of his garden.

He was particularly fond of dogs of the graceful greyhound breed,
and might often be seen with book and pencil in his hand, in the
shady walks, with three or four Italian greyhounds gamboling around
him, apparently entirely absorbed in deep meditation. A page
usually followed at a short distance behind, to attend his call. At
twelve o’clock he dined with invited guests. As quite a number of
distinguished men always met at his table, and the king was very fond
of good living, as well as of the “feast of reason and the flow of
soul,” the repast was frequently prolonged until nearly three o’clock.
At dinner he was very social, priding himself not a little upon his
conversational powers.


In pleasant weather he took a long walk after dinner, and generally
at so rapid a pace that it was difficult for most persons to keep up
with him. At four o’clock the secretaries brought to him the answers
to the letters which they had received from him in the morning. He
glanced them over, examining some with care. Then, until six o’clock,
he devoted himself to reading, to literary compositions, and to the
affairs of the Academy, in which he took a very deep interest. At six
o’clock he had a private musical concert, at which he performed himself
upon the flute. He was passionately fond of this instrument, and
continued to play upon it until, in old age, his teeth decaying, he was
unable to produce the sounds he wished.

After the concert, which usually continued an hour, he engaged in
conversation until ten o’clock. He then took supper with a few friends,
and at eleven retired to his bed.

To his mother he was very considerate in all his manifestations
of filial affection, while, at the same time, he caused her very
distinctly to understand that she was to take no share whatever in the
affairs of government. When she addressed him, upon his accession to
the throne, as “Your Majesty,” he replied, “Call me son. That is the
title of all others most agreeable to me.” He decreed to her the title
of “Her Majesty the Queen-mother.” The palace of Monbijou was assigned
her, where she was surrounded with every luxury, treated with the most
distinguished attention, and her court was the acknowledged centre of
fashionable society.

He seems ever to have treated his nominal wife, Queen Elizabeth,
_politely_. For some months after the accession he was quite prominent
in his public attentions to her. But these intervals of association
grew gradually more rare, until after three or four years they ceased
almost entirely.

Frederick, under the tutelage of his stern father, had not enjoyed
the privileges of foreign travel. While other princes of far humbler
expectations were taking the grand tour of Europe, the Crown Prince
was virtually imprisoned in the barracks, day after day, engaged in
the dull routine of drilling the giant guard. After the death of his
father he did not condescend to be crowned, proudly assuming, in
contradiction to some of his earlier teachings, that the crown was
already placed upon his brow by divine power. He, however, exacted from
the people throughout his realms oaths of allegiance, and in person
visited several of the principal cities to administer those oaths with
much pomp of ceremony. The Danish envoy, writing home to his government
respecting the administration of Frederick, says,

“I must observe that hitherto the King of Prussia does, as it were,
every thing himself; and that, excepting the finance minister, who
preaches frugality, and finds for that doctrine uncommon acceptance,
his majesty allows no counseling from any minister; so that the
minister for foreign affairs has nothing to do but to expedite the
orders he receives, his advice not being asked upon any matter. And so
it is with the other ministers.”

On the 12th of June, but a fortnight after his accession, Frederick
wrote from Charlottenburg to Voltaire, who was then at Brussels, as

  “MY DEAR VOLTAIRE,--Resist no longer the eagerness I have to
  see you. Do, in my favor, whatever your humanity allows. In the
  end of August I go to Wesel, and perhaps farther. Promise that
  you will come and join me, for I could not live happy nor die
  tranquil without having embraced you. Thousand compliments to
  the Marquise” (Madame Du Châtelet, the _divine Emilie_). “I am
  busy with both hands--working at the army with one hand, at the
  people and the fine arts with the other.”

It would seem that Frederick was not very willing to receive, as his
guest, the divine Emilie, who occupied so questionable a position in
the household of Voltaire; for he wrote again, on the 5th of August, in
reply to a letter from Voltaire, saying,

“I will write to Madame Du Châtelet in compliance with your wish. To
speak to you frankly concerning her journey, it is Voltaire, it is you,
it is my friend that I desire to see. I can not say whether I shall
travel or not travel. Adieu, dear friend, sublime spirit, first-born of
thinking beings. Love me always sincerely, and be persuaded that none
can love and esteem you more than I.”

Again the next day he wrote:

“You will have received a letter from me dated yesterday. This is the
second I write to you from Berlin. I refer you to what was in the
other. If it must be that Emilie accompany Apollo, I consent. But if
I could see you alone, that is what I should prefer. I should be too
much dazzled. I could not stand so much splendor all at once. It would
overpower me. I should need the veil of Moses to temper the united
radiance of your two divinities.”

In return, Voltaire compliments the king very profusely. Speaking of
the book of the royal author, the _Anti-Machiavel_, he writes:

“It is a monument for the latest posterity; the only book worthy of a
king for these fifteen hundred years.”[33]

Frederick was very desirous of visiting France, whose literature,
science, and distinguished men he so greatly admired. Early Monday
morning, the 15th of August, the king left Potsdam to visit his
sister Wilhelmina, intending then to continue his journey _incognito_
into France, and, if circumstances favored, as far as Paris. The
king assumed the name of the Count Dufour. His next younger brother,
William, eighteen years of age, accompanied him, also under an assumed
name. William was now Crown Prince, to inherit the throne should
Frederick leave no children. Six other gentlemen composed the party.
They traveled in two coaches, with but few attendants, and avoided all
unnecessary display.

Frederick spent three days with his sister at Baireuth. Wilhelmina was
disappointed in his appearance. The brotherly affection she looked
for was not found. He was cold, stately, disposed to banter her, and
his conversation seemed “set on stilts.” Leaving Baireuth, the king
continued his journey very rapidly toward Strasbourg. When they reached
Kehl, on the eastern banks of the Rhine, they were informed that they
could not cross the river without passports. One of the gentlemen drew
up the necessary document, which the king signed and sealed with his
signet-ring. The curiosity of the landlord had been excited, and he
watched his guests from a closet. Seeing what was done, he said to
Frederstorf, the king’s valet, “Count Dufour is the King of Prussia,
sir; I saw him sign his name.” He was bribed to keep the secret.

When they reached Strasbourg they provided themselves with French
dresses. The king and his brother put up at different inns, that they
might be less liable to suspicion. Frederick, with several of his
party, took lodgings at the Raven Hotel. He sent the landlord out to
invite several army officers to sup with a foreign gentleman, Count
Dufour, from Bohemia, who was an entire stranger in the place. Some of
the officers very peremptorily declined the invitation, considering
it an imposition. Three, however, allured by the singularity of the
summons, repaired to the inn. The assumed count received them with
great courtesy, apologized for the liberty he had taken, thanked them
for their kindness, and assured them that, being a stranger, he was
very happy to make the acquaintance of so many brave officers, whose
society he valued above that of all others.

The companions of the king were well-bred men, of engaging manners,
commanding intelligence, and accustomed to authority. The entertainment
was superb, with an abundance of the richest wines. The conversation
took a wide range, and was interesting and exciting to a high degree.
The French officers were quite bewildered by the scene. The count
was perfect master of the French language, was very brilliant in his
sallies, and seemed perfectly familiar with all military affairs. He
was treated with remarkable deference by his companions, some of whom
were far his superiors in years.

The entertainment was prolonged until a late hour of the night. The
delighted guests, as they retired, urged their host to attend parade
with them in the morning, offering to come in person to conduct him to
the ground. The count, with pleasure, accepted the invitation. In the
morning he was escorted to the parade-ground. His fame spread rapidly.
Friends multiplied. He was invited to sup with the officers in the
evening, and accepted the invitation. Marshal Broglio, a very stately
gentleman of seventy years, was military governor at Strasbourg. The
count and one of his companions, the distinguished philosopher Count
Algarotti, were invited to dine with the marshal. The supper given in
the evening by the officers was brilliant. They then repaired to the
opera. A poor little girl came to the box with a couple of lottery
tickets for sale. Frederick gave her four ducats ($25), and tore up the

Strasbourg began to echo with the fame of this foreign count. But the
next morning, Thursday, August 25, as Marshal Broglio was walking on
the Esplanade, a soldier, who had formerly been in the regiment of
the Crown Prince at Potsdam, and who knew the Crown Prince perfectly,
having seen him hundreds of times, but who had deserted and entered
the French service, came to the marshal, with much bowing and
embarrassment, and assured him that Count Dufour was no less than the
King of Prussia.

The secret was now out. The tidings flew in all directions that the
King of Prussia was in Strasbourg _incognito_. The king, not yet aware
of the detection, called upon the marshal. A crowd of officers gathered
eagerly around. The marshal was much embarrassed in his desire to
respect the _incognito_, and also to manifest the consideration due
to a sovereign. No one yet ventured to address him as king, though
there were many indications that his rank was beginning to be known.
Frederick therefore decided to get out of the city as soon as possible.
To conceal his design, he made arrangements to attend the theatre with
the marshal in the evening. The marshal went to the theatre with all
his officers. The building was crowded with the multitude hoping to
see the king. Bonfires began to blaze in the streets, and shouts were
heard of “Long live the King of Prussia.” Frederick hastily collected
his companions, paid his enormous bill at the Raven, “shot off like
lightning,” and was seen in Strasbourg no more.

Voltaire was at this time in Brussels. Frederick wrote him from Wesel,
under date of 2d September, 1740, giving a narrative of his adventures,
partly in prose, partly in verse. It was a long communication, the
rhyme very much like that which a bright school-girl would write upon
the gallop. The following specimen of this singular production will
give the reader a sufficient idea of the whole:

  “MY DEAR VOLTAIRE,--You wish to know what I have been about
  since leaving Berlin. Annexed you will find a description of it.

  “I have just finished a journey intermingled with singular
  adventures, sometimes pleasant, sometimes the reverse. You know
  I had set out for Baireuth to see a sister whom I love no less
  than esteem. On the road Algarotti and I consulted the map to
  settle our route for returning by Wesel. Frankfort-on-the-Main
  comes always as a principal stage. Strasbourg was no great
  roundabout. We chose that route in preference. The _incognito_
  was decided, names pitched upon, story we were to tell. In fine,
  all was arranged as well as possible. We fancied we should get to
  Strasbourg in three days.

    “Mais le ciel, qui de tout dispose,
    Régla différemment la chose.
    Avec de coursiers efflanqués,
    Et des paysans en postillons masqués,
    Butors de race impertinente,
    Notre carrosse en cent lieux accroché,
    Nous allions gravement d’une allure indolente,
    Gravitant contre les rochers,
    L’airs émus par le bruyant tonnere.
    Les torrents d’eau répandus sur la terre
    Du dernier jour menaçaient les humains.
    Et malgré notre impatience,
    Quatre bons jours en pénitence
    Sont pour jamais perdus dans les charrains.”

    (But Heaven, which of all disposes,
    Regulated differently the thing.
    With coursers lank-sided,
    And peasants as postillions disguised,
    Blockheads of race impertinent,
    Our carriages in a hundred places sticking,
    We went gravely at a slow pace,
    Knocking against the rocks,
    The air agitated by loud thunder.
    Torrents of water spread over the earth
    With the last day threatened mankind.
    And notwithstanding our impatience,
    Four good days in penance
    Are forever lost in these jumbles.)

  “Had all our fatalities been limited to stoppages of speed on the
  journey, we should have taken patience. But after frightful roads
  we found lodgings still more frightful.”

Then came another strain of verse. Thus the prose and the doggerel
were interspersed through the long narrative. Though very truthful in
character, it was a school-boy performance--a very singular document
indeed to be sent to the most brilliant genius of that age, by one who
soon proved himself to be the ablest sovereign in Europe.

At Wesel the king met Maupertuis, to whom we have already alluded, who
was then one of the greatest of European celebrities. His discovery of
the flattening of the earth at the poles had given him such renown that
the kings of Russia, France, and Prussia were all lavishing honors upon
him. It was a great gratification to Frederick that he had secured his
services in organizing the Berlin Academy. While at Wesel the king was
seized by a fever, which shut him up for a time in the small chateau of
Moyland. He had never yet met Voltaire, and being very anxious to see
him, wrote to him as follows, under date of September 6th, 1740:

  “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.

  “Let us deceive the fever, my dear Voltaire, and let me have
  at least the pleasure of embracing you. Make my best excuses
  to Madame the Marquise that I can not have the satisfaction of
  seeing her at Brussels. All that are about me know the intention
  I was in, which certainly nothing but the fever could make me

  “Sunday next I shall be at a little place near Cleves, where I
  shall be able to possess you at my ease. If the sight of you
  don’t cure me, I will send for a confessor at once. Adieu. You
  know my sentiments and my heart.


In accordance with this request, Voltaire repaired to Cleves to visit
the king. Many years afterward, having quarreled with Frederick, and
being disposed to represent him in the most unfavorable light, he gave
the following account of this interview in his _Vie Privée_:

“The king said that he would come and see me _incognito_ at Brussels.
But having fallen ill a couple of leagues from Cleves, he wrote me that
he expected I would make the advances. I went accordingly to present
my profound homages. I found at the gate of the court-yard a single
soldier on guard. The privy councilor Rambonet, Minister of State, was
walking about the court, blowing on his fingers to warm them. He had
on great ruffles of dirty linen, a hat with holes in it, and an old
periwig, one end of which hung down into one of his pockets, while the
other hardly covered his shoulder.

“I was conducted into his majesty’s apartment, where there was nothing
but the bare walls. I perceived in a closet, lit by a single wax
candle, a small bed, two feet and a half wide, on which lay a little
man wrapped up in a cloak of coarse blue cloth. It was the king, who
perspired and shivered, under a miserable coverlet, in a violent access
of fever. I made my bow, and began the acquaintance by feeling his
pulse, as if I had been his first physician. When the fit was passed he
dressed himself and came to supper. Algarotti, Keyserling, Maupertuis,
and the king’s embassador to the States General made up the party. We
talked learnedly respecting the immortality of the soul, liberty, and
the Androgynes of Plato, and other small topics of that nature.”


Frederick, who was then in the zenith of his admiration for Voltaire,
describes as follows, in a letter to his friend M. Jordan, his
impressions of the interview:

“I have at length seen Voltaire, whom I was so anxious to know. But,
alas! I saw him when under the influence of my fever, and when my mind
and my body were equally languid. With persons like him one ought not
to be sick. On the contrary, one ought to be specially well. He has the
eloquence of Cicero, the mildness of Pliny, and the wisdom of Agrippa.
He unites, in a word, all the collected virtues and talents of the
three greatest men of antiquity. His intellect is always at work. Every
drop of ink that falls from his pen is transformed at once into wit.
He declaimed his _Mahomet_ to us, an admirable tragedy which he has
composed. I could only admire in silence.”

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:

“When you sent me, inclosed in your letter, those verses for our Marcus
Aurelius of the North, I fully intended to pay my court to him with
them. He was at that time to have come to Brussels _incognito_. But the
quartan fever, which unhappily he still has, deranged all his projects.
He has sent me a courier to Brussels, and so I set out to find him in
the neighborhood of Cleves.

“It was there that I saw one of the most amiable men in the world, who
forms the charm of society, who would be every where sought after if he
were not a king; a philosopher without austerity, full of sweetness,
complaisance, and obliging ways--not remembering that he is king when
he meets his friends; indeed, so completely forgetting it that he made
me too almost forget it, and I needed an effort of memory to recollect
that I here saw, sitting at the foot of my bed, a sovereign who had an
army of a hundred thousand men.”



  The Herstal Affair.--The Summons.--Voltaire’s Manifesto.--George II.
    visits Hanover.--The Visit of Wilhelmina to Berlin.--Unpopularity
    of the King.--Death of the Emperor Charles VI.

On the River Maas, a few miles north of the present city of Liege,
there was a celebrated castle called Herstal. For many generations
feudal lords had there displayed their pomp and power; and it had
been the theatre not only of princely revelry, but of many scenes of
violence and blood. A surrounding territory of a few thousand acres,
cultivated by serfs, who were virtually slaves, was the hereditary
domain of the petty lords of the castle. A few miles south of the
castle there was a monastery called Liege, which was a dependency of
the lords of Herstal.

Amid the vicissitudes of the revolving centuries the rollicking
lords grew poor, and the frugal monks grew rich. A thrifty city rose
around the monastery, and its bishop wielded a power, temporal and
spiritual, more potent than had ever issued from the walls of the now
crumbling and dilapidated castle. In some of the perplexing diplomatic
arrangements of those days, the castle of Herstal, with its surrounding
district, was transferred to Frederick William of Prussia. The
peasants, who had heard of the military rigor of Prussia, where almost
every able-bodied man was crowded into the army, were exceedingly
troubled by this transfer, and refused to take the oath of allegiance
to their new sovereign, who had thus succeeded to the ownership of
themselves, their flocks, and their herds. The gleaming sabres of
Frederick William’s dragoons soon, however, brought them to terms. Thus
compelled to submission, they remained unreconciled and irritated.
Upon the withdrawal of the Prussian troops, the authority of Frederick
William over the Herstal people also disappeared, for they greatly
preferred the milder rule of the Bishop of Liege.

The bishop denied that Frederick William had any claim to Herstal. He
brought forward a prior claim of his own in behalf of the Church. The
Duke of Lorraine, when proprietor of the castle and its dependencies,
had pawned it to the bishop for a considerable sum of money. This
money, the bishop averred, had never been repaid. Consequently he
claimed the property as still in his possession.

George Ludwig, Count of Berg, who at this time was Bishop of Liege,
was a feeble old man, tottering beneath the infirmities of eighty-two
years. He did not venture upon physical resistance to the power of
Prussia, but confined himself to protests, remonstrances, and to the
continued exercise of his own governmental authority. As Herstal was
many leagues distant from Berlin, was of comparatively little value,
and could only be reached by traversing foreign states, Frederick
William offered to sell all his claims to it for about eighty thousand
dollars. The proposal not being either accepted or rejected by the
bishop, the king, anxious to settle the question before his death, sent
an embassador to Liege, with full powers to arrange the difficulty by
treaty. For three days the embassador endeavored in vain to obtain an
audience. He then returned indignantly to Berlin. The king, of course,
regarded this treatment as an insult. The bishop subsequently averred
that the audience was prevented by his own sickness. Such was the
posture of affairs when Frederick William died.

Upon the accession of Frederick the Second, as officers were dispatched
through the realm to exact oaths of allegiance, the Herstal people,
encouraged by the bishop, refused to acknowledge fealty to the new
king. Frederick was now in the district of Cleve, in the near vicinity
of Herstal. He sent the following very decisive summons to the “Prince
Bishop of Liege,” dated Wesel, September 4, 1740:

  “MY COUSIN,--Knowing all the assaults made by you upon my
  indisputable rights over my free barony of Herstal, and how the
  seditious ringleaders there, for several years past, have been
  countenanced by you in their detestable acts of disobedience
  against me, I have commanded my privy counselor, Rambonet, to
  repair to your presence, and in my name to require from you,
  within two days, a distinct and categorical answer to this

  “Whether you are still minded to assert your pretended
  sovereignty over Herstal, and whether you will protect the rebels
  at Herstal in their disorders and abominable disobedience?

  “In case you refuse, or delay beyond the term, the answer
  which I hereby of right demand, you will render yourself alone
  responsible, before the world, for the consequences which
  infallibly will follow. I am, with much consideration, my cousin,
  your very affectionate cousin,


Rambonet presented the peremptory missive, and waited forty-eight hours
for the answer. He then returned to Wesel without any satisfactory
reply. Frederick immediately issued a manifesto, declaring the reasons
for his action, and ordered two thousand men, horse and foot, who were
all ready for the emergence, to advance immediately to Maaseyk, one
of the principal towns of the bishop, take possession of it and of
the surrounding region, quarter themselves upon the people, enforce
liberal contributions, and remain there until the bishop should come to

The solid, compact army, with infantry, artillery, and cavalry in the
best possible condition, advanced at the double-quick. Arriving at the
gates of Maaseyk, not a moment was spent in parleying. “Open the gates
instantly,” was the summons, “or we shall open them with the petard.”

With great courtesy of words, but pitiless energy of action, General
Borck, who was in command, fulfilled his commission. A contribution
was exacted of fifteen thousand dollars, to be paid within three days;
sufficient rations were to be furnished daily for the troops, or
the general, it was stated, would be under the painful necessity of
collecting them for himself. Two hundred and fifty dollars a day were
to be provided for the general’s private expenses. Remonstrances were
of no avail. Resistance was not to be thought of.

The poor old bishop called loudly upon the Emperor of Germany for help.
The territory of the Bishop of Liege was under the protection of the
empire. The Emperor Charles VI. immediately issued a decree ordering
Frederick to withdraw his troops, to restore the money which he had
extorted, and to settle the question by arbitration, or by an appeal to
the laws of the empire. This was the last decree issued by Charles VI.
Two weeks after he died.

Frederick paid no regard to the remonstrance of the emperor. The
bishop, in his distress, applied to the French for aid, and then
to the Dutch, but all in vain. He then sent an embassy to Berlin,
proposing to purchase Herstal. The king consented to sell upon the
same terms his father had offered, adding to the sum the expenses of
his military expedition and other little items, bringing the amount up
to one hundred and eighty thousand dollars. The money was paid, and
the Herstal difficulty was settled. This was Frederick’s first act of
foreign diplomacy. Many severely censured him for the violent course he
pursued with a power incapable of resistance. All admitted the energy
and sagacity which he had developed in the affair.

Voltaire, in his _Memoirs_, says that he drew up the manifesto for
Frederick upon this occasion. “The pretext,” he writes, “for this fine
expedition was certain rights which his majesty pretended to have over
a part of the suburbs. It was to me he committed the task of drawing
up the manifesto, which I performed as well as the nature of the case
would let me, never suspecting that a king, with whom I supped, and who
called me his friend, could possibly be in the wrong. The affair was
soon brought to a conclusion by the payment of a million of livres,
which he exacted in good hard ducats, and which served to defray the
expenses of his tour to Strasbourg, concerning which he complained so
loudly in his poetic prose epistle.

“I represented to him that perhaps it was not altogether prudent to
print his _Anti-Machiavel_ just at the time that the world might
reproach him with having violated the principles he taught. He
permitted me to stop the impression. I accordingly took a journey into
Holland purposely to do him this trifling service. But the bookseller
demanded so much money that his majesty, who was not in the bottom of
his heart vexed to see himself in print, was better pleased to be so
for nothing, than to pay for not being so. I could not avoid feeling
some remorse at being concerned in printing this _Anti-Machiavelian_
book at the very moment that the King of Prussia, who had a hundred
millions in his coffers, was robbing the poor people of Liege of
another, by the hand of the privy counselor Rambonet.”[35]

It must be borne in mind that these words were written after Voltaire
had quarreled with Frederick, and when it seems to have been his desire
to represent all the acts of the king in as unfavorable a light as
possible. Frederick himself, about eight years after the settlement of
the Herstal difficulty, gave the following as his version of the affair:

“A miserable Bishop of Liege thought it a proud thing to insult the
late king. Some subjects of Herstal, which belongs to Prussia, had
revolted. The bishop gave them his protection. Colonel Kreutzen was
sent to Liege to compose the thing by treaty, with credentials and full
power. Imagine it; the bishop would not receive him! Three days, day
after day, he saw this envoy apply at his palace, and always denied him
entrance. These things had grown past endurance.”

Frederick returned to Berlin by a circuitous route, which occupied
ten days. His uncle, King George II. of England, whom he exceedingly
disliked, was then on a visit to his Hanoverian possessions. Frederick
passed within a few miles of his Britannic majesty without deigning
to call upon him. The slight caused much comment in the English
papers. It was regarded as of national moment, for it implied that in
the complicated policy which then agitated the courts of Europe the
sympathies of Prussia would not be with England.

Soon after this, Frederick’s next younger brother, Augustus William,
who was heir-presumptive to the throne in default of a son by
Frederick, was betrothed to Louisa Amelia of Brunswick, younger sister
of Frederick’s bride.

About the middle of October Wilhelmina came to Berlin to see her
brothers again. Nine years had passed since her marriage, and seven
since her last sad visit to the home of her childhood, in which
inauspicious visit the wretchedness of her early years had been renewed
by the cruelty of her reception. In Wilhelmina’s journal we find the
following allusion to this her second return to Berlin:

“We arrived at Berlin the end of October. My younger brothers, followed
by the princes of the blood and by all the court, received us at the
bottom of the stairs. I was led to my apartment, where I found the
reigning queen, my sisters, and the princesses. I learned, with much
chagrin, that the king was ill of tertian ague. He sent me word that,
being in his fit, he could not see me, but that he depended on having
that pleasure to-morrow. The queen-mother, to whom I went without
delay, was in a dark condition. Her rooms were all hung in their
lugubrious drapery. Every thing was as yet in the depth of mourning for
my father. What a scene for me! Nature has her rights. I can say with
truth I have almost never in my life been so moved as on this occasion.
My interview with my mother was very touching.”

The next morning Frederick hastened to greet his sister. Wilhelmina
was not pleased with his appearance. The cares of his new reign
entirely engrossed his mind. The dignity of an absolute king did not
sit gracefully upon him. Though ostentatiously demonstrative in his
greeting, the delicate instincts of Wilhelmina taught her that her
brother’s caresses were heartless. He was just recovering from a fit of
the ague, and looked emaciate and sallow. The court was in mourning.
During those funereal days no festivities could be indulged in. The
queen-mother was decorously melancholy; she seems to have been not only
disappointed, but excessively chagrined, to find that she was excluded
by her son from the slightest influence in public affairs. The distant,
arrogant, and assuming airs of the young king soon rendered him

“A general discontent,” writes Wilhelmina, “reigned in the country.
The love of his subjects was pretty much gone. People spoke of him
in no measured terms. Some accused him of caring nothing about those
who helped him as Prince Royal. Others complained of his avarice as
surpassing that of the late king. He was accused of violence of temper,
of a suspicious disposition, of distrust, haughtiness, dissimulation.
I would have spoken to him about these had not my brother Augustus
William and the queen regnant dissuaded me.”

Frederick invited his sister to visit him at Reinsberg, to which place
either business or pleasure immediately called him. After the lapse of
two days, Wilhelmina, with the neglected Queen Elizabeth, repaired to
the enchanting chateau, hoping to find, amid its rural scenes, that
enjoyment which she never yet had been able to find in the sombre halls
of the Berlin palace. Here quite a gay company was assembled. Frederick
was very laboriously occupied during the day in affairs of state.
But in the evening he appeared in the social circles, attracting the
attention of all by his conversational brilliance, and by the apparent
heartiness with which he entered into the amusements of the court. He
took an active part in some private theatricals, and none were aware
of the profound schemes of ambition which, cloaked by this external
gayety, were engrossing his thoughts.

On the 25th of October a courier arrived, direct from Vienna, with
the startling intelligence that the Emperor Charles VI. had died five
days before. The king was at the time suffering from a severe attack
of chills and fever. There was quite a long deliberation in the court
whether it were safe to communicate the agitating intelligence to
his majesty while he was so sick. They delayed for an hour, and then
cautiously informed the king of the great event. Frederick listened in
silence; uttered not a word; made no sign.[36] Subsequent events proved
that his soul must have been agitated by the tidings to its profoundest
depths. The death of the emperor, at that time, was unexpected. But
it is pretty evident that Frederick had, in the sombre recesses of
his mind, resolved upon a course of action when the emperor should
die which he knew would be fraught with the most momentous results.
In fact, this action proved the occasion of wars and woes from which,
could the king have foreseen them, he would doubtless have shrunk back

The Emperor Charles VI. left no son. He therefore promulgated a new law
of succession in a decree known throughout Europe as the “Pragmatic
Sanction.” By the custom of the realm the sceptre could descend only to
male heirs. But by this decree the king declared that the crown of the
house of Hapsburg should be transmitted to his daughter, Maria Theresa.
This law had been ratified by the estates of all the kingdoms and
principalities which composed the Austrian monarchy. All the leading
powers of Europe--England, France, Spain, _Prussia_, Russia, Poland,
Sweden, Denmark, and the Germanic body--had bound themselves by treaty
to maintain the “Pragmatic Sanction.” It was a peaceable and wise
arrangement, acceptable to the people of Austria and to the dynasties
of Europe as a means of averting a war of succession, which might
involve all the nations of the Continent in the conflict.

The death-scene of the emperor was an event which must interest every
reader. Upon his return from a hunting excursion into Hungary, he was
attacked, on Thursday evening, October 16th, by slight indisposition,
which was supposed to have been caused by eating imprudently of
mushrooms. His sickness, baffling the skill of the doctors, increased,
and by Saturday night became alarming. On Tuesday it was thought that
he was dying. The pope’s nuncio administered to him the sacrament of
the Lord’s Supper. His majesty manifested great composure in view of
the sublime change before him, and said to one who was weeping at his

“I am not afraid in contemplating the dread tribunal before which I
must now so soon appear. I am certain of my cause. Look at me! A man
that is certain of his cause can enter on such a journey with good
courage and a composed mind.”

To his physicians, who were doubtful respecting the nature of his
disease, he said, “If Doctor Gazelli were here you would soon know what
is my complaint. As it is, you will only learn after you have dissected

He then requested to be shown the cup in which his heart would be
placed after that operation. His daughter, Maria Theresa, who had
married the Grand-duke Francis, was in a delicate state of health. The
death of her father would place the weighty crown upon her youthful
brow. Grief and agitation threw her helpless upon her bed. So important
was her life to the world that the emperor was unwilling that, in her
then condition, she should enter the death-chamber. “Tell my Theresa,”
said he, in faint and dying accents, “that I bless her, notwithstanding
her absence.”

The empress had fainted away at the bedside, and had been borne, in
the arms of the attendants, into her daughter Maria Theresa’s chamber.
She was now summoned, with the younger children, for the final adieu.
As the empress, almost delirious with grief, re-entered the apartment,
she threw herself upon the bed of her dying husband, and exclaimed, in
frenzied tones, “Do not leave me! Do not leave me!”

During all the day of Wednesday weeping friends stood around the bed,
as the lamp of life flickered in its socket. Every moment it was
expected that the emperor would breathe his last. At two o’clock the
next morning the spirit took its flight, and the lifeless clay alone
remained. The grief-stricken empress closed the eyes of her departed
husband, kissed his hands, and “was carried out more dead than alive.”
Thus ended the male line of the house of Hapsburg, after five centuries
of royal sway. The emperor died on the 20th of October 1740, in the
fifty-sixth year of his age.

As Frederick received the tidings of this death, he rose, dressed
himself, and his ague disappeared, to return no more. A courier was
immediately dispatched, at the top of his speed, to summon to his
presence General Schwerin and M. Podewils, his chief minister. Two days
must elapse before they could reach him. In the mean time, the king,
taking counsel of no one, was maturing his plans, and making quiet but
vigorous preparations for their execution. He wrote the next day to
Voltaire, in allusion to the emperor’s death,

“I believe that there will, by June next, be more talk of cannon,
soldiers, trenches, than of actresses and dancers for the ballet. This
small event changes the entire system of Europe. It is the little stone
which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, loosening itself and rolling
down on the image made of four metals, which it shivers to ruin.”

On the southeast frontier of Prussia, between that kingdom, and Poland,
and Hungary, there was an Austrian realm called Silesia. The country
embraced a territory of twenty thousand square miles, being about
twice as large as the State of Vermont. The population was about two
millions. For more than a century Silesia had been a portion of the
Austrian kingdom. Time, and the assent of Europe, had sanctioned the


But the young King Frederick was very ambitious of enlarging the
borders of his Liliputian realm, and of thus attaining a higher
position among the proud and powerful monarchs who surrounded him.
Maria Theresa, who had inherited the crown of Austria, was a remarkably
beautiful, graceful, and accomplished young lady, in the twenty-fourth
year of her age. She was a young wife, having married Francis, Duke of
Lorraine. Her health, as we have mentioned, was at that time delicate.
Frederick thought the opportunity a favorable one for wresting Silesia
from Austria, and annexing it to his own kingdom. The queen was
entirely inexperienced, and could not prove a very formidable military
antagonist. Her army was in no respect, either in number, discipline,
or _materiel_, prepared for war. Her treasury was deplorably empty.
There was also reason for Frederick to hope that several claimants
would rise in opposition to her, disputing the succession.

On the other hand, Frederick himself was in the very prime of manhood.
He was ambitious of military renown. He had a compact army of one
hundred thousand men, in better drill and more amply provided with all
the apparatus of war than any other troops in Europe. The frugality of
his father had left him with a treasury full to overflowing. To take
military possession of Silesia would be a very easy thing. There was
nothing to obstruct the rush of his troops across the frontiers. There
were no strongly garrisoned fortresses, and not above three thousand
soldiers in the whole realm. No one even suspected that Frederick
would lay any claim to the territory, or that there was the slightest
danger of invasion. The complicated claim which he finally presented,
in official manifestoes, was founded upon transactions which had taken
place a hundred years before. In conversation with his friends he did
not lay much stress upon any legitimate title he had to the territory.
He frankly admitted, to quote his own words, that “ambition, interest,
the desire of making people talk about me, carried the day, and I
decided for war.”[37]

The general voice of history has severely condemned the Prussian king
for this invasion of Silesia. Frederick probably owed his life to the
interposition of the father of Maria Theresa, when the young prince
was threatened with the scaffold by his own father. Prussia was bound
by the most solemn guarantees to respect the integrity of the Austrian
states. There was seemingly a great want of magnanimity in taking
advantage of the extreme youth, inexperience, and delicate health
of the young queen, who was also embarrassed by an empty treasury
and a weakened and undisciplined army. Frederick had also made, in
his _Anti-Machiavel_, loud protestations of his love of justice and
magnanimity. Mr. Carlyle, while honestly stating these facts, still
does not blame Frederick for seizing the opportunity which the death of
the emperor presented for him to enlarge his dominions by plundering
the domain of Maria Theresa.

[Illustration: MAP OF SILESIA.]

“It is almost touching,” Mr. Carlyle writes, “to reflect how
unexpectedly, like a bolt out of the blue, all this had come upon
Frederick, and how it overset his fine programme for the winter at
Reinsberg, and for his life generally. Not the Peaceable magnanimities,
but the Warlike, are the thing appointed Frederick this winter, and
mainly henceforth. Those ‘golden or soft radiances’ which we saw
in him, admirable to Voltaire and to Frederick, and to an esurient
philanthropic world, it is not those, it is the ‘steel bright or
stellar kind’ that are to become predominant in Frederick’s existence;
grim hail-storms, thunders, and tornado for an existence to him instead
of the opulent genialities and halcyon weather anticipated by himself
and others.

“Indisputably enough to us, if not yet to Frederick, ‘Reinsberg and
Life to the Muses’ are done. On a sudden, from the opposite side of
the horizon, see miraculous Opportunity rushing hitherward; swift,
terrible, clothed with lightning like a courser of the gods; dare you
clutch _him_ by the thunder-mane, and fling yourself upon him, and make
for the Empyrean by that course rather? Be immediate about it, then;
the time is now or never! No fair judge can blame the young man that he
laid hold of the flaming Opportunity in this manner, and obeyed the new
omen. To seize such an Opportunity and perilously mount upon it was the
part of a young, magnanimous king, less sensible to the perils and more
to the other considerations than one older would have been.”[38]



  Deceptive Measures of Frederick.--Plans for the Invasion of Silesia.--
    Avowed Reasons for the Invasion.--The Ball in Berlin.--The March of
    the Army.--Hardships and Successes.--Letter to Voltaire.--Capture
    of Glogau.--Capture of Brieg.--Bombardment of Neisse.

With the utmost secrecy Frederick matured his plans. It could not
be concealed that he was about to embark in some important military
enterprise. The embassadors from other courts exerted all their
ingenuity, but in vain, to ascertain in what direction the army was to
march. Though the French had an embassador at Berlin, still it would
seem that Voltaire was sent as a spy, under the guise of friendship,
to attempt to ferret out the designs of the king. These men, who did
not profess any regard to the principles of religion, seem also to have
trampled under feet all the instincts of honor. Voltaire endeavored to
conceal his treachery beneath smiles and flattery, writing even love
verses to the king. The king kept his own secret. Voltaire was not a
little chagrined by his want of success. In his billet of leave he

   “Non, malgré vos vertus, non malgré vos appas,
        Mon âme n’est point satisfaite:
        Non, vous n’êtes qu’une coquette,
    Qui subjuguez les cœurs, et ne vous donnez pas.”[39]

Frederick, while equally complimentary, while lavishing gifts and
smiles upon his guest, to whom he had written that as there “could be
but one God, so there could be but one Voltaire,” wrote from Ruppin to
M. Jordan, on the 28th of November, just before Voltaire took his leave.

“Thy miser” (Voltaire) “shall drink to the lees of his insatiable
desire to enrich himself. He shall have the three thousand thalers
[$2250]. He was with me six days. That will be at the rate of five
hundred thalers [$375] a day. That is paying dearly for a fool. Never
had court fool such wages before.”

The Austrian envoy expressed to his court a suspicion that Silesia
might be threatened. The reply which came back was that the Austrian
court would not, and could not, believe that a prince who was under
such obligations to the father of Maria Theresa, and who had made such
loud professions of integrity and philanthropy, could be guilty of such
an outrage.

Frederick did what he could to divert the attention of the court at
Reinsberg by multiplying gayeties of every kind. There was feasting,
and music, and dancing, and theatric exhibitions, often continuing
until four o’clock in the morning. In the mean time couriers were
coming and going. Troops were moving. Provisions and the _materiel_
of war were accumulating. Anxious embassadors watched every movement
of the king’s hand, weighed every word which escaped his lips, and
tried every adroit measure to elicit from him his secret. The Danish
minister, Prätorius, wrote to his court from Berlin:

“From all persons who return from Reinsberg the unanimous report is
that the king works the whole day through with an assiduity which is
unique, and then, in the evening, gives himself to the pleasures of
society with a vivacity of mirth and sprightly humor, which makes those
evening parties charming.”

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,

“The worst which can happen to those who wish to travel in Silesia is
to get spattered with the mud.”

The English envoy, Sir Guy Dickens, being utterly baffled in all his
endeavors to discover the enterprise upon which the king was about to
embark, wrote to his court:

“Nobody here, great or small, dares make any representation to this
young prince against the measures he is pursuing, though all are
sensible of the confusion which must follow. A prince who had the least
regard to honor, truth, and justice, could not act the part he is going
to do. But it is plain his only view is to deceive us all, and conceal
for a while his ambitious and mischievous designs.”

Dickens at length ventured to ask the king directly, “What shall I
write to England?”

Frederick angrily replied, “You can have no instructions to ask that
question. And if you had, I have an answer ready for you. England has
no right to inquire into my designs. Your great sea armaments, did I
ask you any question about them? No! I was, and am, silent on that

By the 10th of December, within a fortnight of the time that the king
received the tidings of the death of the emperor, he had collected such
a force on the frontiers of Silesia that there could be no question
that the invasion of that province was intended. As not the slightest
preparation had been made on the part of Austria to meet such an event,
the king could with perfect ease overrun the province and seize all
its fortresses. But Austria was, in territory, resources, and military
power, vastly stronger than Prussia. It was therefore scarcely possible
that Frederick could hold the province, after he had seized it, unless
he could encourage others to dispute the succession of Maria Theresa,
and thus involve Europe in a general war. Frederick, having made all
his arrangements for prompt and vigorous action, sent to Maria Theresa
a message which could be regarded only as an insult:

“Surrender to me peaceably,” was the substance of this demand, “the
province of Silesia, and I will be the ally of your majesty in
maintaining your right to the throne, and in defending the integrity
of all the rest of your realms. I will exert my influence to have
the Grand-duke Francis[41] chosen Emperor of Germany, and will also
immediately pay one million of dollars into the Austrian treasury.”

An embassador, Count De Gotter, was sent to Vienna to present this
demand to Maria Theresa. He was authorized, in case these terms were
not accepted, to declare war. But in the mean time, _before the
count could possibly reach Vienna_, consequently before there was
any declaration of war, or even any demand presented, Frederick, at
the head of his troops, had entered Silesia, and was seizing its
defenseless fortresses.[42]

As the king was about to embark upon this enterprise, it was proposed
to place upon the banners the words “For God and our Country.” But
Frederick struck out the words “For God,” saying that it was improper
to introduce the name of the Deity into the quarrels of men, and that
he was embarking in war to gain a province, not for religion.[43] In a
brief speech to his soldiers he said,

“Gentlemen, I do not look upon you as my subjects, but as my friends.
The troops of Brandenburg have always signalized themselves by their
courage, and given, on different occasions, the fullest evidences of
their bravery. I shall be an eye-witness to all your exploits. You
will always fight in my presence. I will recompense those who shall
distinguish themselves for their zeal in my service rather as a father
than as a sovereign.”

In reference to this campaign the king subsequently wrote: “At the
death of the emperor there were but two Austrian regiments in Silesia.
Being determined to assert my right to that duchy, I was obliged to
make war during the winter, that I might make the banks of the Neisse
the scene of action. Had I waited till the spring, what we gained by
one single march would certainly have cost us three or four difficult

To the summons which Frederick sent to Maria Theresa, demanding the
surrender of Silesia, no response could be returned, consistent with
the dignity of the crown, but a peremptory refusal. The reply was
unanswerable in its logic. Though it was, in general, couched in
courteous terms, one sentence crept into it of rather scornful defiance.

“It seems strange,” said the Austrian minister of war, “that his
Prussian majesty, whose official post in Germany, as chamberlain of the
emperor, is to present the basin and towel to the house of Austria,
should now presume to prescribe rules to it.”

On Tuesday night, the 12th of December, 1740, there was a very splendid
masked ball in Berlin. The king and queen were both present. The mind
of the king was evidently preoccupied, though he endeavored to assume
an air of gayety. Privately quitting the ball at a late hour, he set
out, early in the morning, to place himself at the head of forty
thousand troops whom he had assembled near the Silesian frontier. A
small escort only accompanied him. It was a cold winter’s day. Driving
rapidly, they reached Frankfort that night, sixty miles distant. In
the dawn of the next day the king was again upon the road, and, after
a drive of forty miles, reached Crossen, a border town, where he
established his head-quarters.

Two Silesian barons called upon him, and presented a protest from
the authorities they represented against his meditated invasion, the
design of which was now manifest to all. The king received them very
courteously, tossed the protest to a secretary to file away or to cast
into the waste-paper basket, and invited the two gentlemen to dine with

The next day the Prussian army, in two divisions, occupying a space
about ten miles long and ten broad in the lines of march, crossed the
frontiers, and entered the Silesian territory.[45] Frederick issued a
proclamation declaring that he had come as a friend; that no one would
be molested in person, property, or religious privileges; and that
every thing used by the army would be amply paid for.

In very rapid march, the troops advanced through Grünberg toward
Glogau, about forty miles in the interior. Here there was a fortified
town, which was considered the key of Northern Silesia. It was but
feebly garrisoned, and was entirely unprepared for resistance. By great
exertions, the Austrian governor of the province, Count Wallis, and
his second in command, General Browne, succeeded in placing behind the
works a little garrison of one thousand men. The whole population was
summoned to work upon the ramparts. Count Wallis remained in Glogau.
General Browne took command of the troops and garrisons abroad. But
there was a division of sentiment within the walls. Quite a large
portion of the population was Protestant, and would be glad to come
under the protection of Protestant Prussia. The Catholics were zealous
for the continued reign of Austria.

The Prussian troops, meeting with no opposition, spread over the
country, and a strong division reached Weichau on Saturday, the 17th.
There they spent Sunday in rest. Frederick was anxious to win to
his cause the Protestant population. He consequently favored their
religious institutions, and ordered that Protestant worship should
be held in the villages which he occupied, and where there was no
Protestant church edifice, one part of the day in the Catholic
churches. This plan he continued through the campaign, much to the
gratification of the chaplains of his regiments and the Protestant
community in Silesia. Though the Austrian government had not
been particularly oppressive to the Protestants, still it leaned
decidedly against what it deemed heresy. The Jesuits, favored by the
governmental officials, were unwearied in their endeavors to promote
the interests of their Church. Frederick, by allowing the impression to
be spread abroad that he was the champion of Protestantism, was enabled
to secure the sympathies of quite a strong party in Silesia in his
favor. It is said that two thirds of the inhabitants of Silesia were
Protestants, and therefore favorable to Frederick.


In the suburbs of Glogau there was a Protestant church which Count
Wallis deemed it a military necessity to order to be burned down, lest
it should protect the Prussians in their attack. “The Prussians,”
said Wallis, “will make a block-house of it.” The Protestants pleaded
earnestly for a brief respite, and sent a delegation to Frederick to
intercede for the safety of their church. The king very courteously,
and with shrewd policy, replied,

“You are the first who have asked any favor of me on Silesian ground.
Your request shall be granted.”

Immediately he sent a polite note to Count Wallis, assuring him that
the attack, if attack were necessary, should be made on the other
side of the city, so that no military advantage could be taken of
the church. This popular act resounded widely not only through the
Protestant community of Silesia, but throughout Europe.

Monday morning, December 19th, the army was again on the move, now
spread out into a length of nearly fifteen miles, and even more than
that in breadth. Concentration was unnecessary, as there was no foe to
be encountered. The occupation of this wide area enabled Frederick to
take advantage of good roads, and also to obtain abundance of supplies.
Their advance led them in a southerly direction, up the western banks
of the Oder, which stream here runs nearly north.

It seems to be ever the doom of an army to encounter mud and rain.
It was cold, gloomy, December weather. The troops were drenched and
chilled by the floods continually falling from the clouds. The advance
of the army was over a flat country where the water stood in pools.
All day long, Monday and Tuesday, the rain continued to fall without
intermission. But the Prussian army, under its impetuous leader, paid
no regard to the antagonistic elements.

“Waters all out, bridges down,” writes Carlyle; “the country one wide
lake of eddying mud; up to the knee for many miles together; up to the
middle for long spaces; sometimes even to the chin or deeper, where
your bridge was washed away. The Prussians marched through it as if
they had been slate or iron. Rank and file--nobody quitted his rank,
nobody looked sour in the face--they took the pouring of the skies and
the red seas of terrestrial liquid as matters that must be; cheered one
another with jocosities, with choral snatches, and swashed unweariedly
forward. Ten hours some of them were out, their march being twenty or
twenty-five miles.”

They reached Milkau Tuesday night, the 20th. Here they were allowed
one day of rest, and Frederick gave each soldier a gratuity of about
fifteen cents. On Thursday the march was resumed, and the advance-guard
of the army was rapidly gathered around Glogau, behind whose walls
Count Wallis had posted his intrepid little garrison of a thousand men.
Here Frederick encountered his first opposition. The works were found
too strong to be carried by immediate assault, and Frederick had not
yet brought forward his siege cannon. The following extracts from the
correspondence which Frederick carried on at this time develop the
state of public sentiment, and the views and character of the king. His
friend Jordan, who had been left in Berlin, wrote to him as follows,
under date of December 14, 1740, the day after the king left to place
himself at the head of his army:

“Every body here is on tiptoe for the event, of which both origin and
end are a riddle to most. Those who, in the style of theologians,
consider themselves entitled to be certain, maintain that your majesty
is expected with religious impatience by the Protestants; and that the
Catholics hope to see themselves delivered from a multitude of imposts,
which cruelly tear up the beautiful bosom of their Church. You can not
but succeed in your valiant and stoical enterprise, since both religion
and worldly interest rank themselves under your flag. Wallis, they say,
has punished a Silesian heretic, of enthusiastic turn, as blasphemer,
for announcing that a new Messiah is just coming. I have a taste for
that kind of martyrdom. Critical persons consider the present step as
directly opposed to certain maxims in the _Anti-Machiavel_.”

Again M. Jordan wrote, a week later, on the 20th of December:

“The day before yesterday, in all churches, was prayer to Heaven for
success to your majesty’s arms, interest of the Protestant religion
being one cause of the war, or the only one assigned by the reverend
gentleman. At the sound of these words the zeal of the people kindles.
‘Bless God for raising such a defender! Who dared suspect our king’s
indifference to Protestantism?’”

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.

“Seigneur Jordan,” the king writes, “thy letter has given me a great
deal of pleasure in regard to all these talkings thou reportest.
To-morrow I arrive at our last station this side of Glogau, which place
I hope to get in a few days. All things favor my designs; and I hope
to return to Berlin, after executing them, gloriously, and in a way
to be content with. Let the ignorant and the envious talk. It is not
they who shall ever serve as load-star to my designs; not they, but
glory. With the love of that I am penetrated more than ever. My troops
have their hearts big with it, and I answer to thee for success. Adieu!
dear Jordan. Write me all the ill the public says of thy friend, and be
persuaded that I love and will esteem thee always.”

To Voltaire the king wrote, in a very similar strain, four days later,
on the 23d of December:

  “MY DEAR VOLTAIRE,--I have received two of your letters, but
  could not answer sooner. I am like Charles Twelfth’s chess king,
  who was always on the move. For a fortnight past we have been
  kept continually afoot and under way in such weather as you never

  “I am too tired to reply to your delightful verses, and shivering
  too much with cold to taste all the charm of them. But that will
  come round again. Do not ask poetry from a man who is actually
  doing the work of a wagoner, and sometimes even of a wagoner
  stuck in the mud. Would you like to know my way of life? We march
  from seven in the morning till four in the afternoon. I dine
  then; afterward I work--I receive tiresome visits; with these
  comes a detail of insipid matters of business. ’Tis wrong-headed
  men, punctiliously difficult, who are to be set right; heads
  too hot which must be restrained, idle fellows that must be
  urged, impatient men that must be rendered docile, plunderers
  to be restrained within the bounds of equity, babblers to hear
  babbling, dumb people to keep in talk; in fine, one has to drink
  with those that like it, to eat with those who are hungry; one
  has to become a Jew with Jews, a pagan with pagans. Such are my
  occupations, which I would willingly make over to another if the
  phantom they call glory did not rise on me too often. In truth,
  it is a great folly, but a folly difficult to cast away when once
  you are smitten by it.

  “Adieu, my dear Voltaire! May Heaven preserve from misfortune the
  man I should so like to sup with at night after fighting in the
  morning. Do not forget the absent who love you.


As we have mentioned, the army advanced mainly in two columns. While
the left was briefly delayed at Glogau, the right, under the command
of General Schwerin, was pushed rapidly forward a few leagues, to
Liegnitz. They reached the city, unexpectedly to its inhabitants,
just at the dawn of a drear, chill winter’s morning, the rain having
changed to freezing cold. It was Wednesday, December 28. The Prussian
grenadiers stole softly upon the slumbering sentinels, seized them,
and locked them in the guard-house. Then the whole column marched into
the heart of the city silently, without music, but with a tramp which
aroused all the sleepers in the streets through which they passed--many
of whom, in their night-caps, peered curiously out of their
chamber windows. Having reached the central square, or market-place,
the forces were concentrated, and the drums and bugles pealed forth
notes of triumph. The Prussian flag rose promptly from rampart and
tower. Liegnitz was essentially a Protestant town. The inhabitants,
who had received but few favors from the Catholic Austrian government,
welcomed their invaders with cautious demonstrations of joy.

Frederick, having completed the investment of Glogau, cutting off all
its supplies, left a sufficient detachment there to starve the city
into submission. There were about seven thousand inhabitants within the
walls--“a much-enduring, frugal, pious, and very desirable people.”
As it was probable that the feeble garrison, after a brief show of
resistance, would surrender, Frederick hastened in person, with all his
remaining available troops, toward Breslau, the capital of Silesia. On
the 27th he wrote to M. Jordan:

“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.”

With almost unprecedented rapidity Frederick pressed his troops along,
accomplishing “in three marches near upon seventy miles.” The course of
the Oder here is, in its general direction, northwest. The army marched
along its southwestern banks. On Saturday evening, the last day of the
year, the advance-guard took possession of the southern and western
suburbs of Breslau. The city, of one hundred thousand inhabitants, was
spread out over both banks of the stream. Frederick established his
headquarters at the palace of Pilsnitz, about five miles from the city.
There were many Protestants in Breslau, who rejoiced in the idea of
exchanging a Catholic for a Protestant government. It is said that some
of the sentinels on the walls would watch their opportunity and present
arms to the Prussian soldiers, and even at times exclaim, “Welcome,
dear sirs!”

Before sunrise Sunday morning the Prussians had seized upon many
important posts. About seven o’clock a flag of truce, or rather a
trumpeter, approached one of the gates, demanding admittance to
communicate to the chief magistrate of the city the intentions and
requisitions of the Prussian king. After some delay, two colonels were
admitted. They demanded the entire surrender of the city, and that
the authority of Frederick, the King of Prussia, should be recognized
instead of that of Maria Theresa, Queen of Austria. All their local
laws and customs were to be respected, and they were to be protected
in all their rights and privileges. Their own garrison should guard
the city. No Prussian soldier should enter the gates with other than
side-arms. The king himself, in taking possession of the city, should
be accompanied by a body-guard of but thirty men. The city council was
assembled to consider this summons, and thirty hours were spent in
anxious deliberation.

In the mean time Frederick took positions which commanded the three
gates on his, the southern, side of the river; constructed a bridge
of boats; and sent four hundred men across the stream, and made
preparations to force an entrance. At four o’clock in the afternoon
of Monday, not a gun having yet been fired, a messenger brought the
intelligence that the town would be surrendered. At eight o’clock the
next morning, Tuesday, 3d of January, 1741, the city authorities came
in their coaches, with much parade, to welcome their new sovereign. It
was a bitter cold morning. The king had ridden away to reconnoitre the
walls in their whole circuit. It was not until near noon that he was
prepared to accompany the officials to the palace which was made ready
for him. He then, on horseback, attended by his principal officers,
and followed by an imposing retinue, in a grand entrance, proudly took
possession of his easy conquest. He rode a very magnificent gray
charger, and wore his usual cocked hat and a blue cloak, both of which
were somewhat the worse for wear. Four footmen, gorgeously dressed in
scarlet, trimmed with silver lace, walked by the side of his horse.
The streets through which he passed were thronged, and the windows and
balconies were crowded with spectators of both sexes. Though Frederick
did not meet with an enthusiastic reception, he was very gracious,
bowing to the people on each side of the street, and saluting with much
courtesy those who seemed to be people of note.

On the evening of the 5th his Prussian majesty gave a grand ball. All
the nobility, high and low, were invited. The provident king arranged
that the expenses, which he was to defray, should not exceed half a
guinea for each guest. Early hours were fashionable in those days.
Frederick entered the assembly-rooms at six o’clock, and opened the
ball with a Silesian lady. He was very complaisant, and walked through
the rooms with a smile upon his countenance, conversing freely with
the most distinguished of his guests. About ten o’clock he silently
withdrew, but the dancing and feasting continued until a late hour.

The king exerted all his powers of fascination to gain the affections
of the people. Though he dismissed all the Austrian public
functionaries, and supplied their places by his own friends, he
continued to the Catholics their ancient privileges, and paid marked
attention to the bishop and his clergy. At the same time, he encouraged
the Protestants with the expectation that he would prove their especial
friend. At the assemblies which he gave each evening that he was in the
city, he lavished his smiles upon the ladies who were distinguished
either for exalted rank or for beauty. But there is no evidence that,
during this campaign, he wrote one line to his absent, neglected wife,
or that he expended one thought upon her.

About thirty miles southeast of Breslau is the pleasant little town
of Ohlau, situated in the delta formed by the junction of the Ohlau
River with the Oder. It was a place of some strength, and the Austrian
authorities had thrown into it a garrison of three hundred men.
Frederick appeared before its gates on the morning of January the 9th.
He immediately sent in the following summons to the garrison:

“If you make any resistance, you shall be treated as prisoners of war.
If you make no resistance, and promise not to serve against us, you may
march out of the city unmolested, with your arms.”

The surrender was made. Fifteen miles nearly east from Ohlau, on the
southern banks of the Oder, is the little town of Brieg. Frederick
approached it with divisions of his army on both sides of the river.
The country was flat and densely wooded. On the southern side, where
Frederick marched with the major part of his troops, it was traversed
by an admirably paved road. This was constructed one hundred and
fifty-six years before by one of the dukes of that realm. It was a
broad highway, paved with massive flat stones, climbing the mountains,
threading the valleys, traversing the plains--a road such as those
which the Romans constructed, and over which the legions of the Cæsars
tramped in their tireless conquests. This duke, in consequence of his
religious character, was called “George the Pious.” His devotional
spirit may be inferred from the following inscription, in Latin,
which he had engraved on a very massive monument, constructed in
commemoration of the achievement:

   “Others have made roads for us. We make them for posterity.
    But Christ has opened for us all a road to heaven.”[46]

On the 11th, Brieg was summoned to surrender. The prompt and resolute
response was “_No_.” The place was found unexpectedly strong, and a
gallant little garrison of sixteen hundred men had been assembled
behind its walls. Frederick was much annoyed by the delay thus
occasioned. He promptly invested the city so as to cut off all
supplies, and dispatched an order to Glogau to have the field artillery
sent, as speedily as possible, up the Oder to Brieg.

Two days before Frederick reached Brieg, a column of his army, under
General Schwerin, which had advanced by a line parallel to the Oder,
but several miles to the west, encountering no opposition, reached
Ottmachau, a considerable town with a strong castle on the River
Neisse. This was near the extreme southern border of Silesia. The
Austrian commander, General Browne, had placed here also a garrison
of sixteen hundred men, with orders not to yield upon any terms, for
that re-enforcements should be speedily sent to them. A slight conflict
ensued. Twelve of the Prussians were killed. This was the first blood
which was shed. A delay of three days took place, when four cannon were
brought up, and the gates, both of the town and of the castle, were
blown open. The garrison offered to withdraw upon the terms proposed in
the summons to surrender. The king was sent for to obtain his decision.
He rebuked the garrison sternly, and held all as prisoners of war. The
officers were sent to Cüstrin, the common soldiers to Berlin.

Preparations were now made for the capture of Neisse. This was an
opulent, attractive, well-fortified town of about seven thousand
inhabitants. It then occupied only the left or north bank of the
stream, which runs from the west to the east. The region around, being
highly cultivated, presented a beautiful aspect of rich meadows,
orchards, and vineyards. It was the chief fortress of Southern Silesia,
and, being very near the frontier of Austria proper, was a position of
great importance. Frederick, having encountered so little opposition
thus far, was highly elated, expecting that Neisse would also
immediately fall into his hands. From Ottmachau he wrote, on the 14th
of January, to M. Jordan as follows:

“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]

Three days after, on the 17th, the king wrote again to M. Jordan:

“I have the honor to inform your humanity that we are Christianly
preparing to bombard Neisse; and that, if the place will not surrender
of good-will, needs must that it be beaten to powder. For the rest,
our affairs go the best in the world; and soon thou wilt hear nothing
more of us, for in ten days it will all be over, and I shall have the
pleasure of seeing you and hearing you in about a fortnight.

“I have seen neither my brother[48] nor Keyserling.[49] I left them at
Breslau, not to expose them to the dangers of war. They perhaps will be
a little angry, but what can I do? the rather as, on this occasion, one
can not share in the glory unless one is a mortar!

“Adieu; go and amuse yourself with Horace, study Pausanias, and be gay
over Anacreon. As to me, who for amusement have nothing but merlons,
fascines, and gabions, I pray God to grant me soon a pleasanter and
peacefuler occupation, and you health, satisfaction, and whatever your
heart desires.”

A letter of the same date as the above, addressed to Count
Algarotti,[50] contains the following expressions:

“I have begun to settle the figure of Prussia. The outline will be
altogether regular; for the whole of Silesia is taken in except one
miserable hamlet, which perhaps I shall have to keep blockaded until
next spring. Up to this time the whole conquest has cost me only twenty
men and two officers.

“You are greatly wanting to me here. In all these three hundred miles I
have found no human creature comparable to the Swan of Padua. I would
willingly give ten cubic leagues of ground for a genius similar to
yours. But I perceive I was about entreating you to return fast, and
join me again, while you are not yet arrived where your errand was.
Make haste to arrive then, to execute your commission, and fly back to
me. I wish you had a Fortunatus hat; it is the only thing defective in
your outfit.

“Adieu, dear Swan of Padua. Think, I pray, sometimes of those who are
getting themselves cut in slices for the sake of glory here; and, above
all, do not forget your friends who think a thousand times of you.”

The River Neisse is quite narrow. In preparation for the bombardment,
Frederick planted his batteries on the south side of the stream, and
also approached the city from the north. It will be remembered that
Frederick had an army in Silesia at his command of about forty thousand
men, abundantly provided with all the munitions of war. The little
Austrian garrison hurriedly thrown into Neisse consisted of but sixteen
hundred men, but poorly prepared either for battle or for siege. The
Austrian commandant, General Roth, determined upon a heroic resistance.
To deprive the assailants of shelter, the torch was applied to all
the beautiful suburbs. In a few hours the cruel flames destroyed the
labor of ages. Many once happy families were impoverished and rendered
homeless. Ashes, blackened walls, and smouldering ruins took the place
of gardens, villas, and comfortable homes.

On Sunday morning, January 15th, the deadly, concentric fire of shot
and shell was opened upon the crowded city, where women and children,
torn by war’s merciless missiles, ran to and fro frantic with terror.
The dreadful storm continued to rage, with but few intermissions,
until Wednesday. Still there were no signs of surrender. The king,
though his head-quarters were a few miles distant, at Ottmachau, was
almost constantly on the ground superintending every thing. As he felt
sure of the entire conquest of Silesia, the whole province being now
in his possession except three small towns, he looked anxiously upon
the destruction which his own balls and bombs were effecting. He was
destroying his own property.

On Wednesday morning General Borck was sent toward the gates of the
city, accompanied by a trumpeter, who, with bugle blasts, was to summon
General Roth to a parley. General Borck was instructed to inform the
Austrian commander that if he surrendered immediately he should be
treated with great leniency, but that if he persisted in his defense
the most terrible severity should be his doom. To the people of Neisse
it was a matter of but very little moment whether they were under
Austrian or Prussian domination. They would gladly accede to any terms
which would deliver them from the dreadful bombardment. General Roth,
therefore, would not allow what we should call the flag of truce to
approach the gates. He opened fire upon General Borck so as not to
wound him, but as a warning that he must approach no nearer. The king
was greatly angered by this result.

[Illustration: ATTACK UPON NEISSE.]

In burning the suburbs, one of the mansions of the bishop, a few miles
from Neisse, had escaped the general conflagration. The Prussians had
taken possession of this large and commodious structure, with its
ample supply of winter fuel. General Roth employed a resolute butcher,
who, under the pretense of supplying the Prussians with beef, visited
the bishop’s mansion, and secretly applied the torch. It was a cold
winter’s night. The high wind fanned the flames. Scarcely an hour
passed ere the whole structure, with all its supplies, was in ashes.
The Prussian officers who had found a warm home were driven into the
icy fields.

These two events so exasperated his Prussian majesty that the next
morning, at an early hour, he reopened upon the doomed city with
renewed vigor his fire of bombshells and red-hot shot. Fire companies
were organized throughout the city, to rush with their engines wherever
the glowing balls descended, and thus the flames which frequently burst
out were soon extinguished. All day Thursday, Thursday night, Friday,
and until nine in the morning of Saturday, the tempest of battle, with
occasional lulls, hurled its bolts and uttered its thunders. There was
then a short rest until four o’clock on Sunday afternoon, when the
batteries again opened their action more vigorously than ever, nine
bombs being often in the air at the same time.

Frederick, not willing utterly to destroy the city, which he wished
to preserve for himself, and perhaps, though no word of his indicates
it, influenced by some sympathy for the seven thousand unoffending
inhabitants of the place, men, women, and children, very many of whom
were Protestants, who were suffering far more from the missiles of
war than the Austrian garrison, arrested the fire of his batteries,
and decided to convert the siege into a blockade. His own troops were
suffering much in the bleak fields swept by the gales of winter. The
whole of Silesia was in his hands excepting the small towns of Brieg,
Glogau, and Neisse. These were so closely invested that neither food
nor re-enforcements could be introduced to them. Should they hold out
until spring, Frederick could easily then, aided by the warm weather,
break open their gates.

He therefore spread his troops abroad in winter quarters, levying
contributions upon the unhappy inhabitants of Silesia for their
support. The king, ever prompt in his movements, having on Monday, the
23d of January, converted the siege into a blockade, on Wednesday,
the 25th, set out for home. Visiting one or two important posts by
the way, he reached Berlin the latter part of the week. Here he was
received with great acclamations as a conquering hero. In six weeks he
had overrun Silesia, and had virtually annexed it to his own realms.
Whether Austria would quietly submit to this robbery, and whether
Frederick would be able to retain his conquest, were questions yet to
be decided.



  Embarrassments of Frederick.--Attempts a Compromise.--New Invasion
    of Silesia.--Intrigues for the Imperial Crown.--Rivalry between
    England and France.--Death of Anne of Russia.--Energy of
    Austria.--Narrow Escape of Frederick.--Frederick’s Antipathy to
    Christianity.--Capture of Glogau.--Peril of Frederick.--The Siege
    of Neisse.

Frederick, returning to Berlin from his six weeks’ campaign in Silesia,
remained at home but three weeks. He had recklessly let loose the dogs
of war, and must already have begun to be appalled in view of the
possible results. His embassadors at the various courts had utterly
failed to secure for him any alliance. England and some of the other
powers were manifestly unfriendly to him. Like Frederick himself, they
were all disposed to consult merely their own individual interests.
Thus influenced, they looked calmly on to see how Frederick, who had
thrown into the face of the young Queen of Austria the gage of battle,
would meet the forces which she, with great energy, was marshaling in
defense of her realms. Frederick was manifestly and outrageously in the

The chivalry of Europe was in sympathy with the young and beautiful
queen, who, inexperienced, afflicted by the death of her father, and
about to pass through the perils of maternity, had been thus suddenly
and rudely assailed by one who should have protected her with almost
a brother’s love and care. Every court in Europe was familiar with
the fact that the father of Maria Theresa had not only humanely
interceded, in the most earnest terms, for the life of Frederick, but
had interposed his imperial authority’ to rescue him from the scaffold,
with which he was threatened by his unnatural parent. Frederick found
that he stood quite alone, and that he had nothing to depend upon but
his own energies and those of his compact, well-disciplined army.

It would seem that Frederick was now disposed to compromise. He
authorized the suggestion to be made to the court at Vienna by his
minister, Count Gotter, that he was ready to withdraw from his
enterprise, and to enter into alliance with Austria, if the queen would
surrender to him the duchy of Glogau only, which was but a small part
of Silesia. But to these terms the heroic young queen would not listen.
She justly regarded them but as the proposition of the highway robber,
who offers to leave one his watch if he will peaceably surrender his
purse. Whatever regrets Frederick might have felt in view of the
difficulties in which he found himself involved, not the slightest
indication of them is to be seen in his correspondence. He had passed
the Rubicon. And now he summoned all his energies--such energies as
the world has seldom, if ever, witnessed before, to carry out the
enterprise upon which he had so recklessly entered, and from which he
could not without humiliation withdraw.

On the 19th of February, 1741, Frederick, having been at home but three
weeks, again left Berlin with re-enforcements, increasing his army of
invasion to sixty thousand men, to complete the conquest of Silesia by
the capture of the three fortresses which still held out against him.
On the 21st he reached Glogau. After carefully reconnoitring the works,
he left directions with Prince Leopold of Dessau, who commanded the
Prussian troops there, to press the siege with all possible vigor. He
was fearful that Austrian troops might soon arrive to the relief of the

The king then hastened on to Schweidnitz, a few miles west from
Breslau. This was a small town, strongly fortified, about equally
distant from the three beleaguered fortresses--Neisse, Brieg, and
Glogau. The young monarch was daily becoming more aware that he had
embarked in an enterprise which threatened him with fearful peril.
He had not only failed to secure a single ally, but there were
indications that England and other powers were in secret deliberation
to join against him. He soon learned that England had sent a gift
or loan of a million of dollars--a large sum in those days--to
replenish the exhausted treasury of Maria Theresa. His minister in
Russia also transmitted to him an appalling rumor that a project was
in contemplation by the King of England, the King of Poland, Anne,
regent of Russia, and Maria Theresa, to unite, and so partition the
Prussian kingdom as to render the ambitious Frederick powerless to
disturb the peace of Europe. The general motives which influenced
the great monarchies in the stupendous war which was soon evolved are
sufficiently manifest. But these motives led to a complication of
intrigues which it would be alike tedious and unprofitable to attempt
to unravel.

Frederick wished to enlarge his Liliputian realms, and become one of
the powers of Europe. This he could only do by taking advantage of the
apparent momentary weakness of Austria, and seizing a portion of the
territory of the young queen. In order to accomplish this, it was for
his interest to oppose the election of Maria Theresa’s husband, the
Grand-duke Francis, as emperor. The imperial crown placed upon the
brow of Francis would invest Austria with almost resistless power.
Still, Frederick was ready to promise his earnest concurrence in this
arrangement if Maria Theresa would surrender to him Silesia. He had
even moderated his terms, as we have mentioned, to a portion of the

France had no fear of Prussia. Even with the addition of Silesia,
it would be comparatively a feeble realm. But France did fear the
supremacy of Austria over Europe. It was for the apparent interest
of the court of Versailles that Austria should be weakened, and,
consequently, that the husband of the queen should not be chosen
Emperor of Germany. Therefore France was coming into sympathy with
Frederick, and was disposed to aid him in his warfare against Austria.

England was the hereditary foe of France. It was one of the
leading objects in her diplomacy to circumvent that power. “Our
great-grandfathers,” writes Carlyle, “lived in perpetual terror that
they would be devoured by France; that French ambition would overset
the Celestial Balance, and proceed next to eat the British nation.”
Strengthening Austria was weakening France. Therefore the sympathies
of England were strongly with Austria. In addition to this, personal
feelings came in. The puerile little king, George II., hated implacably
his nephew, Frederick of Prussia, which hatred Frederick returned with

Spain was at war with England, and was ready to enter into an alliance
with any power which would aid her in her struggle with that formidable
despot of the seas.

The Czarina, Anne of Russia, died the 28th of October, 1740, just
eight days after the death of the emperor. She left, in the cradle,
the infant Czar Iwan, her nephew, two months old. The father of
this child was a brother of Frederick’s neglected wife Elizabeth.
The mother was the Russian Princess Catharine of Mecklenburg, now
called Princess Anne, whom Frederick had at one time thought of
applying for as his wife. Russia was a semi-barbaric realm just
emerging into consideration, and no one could tell by what influences
it would be swayed. The minor powers could be controlled by the
greater--constrained by terror or led by bribes. Such, in general, was
the state of Europe at this time.

Austria was rapidly marshaling her hosts, and pouring them through the
defiles of the mountains to regain Silesia. Her troops still held three
important fortresses--Neisse, Brieg, and Glogau. These places were,
however, closely blockaded by the Prussians. Though it was midwinter,
bands of Austrian horsemen were soon sweeping in all directions, like
local war tempests borne on the wings of the wind. Wherever there was
an unprotected baggage-train, or a weakly-defended post, they came
swooping down to seize their prey, and vanished as suddenly as they had
appeared. Their numbers seemed to be continually increasing. All the
roads were swept by these swarms of irregulars, who carefully avoided
any serious engagement, while they awaited the approach of the Austrian
army, which was gathering its strength to throw down to Frederick the
gauntlet on an open field of battle.

Much to Frederick’s chagrin, he soon learned that a body of three
hundred foot and three hundred horse, cautiously approaching through
by-paths in the mountains, had thrown itself into Neisse, to strengthen
the garrison there. This was on the 5th of March. But six days before
a still more alarming event had occurred. On the 27th of February,
Frederick, with a small escort, not dreaming of danger, set out to
visit two small posts in the vicinity of Neisse. He stopped to dine
with a few of his officers in the little village of Wartha, while the
principal part of the detachment which accompanied him continued its
movement to Baumgarten.


The leader of an Austrian band of five hundred dragoons was on the
watch. As the detachment of one hundred and fifty horse approached
Baumgarten, the Austrians, from their ambuscade, plunged upon them.
There was a short, sharp conflict, when the Prussians fled, leaving
ten dead, sixteen prisoners, one standard, and two kettle-drums in the
hands of the victors. The king had just sat down at the dinner-table,
when he heard, at the distance of a few miles, the tumult of the
musketry. He sprang from the table, hurriedly mustered a small force of
forty hussars and fifty foot, and hastened toward the scene. Arriving
at the field, he found it silent and deserted, and the ten men lying
dead upon it. The victorious Austrians, disappointed in not finding
the king, bore their spoils in triumph to Vienna. It was a very narrow
escape for Frederick. Had he then been captured it might have changed
the history of Europe, and no one can tell the amount of blood and woe
which would have been averted.

It is perhaps not strange that Frederick should have imbibed a strong
feeling of antipathy to Christianity. In his father’s life he had
witnessed only its most repulsive caricature. While making the loudest
protestations of piety, Frederick William, in his daily conduct,
had manifested mainly only every thing that is hateful and of bad
report. Still, it is quite evident that Frederick was not blind to the
distinction between the principles of Christianity as taught by Jesus
and developed in his life, and the conduct of those who, professing
his name, trampled those principles beneath their feet. In one of his
letters to Voltaire, dated Cirey, August 26, 1736, Frederick wrote:

“May you never be disgusted with the sciences by the quarrels of their
cultivators; a race of men no better than courtiers; often enough as
greedy, intriguing, false, and cruel as these.

“And how sad for mankind that the very interpreters of Heaven’s
commandments--the theologians, I mean--are sometimes the most
dangerous of all! professed messengers of the Divinity, yet men
sometimes of obscure ideas and pernicious behavior, their soul blown
out with mere darkness, full of gall and pride in proportion as it is
empty of truths. Every thinking being who is not of their opinion is
an atheist; and every king who does not favor them will be damned.
Dangerous to the very throne, and yet intrinsically insignificant.

“I respect metaphysical ideas. Rays of lightning they are in the midst
of deep night. More, I think, is not to be hoped from metaphysics. It
does not seem likely that the first principles of things will ever be
known. The mice that nestle in some little holes of an immense building
know not whether it is eternal, or who the architect, or why he built
it. Such mice are we. And the divine architect has never, that I know
of, told his secret to one of us.”

Notwithstanding these sentiments, the king sent throughout Silesia a
supply of sixty Protestant preachers, ordained especially for the
work. Though Frederick himself did not wish to live in accordance with
the teachings of Jesus Christ, it is very evident that he did not fear
the influence of that Gospel upon his Silesian subjects. Very wisely
the Protestant preachers were directed carefully to avoid giving any
offense to the Catholics. They were to preach in barns and town-halls
in places where there was no Protestant church. The salary of each
was one hundred and fifty dollars a year, probably with rations. They
were all placed under the general superintendence of one of the army

Every day it became more clear that Maria Theresa was resolved not to
part with one inch of her territory, and that the Austrian court was
thoroughly roused in its determination to drive the intrusive Prussians
out of Silesia. Though Frederick had no scruples of conscience to
prevent him from seizing a portion of the domains of Maria Theresa,
his astonishment and indignation were alike aroused by the rumor that
England, Poland, and Russia were contemplating the dismemberment of his
realms. An army of thirty-six thousand men, under the old Duke Leopold
of Dessau,[51] was immediately dispatched by Frederick to Götten, on
the frontiers of Hanover, to seize upon that Continental possession
of the King of England upon the slightest indication of a hostile
movement. George II. was greatly alarmed by this menace.

Frederick found himself plunged into the midst of difficulties and
perils which exacted to the utmost his energies both of body and of
mind. Every moment was occupied in strengthening his posts, collecting
magazines, recruiting his forces, and planning to circumvent the foe.
From the calm of Reinsberg he found himself suddenly tossed by the
surges of one of the most terrible tempests of conflict which a mortal
ever encountered. Through night and storm, almost without sleep and
without food, drenched and chilled, he was galloping over the hills
and through the valleys, climbing the steeples, fording the streams,
wading the morasses, involved in a struggle which now threatened even
the crown which he had so recently placed upon his brow. Had Frederick
alone suffered, but few tears of sympathy would have been shed in his
behalf; but his ambition had stirred up a conflict which was soon to
fill all Europe with the groans of the dying, the tears of the widow,
the wailings of the orphan.

Frederick deemed it of great importance to gain immediate possession
of Glogau. It was bravely defended by the Austrian commander, Count
Wallis, and there was hourly danger that an Austrian army might
appear for its relief. Frederick, in the intensity of his anxiety,
as he hurried from post to post, wrote from every stopping-place
to young Leopold, whom he had left in command of the siege, urging
him immediately to open the trenches, concentrate the fire of
his batteries, and to carry the place by storm. “I have clear
intelligence,” he wrote, “that troops are actually on the way for the
rescue of Glogau.” Each note was more imperative than the succeeding
one. On the 6th of March he wrote from Ohlau:

“I am certainly informed that the enemy will make some attempt. I
hereby, with all distinctness, command that, so soon as the petards are
come, you attack Glogau. And you must make your dispositions for more
than one attack, so that if one fail the other shall certainly succeed.
I hope you will put off no longer. Otherwise the blame of all the
mischief that might arise out of longer delay must lie on you alone.”

On the 8th of March Leopold summoned all his generals at noon, and
informed them that Glogau, at all hazards, must be taken that very
night. The most minute directions were given to each one. There were
to be three attacks--one up the river on its left bank, one down the
river on its right bank, and one on the land side perpendicular to the
other two. The moment the clock on the big steeple in Glogau should
give the first stroke of midnight, the three columns were to start.
Before the last stroke should be given they were all to be upon the
silent, rapid advance.

Count Wallis, who was intrusted with the defense of the place, had
a garrison of about a thousand men, with fifty-eight heavy guns and
several mortars, and a large amount of ammunition. Glogau was in the
latitude of fifty-two, nearly six degrees north of Quebec. It was a
cold wintry night. The ground was covered with snow. Water had been
thrown upon the glacis, so that it was slippery with ice. Prince
Leopold in person led one of the columns. The sentinels upon the walls
were not alarmed until three impetuous columns, like concentrating
tornadoes, were sweeping down upon them. They shouted “To arms!” The
soldiers, roused from sleep, rushed to their guns. Their lightning
flashes were instantly followed by war’s deepest thunders, as discharge
followed discharge in rapid succession.

But the assailants were already so near the walls that the shot
passed harmlessly over their heads. Without firing a gun or uttering
a sound, these well-drilled soldiers of Frederick William hewed down
the palisades, tore out the chevaux-de-frise, and clambered over the
glacis. With axe and petard they burst open the gates and surged into
the city.

In one short hour the gallant deed was done. But ten of the assailants
were killed and forty-eight wounded. The loss of the Austrians was
more severe. The whole garrison, one thousand sixty-five in number,
and their _materiel_ of war, consisting of fifty brass cannons,
a large amount of ammunition, and the military chest, containing
thirty-two thousand florins, fell into the hands of the victors. To the
inhabitants of Glogau it was a matter of very little moment whether the
Austrian or the Prussian banner floated over their citadel. Neither
party paid much more regard to the rights of the people than they did
to those of the mules and the horses.

But to Frederick the importance of the achievement was very great. The
exploit was justly ascribed to his general direction. Thus he obtained
a taste of that military renown which he had so greatly coveted. The
king was, at this time, at his head-quarters at Schweidnitz, about one
hundred and twenty miles from Glogau. A courier, dispatched immediately
from the captured town, communicated to him, at five o’clock in the
afternoon, the glad tidings of the brilliant victory.

Frederick was overjoyed. In the exuberance of his satisfaction, he
sent Prince Leopold a present of ten thousand dollars. To each private
soldier he gave half a guinea, and to the officers sums in proportion.
To the old Duke of Dessauer, father of the young Prince Leopold, he

[Illustration: THE ASSAULT ON GLOGAU.]

“The more I think of the Glogau business the more important I find it.
Prince Leopold has achieved the prettiest military stroke that has been
done in this century. From my heart I congratulate you on having such
a son. In boldness of resolution, in plan, in execution, it is alike
admirable, and quite gives a turn to my affairs.”

Leaving a sufficient force to garrison Glogau, the king ordered all
the remaining regiments to be distributed among the other important
posts; while Prince Leopold, in high favor, joined the king at
Schweidnitz, to assist in the siege of Neisse. Frederick rapidly
concentrated his forces for the capture of Neisse before the Austrian
army should march for its relief. He thought that the Austrians would
not be able to take the field before the snow should disappear and the
new spring grass should come, affording forage for their horses.


But General Neipperg, the Austrian commander-in-chief, proved as
watchful, enterprising, and energetic as Frederick. His scouting bands
swarmed in all directions. The Prussian foraging parties were cut off,
their reconnoitrers were driven back, and all the movements of the
main body of the Austrian army were veiled from their view. General
Neipperg, hearing of the fall of Glogau, decided, notwithstanding the
inclemency of the weather and the snow, to march immediately, with
thirty thousand men, to the relief of Neisse. His path led through
mountain defiles, over whose steep and icy roads his heavy guns and
lumbering ammunition-wagons were with difficulty drawn.

At the same time, Frederick, unaware of the movement of the Austrians,
prepared to push the siege of Neisse with the utmost vigor. Leaving
some of his ablest generals to conduct the operations there, Frederick
himself marched, with strong re-enforcements, to strengthen General
Schwerin, who was stationed among the Jagerndorf hills, on the southern
frontier of Silesia, to prevent the Austrians from getting across the
mountains. Marching from Ottmachau, the king met General Schwerin at
Neustadt, half way to Jagerndorf, and they returned together to that
place. But the swarming horsemen of General Neipperg were so bold
and watchful that no information could be obtained of the situation
or movements of the Austrian army. Frederick, seeing no indications
that General Neipperg was attempting to force his way through the
snow-encumbered defiles of the mountains, prepared to return, and, with
his concentrated force, press with all vigor the siege of Neisse.

As he was upon the point of setting off, seven Austrian deserters
came in and reported that General Neipperg’s full army was advancing
at but a few miles’ distance. Even as they were giving their report,
sounds of musketry and cannon announced that the Prussian outposts
were assailed by the advance-guard of the foe. The peril of Frederick
was great. Had Neipperg known the prize within his reach, the escape
of the Prussian king would have been almost impossible. Frederick had
but three or four thousand men with him at Jagerndorf, and only three
pieces of artillery, with forty rounds of ammunition. Bands of Austrian
cavalry on fleet horses were swarming all around him. Seldom, in the
whole course of his life, had Frederick been placed in a more critical

It was soon ascertained that the main body of the Austrian army was
fifteen miles to the southwest, at Freudenthal, pressing on toward
Neisse. General Neipperg, without the slightest suspicion that
Frederick was any where in his vicinity, had sent aside a reconnoitring
party of skirmishers to ascertain if there were any Prussians at
Jagerndorf. General Neipperg, at Freudenthal, was as near Neisse as
Frederick was at Jagerndorf.

There was not a moment to be lost. General Neipperg was moving
resolutely forward with a cloud of skirmishers in the advance and on
his wings. With the utmost exertions Frederick immediately rendezvoused
all his remote posts, destroying such stores as could not hastily be
removed, and by a forced march of twenty-five miles in one day reached
Neustadt. General Neipperg was marching by a parallel road about twenty
miles west of that which the Prussians traversed. At Neustadt the king
was still twenty miles from Neisse. With the delay of but a few hours,
that he might assemble all the Prussian bands from the posts in that
neighborhood, the king again resumed his march. He had no longer any
hope of continuing the siege of Neisse. His only aim was to concentrate
all his scattered forces, which had been spread over an area of nearly
two thousand square miles, and, upon some well-selected field, to trust
to the uncertain issues of a general battle. There was no choice left
for him between this course and an ignominious retreat.

Therefore, instead of marching upon Neisse, the king directed his
course to Steinau, twenty miles east of Neisse. The siege was
abandoned, and the whole Prussian army, so far as was possible, was
gathered around the king. On the 5th of April Frederick established his
head-quarters at Steinau. On that same day, General Neipperg, with the
advanced corps of his army, triumphantly entered Neisse. Apprehensive
of an immediate attack, Frederick made all his arrangements for a
battle. In the confusion of those hours, during which the whole
Prussian army, with all its vast accumulation of artillery and
baggage-wagons, was surging like an inundation through the streets of
Steinau, the village took fire and was burned to ashes. With great
difficulty the artillery and powder were saved, being entangled in the
narrow streets while the adjoining houses were enveloped in flames.
The night was intensely cold. The Prussian army bivouacked in the open
frozen fields.

General Neipperg, as his men were weary with their long march, did
not make an attack, but allowed his troops a short season of repose
in the enjoyment of the comforts of Neisse. The next morning, the
6th, Frederick continued his retreat to Friedland, ten miles farther
north. He was anxious to get between the Austrians and Ohlau. He
had many pieces of artillery there, and large stores of ammunition,
which would prove a rich prize to the Austrians. It was Frederick’s
intention to cross the River Neisse at a bridge at Sorgau, eight miles
from Friedland; but the officer in charge there had been compelled to
destroy the bridge, to protect himself from the Austrian horsemen,
who in large numbers had appeared upon the opposite banks. Prince
Leopold was sent with the artillery and a strong force to reconstruct
the bridge and force the passage, but the Austrian dragoons were
encountered in such numbers that the enterprise was found impossible.

Frederick therefore decided to march down the river twenty miles
farther, to Lowen, where there was a good bridge. To favor the
operation, Prince Leopold, with large divisions of the army and much
of the baggage, was to cross the Neisse on pontoons at Michelau, a
few miles above Lowen. Both passages were successfully accomplished,
and the two columns effected a junction on the west side of the river
on the 8th of April. The blockade of Brieg was abandoned, and its
blockading force united with the general army.

General Neipperg had now left Neisse; but he kept himself so surrounded
by clouds of skirmishers as to render his march entirely invisible.
Frederick, anxious to unite with him his troops under the Prince
of Holstein Beck, advanced toward Grottkau to meet that division,
which had been ordered to join him. The prince had been stationed at
Frankenstein, with a force of about eight thousand, horse and foot; but
the Austrian scouts so occupied all the roads that the king had not
been able to obtain any tidings from him whatever.

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 Austrian 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.


Instantly the Prussian troops were ordered to the right about.
Rapidly retracing their steps through the streets of Leipe, much to
the surprise of its inhabitants, they pressed on seven miles farther
toward Ohlau, and encamped for the night. The anxiety of Frederick in
these hours when he was retiring before the foe, and when there was
every probability of his incurring disgrace instead of gaining honor,
must have been dreadful. There was no sleep for him that night. The
Prussians were almost surrounded by the Austrians, and it was quite
certain that the morrow would usher in a battle. Oppressed by the peril
of his position, the king, during the night, wrote to his brother
Augustus William, who was at Breslau, as follows. The letter was dated
at the little village of Pogerell, where the king had taken shelter.

  “MY DEAREST BROTHER,--The enemy has just got into Silesia. We
  are not more than a mile from them. To-morrow must decide our
  fortune. If I die, do not forget a brother who has always loved
  you most tenderly. I recommend to you my most dear mother, my
  domestics, and my first battalion. Eichel and Schuhmacher are
  informed of all my testamentary wishes.

  “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.

  “I bequeath eight thousand crowns ($6000) to my domestics. All
  that I have elsewhere depends on you. To each of my brothers
  and sisters make a present in my name; a thousand affectionate
  regards to my sister at Baireuth. You know what I think on their
  score; and you know, better than I can tell you, the tenderness
  and all the sentiments of most inviolable friendship with which I
  am, dearest brother, your faithful brother and servant till death,


To his friend Jordan, who was also in Breslau, he wrote:

  “MY DEAR JORDAN,--We are going to fight to-morrow. Thou knowest
  the chances of war. The life of kings is not more regarded than
  that of private people. I know not what will happen to me.

  “If my destiny is finished, remember a friend who loves thee
  always tenderly. If Heaven prolong my days, I will write to thee
  after to-morrow, and thou shalt hear of our victory. Adieu, dear
  friend; I shall love thee till death.


It is worthy of notice that there is no indication that the king sent
any word of affectionate remembrance to his neglected wife. It is a
remarkable feature in the character of the Emperor Napoleon I. that in
his busiest campaigns rarely did a day pass in which he did not write
to Josephine. He often wrote to her twice a day.

Sunday morning, the 9th, dawned luridly. The storm raged unabated. The
air was so filled with the falling snow that one could not see the
distance of twenty paces, and the gale was piling up large drifts on
the frozen plains. Neither army could move. Neipperg was in advance
of Frederick, and had established his head-quarters at the village
of Mollwitz, a few miles northwest of Pogerell. He had therefore got
fairly between the Prussians and Ohlau. But Frederick knew not where
the Austrian army was. For six-and-thirty hours the wild storm drove
both Prussians and Austrians to such shelter as could be obtained in
the several hamlets which were scattered over the extended plain.

Frederick dispatched messengers to Ohlau to summon the force there to
his aid; the messengers were all captured. The Prussians were now in
a deplorable condition. The roads were encumbered and rendered almost
impassable by the drifted snow. The army was cut off from its supplies,
and had provisions on hand but for a single day. Both parties alike
plundered the poor inhabitants of their cattle, sheep, and grain. Every
thing that could burn was seized for their camp-fires. We speak of
the carnage of the battle-field, and often forget the misery which is
almost invariably brought upon the helpless inhabitants of the region
through which the armies move. The schoolmaster of Mollwitz, a kind,
simple-hearted, accurate old gentleman, wrote an account of the scenes
he witnessed. Under date of Mollwitz, Sunday, April 9, he writes:

“Country, for two days back, was in new alarm by the Austrian garrison
of Brieg, now left at liberty, who sallied out upon the villages about,
and plundered black cattle, sheep, grain, and whatever they could come
at. But this day in Mollwitz the whole Austrian army was upon us. First
there went three hundred hussars through the village to Grüningen, who
quartered themselves there, and rushed hither and thither into houses,
robbing and plundering. From one they took his best horses; from
another they took linen, clothes, and other furnitures and victual.

“General Neipperg halted here at Mollwitz with the whole army before
the village, in mind to quarter. And quarter was settled, so that a
plow-farmer got four to five companies to lodge, and a spade-farmer two
or three hundred cavalry. The houses were full of officers, and the
fields full of horsemen and baggage; and all around you saw nothing
but fires burning. The wooden railings were instantly torn down for
firewood. The hay, straw, barley were eaten away, and brought to
nothing. Every thing from the barns was carried out. As the whole army
could not lodge itself with us, eleven hundred infantry quartered at
Laugwitz. Bärzdorf got four hundred cavalry; and this day nobody knew
what would come of it.”



  Preparing for the Battle.--The Surprise.--The Snow-encumbered
    Plain.--Horror of the Scene.--Flight of Frederick.--His Shame
    and Despair.--Unexpected Victory of the Prussians.--Letters of
    Frederick.--Adventures of Maupertuis.

Monday morning the storm ceased. There was a perfect calm. For leagues
the spotless snow, nearly two feet deep, covered all the extended
plains. The anxiety of Frederick had been so great that for two nights
he had not been able to get any sleep. He had plunged into this war
with the full assurance that he was to gain victory and glory. It now
seemed inevitable that he was to encounter but defeat and shame.

At the earliest dawn the whole army was in motion. Ranked in four
columns, they cautiously advanced toward Ohlau, ready to deploy
instantly into line of battle should the enemy appear. Scouts were sent
out in all directions. But, toiling painfully through the drifts, they
could obtain no reliable information. The spy-glass revealed nothing
but the winding-sheet of crisp and sparkling snow, with scarcely a
shrub or a tree to break the dreary view. There were no fences to be
seen--nothing but a smooth, white plain, spreading for miles around.
The hamlet of Mollwitz, where General Neipperg had established his
head-quarters, was about seven miles north from Pogerell, from which
point Frederick was marching. At the distance of a few miles from each
other there were several wretched little hamlets, consisting of a few
low, thatched, clay farm-houses clustered together.

General Neipperg was not attempting to move in the deep snow. He,
however, sent out a reconnoitring party of mounted hussars under
General Rothenburg. About two miles from Mollwitz this party
encountered the advance-guard of the Prussians. The hussars, after
a momentary conflict, in which several fell, retreated and gave the
alarm. General Neipperg was just sitting down to dinner. The Prussian
advance waited for the rear columns to come up, and then deployed into
line. As the Austrian hussars dashed into the village of Mollwitz with
the announcement that the Prussians were on the march, had attacked
them, and killed forty of their number, General Neipperg dropped
knife and fork, sprang from the table, and dispatched couriers in all
directions, galloping for life, to concentrate his troops. His force
was mainly distributed about in three villages, two or three miles
apart. The clangor of trumpets and drums resounded; and by the greatest
exertions the Austrian troops were collected from their scattered
encampments, and formed in two parallel lines, about two miles in
length, facing the Prussians, who were slowly advancing in the same
order, wading through the snow. Each army was formed with the infantry
in the centre and the cavalry on the wings. Frederick was then but an
inexperienced soldier. He subsequently condemned the want of military
ability which he displayed upon this occasion.

“We approached,” he writes, “Marshal Neipperg’s army without being
discovered by any one man living. His troops were then cantoned in
three villages. But at that time I had not sufficient experience to
know how to avail myself of such an opportunity. I ought immediately to
have ordered two of my columns to surround the village of Mollwitz, and
then to have attacked it. I ought at the same instant to have detached
my dragoons with orders to have attacked the other two villages,
which contained the Austrian cavalry. The infantry, which should have
followed, would have prevented them from mounting. If I had proceeded
in this way I am convinced that I should have totally destroyed the
Austrian army.”[52]

It was now about noon. The sun shone brightly on the glistening snow.
There was no wind. Twenty thousand peasants, armed and drilled as
soldiers, were facing each other upon either side, to engage in mutual
slaughter, with no animosity between them--no cause of quarrel. It is
one of the unrevealed mysteries of Providence that any one man should
thus have it in his power to create such wide-spread death and misery.
The Austrians had a splendid body of cavalry, eight thousand six
hundred in number. Frederick had but about half as many horsemen. The
Prussians had sixty pieces of artillery, the Austrians but eighteen.

The battle soon began, with its tumult, its thunder-roar of artillery
and musketry, its gushing blood, its cries of agony, its death
convulsions. Both parties fought with the reckless courage, the
desperation with which trained soldiers, of whatever nationality,
almost always fight.

The Prussians advanced in their long double line, trampling the deep
snow beneath their feet. All their banners were waving. All their
bands of music were pealing forth their most martial airs. Their sixty
pieces of artillery, well in front, opened a rapid and deadly fire.
The thoroughly-drilled Prussian artillerymen discharged their guns
with unerring aim, breaking gaps in the Austrian ranks, and with such
wonderful rapidity that the unintermitted roar of the cannons drowned
the sound of drums and trumpets.

The Austrian cavalry made an impetuous charge upon the weaker Prussian
cavalry on the right of the Prussian line. Frederick commanded here in
person. The Prussian right wing was speedily routed, and driven in wild
retreat over the plain. The king lost his presence of mind and fled
ingloriously with the fugitives. General Schulenberg endeavored, in
vain, to rally the disordered masses. He received a sabre slash across
his face. Drenched in blood, he still struggled, unavailingly, to
arrest the torrent, when a bullet struck him dead. The battle was now
raging fiercely all along the lines.

General Römer, in command of the Austrian cavalry, had crushed the
right wing of the Prussians. Resolutely he followed up his victory,
hotly chasing the fugitives in the wildest disorder far away to the
rear, capturing nine of their guns. Who can imagine the scene? There
were three or four thousand horsemen put to utter rout, clattering over
the plain, impetuously pursued by six or seven thousand of the finest
cavalry in the world, discharging pistol-shots into their flying ranks,
and raining down upon them sabre-blows.

The young king, all unaccustomed to those horrors of war which he had
evoked, was swept along with the inundation. The danger of his falling
in the midst of the general carnage, or of his capture, which was,
perhaps, still more to be dreaded, was imminent. His friends entreated
him to escape for his life. Even Marshal Schwerin, the veteran soldier,
assured him that the battle was lost, and that he probably could escape
capture only by a precipitate flight.

[Illustration: FLIGHT OF FREDERICK.]

Frederick, thus urged, leaving the main body of his army, as he
supposed, in utter rout, with a small escort, put spurs to his steed
in the attempt to escape. The king was well mounted on a very splendid
bay horse. A rapid ride of fifteen miles in a southerly direction
brought him to the River Neisse, which he crossed by a bridge at the
little town of Lowen. Immediately after his departure Prince Leopold
dispatched a squadron of dragoons to accompany the king as his
body-guard. But Frederick fled so rapidly that they could not overtake
him, and in the darkness, for night soon approached, they lost his
track. Even several of the few who accompanied him, not so well mounted
as the king, dropped off by the way, their horses not being able to
keep up with his swift pace.

It was Frederick’s aim to reach Oppeln, a small town upon the River
Oder, about thirty miles from the field of battle. He supposed that one
of his regiments still held that place. But this regiment had hurriedly
vacated the post, and had repaired, with all its baggage, to Pampitz,
in the vicinity of Mollwitz. Upon the retirement of this garrison a
wandering party of sixty Austrian hussars had taken possession of the

Frederick, unaware that Oppeln was in the hands of the enemy, arrived,
with the few of his suite who had been able to keep up with him,
about midnight before the closed gates of the town. “Who are you?”
the Austrian sentinels inquired. “We are Prussians,” was the reply,
“accompanying a courier from the king.” The Austrians, unconscious of
the prize within their grasp, and not knowing how numerous the Prussian
party might be, instantly opened a musketry fire upon them through the
iron gratings of the gate. Had they but thrown open the gate and thus
let the king enter the trap, the whole history of Europe might have
been changed. Upon apparently such trivial chances the destinies of
empires and of the world depend. Fortunately, in the darkness and the
confusion, none were struck by the bullets.

At Oppeln there was a bridge across the Oder by which the king hoped to
escape with his regiment to the free country beyond. There he intended
to summon to his aid the army of thirty-six thousand men which he had
sent to Götten under the “Old Dessauer.” The discharge of the musketry
of the Austrians blasted even this dismal hope. It seemed as though
Frederick were doomed to drain the cup of misery to its dregs; and
his anguish must have been intensified by the consciousness that he
deserved it all. But a few leagues behind him, the bleak, snow-clad
plains, swept by the night-winds, were strewed with the bodies of eight
or nine thousand men, the dying and the dead, innocent peasant-boys
torn from their homes, whose butchery had been caused by his own
selfish ambition.

The king, in utter exhaustion from hunger, sleeplessness, anxiety, and
misery, for a moment lost all self-control. As with his little band of
fugitives he vanished into the gloom of the night, not knowing where to
go, he exclaimed, in the bitterness of his despair, “O my God, my God,
this is too much!”

Retracing his steps in the darkness some fifteen miles, he returned
to Lowen, where, by a bridge, a few hours before, he had crossed the
Neisse. Taught caution by the misadventure at Oppeln, he reined up
his horse, before the morning dawned, at the mill of Hilbersdorf,
about a mile and a half from the town. The king, upon his high-blooded
charger, had outridden nearly all his escort; but one or two were now
with him. One of these attendants he sent into the town to ascertain
if it were still held by the Prussians. Almost alone, he waited under
the shelter of the mill the return of his courier. It was still night,
dark and cold. The wind, sweeping over the snow-clad plains, caused the
exhausted, half-famished monarch to shiver in his saddle.

There is a gloom of the soul far deeper than any gloom with which
nature can ever be shrouded. It is not easy to conceive of a mortal
placed in circumstances of greater mental suffering than was the proud,
ambitious young monarch during the hour in which he waited, in terror
and disgrace, by the side of the mill, for the return of his courier.
At length the clatter of hoofs was heard, and the messenger came back,
accompanied by an adjutant, to announce to the king that the Prussians
still held Lowen, and that _the Prussian army had gained a signal
victory at Mollwitz_.

Who can imagine the conflicting emotions of joy and wretchedness, of
triumph and shame, of relief and chagrin, with which the heart of
Frederick must have been rent! The army of Prussia had triumphed, under
the leadership of his generals, while he, its young and ambitious
sovereign, who had unjustly provoked war that he might obtain military
glory, a fugitive from the field, was scampering like a coward over the
plains at midnight, seeking his own safety. Never, perhaps, was there
a more signal instance of a retributive providence. Frederick knew
full well that the derision of Europe would be excited by caricatures
and lampoons of the chivalric fugitive. Nor was he deceived in his
anticipations. There was no end to the ridicule which was heaped upon
Frederick, galloping, for dear life, from the battle-field in one
direction, while his solid columns were advancing to victory in the
other. His sarcastic foes were ungenerous and unjust. But when do foes,
wielding the weapons of ridicule, ever pretend even to be just and

[Illustration: FREDERICK AT THE MILL.]

The king, upon receiving these strange and unexpected tidings,
immediately rode into Lowen. It was an early hour in the 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.

The chagrin of Frederick in view of this adventure may be inferred from
the fact that, during the whole remainder of his life, he was never
known to make any allusion to it whatever.

After the king, swept away in the wreck of his right wing of cavalry,
had left the field, and was spurring his horse in his impetuous flight,
his generals in the centre and on the left, in command of infantry so
highly disciplined that every man would stand at his post until he
died, resolutely maintained the battle. Frederick William had drilled
these men for twenty years as men were never drilled before or since,
converting them into mere machines. They were wielded by their officers
as they themselves handled their muskets. Five successive cavalry
charges these cast-iron men resisted. They stood like rocks dashing
aside the torrent. The assailing columns melted before their terrible
fire--they discharging five shots to the Austrians’ two.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF MOLLWITZ,

April 10, 1741.

  _a._   Advance of Prussians.
  _b._   Where Rothenburg met the Hussars.
  _c._   Prussian Infantry.
  _dd._  Prussian Cavalry.
  _e._   Austrian Infantry.
  _fff._ Austrian Cavalry.
  _gg._  Retreat of Austrians.]

After the fifth charge, the Austrians, dispirited, and leaving the snow
plain crimsoned with the blood and covered with the bodies of their
slain, withdrew out of ball range. Torn and exhausted, they could not
be driven by their officers forward to another assault. The battle had
now lasted for five hours. Night was at hand, for the sun had already
set. The repulsed Austrians were collected in scattered and confused
bands. The experienced eye of General Schwerin saw that the hour for
decisive action had come. He closed up his ranks, ordered every band to
play its most spirited air, and gave the order “Forward.” An Austrian
officer, writing the next week, describes the scene.

“I can well say,” he writes, “that I never in my life saw any thing
more beautiful. They marched with the greatest steadiness, arrow
straight and their front like a line, as if they had been upon parade.
The glitter of their clear arms shone strangely in the setting sun,
and the fire from them went on no otherwise than a continued peal of
thunder. The spirits of our army sank altogether, the foot plainly
giving way, the horse refusing to come forward--all things wavering
toward dissolution.”

The Austrians had already lost, in killed, wounded, and missing, four
thousand four hundred and ten men. And though the Prussians had lost
four thousand six hundred and thirteen, still their infantry lines had
never for a moment wavered; and now, with floating banners and peals of
music, they were advancing with the strides of conquerors.

Thus circumstanced, General Neipperg gave the order to retreat. At
the double quick, the Austrians retired back through the street of
Mollwitz, hurried across the River Laugwitz by a bridge, and, turning
short to the south, continued their retreat toward Grottkau. They
left behind them nine of their own guns, and eight of those which
they had captured from the Prussians. The Prussians, exhausted by
the long battle, their cavalry mostly dispersed and darkness already
enveloping them, did not attempt any vigorous pursuit. They bivouacked
on the grounds, or quartered themselves in the villages from which the
Austrians had fled.

On Wednesday, April 12, two days after the battle, Frederick wrote to
his sister Wilhelmina from Ohlau as follows:

  “MY DEAREST SISTER,--I have the satisfaction to inform you
  that we have yesterday[53] totally beaten the Austrians. They
  have lost more than five thousand men in killed, wounded, and
  prisoners. We have lost Prince Frederick, brother of Margraf
  Karl; General Schulenberg, Wartensleben of the Carabineers, and
  many other officers. Our troops did miracles, and the result
  shows as much. It was one of the rudest battles fought within the
  memory of man.

  “I am sure you will take part in this happiness, and that you
  will not doubt the tenderness with which I am, dearest sister,
  yours wholly,


The king’s intimate friend, Jordan, had accompanied him as far as
Breslau. There he remained, anxiously awaiting the issue of the
conflict. On the 11th, the day succeeding the battle, he wrote from
Breslau to the king as follows:

“SIRE,--Yesterday I was in terrible alarms. The sound of the cannon
heard, the smoke of powder visible from the steeple-tops here, all led
us to suspect that there was a battle going on. Glorious confirmation
of it this morning. Nothing but rejoicing among all the Protestant
inhabitants, who had begun to be in apprehension from the rumors
which the other party took pleasure in spreading. Persons who were in
the battle can not enough celebrate the coolness and bravery of your
majesty. For myself, I am at the overflowing point. I have run about
all day announcing this glorious news to the Berliners who are here. In
my life I have never felt a more perfect satisfaction. One finds at the
corner of every street an orator of the people celebrating the warlike
feats of your majesty’s troops. I have often, in my idleness, assisted
at these discourses; not artistic eloquence, it must be owned, but
gushing full from the heart.”

Frederick immediately sent an announcement of the victory to his friend
Voltaire. It does not appear that he alluded to his own adventures.
Voltaire received the note when in the theatre at Lisle, while
listening to the first performance of his tragedy of _Mahomet_. He read
the account to the audience between the acts. It was received with
great applause. “You will see,” said Voltaire, “that this piece of
Mollwitz will secure the success of mine.” _Vous verrez que cette piece
de Mollwitz fera réussir la miene._

The distinguished philosopher Maupertuis accompanied Frederick on
this campaign. Following the king to the vicinity of the field of
battle, he took a post of observation at a safe distance, that he might
witness the spectacle. Carlyle, in his peculiar style of word-painting,
describes the issue as follows:

“The sage Maupertuis, for example, had climbed some tree, or place of
impregnability, hoping to see the battle there. And he did see it much
too clearly at last! In such a tide of charging and chasing on that
Right Wing, and round all the field in the Prussian rear; in such wide
bickering and boiling of Horse-currents, which fling out round all
the Prussian rear-quarters such a spray of Austrian Hussars for one
element, Maupertuis, I have no doubt, wishes much he were at home doing
his sines and tangents. An Austrian Hussar party gets sight of him on
his tree or other stand-point (Voltaire says elsewhere he was mounted
on an ass, the malicious spirit!)--too certain the Austrian Hussars
got sight of him; his purse, gold watch, all he has of movable, is
given frankly; all will not do. There are frills about the man, fine
laces, cloth; a goodish yellow wig on him for one thing. Their Slavonic
dialect, too fatally intelligible by the pantomime accompanying it,
forces sage Maupertuis from his tree or stand-point; the big red face
flurried into scarlet, I can fancy, or scarlet and ashy-white mixed;
and--Let us draw a veil over it. He is next seen shirtless, the once
very haughty, blustery, and now much humiliated man; still conscious
of supreme acumen, insight, and pure science; and, though an Austrian
prisoner and a monster of rags, struggling to believe that he is a
genius, and the Trismegistus of mankind. What a pickle!”

While in this deplorable condition, Maupertuis was found by the Prince
of Lichtenstein, an Austrian officer who had met him in Paris. The
prince rescued him from his brutal captors and supplied him with
clothing. He was, however, taken to Vienna as a prisoner of war, where
he was placed on parole. Voltaire, whose unamiable nature was pervaded
by a very marked vein of malignity, made himself very merry over the
misfortunes of the philosopher. As Maupertuis glided about the streets
of Vienna for a time in obscurity, the newspapers began to speak of
his scientific celebrity. He was thus brought into notice. The queen
treated him with distinction. The Grand-duke Francis drew his own watch
from his pocket, and presented it to Maupertuis in recompense for the
one he had lost. Eventually he was released, and, loaded with many
presents, was sent to Brittany.

In the account which Frederick gave, some years after, of this
campaign, in his _Histoire de Mons Temps_, he wrote:

“The contest between General Neipperg and myself seemed to be which
should commit the most faults. Mollwitz was the school of the king and
his troops. That prince reflected profoundly upon all the faults and
errors he had fallen into, and tried to correct them for the future.”



  The Encampment at Brieg.--Bombardment.--Diplomatic Intrigues.--
    Luxury of the Spanish Minister.--Rising Greatness of Frederick.--
    Frederick’s Interview with Lord Hyndford.--Plans of France.--
    Desperate Prospects of Maria Theresa.--Anecdote of Frederick.--
    Joint Action of England and Holland.--Heroic Character of Maria
    Theresa.--Coronation of the Queen of Hungary.

After the battle of Mollwitz, General Neipperg withdrew the defeated
Austrian army to the vicinity of Neisse, where he strongly intrenched
himself. Frederick encamped his troops around Brieg, and made vigorous
preparations to carry the place by storm. With great energy he pushed
forward his works, and in less than three weeks was ready for the
assault. On the night of April 26 there was a tempest of extraordinary
violence, which was followed, the next night, by a dead calm, a
cloudless sky, and a brilliant moon. On both sides of the River Oder,
upon which Brieg was situated, there was an open champaign country.
Several bridges crossed the river. At a fixed moment two thousand
diggers were collected, at appointed stations, divided into twelve
equal parties. With the utmost exactness they were equipped with all
the necessary implements. These diggers, with spade and pickaxe, and
yet thoroughly armed, were preceded a few yards by covering battalions,
who, having stealthily and silently obtained the position assigned to
them, were to lie flat upon the ground. Not a gun was to be fired; not
a word was to be spoken save in a whisper; not even a pipe was to be
lighted. Some engineers were to mark out with a straw rope, just in
the rear of the covering party, the line of the first parallel. Every
imaginable contingency was provided for, and each man was to attend to
his individual duty with the precision of clock-work.

Precisely at midnight all were in silent, rapid motion. The march of
half an hour brought them to their appointed stations. The soft and
sandy soil was easily shoveled. Every man plied pick and spade with
intensest energy. As the town clock of Brieg struck one, they had so
far dug themselves in as to be quite sheltered from the fire of the
hostile batteries, should the guns open upon them. Before the dawn of
day they had two batteries, of twenty-five guns each, in position, and
several mortars ready for action.

Thus far the enemy had no suspicion of the movement. But now the
sun was rising, and, almost simultaneously on both sides, the roar
of battle commenced. The positions had been so adroitly taken as to
bring three Prussian guns to bear upon each gun of the Austrians. The
Prussian gunners, drilled to the utmost possible accuracy and precision
of fire, poured into the city a terrific tempest of shot and shells.
Every thing had been so carefully arranged that, for six days and
nights, with scarcely a moment’s intermission, the doomed city was
assailed with such a tornado of cannonading and bombardment as earth
had seldom, if ever, witnessed before.

The city took fire in many places; magazines were consumed; the ducal
palace was wrapped in flames. Nearly fifteen thousand cannon-balls,
and over two thousand bombs, were hurled crashing through the
thronged dwellings. Many of the Austrian guns were silenced. General
Piccolomini, who was intrusted with the defense of the place, could
stand it no longer. On the 4th of May he raised above the walls the
white flag of surrender. The gallant general was treated magnanimously.
He was invited to dine with Frederick, and, with the garrison, was
permitted to retire to Neisse, pledged not to serve against the
Prussians for two years. The town had been nearly demolished by the
war-tempest which had beat so fiercely upon it. Frederick immediately
commenced repairing the ruins and strengthening the fortifications.

All Europe was thrown into commotion by this bold and successful
invasion of Silesia. France was delighted, for Prussia was
weakening Austria. England was alarmed. The weakening of Austria
was strengthening France, England’s dreaded rival. And Hanover was
menaced by the Prussian army at Götten, under the Old Dessauer. The
British Parliament voted an additional subsidy of £300,000 to Maria
Theresa. Two hundred thousand had already been granted her. This,
in all, amounted to the sum of two million five hundred thousand
dollars. Envoys from all the nations of Europe were sent to Frederick’s
encampment at Strehlen, in the vicinity of Brieg. Some were sent
seeking his alliance, some with terms of compromise, and all to watch
his proceedings. The young king was not only acquiring the territory
which he sought, but seemed to be gaining that renown which he had so
eagerly coveted. He did not feel strong enough to make an immediate
attack upon the Austrian army, which General Neipperg held, in an
almost impregnable position, behind the ramparts of Neisse. For two
months he remained at Strehlen, making vigorous preparations for future
movements, and his mind much engrossed with diplomatic intrigues.
Strehlen is a pretty little town, nestled among the hills, about
twenty-five miles west of Brieg, and thirty northwest of Neisse.
The troops were mainly encamped in tents on the fields around. The
embassadors from the great monarchies of Europe were generally
sumptuously lodged in Strehlen, or in Breslau, which was a beautiful
city about thirty miles north of Strehlen. Baron Bielfeld in the
following terms describes the luxury in which the Spanish minister

“Each of these ministers makes a most brilliant figure, and never
have I seen one travel with more ease and convenience, more elegance
and grandeur, than does the Marquis of Montijo. Wherever he stops to
dine or sup, he finds a room hung with the richest tapestry, and the
floor covered with Turkey carpets, with velvet chairs, and every other
kind of convenience; a table sumptuously served, the choicest wines,
and a dessert of fruit and confectionery that Paris itself could not
excel. This kind of enchantment, this real miracle in Germany, is
performed by means of three baggage-wagons, of which two always go
before the embassador, and carry with them every thing necessary for
his reception. When they arrive in some poor village, the domestics
that accompany each wagon immediately clear and clean some chamber, fix
the tapestry by rings to the walls, cover the floor with carpets, and
furnish the kitchen and cellar with every kind of necessary.”[54]

Speaking of Frederick at this time, Bielfeld says: “Notwithstanding
all the fatigues of war, the king is in perfect health, and more gay
and pleasant than ever. All who approach his majesty meet with a most
gracious reception. In the midst of his camp, and at the head of sixty
thousand Prussians, our monarch appears to me with a new and superior
air of greatness.”

Circumstances had already rendered Frederick one of the most important
personages in Europe. He could ally himself with France, and humble
Austria; or he could ally himself with England and Austria, and crush
France. All the lesser lights in the Continental firmament circulated
around these central luminaries. Consequently Frederick was enabled to
take a conspicuous part in all the diplomatic intrigues which were then
agitating the courts of Europe.

On the 7th of May, three days after the capture of Brieg, Lord
Hyndford, the English embassador, arrived at the camp of Frederick,
and obtained an audience with his majesty. It was eleven o’clock in
the forenoon. He gave his government a very minute narrative of the
interview. The following particulars, gleaned from that narrative, will
interest the reader. It will be remembered that Frederick cherished a
strong antipathy against his uncle, George II. of England.

Lord Hyndford commenced his communication by assuring his majesty
of the friendly feelings and good wishes of the English government.
Frederick listened with much impatience, and soon interrupted him,
exclaiming passionately,

“How is it possible, my lord, to believe things so contradictory? It is
mighty fine, all this that you now tell me, on the part of the King of
England. But how does it correspond with his last speech in Parliament,
and with the doings of his ministers at Petersburg and at the Hague, to
stir up allies against me? I have reason to doubt the sincerity of the
King of England. Perhaps he means to amuse me. But” (with an oath[55])
“he is mistaken. I will risk every thing rather than abate the least of
my pretensions.”

Lord Hyndford, evidently embarrassed, for the facts were strongly
against him, endeavored, in some additional remarks, to assume
ignorance of any unfriendly action on the part of the British
government. The king again, in a loud and angry tone, replied,

“My lord, there seems to be a contradiction in all this. The King of
England, in his letter, tells me you are instructed as to every thing,
and yet you pretend ignorance. But I am perfectly informed of all. And
I should not be surprised if, after all these fine words, you should
receive some strong letter or resolution for me.” Then, turning to his
secretary, he added, sarcastically, “Write down that my lord would be
surprised to receive such instruction.”

Lord Hyndford, who says that by this rude assailment he was put
extremely upon his guard, rejoined:

“Europe is under the necessity of taking some speedy resolution, things
are in such a state of crisis. Like a fever in a human body, got to
such a height that quinquina becomes necessary. Shall we apply to
Vienna, your majesty?”

A transient smile flitted across the king’s countenance. Then, looking
cold again, he added, “Follow your own will in that.”

“Would your majesty,” Lord Hyndford replied, “engage to stand by his
excellency Gotter’s original offer at Vienna on your part? That is,
would you agree, in consideration of the surrender to you of Lower
Silesia and Breslau, to assist the Queen of Austria, with all your
troops, for the maintenance of the Pragmatic Sanction, and to vote for
the Grand-duke Francis as emperor?”

“Yes,” was the monosyllabic reply.

“What was the sum of money your majesty then offered the Queen of
Austria?” Lord Hyndford inquired.

The king hesitated, as though he had forgotten. But his secretary
answered, “Three million florins ($1,500,000).”

“I should not value the money,” the king added. “If money would content
her I would give more.”

After a long pause Lord Hyndford inquired, “Would your majesty consent
to an armistice?”

“Yes,” Frederick replied; “but for not less than six months” (counting
on his fingers from May to December)--“till December 1. The season
then would be so far gone that they could do nothing.”

As the secretary, Podewils, had been taking notes, Lord Hyndford
requested permission to look at them, that he might see that no mistake
had been made. The king assented, and then Lord Hyndford bowed himself
out. Thus ended the audience.

A few days after this interview, the Dutch embassador, General Ginckel,
arrived with the Resolution from the English and Dutch courts,
demanding that the king should evacuate Silesia. Lord Hyndford was
much embarrassed, apprehending that the presentation of the summons at
that time would work only mischief. He persuaded General Ginckel to
delay the presentation until he could send a courier to England for
instructions. In a fortnight the courier returned with the order that
the Resolution was immediately to be presented to his Prussian majesty.

In the mean time, Frederick, who kept himself thoroughly informed of
all these events, signed secretly, on the 5th of June, a treaty of
intimate alliance with France. Though he had not yet received the
Joint Resolution of the English and Dutch courts, he was well aware of
its existence, and the next day sent to his envoy, M. Räsfeld, at the
Hague, the following dispatch:

“You will beforehand inform the high mightinesses in regard to that
Advice of April 24th, which they determined on giving me, through his
excellency General Ginckel, along with his excellency Lord Hyndford,
that such advice can be considered by me only as a blind complaisance
to the court of Vienna’s improper urgencies. That for certain I will
not quit Silesia till my claims be satisfied. And the longer I am
forced to continue warring for them here, the higher they will rise.”

The plan of France, as conceived and pushed resolutely forward by
the Count of Belleisle, the renowned minister of Louis XV., was to
divide Germany into four small kingdoms of about equal power, Bavaria,
Saxony, Prussia, and Austria. The King of Bavaria, as one of the
protégés of France, was to be chosen Emperor of Germany. To accomplish
this, Austria was to be reduced to a second-rate power by despoiling
the young queen, Maria Theresa, of large portions of her territory,
and annexing the provinces wrested from her to the petty states of
Prussia, Bavaria, and Saxony, thus sinking Austria to an equality with
them. France, the grand nation, would then be indisputably the leading
power in Europe. By bribery, intimidation, and inciting one kingdom
against another, the court of Versailles could control the policy of
the whole Continent. Magnificent as was this plan, many circumstances
seemed then combining to render it feasible. The King of Prussia,
inspired simply by the desire of enlarging his kingdom by making war
against Austria, and striving to wrest Silesia from the realms of
Maria Theresa, was co-operating, in the most effectual way possible,
to further the designs of France. And it had now also become a matter
of great moment to Frederick that he should secure the alliance of the
court of Versailles.

All the courts of Europe were involved in these intrigues, which led to
minor complications which it would be in vain to attempt to unravel.
In the secret treaty into which Frederick entered with France on the
5th of June, 1741, the Count of Belleisle engaged, in behalf of his
master, Louis XV., to incite Sweden to declare war against Russia,
that the semi-barbaric power of the North, just beginning to emerge
into greatness, might be so occupied as not to be able to render any
assistance to Austria. France also agreed to guarantee Lower Silesia,
with Breslau, to Frederick, and to send two armies, of forty thousand
men each, one across the Upper and the other across the Lower Rhine,
to co-operate with his Prussian majesty. The forty thousand men on the
Upper Rhine were to take position in the vicinity of the Electorate
of Hanover, which belonged to George II. of England, prepared to act
immediately in concert with the Prussian army at Götten under the “Old
Dessauer,” in seizing Hanover resistlessly, should England make the
slightest move toward sending troops to the aid of Maria Theresa.

The prospects of Maria Theresa seemed now quite desperate. We know not
that history records a more inglorious act than that Europe should have
thus combined to take advantage of the youth and inexperience of this
young queen, weeping over the grave of her father, and trembling in
view of her own approaching hour of anguish, by wresting from her the
inheritance which had descended to her from her ancestors. France and
Germany, inspired by the most intense motives of selfish ambition, were
to fall upon her, while the most effectual precautions were adopted to
prevent Russia and England from coming to her aid.


In carrying forward these intrigues at the camp of Frederick, the Count
of Belleisle had an associate minister in the embassy, M. De Valori. A
slight incident occurred in connection with this minister which would
indicate, in the view of most persons, that Frederick did not cherish
a very high sense of honor. M. Valori was admitted to an audience with
his Prussian majesty. During the interview, as the French minister
drew his hand from his pocket, he accidentally dropped a note upon the
floor. Frederick, perceiving it, slyly placed his foot upon it. As soon
as the minister had bowed himself out, Frederick eagerly seized the
note and read it. It contained some secret instructions to M. Valori
from the French court, directing him not to give Glatz to his Prussian
majesty if it could possibly be avoided. Frederick did not perceive
any thing ignoble in this act of his, for he records it himself;[56]
neither does Mr. Carlyle condemn him.[57] Most readers will probably
regard it as highly dishonorable.

On the 8th of June the English and Dutch ministers, not yet aware of
the alliance into which Frederick had entered with France, presented
the joint resolution of their two courts, exhorting Frederick to
withdraw his army from Silesia. Lord Hyndford, who was somewhat annoyed
by the apparent impolicy of the measure just at that time, solicited
and obtained a private audience with the king, hoping by apologies
and explanations to make the summons a little less unpalatable to his
majesty. In the brief interview which ensued Lord Hyndford appealed to
the magnanimity of the king, declaring that it would be generous and
noble for him to accept moderate terms from Austria. The king angrily
interrupted him, saying,

“My lord, do not talk to me of magnanimity. A prince ought, in the
first place, to consult his interest. I am not opposed to peace. But I
expect to have four duchies given me.”

Maria Theresa was much encouraged by the subsidy she had received from
England. She was not yet informed of the formidable alliance into which
France, with a portion of Germany, had entered for her destruction.
About the 20th of June she left Vienna for Presburg, in Hungary, a
drive of about fifty miles. Here, on the 25th of June, 1741, she was
crowned Queen of Hungary. She was a very beautiful woman in person,
devout in spirit, and those who admire manly developments in the female
character must regard her as presenting the highest type of womanhood.
She merits the following beautiful tribute to her worth from the pen of

“As to the brave young Queen of Hungary, my admiration goes with that
of all the world. Not in the language of flattery, but of evident fact,
the royal qualities abound in that high young lady. Had they left the
world, and grown to mere costume elsewhere, you might find certain of
them again here. Most brave, high and pious minded; beautiful too, and
radiant with good-nature, though of temper that will easily catch fire;
there is, perhaps, no nobler woman then living. And she fronts the
roaring elements in a truly grand, feminine manner, as if Heaven itself
and the voice of Duty called her. ‘The inheritances which my fathers
left me, we will not part with these. Death if it so must be, but not

“This, for the present, is her method of looking at the matter; this
magnanimous, heroic, and occasionally somewhat female one. Her husband,
the grand-duke, an inert but good-tempered, well-conditioned duke,
after his sort, goes with her. Now, as always, he follows loyally
his wife’s lead, never she his. Wife being intrinsically as well as
extrinsically the better man, what other can he do?”

The ceremony of coronation was attended, near Presburg, on the 25th of
June, with much semi-barbaric splendor, as the Iron Crown[58] of St.
Stephen was placed upon the pale, beautiful brow of the young wife and
mother. All the renowned chivalry of Hungary were assembled upon that
field. They came in gorgeous costume, with embroidered banners, and
accompanied by imposing retinues. At the close of the ceremonies, the
queen, who was distinguished as a bold rider, mounted a swift charger,
and, followed by a long retinue of Magyar warriors, galloped to the
top of a small eminence artificially constructed for the occasion,
called the Königsburg, or King’s Hill, where she drew her sword,
and, flourishing it toward the four quarters of the heavens, bade
defiance to any adversary who should venture to question her claims.
The knightly warriors who crowded the plain flashed their swords in
the sunlight, as with one accord, with chivalric devotion, they vowed
fidelity to their queen.



  An extraordinary Interview.--Carlyle’s Sympathy.--Trifling Demeanor
    of Frederick.--Conspiracy in Breslau.--Guile of Frederick.--The
    successful Stratagem.--Crossing the Neisse.--The Co-operation of
    France.--Anguish of Maria Theresa.--Inflexible Will of Frederick.--
    Duplicity of the King.--The Surrender of Neisse.

Gradually the secret treaty which allied France, Bavaria, and Prussia,
and it was not known how many other minor powers, against Austria,
came to light. Two French armies of fifty thousand men each were on
the march to act in co-operation with Frederick. England, trembling
from fear of the loss of Hanover, dared not move. The Aulic Council at
Vienna, in a panic, “fell back into their chairs like dead men.” The
ruin of Maria Theresa and the fatal dismemberment of Austria seemed

Under these circumstances, the young queen, urged by her council and
by the English court, very reluctantly consented to propose terms of
compromise to Frederick. Sir Thomas Robinson, subsequently Earl of
Grantham, was sent from Vienna to Breslau to confer with the British
minister there, Lord Hyndford, and with him to visit Frederick, at
his camp at Strehlen, in the attempt to adjust the difficulties. The
curious interview which ensued has been minutely described by Sir
Thomas Robinson. It took place under the royal canvas tent of his
Prussian majesty at 11 o’clock A.M. of the 7th of August, 1741.

The two English gentlemen, stout, burly, florid men, were dressed in
the gorgeous court costume of those days. Each wore a large, frizzled,
powdered wig. Their shirts were heavily ruffled in the bosoms and at
the wrists. Their coats, of antique cut, were covered with embroidery
of gold lace. Their waistcoats hung down in deep flaps, and large
buckles adorned their shoes.

Frederick was a trig, slender young man of twenty-nine years. He was
dressed in a closely-fitting blue coat, with buff breeches and high
cavalry boots. He wore a plumed hat, which he courteously raised as the
embassadors entered his tent. The scene which ensued was substantially
as follows, omitting those passages which were of no permanent
interest. After sundry preliminary remarks, Sir Thomas Robinson said,

“I am authorized to offer your majesty two million guilders
[$1,000,000] if your majesty will consent to relinquish this enterprise
and retire from Silesia.”


“Retire from Silesia!” exclaimed the king, vehemently. “And for money?
Do you take me for a beggar? Retire from Silesia, in the conquest of
which I have expended so much blood and treasure! No, sir, no. That is
not to be thought of. If you have no better proposals to suggest, it is
not worth while talking.”

Sir Thomas, somewhat discomposed, apologetically intimated that that
was not all he had to offer.

“Very well,” said the king, impatiently; “let us see, then, what there
is more.”

“I am permitted,” the embassador said, “to offer your majesty the
whole of Austrian Guelderland. It lies contiguous to your majesty’s
possessions in the Rhine country. It will be a very important addition
to those possessions. I am permitted to say the whole of Austrian

“What do you mean?” exclaimed the king, with an air of real or affected
surprise. Then, turning to his secretary, M. Podewils, he inquired,
“How much of Guelderland is theirs, and not ours already?”

“Almost none,” M. Podewils replied.

Here the king quite lost his temper. In a loud tone and with angry
gesticulation he exclaimed, “Do you offer me such rags and rubbish,
such paltry scrapings, for all my just claims in Silesia?” And so he
ran on for quite a length of time, with ever-increasing violence,
fanning himself into a flame of indignation.

“His contempt,” writes Sir Thomas in his narrative, “was so great, and
was expressed in such violent terms, that now, if ever, was the time to
make the last effort. A moment longer was not to be lost, to hinder the
king from dismissing us.”

“I am also permitted, sire,” said Sir Thomas, “to add the Duchy of
Limburg. It is a duchy of great wealth and resources, so valuable that
the Elector Palatine was willing to give in exchange for it the whole
Duchy of Berg.”

“It is inconceivable to me,” Frederick replied, “how Austria should
dare to think of such a proposal. Limburg! Are there not solemn
engagements upon Austria which render every inch of ground in the
Netherlands inalienable?”

“These engagements,” said Sir Thomas, “are good as against the French,
your majesty. But the Barrier treaty, confirmed at Utrecht, was for our
benefit and that of Holland.”

“That is your interpretation,” said Frederick. “But the French assert
that it was an arrangement made in their favor.”

“Your majesty,” Sir Thomas rejoined, “by a little engineering art,
could render Limburg impregnable to the French or any others.”

“I have not the least desire,” the king replied, “to aggrandize myself
in those parts, or to spend money in fortifying there. It would be
useless to me. Am I not fortifying Brieg and Glogau? These are enough
for one who wishes to live well with his neighbors. Neither the Dutch
nor the French have offended me, nor will I offend them by acquisitions
in the Netherlands. Besides, who would guarantee them?”

“The proposal,” Sir Thomas replied, “is to give guarantees at once.”

“Guarantees!” exclaimed the king, scornfully. “Who minds or keeps
guarantees in this age? Has not France guaranteed the Pragmatic
Sanction? Has not England? Why do you not all fly to the queen’s

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.

The king, with a very complaisant smile, said, “Russia, my good sir--It
is not proper for me to explain myself, but I have means to keep the
Russians employed.”

“Russia,” added Sir Thomas, with some stateliness of utterance, “is not
the only power which has engagements with Austria, and which must keep
them too; so that, however averse to a breach--”

Here the king interrupted him, and with scornful gesture, “laying his
finger on his nose,” and in loud tones, exclaimed,

“No threats, sir, if you please, no threats.”

Lord Hyndford here came to the rescue of his colleague, and said,

“I am sure his excellency had no such meaning, sire. His excellency
will advance nothing so very contrary to his instructions.”

Sir Thomas Robinson added, “Sire, I am not talking of what this power
or that means to do, but of what will come of itself. To prophesy is
not to threaten, sire. It is my zeal for the public good which brought
me here, and--”

Again the king interrupted him, saying, “The public will be much
obliged to you, sir! But hear me. With respect to Russia, you know how
matters stand. From the King of Poland I have nothing to fear. As for
the King of England, he is my relation. If he do not attack me, I shall
not him. If he do attack me, the Prince of Anhalt, with my army at
Götten, will take care of him.”

“It is the common rumor now,” Sir Thomas replied, “that your majesty,
after the 12th of August, will join the French. Sire, I venture to
hope not. Austria prefers your friendship; but if your majesty disdain
Austria’s advances, what is it to do? Austria must throw itself
entirely into the hands of France, and endeavor to outbid your majesty.”

This was a very serious suggestion. None of these sovereigns professed
to be influenced by any other considerations than their own interests.
And it was manifest that Austria could easily outbid Prussia, if
determined to purchase the French alliance. For a moment the king was
silent, apparently somewhat perplexed. He then said,

“I am at the head of an army which has already vanquished the enemy,
and which is ready to meet the enemy again. The country which alone I
desire is already conquered and securely held. This is all I want. I
now have it. I will and must keep it. Shall I be bought out of this
country? Never! I will sooner perish in it with all my troops. With
what face shall I meet my ancestors if I abandon my right which they
have transmitted to me? My first enterprise, and to be given up lightly?

“Have I need of peace? Let those who need it give me what I want,
or let them fight me again and be beaten again. Have they not given
whole kingdoms to Spain? And to me they can not spare a few trifling
principalities. If the queen do not now grant me all I require, I
shall, in four weeks, demand four principalities more. I now demand
the whole of Lower Silesia, Breslau included. With that answer you can
return to Vienna.”

“With that answer!” Sir Thomas replied, in tones of surprise. “Is your
majesty serious? Is that your majesty’s deliberate answer?”

“Yes, I say,” the king rejoined. “That is my answer, and I will never
give any other.”

Both of the English ministers, in much agitation, spoke together. The
king, impatiently interrupting them, said,

“Gentlemen, gentlemen, it is of no use to think about it.”

Taking off his hat, he slightly saluted them, and retired behind the
curtain into the interior tent.

A brief account of this interview has been given by Frederick,[59] and
also a very minute narrative by Sir Thomas Robinson, in his official
report to his government. There is no essential discrepancy between the
two statements. Frederick alludes rather contemptuously to the pompous
airs of Sir Thomas, saying that “he negotiated in a wordy, high,
droning way, as if he were speaking in Parliament.” Mr. Carlyle seems
to be entirely in sympathy with Frederick in his invasion of Silesia.
The reader will peruse with interest his graphic, characteristic
comments upon this interview:

“The unsuccessfulest negotiation well imaginable by a public man.
Strehlen, Monday, 7th August, 1741--Frederick has vanished into the
interior of his tent, and the two diplomatic gentlemen, the wind struck
out of them in this manner, remain gazing at one another. Here, truly,
is a young, royal gentleman that knows his own mind, while so many do
not. Unspeakable imbroglio of negotiations, mostly insane, welters over
all the earth; the Belleisles, the Aulic Councils, the British Georges,
heaping coil upon coil; and here, notably in that now so extremely
sordid murk of wiggeries, inane diplomacies, and solemn deliriums, dark
now and obsolete to all creatures, steps forth one little human figure,
with something of sanity in it, like a star, like a gleam of steel,
sheering asunder your big balloons, and letting out their diplomatic
hydrogen. Salutes with his hat, ‘Gentlemen, gentlemen, it is of no
use!’ and vanishes into the interior of his tent.”

The next day the two British ministers dined with Frederick. The king
was in reality, or assumed to be, in exultant spirits. He joked and
bantered his guests even upon those great issues which were threatening
to deluge Europe in blood. As they took leave, intending to return to
Vienna through Neisse, which was held by the Austrian army, the king
said to Sir Thomas Robinson, derisively,

“As you pass through Neisse, please present my compliments to Marshal
Neipperg; and you can say, your excellency, that I hope to have the
pleasure of calling upon him one of these days.”

It seemed to be the policy of Frederick to assume a very trifling,
care-for-nothing air, as though he were engaged in very harmless
child’s play. He threw out jokes, and wrote ludicrous letters to M.
Jordan and M. Algarotti. But behind this exterior disguise it is
manifest that all the energies of his soul were aroused, and that, with
sleepless vigilance, he was watching every event, and providing for
every possible emergence.

It will be remembered that Breslau, whose inhabitants were mainly
Protestant, and which was one of the so-called free cities of
Germany, was surrendered to Frederick under peculiar conditions. It
was to remain, in its internal government, in all respects exactly
as it had been, with the simple exception that it was to recognize
the sovereignty of Prussia instead of that of Austria. Its strict
neutrality was to be respected. It was to be protected by its own
garrison. No Prussian soldier could enter with any weapons but
side-arms. The king himself, in entering the city, could be accompanied
only by thirty guards.

When under the sovereignty of Austria, though the Protestants were not
persecuted, very decided favor was shown to the Catholics. But the
influence of Protestant Prussia was to place both parties on a perfect
equality. This greatly annoyed the Catholics. Certain Catholic ladies
of rank, with a few leading citizens, entered into a secret society,
and kept the court of Vienna informed of every thing which transpired
in Breslau. They also entered into intimate communication with General
Neipperg, entreating him to come to their rescue. They assured him that
if he would suddenly appear before their gates with his army, or with a
strong detachment, the conspiring Catholics would open the gates, and
he could rush in and take possession of the city.

But the ever-vigilant Frederick had smuggled a “false sister” into the
society of the Catholic ladies, who kept him informed of every measure
that was proposed. At the very hour when Frederick was dining with the
two English ministers, and making himself so merry with jests and
banter, he was aware that General Neipperg, with the whole Austrian
army, was crossing the River Neisse, on the march, by a route thirty
miles west of his encampment, to take Breslau by surprise. But he had
already adopted effectual measures to thwart their plans.

On the 10th of August there was a magnificent review of the Prussian
army on the plain of Strehlin, to which all the foreign embassadors
were invited. During the night of the 9th, General Schwerin and Prince
Leopold, with eight thousand Prussian troops, horse and foot, arrived
in the southwestern suburbs of Breslau, and, at six o’clock in the
morning, demanded simply a passage through the city for their regiments
and baggage, on the march to attack a marauding band of the Austrians
on the other side of the Oder.

The rule, in such cases, was that a certain number of companies were
to be admitted at a time. The gate was then to be closed until they
had marched through the city and out at the opposite gate. After
this another detachment was to be admitted, and so on, until all had
passed through. But General Schwerin so contrived it, by stratagem,
as to crowd in a whole regiment at once. Instead of marching through
Breslau, to the surprise of the inhabitants, he directed his steps to
the market-place, where he encamped and took possession of the city,
admitting the remainder of his regiments. In an hour and a half the
whole thing was done, and the streets were strongly garrisoned by
Prussian troops. The majority of the inhabitants, being Protestant,
were well pleased, and received the achievement with laughter. Many
cheers resounded through the streets, with shouts of “Frederick and
Silesia forever.” All the foreign ministers in Breslau, and the
magistrates of the city, had been lured to Strehlin to witness the
grand review.

Frederick had caused signal cannon to be placed at suitable points
between Breslau and Strehlin, which, by transmitting reports, should
give him as early intelligence as possible of the success of the
enterprise. About noon, in the midst of the grand manœuvrings on
the parade-ground, one distant cannon-shot was heard, to the great
satisfaction of Frederick, who alone understood its significance.

General Neipperg had advanced as far as Baumgarten when he heard
of this entire circumvention of his plans. Exasperated by the
discomfiture, he pushed boldly forward to seize Schweidnitz, where
Frederick had a large magazine, which was supposed not to be very
strongly protected. But the vigilant Frederick here again thwarted
the Austrian general. Either anticipating the movement, or receiving
immediate information of it, he had thrown out some strong columns to
Reichenbach, where they so effectually intrenched themselves as to bar,
beyond all hope of passage, the road to Schweidnitz. General Neipperg
had advanced but half a day’s march from Baumgarten when he heard of
this. He ordered a halt, and retraced his steps as far as Frankenstein,
where he had a very strongly intrenched camp.

Frederick soon followed the Austrians with his whole army, hoping to
bring them to a decisive battle. But General Neipperg was conscious
that he was unable to cope with the Prussian army in the open field.
For a week there was manœuvring and counter-manœuvring with great skill
on both sides, General Neipperg baffling all the endeavors of Frederick
to bring him to a general action.

At length Frederick, weary of these unavailing efforts, dashed off in
rapid march toward the River Neisse, and with his vanguard, on the 11th
of September, crossed the river at the little town of Woitz, a few
miles above the city. The river was speedily spanned with his pontoon
bridges. As the whole army hurried forward to effect the passage,
Frederick, to his surprise, found the Austrian army directly before
him, occupying a position from which it could not be forced, and
where it could not be turned. For two days Frederick very earnestly
surveyed the region, and then, recrossing the river and gathering in
his pontoons, passed rapidly down the stream on the left or northern
bank, and, after a brief encampment of a few days, crossed the river
fifteen miles below the city. He then threw his army into the rear of
Neipperg’s, so as to cut off his communications and his daily convoys
of food. He thus got possession again of Oppeln, of the strong castle
of Friedland, and of the country generally between the Oder and the
Neisse rivers.

General Neipperg cautiously advanced toward him, and encamped in the
vicinity of Steinau--the same Steinau which but a few weeks before had
been laid in ashes as the Prussian troops passed through it. The two
armies were now separated from each other but by an interval of about
five miles. The country was flat, and it was not probable that the
contest which Frederick so eagerly sought could long be avoided.

Affairs were now assuming throughout Europe a very threatening aspect.
The two French armies, of forty thousand each, had already crossed the
Rhine to join their German allies in the war against Austria. One of
these armies, to be commanded by Belleisle, had crossed the river about
thirty miles below Strasbourg to unite with the Elector of Bavaria’s
troops and march upon Vienna. The other army, under Maillebois, had
crossed the Lower Rhine a few miles below Düsseldorf. Its mission was,
as we have mentioned, to encamp upon the frontiers of Hanover, prepared
to invade that province, in co-operation with the Prussian troops in
the camp at Göttin, should the King of England venture to raise a hand
in behalf of Austria. It was also in position to attack and overwhelm
Holland, England’s only ally, should that power manifest the slightest
opposition to the designs of Prussia and France. At the same time,
Sweden, on the 4th of August, had declared war against Russia, so that
no help could come to Austria from that quarter. Great diplomatic
ability had been displayed in guarding every point in these complicated
measures. The French minister, Belleisle, was probably the prominent
agent in these wide-spread combinations.[60]

The queen, Maria Theresa, still remained at Presburg, in her Hungarian
kingdom. The Aulic Council was with her. On the 15th of August Sir
Thomas Robinson had returned to Presburg with the intelligence of his
unsuccessful mission, and of the unrelenting determination of Frederick
to prosecute the war with the utmost vigor unless Silesia were
surrendered to him.

These tidings struck the Austrian council with consternation. The
French armies were declared to be the finest that had ever taken
the field. The Prussian army, in stolid bravery and perfection of
discipline, had never been surpassed. Germany was to be cut into four
equal parts, and France was to be the sovereign power on the Continent.

In this terrible emergence, the queen, resolute as she was, was almost
compelled, by the importunity of her counselors, to permit Sir Thomas
Robinson, who was acting for England far more than for Austria, to
go back to Frederick with the offer so humiliating to her, that she
would surrender to him one half of Silesia if he would withdraw his
armies and enter into an alliance with her against the French. The
high-spirited queen wrung her hands in anguish as she assented to this
decision, exclaiming passionately,

“If these terms are not accepted within a fortnight, I will not be
bound by them.”

Sir Thomas hastened back to Breslau, and anxiously entered into
communication with Lord Hyndford. The British minister entreated the
king to admit Sir Thomas to another interview, assuring him that he
came with new and more liberal propositions for a compromise. The king
replied, in substance, with his customary brusqueness,

“I will not see him. I wish to listen to no more of his offers. The
sooner he takes himself away the better.”

Sir Thomas, deeply chagrined, hastened back to Presburg. Acting in
behalf of the English cabinet, he trembled in view of the preponderance
of the French court and of the loss of Hanover. With the most
impassioned earnestness he entreated the queen to yield to the demands
of Frederick, and thus secure his alliance.

“High madam,” he said, fervently, “at this crisis, alliance with
Frederick is salvation to Austria. His continued hostility is utter
ruin. England can not help your majesty. The slightest endeavor would
cause the loss of Hanover.”

Thus pressed by England, and with equal earnestness by her own Aulic
Council, the queen again yielded, though almost frantic with grief,
and consented to surrender the whole of Lower Silesia to Frederick if
he would become her ally. As Frederick had offered these terms, it was
supposed, of course, that he would accept them. Sir Thomas was again
dispatched, at the top of his speed, to convey them to the camp of
Frederick. But the repulse of the king was peremptory and decisive. To
Lord Hyndford, soliciting an audience for the envoy, he replied,

“I will not see him. There was a time when I would have listened to a
compromise. That time has passed. I have now entered into arrangements
with France. Talk to me no more.”

Sir Thomas hastened back to Presburg in despair. Feeling the “game was
up,” and that there was no more hope, he asked permission to return
home. The British cabinet was in a state of consternation. France, the
dreaded rival of England, was attaining almost sovereign power over the
Continent of Europe. Frederick himself was uneasy. He had sufficient
penetration to be fully aware that he was aiding to create a resistless
power, which might, by-and-by, crush him. Sir Thomas, in a state of
great agitation, which was manifest in his disordered style, wrote from
Presburg to Lord Hyndford at Breslau as follows. The letter was dated
September 8, 1741.

“My lord, I could desire your lordship to summon up, if it were
necessary, the spirit of all your lordship’s instructions, and the
sense of the king, of the Parliament, and of the whole British nation.
It is upon this great moment that depends the fate, not of the house
of Austria, not of the empire, but of the house of Brunswick, of Great
Britain, of all Europe. I verily believe the King of Prussia himself
does not know the extent of the present danger. With whatever motive
he may act, there is not one, not that of the wildest resentment, that
can blind him to this degree--of himself perishing in the ruin he is
bringing upon others. With his concurrence, the French will, in less
than six weeks, be masters of the German empire. The weak Elector of
Bavaria is but their instrument. Prague and Vienna may, and probably
will, be taken in that short time. Will even the King of Prussia
himself be reserved to the last?”

These considerations probably weighed heavily upon the mind of
Frederick; for, after having so peremptorily repulsed the queen’s
messenger, he sent, on the 9th of September, Colonel Goltz with a
proposition to Lord Hyndford, which was substantially the same which
the queen in her anguish had consented to make. The strictest secrecy
was enjoined upon Colonel Goltz. The proposition was read from a paper
without signature, and was probably in the king’s handwriting, for
Lord Hyndford was not permitted to see the paper. He took a copy from
dictation, which was as follows:

“The whole of Lower Silesia; the River Neisse for the boundary; the
city of Neisse for us, as also Glutz; on the other side of the Oder,
the ancient boundary between the Duchies of Brieg and Oppeln. Namslau
for us. The affairs of religion in _statu quo_. No dependence upon
Bohemia. Cession eternal. In exchange we will go no farther. We will
besiege Neisse for form. The commandant shall surrender and depart. We
will quietly go into winter quarters; and they (the Austrians) can take
their army where they will. Let all be finished in twelve days.”

But Frederick did not seem to think himself at all bound by his
treaty obligations with France to refrain from entering into secret
arrangements with the foe which would promote his interests, however
antagonistic those arrangements might be to his assumed obligations.
He was the ally of France in the attempt to wrest territory from the
young Queen of Austria, and to weaken her power. His armies and those
of France were acting in co-operation. Frederick now proposed to the
common enemy that, if Silesia were surrendered to him, he would no
longer act in co-operation with his ally; but, that France might not
discover his perfidy, he would still pretend to make war. The Austrians
were to amuse themselves in defending Neisse from a sham siege until
the pleasant weeks of autumn were gone, and then they were to march,
with all their guns and ammunition, south to Vienna, there to fight
the French. Frederick, still assuming that he was the ally of France,
was to avail himself of the excuse that the season of ice and snow was
at hand, and withdraw into winter quarters. Such, in general, were the
terms which Frederick authorized his minister, Goltz, to propose to
Lord Hyndford, as the agent of England and Austria.

Most of our readers will pronounce this to be as unwarrantable an act
of perfidy as history has recorded. But, in justice to Frederick, we
ought to state that there are those who, while admitting all these
facts, do not condemn him for his course. It is surprising to see how
different are the opinions which intelligent men can form upon the same
actions. Mr. Carlyle writes, in reference to these events:

“Magnanimous I can by no means call Frederick to his allies and
neighbors, nor even superstitiously veracious in this business; but he
thoroughly understands, he alone, what just thing he wants out of it,
and what an enormous wigged mendacity it is he has got to deal with.
For the rest, he is at the gaming-table with these sharpers, their dice
all cogged, and he knows it, and ought to profit by his knowledge of
it, and, in short, to win his stake out of that foul, weltering melley,
and go home safe with it if he can.”

While these scenes of war and intrigue were transpiring, no one knowing
what alarming developments any day might present, Vienna was thrown
into a state of terror in apprehension of the immediate approach of
a French army to open upon it all the horrors of a bombardment. The
citizens were called out _en masse_ to work upon the fortifications.
The court fled to Presburg, in Hungary. The national archives were
hurried off to Grätz. The royal family was dispersed. There were but
six thousand troops in the city. General Neipperg, with nearly the
whole Austrian army, was a hundred and fifty miles distant to the
north, on the banks of the Neisse. The queen, on the 10th of September,
assembled at Presburg the Hungarian Parliament, consisting almost
exclusively of chivalric nobles renowned in war. The queen appeared
before them with her husband, the Grand-duke Francis, by her side, and
with a nurse attending, holding her infant son and heir. Addressing
them in Latin, in a brief, pathetic speech, she said:

“I am abandoned by all. Hostile invasion threatens the kingdom of
Hungary, our person, our children, our crown. I have no resource but in
your fidelity and valor. I invoke the ancient Hungarian virtue to rise
swiftly and save me.”

The queen was radiantly beautiful in form and features. Her eyes were
filled with tears. The scene and the words roused the zeal of these
wild Magyar warriors to the highest pitch. They drew their sabres,
flourished them over their heads, and with united voice shouted
_Moriamur pro nostro rege, Maria Theresa_--“Let us die for our king,
Maria Theresa.” “They always,” writes Voltaire, “give the title of king
to their queen. In fact, no princess ever better deserved that title.”


Between the two camps of the Austrians and Prussians, south of the
River Neisse, there was a castle called Little Schnellendorf, belonging
to Count Von Steinberg. It was a very retired retreat, far from
observation. Arrangements were made for a secret meeting there between
Frederick and General Neipperg, to adjust the details of their plot.
It was of the utmost importance that the perfidious measure should be
concealed from France. The French minister, Valori, was in the Prussian
camp, watching every movement with an eagle eye. “Frederick,” writes
Carlyle, “knows that the French are false to him. He by no means
intends to be romantically true to them, and that they also know.”

On Monday morning, the 9th of October, 1741, the British minister, Lord
Hyndford, accompanied by General Neipperg and General Lentulus from
the Austrian camp, repaired to this castle, ostensibly to fix some
cartel for the exchange of prisoners. Frederick rode out that morning
with General Goltz, assuming that he was going to visit some of his
outposts. In leaving, he said to the French minister Valori, “I am
afraid that I shall not be home to dinner.” At the same time, to occupy
the attention of M. Valori, he was invited to dine with Prince Leopold.
By circuitous and unfrequented paths, the king and his companion hied
to the castle.


Frederick cautiously refused to sign his name to any paper. Verbally,
he agreed that in one week from that time, on the 16th, General
Neipperg should have liberty to retire to the south through the
mountains, unmolested save by sham attacks in his rear. A small
garrison was to be left in Neisse. After maintaining a sham siege for
a fortnight, they were to surrender the city. Sham hostilities, to
deceive the French, were to be continued until the year was out, and
then a treaty was to be signed and ratified.

His majesty pledged his _word of honor_ that he would fulfill these
obligations, but declared that, should the slightest intimation of the
agreement leak out, so that the French should discover it, he would
deny the whole thing, and refuse in any way to be bound by it. This was
assented to.

At the close of the business, the king, who had been exceedingly
courteous during the whole interview, took General Neipperg aside, and,
beckoning Lord Hyndford to join them, said, addressing Lord Hyndford,

“I wish you too, my lord, to hear every word I speak to General
Neipperg. His Britannic majesty knows, or should know, my intentions
never were to do him hurt, but only to take care of myself. And pray
inform him that I have ordered my army in Brandenburg to go into winter
quarters, and break up that camp at Göttin.”

The reader will bear in mind that the camp at Göttin, menacing Hanover,
was acting in co-operation with Frederick’s ally, France, and that
forty thousand men had been sent from France to the aid of those
Prussian troops. Frederick now, entering into secret treaty with the
enemy, while still feigning to be true to his ally, was perfidiously
withdrawing his troops so as to leave the French unsupported. His
treachery went even farther than this. In the presence of Lord
Hyndford, the representative of England, he informed the Austrian
general minutely how he could, to the greatest advantage, attack the

“Join,” said he, “the Austrian force under Prince Lobkowitz in Bohemia.
Fall immediately and impetuously upon the French, before they can
combine their forces to resist you. If you succeed in this, perhaps I
will by-and-by join you; if you fail--well, you know every one must
look out for himself.”

The audacious duplicity of this ambitious young king was still more
conspicuously developed by his entering into a secret correspondence
with the court of Austria, through certain generals in the
Austrian army. And that he might the more effectually disguise his
treachery from his allies, the French, he requested Lord Hyndford
to write dispatches to various courts--to Presburg, to England, to
Dresden--complaining that Frederick was _deaf to all proposals; that
nothing could influence him to enter into terms of reconciliation with
Austria_. It was to be so arranged that the couriers carrying these
dispatches of falsehood should be captured by the French, so that these
documents should be carried to the French court.

And, in addition to all this, the more effectually to hoodwink the
eagle eyes of the French minister in the Prussian camp, M. Valori, the
following stratagem was arranged. The king was to invite M. Valori to
dine with him. While at the table, merry over their wine, a courier was
to arrive, and with trumpet blast announce dispatches for the king.
They were to be delivered to the king at the table. He was to open them
before Valori, to find that they consisted of a bitter complaint and
remonstrance, on the part of the British minister, that the king was
inflexible in repelling all advances toward an amicable adjustment of
their difficulties, that unrelentingly he persisted in co-operating
with France in her warfare against Austria. All this farce took place
according to the programme. M. Valori was effectually deceived.

Some of our readers may think that the above narrative is quite
incredible; that a young sovereign, who had just written the
_Anti-Machiavel_, and who knew that the eyes of the world were upon
him, could not be guilty of such perfidy. But, unhappily, there is no
possible room for doubt. The documentary evidence is ample. There is no
contradictory testimony.

General Neipperg, in his account of the interview, writes, in reference
to Frederick: “He is a very spirited young king. He will not stand
contradiction; but a great deal may be made of him if you seem to adopt
his ideas, and honor him in a delicate, dexterous way. He did not in
the least hide his engagements with France, Bavaria, Saxony. But he
would really, so far as I could judge, prefer friendship with Austria
on the given terms. He seems to have a kind of pique at Saxony, and
manifests no favor for the French and their plans.”

Mr. Carlyle, who, with wonderful accuracy, and with impartiality which
no one will call in question, has recorded the facts in Frederick’s
career, gives the story as it is here told. In the following terms Mr.
Carlyle comments upon these events:

“Of the political morality of this game of fast-and-loose what have
we to say, except that the dice on both sides seem to be loaded; that
logic might be chopped upon it forever; that a candid mind will settle
what degree of wisdom (which is always essential veracity) and what of
folly (which is always falsity) there was in Frederick and the others;
whether, or to what degree, there was a better course open to Frederick
in the circumstances; and, in fine, it will have to be granted that you
can not work in pitch and keep hands evidently clean. Frederick has
got into the enchanted wilderness populous with devils and their work,
alas! It will be long before he get out of it again; _his_ life waning
toward night before he get victoriously out, and bequeath his conquest
to luckier successors!”

On the 16th of November General Neipperg broke up his camp at Neisse,
according to the arrangement and, leaving a small garrison in the city
to encounter the sham siege, defiled through the mountains on the south
into Moravia. The Prussians, pretending to pursue, hung upon his rear
for a short distance, making as much noise and inflicting as little
harm as possible. General Neipperg pressed rapidly on to Vienna, where
he was exultingly welcomed to aid in defending the city menaced by the

Frederick on the 17th, the day after the departure of the Austrian
army, invested Neisse. He had an embarrassing part to play. He was to
conduct a sham siege in the presence of M. Valori, who was not only a
man of ability, but who possessed much military intelligence. Feigning
the utmost zeal, Frederick opened his trenches, and ostentatiously
manœuvred his troops. He sent the young Prince Leopold, with fifteen
thousand horse and foot, into the Glatz country, many leagues to the
east, to guard against surprise from an enemy, where no enemy was to
be found. He marked out his parallels, sent imperious summonses for
surrender, and dispatched reconnoitring parties abroad. M. Valori
began to be surprised--amazed. “What does all this mean?” he said to
himself. “They have great need of some good engineers here.”

With that vigilant eye upon him, Frederick was compelled to some vigor
of action. On the night of October 17th he commenced the bombardment.
The noise was terrific. It could not be prevented but that the shot
and shell should do some harm. Some buildings were burned; several
lives were lost. M. Valori, who knew that the result could not be
doubtful, was induced to go to Breslau and await the surrender. After
the garrison had made apparently a gallant resistance, and Frederick
had achieved apparent prodigies of valor, the city was surrendered on
the 31st of October. Most of the garrison immediately enlisted in the
Prussian service.

Thus the last fortress in Silesia fell into the hands of Frederick.
There was no longer any foe left in the province to dispute his
acquisition. He took possession of Neisse on the 1st of November,
celebrating his victory with illuminations and all the approved
demonstrations of public rejoicing.


On the 4th of November he returned to Breslau, entering the city with
great military display. Seated in a splendid carriage, he was drawn
through the streets by eight cream-colored horses. Taking his seat upon
the ancient ducal throne, he was crowned, with great ceremonial pomp,
Sovereign Duke of Lower Silesia. Four hundred of the notables of the
dukedom, in gala dresses, and taking oaths of homage, contributed to
the imposing effect of the spectacle. Illuminations, balls, and popular
festivities, in great variety, closed the triumph.

On the morning of the 9th of November Frederick set out for Berlin,
visiting Glogau by the way. On the 11th he entered Berlin, where he
was received by the whole population with enthusiastic demonstrations
of joy. For a short time he probably thought that through guile he
had triumphed, and that his troubles were now at an end. But such
victories, under the providence of God, are always of short duration.
Frederick soon found that his troubles had but just begun. He had
entered upon a career of toil, care, and peril, from which he was to
have no escape until he was ready to sink into his grave.

But a few days after his return, Lord Hyndford, who had followed
the king to Berlin, met his majesty in one of the apartments of the
palace. Frederick, struggling to conceal the emotions with which he was
agitated, said to him,

“My lord, the court of Vienna has entirely divulged our secret.
The Dowager Empress has acquainted the court of Bavaria with it.
Wasner, the Austrian minister at Paris, has communicated it to the
French minister, Fleury. The Austrian minister at St. Petersburg, M.
Linzendorf, has told the court of Russia of it. Sir Thomas Robinson has
divulged it to the court of Dresden. Several members of the British
government have talked about it publicly.”

Frederick immediately and publicly denied that he had ever entered
into any such arrangement with Austria, and declared the whole story
to be a mere fabrication. Having by the stratagem obtained Neisse, and
delivered Silesia from the presence of the Austrian army, he assured
the French of his unchanging fidelity to their interests, and with
renewed vigor commenced co-operating with them in the furtherance of
some new ambitious plans.



  Frederick’s Motives for the War.--Marriage of William Augustus.--
    Testimony of Lord Macaulay.--Frederick and his Allies.--Visit to
    Dresden.--Military Energy.--Charles Albert chosen Emperor.--The
    Coronation.--Effeminacy of the Saxon Princes.--Disappointment and
    Vexation of Frederick.--He withdraws in Chagrin.--The Cantonment on
    the Elbe.--Winter Campaigning.--The Concentration at Chrudim.

It was on the 11th of November, 1741, that Frederick, elated with
his conquest of Silesia, had returned to Berlin. In commencing the
enterprise he had said, “Ambition, interest, and the desire to make
the world speak of me, vanquished all, and war was determined on.”
He had, indeed, succeeded in making the “world speak” of him. He had
suddenly become the most prominent man in Europe. Some extolled his
exploits. Some expressed amazement at his perfidy. Many, recognizing
his sagacity and his tremendous energy, sought his alliance.
Embassadors from the various courts of Europe crowded his capital.
Fourteen sovereign princes, with many foreigners of the highest rank,
were counted among the number. The king was in high spirits. While
studiously maturing his plans for the future, he assumed the air of a
thoughtless man of fashion, and dazzled the eyes and bewildered the
minds of his guests with feasts and pageants.

[Illustration: FREDERICK THE GREAT. ÆT. 30]

On the 7th of January, 1742, Frederick’s eldest brother, William
Augustus, was married to Louisa Amelia, a younger sister of the king’s
neglected wife, Elizabeth. The king himself graced the festival, in
gorgeous attire, and very successfully plied all his wonderful arts
of fascination. “He appeared,” says Bielfeld, “so young, so gay, so
graceful, that I could not have refrained from loving him, even if he
had been a stranger.”

But, in the midst of these scenes of gayety, the king was contemplating
the most complicated combinations of diplomacy. Europe was apparently
thrown into a state of chaos. It was Frederick’s one predominant
thought to see what advantages he could secure to Prussia from the
general wreck and ruin. Lord Macaulay, speaking of these scenes, says:

“The selfish rapacity of the King of Prussia gave the signal to his
neighbors. His example quieted their sense of shame. The whole world
sprang to arms. On the head of Frederick is all the blood which was
shed in a war which raged during many years, and in every quarter of
the globe--the blood of the column of Fontenoy, the blood of the brave
mountaineers who were slaughtered at Culloden. The evils produced
by this wickedness were felt in lands where the name of Prussia was
unknown. In order that he might rob a neighbor whom he had promised
to defend, black men fought on the coast of Coromandel, and red men
scalped each other by the great lakes of North America.”

As we have stated, Frederick had declared that if any rumor should be
spread abroad of the fact that he had entered into a secret treaty with
Austria, he would deny it, and would no longer pay any regard to its
stipulations. He had adopted the precaution not to affix his signature
to any paper. By this ignoble stratagem he had obtained Neisse and
Silesia. The rumor of the secret treaty had gone abroad. He had denied
it. And now, in accordance with the principles of his peculiar code of
honor, he felt himself at liberty to pursue any course which policy
might dictate.

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 make 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.

The probable object of the Austrian court in revealing the secret
treaty of Schnellendorf was to set Frederick and France at variance.
Frederick, much exasperated, not only denied the treaty, but professed
increased devotion to the interests of Louis XV. The allies, consisting
of France, Prussia, Bavaria, and Saxony, now combined to wrest Moravia
from Maria Theresa, and annex it to Saxony. This province, governed
by a marquis, was a third larger than the State of Massachusetts, and
contained a population of about a million and a half. Moravia bounded
Silesia on the south. Frederick made a special treaty with the King of
Saxony, that the southern boundary of Silesia should be a full German
mile, which was between four and five English miles, beyond the line
of the River Neisse. With Frederick’s usual promptitude, he insisted
that commissioners should be immediately sent to put down the boundary
stones. France was surprised that the King of Saxony should have
consented to the surrender of so important a strip of his territory.

Frederick paid but little regard to his allies save as he could make
them subservient to the accomplishment of his purposes. He pushed
his troops forward many leagues south into Moravia, and occupied the
important posts of Troppau, Friedenthal, and Olmütz. These places were
seized the latter part of December. The king hoped thus to be able,
early in the spring, to carry the war to the gates of Vienna.

On the 18th of January, 1742, Frederick visited Dresden, to confer
with Augustus III., King of Poland, who was also Elector of Saxony,
and whose realms were to be increased by the annexation of Moravia.
His Polish majesty was a weak man, entirely devoted to pleasure. His
irresolute mind, subjected to the dominant energies of the Prussian
king, was as clay in the hands of the potter.

“You are now,” said Frederick, “by consent of the allies, King of
Moravia. Now is the time, now or never, to become so in fact. Push
forward your Saxon troops. The Austrian forces are weak in that
country. At Iglau, just over the border from Austria, there is a large
magazine of military stores, which can easily be seized. Urge forward
your troops. The French will contribute strong divisions. I will
join you with twenty thousand men. We can at once take possession of
Moravia, and perhaps march directly on to Vienna.”

Frederick, in describing this interview, writes: “Augustus answered
_yes_ to every thing, with an air of being convinced, joined to a look
of great _ennui_. Count Brühl,[61] whom this interview displeased,
interrupted it by announcing to his majesty that the Opera was about
to commence. Ten kingdoms to conquer would not have kept the King of
Poland a minute longer. He went, therefore, to the Opera; and the King
of Prussia obtained at once, in spite of those who opposed it, a final

The next morning, in the intense cold of midwinter, Frederick set
out several hours before daylight for the city of Prague, which the
French and Bavarians had captured on the 25th of November. Declining
all polite attentions, for business was urgent, he eagerly sought M.
De Séchelles, the renowned head of the commissariat department, and
made arrangements with him to perform the extremely difficult task of
supplying the army with food in a winter’s campaign.

The next morning, at an early hour, he again dashed off to the east,
toward Glatz, a hundred miles distant, where a portion of the Prussian
troops were in cantonments, under the young Prince Leopold. Within a
week he had ridden over seven hundred miles, commencing his journey
every morning as early as four o’clock, and doing a vast amount of
business by the way.

It will be remembered that, in the note which M. Valori accidentally
dropped, and which Frederick furtively obtained, the minister was
instructed by the French court not to give up Glatz to the Prussian
king if he could possibly avoid it. But Frederick had now seized the
city, and the region around, by force of arms, and held them with a
gripe not to be relaxed. Glatz was a Catholic town. In the convent
there was an image of the Virgin, whose tawdry robes had become
threadbare and faded. The wife of the Austrian commandant had promised
the Virgin a new dress if she would keep the Prussians out of the city.
Frederick heard of this. As he took possession of the city, with grim
humor he assured the Virgin that she should not lose in consequence of
the favor she had shown the Prussians. New and costly garments were
immediately provided for her at the expense of the Prussian king.

On the 26th of January Frederick set out from Glatz, with a strong
cortége, for Olmütz, far away to the southeast. This place his troops
had occupied for a month past. His route led through a chain of
mountains, whose bleak and dreary defiles were clogged with drifted
snow, and swept by freezing gales. It was a dreadful march, accompanied
by many disasters and much suffering.

General Stille, one of the aids of Frederick on this expedition, says
that the king, with his retinue, mounted and in carriages, pushed
forward the first day to Landskron. “It was,” he writes, “such a march
as I never witnessed before. Through the ice and through the snow,
which covered that dreadful chain of mountains between Böhmen and
Mähren, we did not arrive till very late. Many of our carriages were
broken down, and others were overturned more than once.”[63]

Frederick, ever regardless of fatigue and exposure for himself, never
spared his followers. It was after midnight of the 28th when the weary
column, frostbitten, hungry, and exhausted, reached Olmütz. The king
was hospitably entertained in the fine palace of the Catholic bishop,
“a little, gouty man,” writes Stille, “about fifty-two years of age,
with a countenance open and full of candor.”

Orders had been issued for all the Prussian troops to be rendezvoused
by the 5th of February at Wischau. They were then to march immediately
about seventy-five miles west, to Trebitsch, which was but a few
miles south of Iglau, the point of attack. Here they were to join the
French and Saxon troops. The force thus concentrated would amount to
twenty-four thousand Prussian troops, twenty thousand Saxons, and
five thousand French horsemen. With this army--forty-nine thousand
strong--Frederick was to advance, by one short day’s march, upon Iglau,
where the Austrian garrison amounted to but ten thousand men.

In the mean time, on the 24th of January, Charles Albert, King of
Bavaria, through the intrigues of the French minister and the diplomacy
of Frederick, was chosen Emperor of Germany. This election Frederick
regarded as a great triumph on his part. It was the signal defeat of
Austria. Very few of the sons of Adam have passed a more joyless and
dreary earthly pilgrimage than was the fortune of Charles Albert. At
the time of his election he was forty-five years of age, of moderate
stature, polished manners, and merely ordinary abilities. He was
suffering from a complication of the most painful disorders. His
previous life had been but a series of misfortunes, and during all the
rest of his days he was assailed by the storms of adversity. In death
alone he found refuge from a life almost without a joy.

Charles Albert, who took the title of “the Emperor Charles VII.,” was
the son of Maximilian, King of Bavaria, who was ruined at Blenheim, and
who, being placed under the ban of the empire, lived for many years a
pensioner upon the charity of Louis XIV. Charles was then but seven
years of age, a prince by birth, yet homeless, friendless, and in
poverty. With varying fortunes, he subsequently married a daughter of
the Emperor Joseph. She was a cousin of Maria Theresa. Upon the death
of his father in 1726, Charles Albert became King of Bavaria; but he
was involved in debt beyond all hope of extrication. The intrigues of
Frederick placed upon his wan and wasted brow the imperial crown of
Germany. The coronation festivities took place at Frankfort, with great
splendor, on the 12th of February, 1742.

Wilhelmina, who was present, gives a graphic account, with her
vivacious pen, of many of the scenes, both tragic and comic, which

“Of the coronation itself,” she writes, “though it was truly grand,
I will say nothing. The poor emperor could not enjoy it much. He was
dying of gout and other painful diseases, and could scarcely stand
upon his feet. He spends most of his time in bed, courting all manner
of German princes. He has managed to lead my margraf into a foolish
bargain about raising men for him, which bargain I, on fairly getting
sight of it, persuade my margraf to back out of; and, in the end, he
does so. The emperor had fallen so ill he was considered even in danger
of his life. Poor prince! What a lot he had achieved for himself!”

While these coronation splendors were transpiring, Frederick was
striving, with all his characteristic enthusiasm, to push forward
his Moravian campaign to a successful issue. Inspired by as tireless
energies as ever roused a human heart, he was annoyed beyond measure
by the want of efficient co-operation on the part of his less zealous
allies. Neither the Saxons nor the French could keep pace with his
impetuosity. The princes who led the Saxon troops, the petted sons
of kings and nobles, were loth to abandon the luxurious indulgences
to which they had been accustomed. When they arrived at a capacious
castle where they found warm fires, an abundant larder, and sparkling
wines, they would linger there many days, decidedly preferring those
comforts to campaigning through the blinding, smothering snowstorm,
and bivouacking on the bleak and icy plains, swept by the gales of
a northern winter. The French were equally averse to these terrible
marches, far more to be dreaded than the battle-field.

Frederick remonstrated, argued, implored, but all in vain. He was not
disposed to allow considerations of humanity, regard for suffering
or life, to stand in the way of his ambitious plans. For two months,
from February 5th, when Frederick rendezvoused the Prussians at
Wischau, until April 5th, he found himself, to his excessive chagrin,
unable to accomplish any thing of moment, in consequence of the
lukewarmness of his allies. He was annoyed almost beyond endurance. It
was indeed important, in a military point of view, that there should
be an immediate march upon Iglau. It was certain that the Austrians,
forewarned, would soon remove their magazines or destroy them. The
utmost expedition was essential to the success of the enterprise.

The young officers in the Saxon army, having disposed their troops
in comfortable barracks, had established their own head-quarters in
the magnificent castle of Budischau, in the vicinity of Trebitsch.
“Nothing like this superb mansion,” writes Stille, “is to be seen
except in theatres, on the drop-scene of the enchanted castle.” Here
these young lords made themselves very comfortable. They had food in
abundance, luxuriously served, with the choicest wines. Roaring fires
in huge stoves converted, within the walls, winter into genial summer.
Here these pleasure-loving nobles, with song, and wine, and such
favorites, male and female, as they carried with them, loved to linger.


At length, however, Frederick succeeded in pushing forward a detachment
of his army to seize the magazines and the post he so greatly coveted.
The troops marched all night. Toward morning, almost perishing with
cold, they built enormous fires. Having warmed their numbed and
freezing limbs, they pressed on to Iglau, to find it abandoned by
the garrison. The Austrian general Lobkowitz had carried away every
thing which could be removed, and then had reduced to ashes seventeen
magazines, filled with military and commissary stores. The king was
exceedingly chagrined by this barren conquest. He was anxious to
advance in all directions, to take full possession of Moravia, before
the Austrians could send re-enforcements to garrison its fortresses;
but the Saxon lords refused to march any farther in this severe winter
campaign. Frederick complained to the Saxon king. His Polish majesty
sent an angry order to his troops to go forward. Sullenly they obeyed,
interposing every obstacle in their power. Some of the leaders threw
up their commissions and went home. Frederick, with his impetuous
Prussians and his unwilling Saxons, spread over Moravia, levying
contributions and seizing the strong places.

The Saxons, much irritated, were rather more disposed to thwart his
plans than to co-operate in them. The Austrian horsemen were vigilant,
pouncing upon every unprotected detachment. Frederick marched for
the capture of Brünn, the strongest fortress in Moravia. It had a
garrison of seven thousand men, under the valiant leader Roth. To
arrest the march of Frederick, and leave him shelterless on the
plains, the Austrian general laid sixteen villages in ashes. The poor
peasants--men, women, and children--foodless and shelterless, were thus
cast loose upon the drifted fields. Who can gauge such woes?

Frederick, finding that he could not rely upon the Saxons, sent to
Silesia for re-enforcements of his own troops. Brünn could not be
taken without siege artillery. He was capturing Moravia for the King
of Poland. Frederick dispatched a courier to his Polish majesty at
Dresden, requesting him immediately to forward the siege guns. The
reply of the king, who was voluptuously lounging in his palaces, was,
“I can not meet the expense of the carriage.” Frederick contemptuously
remarked, “He has just purchased a green diamond which would have
carried them thither and back again.” The Prussian king sent for siege
artillery of his own, drew his lines close around Brünn, and urged
Chevalier De Saxe, general of the Saxon horse, to co-operate with him
energetically in battering the city into a surrender. The chevalier
interposed one obstacle, and another, and another. At last he replied,
showing his dispatches, “I have orders to retire from this business
altogether, and join the French at Prague.”

Frederick declares, in his history, that never were tidings more
welcome to him than these. He had embarked in the enterprise for the
conquest of Moravia with the allies. He could not, without humiliation,
withdraw. But, now that the ally, in whose behalf he assumed to be
fighting, had abandoned him, he could, without dishonor, relinquish
the field. Leaving the Saxons to themselves, with many bitter words
of reproach, he countermanded his order for Silesian re-enforcements,
assembled his troops at Wischau, and then, by a rapid march through
Olmütz, returned to his strong fortresses in the north.

The Saxons were compelled to a precipitate retreat. Their march was
long, harassing, and full of suffering, from the severe cold of those
latitudes, and from the assaults of the fierce Pandours, every where
swarming around. Villages were burned, and maddened men wreaked direful
vengeance on each other. Scarcely eight thousand of their number, a
frostbitten, starving, emaciate band, reached the borders of Saxony.
Curses loud and deep were heaped upon the name of Frederick. His Polish
majesty, though naturally good-natured, was greatly exasperated in
view of the conduct of the Prussian king in forcing the troops into
the severities of such a campaign. Frederick himself was also equally
indignant with Augustus for his want of co-operation. The French
minister, Valori, met him on his return from these disasters. He
says that his look was ferocious and dark; that his laugh was bitter
and sardonic; that a vein of suppressed rage, mockery, and contempt
pervaded every word he uttered.

Frederick withdrew his troops into strong cantonments in the valley
of the upper Elbe. This beautiful river takes its rise in romantic
chasms, among the ridges and spurs of the Giant Mountains, on the
southeastern borders of Silesia. Here the Prussian army was distributed
in small towns along a line following the windings of the stream,
about forty miles in length. All the troops could be concentrated in
forty-eight hours. The encampments faced the south, with the Elbe
behind them. At some little distance north of the river, safe from
surprise, the magazines were stationed. The mountains of Bohemia rose
sublimely in the distant background. In a letter to M. Jordan, under
date of Chrudim, May 5th, 1742, Frederick expresses his views of this
profitless campaign in the following terms:


“Moravia, which is a very bad country, could not be held, owing to want
of provisions. The town of Brünn could not be taken because the Saxons
had no cannon. When you wish to enter a town, you must first make a
hole to get in by. Besides, the country has been reduced to such a
state that the enemy can not subsist in it, and you will soon see him
leave it. There is your little military lesson. I would not have you at
a loss what to think of our operations, or what to say, should other
people talk of them in your presence.”

Elsewhere, Frederick, speaking of these two winter campaigns, says:
“Winter campaigns are bad, and should always be avoided, except in
cases of necessity. The best army in the world is liable to be ruined
by them. I myself have made more winter campaigns than any general of
this age. But there were reasons. In 1740 there were hardly above two
Austrian regiments in Silesia, at the death of the Emperor Charles VI.
Being determined to assert my right to that duchy, I had to try it at
once, in winter, and carry the war, if possible, to the banks of the
Neisse. Had I waited till spring, we must have begun the war between
Crossen and Glogau. What was now to be gained by one march would then
have cost us three or four campaigns. A sufficient reason, this, for
campaigning in winter. If I did not succeed in the winter campaigns
of 1742, a campaign which I made to deliver Moravia, then overrun by
Austrians, it was because the French acted like fools, and the Saxons
like traitors.”[64]

Frederick, establishing his head-quarters at Chrudim, did not suppose
the Austrians would think of moving upon him until the middle of June.
Not till then would the grass in that cold region afford forage. But
Maria Theresa was inspired by energies fully equal to those of her
renowned assailant. Undismayed by the powerful coalition against her,
she sent Prince Charles, her brother-in-law, early in May, at the head
of an army thirty thousand strong, to advance by a secret, rapid flank
march, and seize the Prussian magazines beyond the Elbe.

The ever-wakeful eye of Frederick detected the movement. His beautiful
encampment at Chrudim had lasted but two days. Instantly couriers
were dispatched in all directions to rendezvous the Prussian troops
on a vast plain in the vicinity of Chrudim. But a few hours elapsed
ere every available man in the Prussian ranks was on the march. This
movement rendered it necessary for Prince Charles to concentrate the
Austrian army also. The field upon which these hosts were gathering for
battle was an undulating prairie, almost treeless, with here and there
a few hamlets of clustered peasant cottages scattered around.


It was a serene, cloudless May morning when Frederick rode upon a
small eminence to view the approach of his troops, and to form them
in battle array. General Stille, who was an eye-witness of the scene,
describes the spectacle as one of the most beautiful and magnificent
which was ever beheld. The transparent atmosphere, the balmy air,
transmitting with wonderful accuracy the most distant sounds, the
smooth, wide-spreading prairie, the hamlets, to which distance lent
enchantment, surmounted by the towers or spires of the churches,
the winding columns of infantry and cavalry, their polished weapons
flashing in the sunlight, the waving of silken and gilded banners,
while bugle peals and bursts of military airs floated now faintly, and
now loudly, upon the ear, the whole scene being bathed in the rays of
the most brilliant of spring mornings--all together presented war in
its brightest hues, divested of every thing revolting.[65]

There were nearly thirty thousand men, infantry and cavalry, thus
assembling under the banners of Frederick for battle. They were in as
perfect state of drill as troops have ever attained, and were armed
with the most potent implements of war which that age could furnish.
The king was visibly affected by the spectacle. Whether humane
considerations touched his heart, or merely poetic emotion moved him,
we can not tell. But he was well aware that within a few hours not
merely hundreds, but thousands of those men, torn by shot and shell,
would be prostrate in their blood upon the plain; and he could not but
know that for all the carnage and the suffering, he, above all others,
would be responsible at the bar of God.

“The king,” writes Stille, “though fatigued, would not rest satisfied
with reports or distant view. Personally he made the tour of the whole
camp, to see that every thing was right, and posted the pickets himself
before retiring.”



  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.

It was the aim of Prince Charles to get between Frederick’s encampment
at Chrudim and his French allies, under Marshal Broglio, at Prague.
When discovered by Frederick, the Austrian army was on the rapid march
along a line about fifteen miles nearly southwest of Chrudim. It thus
threatened to cut Frederick’s communication with Prague, which was on
the Moldau, about sixty miles west of the Prussian encampment. The
forces now gathering for a decisive battle were nearly equal. The
reader would not be interested in the description of the strategic and
tactical movements of the next two days. The leaders of both parties,
with great military sagacity, were accumulating and concentrating their
forces for a conflict, which, under the circumstances, would doubtless
prove ruinous to the one or the other. A battle upon that open plain,
with equal forces, was of the nature of a duel, in which one or the
other of the combatants must fall.

On the morning of the 17th of May Frederick’s army was drawn out in
battle array, facing south, near the village of Chotusitz, about
fifteen miles west of Chrudim. Almost within cannon-shot of him, upon
the same plain, near the village of Czaslau, facing north, was the
army of Prince Charles. The field was like a rolling western prairie,
with one or two sluggish streams running through it; and here and
there marshes, which neither infantry nor cavalry could traverse. The
accompanying map will give the reader an idea of the nature of the
ground and the position of the hostile forces.


  _a. Prussian Camp. b b. Prussian Infantry. c c. Prussian Cavalry.
      d. Position of Buddenbrock. e e. Austrian Infantry.
      f f. Austrian Cavalry. g. Austrian Hussars._]

The sun rose clear and cloudless over the plain, soon to be crimsoned
with blood and darkened by the smoke of battle. The Prussians took
position in accordance with very minute directions given to the young
Prince Leopold by Frederick. It was manifest to the most unskilled
observer that the storm of battle would rage over many miles, as the
infantry charged to and fro; as squadrons of strongly-mounted cavalry
swept the field; as bullets, balls, and shells were hurled in all
directions from the potent enginery of war.

About seven o’clock in the morning the king ascended an eminence, and
carefully scanned the field, where sixty thousand men were facing each
other, soon to engage in mutual slaughter. There were two spectacles
which arrested his attention. The one was the pomp, and pageantry,
and panoply of war, with its serried ranks, its prancing steeds, its
flashing armor, its waving banners, its inspiriting bugle-peals--a
scene in itself beautiful and sublime in the highest conceivable degree.

But there was another picture which met the eye of the king very
different in its aspect. We know not whether it at all touched his
heart. It was that of the poor peasants, with their mothers, their
wives, their children, hurrying from their hamlets in all directions,
in the utmost dismay. Grandmothers tottered beneath the burden of
infant children. Fathers and mothers struggled on with the household
goods they were striving to rescue from impending ruin. The cry of
maidens and children reached the ear as they fled from the tramp of the
war-horse and the approaching carnage of the death-dealing artillery.

Frederick, having carefully scanned the Austrian lines for an instant
or two, gave the signal, and all his batteries opened their thunders.
Under cover of that storm of iron, several thousand of the cavalry, led
by the veteran General Bredow, deployed from behind some eminences,
and first at a gentle trot, and then upon the most impetuous run, with
flashing sabres, hurled themselves upon the left wing of the Austrian
lines. The ground was dry and sandy, and a prodigious cloud of dust
enveloped them. For a moment the tornado, vital with human energies,
swept on, apparently unobstructed. The first line of the Austrian horse
was met, crushed, annihilated. But the second stood as the rock breasts
the waves, horse against horse, rider against rider, sabre against
sabre. Nothing met the eye but one vast eddying whirlpool of dust, as
if writhing in volcanic energies, while here and there the flash of
fire and the gleam of steel flickered madly through it.

The battle, thus commenced, continued to rage for four long hours,
with all its demon energies, its blood, its wounds, its oaths, its
shrieks, its death; on the right wing, on the left wing, in the centre;
till some ten or twelve thousand, some accounts say more, of these
poor peasant soldiers lay prostrate upon the plain, crushed by the
hoof, torn by the bullet, gashed by the sabre. Many were dead. Many
were dying. Many had received wounds which would cripple them until
they should totter into their graves. At the close of these four hours
of almost superhuman effort, the villages all around in flames, the
Austrians slowly, sullenly retired from the contest. Prince Charles,
having lost nearly seven thousand men, with his remaining forces
breathless, exhausted, bleeding, retired through Czaslau, and vanished
over the horizon to the southwest. Frederick, with his forces almost
equally breathless, exhausted, and bleeding, and counting five thousand
of his soldiers strewn over the plain, in death or wounds, remained
master of the field. Such was the famous battle of Chotusitz.

In the following terms, Frederick, the moment the battle was over,
announced his victory, not to his wife, but to his friend Jordan:

            “From the Field of Battle of Chotusitz, May 17, 1742.

  “DEAR JORDAN,--I must tell you, as gayly as I can, that we
  have beaten the enemy soundly, and that we are all pretty well
  after it. Poor Rothenburg is wounded in the breast and in the
  arm, but, as it is hoped, without danger. Adieu. You will be
  happy, I think, at the good news I send you. My compliments to

Frederick did not pursue the Austrians after this victory. Nine acres
of ground were required to bury the dead. He rented this land from the
proprietor for twenty-five years. His alienation from his allies was
such that, without regard to them, he was disposed to make peace with
Austria upon the best terms he could for himself. England also, alarmed
in view of the increasing supremacy of France, was so anxious to detach
Frederick, with his invincible troops, from the French alliance, that
the British cabinet urged Maria Theresa to make any sacrifice whatever
that might be necessary to secure peace with Prussia. Frederick,
influenced by such considerations, buried the illustrious Austrian
dead with the highest marks of military honor, and treated with marked
consideration his distinguished prisoners of war.

Secret negotiations were immediately opened at Breslau, in Silesia,
between England, Austria, and Prussia. Maria Theresa, harassed by the
entreaties of her cabinet and by the importunities of the British
court, consented to all that Frederick demanded.

The French, who, through their shrewd embassador, kept themselves
informed of all that was transpiring, were quite alarmed in view of the
approaching accommodation between Prussia and Austria. It is said that
Frederick, on the 6th of June, in reply to the earnest remonstrances of
the French minister, Marshal Belleisle, against his withdrawal from the
alliance, frankly said to him,

“All that I ever wanted, more than I ever demanded, Austria now offers
me. Can any one blame me that I close such an alliance as ours all
along has been, when such terms are presented to me as Austria now

On the 15th of June Frederick gave a grand dinner to his generals at
his head-quarters. In an after-dinner speech he said to them,

“Gentlemen, I announce to you that, as I never wished to oppress the
Queen of Hungary, I have formed the resolution of agreeing with that
princess, and accepting the proposals she has made me, in satisfaction
of my rights.”

Toasts were then drank with great enthusiasm to the health of “Maria
Theresa, Queen of Hungary,” to “the queen’s consort, Francis,
Grand-duke of Lorraine;” and universal and cordial was the response of
applause when the toast was proposed “to the brave Prince Charles.”

The treaty of Breslau was signed on the 11th of June, and ratified at
Berlin on the 28th of July. By this treaty, Silesia, Lower and Upper,
was ceded to “Frederick and his heirs for evermore,” while Frederick
withdrew from the French alliance, and entered into friendly relations
with her Hungarian majesty. Immediately after the settlement of this
question, Frederick, cantoning his troops in Silesia, returned to
Berlin. Elate with victory and accompanied by a magnificent suite, the
young conqueror hastened home, over green fields and beneath a summer’s
sun. Keenly he enjoyed his triumph, greeted with the enthusiastic
acclaim of the people in all the towns and villages through which he
passed.[67] At Frankfort-on-the-Oder, where a fair was in operation,
the king stopped for a few hours. Vast crowds, which had been drawn to
the place by the fair, lined the highway for a long distance on both
sides, eager to see the victor who had aggrandized Prussia by adding a
large province to its realms.

“His majesty’s entrance into Frankfort,” writes M. Bielfeld, who
accompanied him, “although very triumphant, was far from ostentatious.
We passed like lightning before the eyes of the spectators, and were
so covered with dust that it was difficult to distinguish the color
of our coats and the features of our faces. We made some purchases at
Frankfort, and the next day arrived safely in Berlin, where the king
was received with the acclamations of his people.”[68]

If we can rely upon the testimony of Frederick, an incident occurred
at this time which showed that the French court was as intriguing and
unprincipled as was his Prussian majesty. It is quite evident that the
Austrian court also was not animated by a very high sense of honor.

After the battle of Chotusitz, Frederick called upon General Pallant,
an Austrian officer, who was wounded and a prisoner. In the course of
the conversation, General Pallant stated that France was ready at any
moment to betray his Prussian majesty, and that, if he would give him
six days’ time, he would furnish him with documentary proof. A courier
was instantly dispatched to Vienna. He soon returned with a letter
from Cardinal Fleury, the prime minister of Louis XV., addressed to
Maria Theresa, informing her that, if she would give up Bohemia to the
emperor, France would _guarantee to her Silesia_. Frederick, though
guilty of precisely the same treachery himself, read the document with
indignation, and assumed to be as much amazed at the perfidy as he
could have been had he been an honest man.

“The cardinal,” he said, “takes me for a fool. He wishes to betray me.
I will try and prevent him.”

The French marshal, Belleisle, alarmed by the report that Frederick was
entering into a treaty of peace with Austria, hastened to the Prussian
camp to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the rumor. Frederick,
emboldened by the document he had in his pocket, was very frank.

“I have prescribed,” he said, “the conditions of peace to the Queen of
Hungary. She accepts them. Having, therefore, all that I want, I make
peace. All the world in my situation would do the same.”

“Is it possible, sire,” Marshal Belleisle replied, “that you can dare
to abandon the best of your allies, and to deceive so illustrious a
monarch as the King of France?”

“And you, sir,” responded the king, with an air of great disdain, at
the same time placing in his hand the cardinal’s letter, “do you dare
to talk to me in this manner?”

The marshal glanced his eye over the document, and retired, overwhelmed
with confusion. Thus ended the alliance between Prussia and France.
“Each party,” writes Frederick, “wished to be more cunning than the

In the following terms, Frederick correctly sums up the incidents of
the two Silesian campaigns:

“Thus was Silesia reunited to the dominions of Prussia. Two years of
war sufficed for the conquest of this important province. The treasure
which the late king had left was nearly exhausted. But it is a cheap
purchase, where whole provinces are bought for seven or eight millions
of crowns. The union of circumstances at the moment peculiarly favored
this enterprise. It was necessary for it that France should allow
itself to be drawn into the war; that Russia should be attacked by
Sweden; that, from timidity, the Hanoverians and Saxons should remain
inactive; that the successes of the Prussians should be uninterrupted;
and that the King of England, the enemy of Prussia, should become, in
spite of himself, the instrument of its aggrandizement. What, however,
contributed the most to this conquest was an army which had been formed
for twenty-two years, by means of a discipline admirable in itself,
and superior to the troops of the rest of Europe. Generals, also, who
were true patriots, wise and incorruptible ministers, and, finally, a
certain good fortune which often accompanies youth, and often deserts a
more advanced age.”[70]

There was no end to the panegyrics which Voltaire, in his
correspondence with Frederick, now lavished upon him. He greeted him
with the title of Frederick the Great.

“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.”

Frederick, having obtained all that, for the present, he could hope
to obtain, deemed it for his interest to attempt to promote the peace
of Europe. His realms needed consolidating, his army recruiting, his
treasury replenishing. But he found it much easier to stir up the
elements of strife than to allay them.

His withdrawal from the French alliance removed the menace from the
English Hanoverian possession. George II. eagerly sent an army of sixty
thousand men to the aid of Maria Theresa against France, and freely
opened to her his purse. The French were defeated every where. They
were driven from Prague in one of the most disastrous wintry retreats
of blood and misery over which the demon of war ever gloated. The
powerless, penniless emperor, the creature of France, who had neither
purse nor army, was driven, a fugitive and a vagabond, from his petty
realm of Bavaria, and was exposed to humiliation, want, and insult.

Maria Theresa was developing character which attracted the admiration
of Europe. She seriously contemplated taking command of her armies
herself. She loved Duke Francis, her husband, treated him very
tenderly, and was anxious to confer upon him honor; but by nature
vastly his superior, instinctively she assumed the command. She led;
he followed. She was a magnificent rider. Her form was the perfection
of grace. Her beautiful, pensive, thoughtful face was tanned by the
weather. All hearts throbbed as, on a spirited charger, she sometimes
swept before the ranks of the army, with her gorgeous retinue,
appearing and disappearing like a meteor. She was as devout as she was
brave, winning the homage of all Catholic hearts. We know not where, in
the long list of sovereigns, to point to man or woman of more imperial
energies, of more exalted worth.


The loss of Silesia she regarded as an act of pure highway robbery. It
rankled in her noble heart as the great humiliation and disgrace of her
reign. Frederick was to her but as a hated and successful bandit, who
had wrenched from her crown one of its brightest jewels. To the last
day of her life she never ceased to deplore the loss. It is said that
if any stranger, obtaining an audience, was announced as from Silesia,
the eyes of the queen would instantly flood with tears. But the
fortunes of war had now triumphantly turned in her favor. Aided by the
armies and the gold of England, she was on the high career of conquest.
Her troops had overrun Bohemia and Bavaria. She was disposed to hold
those territories in compensation for Silesia, which she had lost.

In the mean time, during the two years in which Maria Theresa was
making these conquests, Frederick, alarmed by the aggrandizement of
Austria and the weakening of France, while unavailingly striving
to promote peace, was busily employed in the administration of his
internal affairs. He encouraged letters; devoted much attention to the
Academy of Arts and Sciences; reared the most beautiful opera-house in
Europe; devoted large sums to secure the finest musicians and the most
exquisite ballet-dancers which Europe could afford. He sought to make
his capital attractive to all those throughout Europe who were inspired
by a thirst for knowledge, or who were in the pursuit of pleasure.

One incident in this connection, illustrative of the man and of the
times, merits brief notice. His agent at Venice reported a female
dancer there of rare attainments, Señora Barberina. She was marvelously
beautiful, and a perfect fairy in figure and grace, and as fascinating
in her vivacity and sparkling intelligence as she was lovely in person.
Frederick immediately ordered her to be engaged for his opera-house
at Berlin, at a salary of nearly four thousand dollars, and sundry

But it so happened that the beautiful dancer had in the train of her
impassioned admirers a young English gentleman, a younger brother of
the Earl of Bute. He was opposed to Barberina’s going to Prussia,
and induced her to throw up the engagement. Frederick was angry, and
demanded the execution of the contract. The pretty Barberina, safe in
Venice, made herself merry with the complaints of the Prussian monarch.
Frederick, not accustomed to be thwarted, applied to the doge and the
Senate of Venice to compel Barberina to fulfill her contract. They
replied with great politeness, but did nothing. Barberina remained
with her lover under the sunny skies of Italy, charming with her
graceful pirouettes admiring audiences in the Venetian theatres.

In the mean time a Venetian embassador, on his way to one of the
northern courts, passed a night at a hotel in Berlin. He was
immediately arrested, with his luggage, by a royal order. A dispatch
was transmitted to Venice, stating that the embassador would be held
as a hostage till Barberina was sent to Prussia. “A bargain,” says
Frederick, in his emphatic utterance, “is a bargain. A state should
have law courts to enforce contracts entered into in their territories.”

The doge and senate were brought to terms. They seized the beautiful
Barberina, placed her carefully in a post-chaise, and, under an
escort of armed men, sent her, from stage to stage, over mountain and
valley, till she arrived at Berlin. The Venetian embassador was then
discharged. The young English gentleman, James Mackenzie, a grandson
of the celebrated advocate, Sir George Mackenzie, eagerly followed his
captured inamorata, and reached Berlin two hours after Barberina. The
rumor was circulated that he was about to marry her.

It is said that Frederick, determined not to lose his dancer in that
manner, immediately informed the young gentleman’s friends that he
was about to form a _mesalliance_ with an opera girl. The impassioned
lover was peremptorily summoned home. Hatred for Frederick consequently
rankled in young Mackenzie’s heart. This hatred he communicated to
his brother, Lord Bute, which subsequently had no little influence in
affairs of national diplomacy.

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. A
divorce was the result. Soon after, Barberina was married to a nobleman
of high rank, and we hear of her no more.

Though Frederick, in his private correspondence, often spoke very
contemptuously of Voltaire, it would seem, if any reliance can be
placed on the testimony of Voltaire himself, that Frederick sedulously
courted the author, whose pen was then so potential in Europe. By
express invitation, Voltaire spent a week with Frederick at Aix la
Chapelle early in September, 1742. He writes to a friend from Brussels
under date of December 10:

“I have been to see the King of Prussia. I have courageously resisted
his fine proposals. He offers me a beautiful house in Berlin, a pretty
estate, but I prefer my second floor in Madame Du Châtelet’s here. He
assures me of his favor, of the perfect freedom I should have; and I am
running to Paris, to my slavery and persecution. I could fancy myself a
small Athenian refusing the bounties of the King of Persia; with this
difference, however, one had liberty at Athens.”

Again he writes, under the same date, to the Marquis D’Argenson:

“I have just been to see the King of Prussia. I have seen him as
one seldom sees kings, much at my ease, in my own room, in the
chimney-corner, whither the same man who has gained two battles would
come and talk familiarly, as Scipio did with Terence. You will tell me
I am not Terence. True; but neither is he altogether Scipio.”

Again he writes, under the same date, to Cardinal De Fleury, then the
most prominent member of the cabinet of Louis XV.:

“MONSEIGNEUR,--I am bound to give your excellency some account of my
journey to Aix la Chapelle. I could not leave Brussels until the second
of this month. On the road I met a courier from the King of Prussia,
coming to reiterate his master’s orders on me. The king had me lodged
in quarters near his own apartment. He passed, for two consecutive
days, four hours at a time in my room, with all that goodness and
familiarity which form, as you know, part of his character, and which
does not lower the king’s dignity, because one is duly careful not to
abuse it. I had abundant time to speak with a great deal of freedom on
what your excellency had prescribed to me, and the king spoke to me
with an equal frankness.

“First he asked me ‘if it were true that the French nation were so
angered against him, if the king was, and if you were.’ I answered
‘that there was nothing permanent.’ He then condescended to speak
fully upon the reasons which induced him to make peace. These reasons
were so remarkable that I dare not trust them to this paper. All that
I dare say is, that it seems to me easy to lead back the mind of this
sovereign, whom the situation of his territories, his interest, and
his taste would appear to mark as the natural ally of France. He said,
moreover, ‘that he earnestly desired to see Bohemia in the emperor’s
hands, that he renounced all claim on Berg and Jülick, and that he
thought only of keeping Silesia.’ He said ‘that he knew well enough
that the house of Austria would one day wish to recover that fine
province, but that he trusted he could keep his conquest. That he had
at that time a hundred and thirty thousand soldiers perfectly prepared
for war; that he would make of Neisse, Glogau, and Brieg fortresses as
strong as Wesel; that he was well informed that the Queen of Hungary
owed eighty million German crowns ($60,000,000); that her provinces,
exhausted and wide apart, would not be able to make long efforts; and
that the Austrians for a long time to come could not of themselves be

Frederick was accustomed to cover his deep designs of diplomacy by the
promotion of the utmost gayety in his capital. Never did Berlin exhibit
such spectacles of festivity and pleasure as during the winter of 1742
and 1743. There was a continued succession of operas, balls, fêtes,
and sleigh-parties. Frederick’s two younger sisters were at that time
brilliant ornaments of his court. They were both remarkably beautiful
and vivacious. The Princess Louise Ulrique was in her twenty-third
year. The following letter to Frederick from these two princesses will
be keenly appreciated by many of our young lady readers whose expenses
have exceeded their allowance. It shows very conclusively that there
may be the same pecuniary annoyances in the palaces of kings as in more
humble homes.

            “Berlin, 1st of March, 1743.

  “MY DEAREST BROTHER,--I know not if it is not too bold to
  trouble your majesty on private affairs. But the great confidence
  my sister and I have in your kindness encourages us to lay before
  you a sincere avowal of our little finances, which are a good
  deal deranged just now. The revenues, having for two years and
  a half past been rather small, amounting to only four hundred
  crowns ($300) a year, could not be made to cover all the little
  expenses required in the adjustment of ladies. This circumstance,
  added to our card-playing, though small, which we could not
  dispense with, has led us into debt. Mine amounts to fifteen
  hundred crowns ($1125); my sister’s, to eighteen hundred crowns
  ($1350). We have not spoken of it to the queen-mother, though we
  are sure she would have tried to assist us. But as that could
  not have been done without some inconvenience to her, and as she
  would have retrenched in some of her own little entertainments,
  I thought we should do better to apply directly to your majesty.
  We were persuaded you would have taken it amiss had we deprived
  the queen of her smallest pleasure, and especially as we consider
  you, my dear brother, the father of the family, and hope you will
  be so gracious as to help us. We shall never forget the kind acts
  of your majesty. We beg you to be persuaded of the perfect and
  tender attachment with which we are proud to be, all our lives,
  your majesty’s most humble sisters and servants,

            LOUISE ULRIQUE,
            “ANNE AMELIA.

  “P.S.--I most humbly beg your majesty not to speak of this to
  the queen-mother, as perhaps she would not approve of the step we
  are now taking.

            ANN AMELIA.”[72]

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.

The heir to the Russian throne was an orphan boy, Peter Federowitz.
The Russian court was looking around to obtain for him a suitable
wife. Frederick’s commandant at Stettin, a man of renowned lineage,
had a beautiful daughter of fourteen. She was a buxom girl, full of
life as she frolicked upon the ramparts of the fortress with her young
companions. Frederick succeeded in obtaining her betrothal to the young
Prince of Russia. She was solemnly transferred from the Protestant to
the Greek religion; her name was changed to Catharine; and she was
eventually married, greatly to the satisfaction of Frederick, to the
young Russian czar.

Adolph Frederick was the heir to the throne of Sweden. Successful
diplomacy brought a magnificent embassy from Stockholm to Berlin, to
demand Princess Ulrique as the bride of Sweden’s future king. The
course of love, whether true or false, certainly did in this case run
smooth. The marriage ceremony was attended in Berlin with such splendor
as the Prussian capital had never witnessed before. The beautiful
Ulrique was very much beloved. She was married by proxy, her brother
Augustus William standing in the place of the bridegroom.

All eyes were dimmed with tears as, after a week of brilliant
festivities, she prepared for her departure. The carriages were at the
door to convey her, with her accompanying suite of lords and ladies, to
Stralsund, where the Swedish senate and nobles were to receive her.
The princess entered the royal apartment to take leave of her friends,
dressed in a rose-colored riding-habit trimmed with silver. The vest
which encircled her slender waist was of sea-green, with lappets
and collar of the same. She wore a small English bonnet of black
velvet with a white plume. Her flowing hair hung in ringlets over her
shoulders, bound with rose-colored ribbon.

The king, who was devotedly attached to his sister, and who was very
fond, on all occasions, of composing rhymes which he called poetry,
wrote a very tender ode, bidding her adieu. It commenced with the words

   “Partez, ma sœur, partez;
    La Suède vous attend, la Suède
    vous désire.”

    Go, my sister, go;
    Sweden waits you, Sweden
    wishes you.

“His majesty gave it to her at the moment when she was about to
take leave of the two queens. The princess threw her eyes on it and
fell into a faint. The king had almost done the like. His tears
flowed abundantly. The princes and princesses were overcome with
sorrow. At last Gotter judged it time to put an end to this tragic
scene. He entered the hall almost like Boreas in the ballet of “The
Rose”--that is to say, with a crash. He made one or two whirlwinds,
clove the press, and snatched away the princess from the arms of the
queen-mother, took her in his own, and whisked her out of the hall. All
the world followed. The carriages were waiting in the court, and the
princess in a moment found herself in hers.

“I was in such a state I know not how we got down stairs. I remember
only that it was in a concert of lamentable sobbings. Madame, the
Marchioness of Schwedt, who had been named to attend the princess to
Stralsund, on the Swedish frontier, this high lady, and the two dames
D’Atours, who were for Sweden itself, having sprung into the same
carriage, the door of it was shut with a slam, the postillions cracked,
the carriage shot away, and disappeared from our eyes. In a moment the
king and court lost sight of the beloved Ulrique forever.”[73]

Frederick was far from being an amiable man. He would often cruelly
banter his companions, knowing that it was impossible for them to
indulge in any retort. Baron Pöllnitz was a very weak old man, who
had several times changed his religion to subserve his private
interests. He had been rather a petted courtier during three reigns.
Now, in extreme old age, and weary of the world, he wished to renounce
Protestantism, and to enter the cloisters of the convent in preparation
for death. He applied to the king for permission to do so. Frederick
furnished him with the following sarcastic parting testimony. It was
widely circulated through many of the journals of that day, exciting
peals of laughter as a capital royal joke:

  “Whereas the Baron De Pöllnitz, born of honest parents, so far
  as we know, having served our grandfather as gentleman of the
  chamber, Madame D’Orleans in the same rank, the King of Spain as
  colonel, the deceased Emperor Charles VI. as captain of horse,
  the pope as chamberlain, the Duke of Brunswick as chamberlain,
  the Duke of Weimar as ensign, our father as chamberlain, and, in
  fine, _us_ as grand master of ceremonies, has, notwithstanding
  such accumulation of honors, become disgusted with the world, and
  requests of us a parting testimony;

  “We, remembering his important services to our house in diverting
  for nine years long the late king our father, and doing the
  honors of our court through the now reign, can not refuse such
  request. We do hereby certify that the said Baron Pöllnitz has
  never assassinated, robbed on the highway, poisoned, forcibly
  cut purses, or done other atrocity or legal crime at our court;
  but that he has always maintained gentlemanly behavior, making
  not more than honest use of the industry and talents he has
  been endowed with at birth; imitating the object of the drama--
  that is, correcting mankind by gentle quizzing--following in
  the matter of sobriety Boerhaave’s counsels, pushing Christian
  charity so far as often to make the rich understand that it is
  more blessed to give than to receive; possessing perfectly the
  anecdotes of our various mansions, especially of our worn-out
  furnitures, rendering himself by his merits necessary to those
  who know him, and, with a very bad head, having a very good heart.

  “Our anger the said Baron Pöllnitz never kindled but once.[74]
  But as the loveliest countries have their barren spots, the most
  beautiful forms their imperfections, pictures by the greatest
  masters their faults, we are willing to cover with the veil of
  oblivion those of the said baron. We do hereby grant him, with
  regret, the leave of absence he requires, and abolish his office
  altogether, that it may be blotted from the memory of man, not
  judging that any one, after the said baron, can be worthy to fill


            “Potsdam, April 1, 1744.”

No man of kindly sympathies could have thus wantonly wounded the
feelings of a poor old man who had, according to his capacity, served
himself, his father, and his grandfather, and who was just dropping
into the grave. A generous heart would have forgotten the foibles, and,
remembering only the virtues, would have spoken words of cheer to the
world-weary heart, seeking a sad refuge in the glooms of the cloister.
It must be confessed that Frederick often manifested one of the worst
traits in human nature. He took pleasure in inflicting pain upon others.



  Correspondence between Frederick and Voltaire.--Voltaire’s Visit to
    Frederick.--Domestic Habits of the King.--Unavailing Diplomacy
    of Voltaire.--The New Alliance.--The Renewal of War.--The Siege
    of Prague.--The Advance upon Vienna.--Darkening Prospects.--The
    Pandours.--Divisions in Council.--Sickness of Louis XV.--Energy of
    Frederick.--Distress of the Army.

The correspondence carried on between Frederick and Voltaire, and their
mutual comments, very clearly reveal the relations existing between
these remarkable men. Frederick was well aware that the eloquent pen of
the great dramatist and historian could give him celebrity throughout
Europe. Voltaire was keenly alive to the consideration that the
friendship of a monarch could secure to him position and opulence. And
yet each privately spoke of the other very contemptuously, while in
the correspondence which passed between them they professed for each
other the highest esteem and affection. Frederick wrote from Berlin as
follows to Voltaire:

            “October 7, 1743.

  “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.

  “Choose whatever apartment in our house you like. Regulate
  yourself all that you want, either for comfort or luxury. Make
  your arrangements in such a way as that you may be happy and
  comfortable, and leave it to me to provide for the rest. You
  will be always entirely free, and master to choose your own way
  of life. My only pretension is to enchain you by friendship and

  “You will have passports for the post-horses, and whatever else
  you may ask. I hope to see you on Wednesday. I shall then profit
  by the few moments of leisure which remain to me, to enlighten
  myself by the blaze of your powerful genius. I entreat you to
  believe I shall always be the same toward you. Adieu.”

Voltaire has given a detailed account of the incidents connected with
this visit to his Prussian majesty. It is a humiliating exhibition of
the intrigues and insincerity which animated the prominent actors in
those scenes.

“The public affairs in France,” writes Voltaire, “continued in as bad
a state after the death of Cardinal De Fleury as during the last two
years of his administration. The house of Austria rose again from its
ashes. France was cruelly pressed upon by that power and by England. No
other resource remained to us but the chance of regaining the King of
Prussia, who, having drawn us into the war, had abandoned us as soon as
it was convenient to himself so to do. It was thought advisable, under
these circumstances, that I should be sent to that monarch to sound his
intentions, and, if possible, persuade him to avert the storm which,
after it had first fallen on us, would be sure, sooner or later, to
fall from Vienna upon him. We also wished to secure from him the loan
of a hundred thousand men, with the assurance that he could thus better
secure to himself Silesia.

“The minister for foreign affairs was charged to hasten my departure.
A pretext, however, was necessary. I took that of my quarrel with the
Bishop Mirepoix. I wrote accordingly to the King of Prussia that I
could no longer endure the persecutions of this monk, and that I should
take refuge under the protection of a philosophical sovereign, far from
the disputes of this bigot. When I arrived at Berlin the king lodged me
in his palace, as he had done in my former journeys. He then led the
same sort of life which he had always done since he came to the throne.
He rose at five in summer and six in winter.[75] A single servant came
to light his fire, to dress and shave him. Indeed, he dressed himself
almost without any assistance. His bedroom was a handsome one. A rich
and highly ornamented balustrade of silver inclosed apparently a bed
hung with curtains, but behind the curtains, instead of a bed, there
was a library. As for the royal couch, it was a wretched truckle-bed,
with a thin mattress, behind a screen, in one corner of the room.
Marcus Aurelius and Julian, his favorite heroes, and the greatest men
among the Stoics, were not worse lodged.”

The king devoted himself very energetically to business during the
morning, and reviewed his troops at eleven o’clock. He dined at twelve.

“After dinner,” writes Voltaire, “the king retired alone into his
cabinet, and made verses till five or six o’clock. A concert commenced
at seven, in which the king performed on the flute as well as the best
musician. The pieces of music executed were also often of the king’s
composition. On the days of public ceremonies he exhibited great
magnificence. It was a fine spectacle to see him at table, surrounded
by twenty princes of the empire, served on the most beautiful gold
plate in Europe, and attended by thirty handsome pages, and as many
young heyducs, superbly dressed, and carrying great dishes of massive
gold. After these banquets the court attended the opera in the great
theatre, three hundred feet long. The most admirable singers and the
best dancers were at this time in the pay of the King of Prussia.”

Voltaire seems to have formed a very different estimate of his own
diplomatic abilities from those expressed by the King of Prussia.
Voltaire writes:

“In the midst of fêtes, operas, and suppers, my secret negotiation
advanced. The king allowed me to speak to him on all subjects. I often
intermingled questions respecting France and Austria in conversations
relating to the Æneid and Livy. The discussion was sometimes very
animated. At length the king said to me, ‘Let France declare war
against England, and I will march.’ This was all I desired. I returned
as quickly as possible to the court of France. I gave them the same
hopes which I had myself been led to entertain at Berlin, and which did
not prove delusive.”

The fact was, that the diplomacy of Voltaire had probably not the
slightest influence in guiding the action of the king. Frederick had
become alarmed in view of the signal successes of the armies of Maria
Theresa, under her brother-in-law, Prince Charles of Lorraine. Several
Austrian generals, conspicuous among whom was Marshal Traun, were
developing great military ability. The armies of Austria had conquered
Bohemia and Bavaria. The French troops, discomfited in many battles,
had been compelled to retreat to the western banks of the Rhine,
vigorously pursued by Prince Charles. The impotent emperor Charles
Albert, upon whom France had placed the imperial crown of Germany, was
driven from his hereditary realm, and the heart-broken man, in poverty
and powerlessness, was an emperor but in name. It was evident that
Maria Theresa was gathering her strength to reconquer Silesia. She had
issued a decree that the Elector of Bavaria was not legitimately chosen
emperor. It was very manifest that her rapidly increasing influence
would soon enable her to dethrone the unfortunate Charles Albert, and
to place the imperial crown upon the brow of her husband.

Under these circumstances, it was evidently impossible for Frederick
to retain Silesia unless he could again rally France and other powers
to his aid. It was always easy to rouse France against England, its
hereditary foe. Thus influenced, Frederick, early in the spring of
1744, entered into a new alliance with France and the Emperor Charles
Albert against Maria Theresa. The two marriages which he had so
adroitly consummated constrained Russia and Sweden to neutrality.
While France, by the new treaty, was engaged to assail with the utmost
energy, under the leadership of Louis XV. himself, the triumphant
Austrian columns upon the Rhine, Frederick, at the head of one hundred
thousand troops, was to drive the Austrians out of Bohemia, and reseat
Charles Albert upon his hereditary throne. For this service Frederick
was to receive from the Bohemian king three important principalities,
with their central fortresses near upon the borders of Silesia.

The shrewd foresight of Frederick, and his rapidly developing military
ability, had kept his army in the highest state of discipline, while
his magazines were abundantly stored with all needful supplies. It was
written at the time:

“Some countries take six months, some twelve, to get in motion for war.
But in three weeks Prussia can be across the frontiers and upon the
throats of its enemy. Some countries have a longer sword than Prussia,
but none can unsheath it so soon.”

Public opinion was then much less potent than now; still it was a
power. Frederick had two objects in view in again drawing the sword.
One was to maintain possession of Silesia, which was seriously menaced;
the other was to enlarge his territory, and thus to strengthen his
hold upon his new conquest, by adding to Prussia the three important
Bohemian principalities of Königgratz, Bunzlau, and Leitmeritz. By
a secret treaty, he had secured the surrender of these provinces in
payment for the assistance his armies might furnish the allies; but
policy required that he should not avow his real motives. He therefore
issued a manifesto, in which he falsely stated,

“His Prussian majesty requires nothing for himself. He has taken up
arms simply and solely with the view of restoring to the empire its
freedom, to the emperor his imperial crown, and to all Europe the peace
which is so desirable.”

Frederick published his manifesto on the 10th of August, 1744. Early in
the morning of the 15th he set out from Potsdam upon this new military
expedition. His two eldest brothers, Augustus William, Prince of
Prussia, and Prince Henry, accompanied him. The army entered Bohemia in
three columns, whose concentrated force amounted to nearly one hundred
thousand men. Frederick in person led the first column, the old
Prince Leopold the second, and Marshal Schwerin the third. Marching by
different routes, they swept all opposition before them. On the 4th
of September the combined army appeared before the walls of Prague.
Here, as in every act of Frederick’s life, his marvelous energy was

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.

On the 16th the battered, smouldering, blood-stained city was
surrendered, with its garrison of sixteen thousand men. The prisoners
of war were marched off to Frederick’s strong places in the north.
Prague was compelled to take the oath of allegiance to the emperor, and
to pay a ransom of a million of dollars. Abundant stores of provision
and ammunition were found in the city. It was a brilliant opening of
the campaign.

The impetuous Frederick made no delay at Prague. The day after the
capture, leaving five thousand men, under General Einsiedel, to
garrison the city, he put his troops in motion, ascending the right
bank of the Moldau. It would seem that he was about to march boldly
upon Vienna. Wagons of meal, drawn by oxen, followed the army. The
heavy artillery was left behind. The troops were forced along as
rapidly as possible. They advanced in two columns. One was led by
Frederick, and the other by young Leopold. The country through which
they passed was dreary, desolate, barren in the extreme--a wild
waste of precipitous rocks, and bogs, and tangled forest. The roads
were wretched. No forage could be obtained. The starved oxen were
continually dropping, exhausted, by the way; the path of the army was
marked by their carcasses.

It was but sixty miles from Prague to Tabor. The march of Frederick’s
division led through Kunraditz, across the Sazawa River, through
Bistritz and Miltchin. It was not until the ninth day of their
toilsome march that the steeples of Tabor were descried, in the distant
horizon, on its high, scarped rock. Here both columns united. Half of
the draught cattle had perished by the way, and half of the wagons had
been abandoned.

[Illustration: THE PANDOURS.]

The prospects of Frederick were now gloomy. The bright morning of the
campaign had darkened into a stormy day. The barren region around
afforded no supplies. The inhabitants were all Catholics; they
hated the heretics. Inspired by their priests, they fled from their
dwellings, taking with them or destroying every thing which could
aid the Prussian army. But most annoying of all, the bold, sagacious
chieftain, General Bathyani, with hordes of Pandours which could not
be counted--horsemen who seemed to have the vitality and endurance of
centaurs--was making deadly assaults upon every exposed point.

“Such a swarm of hornets as darkens the very daylight!” writes Carlyle.
“Vain to scourge them down, to burn them off by blaze of gunpowder;
they fly fast, but are straightway back again. They lurk in these
bushy wildernesses, scraggy woods; no foraging possible unless whole
regiments are sent out to do it; you can not get a letter safely
carried for them.”

Thus Frederick found himself in a barren, hostile country, with a
starving army, incessantly assailed by a determined foe, groping
his way in absolute darkness, and with the greatest difficulty
communicating even with his own divisions, at the distance of but a few
leagues. He knew not from what direction to anticipate attack, or how
formidable might be his assailants. He knew not whether the French, on
the other side of the Rhine, had abandoned him to his own resources,
or were marching to his rescue. He knew that they were as supremely
devoted to their own interests as he was to his, and that they would do
nothing to aid him, unless by so doing they could efficiently benefit

As is usual under such circumstances, a quarrel arose among his
officers. Young Leopold proposed one plan, Marshal Schwerin another.
They were both bold, determined men. Frederick found it difficult
to keep the peace between them. It was now October. Winter, with
its piercing gales, and ice, and snow, was fast approaching. It was
necessary to seek winter quarters. Frederick, with the main body of his
army, took possession of Budweis, on the Upper Moldau. A detachment was
stationed at Neuhaus, about thirty miles northeast of Budweis.

It will be remembered that Prince Charles was at the head of a strong
Austrian army, on the western banks of the Rhine. It numbered over
fifty thousand combatants. The King of France had pledged himself to
press them closely, so that they could not recross the Rhine and rush
into Bohemia to thwart the operations of Frederick; but, unfortunately,
Louis XV. was seized with a malignant fever, which brought him near
to the grave. Taking advantage of this, Prince Charles, on the night
of the 23d of August, crossed the Rhine with his whole army. It was
bright moonlight, so that every movement was as visible as if it had
been made by day. But the French officers, glad thus to be rid of the
Austrian army, preferring much that Frederick should encounter it in
Bohemia than that they should struggle against it on the Rhine, went
quietly to their beds, even forbidding the more zealous subalterns from
harassing Prince Charles in his passage of the river. It was then the
great object of the French to take Freyburg. The withdrawal of Prince
Charles, with his fifty thousand men, was a great relief to them.

While Frederick was involved in all these difficulties, he was cheered
by the hope that the French would soon come to his rescue. Unutterable
was his chagrin when he learned, early in October, that the French had
done exactly as he would have done in their circumstances. Appalling,
indeed, were the tidings soon brought to him, that Prince Charles, with
his army, had marched unmolested into Bohemia; that he had already
effected a junction with General Bathyani and his countless swarm of
Pandours; and, moreover, that a Saxon army, twenty thousand strong, in
alliance with the Queen of Hungary, was on the way to join his already
overwhelming foes. It was reported, at the same time, that Prince
Charles was advancing upon Budweis, and that his advance-guard had been
seen, but a few miles off, on the western side of the Moldau.

The exigency demanded the most decisive action. Frederick promptly
gathered his army, and dashed across the Moldau, resolved, with the
energies of despair, to smite down the troops of Prince Charles; but no
foe could be found. For four days he sought for them in vain. He then
learned that the Austrian army had crossed the Moldau several miles
north of him, thus cutting off his communications with Prague.

Though Prince Charles was nominally commander-in-chief of the Austrian
forces, Marshal Traun, as we have mentioned, was its military head.
He was, at that time, far Frederick’s superior in the art of war.
Frederick had sufficient intelligence and candor to recognize that
superiority. When he heard of this adroit movement of his foes, he
exclaimed, “Old Traun understands his trade.”

Prince Charles was now forming magazines at Beneschau, just south of
the Sazawa River, about seventy miles north of Frederick’s encampment
at Budweis. Frederick hastily recrossed the Moldau, and, marching
through Bechin, concentrated nearly all his forces at Tabor. He hoped
by forced marches to take the Austrians by surprise, and capture their
magazines at Beneschau. Thousands, rumor said fourteen thousand, of
the wild Pandours, riding furiously, hovered around his line of march.
They were in his front, on his rear, and upon his flanks. Ever refusing
battle, they attacked every exposed point with the utmost ferocity. The
Prussian king thus found himself cut off from Prague, with exhausted
magazines, and forage impossible. He had three hundred sick in his
hospitals. He could not think of abandoning them, and yet he had no
means for their transportation.

The salvation of the army seemed to depend upon capturing the Austrian
magazines at Beneschau. Marshal Schwerin was sent forward with all
speed, at the head of a strong detachment, and was so lucky as to take
Beneschau. Here he intrenched himself. Frederick, upon hearing the
glad tidings, immediately started from Tabor to join him. His sick
were at Fraunberg, Budweis, and Neuhaus, some dozen miles south of
Tabor. Garrisons, amounting to three thousand men, had been left to
protect them from the Pandours. As Frederick was about to abandon that
whole region, it was manifest that these garrisons could not maintain
themselves. He dispatched eight messengers in succession to summon
the troops immediately to join him. The sick were to be left to their
fate. It was one of the cruel necessities of war. But not one of these
messengers escaped capture by the Pandours. Frederick commenced his
march without these garrisons. The three thousand fighting men, with
the three hundred sick, all fell into the hands of the Pandours.



  The Retreat ordered.--Awful Suffering.--Narrow Escape of the King.--
    The Flight from Prague.--Military Mistakes of the King.--Frederick
    returns to Berlin.--His wonderful administrative Ability.--Poland
    joins Austria.--The Austrians enter Silesia.--Unreasonable Demands
    of Frederick.--Humiliation of the King.--Prince Charles and his
    Bride.--Character of Leopold.--Death of the Emperor.--Bavaria
    turns against Frederick.--Anecdotes of Prince Leopold.--Peril of
    Frederick.--Battle of Hohenfriedberg.--Signal Victory of Frederick.

Frederick concentrated his army at Konopischt, very near Beneschau.
He could bring into the field sixty thousand men. Prince Charles was
at the head of seventy thousand. In vain the Prussian king strove to
bring his foes to a pitched battle. Adroitly Prince Charles avoided
any decisive engagement. Frederick was fifty miles from Prague. The
roads were quagmires. November gales swept his camp. A foe, superior
in numbers, equal in bravery, surrounded him on all sides. The hostile
army was led by a general whose greater military ability Frederick

A council of war was held. It was decided to commence an immediate and
rapid retreat to Silesia. Prague, with its garrison of five thousand
men, and its siege artillery, was to be abandoned to its fate. Word
was sent to General Einsiedel to spike his guns, blow up his bastions,
throw his ammunition into the river, and to escape, if possible, down
the valley of the Moldau, to Leitmeritz.

Frederick divided his retreating army into two columns. One, led by
the young Leopold, was to retire through Glatz. The other, led by
Frederick, traversed a road a few leagues to the west, passing through
Königgratz. It was an awful retreat for both these divisions--through
snow, and sleet, and mud, hungry, weary, freezing, with swarms of
Pandours hanging upon their rear. Thousands perished by the way. The
horrors of such a retreat no pen can describe. Their very guides
deserted them, and became spies, to report their movements to the foe.

On one occasion the king himself narrowly escaped being taken prisoner.
One of his officers, General Trenck, gives the following graphic
narrative of the incident:

“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.

“After a long search, I at length found him in a tower of a church,
with a telescope in his hand. Never had I seen him in so much
perplexity and anxiety as at this moment. The order he gave me was,
‘You must get out of this scrape as well as you can.’ I had hardly
got back to my post when his adjutant followed me with a new order
to cross the town, and to remain on horseback with my squadron in the
opposite suburb.


“We had just arrived there when it began to rain heavily, and the
night became exceedingly dark. About nine o’clock one of the Austrian
generals approached us with his light troops, and set fire to the
houses close to which we were posted. By the blaze of the conflagration
he soon discovered us, and began firing at us from the windows. The
town was so full that it was impossible for us to find a place in it.
Besides, the gate was barricaded, and from the top they were firing at
us with our small field-pieces, which they had captured.

“In the mean time the Austrians had turned in upon us a rivulet, and by
midnight we found our horses in the water up to their bellies. We were
really incapable of defending ourselves.”

Just at that time, when all hope seemed lost, it so happened that a
cannon-ball crushed the foot of the Austrian commander. This disaster,
together with the darkness and the torrents of rain, caused the fire of
the enemy to cease. The next morning some Prussian re-enforcements came
to the rescue of the king, and he escaped.

It was on the night of the 25th of November, cold and dreary, that
General Einsiedel commenced his retreat from Prague. He pushed his
wagon trains out before him, and followed with his horse and foot.
The Austrians were on the alert. Their light horsemen came clattering
into the city ere the rear-guard had left. The Catholic populace of
the city, being in sympathy with the Austrians, immediately joined the
Pandours in a fierce attack upon the Prussians. The retreating columns
were torn by a terrific fire from the windows of the houses, from
bridges, from boats, from every point whence a bullet could reach them.
But the well-drilled Prussians met the shock with the stern composure
of machines, leaving their path strewn with the dying and the dead.

The heroic General Einsiedel struggled along through the snow and over
the pathless hills, pursued and pelted every hour by the indomitable
foe. He was often compelled to abandon baggage-wagons and ambulances
containing the sick, while the wounded and the exhausted sank freezing
by the way. At one time he was so crowded by the enemy that he was
compelled to continue his march through the long hours of a wintry
night, by the light of pitch-pine torches. After this awful retreat of
twenty days, an emaciate, ragged, frostbitten band crossed the frontier
into Silesia, near Friedland. They were soon united with the other
columns of the discomfited and almost ruined army.

It will generally be admitted by military men that Frederick did not
display much ability of generalship in this campaign. He was fearless,
indomitable in energy, and tireless in the endurance of fatigue, but in
generalship he was entirely eclipsed by his formidable rival. Indeed,
Frederick could not be blind to this, and he had sufficient candor to
confess it. Subsequently, giving an account of these transactions in
his “Works,” he writes:

“No general has committed more faults than did the king in this
campaign. The conduct of Marshal Traun is a model of perfection, which
every soldier who loves his business ought to study, and try to imitate
if he have the talent. The king has admitted that he himself regarded
this campaign as his school in the art of war, and Marshal Traun as his

He then adds the philosophical reflection: “Bad is often better for
princes than good. Instead of intoxicating them with presumption, it
renders them circumspect and modest.”[76]

Frederick, leaving his army safe for a short time, quartered, as
he supposed, for the winter, in his strong fortresses of Silesia,
returned hastily to Berlin. It was necessary for him to make immediate
preparation for another campaign. “From December 13, 1744,” writes
Carlyle, “when he hastened home to Berlin, under such aspects, to June
4, 1745, when aspects suddenly changed, are probably the worst six
months Frederick had yet had in the world.”[77]

His wintry ride, a defeated monarch leaving a shattered army behind
him, must have been dark and dreary. He had already exhausted nearly
all the resources which his father, Frederick William, had accumulated.
His army was demoralized, weakened, and his _materiel_ of war greatly
impaired. His subjects were already heavily taxed. Though practicing
the most rigid economy, with his eye upon every expenditure, his
disastrous Bohemian campaign had cost him three hundred and fifty
thousand dollars a month. The least sum with which he could commence
a new campaign for the protection of Silesia was four million five
hundred thousand dollars. He had already melted up the sumptuous plate,
and the massive silver balustrades and balconies where his father had
deposited so much solid treasure.

“It was in these hours of apparently insurmountable difficulty that the
marvelous administrative genius of Frederick was displayed. No modern
reader can imagine the difficulties of Frederick at this time as they
already lay disclosed, and kept gradually disclosing themselves, for
months coming; nor will ever know what perspicacity, what patience
of scanning, sharpness of discernment, dexterity of management,
were required at Frederick’s hands; and under what imminency of
peril too--victorious deliverance or ruin and annihilation, wavering
fearfully in the balance, for him more than once, or rather all

To add to the embarrassments of Frederick, the King of Poland, entirely
under the control of his minister Brühl, who hated Frederick, entered
into an alliance with Maria Theresa, and engaged to furnish her with
thirty thousand troops, who were to be supported by the sea powers
England and Holland, who were also in close alliance with Austria.

Maria Theresa, greatly elated by her success in driving the Prussians
out of Bohemia, resolved immediately, notwithstanding the severity
of the season, to push her armies through the “Giant Mountains” for
the reconquering of Silesia. She ordered her generals to press on
with the utmost energy and overrun the whole country. At the same
time she issued a manifesto, declaring that the treaty of Breslau was
a treaty no longer; that the Silesians were absolved from all oaths
of allegiance to the King of Prussia, and that they were to hold
themselves in readiness to take the oath anew to the Queen of Hungary.

On the 18th of December a strong Austrian army entered Silesia and
took possession of the country of Glatz. The Prussian troops were
withdrawn in good order to their strong fortresses on the Oder. The
old Prince Leopold, the cast-iron man, called the Old Dessauer, the
most inflexible of mortals, was left in command of the Prussian troops.
He was, however, quite seriously alienated from Frederick. A veteran
soldier, having spent his lifetime on fields of blood, and having
served the monarchs of Prussia when Frederick was but a child, and
who had been the military instructor of the young prince, he deemed
himself entitled to consideration which an inexperienced officer might
not command. In one of the marches to which we have referred, Leopold
ventured to take a route different from that which Frederick had
prescribed to him. In the following terms the Prussian king reprimanded
him for his disobedience:

“I am greatly surprised that your excellency does not more accurately
follow my orders. If you were more skillful than Cæsar, and did not
with strict fidelity obey my directions, all else were of no help
to me. I hope this notice, once for all, will be enough, and that in
future you will give no cause for complaint.”

Prince Leopold was keenly wounded by this reproof. Though he uttered
not a word in self-defense, he was ever after, in the presence of
his majesty, very silent, distant, and reserved. Though scrupulously
faithful in every duty, he compelled the king to feel that an
impassable wall of separation had risen up between them. He was seeking
for an honorable pretext to withdraw from his majesty’s service.

Frederick had hardly reached Berlin ere he was astonished to learn,
from dispatches from the Old Dessauer, that the Austrians, not content
with driving him out of Bohemia, had actually invaded Silesia. Amazed,
or affecting amazement, at such audacity, he sent reiterated and
impatient orders to his veteran general to fall immediately upon the
insolent foe and crush him.

“Hurl them out,” he wrote. “Gather twenty, thirty thousand men, if need
be. Let there be no delay. I will as soon be pitched out of Brandenburg
as out of Silesia.”

But it was much easier for Frederick to issue these orders than for
Leopold to execute them. As Leopold could not, in a day, gather
sufficient force to warrant an attack upon the Austrians, the king was
greatly irritated, and allowed himself to write to Leopold in a strain
of which he must afterward have been much ashamed. On the 19th he
addressed a note to the veteran officer couched in the following terms:

“On the 21st I leave Berlin, and mean to be at Neisse on the 24th at
least. Your excellency will, in the mean time, make out the order of
battle for the regiments which have come in. For I will, on the 25th,
without delay, cross the Neisse, and attack those people, cost what it
may, and chase them out of Silesia, and follow them as far as possible.
You will, therefore, take measure and provide every thing, that the
project may be executed the moment I arrive.”

In this fiery humor, the king leaped upon his horse and galloped to
Schweidnitz. Here he met the Old Dessauer. He must have been not a
little mortified to learn that his veteran general was right, and he
utterly in the wrong. Prince Charles had returned home. Marshal Traun
was in command of the Austrians. He had a compact army of 20,000 men,
flushed with victory and surrounded by countless thousands of Pandours,
who veiled every movement from view. He had established himself in an
impregnable position on the south side of the Neisse, where he could
not be assailed, with any prospect of success, by the force which
Leopold could then summon to his aid.

Frederick was silenced, humiliated. He returned to Berlin, having
accomplished nothing, and having lost four days in his fruitless
adventure. Leopold was left to accumulate his resources as rapidly as
he could, and to attack the Austrians at his discretion.

Prince Charles had married the only sister of Maria Theresa. She was
young, beautiful, and amiable. While the prince was conducting his
arduous campaign on the Moldau, his wife, grief-stricken, consigned her
new-born babe to the tomb. The little stranger, born in the absence of
his father, had but opened his eyes upon this sad world when he closed
them forever. The princess sank rapidly into a decline.

Charles, feeling keenly the bereavement, and alarmed for the health
of his wife, whom he loved most tenderly, hastened to his home in
Brussels. The prince and princess were vice-regents, or “joint
governors” of the Netherlands. The decline of the princess was very
rapid. On the 16th of December, the young prince, with flooded eyes, a
broken-hearted man, followed the remains of his beloved companion to
their burial. Charles never recovered from the blow. He had been the
happiest of husbands. He sank into a state of deep despondency, and
could never be induced to wed again. Though in April he resumed, for
a time, the command of the army, his energies were wilted, his spirit
saddened, and he soon passed into oblivion. This is but one among the
countless millions of the unwritten tragedies of human life.

On the 9th of January, Leopold, having gathered a well-furnished army
of 25,000 men, crossed the Neisse to attack Marshal Traun. The marshal
did not deem it prudent to hazard a battle. Large bodies of troops were
soon to be sent to re-enforce him. He therefore retired by night toward
the south, breaking the bridges behind him. Though Silesia was thus
delivered from the main body of the Austrian army, the fleet-footed
Pandours remained, scouring the country on their shaggy horses,
plundering and destroying. The energetic, tireless Old Dessauer could
seldom get a shot at them. But they harassed his army, keeping the
troops constantly on the march amidst the storms and the freezing cold.

“The old serene highness himself, face the color of gunpowder, and
bluer in the winter frost, went rushing far and wide in an open vehicle
which he called his ‘cart,’ pushing out his detachments; supervising
every thing; wheeling hither and thither as needful; sweeping out the
Pandour world, and keeping it out; not much fighting needed, but ‘a
great deal of marching,’ murmurs Frederick, ‘which in winter is as bad,
and wears down the force of battalions.’”[79]


We seldom hear from Frederick any recognition of God. But on this
occasion, perhaps out of regard to the feelings of his subjects, he
ordered the _Te Deum_ to be sung in the churches of Berlin “for the
deliverance of Silesia from invasion.”

On the 20th of January, 1745, Charles Albert, the unhappy and
ever-unfortunate Emperor of Germany, died at Munich, in the
forty-eighth year of his age. Tortured by a complication of the most
painful disorders, he had seldom, for weary years, enjoyed an hour of
freedom from acute pain. An incessant series of disasters crushed all
his hopes. He was inextricably involved in debt. Triumphant foes drove
him from his realms. He wandered a fugitive in foreign courts, exposed
to humiliation and the most cutting indignities. Thus the victim of
bodily and mental anguish, it is said that one day some new tidings
of disaster prostrated him upon the bed of death. He was patient and
mild, but the saddest of mortals. Gladly he sought refuge in the tomb
from the storms of his drear and joyless life. An eye-witness writes,
“Charles Albert’s pious and affectionate demeanor drew tears from all
eyes. The manner in which he took leave of his empress would have
melted a heart of stone.”

“The death of the emperor,” says Frederick, “was the only event wanting
to complete the confusion and embroilment which already existed in the
political relations of the European powers.”

Maximilian Joseph, son of the emperor, was at the time of his father’s
death but seventeen years of age. He was titular Elector of Bavaria;
but Austrian armies had overrun the electorate, and he was a fugitive
from his dominions. At the entreaty of his mother, he entered into a
treaty of alliance with the Queen of Hungary. She agreed to restore to
him his realms, and to recognize his mother as empress dowager. He, on
the other hand, agreed to support the Pragmatic Sanction, and to give
his vote for the Grand-duke Francis as Emperor of Germany.

Thus Bavaria turned against Frederick. It was manifest to all that
Maria Theresa, aided by the alliances into which she had entered, and
sustained by the gold which the English cabinet so generously lavished
upon her, would be able to place the imperial crown upon her husband’s
brow. It was equally evident that the sceptre of power, of which that
crown was the emblem, would be entirely in her own hands.

Frederick had now France only for an ally. But France was seeking her
own private interests on the Rhine, as Frederick was aiming at the
aggrandizement of Prussia on his Austrian frontiers. Neither party was
disposed to make any sacrifice for the benefit of the other. Frederick,
thus thrown mainly upon his own resources, with an impoverished
treasury, and a weakened and baffled army, made indirect application to
both England and Austria for peace. But both of these courts, flushed
with success, were indisposed to listen to any terms which Frederick
would propose.

There was nothing left for his Prussian majesty but to abandon Silesia,
and retire within his own original borders, defeated and humiliated,
the object of the contempt and ridicule of Europe, or to press forward
in the conflict, summoning to his aid all the energies of despair.

Old Prince Leopold of Dessau, whom he had left in command of the army
in Silesia, was one of the most extraordinary men of any age. He
invented the iron ramrod, and also all modern military tactics. “The
soldiery of every civilized country still receives from this man,
on the parade-fields and battle-fields, its word of command. Out of
his rough head proceeded the essential of all that the innumerable
drill-sergeants in various languages repeat and enforce.”[80]

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.

Leopold, in early youth, fell deeply in love with a beautiful young
lady, Mademoiselle Fos. She was the daughter of an apothecary. His
aristocratic friends were shocked at the idea of so unequal a marriage.
The sturdy will of Leopold was unyielding. They sent him away, under
a French tutor, to take the grand tour of Europe. After an absence of
fourteen months he returned. The first thing he did was to call upon
Mademoiselle Fos. After that, he called upon his widowed mother. It was
in vain to resist the will of such a man. In 1698 he married her, and
soon, by his splendid military services, so ennobled his bride that all
were ready to do her homage. For half a century she was his loved and
honored spouse, attending him in all his campaigns.

With a tender heart, Leopold was one of the most stern and rugged of
men. Spending his whole life amidst the storms of battle, he seemed
ever insensible to fatigue, and regardless of all physical comforts.
And yet there was a vein of truly feminine gentleness and tenderness
in his heart, which made him one of the most loving of husbands and

His young daughter Louisa, bride of Victor Leopold, reigning Prince of
Anhalt-Bernburg, lay dying of a decline. A few days before her death
she said, “I wish I could see my father at the head of his regiment
once again before I die.” The remark was reported to Leopold. He was
then with his regiment at Halle, thirty miles distant. Immediately the
troops were called out, and marched at rapid pace to Bernburg. With
banners flying, music playing, and all customary display of military
pomp, they entered the court-yard of the palace. The dying daughter,
pale and emaciate, sat at the window. The war-worn father rose in his
stirrups to salute his child, and then put his regiment through all its
most interesting manœuvrings. The soldiers were then marched to the
orphan-house, where the common men were treated with bread and beer,
all the officers dining at the prince’s table. “All the officers except
Leopold alone, who stole away out of the crowd, sat himself upon the
Saale bridge, and wept into the river.”

Leopold was now seventy years of age. On the 5th of February his
much-loved wife died at Dessau. Leopold, infirm in health, and broken
with grief, entreated the king to allow him to go home. He could not,
of course, be immediately spared.

On the 15th of March Frederick left Berlin for Silesia. Stopping to
examine some of his works at Glogau and Breslau, he reached Neisse
on the 23d. On the 29th he dismissed the Old Dessauer, with many
expressions of kindness and sympathy, to go home to recover his health.

“Old Leopold is hardly at home at Dessau,” writes Carlyle, “when
the new Pandour tempests, tides of ravaging war, again come beating
against the Giant Mountains, pouring through all passes, huge influx
of wild riding hordes, each with some support of Austrian grenadiers,
cannoniers, threatening to submerge Silesia. Precursors, Frederick
need not doubt, of a strenuous, regular attempt that way. Hungarian
majesty’s fixed intention, hope, and determination is to expel him
straightway from Silesia.”[81]

The latter part of April Prince Charles had gathered a large force
of Austrian regulars at Olmütz, with the manifest intention of
again invading Silesia. The King of Poland had entered into cordial
alliance with Austria, and was sending a large army of Saxon troops
to co-operate in the enterprise. Frederick’s indignation was great,
and his peril still greater. Encamped in the valley of the Neisse,
assailed on every side, and menaced with still more formidable foes, he
dispatched orders to the Old Dessauer immediately to establish an army
of observation (thirty thousand strong) upon the frontiers of Saxony.
He was to be prepared instantly, upon the Saxon troops leaving Saxony,
to ravage the country with the most merciless plunderings of war.

The Queen of Hungary had purchased the co-operation of the Polish king
by offering to surrender to him a generous portion of Silesia after the
province should have been reconquered. Indeed, there was a great cause
of apprehension that the allied army would make a rush upon Berlin
itself. The aspect of his Prussian majesty’s affairs was now gloomy in
the extreme.

Frederick wrote to his minister Podewils in Berlin, under date of
Neisse, March 29, 1745, as follows: “We find ourselves in a great
crisis. If we don’t by mediation of England get peace, our enemies from
different sides will come plunging in against me. Peace I can not force
them to. But if we must have war, we will either beat them, or none of
us will ever see Berlin again.”

On the 17th of April again he wrote, still from Neisse: “I toil day and
night to improve our situation. The soldiers will do their duty. There
is none among us who will not rather have his back-bone broken than
give up one foot-breadth of ground. They must either grant us a good
peace, or we will surpass ourselves by miracles of daring, and force
the enemy to accept it from us.”

On the 20th of April he wrote: “Our situation is disagreeable, but my
determination is taken. If we needs must fight, we will do it like men
driven desperate. Never was there a greater peril than that I am now
in. Time, at its own pleasure, will untie this knot, or destiny, if
there is one, determine the event. The game I play is so high, one can
not contemplate the issue with cold blood. Pray for the return of my
good luck.”

The alarm in Berlin was very great. The citizens were awake to the
consciousness that there was danger; that the city itself would be
assaulted. Great was the consternation in the capital when minute
directions came from Frederick respecting the course to be pursued in
the event of such a calamity, and the places of refuge to which the
royal family should retreat.

On the 26th of April Frederick again wrote to M. Podewils: “I can
understand how you are getting uneasy at Berlin. I have the most to
lose of you all, but I am quiet and prepared for events. If the Saxons
take part in the invasion of Silesia, and we beat them, I am determined
to plunge into Saxony. For great maladies there need great remedies.
Either I will maintain my all or else lose my all. To me remains
only to possess myself in patience. If all alliances, resources, and
negotiations fail, and all conjunctures go against me, I prefer to
perish with honor rather than lead an inglorious life, deprived of all
dignity. My ambition whispers me that I have done more than another
to the building up of my house, and have played a distinguished part
among the crowned heads of Europe. To maintain myself there has become,
as it were, a personal duty, which I will fulfill at the expense of
my happiness and my life. I have no choice left. I will maintain my
power, or it may go to ruin, and the Prussian name be buried under it.
If the enemy attempt any thing upon us, we will either beat them, or
will all be hewed to pieces for the sake of our country and the renown
of Brandenburg. No other counsel can I listen to. Perform faithfully
the given work on your side, as I on mine. For the rest, let what you
call Providence decide as it likes. I prepare myself for every event.
Fortune may be kind or be unkind, it shall neither dishearten me nor
uplift me. If I am to perish, let it be with honor, and sword in hand.”

Frederick was, with great energy, gathering all his resources for a
decisive conflict in his fortresses along the banks of the Neisse. By
almost superhuman exertions he had collected an army there of about
seventy thousand men. The united army of Austria and Saxony marching
upon him amounted to one hundred thousand regulars, together with
uncounted swarms of Pandours sweeping around him in all directions,
interrupting his communications and cutting off his supplies.

The mountain range upon the south, which separated Silesia from the
realms of the Queen of Hungary, was three or four hundred miles long,
with some twenty defiles practicable for the passage of troops. The
French minister Valori urged Frederick to guard these passes. This was
impossible; and the self-confidence of the Prussian king is revealed
in his reply: “My friend, if you wish to catch the mouse, you must not
shut the trap, but leave it open.”

The latter part of May, Frederick, in his head-quarters at
Frankenstein, learned that an Austrian army under Prince Charles, and
a Saxon army under the Duke of Weissenfels, in columns, by strict
count seventy-five thousand strong, had defiled through the passes
of the Giant Mountains, and entered Silesia near Landshut. Day after
day he ascended an eminence, and, with his glass, anxiously scanned
the horizon, to detect signs of the approach of the foe. On Thursday
morning, June 3, an immense cloud of dust in the distance indicated
that the decisive hour was at hand.

As this magnificent army entered upon the smooth and beautiful fields
of Southern Silesia they shook out their banners, and with peals of
music gave expression to their confidence of victory. The Austrian
officers pitched their tents on a hill near Hohenfriedberg, where they
feasted and drank their wine, while, during the long and beautiful June
afternoon, they watched the onward sweep of their glittering host. “The
Austrian and Saxon army,” writes an eye-witness, “streamed out all the
afternoon, each regiment or division taking the place appointed it; all
the afternoon, till late in the night, submerging the country as in a

Far away in the east the Austrian officers discerned a Prussian column
of observation, consisting of about twelve thousand horse and foot,
wending along from hollow to height, their polished weapons flashing
back the rays of the afternoon sun. Frederick, carefully examining the
ground, immediately made arrangements to bring forward his troops under
curtain of the night for a decisive battle. His orderlies were silently
dispatched in all directions. At eight o’clock the whole army was in
motion. His troops were so concentrated that the farthest divisions had
a march of only nine miles. Silently, not a word being spoken, not a
pipe being lighted, and all the baggage being left behind, they crossed
the bridge of the Striegau River, and, deploying to the right and the
left, took position in front of the slumbering allied troops.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF HOHENFRIEDBERG, JUNE 4, 1745.

  _a a. Austrian Army. b. Prince Weissenfels. c c. Prussian Army.
      d. Dumoulin. e. Gesler’s Dragoons._]

With the first dawn of the morning, the two armies, in close contact,
rushed furiously upon each other. There were seventy thousand on the
one side, seventy-five thousand on the other. They faced each other in
lines over an undulating plain nearly ten miles in extent. It is in
vain to attempt to give the reader an adequate idea of the terrible
battle which ensued. With musketry, artillery, gleaming sabres, and
rushing horsemen, the infuriate hosts dashed upon each other. For
fifteen hours the blood-red surges of battle swept to and fro over the
plain. At length Prince Charles, having lost nine thousand in dead and
wounded, seven thousand prisoners, sixteen thousand in all, sixty-six
cannon, seventy-three flags and standards, beat a retreat. Rapidly his
bleeding and exhausted troops marched back through Hohenfriedberg,
entered the mountain defiles, and sought refuge, a thoroughly beaten
army, among the fortresses of Bohemia. Frederick remained the
undisputed victor of the field. Five thousand of his brave soldiers lay
dead or wounded upon the plain. Even his stoical heart was moved by the
greatness of the victory. As he first caught sight of M. Valori after
the battle, he threw his arms around him, exclaiming, “My friend, God
has helped me wonderfully this day.”

“There was, after all,” says Valori, “at times a kind of devout feeling
in this prince, who possessed such a combination of qualities, good and
bad, that I know not which preponderates.”

The Prussian army was so exhausted by its midnight march and its long
day of battle that his majesty did not deem it wise to attempt to
pursue the retreating foe. For this he has been severely, we think
unjustly, censured by some military men. He immediately, that evening,
wrote to his mother, saying, “So decisive a defeat has not been since
Blenheim,” and assuring her that the two princes, her sons, who had
accompanied him to the battle, were safe. Such was the battle of
Hohenfriedberg, once of world-wide renown, now almost forgotten.



  Battle of Hohenfriedberg.--Religious Antagonism.--Anecdote of the
    King.--Retreat of the Austrians.--Horrors of War.--“A slight
    Pleasantry.”--Sufferings of the Prussian Army.--The Victory of
    Fontenoy.--Frederick’s Pecuniary Embarrassments.--Executive
    Abilities of Maria Theresa.--Inflexibility of the Austrian Queen.--
    The Retreat to Silesia.--The Surprise at Sohr.--Military Genius of
    Frederick.--Great Victory of Sohr.

The decisive battle of Hohenfriedberg, by which victory Frederick
probably escaped utter destruction, was fought on the 4th of June,
1745. From early dawn to the evening twilight of the long summer’s
day the dreadful work of slaughter had continued without a moment’s
intermission. As the Austrians, having lost nearly one fourth of their
number, retreated, the Prussians, in utter exhaustion, threw themselves
upon the ground for sleep. The field around them was covered with
fourteen thousand of the wounded, the dying, and the dead.

Early the next morning Frederick commenced the vigorous pursuit of
the retiring foe. A storm arose. For twelve hours the rain fell in
torrents. But the Prussian army was impelled onward, through the mud,
and through the swollen streams, inspired by the almost supernatural
energy which glowed in the bosom of its king. It seemed as if no
hardships, sufferings, or perils could induce those iron men, who
by discipline had been converted into mere machines, to wander from
the ranks or to falter on the way. As we have mentioned, there were
throughout all this region two religious parties, the Catholics and the
Protestants. They were strongly antagonistic to each other. Under the
Austrian sway, the Catholics, having the support of the government, had
enjoyed unquestioned supremacy. They had often very cruelly persecuted
the Protestants, robbing them of their churches, and, in their zeal to
defend what they deemed the orthodox faith, depriving them of their
children, and placing them under the care of the Catholic priests to be

“While the battle of Hohenfriedberg was raging,” writes an eye-witness,
“as far as the cannon was heard all around, the Protestants fell on
their knees praying for victory for the Prussians.” Indescribable
was the exultation when the bugle peals of the Prussian trumpeters
announced to them a Protestant victory. When Frederick approached, in
his pursuit, the important town of Landshut, the following incident
occurred, as described by the pen of his Prussian majesty:

“Upon reaching the neighborhood of Landshut, the king was surrounded by
a troop of two thousand Protestant peasants. They begged permission of
him to massacre the Catholics of those parts, and clear the country of
them altogether. This animosity arose from the persecutions which the
Protestants had suffered during the Austrian domination.

“The king was very far from granting so barbarous a permission. He told
them they ought rather to conform to the precepts of Scripture, and to
‘bless those that curse them, and pray for those that despitefully use
them.’ Such, the king assured them, was the way to gain the kingdom
of heaven. The peasants, after a little reflection, declared that his
majesty was right, and desisted from their cruel intention.”[82]

For several weeks the Austrians slowly and sullenly retired. Their
retreat was conducted in two immense columns, by parallel roads at
some distance from each other. Their wings of foragers and skirmishers
were widely extended, so that the hungry army swept with desolation a
breadth of country reaching out many leagues. Though the Austrian army
was traversing the friendly territory of Bohemia, still Prince Charles
was anxious to leave behind him no resources for Frederick to glean.
Frederick, with his army, pressed along, following the wide-spread
trail of his foes. The Austrians, with great skill, selected every
commanding position on which to erect their batteries, and hurl back
a storm of shot and shell into the bosoms of their pursuers. But
Frederick allowed them no rest by day or by night. His solid columns so
unremittingly and so impetuously pressed with shot, bullets, bayonet,
and sabre-blows upon the rear ranks of the foe that there was almost
an incessant battle, continuing for several weeks, crimsoning a path
thirty miles wide and more than a hundred miles in length with the
blood of the wounded and the slain.


The region through which this retreat and pursuit were conducted was
much of the way along the southern slope of the Giant Mountains. It was
a wild country of precipitous rocks, quagmires, and gloomy forests.
At length Prince Charles, with his defeated and dispirited army, took
refuge at Königsgraft, a compact town between the Elbe and the Adler,
protected by one stream on the west, and by the other on the south.
Here, in an impregnable position, he intrenched his troops. Frederick,
finding them unassailable, encamped his forces in a position almost
equally impregnable, a few miles west of the Elbe, in the vicinity of a
little village called Chlum. Thus the two hostile armies, almost within
sound of each other’s bugles, defiantly stood in battle array, each
watching an opportunity to strike a blow.

“War is cruelty,” said General Sherman; “and you can not refine
it.” “No man of refined Christian sensibilities,” said the Duke of
Wellington, “should undertake the profession of a soldier.” The
exigencies of war often require things to be done from which humanity
revolts. “War,” said Napoleon I., “is the science of barbarians.” One
of the principal objects of Frederick in this pursuit of the Austrians
through Bohemia was to lay waste the country so utterly, destroying
its roads and consuming its provisions, that no Austrian army could
again pass through it for the invasion of Silesia. Who can imagine the
amount of woe thus inflicted upon the innocent peasants of Bohemia?
Both armies were reduced to the necessity of living mainly upon the
resources of the country in which they were encamped. Their foraging
parties were scattered in all directions. There were frequent attacks
of outposts and bloody skirmishes, in which many were slain and many
were crippled for life. Each death, each wound, sent tears, and often
life-long woe, to some humble cottage.

There are sometimes great and glorious objects to be attained--objects
which elevate and ennoble a nation or a race--which warrant the
expenditure of almost any amount of temporary suffering. It is not
the duty of the millions to suffer the proud and haughty hundreds to
consign them to ignorance and trample them in the dust. In this wicked
world, where kings and nobles have ever been so ready to doom the
masses of the people to ignorance, servitude, and want, human rights
have almost never made any advances but through the energies of the
sword. Many illustrious generals, who, with saddened hearts, have led
their armies over fields of blood, have been among the most devoted
friends and ornaments of humanity. Their names have been enshrined in
the affections of grateful millions.

But this war, into which the Prussian king had so recklessly plunged
all Europe, was purely a war of personal ambition. Even Frederick did
not pretend that it involved any question of human rights. Unblushingly
he avowed that he drew his sword and led his hundred thousand
peasant-boys upon their dreadful career of carnage and misery simply
that he might enlarge his territories, gain renown as a conqueror, and
make the world talk about him. It must be a fearful thing to go to the
judgment seat of Christ with such a crime weighing upon the soul.

War has its jokes and merriment, but the comedies of war are often more
dreadful than the tragedies of peace. Frederick, in his works, records
the following incident, which he narrates as “slight pleasantry, to
relieve the reader’s mind:”[83]

The Prussians had a detached post at Smirzitz. The little garrison
there was much harassed by lurking bands of Austrians, who shot their
sentries, cut off their supplies, and rendered it almost certain death
to any one who ventured to emerge from the ramparts. Some inventive
genius among the Prussians constructed a straw man, very like life,
representing a sentinel with his shouldered musket. By a series of
ropes this effigy was made to move from right to left, as if walking
his beat. A well-armed band of Prussians then hid in a thicket near by.

Ere long a company of Austrian scouts approached. From a distance
they eyed the sentinel, moving to and fro as he guarded his post. A
sharp-shooter crept near, and, taking deliberate aim at his supposed
victim, fired. A twitch upon the rope caused the image to fall flat.
The whole band of Austrians, with a shout, rushed to the spot. The
Prussians, from their ambuscade, opened upon them a deadly fire of
bullets. Then, as the ground was covered with the mutilated and the
dead, the Prussians, causing the welkin to ring with their peals of
laughter, rushed with fixed bayonets upon their entrapped foes. Not a
single Austrian had escaped being struck by a bullet. Those who were
not killed outright were wounded, and were taken captive. This is one
of the “slight pleasantries” of war.

Frederick’s army was now in a state of great destitution. The
region around was so stripped of its resources that it could afford
his foragers no more supplies. It was difficult for him to fill
his baggage-trains even in Silesia, so much had that country been
devastated by war; and wherever any of his supply wagons appeared,
swarms of Austrian dragoons hovered around, attacking and destroying
them. To add to the embarrassments of the Prussian king, his purse was
empty. His subjects could endure no heavier taxation. All the plate
which Frederick William had accumulated had been converted into coin
and expended. Even the massive silver balustrades, which were reserved
until a time of need, were melted and gone. He knew not where to look
for a loan. All the nations were involved in ruinous war. All wished to
borrow. None but England had money to lend; and England was fighting
Frederick, and furnishing supplies for his foes.

[Illustration: A SLIGHT PLEASANTRY.]

The expenses of the war were enormous. Frederick made a careful
estimate, and found that he required at least three hundred and
seventy-five thousand dollars a month. He could not carry on another
campaign with less than four million five hundred thousand dollars.
He had been expecting that Louis XV., who in person was in command of
the French army on the Rhine, would send him a re-enforcement of sixty
thousand troops to enable him to crush the forces of Prince Charles.
But week after week passed, and no re-enforcements came. The French,
intent upon their conquest, were as selfishly pursuing their own
interests on the Rhine as Frederick was pursuing his in Silesia.

The great victory of Fontenoy, gained by the French on the Rhine,
caused boundless exultation throughout France. “The French,” writes
Carlyle, “made immense explosions of rejoicing over this victory;
Voltaire celebrating it in prose and verse to an amazing degree; the
whole nation blazing out over it into illuminations, arcs of triumph,
and universal three times three; in short, I think nearly the heartiest
national huzza, loud, deep, long-drawn, that the nation ever gave in
like case.”

But this victory on the Rhine was of no avail to Frederick in Bohemia.
It did not diminish the hosts which Prince Charles was gathering
against him. It did not add a soldier to his diminished columns, or
supply his exhausted magazines, or replenish his empty treasury. Louis
XV. was so delighted with the victory that he supposed Frederick would
be in sympathy with him. He immediately dispatched a courier to the
Prussian king with the glad tidings. But Frederick, disappointed,
embarrassed, chagrined, instead of being gratified, was irritated
by the news. He sent back the scornful reply “that a victory upon
the Scamander,[84] or in the heart of China, would have been just as
important to him.”

Louis XV. felt insulted by this message, and responded in a similar
strain of irritation. Thus the two monarchs were alienated from each
other. Indeed, Frederick had almost as much cause to be dissatisfied
with the French as they had to be dissatisfied with him. Each of the
monarchs was ready to sacrifice the other if any thing was to be gained

Frederick was now in such deep pecuniary embarrassment that he was
compelled to humble himself so far as to apply to the King of France
for money. “If your majesty,” he wrote, “can not furnish me with any
re-enforcements, you must, at least, send me funds to raise additional
troops. The smallest possible sum which will enable me to maintain my
position here is three million dollars.”

Louis XV. wrote a very unsatisfactory letter in reply. He stated,
with many apologies, that his funds were terribly low, that he was
exceedingly embarrassed, that it was impossible to send the sum
required, but that he would _try_ to furnish him with a hundred
thousand dollars a month.

Frederick was indignant. Scornfully he rejected the proposal, saying,
“Such a paltry sum might with propriety, perhaps, be offered to a
petty duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, but it is not suitable to make such a
proposition to the King of Prussia.”

Poor Valori, the French embassador, was placed in a very embarrassing
situation. The anger of the Prussian king vented itself upon him. He
was in complete disgrace. It was his duty daily to wait upon Frederick.
But the king would seldom speak to him, or even look upon him; and if
he did favor him with a glance, it was with an expression of scorn.

Frederick was rapidly awaking to the consciousness that Maria Theresa,
whom he had despised as a woman, and a young wife and mother, and whose
territory he thought he could dismember with impunity, was fully his
equal, not only in ability to raise and direct armies, but also in
diplomatic intrigue. About the middle of August he perceived from his
camp in Chlum that Prince Charles was receiving large re-enforcements
from the south. At the same time, he saw that corps after corps,
principally of Saxon troops, were defiling away by circuitous roads
to the north. It was soon evident that the heroic Maria Theresa was
preparing to send an army into the very heart of Prussia to attack its
capital. This was, indeed, changing the aspect of the war.

Berlin was almost defenseless. All Saxony was rising in arms behind
Frederick. The invader of Silesia was in danger of having his own
realms invaded and his own capital sacked. Frederick was thoroughly
roused. But he never allowed himself to appear agitated or anxious.
He ordered Leopold, the Old Dessauer, to march immediately, with all
the troops he could rally, to the frontiers of Saxony. He even found
it necessary to detach to the aid of Leopold some corps from his own
enfeebled forces, now menaced by an Austrian army twice as large as he
could oppose to them.

While affairs were in this posture, the English, eager to crush
their hereditary rivals, the French, were very anxious to detach the
Prussians from the French alliance. The only way to do this was to
induce Maria Theresa to offer terms of peace such as Frederick would
accept. They sent Sir Thomas Robinson to Schönbrunn to endeavor to
accomplish this purpose. He had an interview with her Hungarian majesty
on the 2d of August, 1745. The queen was very dignified and reticent.
Silently she listened to the proposals of Sir Thomas. She then said,
with firmness which left no room for further argument,

“It would be easier for me to make peace with France than with Prussia.
What good could possibly result now from peace with Prussia? I must
have Silesia again. Without Silesia the imperial sceptre would be but a
bauble. Would you have us sway that sceptre under the guardianship of
Prussia? Prince Charles is now in a condition to fight the Prussians
again. Until after another battle, do not speak to me of peace. You say
that if we make peace with Prussia, Frederick will give his vote for
the grand-duke as emperor. The grand-duke is not so ambitious of an
empty honor as to engage in it under the tutelage of Prussia. Consider,
moreover, is the imperial dignity consistent with the loss of Silesia?
One more battle I demand. Were I compelled to agree with Frederick
to-morrow, I would try him in a battle to-night.”[85]

On the 13th of September the German Diet met at Frankfort for the
election of emperor. Frederick had determined that the Grand-duke
Francis, husband of the Hungarian queen, should not be elected. Maria
Theresa had outgeneraled him. Francis was elected. He had seven out
of nine of the electoral votes. Frederick, thus baffled, could only
protest. Maria Theresa was conscious of her triumph. Though the
imperial crown was placed upon the brow of Francis, all Europe knew
that the sceptre was in the hands of his far more able and efficient
wife. Maria Theresa was at Frankfort at the time of the election. She
could not conceal her exultation. She seemed very willing to have it
understood that her amiable husband was but the instrument of her will.
She took the title of empress queen, and assumed a very lofty carriage
toward the princes of the empire. Alluding to Frederick, she said, in a
very imperial tone, for she deemed him now virtually vanquished,

“His Prussian majesty has unquestionably talent, but what a character!
He is frivolous in the extreme, and sadly a heretic in his religious
views. He is a dishonorable man, and what a neighbor he has been! As to
Silesia, I would as soon part with my last garment as part with it.”

Her majesty now wrote to Prince Charles, urging him to engage
immediately in a fight with Frederick. She sent two of the highest
dignitaries of the court to Königgrätz to press forward immediate
action. There was an eminence near by, which the Austrian officers
daily ascended, and from which they could look directly into the
Prussian camp and observe all that was transpiring there.

The position of Frederick became daily more embarrassing. His forces
were continually decreasing. Re-enforcements were swelling the ranks
of the Austrians. Elated in becoming the _Imperial Army_, they grew
more bold and annoying, assailing the Prussian outposts and cutting off
their supplies.

On the 18th of September, when the rejoicing Austrians at Königgrätz
were firing salutes, drinking wine, and feasting in honor of the
election of the grand-duke to the imperial dignity, Frederick, availing
himself of the carousal in the camp of his foes, crossed the Elbe with
his whole army, a few miles above Königgrätz, and commenced his retreat
to Silesia. His path led through a wild, sparsely inhabited country, of
precipitous rocks, hills, mountain torrents, and quagmires. One vast
forest spread along the banks of the Elbe, covering with its gloom an
extent of sixty square miles. A few miserable hamlets were scattered
over this desolate region. The poor inhabitants lived mainly upon the
rye which they raised and the swine which ranged the forest.

Along the eastern edge of this vast wilderness the army of Frederick
marched for two days. But Hungarian Pandours in swarms, savage men on
their fleet and shaggy horses, were continually emerging from the paths
of the forest, with gleaming sabres and shrill war-cries, assailing the
flank of the Prussian line wherever there was the slightest exposure.
In the vicinity of the little village of Sohr the king encamped for two
days. The halt seemed necessary to refresh his horses, and to send out
foraging parties to replenish his stores. But the light horsemen of
the foe were so thick around him, so vigilant, and so bold, that no
baggage train could enter his camp unless protected by eight thousand
foot and three thousand horse.

Just at the break of day of Thursday morning, September 30, as the king
was in his tent, busy with his generals, examining maps in preparation
for the immediate resumption of the march, an orderly came, in
breathless haste, to inform the king that the Austrians were advancing
rapidly upon him, and in great force. While he was yet speaking
another messenger arrived, confirming the tidings, and stating that,
apparently, the whole Austrian army, in battle array, was coming down
upon him.

It was a cold, dreary autumnal morning. The Austrian army, according to
Frederick’s statement, amounted to sixty thousand men.[86] But it was
widely dispersed. Many of the cavalry were scouring the country in all
directions, in foraging parties and as skirmishers. Large bodies had
been sent by circuitous roads to occupy every avenue of retreat. The
consolidated army, under Prince Charles, now advancing to the attack,
amounted to thirty-six thousand men. Frederick had but twenty-six

In this hour of peril the genius of the Prussian monarch was remarkably
developed. He manifested not the slightest agitation or alarm. His plan
was immediately formed. Indeed, there was no time for a moment’s delay.
The Austrians had moved rapidly and silently, concealing their approach
by a thick veil of hussars. They were already in solid columns,
confident of victory, advancing upon the Prussian camp. Frederick
was compelled to form his line of battle under fire of the Austrian
batteries. The discipline of the Prussians was such that this was done
with a recklessness of danger, rapidity, and mechanical precision which
seemed almost miraculous, and which elicited the admiration of every
one who beheld it.

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 to have the same desperate valor, and
determination to conquer or to die, which animated his king.

The sun had just risen above the horizon when the conflict commenced.
It reached its meridian. Still the storm of battle swept the plains
and reverberated over the hills. Heights had been taken and retaken;
charges had been made and repelled; the surges of victory had rolled
to and fro; over many leagues the thunderbolts of battle were thickly
flying; bugle peals, cries of onset, shrieks of the wounded crushed
beneath artillery wheels, blended with the rattle of musketry and the
roar of artillery; riderless horses were flying in all directions; the
extended plain was covered with the wreck and ruin of battle, and every
moment was multiplying the victims of war’s horrid butchery.

At length the Austrians were routed--utterly routed--broken,
dispersed, and driven in wild confusion into the glooms of the forest.
The victory of Frederick was complete. As a warrior, he was winning the
title he so greatly coveted, of Frederick the Great.

It was a glorious victory. What was the price? Five thousand six
hundred Prussian young men lay in their blood upon the field, dead or
wounded. Six thousand seven hundred young men from Austrian homes lay
by their side, silent in death, or groaning in anguish, lacerated by
the missiles of war.[88]

Frederick was elated with his victory. He had taken three thousand
three hundred prisoners, twenty-one cannon, and twenty-two standards.
He had added to the renown of his name, and strengthened his hold upon

Prince Charles, as he was leading the main body of his army to the
assault, sent a squadron of his fleet-footed cavalry to burn the
Prussian camp, and to assail the foe in their rear. But the troops
found the camp so rich in treasure that they could not resist the
temptation of stopping to plunder. Thus they did not make the attack
which had been ordered, and which would probably have resulted in the
destruction of the Prussian army. It is said that when Frederick, in
the heat of the battle, was informed that the Pandours were sacking
his camp, he coolly replied, “So much the better; they will not then
interrupt us.”[89]



  Sufferings of the Peasantry.--Renown and Peril of Frederick.--New
    Plan of Maria Theresa.--Despondency of Frederick.--Surprise and
    Rout of the Austrians.--The “Old Dessauer” enters Saxony.--Battle
    of Kesseldorf.--Singular Prayer of the Old Dessauer.--Signal
    Victory of the Prussians.--Elation of Frederick.--The Peace of
    Dresden.--Death of M. Duhan.

After the retreat of the Austrians, Frederick returned to his camp to
find it plundered and burned. The semi-barbarian assailants had also
consigned to the flames eight or ten sick Prussians whom they found
there, and several women whom they caught. “We found the limbs of these
poor men and women lying about,” writes General Lehwald.

The camp was so utterly destroyed that Frederick could not even obtain
pen and ink. He was obliged to write with a pencil. Not a loaf of
bread nor a cup of wine was left for the exhausted king. The hungry
soldiers, after a conflict of five hours, having had neither breakfast
nor dinner, found no refreshments awaiting them; yet, without a murmur,
they smoked their pipes, drank some spring water, and rejoiced in their
great victory.

“Never mind,” said the king; “it is a cheap price to pay for escaping
an attack from Pandours in the rear, while such a battle was raging in

Frederick remained at Sohr five days. The country was scoured in all
directions to obtain food for his army. It was necessary that the
troops should be fed, even if the poor inhabitants starved miserably.
No tongue can tell the sufferings which consequently fell upon the
peasantry for leagues around. Prince Charles, with his shattered army,
fell back to Königgrätz, remorselessly plundering the people by the
way. Frederick, ordering his army to retire to Silesia, returned to

The victory of Sohr filled Europe with the renown of Frederick. Still
his peril was great, and the difficulties before him apparently
insurmountable. His treasury was exhausted. His only ally, France,
would furnish him with no money, had no confidence in him, and was in
heart exasperated against him. Not a single court in Europe expressed
any friendship for Frederick. On the contrary, nearly all would have
rejoiced at his downfall. There seemed to be no end to the campaigns
which were opening before him. Yet Frederick knew not where to obtain
the money to meet the expense even of a single campaign.

Under these circumstances, Frederick made indirect but vigorous
exertions to bring the war to a close. “I am ready and desirous now,”
he said, “as at all times, for peace. I will immediately sheathe the
sword if I can be guaranteed the possession of Silesia.”

“I, too, am anxious for peace,” Maria Theresa replied, “and will
joyfully withdraw my armies if Silesia, of which I have been robbed, is
restored to me.”

Thus his Prussian majesty and the Queen of Hungary met each other
like two icebergs in a stormy sea. The allies were exasperated, not
conquered, by the defeat of Sohr. Maria Theresa, notwithstanding the
severity of winter’s cold, resolved immediately to send three armies to
invade Prussia, and storm Berlin itself. She hoped to keep the design
profoundly secret, so that Frederick might be taken at unawares. The
Swedish envoy at Dresden spied out the plan, and gave the king warning.
Marshal Grüne was to advance from the Rhine, and enter Brandenburg from
the west. Prince Charles, skirting Western Silesia, was to march upon
Brandenburg from the south. General Rutowski was to spring upon the Old
Dessauer, who was encamped upon the frontiers of Saxony, overwhelm and
crush his army with superior numbers, and then, forming a junction with
Marshal Brüne, with their united force rush upon Berlin.

Frederick was astounded, alarmed, for a moment overwhelmed, as these
tidings were clearly made known to him. He had brought all this upon
himself. “And yet,” the wretched man exclaimed, “what a life I lead!
This is not living; this is being killed a thousand times a day!”

This despondency lasted, however, but a moment. Concealing his
emotions, he smoothed his furrowed brow, dressed his face in smiles,
and wrote doggerel verses and jocose letters as if he were merely
a fashionable man of pleasure. At the same time he rallied all his
marvelous energies, and prepared to meet the exigency with sagacity
and intrepidity rarely surpassed. Orders were immediately dispatched
to the Old Dessauer to marshal an army to oppose Grüne and Rutowski,
while the king hastened to Silesia to attack Prince Charles. Leopold,
though he had nearly numbered his threescore years and ten, according
to Frederick, was very glad to fight once again before he died. The
veteran general ventured to make some suggestions in reference to the
orders he had received. The king sternly replied,

“When your highness gets armies of your own, you will order them
according to your mind. At present, it must be according to mine.”

Frederick had an army of thirty-five thousand men at Liegnitz, in
Silesia, under the command of young Leopold. Every man was a thoroughly
trained soldier. The army was in the best possible condition. At seven
o’clock in the morning of November 15, 1745, the king left Berlin at
full speed for Liegnitz. He arrived there the next day, and at once
took the command. “There is great velocity in this young king,” writes
Carlyle; “a panther-like suddenness of spring in him; cunning too, as
any _felis_ of them; and with claws as the _felis leo_ on occasion.”

Prince Charles was _en route_ for Berlin--a winter’s march of a
hundred and fifty miles. He was not aware that the King of Prussia
was near him, or that the king was conscious of his bold design. On
Saturday night, November 20, the army of Prince Charles, forty thousand
strong, on its line of march, suspecting no foe near, was encamped in
villages, extending for twenty miles along the banks of the Queiss,
one of the tributaries of the Oder. Four marches would bring them
into Brandenburg. It was the design of Frederick to fall with his
whole force upon the centre of this line, cut it in two, and then to
annihilate the extremities. Early in the morning of Sunday, the 21st,
Frederick put his troops in motion. He marched rapidly all that day,
and Monday, and Tuesday. In the twilight of Tuesday evening, a dense
fog enveloping the landscape, Frederick, with his concentrated force,
fell impetuously upon a division of the Austrian army encamped in the
village of Hennersdorf.

The assault was as sudden and resistless as the sweep of the avalanche.
The Austrian division was annihilated. Scarcely a man escaped. This
achievement was deemed a very brilliant passage of war. It cut the
Austrian army in twain and secured its ruin.

The next morning the Prussian troops, led by their indomitable king,
were early on the march, groping through the thick mist to find more of
the foe. But the blow already given was decisive. The Austrian army was
shattered, demoralized, ruined. The king could find nothing but broken
tumbrils, abandoned wagons, and the débris of an utterly routed army.
Prince Charles, bewildered by the disaster, had wheeled his columns
around, and fled through the passes of the mountains back to Bohemia.
Five thousand of his troops he left behind in killed or prisoners.

Frederick was not unduly elated with his victory. He was still terribly
harassed for money. There were campaigns opening before him, in an
unending series, requiring enormous expenditure. Even many such
victories as he had just gained would only conduct him to irretrievable
ruin, unless he could succeed in conquering a peace. In these dark
hours the will of this extraordinary man remained inflexible. He would
not listen to any propositions for peace which did not guarantee to him
Silesia. Maria Theresa would listen to no terms which did not restore
to her the lost province.

Frederick, in this great emergence, condescended again to write
imploringly to France for pecuniary aid. He received a sarcastic reply,
which exasperated him, and which was couched in such polite terms that
he could not openly resent it. Marshal Grüne, who was advancing rapidly
from the Rhine to Berlin, hearing of the defeat of his confederates at
Hennersdorf, and of the retreat of Prince Charles, wheeled his columns
south for Saxony. Here he effected a junction with General Rutowski,
near Dresden. Their combined troops intrenched themselves, and stood on
the defensive.

On the 29th of December, the Old Dessauer, with thirty-five thousand
men, crossed the frontiers and entered Saxony. He marched rapidly upon
Leipsic, and seized the town, from which a division of Rutowski’s army
precipitately fled. Leopold found here quite a supply of commissary and
ordnance stores. He also replenished his empty army-chest by levying
a contribution of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars upon the
inhabitants. Then, by a rapid march northeast to Torgo, on the Elbe,
he captured another imperial magazine. Turning south, he pressed his
troops along up the river to Myssen, which was within two days’ easy
march of Dresden. Here there was a bridge across the Oder. Frederick
was pushing his troops, by forced marches, from Hennersdorf, to effect
a junction with Leopold at Myssen. Unitedly they were to fall upon
Grüne and Rutowski at Dresden. In the mean time, also, Prince Charles,
a despondent man, crushed by domestic woe and humiliating defeats, was
moving, by not very energetic steps, to re-enforce the allied troops at

It was two o’clock in the afternoon of Sunday, December 12, when
the banners of the Old Dessauer appeared before Myssen. The Saxon
commander there broke down the bridge, and in the darkness of the
night stole away with his garrison to Dresden. Leopold vigorously but
cautiously pursued. As the allied army was near, and in greater force
than Leopold’s command, it was necessary for him to move with much
discretion. His march was along the west bank of the river. The ground
was frozen and white with snow.

On Wednesday morning, December 15, the advance-guard of the Prussians
saw before them the allied army, thirty-five thousand strong, occupying
a very formidable position. Marshal Grüne and General Rutowski had
advanced a few miles north from Dresden to meet the Prussians. Their
troops were drawn up in battle array, extending from the River Elbe on
the east, to the village of Kesselsdorf on the west. A small stream,
with a craggy or broken gully or dell, extended along their whole
front. The southern ridge, facing the advancing Prussians, bristled
with artillery. Some of the pieces were of heavy calibre. Leopold had
only light field-pieces.

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.

Forming his army in two parallel lines, nearly five miles long, facing
the foe, he prepared to open the battle along the whole extent of
the field. While thus engrossing the attention of the enemy, his main
attempt was to be directed against the village of Kesselsdorf, which
his practiced eye saw to be the key of the position. It was two o’clock
in the afternoon ere all his arrangements were completed. The Old
Dessauer was a devout man--in his peculiar style a religious man, a
man of prayer. He never went into battle without imploring God’s aid.
On this occasion, all things being arranged, he reverently uncovered
his head, and in presence of the troops offered, it is said, the
following prayer:

“O my God, help me yet this once. Let me not be disgraced in my old
days. But if Thou wilt not help me, don’t help those scoundrels, but
leave us to try it out ourselves.”

Having uttered this prayer, he waved his hat to his troops, and
shouted, “On, in God’s name!”

“The Prussians,” writes Carlyle, “tramp on with the usual grim-browed
resolution, foot in front, horse in rear. But they have a terrible
problem at that Kesselsdorf, with its retrenched batteries and numerous
grenadiers fighting under cover. The very ground is sore against them;
up-hill, and the trampled snow wearing into a slide, so that you sprawl
and stagger sadly. Thirty-one big guns, and near nine thousand small,
pouring out mere death on you from that knoll-head. The Prussians
stagger; can not stand; bend to rightward to get out of shot range; can
not manage it this bout. Rally, re-enforced; try it again. Again with a
will; but again there is not a way. The Prussians are again repulsed;
fall back down this slippery course in more disorder than the first
time. Had the Saxons stood still, steadily handling arms, how, on such
terms, could the Prussians have ever managed it?”[90]

At the second repulse, the Saxon grenadiers, greatly elated, gave
a shout of “victory,” and rushed from their works to pursue the
retreating Prussians. This was their ruin.

“Old Leopold, quick as thought, noticing the thing, hurls cavalry
on these victorious, down-plunging grenadiers; slashes them asunder
into mere recoiling whirlpools of ruin, so that few of them got back
unwounded; and the Prussians, storming in along with them, aided by
ever new Prussians, the place was at length carried.”[91]

And now the Prussians from the centre press the foe with new vigor.
Leopold, at the head of his victorious division, charged the allied
troops in flank, pouring in upon them his resistless horsemen. Whole
regiments were made prisoners. Ere nightfall of the short December
day, the whole allied army, broken and disordered, was on the retreat
back to Dresden. The night alone protected them from utter ruin. They
had lost six thousand prisoners, and three thousand in killed and

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.

On the evening of Tuesday, the 14th, Frederick, with his advanced
guard, reached Myssen. All the next day, Wednesday, he was hurrying up
his troops from the rear. In the afternoon he heard the deep booming
of the cannon far up the Elbe. In the evening the sky was ablaze with
the glare of the watch-fires of Leopold’s victorious troops. The next
morning Frederick pressed forward with all haste to join Leopold.
Couriers on the way informed him of the great victory. At Wilsdruf, a
few miles from the field of battle, he met Leopold, who had advanced in
person to meet his king. Frederick dismounted, uncovered his head, and
threw his arms around the Old Dessauer in a grateful embrace.

Together the king and his sturdy general returned to Kesselsdorf, and
rode over the field of battle, which was still strewn with the ghastly
wrecks of war. Large numbers of the citizens of Dresden were on the
field searching for their lost ones among the wounded or the dead.
The Queen of Poland and her children remained in the city. Frederick
treated them with marked politeness, and appointed them guards of
honor. The King of Poland, who, it will be remembered, was also
Elector of Saxony, applied for peace. Frederick replied:

“Guarantee me the possession of Silesia, and pay me seven hundred and
fifty thousand dollars for the expenses of this campaign, and I will
withdraw my army.”


M. D’Arget, private secretary of the French minister Valori, gives an
interesting account of an interview he held with Frederick at this
time. M. D’Arget was quite a favorite of the king, who conversed with
him with unusual frankness.

“These kind condescensions of his majesty,” writes M. D’Arget,
“emboldened me to represent to him the brilliant position he now held,
and how noble it would be, after being the hero of Germany, to become
the pacificator of Europe.”

“I grant it, my dear D’Arget,” said the king, “but it is too dangerous
a part to play. A reverse brings me to the edge of ruin. I know too
well the mood of mind I was in the last time I left Berlin ever to
expose myself to it again. If luck had been against me there, I saw
myself a monarch without a throne. A bad game that. In fine, I wish to
be at peace.”

“I represented to him,” continues M. D’Arget, “that the house of
Austria would never, with a tranquil eye, see his house in possession
of Silesia.”

“Those that come after me,” said the king, “will do as they like.
The future is beyond man’s reach. I have acquired; it is theirs
to preserve. I am not in alarm about the Austrians. They dread my
armies--the luck that I have. I am sure of their sitting quiet for the
dozen years or so which may remain to me of life. There is more for
me in the true greatness of laboring for the happiness of my subjects
than in the repose of Europe. I have put Saxony out of a condition to
hurt me. She now owes me twelve million five hundred thousand dollars.
By the defensive alliance which I form with her, I provide myself a
help against Austria. I would not, henceforth, attack a cat, except to
defend myself. Glory and my interests were the occasion of my first
campaigns. The late emperor’s situation, and my zeal for France, gave
rise to the second. Always since, I have been fighting for my own
hearths--for my very existence. I know the state I have got into. If I
now saw Prince Charles at the gates of Paris, I would not stir.”

“And would you regard with the same indifference,” M. D’Arget rejoined,
“seeing us at the gates of Vienna?”

“Yes,” the king replied. “I swear it to you, D’Arget. In a word, I want
to have some good of my life. What are we, poor human atoms, to get up
projects that cost so much blood!”

On the 25th of December, 1745, the peace of Dresden was signed. The
demands of Frederick were acceded to. Augustus III. of Saxony, Maria
Theresa of Austria, and George II. of England became parties to the
treaty. The next day Frederick attended sermon in the Protestant
church. Monday morning his army, by slow marches, commenced its return
to Brandenburg. Frederick, highly elated by the wonderful and almost
miraculous change in his affairs, entered his carriage in company with
his two brothers, and drove rapidly toward Berlin. The next day, at
two o’clock in the afternoon, they reached the heath of Britz, five
miles out from the city. Here the king found an immense concourse of
the citizens, who had come on horseback and in carriages to escort him
to his palace. Frederick sat in an open phaeton, accompanied by the
Prince of Prussia and Prince Henry. The throng was so great that the
horses could only proceed at the slowest pace. The air resounded with
shouts of “Long live Frederick the Great.” The king was especially
gracious, saying to those who eagerly crowded around his carriage

“Do not press each other, my children. Take care of yourselves that the
horses may not trample upon you, and that no accident may happen.”

It was remarked that the whole behavior of the king upon this occasion
exhibited the utmost mildness, gentleness, and affability. He seemed to
be influenced by the most tender regard for the welfare of the people.

Upon reaching the palace, he stood for a moment upon the grand
stairway, and, surveying the thronging thousands, took off his hat and
saluted them. This gave rise to a burst of applause louder and heartier
than Berlin had ever heard before. The king disappeared within the
palace. Where the poor neglected queen was at this time we are not
informed. There are no indications that he gave her even a thought.

At six o’clock in the evening the whole city was illuminated. Frederick
entered his carriage, and, attended by his two brothers, the Prince
of Prussia and Prince Henry, rode out to take the circuit of the
streets. But the king had received information that one of his former
preceptors, M. Duhan, lay at the point of death. He ordered his
carriage to be at once driven to the residence of the dying man. The
house of M. Duhan was situated in a court, blazing with the glow of
thousands of lamps.

“It was an affecting sight,” says M. Bielfeld, “to see a dying man
in the midst of a brilliant illumination, surrounded by princes, and
visited by a triumphant monarch, who, in the midst of the incessant
clamor of exultation, sought only to alleviate the sick man’s pangs,
participating in his distress, and reflecting upon the vanity of all
human grandeur.”

The king having taken a tender adieu of M. Duhan, who died the next
morning, traversed the brilliant streets of the rejoicing city, and
returned to the palace about ten that evening.

Frederick now entered upon a period of ten years of peace.


[Illustration: SANS SOUCI.]



  Days of Peace and Prosperity.--The Palace of Sans Souci.--Letter
    from Marshal Keith.--Domestic Habits of the King.--Frederick’s
    Snuff-boxes.--Anecdotes.--Severe Discipline of the Army.--
    Testimony of Baron Trenck.--The Review.--Death of the “Divine
    Emilie.”--The King’s Revenge.--Anecdote of the Poor Schoolmaster.--
    The Berlin Carousal.--Appearance of his Majesty.--Honors conferred
    upon Voltaire.

“Happy the people,” says Montesquieu, “whose annals are blank in
history books.” The annals of the nations are mainly composed of wars,
tumult, and woe. For ten years Prussia enjoyed peace. During this happy
period, when the days and the years glided by in tranquillity, there is
little left for the historian to record. Frederick engaged vigorously
in repairing the ruins left by the war. The burned Silesian villages
were rebuilt; debts were paid; agriculture and commerce encouraged; the
laws revised and reformed. A decree was issued that all lawsuits should
be brought to a decision within a year after their beginning.

The king, weary of the life of turmoil, constructed for himself a
beautiful villa, which he named _Sans Souci_ (“Free from Care”), which
Carlyle characteristically translates “No bother.” It was situated on a
pleasant hill-top near Potsdam, in great retirement, yet commanding an
enchanting view of land and water.

On the first of May, 1747, Frederick took formal possession of this
beautiful chateau. The occasion was celebrated by quite a magnificent
dinner of two hundred covers. Here, for the next forty years, he spent
most of his leisure time. He had three other palaces, far surpassing
Sans Souci in splendor, which he occasionally visited on days of royal
festivities. Berlin and Charlottenburg were about twenty miles distant.
The New Palace, so called, at Potsdam, was but about a mile from Sans
Souci. He had also his palace at Rheinsberg, some thirty miles north of
Berlin, where he had spent many of his early days.


It is said that one day, as Frederick was contemplating the royal
burying-ground, not far from the spot which he had selected for his
rural villa, he said to a companion by his side, in reference to his
own burial, “Oui, alors je serais sans souci.” _Yes, then I shall be
free from care._ From that remark the villa took its name. Frederick
adopted it, and inscribed it in golden letters on the lintel. He
appropriated to his private use three apartments--an audience-room,
a library, and a small alcove for a bedroom. In this alcove, scarcely
larger than a closet, he slept, in soldier style, upon an iron bed,
without curtains. An old slouched hat, softened by wear, served him for
a night-cap. His library was a beautiful room, very richly furnished.
There were terrible war-clouds still sweeping over various parts of
Europe, but their lightning flashes and their thunder roar disturbed
not the repose of Frederick in his elevated retreat.

In the month of October, 1747, Field-marshal Keith visited his Prussian
majesty at Sans Souci. In a letter to his brother he thus describes the
results of his observations:

“I have now the honor, and, what is still more, the pleasure of being
with the king at Potsdam. I have the honor to dine and sup with him
almost every day. He has more wit than I have wit to tell you; speaks
solidly and knowingly on all kinds of subjects; and I am much mistaken
if, with the experience of four campaigns, he is not the best officer
of his army. He has several persons with whom he lives with almost the
familiarity of a friend, but he has no favorite. He shows a natural
politeness for every body who is about him. For one who has been four
days about his person, you will say, I pretend to know a great deal
about his character. But what I tell you you may depend upon. With more
time I shall know as much of him as he will let me know, and no one of
his ministry knows any more.”

The king was a very busy man. In addition to carrying on quite an
extensive literary correspondence, he was vigorously engaged in writing
his memoirs. He was also with great energy developing the wealth of his
realms. In the exercise of absolute power, his government was entirely
personal. He had no constitution to restrain him. Under his single
control were concentrated all legislative, judicial, and executive
powers. There was no senate or legislative corps to co-operate in
framing laws. His ministers were merely servants to do his bidding.
The courts had no powers whatever but such as he intrusted to them. He
could at any time reverse their decrees, and flog the judges with his
cane, or hang them.

Frederick was a great snuff-taker. He always carried two large
snuff-boxes in his pocket. Several others stood upon tables around
in his rooms, always ready for use. The cheapest of these boxes cost
fifteen hundred dollars. He had some richly studded with gems, which
cost seven thousand five hundred dollars. At his death one hundred and
thirty snuff-boxes appeared in the inventory of his jewels.

Many anecdotes are related illustrative of the kind feelings of the
king toward the peasants. He was much interested in ameliorating their
condition, and said to the Bishop of Varmia, “Believe me, if I knew
every thing--if I could read every thing myself--all my subjects
should be happy. But alas! I am but a man.”

In the ranks all of the army were equally entitled to distinction.
Promotion was conferred upon merit, not upon the accident of birth.
This principle, which was entirely ignored in the other European
despotisms, probably contributed to the success of Frederick’s armies.
A Hanoverian count wrote to him, soliciting a high position in the army
for his son, in favor of his exalted birth. Frederick dictated the
following reply:

“I am obliged to tell you that I have long forbid _counts_ to be
received, as such, into my army; for when they have served one or
two years they retire, and merely make their short military career a
subject of vain boasting. If your son wishes to serve, the title of
count can be of no use to him. But he will be promoted if he learn his
profession well.”

The king then took the pen himself, and added with his own hand:

  “Young counts who have learned nothing are the most ignorant
  people in all countries. In England the king’s son begins by
  being a sailor on board a ship, in order to learn the manœuvres
  belonging to that service. If it should miraculously happen that
  a count could be good for any thing, it must be by banishing
  all thoughts about his titles and his birth, for these are only
  follies. Every thing depends upon personal merit.


The severity of discipline in the Prussian army was dreadful. The
slightest misdemeanor was punished mercilessly. The drill, exposure,
and hardships in the camp made life to the soldier a scene of constant
martyrdom. Desertion was almost impossible. The only avenue of escape
was suicide. In the little garrison at Potsdam, in ten years, over
three hundred, by self-inflicted death, escaped their miseries. Dr.
Zimmerman states that it not unfrequently happened that a soldier
murdered a child, and then came and gave himself up to justice. They
thought that if they committed suicide they would be subject to
eternal punishment. But the murdered infant was sure to go to heaven,
and the murderer would have time to repent and make his peace with God.

Baron Trenck, in his memoir, gives an appalling account of these
hardships in the body-guards to which he belonged. In time of peace
there was scarcely an hour which he could command. The morning
drill commenced at four o’clock. The most complicated and perilous
manœuvres were performed. Frederick considered this the best school
for cavalry in the world. They were compelled to leap trenches, which
were continually widened till many fell in and broke their legs or
arms. They were also compelled to leap hedges, and continue to charge
at the highest possible speed for miles together. Almost daily some
were either killed or wounded. At midday they took fresh horses, and
repeated these toilsome and dangerous labors. Frequently they would be
called from their beds two or three times in one night, to keep them
on the alert. But eight minutes were allowed the guardsman to present
himself on horseback, in his place, fully equipped. “In one year of
peace,” he says, “the body-guards lost more men and horses than they
had in two battles during the war.”

In 1747 Marshal Saxe visited Potsdam. He witnessed a review of the
guards. In the account of this review given by Algarotti, he says, “The
squadron of guards, which at one time, drawn up close, exhibited the
appearance of a rock, at another resembled a cloud scattered along the
plain. In the charge on full gallop one horse’s head was not a foot
beyond another. The line was so exactly straight that Euclid himself
could not have found fault with it.”

In September, 1749, Madame Du Châtelet, the “divine Emilie” of
Voltaire, suddenly died. The infidel philosopher seemed much grieved
for a time. Frederick, who never fancied Madame Du Châtelet, was the
more eager, now that she was out of the way, that Voltaire should
come to Sans Souci, and aid him in his literary labors. A trivial
incident occurred at this time worthy of record, as illustrative of the
character of the king. At the close of the year 1749 there had been
a review of Austrian troops at Mähren. It was not a very important
affair, neither the empress queen nor her husband being present. Three
Prussian officers made their appearance. It was said that they had
come to inveigle soldiers to desert, and enlist under the banners of
Prussia. They were peremptorily ordered by the Austrian authorities to
leave the ground. Frederick, when he heard of it, said nothing, but
treasured it up.

A few months after, in May, 1750, there was a grand review at Berlin.
An Austrian officer who chanced to be there was invited by his friend,
a Prussian officer, Lieutenant Colonel Chasot, to attend. The Austrian
was not willing to ride upon the parade-ground without the permission
of the king. Colonel Chasot called upon Frederick and informed him that
an Austrian officer would be happy, with his majesty’s permission, to
be present at the review.

“Certainly, certainly,” exclaimed the king.

This was on the evening before the review. On the morrow the Austrian
accordingly rode upon the field. He had hardly arrived there when, just
as the manœuvres were commencing, one of the aids-de-camp of Frederick
galloped up to him and said, “By the king’s command, sir, you are
ordered instantly to retire from this field.”

Colonel Chasot, exceedingly chagrined, rode directly to the king, and
inquired, “Did not your majesty grant me permission to invite my friend
to the review?”

“Certainly,” replied the king, in his most courteous tones; “and if he
had not come, how could I have paid back the Mähren business of last

It is pleasant to record another incident more creditable to Frederick.
In the year 1750 there was a poor and aged schoolmaster, by the name
of Linsenbarth, a very worthy man, a veritable Dominie Sampson,
residing in the obscure village of Hemmleben. He had been educated as a
clergyman, had considerable book learning, was then out of employment,
and was in extreme destitution. The pastor of the village church died,
leaving a vacant pulpit, and a salary amounting to about one hundred
dollars a year. The great man of the place, a feudal lord named Von
Werthern, offered the situation to Linsenbarth upon condition that he
would marry his lady’s termagant waiting-maid. Linsenbarth, who had no
fancy for the haughty shrew, declined the offer. The lord and lady were
much offended, and in various ways rendered the situation of the poor
schoolmaster so uncomfortable that he gathered up his slender means,
amounting to about three hundred dollars, all in the deteriorated coin
of the province, and went to Berlin. His money was in a bag containing
nearly nine thousand very small pieces of coin, called _batzen_.

At 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.

Poor Linsenbarth had a feather bed, a small chest of clothes, and a bag
of books. He went to a humble inn, called the “White Swan,” utterly
penniless. The landlord, seeing that he could levy upon his luggage in
case of need, gave him food and a small room in the garret to sleep
in. Here he remained in a state verging upon despair for eight weeks.
Some of the simple neighbors advised him to go directly to the king, as
every poor man could do at certain hours in the day. He wrote a brief
statement of the facts, and started on foot for Potsdam. We give the
result in the words of Linsenbarth:

“At Potsdam I was lucky enough to see the king. He was on the esplanade
drilling his troops. When the drill was over he went into the garden,
and the soldiers dispersed. Four officers remained lounging on the
esplanade. For fright, I knew not what to do; I drew the papers from my
pocket. These were my memorial, two certificates of character, and a
Thuringian pass. The officers, noticing this, came directly to me and
said, ‘What letters have you there?’ I thankfully imparted the whole.
When the officers had read them, they said, ‘We will give you good
advice. The king is extra gracious to-day, and is gone alone into the
garden. Follow him straight. You will have luck.’

“This I would not do; my awe was too great. They thereupon laid hands
upon me. One took me by the right arm, another by the left, and led me
to the garden. Having got me there, they looked out for the king. He
was among the gardeners examining some rare plant, and had his back to
us. Here I had to halt. The officers began in an under tone to put me
through my drill. ‘Take your hat under your left arm; put your right
foot foremost; breast well forward; hold your head up; hold your papers
aloft in your right hand; there, so--steady--steady!’


“They then went away, often looking around to see if I kept my posture.
I perceived well enough that they were making game of me; but I stood
all the same like a wall, being full of fear. When the king turned
round he gave a look at me like a flash of sunbeams glancing through
you. He sent one of the gardeners to bring my papers. Taking them, he
disappeared in one of the garden walks. In a few minutes he came back
with my papers open in his hand, and waved with them for me to come
nearer. I plucked up heart and went directly to him. Oh, how graciously
this great monarch deigned to speak to me!

“‘My good Thuringian,’ said the king, ‘you came to Berlin seeking to
earn your bread by the industrious teaching of children, and here
at the custom-house they have taken your money from you. True, the
_batzen_ are not legal here. They should have said to you, “You are
a stranger and did not know of the prohibition. We will seal up the
bag of _batzen_. You can send it back to Thuringia and get it changed
for other coin.” Be of good heart, however. You shall have your money
again, and interest too. But, my poor man, in Berlin they do not give
any thing gratis. You are a stranger. Before you are known and get to
teaching, your bit of money will be all gone. What then?’

“I understood the speech perfectly well, but my awe was too great
to allow me to say, ‘Your majesty will have the grace to allow me
something.’ But as I was so simple, and asked for nothing, he did not
offer any thing. And so he turned away. But he had gone scarcely six
or eight steps when he looked around and gave me a sign to walk by his

The king then questioned him very closely respecting the place where
he had studied, during what years, under what teachers, and to what
branches he had devoted special attention. While thus conversing the
clock struck twelve. This was the dinner-hour of his majesty. “Now I
must go,” said the king. “They wait for their soup.”

Linsenbarth, thus left alone, sauntered from the garden back to the
esplanade. There he stood quite bewildered. He had walked that day
twenty miles beneath a July sun and over the burning sands. He had
eaten nothing. He had not a farthing in his pocket.

“In this tremor of my heart,” writes Linsenbarth, “there came a valet
out of the palace and asked, ‘Where is the man that was with my king
in the garden?’ I answered, ‘Here.’ He led me into the palace to a
large room, where pages, lackeys, and soldier valets were about. My
valet took me to a little table excellently furnished with soup, beef;
likewise carp, dressed with garden salad; likewise game, with cucumber
salad; bread, knife, fork, plate, spoon were all there. My valet set me
a chair, and said,

“‘This that is on the table the king has ordered to be served for you.
You are to eat your fill and mind nobody. I am to serve.’

“I was greatly astonished, and knew not what to do; least of all could
it come into my head that the king’s valet who waited on his majesty
should wait on me. I pressed him to sit by me; but, as he refused, I
did as bidden.

“The valet took the beef from the table and set it on the charcoal dish
until wanted. He did the like with the fish and roast game, and poured
me out wine and beer. I ate and drank till I had abundantly enough.
Dessert, confectionery, what I could. A plate of big black cherries
and a plateful of pears my waiting-man wrapped in paper, and stuffed
them into my pockets to be a refreshment on the way home. And so I rose
from the royal table, and thanked God and the king in my heart that I
had so gloriously dined. At that moment a secretary came, brought me
a sealed order for the custom-house at Berlin, with my certificates
and the pass; told down on the table five tail-ducats and a gold
Friedrich under them, saying, ‘The king sent me this to take me home to

“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.

“On reaching Berlin I went at once to the custom-house, and handed them
my royal order. The head man opened the seal. In reading, he changed
color--went from pale to red; said nothing, and gave it to the second
man to read. The second put on his spectacles, read, and gave it to the
third. However, the head man rallied himself at last. I was to come
forward and be so good as to write a receipt that I had received for
my four hundred thalers, all in _batzen_, the same sum in Brandenburg
coin, ready down, without the least deduction. My cash was at once
accurately paid, and thereupon the steward was ordered to go with me
to the ‘White Swan,’ and pay what I owed there, whatever my score was.
That was what the king had meant when he said ‘you shall have your
money back, and interest too.’”

This good old man died in Berlin on the 24th of August, 1777,
eighty-eight years of age.

In the autumn of 1750 Frederick held a famous Berlin carousal, the
celebrity of which filled all Europe. Distinguished guests flocked
to the city from all the adjoining realms. Wilhelmina came to share
in the festivities. Voltaire was also present, “the observed of all
observers.” An English gentleman, Sir Jonas Hanway, in the following
terms describes the appearance of Frederick at this time:

“His Prussian majesty rides much about, often at a rapid rate, with a
pleasant business aspect--humane, though imperative; handsome to look
upon, though with a face perceptibly reddish. His age, now thirty-eight
gone; a set appearance, as if already got into his forties; complexion
florid; figure muscular, almost tending to be plump.”

The carousal presented a very splendid spectacle. It took place by
night, and the spacious arena was lighted by thirty thousand torches.
The esplanade of the palace, which presented an ample parallelogram,
was surrounded by an amphitheatre of rising seats, crowded with the
beauties and dignitaries of Europe. At one end of the parallelogram
was a royal box, tapestried with the richest hangings. The king sat
there; his sister, the Princess Amelia, was by his side, as queen
of the festival. Where the neglected wife of Frederick was is not
recorded. The entrance for the cavaliers was opposite the throne.
The jousting parties consisted of four bands, representing Romans,
Persians, Carthaginians, and Greeks. They were decorated with splendid
equipments of jewelry, silver helmets, sashes, and housings, and were
mounted on the most spirited battle-steeds which Europe could furnish.
The scene was enlivened by exhilarating music, and by the most gorgeous
decorations and picturesque costumes which the taste and art of the
times could create. The festivities were closed by a ball in the vast
saloons of the palace, and by a supper, where the tables were loaded
with every delicacy.

Voltaire was received on this occasion with very distinguished honor.
The king, in inviting him to the court, had sent him a sum amounting to
three thousand dollars to pay the expenses of his journey. He had also
conferred upon him the cross of the order of Merit, and a pension of
about four thousand dollars a year.


For a time Frederick and Voltaire seem to have lived very pleasantly
together. Voltaire writes: “I was lodged under the king’s apartment,
and never left my room except for supper. The king composed, above
stairs, works of philosophy, history, poetry; and his favorite,
below stairs, cultivated the same arts and the same talents. They
communicated to one another their respective works. The Prussian
monarch composed, at this time, his ‘History of Brandenburg;’ and the
French author wrote his ‘Age of Louis XIV.,’ having brought with him
all his materials.[94] His days thus passed happily in a repose which
was only animated by agreeable occupations. Nothing, indeed, could be
more delightful than this way of life, or more honorable to philosophy
and literature.”



  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 king and Voltaire soon became involved in a very serious quarrel.
Voltaire had employed a Jew, by the name of Hirsch, to engage
fraudulently in speculating in the funds. The transaction was so
complicated that few of our readers would have the patience to follow
an attempt at its disentanglement. Voltaire and his agent quarreled.
The contention rang through all the court circles, as other conspicuous
names were involved in the meshes of the intrigue. A lawsuit ensued,
which created excitement almost inconceivable. The recent law reform
caused the process to be pushed very rapidly to its conclusion.
Voltaire emerged from the suit with his character sadly maimed. He was
clearly convicted of both falsehood and forgery. The king, annoyed by
the clamor, retired from Berlin to Sans Souci. Voltaire was not invited
to accompany him, but was left in the Berlin palace. In a letter which
Frederick wrote to D’Arget, dated April, 1752, he says:

“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 to 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 manœuvres of this monkey, whom he ought to have despised after
having castigated him.”[95]

Frederick wrote to Wilhelmina: “Voltaire picks Jews’ pockets, but he
will get out of it by some somersault.”

Voltaire fell sick. He had already quarreled with many persons, and
had constrained the king in many cases, very reluctantly, to take his
part. He now wrote to Frederick, begging permission to join him in the
quietude of Sans Souci. The following extracts from the reply of his
majesty will be read with interest:

            “Potsdam, February 24, 1751.

  “I was glad to receive you in my house. I esteemed your genius,
  your talents, and your acquirements. I had reason to think that a
  man of your age, weary of fencing against authors, and exposing
  himself to the storm, came hither to take refuge, as in a safe

After briefly alluding to the many quarrels in which Voltaire had been
involved, the king adds:

“You have had the most villainous affair with a Jew. It has made a
frightful scandal all over town. For my own part, I have preserved
peace in my house until your arrival; and I warn you that, if you have
the passion of intriguing and cabaling, you have applied to the wrong
person. I like peaceable, quiet people, who do not put into their
conduct the violent passions of tragedy. In case you can resolve to
live like a philosopher, I shall be glad to see you. But if you abandon
yourself to all the violence of your passions, and get into quarrels
with all the world, you will do me no good by coming hither, and you
may as well stay in Berlin.”

Four days after this Frederick wrote again, in answer to additional
applications from Voltaire.

“If you wish to come hither you can. I hear nothing of lawsuits, not
even of yours. Since you have gained it I congratulate you, and I am
glad that this scurvy affair is done.[96] I hope you will have no more
quarrels, either with the Old or the New Testament. Such contentions
leave their mark upon a man. Even with the talents of the finest genius
in France, you will not cover the stains which this conduct will fasten
on your reputation in the long run. I write this letter with the rough
common sense of a German, without employing equivocal terms which
disfigure the truth. It is for you to profit by it.”

Voltaire’s visit lasted about thirty-two months. He was, however,
during all this time, fast losing favor with the king. Instead of being
received as an inmate at Sans Souci, he was assigned to a small country
house in the vicinity, called the Marquisat. His wants were, however,
all abundantly provided for at the expense of the king. It is evident
from his letters that he was a very unhappy man. He was infirm in
health, irascible, discontented, crabbed; suspecting every one of being
his enemy, jealous of his companions, and with a diseased mind, crowded
with superstitious fears.

On one occasion, when the king had sent him a manuscript to revise, he
sarcastically exclaimed to the royal messenger, “When will his majesty
be done with sending me his dirty linen to wash?” This speech was
repeated to the king. He did not lose his revenge.

Frederick was endowed with brilliant powers of conversation. He was
fond of society, where he could exercise and display these gifts and
accomplishments. Frequent suppers were given at Sans Souci, which
lasted from half past eight till midnight. Gentlemen only--learned
men--were invited to these entertainments. Frederick was not an
amiable man. He took pleasure in inflicting the keenest pain possible
with his satirical tongue. No friend was spared. The more deeply he
could strike the lash into the quivering nerves of sensibility, the
better he seemed pleased with himself.

He could not but respect his wife. Her character was beyond all
possible reproach. She never uttered a complaint, was cheerful and
faithful in every duty. She had rooms assigned her on the second floor
of the Berlin palace, where she was comfortably lodged and fed, and
had modest receptions every Thursday, which were always closed at nine
o’clock. A gentleman writes from Berlin at this time:

“The king esteems his wife, and can not endure her. It was but a few
days ago she handed him a letter petitioning for some things of which
she had the most pressing want. Frederick took the letter with that
most smiling, gracious air, which he assumes at pleasure, and, without
breaking the seal, tore it up before her face, made her a profound bow,
and turned his back on her.”

“The king respects his mother,” the same writer adds. “She is the only
female to whom he pays any sort of attention. She is a good, fat woman,
who moves about in her own way.”

It was a peculiarity quite inexplicable which led Frederick to exclude
females from his court. His favorites were all men--men of some
peculiar intellectual ability. He sought their society only. With the
exception of his sister, and occasionally some foreign princess, ladies
were seldom admitted to companionship with him. He was a cold, solitary
man, so self-reliant that he seldom asked or took advice.

Voltaire hated M. Maupertuis. He was the president of the Berlin
Academy, and was regarded by Voltaire as a formidable rival. This
hatred gave rise to a quarrel between Frederick and Voltaire, which was
so virulent that Europe was filled with the noise of their bickerings.
M. Maupertuis had published a pamphlet, in which he assumed to have
made some important discovery upon the law of action. M. König, a
member of the Academy, reviewed the pamphlet, asserting not only that
the proclaimed law was false, but that it had been promulgated half
a century before. In support of his position he quoted from a letter
of Leibnitz. The original of the letter could not be produced. M.
König was accused of having forged the extract. M. Maupertuis, a very
jealous, irritable man, by his powerful influence as president, caused
M. König to be expelled from the Academy.

Frederick regarded the Academy as his pet institution, and was very
jealous of the illustrious philosopher, whom he had invited to Berlin
to preside over its deliberations. Voltaire, knowing this very well,
and fully aware that to strike the Academy in the person of its
president was to strike Frederick, wrote an anonymous communication to
a review published in Paris, in which he accused M. Maupertuis--first,
of plagiarism, in appropriating to himself a discovery made by another;
secondly, of a ridiculous blunder in assuming that said discovery was
a philosophical principle, and not an absurdity; and thirdly, that he
had abused his position as president of the Academy in suppressing free
discussion, by expelling from the institution a member merely for not
agreeing with him in opinion. These statements were probably true, and
on that account the more damaging.

The authorship of the article could not be concealed. Frederick was
indignant. He angrily seized his pen, and wrote a reply, which, though
anonymous, was known by all to have been written by the king. In
this reply he accused the writer of the article, whom he well knew
to be Voltaire, of being a “manifest retailer of lies,” “a concocter
of stupid libels,” and as “guilty of conduct more malicious, more
dastardly, more infamous” than he had ever known before.

This roused Voltaire. He did not venture to attack the king, but he
assailed M. Maupertuis again, anonymously, but with greatly increased
venom. A brief pamphlet appeared, entitled, “The Diatribe of Doctor
Akakia, Physician to the Pope.” It was a merciless satire against M.
Maupertuis. Voltaire was entirely unscrupulous, and was perfect master
of the language of sarcasm. No moral principle restrained him from
exaggerating, misrepresenting, or fabricating any falsehoods which
would subserve his purpose. M. Maupertuis was utterly overwhelmed
with ridicule. The satire was so keen that few could read it without
roars of laughter. Voltaire, the king’s guest, was thus exposing to
the contempt of all Europe the president of the Berlin Academy, the
reputation of which Academy was dear to the king above almost every
thing else. An edition of the pamphlet was printed in Holland, and
copies were scattered all over Berlin. Another edition was published in
Paris, where thirty thousand copies were eagerly purchased.

Frederick was in a towering passion. Voltaire was alarmed at the
commotion he had created. He wrote a letter to the king, in which he
declared most solemnly that he had not intended to have the pamphlet
published; that a copy had been obtained by treachery, and had been
printed without his consent or knowledge. But the king wrote back:

“Your effrontery astonishes me. What you have done is clear as the day;
and yet, instead of confessing your culpability, you persist in denying
it. Do you think you can make people believe that black is white? All
shall be made public. Then it will be seen whether, if your words
deserve statues, your conduct does not deserve chains.”

The king, in his anger, ordered all the pamphlets in Berlin to be
collected and burned by the common hangman, in front of Voltaire’s
windows. Three months passed away, during which the parties remained
in this deplorable state of antagonism. Voltaire was wretched, often
confined to his bed, and looked like a skeleton. He was anxious to
leave Berlin, but feared that the king would not grant him leave. He
wrote to Frederick, stating that he was very sick, and wished to retire
to the springs of Plombières for his health. The king curtly replied,

“There was no need of that pretext about the waters of Plombières in
demanding your leave. You can quit my service when you like. But,
before going, be so good as to return me the key, the cross, and the
volume of verses which I confided to you.

“I wish that my works, and only they, had been what König attacked. I
could sacrifice them with a great deal of willingness to persons who
think of increasing their own reputation by lessening that of others.
I have not the folly nor vanity of certain authors. The cabals of
literary people seem to me the disgrace of literature. I do not the
less esteem the honorable cultivators of literature. It is the cabalers
and their leaders that are degraded in my eyes.”

For some unexplained reason, soon after this, the king partially
relented, and invited Voltaire to Potsdam. He allowed him to retain
his cross and key, and said nothing about the return of the volume of
poetry. This was a volume of which twelve copies only had been printed.
On the 25th of March, 1753, Voltaire left Potsdam for Dresden.

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 with his soldiers. One of
the attendants announced Voltaire to his majesty with these words:

“Sire, here is Monsieur De Voltaire, who is come to receive the orders
of your majesty.”

Frederick turned to Voltaire and said, “Monsieur De Voltaire, are you
still determined upon going?”

“Sire, affairs which I can not neglect, and, above all, the state of my
health, oblige me to it.”

“In that case, sir,” replied the king, “I wish you a good journey.”

Thus parted these remarkable men, who were never destined to meet again.

Voltaire, being safe out of Prussia, in the territory of the King
of Poland, instead of hastening to Plombières, tarried in Dresden,
and then in Leipsic. From those places he began shooting, through
magazines, newspapers, and various other instrumentalities, his
poisoned darts at M. Maupertuis. Though these malignant assaults,
rapidly following each other, were anonymous, no one could doubt their
authorship. M. Maupertuis, exasperated, wrote to him from Berlin on the
7th of April:

  “If it be true that you design to attack me again, I declare to
  you that I have still health enough to find you, wherever you
  are, and to take the most signal vengeance upon you. Thank the
  respect and obedience which have hitherto restrained my arm, and
  saved you from the worst adventure you have ever had.


Voltaire replied from Leipsic:

  “M. LE PRESIDENT,--I have had the honor to receive your letter.
  You inform me that you are well, and that, if I publish La
  Beaumelle’s letter,[97] you will come and assassinate me. What
  ingratitude to your poor Doctor Akakia! If you exalt your soul so
  as to discern futurity, you will see that, if you come on that
  errand to Leipsic, where you are no better liked than in other
  places, you will run some risk of being hanged. Poor me, indeed,
  you will find in bed. But, as soon as I have gained a little
  strength, I will have my pistols charged, and, multiplying the
  mass by the square of velocity, so as to reduce the action and
  you to zero, I will put some lead into your head. It appears that
  you have need of it. Adieu, my president.


There were some gross vulgarities in Voltaire’s letter which we refrain
from quoting. Both of these communications were printed and widely
circulated, exciting throughout Europe contempt and derision. Voltaire
had still the copy of the king’s private poems. Frederick, quite
irritated, and not knowing what infamous use Voltaire might make of
the volume, which contained some very severe satires against prominent
persons, and particularly against his uncle, the King of England,
determined, at all hazards, to recover the book. He knew it would be of
no avail to write to Voltaire to return it.

Voltaire, on his journey to Paris, would pass through Frankfort.
Frederick secretly employed a Prussian officer to obtain from the
authorities there the necessary powers, and to arrest him, and take
from him the cross of Merit, the gold key of the chamberlain, and
especially the volume of poems. The officer, M. Freytag, kept himself
minutely informed of Voltaire’s movements. At eight o’clock in the
evening of the 31st of May the illustrious philosopher arrived, with
a small suite, traveling in considerable state, and stopped at the
“Golden Lion.” M. Freytag was on the spot. He was a man of distinction.
He called upon Voltaire, and, after the interchange of the customary
civilities, informed the poet that he was under the necessity of
arresting him in the name of the King of Prussia, and detaining him
until he should surrender the cross, the key, and the volume of poems.
Voltaire was greatly annoyed. He professed warm friendship for the King
of Prussia. Very reluctantly, and not until after several hours of
altercation, he surrendered the key and the cross. The volume of poems
he was very anxious indeed to retain, and affirmed that they were,
he knew not where, with luggage he had left behind him in Leipsic or
Dresden. He was informed that he would be detained as a prisoner until
the volume was produced.

In a state of great exasperation, Voltaire wrote for a large trunk
to be sent to him which contained the book. To save himself from the
humiliation of being guarded as a prisoner, he gave his _parole
d’honneur_ that he would not go beyond the garden of the inn. After a
delay of three weeks, Voltaire decided, notwithstanding his parole,
to attempt his escape. His reputation was such that M. Freytag had no
confidence in his word, and employed spies to watch his every movement.

On the 20th of June, Voltaire dressed himself in disguise, and, with a
companion, M. Coligny, entered a hackney-coach, and ordered the driver
to leave the city by the main gate. M. Freytag was immediately informed
of this by his spies. With mounted men he commenced the pursuit,
overtook the carriage as it was delayed a moment at the gate, and
arrested the fugitive in the king’s name. Voltaire’s eyes sparkled with
fury, and he raved insanely. The scene gathered a crowd, and Voltaire
was taken by a guard of soldiers to another inn, “The Billy-Goat,” as
the landlord of the “Golden Lion” refused any longer to entertain so
troublesome a guest.

All Frankfort was excited by these events. The renown of Voltaire as
a philosopher, a poet, and as the friend of Frederick, filled Europe.
His eccentricities were the subject of general remark. The most
distinguished men, by birth and culture, had paid him marked attention
during his brief compulsory sojourn in Frankfort. Having arrived at
“The Billy-Goat,” his conduct, according to the report of M. Freytag,
was that of a madman, in which attempted flight, feigned vomitings, and
a cocked pistol took part. The account which Voltaire gave of these
events is now universally pronounced to be grossly inaccurate.

On the 6th of July, the trunk having arrived, the volume of poems was
recovered and Voltaire was allowed to go on his way. His pen, dipped in
gall, was an instrument which even a monarch might fear. It inflicted
wounds upon the reputation of Frederick which will probably never be
healed. Four years passed away, during which Voltaire and Frederick
were almost entirely strangers to each other.

The merciless satires of Voltaire, exposing Maupertuis to the ridicule
of all Europe, proved death-blows to the sensitive philosopher. He
was thrown into a state of great dejection, which induced disease,
of which he died in 1759. Maupertuis needed this discipline. In the
proud days of prosperity he had rejected Christianity. In these hours
of adversity, oppressed by humiliation and pain, and with the grave
opening before him, he felt the need of the consolations of religion.
Christian faith cheered the sadness of his dying hours.[98]

The Marquis D’Argens, another of Frederick’s infidel companions, one
whom Voltaire described as “the most frank atheist in Europe,” after
a very ignoble life of sin and shame, having quarreled with the king,
found himself aged, poor, friendless, and infirm. He then, experiencing
need of different support from any which infidelity could give, became
penitent and prayerful. Renouncing his unbelief, he became an openly
avowed disciple of Jesus.[99]

What effect was produced upon the mind of Frederick as he saw one
after another of his boon companions in infidelity, in their hours of
sickness and approaching death, seeking the consolations of religion,
we do not know. The proud king kept his lips hermetically sealed upon
that subject. Voltaire, describing the suppers of the gay revelers at
Sans Souci, writes:

“Never was there a place in the world where liberty of speech was so
fully indulged, or where the various superstitions of men were treated
with so much ridicule and contempt. God was respected. But those who,
in His name, had imposed on mankind, were not spared. Neither women nor
priests ever entered the palace. In a word, Frederick lived without a
court, without a council, and without a religion.”

Prussia had enjoyed eight years of peace. But Frederick was not a
popular man excepting with his own subjects. They idolized him.
Innumerable are the anecdotes related illustrative of his kindness to
them. He seemed to be earnestly seeking their welfare. But foreign
courts feared him. Many hated him. He was unscrupulous and grasping,
and had but very little sense of moral integrity. He was ambitious of
literary renown; of reputation as a keen satirist. With both pen and
tongue he was prone to lash without mercy his brother sovereigns, and
even the courtiers who surrounded him. There were no ties of friendship
which could exempt any one from his sarcasm. Other sovereigns felt that
he was continually on the watch to enlarge his realms, by invading
their territories, as he had robbed Maria Theresa of the province of

Some years before this time Frederick had taken possession of East
Friesland, and had made Emden a port of entry. It was a very important
acquisition, as it opened to Prussia a convenient avenue for maritime
commerce. With great vigor and sagacity Frederick was encouraging this
commerce, thus strengthening his kingdom and enriching his subjects.
England, mistress of the seas, and then, as usual, at war with France,
was covering all the adjacent waters with her war-ships and privateers.
Frederick had inquired of the English court, through his embassador
at London, whether hemp, flax, or timber were deemed contraband.
“_No_,” was the official response. Freighted with such merchandise, the
Prussian ships freely sailed in all directions. But soon an English
privateer seized several of them, upon the assumption that the _planks_
with which they were loaded were contraband.

It was an outrage to which Frederick was not disposed to submit. He
entered his remonstrances. The question was referred to the British
Court of Admiralty. Month after month the decision was delayed.
Frederick lost all patience. English capitalists held Silesian bonds to
the amount of about one million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

“I must have my ships back again,” said Frederick to the British
court. “The law’s delay in England is, I perceive, very considerable.
My people, who have had their property thus wrested from them, can
not conveniently wait. I shall indemnify them from the money due on
the Silesian bonds, and shall give England credit for the same. Until
restitution is made, I shall not pay either principle or interest on
those bonds.”

The British court was frantic with rage. Frederick had a strong army
on the frontiers of Hanover. The first hostile gun fired would be the
signal for the invasion of that province, and it would inevitably be
wrested from the British crown. The lion roared, but did not venture
to use either teeth or claws. England was promptly brought to terms.
It was grandly done of Frederick. There was something truly sublime
in the quiet, noiseless, apparently almost indifferent air with which
Frederick accomplished his purpose.

Maria Theresa was more and more unreconciled to the loss of Silesia.
Never for an hour did she relinquish the idea of eventually regaining
the province. The various treaties into which she had been compelled to
enter she regarded as merely temporary arrangements. Between the years
1752 and 1755 the energetic and persistent queen was making secret
arrangements for the renewal of the Silesian war.

The King of Poland, who was also Elector of Saxony, had strong feelings
of personal hostility to Frederick. His prime minister, Count Von
Brühl, even surpassed his royal master in the bitter antagonism with
which he regarded the Prussian monarch. Frederick, whose eagle eye was
ever open, and whose restless mind was always on the alert, suspected
that a coalition was about to be formed against him. He had false keys
made to the royal archives at Dresden; bribed one of the officials
there, M. Menzel, stealthily to enter the chamber of the archives, and
copy for him such extracts as would throw any light upon the designs of
the court. Among other items of intelligence, he found that Austria,
Russia, and Poland were deliberating upon the terms of a coalition
against him.

On the 15th of May, 1753, the Russian Senate had passed the resolution
that it should henceforth be the policy of Russia not only to resist
all further encroachments on the part of Prussia, but to seize the
first opportunity to force the Prussian monarch back to the possession
of simply his original boundary of Brandenburg. It was also agreed
that, should Prussia attack any of the allies of Russia, or be attacked
by any of them, the armies of the czar should immediately array
themselves against the armies of Frederick. There were many other
papers, more or less obscure, which rendered it very certain that Maria
Theresa would ere long make a new attempt to regain Silesia, and that
in that attempt she would be aided both by Russia and Poland. Frederick
also knew full well that nothing would better please his uncle George
II. of England than to see Prussia crowded back to her smallest limits.
To add to Frederick’s embarrassment, France was hopelessly alienated
from him.

Many bitter words had already passed between Louis XV. and Frederick.
But recently a new element of discord had appeared. The Duchess of
Pompadour, the guilty favorite of Louis XV., beautiful, fascinating,
and wicked, had become a power in Europe, notwithstanding the ignoble
position she occupied. This artful and enchanting woman, having the
weak king completely under her control, was in reality the ruler
of France. The proudest nobles and the highest ecclesiastics bowed
submissively at her shrine. Even the immaculate Maria Theresa,
constrained by state policy, wrote flattering notes to her, addressing
her as “my cousin,” “princess and cousin,” “madame, my dearest sister.”

The pampered duchess sent by the French minister to Berlin a
complimentary message to Frederick. He disdainfully replied: “The
Duchess of Pompadour! who is she? I do not know her.” This was an
offense never to be forgiven.

Frederick was now in imminent danger of being assailed by a coalition
of Austria, Russia, Poland, and England. Indeed, it was by no means
certain that France might not also join the alliance. All this was the
result of Frederick’s great crime in wresting Silesia from Austria.
Such was the posture of affairs when, in the summer of 1755, Frederick
decided to take a trip into Holland incognito. He disguised himself
with a black wig, and assumed the character of a musician of the
King of Poland. At Amsterdam he embarked for Utrecht in the common
passage-boat. The king mingled with the other passengers without any
one suspecting his rank. There chanced to be in the boat a young Swiss
gentleman, Henry de Catt, twenty-seven years of age. He was a teacher,
taking a short tour for recreation. He gives the following account of
his interview with the king, whom, at the time, he had no reason to
suppose was other than an ordinary passenger. We give the narrative in
his own words:

“As I could not get into the cabin, because it was all engaged, I staid
with the other passengers in the steerage, and the weather being fine,
came upon deck. After some time there stepped out of the cabin a man in
cinnamon-colored coat with gold buttons; in black wig; face and coat
considerably dusted with Spanish snuff. He looked at me fixedly for
a while, and then said, without farther preface, ‘Who are you, sir?’
This cavalier tone from an unknown person, whose exterior indicated
nothing very important, did not please me, and I declined satisfying
his curiosity. He was silent. But some time after he assumed a more
courteous tone, and said, ‘Come in here to me, sir. You will be better
here than in the steerage amidst the tobacco-smoke.’

“This polite address put an end to all anger; and, as the singular
manner of the man excited my curiosity, I took advantage of the
invitation. We sat down and began to speak confidentially with one

“‘Do you see the man in the garden yonder, sitting, smoking his pipe?’
said he to me. ‘That man, you may depend upon it, is not happy.’

“‘I know not,’ I answered; ‘but it seems to me, until one knows a man,
and is completely acquainted with his situation and his way of thought,
one can not possibly determine whether he is happy or unhappy.’

“My gentleman admitted this, and led the conversation on to the
Dutch government. He criticised it--probably to bring me to speak.
I did speak, and gave him frankly to know that he was not perfectly
instructed in the thing he was criticising.

“‘You are right,’ answered he; ‘one can only criticise what one is
thoroughly acquainted with.’

“He now began to speak of religion; and, with eloquent tongue, to
recount what mischiefs scholastic philosophy had brought upon the
world; then tried to prove that creation was impossible.

“At this last point I stood out in opposition. ‘But how can one create
something out of nothing?’ said he.

“‘That is not the question,’ I answered. ‘The question is, whether such
a being as God can, or can not, give existence to what, as yet, has

“He seemed embarrassed, and added, ‘But the universe is eternal.’

“‘You are in a circle,’ said I. ‘How will you get out of it?’

“‘I skip over it,’ he replied, laughing; and then began to talk of
other things. He inquired,

“‘What form of government do you reckon the best?’

“‘The monarchic, if the king is just and enlightened.’

“‘Very well,’ said he; ‘but where will you find kings of that sort?’
And thereupon went into such a sally as could not in the least lead me
to suppose that he was one. In the end, he expressed pity for them,
that they could not know the sweets of friendship, and cited on the
occasion these verses--his own, I suppose:

   “‘Amitié, plaisir des grandes âmes;
    Amitié, que les rois, ces illustres ingrats
    Sont assez malheureux de ne connaître pas!’

“‘I have not the honor to be acquainted with kings,’ said I; ‘but, to
judge from what one has read in history of several of them, I should
believe, sir, on the whole, that you are right.’

“‘Ah! yes, yes,’ he added, ‘I’m right. I know the gentlemen.’

“A droll incident happened during our dialogue. My gentleman wanted to
let down a little sash window, and could not manage it. ‘You do not
understand that,’ said I; ‘let me do it.’ I tried to get it down, but
succeeded no better than he.

“‘Sir,’ said he, ‘allow me to remark, on my side, that you understand
as little of it as I.’

“‘That is true,’ I replied, ‘and I beg your pardon. I was too rash in
accusing you of a want of expertness.’

“‘Were you ever in Germany?’ he now asked me.

“‘No,’ I answered; ‘but I should like to make that journey. I am very
curious to see the Prussian states and their king, of whom one hears so
much.’ And now I began to launch out on Frederick’s actions.

“But he interrupted me hastily with the word, ‘Nothing more of kings,
sir--nothing more. What have we to do with them? We will spend the
rest of our voyage on more agreeable and cheering objects.’ And now
he spoke of the best of all possible worlds, and maintained that in
our planet, earth, there was more evil than good. I maintained the
contrary, and this discussion brought us to the end of the voyage.

“On quitting me he said, ‘I hope, sir, you will leave me your name. I
am very glad to have made your acquaintance. Perhaps we shall see one
another again.’ I replied as was fitting to the compliment, and begged
him to excuse me for having contradicted him a little. I then told him
my name, and we parted.”

How soon Henry learned that he had been conversing with the King of
Prussia we do not know. It is evident that Frederick was pleased with
the interview. He soon after invited Henry de Catt to his court, and
appointed him reader to the king. In this capacity he served his
Prussian majesty for about twenty years. He left a note-book in the
royal archives of Berlin from which the above extracts are taken.



  Secret Preparations for a Coalition.--Frederick’s Embarrassments.--
    The uncertain Support of England.--Causes of the War.--Commencement
    of Hostilities.--Letter from Frederick to his Sister Amelia.--
    Letter to his Brother.--The Invasion of Saxony.--Misfortunes of the
    Royal Family of Poland.--Battle of Lobositz.--Energetic Military
    Movements.--Prisoners of War compelled to enlist in the Prussian
    Service.--Dispatches from Frederick.--Battle of Prague.--Battle of
    Kolin.--Retreat of Frederick.--Death of Sophia Dorothea.

We now enter upon the third Silesian war, usually termed in history
The Seven Years’ War. For four years Frederick had been aware that
a coalition was secretly forming against him. Maria Theresa wished,
with ardor which had never for one moment abated, to regain Silesia.
All the other European powers, without exception, desired to curb
Frederick, whose ambition they feared. They were well aware that he was
taking advantage of a few years of peace to replenish his treasury,
and to enlarge his army for new conquests. As we have before stated,
Frederick, by bribery, had fully informed himself of the secret
arrangements into which Austria, Russia, Poland, and other powers were
entering for the dismemberment of his realms. It is in vain to attempt
to unravel the intricacies of the diplomacy which ensued.

England, while endeavoring to subsidize Russia against Frederick,
entered secretly into a sort of alliance with Frederick, hoping thus to
save Hanover. The Empress Elizabeth, of Russia, heartily united with
Maria Theresa against Frederick, whom she personally disliked, and
whose encroachments she dreaded. His Prussian majesty, proud of his
powers of sarcasm, in his poems spared neither friend nor foe. He had
written some very severe things against the Russian empress, which had
reached her ears.[100]

Frederick was in great perplexity. To wait for his enemies to complete
their arrangements, and to commence the attack at their leisure, placed
him at great disadvantage. To begin the attack himself, and thus to
open anew the floodgates of war, would increase the hostility with
which the nations were regarding him. As the diplomacy of the foreign
cabinets had been secret, he would universally be regarded as the
aggressor. England was Frederick’s only ally--a treacherous ally,
influenced not by sympathy for Frederick, but by hatred of France,
and by fear of the loss of Hanover. The British cabinet would abandon
Prussia the first moment it should see it to be for its interest to do

The King of Prussia had an army of two hundred thousand men under
perfect discipline. The Old Dessauer was dead, but many veteran
generals were in command. It was manifest that war would soon burst
forth. In addition to the personal pique of the Duchess of Pompadour,
who really ruled France, Louis XV. was greatly exasperated by the
secret alliance into which Frederick had entered with England. The
brother of the Prussian king, Augustus William, the heir-apparent
to the throne, disapproved of this alliance. He said to the French
minister, Valori, “I would give a finger from my hand had it never been

In July, 1756, Frederick, for form’s sake, inquired, through his
embassador at Vienna, why Maria Theresa was making such formidable
military preparations. At the same time he conferred with two of his
leading generals, Schwerin and Retzow, if it would not be better,
since it was certain that Austria and Russia would soon declare war,
to anticipate them by an attack upon Austria. The opinion of both,
which was in perfect accord with that of the king, was that it was best
immediately to seize upon Saxony, and in that rich and fertile country
to gather magazines, and make it the base for operations in Bohemia.

A spy was sent to Saxony, who reported that there were but twenty
thousand troops there. All necessary information was promptly and
secretly obtained in reference to roads and fortresses. It required
three weeks to receive an answer from Vienna. The reply was evasive,
as Frederick knew that it would be. In the mean time, his Prussian
majesty, with characteristic energy, had mustered on the frontier an
army numbering in the aggregate nearly one hundred and fifty thousand
men. These troops, in three divisions, with two thousand pieces of
artillery, were to make a rush upon Saxony. Among the directions given
by Frederick to the leaders of these divisions were the following:

“Each regiment shall take but one baggage-cart for a company. No
officer, whoever he may be or whatever his title, shall take with him
the least of silver plate, not even a silver spoon. Whoever wants to
keep table, great or small, must manage the same with tin utensils,
without exception, be he who he will.”

On the 25th of August, 1756, the king wrote from Potsdam to his
brother, the Prince of Prussia, and his sister Amelia, who were at
Berlin, as follows:

“MY DEAR BROTHER, MY DEAR SISTER,--I write you both at once for want
of time. I have as yet received no answer from Vienna. I shall not get
it till to-morrow. But I count myself surer of war than ever, as the
Austrians have named their generals, and their army is ordered to march
to Königgrätz. So that, expecting nothing else but a haughty answer, or
a very uncertain one, on which there will be no reliance possible, I
have arranged every thing for setting out on Saturday next.”

Upon the ensuing day, having received the answer from Vienna, he wrote
to his brother:

“You have seen the paper I have sent to Vienna. Their answer is, that
they have not made an offensive alliance with Russia against me. Of
the assurance that I required there is not one word, so that the sword
alone can cut this Gordian knot. I am innocent of this war. I have done
what I could to avoid it; but, whatever be one’s love of peace, one can
not, and one must not, sacrifice to that safety and honor. At present
our one thought must be to wage war in such a way as may cure our
enemies of their wish to break peace again too soon.”

On Saturday morning, August 28, 1756, the Prussian army, over one
hundred thousand strong, entered Saxony at three different points on
the northern frontier. Frederick, with about sixty thousand troops,
crossed the Elbe at Torgau, and seized upon Leipsic. Duke Ferdinand,
of Hanover, led his columns across the frontier about eighty miles to
the right. The Duke of Brunswick-Bevern crossed about the same distance
to the left. Each column was stronger than the whole Saxon army. The
appointed place of rendezvous for the three divisions was the city of
Dresden, the capital of Saxony. By the route marked out, each column
had a distance of about one hundred and fifty miles to traverse.


“Thus,” writes Voltaire, “Frederick invaded Saxony under the pretense
of friendship, and that he might make war upon Maria Theresa with the
money of which he should rob the Saxons.”

Not a soldier appeared to oppose the invaders. The Prussians seized,
in an unobstructed march, all the most important Saxon towns and
fortresses. The King of Poland and his court, with less than twenty
thousand troops, had fled from the capital up the river, which here
runs from the south to Pirna, where they concentrated their feeble
army, which numbered but eighteen thousand men. Frederick, with his
resistless column, entered Dresden on the 9th of September. The queen
had remained in the palace. The keys of the archives were demanded
of her. She refused to surrender them. The officers proceeded to
break open the door. The queen placed herself before the door. The
officers, shrinking from using personal violence, sent to Frederick
for instructions. He ordered them to force the archives, whatever
opposition the queen, in person, might present. The queen, to avoid a
rude assault, withdrew. The door was forced, and the archives seized.

“The king found,” writes Voltaire, “_testimonies of the dread which he
had occasioned_. The queen died soon after of grief. All Europe pitied
that unfortunate family. But in the course of those public calamities
millions of families experienced hardships not less great, though more

Thus was commenced the Seven Years’ War. It proved one of the most
bloody and cruel strifes which man has ever waged against his brother
man. Through its terrible scenes of conflagration, blood, and despair,
Frederick obtained the renown of being one of the ablest generals who
ever marshaled armies upon fields of blood.

His Polish majesty had placed his feeble band of troops in the vicinity
of Pirna, on the Elbe, amidst the defiles of a mountainous country,
where they could easily defend themselves against superior numbers.
Winter was rapidly approaching. In those high latitudes and among those
bleak hills the storms of winter ever raged with terrible severity. The
Austrians were energetically accumulating their forces in Bohemia to
act against the Prussians. The invasion of Saxony by Frederick, without
any apparent provocation, roused all Europe to intensity of hatred and
of action.

His Prussian majesty carefully examined the position of the Saxons.
They were in a region of precipices and chasms, broken into a labyrinth
of sky-piercing and craggy rocks. The eminences, in some cases, rose
two thousand feet, and were covered with pine forests. “There is no
stronger position in the world,” Frederick writes. All these passes
were fortified, mile after mile, by batteries, ramparts, palisades,
and abattis. But the Saxon troops, taken unawares, had but a small
supply of provisions. Frederick decided to block every entrance to
their encampment, and thus to starve them out. His Polish majesty sent
frantic cries to France and Austria for help. Frederick was assailed
with the title of the “Prussian robber.”

The Dauphiness of France was daughter of the King of Poland. With tears
she craved protection for her parents. The Duchess of Pompadour was
anxious to show her gratitude to Maria Theresa, who had condescended
to address her as a “cousin and a dear sister.” A French army of one
hundred thousand men was soon on the march to aid Austria in the
liberation of Saxony. At the same time, an Austrian army of sixty
thousand men, under Marshal Browne, was advancing rapidly from Bohemia
to penetrate the fastnesses of the mountains for the release of the
Polish king.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF LOBOSITZ, OCT. 1, 1756.

_a a. Prussian Infantry, b. Cavalry, c c. Artillery. d d. Austrian

On Friday, the 1st of October, 1756, the Prussian army under Frederick,
leaving the Saxons besieged in their encampment, marched up the river
to meet the foe advancing to the aid of the Saxons. They encountered
the Austrians, under Marshal Browne, at Lobositz, about thirty miles
south of Pirna. A terrible battle of seven hours’ duration ensued.
The opposing generals were of nearly equal ability. The soldiers were
equal in courage. The carnage of the bloody conflict was almost equal
on either side. The desperation of the Prussian assault was resistless.
Bayonet often crossed bayonet. The Austrians were driven from their
strong position into the city. The Prussians laid the city in ashes.
As the Austrians fled from the blazing streets, many, endeavoring to
swim across the Elbe, were drowned. At the close of this bloody strife
General Browne withdrew his army to the rear, where he still presented
a defiant front to the Prussians. He had lost from his ranks, in killed
and wounded, two thousand nine hundred and eighty-four. The loss of
Frederick was still greater; it numbered three thousand three hundred
and eight. Neither party would confess to a defeat.

“Never have my troops,” writes Frederick, “done such miracles of valor,
cavalry as well as infantry, since I had the honor to command them. By
this dead-lift achievement I have seen what they can do.”

The Prussians remained at Lobositz nearly a fortnight, to see if
Marshal Browne would again attempt to force the defiles. The Saxon
troops, for whose relief the Austrians were advancing, were about
thirty miles farther north, on the south, or left bank of the Elbe.
The news of the repulse of Marshal Browne at Lobositz fell disastrously
upon their starving ranks. Maria Theresa was much distressed. She sent
a messenger to her Austrian general to relieve the Saxons at whatever
cost. A confidential messenger was dispatched through the mountains
to the Saxon camp, which he reached in safety. He informed his Polish
majesty that Marshal Browne, with a picked force of eight thousand,
horse and foot, would march by a circuitous route of sixty miles, so as
to approach Pirna from the northeast, where but a small Prussian force
was stationed. He would be there without fail on the 11th of August.

The Saxons were directed to cross the Elbe, by a sudden and unexpected
march at Königstein, a few miles from Pirna. Immediately upon effecting
the passage of the river they were to fire two cannon as a signal
that the feat was accomplished. The Saxon and Austrian troops were
then to form a junction, and co-operate in crushing the few Prussian
bands which were left there as a guard. The Saxon troops would thus be
rescued from the trap in which they were inclosed, and from the famine
which was devouring them.

Marshal Browne skillfully and successfully performed his part of the
adventure. But there was no efficient co-operation by the Saxons. The
men were weak, emaciate, and perishing from hunger. Their sinews of
exertion were paralyzed. The skeleton horses could not draw the wagons
or the guns. To add to their embarrassment, a raging storm of wind and
rain burst upon the camp. The roads were converted into quagmires.
The night was pitch-dark as the Saxons, about fourteen thousand in
number, drenched with rain and groping through the mud, abandoned
their camp and endeavored to steal their way across the river. The
watchful Prussians detected the movement. A scene of confusion, terror,
slaughter ensued, which it is in vain to endeavor to describe. The
weeping skies and moaning winds indicated nature’s sympathy with these
scenes of woe. Still the unhappy Saxons struggled on heroically. After
seventy hours of toilsome marching and despairing conflict, these
unhappy peasant-lads, the victims of kingly pride, were compelled to
surrender at discretion. Marshal Browne, finding the enterprise an
utter failure, rapidly returned to the main body of his army.

Frederick was much embarrassed in deciding what to do with his
captives. They numbered about fourteen thousand. To guard and feed them
was too troublesome and expensive. They could not be exchanged, as
the King of Poland had no Prussian prisoners. To set them at liberty
would speedily place them in the Austrian ranks to fight against him.
Under these circumstances, Frederick compelled them all to enlist as
Prussian soldiers. He _compelled_ them to do this _voluntarily_, for
they had their choice either to enlist under his banners or to starve.
The King of Poland was permitted to return to Warsaw. The electorate of
Saxony, nearly as large as the State of Massachusetts, and containing
a population of one and a half millions, was annexed to Prussia. The
captured soldiers, prisoners of war, were dressed in Prussian uniform,
commanded by Prussian officers, and either placed in garrison or in the
ranks of the army in the field. The public voice of Europe condemned
Frederick very severely for so unprecedented an act.

“Think of the sounds,” writes Carlyle, “uttered from human windpipes,
shrill with rage, some of them, hoarse others with ditto; of the
vituperations, execrations, printed and vocal--grating harsh thunder
upon Frederick and this new course of his. Huge melody of discords,
shrieking, groaning, grinding on that topic through the afflicted
universe in general.”

Voltaire embraced the opportunity of giving vent to his malice in
epigrams and lampoons. Frederick was by no means insensible to public
opinion, but he was ever willing to brave that opinion if by so doing
he could accomplish his ambitious ends.

After this signal achievement his Prussian majesty established his
army in winter quarters along the banks of the Elbe. He took up his
abode in the palace of Dresden, awaiting the opening of the spring
campaign. Saxony was held with a tight grasp, and taxes and recruits
were gathered from the country as if it had always belonged to
Prussia. Frederick had hoped that his sudden campaign would have led
him into the heart of the Austrian states. Instead of this, though he
had wrested Saxony from Poland, he had given Austria ample time to
prepare her armies for a long war, and had roused all Europe to intense
hostility against him.

It became more and more manifest to Frederick that he must encounter
a terrible conflict upon the opening of the spring. Early in January
he took a short trip to Berlin, but soon returned to Dresden. Though
he avoided all appearance of anxiety, and kept up a cheerful air, he
was fully conscious of his peril. This is evident from the secret
instructions he left with his minister, Count Finck, upon his departure
from Berlin. The dispatch was dated January 10th, 1757:

“Should it chance that my army in Saxony were beaten, or that the
French should get possession of Hanover, and threaten us with invasion
from that quarter, or that the Russians should get through by Neumark,
you are to save the royal family and the archives. Should we be beaten
in Saxony, remove the royal family to Cüstrin. Should the Russians
enter by Neumark, or a misfortune befall us in the Lausitz, all must go
to Magdeburg, but not till the last extremity. The garrison, the royal
family, and the treasure must be kept together. In such a case, the
silver plate and the gold plate must at once be coined into money.

“If I am killed, affairs must go on without alteration. If I should
be taken prisoner, I forbid you from paying the least regard to my
person, or paying the least heed to what I may write from my place of
detention. Should such misfortune happen to me, I wish to sacrifice
myself for the state. You must obey my brother. He, as well as all my
ministers and generals, shall answer to me with their heads not to
offer any province or ransom for me, but to continue the war, pushing
their advances as if I had never existed in the world.”

Two days after committing this important document to Count Finck,
Frederick took leave of his mother and his brother. His mother he
never saw again. We have no evidence that on this visit he even called
upon his irreproachable, amiable, neglected wife. In preparation for
the worst, Frederick had provided poison for himself, and wore it
constantly about his person. It consisted of several small pills in a
glass tube. This fact is fully established.

All Europe, England alone excepted, was aroused against him. Armies
were every where being marshaled. The press of all continental Europe
was filled with denunciations of his crimes and encroachments. Not all
his efforts to assume a careless air could efface from his countenance
the impression left there by the struggles of his soul. His features,
as seen in a portrait painted about this time, are expressive of the
character of an anxious and unhappy man.

Early in the spring of 1757, France, Russia, Austria, Poland, and
Sweden were combined against Frederick. These countries represented a
population of one hundred millions. Frederick’s domains contained but
five millions. His annual revenue was but about ten million dollars.
He had an army in the field of one hundred and fifty thousand of the
best troops in the world. His fortresses were garrisoned by about fifty
thousand of inferior quality. The armies of the allies numbered four
hundred and thirty thousand. Frederick was regarded as an outlaw. The
design of the allies was to crush him, and to divide his territory
between them. Austria was to retake Silesia. France was to have the
Wesel-Cleve country. Russia was to annex to her domains Prussen,
Königsberg, etc. Poland, having regained Saxony, was to add to her
territory Magdeburg and Halle. Sweden was to have Pomerania. Never
before had there appeared such a combination against any man. The
situation of Frederick seemed desperate.

France was first in the field with a superb host of one hundred and ten
thousand men. The other powers speedily followed. In four great armies
of invasion these hosts pressed upon Prussia from the southeast and
southwest, the northeast and northwest. The Russian battalions were one
hundred thousand strong. The Austrian army was still more formidable.

It was supposed, that Frederick would remain in Saxony on the defensive
against the Austrians, who were rapidly gathering their army at Prague,
in Bohemia. The city was situated upon the River Moldau, one of the
tributaries of the Elbe, and was about sixty miles south of Dresden.

On the 20th of April, Frederick, having secretly placed his army in
the best possible condition, commenced a rapid march upon Prague, thus
plunging into the very heart of Bohemia. He advanced in three great
columns up the valley of the Elbe and the Moldau. His movements were
so rapid and unexpected that he seized several Austrian magazines
which they had not even time to burn. Three months’ provisions were
thus obtained for his whole army. The first column, under the king,
was sixty thousand strong. The second column, led by General Bevern,
numbered twenty-three thousand, horse and foot. The third, under
Marshal Schwerin, counted thirty-two thousand foot and twelve thousand
horse. On the 2d of May the banners of Frederick were seen from the
steeples of Prague. They appeared floating from the heights of the
Weissenberg, a few miles west of the city. At the same time, the other
two columns, which had united under Marshal Schwerin, appeared on the
east side of the Moldau, upon both banks of which the city is built.

[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF PRAGUE, MAY 6, 1757.

  _a a a. First position of Austrian Army. b b b. Second position
      to meet the Prussian Attack. c. Prussians under Keith. d d. First
      position of Prussian Army. e e. Second position of Prussian
      Army. f. Schwerin’s Prussians. g. Prussian Horse. h. Mannstein’s
      Attack. i. Place of Schwerin’s Monument._]

On the 5th of May, after careful reconnoissance, Frederick crossed
the Moldau several miles north of Prague. He went over upon pontoons
unopposed, and thus effected a junction with his troops on the east
side of the river. The Austrian army was drawn up on some formidable
heights but a short distance east of the city. Their position was very
strong, and they were thoroughly intrenched. On the 6th of May the
dreadful battle of Prague was fought. For many years, as not a few of
our readers will remember, it was fought over and over again upon all
the pianos in Christendom. They will remember the awe with which, as
children, they listened to the tumult of the battle, swelling forth
from the ivory keys, with the rattle of musketry, the booming of the
cannon, and the groans of the dying--such groans as even the field of
battle itself could scarcely have rivaled.

The final and decisive struggle took place on and around two important
eminences, called the Sterbohol Hill and the Homoly Hill. Both of these
heights the Prussians stormed. In the following glowing words Carlyle
pictures the scene:

“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.

“‘This way!’ storm the others with hot tears; Adjutant Von Platen takes
the flag: Platen too is instantly shot; but another takes it. ‘This
way, on!’ in wild storm of rage and grief; in a word, they managed to
do the work at Sterbohol, they and the rest. First line, second line,
infantry, cavalry (and even the very horses, I suppose), fighting
inexpressibly; conquering one of the worst problems ever seen in war.
For the Austrians too, especially their grenadiers there, stood to it
toughly, and fought like men; and ‘every grenadier that survived of
them,’ as I read afterward, ‘got double pay for life.’

“Done, that Sterbohol work; those foot-chargings, horse-chargings; that
battery of Homoly Hill; and, hanging upon that, all manner of redoubts
and batteries to the rightward and rearward; but how it was done no
pen can describe, nor any intellect in clear sequence understand. An
enormous _mêlée_ there: new Prussian battalions charging, and ever
new, irrepressible by case-shot, as they successively get up; Marshal
Browne, too, sending for new battalions at double-quick from his left,
disputing stiffly every inch of his ground, till at length (hour not
given), a cannon shot tore away his foot, and he had to be carried
into Prague, mortally wounded. Which probably was a most important
circumstance, or the most important of all.”

“This battle,” writes Frederick, “which began toward nine in the
morning, was one of the bloodiest of the age. The enemy lost
twenty-four thousand men, of whom four thousand were prisoners. The
Prussian loss amounted to eighteen thousand fighting men, without
counting Marshal Schwerin, who was alone worth above ten thousand. This
day saw the pillars of the Prussian infantry cut down.”

Immediately after the battle, Frederick wrote rather a stately letter
to his mother, informing her of his victory, and that he was about to
pursue the foe with a hundred and fifty thousand men. Fifty thousand
of the defeated Austrians entered Prague, and stood at bay behind its
ramparts. Frederick seized all the avenues, that no provisions could
enter the city, convinced that starvation, combined with a vigorous
assault, would soon compel the garrison to surrender themselves, the
city, and all its magazines. On the 9th of May the bombardment with
red-hot balls commenced. The siege lasted six weeks, creating an
amount of misery over which angels might weep. The balls of fire were
constantly kindling wide and wasting conflagrations. Soon a large
portion of the city presented only a heap of smouldering ruins.

Besides the garrison of fifty thousand there were eighty thousand
inhabitants in the city, men, women, and children. Large numbers
perished. Some died of starvation; some were burned to death in their
blazing dwellings; some were torn to pieces by shot and shell; some
were buried beneath the ruins of their houses. In the stillness of the
night the wails and groans of the sufferers were borne on the breeze to
the ears of the Prussians in their intrenched camp. Starvation brought
pestilence, which caused the death of thousands. The inhabitants,
reduced to this state of awful misery, entreated the Austrian general
to surrender. He refused, but forced out of the gates twelve thousand
skeleton, starving people, who consumed the provisions, but could not
contribute to the defense. Frederick drove the poor creatures back
again at the point of the bayonet, threatening to shoot them all. The
cruel act was deemed a necessity of war.

Maria Theresa, anxious to save Prague, sent an army of sixty thousand
men under General Daun to its relief. This army, on the rapid march,
had reached Kolin, about fifty miles east of Prague. Should General
Daun, as was his plan, attack Frederick in the rear, while the fifty
thousand in Prague should sally out and attack him in front, ruin would
be almost inevitable. Frederick, gathering thirty-four thousand men,
marched rapidly to Kolin and attacked the foe with the utmost possible
fierceness. The Austrians not only nearly twice outnumbered him, but
were also in a very commanding position, protected by earthworks. Never
did men fight more reckless of life than did the Prussians upon this

“And so from right wing to left,” writes Carlyle, “miles long there
is now universal storm of volleying, bayonet charging, thunder of
artillery, case-shot, cartridge-shot, and sulphurous devouring
whirlwind; the wrestle very tough and furious, especially on the
assaulting side. Here, as at Prague, the Prussian troops were one and
all in the fire, each doing strenuously his utmost. There is no reserve
left. All is gone up into one combustion. To fan the fire, to be here,
there, fanning the fire where need shows, this is now Frederick’s
function. This death-wrestle lasted, perhaps, four hours; till seven,
or perhaps eight o’clock, of a June evening.”

Frederick exposed himself like a common soldier. Indeed, it sometimes
seems that, in the desperate state of his affairs, he sought the
fatal bullet. All his efforts against the Austrians were in vain. The
Prussians were repulsed with dreadful slaughter. After losing fourteen
thousand men in killed, wounded, and prisoners, forty-five cannon,
and twenty-two flags, Frederick was compelled to order a retreat.
His magnificent regiment of guards, one thousand in number, picked
men, undoubtedly the best body of troops in the world, was almost
annihilated. The loss of the Austrians was about nine thousand men.
They were so accustomed to be defeated by Frederick that they were
equally surprised and delighted by this dearly-earned victory. The
following plan will give the military reader an idea of the position of
the hostile forces.

Still the conquerors had such dread of their foe that they dared not
emerge from their ramparts to pursue him. Had they done so, they
might easily have captured or slain his whole army. Frederick bore
adversity with great apparent equanimity. He did not for a moment lose
self-control, or manifest any agitation. With great skill he conducted
his retreat. Immediately after the battle he wrote to his friend Lord

  “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.”[102]

[Illustration: BATTLE OF KOLIN, JUNE 18, 1757.

_a a. Austrian Army, b b. Prussian Army. c. Ziethen’s Hussars. d.
Nadasti’s Hussars. e. The Oak Wood._]

Frederick 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,

“Never mind, sire, God Almighty and we will mend this yet. The enemy
may get a victory for once, but that does not send us to the devil.”

At Nimburg, about twenty miles from Kolin, where the retiring Prussians
were crossing the Elbe, Frederick sat upon a green mound, lost in
thought, as his troops defiled before him. He was scratching figures
upon the sand with his stick.

[Illustration: AFTER THE DEFEAT.]

“Raising his eyes,” says Archenholtz, “he surveyed, with speechless
emotion, the small remnant of his life-guard of foot, his favorite
battalion. It was one thousand strong yesterday morning, hardly four
hundred now. All the soldiers of this chosen battalion were personally
known to him--their names, their age, their native place, their
history. In one day death had mowed them down. They had fought like
heroes, and it was for him they had died. His eyes were visibly wet.
Down his face rolled silent tears.”

Suddenly dashing the tears away, he issued his swift orders, and,
mounting his horse, galloped to Prague, where he arrived Sunday
evening. The next day the siege was raised, and the besieging troops
were on the retreat north into Saxony. The whole army was soon
rendezvoused at Leitmeritz, on the Elbe, about thirty miles south of
Dresden. Here Frederick awaited the development of the next movement of
his foes.

He had hardly arrived at Leitmeritz ere he received the tidings of
the death of Sophia Dorothea, his mother. She died at Berlin on the
28th of June, 1757, in the seventy-first year of her age. This grief,
coming in the train of disasters which seemed to be overwhelming his
Prussian majesty, affected him very deeply. Frederick was subdued and
softened by sorrow. He remembered the time when a mother’s love rocked
his cradle, and wrapped him around with tender care. The reader will
be surprised to learn that his grief--perhaps with some comminglings
of remorse--was so great that he shut himself in his closet, and wept
with sobbings like a child.



  Grief of the King over his Mother’s Death.--Interesting Letters.--
    Forces in the Field.--The March upon Dresden.--Devotion of
    Wilhelmina.--Atheism of the King.--Wilhelmina to Voltaire.--
    Despair of Frederick.--Great Victory of Rossbach.--Description of
    the Battle.--Utter Rout of the Allies.--Elation of Frederick.--His
    Poem on the Occasion.--Ravages of War.

The tidings of the death of the king’s mother reached him on the 2d
of July, 1757. Sir Andrew Mitchell, the English embassador in Berlin,
gives the following account of an interview he had with Frederick on
that occasion:

“Yesterday, July 3d, the king sent for me, in the afternoon, the first
time he has seen any body since the news came. I had the honor to
remain with him in his closet. I must own I was most sensibly affected
to see him indulging his grief, and giving way to the warmest filial
affections; recalling to mind the many obligations he had to her late
majesty; all she had suffered, and how nobly she had borne it; the good
she did to every body; the one comfort he now had, that he tried to
make her last years more agreeable.”

[Illustration: SOPHIA DOROTHEA.]

On the 1st of July, the day before the king heard of his mother’s
death, he wrote to Wilhelmina, in reply to a letter from her which
expressed great anxiety on his account:

“Dear sister, fear nothing on my score. Men are always in the hand
of what we call destiny. Accidents will befall people walking on the
streets, sitting in their room, lying on their bed; and there are many
who escape the perils of war.”

Again, on the 5th of July, he wrote: “I write to apprise you, my dear
sister, of the new grief that overwhelms us. We have no longer a
mother. This loss puts the crown on my sorrows. I am obliged to act,
and have not time to give free course to my tears. Judge, I pray you,
of the situation of a feeling heart put to so severe a trial. All
losses in the world are capable of being remedied, but those which
death causes are beyond the reach of hope.”

On the 7th of July he wrote again to Wilhelmina. The letter reveals
the anxiety of his heart, and his earnest desire to escape, if
possible, from his embarrassments. Wilhelmina had written, offering her
services to endeavor to secure peace. The king replied:

“You are too good. I am ashamed to abuse your indulgence. But do, since
you are willing, try and sound the French, and learn what conditions of
peace they would demand. Send that Mirabeau[103] to France. Willingly
will I pay the expense. He may offer as much as five million thalers
[$3,750,000] to the Favorite[104] for peace alone.”

Soon after this, Frederick again wrote to his sister a letter which
throws so much light upon his character that we give it almost entire:

            “Leitmeritz, July 13, 1757.

  “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

  “The French have seized upon Friesland, and are about to pass the
  Weser. They have instigated the Swedes to declare war against me.
  The Swedes are sending seventeen thousand men into Pomerania. The
  Russians are besieging Memel. General Schwald has them on his
  front and in his rear. The troops of the empire are also about to
  march. All this will force me to evacuate Bohemia so soon as that
  crowd of enemies gets into motion.

  “I am firmly resolved on the utmost efforts to save my country.
  Happy the moment when I took to training myself in philosophy.
  There is nothing else that can sustain a soul in a situation
  like mine. I spread out to you, my dear sister, the detail of my
  sorrows. If these things regarded myself only, I could stand it
  with composure. But I am the bound guardian of the happiness of a
  people which has been put under my charge. There lies the sting
  of it. And I shall have to reproach myself with every fault if,
  by delay or by overhaste, I occasion the smallest accident.

  “I am in the condition of a traveler who sees himself surrounded
  and ready to be assassinated by a troop of cut-throats, who
  intend to share his spoils. Since the league of Cambrai[105]
  there is no example of such a conspiracy as that infamous
  triumvirate, Austria, France, Russia, now forms against me. Was
  it ever before seen that three great princes laid plot in concert
  to destroy a fourth who had done nothing against them? I have not
  had the least quarrel either with France or with Russia, still
  less with Sweden.

  “Happy, my dear sister, is the obscure man whose good sense, from
  youth upward, has renounced all sorts of glory; who, in his safe
  and humble place, has none to envy him, and whose fortune does
  not excite the cupidity of scoundrels. But these reflections are
  vain. We have to be what our birth, which decides, has made us in
  entering upon this world.

  “I beg a thousand pardons, my dear sister. In these three long
  pages I talk to you of nothing but my troubles and affairs. A
  strange abuse it would be of any other person’s friendship. But
  yours, my dear sister, is known to me; and I am persuaded that
  you are not impatient when I open to you my heart--a heart
  which is yours altogether, being filled with sentiments of the
  tenderest esteem, with which I am, my dearest sister, your


At this time the whole disposable force of his Prussian majesty did not
exceed eighty thousand men. There were marching against him combined
armies of not less, in the aggregate, than four hundred thousand.
A part of the Prussian army, about thirty thousand strong, under
the king’s eldest brother, Augustus William, Prince of Prussia, was
sent north, especially to protect Zittau, a very fine town of about
ten thousand inhabitants, where Frederick had gathered his chief
magazines. Prince Charles, with seventy thousand Austrians, pursued
this division. He outgeneraled the Prince of Prussia, drove him into
wild country roads, took many prisoners, captured important fortresses,
and, opening a fire of red-hot shot upon Zittau, laid the whole place,
with its magazines, in ashes. The Prince of Prussia, who witnessed
the conflagration which he could not prevent, retreated precipitately
toward Lobau, and thence to Bautzen, with his army in a deplorable
condition of exhaustion and destitution.

Here Frederick, with the remainder of the army from Leitmeritz, joined
his brother, against whom he was greatly incensed, attributing the
disasters he had encountered to his incapacity. At four o’clock of the
30th of July the king met the Prince of Prussia and the other generals
of the discomfited army. Both parties approached the designated spot
on horseback. The king, who was accompanied by his suite, upon his
arrival within about two hundred feet of the place where his brother,
with his officers, was awaiting him, without saluting the prince or
recognizing him in the slightest degree, dismounted, and threw himself
in a reclining posture upon the greensward. General Goltz was then sent
with the following message to the prince:

“His majesty commands me to inform your royal highness that he has
cause to be greatly discontented with you; that you deserve to have
a court-martial held over you, which would sentence you and all your
generals to death; but that his majesty will not carry the matter so
far, being unable to forget that in the chief general he has a brother.”

Augustus William, overwhelmed by his disgrace, and yet angered by the
rebuke, coldly replied that he desired only that a court-martial should
investigate the case and pronounce judgment. The king forbade that
any intercourse whatever should take place between his own troops,
soldiers, or officers, and those of his brother, who, he declared, had
utterly degraded themselves by the loss of all courage and ambition.
The prince sent to the king General Schultz to obtain the countersign
for the army. Frederick refused to receive him, saying “that he had no
countersign to send to cowards.” Augustus William then went himself
to present his official report and a list of his troops. Frederick
took the papers without saying a word, and then turned his back upon
his brother. This cruel treatment fell with crushing force upon the
unhappy prince. Conscious of military failure, disgraced in the eyes of
his generals and soldiers, and abandoned by the king, his health and
spirits alike failed him. The next morning he wrote a sad, respectfully
reproachful letter to Frederick, stating that his health rendered it
necessary for him to retire for a season from the army to recruit.
The reply of the king, which was dated Bautzen, July 30, 1757, shows
how desperate he, at that time, considered the state of his affairs.
Hopeless of victory, he seems to have sought only death.

  “MY DEAR BROTHER,--Your bad conduct has greatly injured my
  affairs. It is not the enemy, but your ill-concerted measures,
  which have done me this harm. My generals also are inexcusable,
  whether they gave you bad advice or only suffered you to come
  to such injudicious resolutions. In this sad situation it only
  remains for me to make a last attempt. I must hazard a battle. If
  we can not conquer, we must all of us have ourselves killed.

  “I do not complain of your heart, but of your incapacity, and
  of the little judgment you have shown in making your decisions.
  A man who has but a few days to live need not dissemble. I wish
  you better fortune than mine has been, and that all the miseries
  and bad adventures you have had may teach you to treat important
  matters with greater care, sense, and resolution than you have
  hitherto done. The greatest part of the calamities which I now
  apprehend comes only from you. You and your children will suffer
  more from them than I shall. Be persuaded, nevertheless, that I
  have always loved you, and that with these sentiments I shall die.


Upon the reception of this letter, the prince, without replying to it,
verbally asked leave, through one of his officers, to throw up his
commission and retire to his family in Berlin. The king scornfully
replied, “Let him go; he is fit for nothing else.” In the deepest
dejection the prince returned to his home. Rapidly his health failed,
and before the year had passed away, as we shall have occasion
hereafter to mention, he sank into the grave, deploring his unhappy lot.

Frederick speedily concentrated all his strength at Bautzen, and
strove to draw the Austrians into a battle; but in vain. The heights
upon which they were intrenched, bristling with cannon, he could
not venture to assail. After three weeks of impatient manœuvring,
Frederick gathered his force of fifty thousand men close in hand, and
made a sudden rush upon Bernstadt, about fifty miles to the east of
Bautzen. Here he surprised an Austrian division, scattered it to the
winds, seized all its baggage, and took a number of prisoners. He also
captured the field equipage, coach, horses, etc., of General Nadasti,
who narrowly escaped.

The French, advancing from the Rhine on the west, were sweeping all
opposition before them. They had overrun Hanover, and compelled the
Duke of Brunswick, brother of George II., to withdraw, with his
Hanoverian troops, from the alliance with the King of Prussia. This was
a terrible blow to Frederick. It left him entirely alone to encounter
his swarming enemies.

The Prince of Soubise had rendezvoused fifty thousand French and Saxon
troops at Erfurt, about a hundred and seventy miles west of Dresden.
He had also, scattered around at different posts, easily accessible, a
hundred thousand more well-armed and well-disciplined troops. Frederick
took twenty-three thousand men and marched to assail these foes in
almost despairing battle. To plunge with so feeble a band into such a
mass of enemies seemed to be the extreme of recklessness.

On the 30th of August Frederick commenced his march from Dresden.
Great caution was requisite, and great military skill, in so bold an
adventure. On the 13th of September he reached Erfurt. The Prince of
Soubise, aware of the prowess of his antagonist, retired to the hills
and intrenched himself, waiting until he could accumulate forces which
would render victory certain. Frederick had now with him his second
brother, Henry, who seems to have very fully secured his confidence. On
the 16th of September the king wrote:

“My brother Henry has gone to see the Duchess of Gotha to-day. I am so
oppressed with grief that I would rather keep my sadness to myself.
I have reason to congratulate myself much on account of my brother
Henry. He has behaved like an angel, as a soldier, and well toward me
as a brother. I can not, unfortunately, say the same of the elder. He
sulks at me, and has sulkily retired to Torgau, from which place he has
gone to Wittenberg. I shall leave him to his caprices and to his bad
conduct; and I prophesy nothing for the future unless the younger guide

In these hours of trouble the noble Wilhelmina was as true to her
brother as the magnet to the pole. She was appalled by no dangers,
and roused all her energies to aid that brother, struggling, with the
world arrayed against him. The king appreciated his sister’s love. In a
poetic epistle addressed to her, composed in these hours of adversity,
he wrote:

“Oh sweet and dear hope of my remaining days! oh sister whose
friendship, so fertile in resources, shares all my sorrows, and with a
helpful arm assists me in the gulf! it is in vain that the destinies
have overwhelmed me with disasters. If the crowd of kings have sworn my
ruin, if the earth have opened to swallow me, you still love me, noble
and affectionate sister. Loved by you, what is there of misfortune?”

In conclusion, he gives utterance to that gloomy creed of infidelity
and atheism which he had adopted instead of the Christian faith. “Thus
destiny with a deluge of torments fills the poisoned remnants of my
days. The present is hideous to me, the future unknown. Do you say
that I am the creature of a beneficent being? I see that all men are
the sport of destiny. And if there do exist some gloomy and inexorable
being who allows a despised herd of creatures to go on multiplying
here, he values them as nothing. He looks down on our virtues, our
misdeeds, on the horrors of war, and on all the cruel plagues which
ravage earth, as a thing indifferent to him. Wherefore my sole refuge
and only haven, loved sister, is in the arms of death.”[106]

Twenty years before this, Frederick, in a letter to his friend Baron
Suhm, dated June 6, 1736, had expressed the belief that, while the
majority of the world perished at death, a few very distinguished men
might be immortal.

“The thought alone,” he wrote, “of your death, my dear Suhm, affords me
an argument in proof of the immortality of the soul. For is it possible
that the spirit which acts in you with so much clearness, brightness,
and intelligence, which is so different from matter and from
body--that fine soul endowed with so many solid virtues and agreeable
qualities--is it possible that this should not be immortal? No! I would
maintain in solid argument that, if the greatest part of the world were
to be annihilated, you, Voltaire, Boileau, Newton, Wolfius, and some
other geniuses of this order must be immortal.”[107]

Now, however, Frederick, in that downward path through which the
rejecters of Christianity invariably descend, had reached the point
at which he renounced all belief in the immortality of the soul and
in the existence of God. In a poetic epistle addressed to Marshal
Keith, he declares himself a materialist, and affirms his unwavering
conviction that the soul, which he says is but the result of the bodily
organization, perishes with that body. He declares suicide to be the
only remedy for man in his hour of extremity.

Wilhelmina, in her distress in view of the peril of her brother, wrote
to Voltaire, hoping that he might be persuaded to exert an influence in
his favor.

“The king, my brother,” she wrote, “supports his misfortunes with a
courage and a firmness worthy of him. I am in a frightful state, and
will not survive the destruction of my house and family. That is the
one consolation that remains to me. I can not write farther of it.
My soul is so troubled that I know not what I am doing. To me there
remains nothing but to follow his destiny if it is unfortunate. I have
never piqued myself on being a philosopher, though I have made many
efforts to become so. The small progress I made did teach me to despise
grandeur and riches. _But I could never find in philosophy any cure for
the wounds of the heart, except that of getting done with our miseries
by ceasing to live._ The state I am in is worse than death. I see the
greatest man of his age, my brother, my friend, reduced to the most
frightful extremity. I see my whole family exposed to dangers and,
perhaps, destruction. Would to Heaven I were alone loaded with all the
miseries I have described to you.”

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:

  “MY DEAREST SISTER,--I find no other consolation but in your
  precious letters. May Heaven[108] reward so much virtue and such
  heroic sentiments! Since I wrote you last my misfortunes have but
  gone on accumulating. It seems as though destiny would discharge
  all its wrath and fury upon the poor country which I had to
  rule over. I have advanced this way to fall upon a corps of the
  allied army, which has run off and intrenched itself among hills,
  whither to follow, still more to attack them, all rules of war
  forbid. The moment I retire toward Saxony this whole swarm will
  be upon my heels. Happen what may, I am determined, at all risks,
  to fall upon whatever corps of the enemy approaches me nearest. I
  shall even bless Heaven for its mercy if it grant me the favor to
  die sword in hand.

  “Should this hope fail me, you will allow that it would be too
  hard to crawl at the feet of a company of traitors to whom
  successful crimes have given the advantage to prescribe the law
  to me. If I had followed my own inclinations I should have put an
  end to myself at once after that unfortunate battle which I lost.
  But I felt that this would be weakness, and that it behooved
  me to repair the evil which had happened. But no sooner had I
  hastened this way to face new enemies than Winterfield was beaten
  and killed near Gorlitz; than the French entered the heart of my
  states; than the Swedes blockaded Stettin. Now there is nothing
  effective left for me to do. There are too many enemies. Were I
  even to succeed in beating two armies, the third would crush me.
  As for you, my incomparable sister, I have not the heart to turn
  you from your resolves. We think alike, and I can not condemn
  in you the sentiments which I daily entertain. Life has been
  given us as a benefit. When it ceases to be such--I have nobody
  left in this world to attach me to it but you. My friends, the
  relations I loved most, are in the grave. In short, I have lost
  every thing. If you take the resolution which I have taken, we
  end together our misfortunes and our unhappiness.

  “But it is time to end this long, dreary letter. I have had some
  leisure, and have used it to open to you a heart filled with
  admiration and gratitude toward you. Yes, my adorable sister, if
  Providence troubled itself about human affairs, you ought to be
  the happiest person in the universe. Your not being such confirms
  me in the sentiments expressed in my epistle.”

In his “epistle” Frederick had expressed the opinion that there was
no God who took any interest in human affairs. He had also repeatedly
expressed the resolve to Wilhelmina, and to Voltaire, to whom he had
become partially reconciled, that he was prepared to commit suicide
should events prove as disastrous as he had every reason to expect they
would prove. He had also urged his sister to follow his example, and
not to survive the ruin of the family. Such was the support which the
king, in hours of adversity, found in that philosophy for which he had
discarded the religion of Jesus Christ.

On the 15th of September, two days before Frederick had written the
despairing letter we have just given, Wilhelmina wrote again to him, in
response to previous letters, and to his poetic epistle.

  “MY DEAREST BROTHER,--Your letter and the one you wrote to
  Voltaire have nearly killed me. What fatal resolutions, great
  God! Ah! my dear brother, you say you love me, and you drive a
  dagger into my heart. Your epistle, which I did receive, made
  me shed rivers of tears. I am now ashamed of such weakness.
  My misfortune would be so great that I should find worthier
  resources than tears. Your lot shall be mine. I shall not survive
  your misfortunes, or those of the house I belong to. You may
  calculate that such is my firm resolution.

  “But, after this avowal, allow me to entreat you to look back at
  what was the pitiable state of your enemy when you lay before
  Prague. It is the sudden whirl of fortune for both parties. The
  like can occur again when one is the least expecting it. Cæsar
  was the slave of pirates, and yet he became master of the world.
  A great genius like yours finds resources even when all is lost.

  “I suffer a thousand times more than I can tell you.
  Nevertheless, hope does not abandon me. I am obliged to finish.
  But I shall never cease to be, with the most profound respect,


On the 11th of October an express courier reached Frederick’s camp with
the alarming intelligence that an Austrian division of fifteen thousand
men was on the march for Berlin. The city was but poorly fortified, and
held a garrison of but four thousand troops. Frederick had no doubt
that the Austrian army was acting in co-operation with other forces of
the allies, advancing upon his metropolis from the east, north, and
west. Immediately he collected all his available troops and commenced
a rapid march for the protection of his capital. In the mean time
Wilhelmina had heard of this new peril. A rumor also had reached her
that there had been a battle, and that her brother was wounded. The
following letter reveals the anguish of her heart:

            “Baireuth, October 15, 1757.

  “MY DEAREST BROTHER,--Death and a thousand torments could not
  equal the frightful state I am in. There run reports that make
  me shudder. Some say that you are wounded, others that you are
  dangerously ill. In vain have I tormented myself to have news
  of you. I can get none. Oh, my dear brother, come what may, I
  will not survive you. If I am to continue in this frightful
  uncertainty, I can not stand it. In the name of God, bid some one
  write to me.

  “I know not what I have written. My heart is torn in pieces.
  I feel that by dint of disquietude and alarms I am losing my
  senses. Oh, my dear, adorable brother, have pity on me. The least
  thing that concerns you pierces me to the heart. Might I die a
  thousand deaths provided you lived and were happy! I can say no
  more. Grief chokes me. I can only repeat that your fate shall be
  mine; being, my dear brother, your


It turned out that the rumor of the march upon Berlin was greatly
exaggerated. General Haddick, with an Austrian force of but four
thousand men, by a sudden rush through the woods, seized the suburbs of
Berlin. The terrified garrison, supposing that an overwhelming force
of the allied army was upon them, retreated, with the royal family and
effects, to Spandau. General Haddick, having extorted a ransom of about
one hundred and forty thousand dollars from the city, and “_two dozen
pair of gloves_ for the empress queen,” and learning that a division
of Frederick’s army was fast approaching, fled precipitately. Hearing
of this result, the king arrested his steps at Torgau, and returned to
Leipsic. The Berliners asserted that “the two dozen pair of gloves were
all gloves for the left hand.”

Frederick reached Leipsic on the 26th of October. The allied forces
were rapidly concentrating in overwhelming numbers around him. On the
30th the king marched to the vicinity of Lutzen, where he encamped for
the night. General Soubise, though in command of a force outnumbering
that of the Prussians nearly three to one, retreated rapidly to the
west before Frederick, and crossed the River Saale. Frederick followed,
and effected the passage of the stream with but little opposition.


After some manœuvring, the hostile forces met upon a wide, dreary,
undulating plain, with here and there a hillock, in the vicinity of
Rossbach. Frederick had twenty thousand men. The French general, Prince
Soubise, had sixty thousand. The allies now felt sure of their prey.
Their plan was to surround Frederick, destroy his army, and take him a
prisoner. On the morning of the 5th of November the two hostile armies
were nearly facing each other, a few miles west of the River Saale. A
party of Austrians was sent by the general of the allies to destroy the
bridges upon the river in the rear of the Prussians, that their retreat
might be cut off. Frederick, from a house-top, eagerly watched the
movement of his foes. To his surprise and great satisfaction, he soon
saw the whole allied army commencing a circuitous march around his left
to fall upon him in his rear.

Instantly, and “like a change of scene in the opera,” the Prussians
were on the rapid march to the east in as perfect order as if on
parade. Taking advantage of an eminence called James Hill, which
concealed their movements from the allies, Frederick hurled his whole
concentrated force upon the flank of the van of the army on the
advance. He thus greatly outnumbered his foes at the point of attack.
The enemy, taken by surprise in their long line of march, had no time
to form.

“Compact as a wall, and with an incredible velocity, Seidlitz, in
the blaze of rapid steel, is in upon them.” From the first it was
manifest that the destruction of the advance-guard was certain. The
Prussian cavalry slashed through it again and again, throwing it into
inextricable disorder. In less than half an hour this important portion
of the allied troops was put to utter rout, “tumbling off the ground,
plunging down hill in full flight, across its own infantry, or whatever
obstacle, Seidlitz on the hips of it, and galloping madly over the

[Illustration: BATTLE OF ROSSBACH, NOVEMBER 5, 1757.

  _a a. First Position of Combined Army. b b. First Position of
      Prussian Camp. c c. Advance of Prussian Army. d d. Second
      Position of Combined Army. e e. Prussians retire to Rossbach.
      f. French Cavalry, under St. Germain. g g. March of Combined Army
      to attack Prussian Rear. h. Prussian Attack led by Seidlitz.
      i. Position of Prussian Guns._]

And now the Prussian artillery, eighteen heavy guns, opened a rapid
and murderous fire upon the disordered mass, struggling in vain to
deploy in line of battle. Infantry, artillery, cavalry, all were at
work, straining every nerve, one mighty mind controlling and guiding
the terrible mechanism in its death-dealing blows. The French regiments
were jammed together. The Prussians, at forty paces, opened a platoon
fire of musketry, five shots a minute. At the same moment the impetuous
Seidlitz, with his triumphant and resistless dragoons, plunged upon
the rear. The centre of the allied army was thus annihilated. It was
no longer a battle, but a rout and a massacre. In twenty minutes this
second astonishing feat was accomplished.

The whole allied army was now put wildly to flight, in one of the
most humiliating and disastrous retreats which has ever occurred.
There is generally some slight diversity of statement in reference to
the numbers engaged on such occasions. Frederick gives sixty-three
thousand as the allied force. The allies lost, in killed, wounded, and
missing, about ten thousand men. The loss of the Prussians was but five
hundred. The French, in a tumultuous mass, fled to the west. Crossing
the Unstrut River at Freiburg, they burned the bridge behind them. The
Prussians rebuilt the bridge, and vigorously pursued. The evening after
the battle the king wrote as follows to Wilhelmina. His letter was
dated “Near Weissenfels.”

  “At last, my dear sister, I can announce to you a bit of good
  news. You were doubtless aware that the Coopers with their
  circles had a mind to take Leipsic. I ran up and drove them
  beyond Saale. They called themselves 63,000 strong. Yesterday I
  went to reconnoitre them; could not attack them in the post they
  held. This rendered them rash. To-day they came out to attack me.
  It was a battle after one’s own heart. Thanks to God,[109] I have
  not one hundred men killed. My brother Henry and General Seidlitz
  have slight hurts. We have all the enemy’s cannon. I am in full
  march to drive them over the Unstrut. You, my dear sister, my
  good, my divine, my affectionate sister, who deign to interest
  yourself in the fate of a brother who adores you, deign also to
  share my joy. The instant I have time I will tell you more. I
  embrace you with my whole heart. Adieu.


Voltaire, speaking of this conflict, says, “It was the most
inconceivable and complete rout and discomfiture of which history
makes any mention. Thirty thousand French and twenty thousand imperial
troops were there seen making a disgraceful and precipitate flight
before five battalions and a few squadrons. The defeats of Agincourt,
Cressy, and Poitiers were not so humiliating.”[110]

As usual, Frederick wrote a poem upon the occasion. It was vulgar
and profane. Carlyle says of it, “The author, with a wild burst of
spiritual enthusiasm, sings the charms of the rearward part of certain
men. He rises to the height of anti-biblical profanity, quoting Moses
on the Hill of Vision; sinks to the bottomless of human or ultra-human
depravity, quoting King Nicomedes’s experience on Cæsar, happily known
only to the learned. A most cynical, profane affair; yet we must say,
by way of parenthesis, one which gives no countenance to Voltaire’s
atrocities of rumor about Frederick himself in the matter.”[111]

The routed allies, exasperated and starving, and hating the Protestant
inhabitants of the region through which they retreated, robbed
and maltreated them without mercy. The woes which the defenseless
inhabitants endured from the routed army in its flight no pen can
adequately describe.

An eye-witness writes from near Weissenfels, in a report to the King of
Poland, whose allies the French were, and whose territories they were

“The French army so handled this place as not only to take from its
inhabitants, by open force, all bread and articles of food, but
likewise all clothes, bed-linens, and other portable goods. They
also broke open, split to pieces, and emptied out all chests, boxes,
presses, drawers; shot dead in the back-yards and on the roofs all
manner of feathered stock, as hens, geese, pigeons. They carried off
all swine, cows, sheep, and horses. They laid violent hands on the
inhabitants, clapped swords, guns, and pistols to their breasts,
threatening to kill them unless they brought out whatever goods they
had; or hunted them out of their houses, shooting at them, cutting,
sticking, and at last driving them away, thereby to have freer room to
rob and plunder. They flung out hay and other harvest stock into the
mud, and had it trampled to ruin under the horses’ feet.”

“For a hundred miles around,” writes St. Germain, “the country is
plundered and harried as if fire from heaven had fallen on it. Scarcely
have our plunderers and marauders left the houses standing.”

This signal achievement raised the military fame of Frederick higher
than ever before. Still it did not perceptibly diminish the enormous
difficulties with which he was environed. Army after army was marching
upon him. Even by a series of successful battles his forces might be
annihilated. But the renown of the great victory of Rossbach will ever
reverberate through the halls of history.



  Results of the Battle of Rossbach.--The Attack upon Breslau.--
    Extraordinary Address of the King to his Troops.--Confidence of the
    Prussians in their Commander.--Magnificent Array of the Austrians
    at Leuthen.--Tactics of Frederick.--The Battle Hymn.--The Battle
    and the Victory.--Scenes after the Battle.--Recapture of Breslau by

The battle of Rossbach was fought on the 5th of November, 1757.
Frederick had but little time to rejoice over his victory. The
Austrians were overrunning Silesia. On the 14th of the month, the
important fortress of Schweidnitz, with all its magazines, fell into
their hands. Then Prince Charles, with sixty thousand Austrian troops,
marched upon Breslau, the principal city of Silesia, situated on the
Oder. The Prince of Bevern held the place with a little over twenty
thousand Prussian troops. His army was strongly intrenched outside of
the walls, under the guns of the city.

On the 22d of November the Austrians commenced their attack from five
different points. It was a terrific conflict. Sixty thousand men
stormed ramparts defended by twenty thousand as highly disciplined
troops, and as desperate in valor, as ever stood upon a battle-field.
The struggle commenced at three o’clock in the morning, and raged, over
eight miles of country, until nine o’clock at night. Darkness and utter
exhaustion terminated the conflict. The Austrians had lost, in killed
and wounded, six thousand men, the Prussians eight thousand.

Prince Bevern, aware that the battle would be renewed upon the morrow,
and conscious that he could not sustain another such struggle,
withdrew with his Prussian troops in the night, through the silent
streets of Breslau, to the other side of the Oder, leaving eighty
cannon behind him. The next morning, in visiting one of the outposts,
he was surprised by a party of the Austrians and taken prisoner. It
was reported that, fearing the wrath of the king, he had voluntarily
allowed himself to be captured. General Kyau, the next in rank, took
the command. He rapidly retreated. Breslau, thus left to its fate,
surrendered, with its garrison of four thousand men, ninety-eight
pieces of cannon, and vast magazines filled with stores of war. The
next day was Sunday. Te Deums were chanted by the triumphant Austrians
in the Catholic churches in Breslau, and thanks were offered to God
that Maria Theresa had reconquered Silesia, and that “our ancient
sovereigns are restored to us.”

These were terrible tidings for Frederick. The news reached him at
Gorlitz when on the rapid march toward Silesia. Prince Charles had
between eighty and ninety thousand Austrian troops in the reconquered
province. Frederick seemed to be marching to certain and utter
destruction, as, with a feeble band of but about twenty thousand men,
he pressed forward, declaring, “I will attack them if they stand on the
steeples of Breslau.”

On the evening of the 3d of December, 1757, the king arrived at
Parchwitz, in the heart of Silesia, about thirty miles from Breslau.
Here the wreck of Prince Bevern’s army joined him. Thus re-enforced,
he could bring about thirty thousand men into the field. He
immediately, in the night, assembled his principal officers, and thus
addressed them; the words were taken down at the time. We give this
characteristic address slightly abbreviated:

“My friends, the disasters which have befallen us here are not unknown
to you. Schweidnitz is lost. The Prince of Bevern is beaten. Breslau is
gone, and all our war-stores there. A large part of Silesia is lost.
Indeed, my embarrassments would be insuperable were it not that I have
boundless trust in you. There is hardly one among you who has not
distinguished himself by some memorable action. All these services I
well know, and shall never forget.

“I flatter myself that now nothing will be wanting of that valor which
the state has a right to expect of you. The hour is at hand. I should
feel that I had accomplished nothing were I to leave Silesia in the
hands of Austria. Let me then apprise you that I intend to attack
Prince Charles’s army, which is nearly thrice the strength of our own,
wherever I can find it. It matters not what are his numbers, or what
the strength of his position. All this by courage and by skill we will
try to overcome. This step I must risk, or all is lost. We must beat
the enemy, or perish before his batteries. If there be any one who
shrinks from sharing these dangers with me, he can have his discharge
this evening.”

The king paused. A general murmur of applause indicated the united
resolve to conquer or to die. Frederick immediately added:

“Yes, I knew it. Not one of you will forsake me. I rely upon your
help and upon victory as sure. The cavalry regiment that does not, on
the instant, on order given, dash full plunge into the enemy, I will
directly after the battle unhorse, and make it a garrison regiment. The
infantry battalion which, meet with what it may, shows the least sign
of hesitating, loses its colors and its sabres, and I cut the trimmings
from its uniform.

“I shall be in the front and in the rear of the army. I shall fly
from one wing to the other. No squadron and no company will escape my
observation. Those who act well I will reward, and will never forget
them. We shall soon either have beaten the enemy or we shall see each
other no more.”

After this address to the assembled generals Frederick rode out to the
camp, and addressed each regiment in the most familiar and fatherly,
yet by no means exultant terms. It was night. The glare of torches shed
a lurid light upon the scene. The first regiment the king approached
was composed of the cuirassiers of the Life Guard.

“Well, my children,” said Frederick, “how do you think that it will be
with us now? The Austrians are twice as strong as we.”

“Never you mind that,” they replied. “The Austrians are not Prussians.
You know what we can do.”

“Indeed I do,” the king responded. “Otherwise I durst not risk a
battle. And now, my children, a good night’s sleep to you. We shall
soon attack the enemy; and we shall beat him, or we shall all die.”

“Yes, death or victory,” they shouted. Then from loving lips the cheer
ran along the line, “Good-night, Fritz.”

And thus the king passed from regiment to regiment. Perhaps no
commander, excepting Napoleon, has ever secured to an equal degree the
love of his soldiers. It is said that a deserter was brought before him.

“What induced you to desert me?” inquired the king.

“Alas! your majesty,” the man replied, “we are so few, and the
Austrians are so many, that defeat is certain.”

“Well,” the king replied, kindly, “try it one day more. If we do not
mend matters, you and I will both desert together.”

The Austrian army, which outnumbered the Prussian over three to one,
was in a camp, very strongly fortified, near Breslau. A council of war
was held. Some of the Austrian officers, dreading the prowess of their
redoubtable opponent, advised that they should remain behind their
intrenchments, and await an attack. It would, of course, be impossible
for less than thirty thousand men to storm ramparts bristling with
artillery, and defended by nearly ninety thousand highly disciplined
and veteran troops.

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.

With great joy Frederick learned that the Austrians had left their
camp, and were on the advance to attack him. He immediately put his
little army in motion for the perilous and decisive conflict. It was
four o’clock Sunday morning, December 4, 1757, when Frederick left
Parchwitz on his march toward Breslau. He was familiar with every
square mile of the region. The Austrians were so vastly superior in
numbers that many of them quite despised the weakness of the Prussian
army. Many jokes were tossed about in the Austrian camp respecting the
feeble band of Frederick, which they contemptuously called the “Potsdam

The Austrians, on the careless and self-confident march toward
Parchwitz, had crossed the Schweidnitz River, or Water, as it was
called, when they learned that Frederick, with a tiger-like spring,
had leaped upon Neumarkt, an important town fourteen miles from
Parchwitz. Here the Austrians had a bakery, protected by a guard of a
thousand men. Seven hundred of the guard were instantly sabred or taken
prisoners. The rest fled wildly. Frederick gathered up eighty thousand
hot bread rations, with which he feasted his hungry troops.


Early on Monday morning the Prussians advanced from Neumarkt, eight
miles, to Borne. Here they met the advance-guard of the Austrian
cavalry. It was a dark, foggy morning. Frederick, as usual, was with
his vanguard. Almost before the Austrians were conscious of the
presence of the foe, they were assailed, with the utmost impetuosity,
in front and on both their flanks. Instantly they were thrown into
utter confusion. The ground was covered with their dead. Their general,
Nostitz, was fatally wounded, and died the next day. Five hundred and
forty were taken prisoners. The bleeding, breathless remnant fled
pell-mell back to the main body, a few miles in the rear.

Frederick, pressing forward directly east, toward Leuthen, ascended an
eminence, the height of Scheuberg, whence he beheld, directly before
him, the whole majestic Austrian army. It extended for a distance of
about five miles, drawn up in battle-array across his path, from the
village of Nypern on the north, through Leuthen, to the village of
Sagschütz on the south. So distinctly were their military lines spread
out before the eye that Frederick, with his glass, could count them,
man by man. Carefully the king studied the position of the enemy, and
formed his plan of attack. He designed, while bewildering the Austrians
by his manœuvres, to direct the whole concentrated strength of his
army upon their extreme left wing. He hoped thus, by the desperate
impetuosity of his attack, to roll that whole left wing together in
utter ruin before the centre or the right could come to its aid. He
would then press on, with numbers ever overpowering the Austrians at
the point of attack, until the whole line, five miles in length, was

An eye-witness thus describes the tactics by which Frederick executed
his design: “It is a particular manœuvre which, up to the present time,
none but Prussian troops can execute with the precision and velocity
indispensable to it. You divide your line into many pieces. You can
push these forward stair-wise, so that they shall halt close to one
another. Forming itself in this way, a mass of troops takes up in
proportion very little ground. And it shows in the distance, by reason
of the mixed uniforms and standards, a totally chaotic mass of men,
heaped one on another. But it needs only that the commander lift his
finger, and instantly this living coil of knotted intricacies develops
itself in perfect order, and with a speed like that of mountain

“It was a beautiful sight,” writes Tempelhof. “The heads of the columns
were constantly on the same level, and at the distance necessary for
forming. All flowed on exact as if in a review. And you could read in
the eyes of our brave troops the temper they were in.”

As they marched their voices burst forth simultaneously in a German
hymn. The gush of their rude and many-voiced melody was borne
distinctly on the wind to the eminence where Frederick stood, anxiously
watching those movements which were to decide his own fate, that of his
family, and of his kingdom. The following is a translation of one of
the verses of this hymn:

   “Grant that with zeal and skill, this day, I do
    What me to do behooves, what Thou command’st me to;
    Grant that I do it sharp, at point of moment fit,
    And when I do it, grant me good success in it.”[113]

These solemn tones of sacred psalmody fell impressively upon the
ear of the king when his earthly all was trembling in the balance.
Religionless and atheistic as he was, he could not repress some visible
emotion. One of his officers, aware of the king’s avowed contempt for
every thing of a religious nature, inquired,

“Shall we order that to cease, your majesty?”

“By no means,” the king replied. “With men like these I shall be sure
of victory to-day!”[114]

[Illustration: BATTLE OF LEUTHEN, DECEMBER 5, 1757.

  _a a. Austrian Army. b b. Position of Saxon Forepost, under
      Nostitz. c c. Advance of Prussian Army. d. Lucchesi’s Cavalry,
      re-enforced by Daun. e. Left Wing, under Nadasti. f. Frederick’s
      Hill of Observation. g g. Prussian Army about to attack.
      h. Ziethen’s Cavalry. i i i. Retreat of Austrians._]

The field of Leuthen--for so this battle-field was called--was a
vast undulating plain or rolling prairie, extending for miles in all
directions. One or two brooks flowed sluggishly through it. Here
and there were expanses of marsh which neither horse nor foot could
traverse. A few scraggy firs dotted the dreary landscape, and there
were also a few hamlets of peasants’ huts scattered around. Frederick
concealed his movements as much as possible behind the undulations,
and succeeded in deceiving the Austrians into the belief that he was
to make an attack upon their _right_ wing. The Austrian officers,
on windmills and in church belfries, were eagerly scrutinizing his
manœuvres. Deceived into the conviction that their right wing was
menaced, they impetuously pushed forward large re-enforcements of horse
to the support of the presumed point of attack. Thus the left wing was

Frederick, who had taken his position upon a windmill, saw, with much
satisfaction, the successful operation of his plan. Suddenly, with
almost miraculous swiftness of movement, his perfectly drilled troops,
horse, foot, and artillery, every man reckless of life, poured forth
with a rush and a roar as of a lava-flood upon the extreme left of the
Austrians. It was one o’clock of the day. There was neither brook,
bush, fence, nor marsh to impede the headlong impetuosity of the
assault. At the point of attack the Prussians were, of course, most
numerous. There were a few moments of terrible slaughter, and the left
wing of the Austrian army was annihilated. The ground was covered with
the wounded and the dead, and the fugitives, in dismay, were fleeing
across the fields.

The Austrian centre was pushed rapidly forward to the aid of the
discomfited left. It was too late. The soldiers arrived upon the ground
breathless and in disorder. Before they had time to form, Frederick
plowed their ranks with balls, swept them with bullets, and fell
upon them mercilessly with sabre and bayonet. The carnage was awful.
Division after division melted away in the fire deluge which consumed
them. Prince Charles made the most desperate efforts to rally his
dismayed troops in and around the church-yard at Leuthen. Here for an
hour they fought desperately. But it was all in vain. The left wing was
destroyed. The centre was destroyed. The right wing was pushed forward
only to be cut to pieces by the sabres, and to be mown down by the
terrific fire of the triumphant Prussians.

Scarcely had the conflict upon the extreme left commenced ere it was
evident that by the military sagacity of Frederick the doom of the
Austrian army was sealed. With thirty thousand men he had attacked
ninety thousand on the open field, and was utterly overwhelming them.
An Austrian officer, Prince De Ligne, describing the battle, writes:

“Cry had risen for the reserve, and that it must come on as fast as
possible. We ran at our utmost speed. Our lieutenant colonel fell,
killed, at the first. Then we lost our major, and, indeed, all the
officers but three. We had crossed two successive ditches which lay
in an orchard to the left of the first houses in Leuthen, and were
beginning to form in front of the village. But there was no standing
it. Besides a general cannonade, such as can scarcely be imagined,
there was a rain of case-shot upon this battalion, of which I had to
take command. A Prussian battalion at the distance of eighty paces
gave the liveliest fire upon us. It stood as if on the parade-ground,
and waited for us without stirring. My soldiers, who were tired with
running, and had no cannon, soon became scattered. At last, when I had
but two hundred left, I drew back to the height where the windmill is.”

Before the sun went down the Austrian army was every where flying from
the field in hopeless confusion. Their rush was in four torrents toward
the east, to reach the bridges which crossed the Schweidnitz Water.
There were four of them. One was on the main road at Lissa; one a mile
north at Stabelwitz; and two on the south, one at Goldschmieden, and
the other at Hermannsdorf. The victory of Frederick was one of the
most memorable in the annals of war. The Austrians lost in killed and
wounded ten thousand men. Twenty-one thousand were taken prisoners.
This was a heavier loss in numbers than the whole army of Frederick.
The victors also took fifty-one flags, and a hundred and sixteen cannon.

As the king cast his eye over the blood-stained field, covered with the
wounded and the dead, for a moment he seemed overcome with the aspect
of misery, and exclaimed, “When, oh when will my woes cease?”

“My children,” said Frederick that night at parole, “after such a day’s
work you deserve rest. This day will send the renown of your name and
that of the nation down to the latest posterity.”

He did not order the exhausted troops to pursue the foe. Still, as he
rode along the line after dark, he inquired,

“Is there any battalion which has a mind to follow me to Lissa?”

Three volunteered. It was so dark that the landlord of a little country
inn walked with a lantern by the side of Frederick’s horse. Lissa was
on the main road to Breslau. The landlord supposed that he was guiding
one of Frederick’s generals, and was very communicative.

“Yesterday noon,” said he, “I had Prince Charles in my parlor. His
adjutants and people were all crowding about. Such a questioning and
bothering. Hundreds came dashing in, and other hundreds were sent out.
In and out they went all night. No sooner was one gone than ten came. I
had to keep a roaring fire in the kitchen all night, so many officers
were crowding to it to warm themselves. They talked and babbled. One
would say that our king was marching upon them with his Potsdam parade
guard. Another would say, ‘No, he dare not come. He will turn and run.’
But my delight is that our king has paid them for their fooleries so
prettily this afternoon.”

“When did you get rid of your guests?” inquired the king.

“About nine this morning,” was the reply, “the prince got to horse. Not
long after three he came back again with a swarm of officers, all going
full speed for Lissa. They were full of bragging when they came; now
they were off wrong side foremost! I saw how it was. Close following
after him the flood of them ran. The high road was not broad enough. It
was an hour and more before it ended. Such a pell-mell, such a welter!
cavalry and infantry all jumbled together. Our king must have given
them a terrible flogging.”

When the king reached Lissa he found the village full of Austrian
officers and soldiers in a state of utter disorganization and
confusion. Had the Austrians known their strength or the weakness of
the king, they might easily have taken him captive. Frederick was
somewhat alarmed. He, however, assumed a bold front, and rode to the
principal house in the town, which was a little one side of the main
street. The house was crowded with Austrian officers, bustling about,
seeking lodgings for the night. The king stepped in with a slight
escort, and said gayly,

“Good evening, gentlemen, good evening. Can you make room for me here,
do you think?”


The astounded Austrians bowed to the dust before him, escorted him
to the best room, and, stealing out into the darkness, made their
way as rapidly as possible to the bridge, which at the east end of
the street crossed the Schweidnitz Water. At the farther end of the
bridge Austrian cannon were planted to arrest the pursuit. The officers
hurried across, and vanished in the gloom of night, followed by the
river-guard. The Prussian cannoneers steadily pursued, and kept up
through the night an incessant fire upon the rear of the foe.

The night was very dark and cold. A wintry wind swept the bleak, frozen
fields. Still the routed Austrians pressed on. Still the tireless
Prussians pursued. The Prussian soldiers were Protestants. Many of
them were well instructed in religion. As they pressed on through the
gloom, sweeping the road before them with artillery discharges, their
voices simultaneously burst forth into a well-known Church hymn, a sort
of Protestant _Te Deum_--

    “Now thank God, one and all,
       With heart, with voice, with hands,
     Who wonders great hath done
       To us and to all lands.”[115]

Early in the morning Frederick’s whole army was on the rapid march for
Breslau, which was scarcely twenty miles distant from the battle-field.
The Austrians had collected immense military stores in the city.
Prince Charles, as he fled through the place with the wreck of his
army, left a garrison of seventeen thousand men for its defense. In a
siege of twelve days, during which there was an incessant bombardment
and continual assaults, the city was carried. A few days after this,
Liegnitz, which the Austrians had strongly fortified, was also
surrendered to the victor. Frederick had thus reconquered the whole of
Silesia excepting the single fortress of Schweidnitz.



  Destruction of the Army of Prince Charles.--Dismay in Vienna.--
    Testimony of Napoleon I.--Of Voltaire.--Wretchedness of the King.--
    Compromise rejected.--New Preparations for War.--Treaty between
    England and Prussia.--Plan of the Campaign.--Siege of Olmütz.--
    Death of Prince Augustus William.--The Baggage Train.--The
    irreparable Disaster.--Anxiety of Frederick for Wilhelmina.--The
    March against the Russians.--The Battle of Zorndorf.--Anecdotes of

The army of Prince Charles was so utterly destroyed or dispersed by the
battle of Leuthen that the morning after his terrible defeat he could
rally around his banners, by count, but fifty thousand men. These were
utterly disheartened. Stragglers were wandering all over the country.
A few thousand of these again joined the ranks. Seventeen thousand
men left in Breslau were soon captured. Prince Charles, abandoning
guns and wagons, fled through rain, and mud, and sleet directly south
toward Königgrätz, in Bohemia. The sufferings of the troops were awful.
Several hundred sentinels, in one night, were frozen stiff at their
posts. The dreadful retreat continued for ten days.

“The army,” writes Prince Charles, mournfully, “was greatly
dilapidated. The soldiers were without clothes, and in a condition
truly pitiable. So closely were we pursued by the enemy that at night
we were compelled to encamp without tents.”

Having reached the shelter of Königgrätz, he counted his troops, and
found that he had in rank and file but thirty-seven thousand men. Of
these, twenty-two thousand, from sickness, exhaustion, and wounds, were
in hospital. Thus, out of the army of ninety thousand men with which he
had commenced the campaign early in December, at the close of the month
he could array but fifteen thousand on any field of battle.

The astonishment and indignation in Vienna, in view of this terrible
defeat, were intense. Prince Charles was immediately relieved of his
command, and General Daun appointed in his stead. It is the testimony
of all military men that the battle of Leuthen was one of the most
extraordinary feats of war. Napoleon, speaking of it at St. Helena,

“This battle is a masterpiece of movements, of manœuvres, and of
resolution. It is enough to immortalize Frederick, and to rank him
among the greatest generals. It develops, in the highest degree, both
his moral and his military qualities.”

Voltaire, in summing up a sketch of this campaign of 1757, writes in
characteristic phrase:

“Even Gustavus Adolphus never did such great things. One must, indeed,
pardon Frederick his verses, his sarcasms, and his little malices. All
the faults of the man disappear before the glory of the hero.”

On the 19th of December, the day of the capitulation of Breslau,
Frederick wrote from that place to his friend D’Argens as follows:

“Your friendship seduces you, _mon cher_. I am but a paltry knave in
comparison with Alexander, and not worthy to tie the shoe-latchets of
Cæsar. Necessity, who is the mother of industry, has made me act, and
have recourse to desperate remedies in evils of a like nature.

“We have taken here from fourteen to fifteen thousand prisoners. In
all, I have above twenty-three thousand of the queen’s troops in my
hands, fifteen generals, and above seven hundred officers. It is a
plaster on my wounds, but it is far enough from healing them.”

It was now midwinter. Frederick, having established his troops in
winter quarters, took up his residence in Breslau. His troubles were
by no means ended. Vastly outnumbering foes still surrounded him. Very
vigorous preparations were to be made for the sanguinary conflicts
which the spring would surely introduce. Frederick did what he could
to infuse gayety into the society at Breslau, though he had but little
heart to enter into those gayeties himself. For a week he suffered
severely from colic pains, and could neither eat nor sleep. “Eight
months,” he writes, “of anguish and agitation do wear one down.”

His sister Amelia and several other friends visited him at Breslau.
Among others was his reader, Henry de Catt.

“Should you have known me?” the king inquired of De Catt.

“Hardly,” he replied, “in that dress. Besides, your majesty has grown

“That may well be,” rejoined the king, “with the cursed life I have
been leading.”

Frederick still sought recreation in writing verses which he called
poetry. To D’Argens he wrote, “I have made a prodigious quantity
of verses. If I live I will show them to you. If I perish they are
bequeathed to you, and I have ordered that they be put into your hand.”

Again he wrote D’Argens on the 26th of December, “What a pleasure
to hear that you are coming. I have sent a party of light horse to
conduct you. You can make short journeys. I have directed that horses
be ordered for you, that your rooms be warmed every where, and good
fowls ready on all roads. Your apartment in this house is carpeted,
hermetically shut. You shall suffer nothing from draughts or from

Frederick, having regained Silesia, was anxious for peace. He wrote a
polite letter to Maria Theresa, adroitly worded, so as to signify that
desire without directly expressing it. The empress queen, disheartened
by the disasters of Rossbach and Leuthen, was rather inclined to listen
to such suggestions; but the Duchess of Pompadour verified the adage
that “hell has no fury like a woman scorned.” She governed the wretched
Louis XV., and through him governed France. In her intense personal
exasperation against Frederick she would heed no terms of compromise,
and infused new energy into all warlike operations. Large subsidies
were paid by France to Austria, Sweden, and Russia, to prepare for the
campaign of 1758.

Frederick was soon aware that peace was out of the question without
farther fighting. Before the 1st of April he had one hundred and
forty-five thousand men ready for the field. Of these, fifty-three
thousand were in Silesia. Many of the Austrian deserters were induced
to join his standards. But the most important event secured was forming
a subsidy treaty with England. The British cabinet, alarmed in view of
the power which the successful prosecution of the war on the part of
the allies would give to France, after much hesitation, came to the aid
of Frederick, whom they hated as much as they feared France. On the
11th of April, 1758, a treaty was signed between the English court and
Frederick, containing the following important item:

“That Frederick shall have six hundred and seventy thousand pounds
($3,350,000), payable in London to his order, in October, this year,
which sum Frederick engages to spend wholly in the maintenance and
increase of his army for behoof of the common object; neither party to
dream of making the least shadow of peace or truce without the other.”

Schweidnitz was strictly blockaded during the winter. On the 15th of
March, the weather being still cold, wet, and stormy, Frederick marched
from Breslau to attack the place. His siege artillery was soon in
position. With his accustomed impetuosity he commenced the assault,
and, after a terrific bombardment of many days, on the night of the
15th of April took the works by storm. The garrison, which had dwindled
from eight thousand to four thousand five hundred, was all captured,
with fifty-one guns, thirty-five thousand dollars of money, and a large
quantity of stores. Thus the whole of Silesia was again in the hands of

It was supposed that his Prussian majesty would now march southwest for
the invasion of Bohemia. Austria made vigorous preparations to meet
him there. Much to the surprise and bewilderment of the Austrians,
the latter part of April Frederick directed his columns toward the
southeast. His army, about forty thousand strong, was in two divisions.
By a rapid march through Neisse and Jagerndorf he reached Troppau,
on the extreme southern frontier of Silesia. He then turned to the
southwest. It was again supposed that he intended to invade Bohemia,
but from the east instead of from the north.

General Daun, in command of the Austrian forces, rapidly concentrated
his troops around Leutomischel, where he had extensive magazines. But
Frederick, leaving Leutomischel far away on his right, pressed forward
in a southerly direction, and on the 12th of May appeared before
Olmütz. His march had been rapidly and admirably conducted, dividing
his troops into columns for the convenience of road and subsistence.

Olmütz was an ancient, strongly fortified city of Moravia, pleasantly
situated on the western banks of the Morawa River. It had been the
capital of Moravia, and contained about ten thousand inhabitants. The
place subsequently became renowned from the imprisonment of Lafayette
in its citadel for many years. The city had become an arsenal, and one
of the most important military store-houses of Austria.

Olmütz was ninety miles from Troppau, in Silesia, where Frederick had
established his base of supplies. This was a long line of communication
to protect. General Daun, with a numerous Austrian army, all whose
movements were veiled by clouds of those fleet and shaggy horsemen
called Pandours, was forty miles to the west, at Leutomischel. Cautious
in the extreme, nothing could draw him into a general battle. But he
watched his foe with an eagle eye, continually assailing his line of
communication, and ever ready to strike his heaviest blows upon any
exposed point.

The king’s brother Henry was in command in Saxony, at the head of
thirty thousand troops. Frederick wrote to him the characteristic and
very judicious advice, “Do as energetically as possible whatever seems
wisest to _you_. But hold no councils of war.”

The plan of his Prussian majesty was bold and sagacious. He supposed
that he could easily take Olmütz. Availing himself of the vast
magazines to be found there, he would summon his brother Henry to join
him by a rapid march through Bohemia, and with their combined force of
sixty thousand troops they would make a rush upon Vienna. The Austrian
capital was distant but about one hundred miles, directly south. As
the Austrian army was widely dispersed, there were but few impediments
to be encountered. The success of this plan would compel the allies to
withdraw their forces from the territories of the King of Prussia, if
it did not enable Frederick to dictate peace in the palaces of Maria

Olmütz was found very strongly fortified. It was so situated that,
with the force Frederick had, it could not be entirely invested. Baron
Marshal, a very brave and energetic old man, sixty-seven years of age,
conducted the defense.

[Illustration: SIEGE OF OLMÜTZ, MAY 12--JULY 2, 1758.

  _a a. Stages of the Prussian March. b. Daun’s Encampment.
      c. Prussian Batteries and Intrenchments. d d d. Prussian Camps.
      e e. Loudon’s March against Mosel’s Convoy. f f. Mosel’s resting
      Quarters. g. Convoy attacked and ruined._]

His garrison consisted of about fourteen thousand infantry and six
hundred dragoons. General Daun was at the distance of but two marches,
with a larger Austrian force than Frederick commanded. Nothing can
more clearly show the dread with which the Austrians regarded their
antagonist than the fact that General Daun did not march immediately
upon Olmütz, and, with the aid of a sally from the garrison, overwhelm
and crush Frederick beneath their united assaults.

For seven weeks the siege of Olmütz was prosecuted with great vigor.
With much skill Frederick protected his baggage trains in their long
and exposed route of ninety miles through forests and mountain defiles.
General Keith was intrusted with the details of the siege facing the
town toward the east; Frederick, with a vigilant corps of horse and
foot, was about twenty miles to the west, watching every movement
of General Daun, so far as he was able through the thick cloud of
Pandours, behind which the Austrian commander endeavored to conceal all
his manœuvres.

While engaged in these labors the tidings reached him of the death of
his brother Augustus William. He was Prince of Prussia, being, next to
the childless Frederick, heir to the crown. Frederick seems to have
received the news very heartlessly.

“Of what did he die?” he coldly inquired of the messenger.

“Of chagrin, your majesty,” was the reply.

Frederick turned upon his heel, and made no answer.

The unhappy Prince of Prussia, on his dying bed, wrote a very touching
letter to his brother Frederick, remonstrating against his conduct,
which was not only filling Europe with blood and misery, but which was
also imperiling the existence of the Prussian kingdom.

“The slow fever,” he wrote, “which consumes me, has not thrown any
disorder into my understanding. Condescend to listen to me, sire,
now that I can not be suspected of any illusion or deceit. There is
an end to the house of Prussia if you continue to brave all Europe
confederated against you. You force all Europe to arm to repel
your encroachments. The princes of Europe are leagued against your
majesty by justice and by interest. Their subjects regard your ruin
as essential to the re-establishment of peace and the safety of
monarchical government. They read in your success the slavery of the
human race, the annihilation of laws, the degradation of society.”

In reference to the course which the king had allowed himself to pursue
in obtaining access to the archives of Saxony by bribing an officer to
betray his trust, Augustus William wrote:

“The more you have proved that you were acquainted with the intentions
of Saxony, the more odious have you rendered its invasion. In order to
procure this knowledge, your minister has degraded his character. By
means proscribed in society, you have discovered only that the King
Elector of Saxony did not love the power of Prussia, that he feared it,
and that he even dared to form projects to defend himself against it.
Documents which are stolen make against the accuser who produces them,
if they do not prove the crime which they impute.”[116]

In conclusion, in most pathetic terms he entreated the king to listen
to terms of peace, and thus to prevent the ruin of himself, of his
people, and of his royal house.

At the same time that the tidings of the death of Augustus William
were communicated to the king, he received also the tidings, which to
him were truly heart-rending, that Wilhelmina, worn down with care and
sorrow, was fast sinking into the grave.

Early in June, the cautious but ever-vigilant General Daun succeeded
in throwing into Olmütz a re-enforcement of eleven hundred Austrian
troops. They were guided by peasants through by-paths in the forests.
Crossing the river some miles below Olmütz, they entered the city from
the east.

Still, on the whole, the siege progressed favorably. Large supplies of
food and ammunition were indispensable to Frederick. Thirty thousand
hungry men were to be fed. A constant bombardment rapidly exhausts even
abundant stores of powder, shot, and shell.

In the latter part of June a large train of over three thousand
four-horse wagons, laden with all necessary supplies, left Troppau
for Olmütz. It is difficult for a reader unfamiliar with such scenes
to form any conception of the magnitude of such an enterprise. There
are twelve thousand horses to be shod, harnessed, and fed, and watered
three or four times a day. There are three thousand wagons to be kept
in repair, rattling over the stones and plowing through the mire. Six
thousand teamsters are required. There is invariably connected with
such a movement one or two thousand camp-followers, sutlers, women,
vagabonds. A large armed force is also needed to act as convoy.

This train filled the road for a distance of twenty miles. To traverse
the route of ninety miles required six days. The road led through
forests and mountain defiles. A bold and vigorous foe, well equipped
and well mounted, watched the movement. To protect such a train from
assault is one of the most difficult achievements of war. The enemy,
suddenly emerging from mountain fastnesses or gloomy forests, can
select his point of attack, and then sweep in either direction along
the line, burning and destroying.

On the 26th of June this vast train commenced its movement from
Troppau. A convoy of about seven thousand infantry and eleven hundred
cavalry guarded the wagons. They were in three bodies, on the front,
in the centre, and on the rear. The king also sent forward about six
thousand horse and foot from Olmütz to meet the train.

The wagons had accomplished about half the distance, when, on Friday,
the 30th of June, as they were emerging from wild ravines among the
mountains, they were simultaneously attacked in front, centre, and rear
by three divisions of the Austrians, each about five thousand strong.
Then ensued as terrible a scene of panic and confusion as war has ever
witnessed. The attack of horsemen with their gleaming sabres, the storm
of bullets, thick as hailstones, the thunders of the cannon, as the
ponderous balls tore their way through wagons, and horses, and men,
soon presented such a spectacle of devastation, ruin, and woe as mortal
eyes have seldom gazed upon.

“Among the tragic wrecks of this convoy there is one that still goes
to our heart. A longish, almost straight row of Prussian recruits
stretched among the slain, what are these? These were seven hundred
recruits coming up from their cantons to the wars. See how they have
fought to the death, poor lads! and have honorably, on the sudden,
got manumitted from the toils of life. Seven hundred of them stood to
arms this morning; some sixty-five will get back to Troppau; that is
the invoice account. There they lie with their blonde young cheeks,
beautiful in death.”[117]

A large portion of the train was utterly destroyed. The remainder was
driven back to Troppau. The disaster was irreparable. The tidings were
conveyed to Frederick the next day, July 1. They must have fallen upon
him with crushing weight. It was the annihilation of all his hopes for
the campaign, and rendered it necessary immediately to raise the siege
and retreat. This extraordinary man did not allow himself to manifest
the slightest despondency. He assembled his officers, and, with a
smiling face, and hopeful, cheering words, announced his decision.

All Saturday night the bombardment was continued with increasing fury.
In the mean time four thousand wagons were packed, and, long before the
dawn of Sunday morning, were on the road. The retreat was so admirably
conducted that General Daun did not venture even to attempt to harass
the retiring columns. Instead of moving in a northerly direction to
Silesia, Frederick directed his march to the northwest, into Bohemia.
On the 8th of July his long column safely reached Leutomischel. He
there seized quite an amount of military stores, which General Daun, in
his haste and bewilderment, had not been able to remove or to destroy.
Five more marches conducted him to Königgrätz.

General Daun, with the utmost caution, followed the retreating army.
Though his numbers were estimated at seventy-five thousand, he did not
dare to encounter Frederick with his thirty thousand Prussians on the
field of battle. With skill which has elicited the applause of all
military critics, Frederick, early in August, continued his retreat
till he reached, on the 8th of the month, Grüssau, on his own side of
the mountains in Silesia. On this march he wrote to his brother Henry
from Skalitz:

“What you write to me of my sister of Baireuth makes me tremble. Next
to my mother, she is the one I have most tenderly loved in this world.
She is a sister who has my heart and all my confidence, and whose
character is of a price beyond all the crowns in the universe. From
my tenderest years I was brought up with her. You can conceive how
there reigns between us that indissoluble bond of mutual affection
and attachment for life which in many cases were impossible. Would to
Heaven that I might die before her!”

On the 9th of August he wrote from Grüssau to Wilhelmina herself: “Oh,
you, the dearest of my family, you whom I have most at heart of all in
this world, for the sake of whatever is most precious to you, preserve
yourself, and let me have at least the consolation of shedding my tears
in your bosom!”

Frederick had left Grüssau on the 18th of April for his Moravian
campaign. He returned on the 8th of August, after an absence of sixteen
weeks. The campaign had proved an entire failure. A Russian army, fifty
thousand strong, under General Fermor, had invaded Brandenburg, just
beyond the extreme northern frontier of Silesia. These semi-barbarian
soldiers had burned the town of Cüstrin, on the Oder, were besieging
the small garrison in its citadel, and were committing the most horrid
outrages upon the community around, not only plundering and burning,
but even consigning captives to the flames.

On Friday, the 11th of August, Frederick, leaving forty thousand men
to guard Silesia, took fifteen thousand troops, and commenced a very
rapid march to attack the fifty thousand Russians. Upon the eve of his
departure he wrote to his brother Henry:

“I march to-morrow against the Russians. As the events of war may
lead to all sorts of accidents, and it may easily happen to me to be
killed, I have thought it my duty to let you know what my plans were;
the rather, as you are the guardian of my nephew,[118] with unlimited

He then gave minute directions as to what he wished to have done
in case of his death. Marching rapidly through Liegnitz and
Hohenfriedberg, he reached Frankfort-on-the-Oder on Sunday, the 20th of
August. He was now within twenty miles of Cüstrin, and the bombardment
by the heavy siege guns of the Russians could be distinctly heard.
Frederick took lodgings at the house of a clergyman’s widow. Frequently
he arose and went out of doors, listening impatiently to the cannonade.
An eye-witness writes:

“I observed that the king took a pinch of snuff as the sound of each
discharge reached him. And even through that air of intrepidity, which
never abandoned this prince, I could perceive the sensations of pity
toward that unfortunate town, and an eager impatience to fly to its

The next morning, taking with him a small escort, and leaving his army
to follow with as much speed as possible, he rode rapidly down the
western bank of the Oder to Görgast, where he had an encampment of
about fifteen thousand Prussian troops. At five o’clock in the morning
of Tuesday the two bands were united. He now had at his command thirty
thousand men. Cüstrin was on the eastern bank of the Oder, near the
confluence of the Warta. A few miles below Cüstrin, at Schaumburg,
there were portions of a bridge across the Oder. Here the Russians
had erected a redoubt. Frederick ordered a violent attack upon that
redoubt. During the night, while the attention of the Russians was
occupied by the assault, Frederick marched his army twelve miles
farther down the river, and crossed, without any loss, at Güstebiese.
His baggage train he left, carefully guarded, on the western bank of
the river.

Pressing straight forward, Wednesday morning, to the east, he encamped
that night about ten miles from Güstebiese. He had so successfully
veiled his movements that the Russians knew not where he was. On
Thursday morning, August 24, at an early hour, he resumed his march,
and crossed the Mützel River at various points. His confidence of
victory was so great that he destroyed all the bridges behind him to
prevent the retreat of the Russians.

General Fermor was now informed, through his roving Cossacks, of the
position of Frederick. Immediately he raised the siege of Cüstrin,
hurried off his baggage train to Klein Kamin, on the road to Landsberg,
and retired with his army to a very strong position near the village of
Zorndorf. Here there was a wild, bleak, undulating plain, interspersed
with sluggish streams, and forests, and impassable bogs. General
Fermor massed the Russian troops in a very irregular hollow square,
with his staff baggage in the centre, and awaited an attack. This huge
quadrilateral of living lines, four men deep, with bristling bayonets,
prancing horses, and iron-lipped cannon, was about two miles long by
one mile broad.

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 morning of a hot August day dawned sultry, the wind breathing
gently from the south. Bands of Cossacks hovered around upon the wings
of the Prussian army, occasionally riding up to the infantry ranks
and discharging their pistols at them. The Prussians were forbidden
to make any reply. “The infantry pours along like a plowman drawing
his furrow, heedless of the circling crows.” The Cossacks set fire to
Zorndorf. In a few hours it was in ashes, while clouds of suffocating
smoke were swept through the Russian lines.

The attack was made about eight o’clock, with the whole concentrated
force of the Prussians, upon the southwest wing of the quadrilateral.
The carnage produced by the Prussian batteries, as their balls swept
crosswise through the massed Russians, was terrible. One cannon-shot
struck down forty-two men. For a moment the Prussians were thrown into
confusion by the destructive fire returned by the foe, and seemed
discomfited. The Russians plunged wildly forward, with loud huzzas. In
the eagerness of their onset their lines were broken.


General Seidlitz, with five thousand horsemen, immediately dashed in
among them. Almost in an instant the shouts of victory sank away in
groans of death. It was an awful scene--a maelstrom of chaotic tumult,
shrieks, blood, and death. The stolid Russians refused to fly. The
Prussians sabred them and trampled them beneath their horses’ feet
until their arms were weary. This terrible massacre lasted until one
o’clock. The whole of the western portion of the quadrilateral was
destroyed. The Russian soldiers at a little distance from the scene of
carnage, reckless and under poor discipline, broke open the sutlers’
brandy-casks, and were soon beastly drunk. The officers, endeavoring
to restrain them, dashed in many of the casks. The soldiers, throwing
themselves upon the ground, lapped the fiery liquid from the puddles.
They killed many of their own officers, and became almost unresisting
victims of the sabres and bayonets of their assailants. The Prussians,
exasperated by the awful acts of cruelty which had been perpetrated by
the Russians, showed no mercy. In the midst of the butchery, the word
ran along their lines, “No quarter.”

The eastern half of the immense quadrangle endeavored to reform itself,
so as to present a new front to the foe. But, before this could be
done, Frederick hurled his right wing, his centre, and all that
remained disposable of his left wing upon it. His cavalry plunged into
the disordered mass. His batteries, with almost unprecedented rapidity
of fire, tore the tumultuous and panic-stricken ranks to shreds; and
his line of infantry, like a supernatural wall of bristling steel,
unwaveringly advanced, pouring in upon the foe the most deadly volleys.

At one moment the Russian horse dashed against this line and staggered
it. Frederick immediately rushed into the vortex to rally the broken
battalions. At the same instant the magnificent squadrons of Seidlitz,
five thousand strong, flushed with victory, swept like the storm-wind
upon the Russian dragoons. They were whirled back like autumn leaves
before the gale. About four o’clock the firing ceased. The ammunition
on both sides was nearly expended. For some time the Prussians had been
using the cartridge-boxes of the dead Russians.

And now ensued a conflict such as has seldom been witnessed in modern
times. The Russian soldiers would not run. Indeed, the bridges over the
Mützel being broken down, they could only plunge into the river and be
drowned. Frenzied with brandy, they fought like tigers. “Then began
a tug of deadly massacring and wrestling, man to man, with bayonets,
with butts of muskets, with hands, even with teeth, such as was never
seen before. The shore of Mützel is thick with men and horses, who have
tried to cross, and lie swallowed in the ooze.”[119]

[Illustration: BATTLE OF ZORNDORF, AUGUST 25, 1758.

_a a. Prussian Army about to cross the Mützel. b b b. Russian Army
ranked for Battle. c. Russian Baggage. d d. Prussian Infantry. e e.
Prussian Cavalry. f. Prussian Baggage._]

This lasted till nightfall. As darkness veiled the awful scene the
exhausted soldiers dropped upon the ground, and, regardless of the dead
and of the groans of the wounded, borne heavily upon the night air,
slept almost side by side. It is appalling to reflect upon what a fiend
to humanity man has been, as revealed in the history of the nations.
All the woes of earth combined are as nothing compared with the misery
which man has inflicted upon his brother.

During the night bands of barbarian, half-drunken Cossacks ranged the
field, plundering the wounded and the dead, friends and foes alike, and
thrusting their bayonets through those who presented any remonstrance,
or who might, by any possibility, call them to account. Four hundred
of these wretches the equally merciless Prussians drove into a barn,
fastened them in, set fire to the building, and burned them all to
ashes. During the carnage of this bloody day the Russians lost, in
killed, wounded, and missing, 21,539. The Prussians lost 11,390, more
than one third of their number.

General Fermor availed himself of the darkness in withdrawing his
troops, now numbering but 28,000, a mile west from the battle-field
to a dense forest of firs, called Drewitz Heath. Frederick arranged
his little remaining band of but eighteen thousand men in two lines,
facing the foe. The next morning, Saturday, the 26th, General Fermor
sent a request for a truce of three days to bury the dead. The reply
was, “Your proposal is entirely inadmissible. The victor will bury
the slain.” There was no serious resumption of the conflict on that
day. Both parties were alike exhausted, and had alike expended nearly
all their ammunition. Frederick’s hussars had, however, found out the
position of the Russian baggage train, and had effectually plundered a
large portion of it.

Saturday night was very dark. A thick mist mantled the landscape. About
midnight, the Russians, feigning an artillery attack upon a portion of
the Prussian lines, commenced a retreat. Groping their way through the
woods south of Zorndorf, they reached the great road to Landsberg, and
retreated so rapidly that Frederick could annoy them but little.

Several well-authenticated anecdotes are given respecting the conduct
of Frederick on this occasion, which illustrate the various phases in
the character of this extraordinary man. The evening before the battle
of Zorndorf, the king, having completed his arrangements for a conflict
against vastly unequal numbers, upon whose issue were dependent
probably both his throne and his life, sent for a member of his staff
of some literary pretensions, and spent some time in criticising and
amending one of the poems of Rousseau. Was this an affected display of
calmness, the result of vanity? Was it an adroit measure to impress
the officers with a conviction of his own sense of security? Was it an
effort to throw off the terrible pressure which was upon his mind, as
the noble Abraham Lincoln often found it to be a moral necessity to
indulge in a jest even amidst scenes of the greatest anguish? Whatever
may have been the motive, the fact is worthy of record.

Immediately after the battle Sir Andrew Mitchell called upon the king
to congratulate him upon his great victory. General Seidlitz, who had
led the two decisive cavalry charges, was in the royal tent. The king,
in reply to the congratulations of the English minister, pointed to
General Seidlitz and said,

“Had it not been for him, things would have had a bad look by this

The town of Cüstrin, it will be remembered, was utterly consumed,
being set on fire by the shells of the Russians. The commandant of
the citadel was censured for not having prevented the calamity. He
immediately sought an interview with the king, endeavoring to apologize
for his conduct. The king, perhaps justly, perhaps very unjustly,
interrupted him, saying,

“I find no fault with you; the blame is entirely my own in having
appointed you to such a post.”

The utter ruin of the town of Cüstrin, and the misery of its houseless
and starving population, seemed to affect the king deeply. To the
inhabitants, who clustered around him, he said, kindly,

“My children, I could not come to you sooner, or this calamity should
not have happened. Have a little patience, and I will cause every thing
to be rebuilt.”

As has often been mentioned, the carnage of the battle-field
constitutes by no means the greater part of the miseries of war. One of
the sufferers from the conflagration of the city of Cüstrin gives the
following graphic account of the scene. It was the 15th of August, 1758:

“The enemy threw such a multitude of bombs and red-hot balls into the
city that by nine o’clock in the morning it burned, with great fury,
in three different places. The fire could not be extinguished, as the
houses were closely built, and the streets narrow. The air appeared
like a shower of fiery rain and hail. The surprised inhabitants had not
time to think of any thing but of saving their lives by getting into
the open fields.

“I, as well as many others, had hardly time to put on my clothes. As
I was leading my wife, with a young child in her arms, and my other
children and servants before me--who were almost naked, having, ever
since the first fright, run about as they got out of bed--the bombs
and red-hot balls fell round about us. The bombs, in their bursting,
dashed the houses to pieces, and every thing that was in their way.
Every body that could got out of the town as fast as possible. The
crowd of naked and in the highest degree wretched people was vastly

“Among the women were many of distinction, who had neither shoes nor
stockings, nor hardly any thing else on, thinking only of saving their
lives. When I had seen my family in the open field, I endeavored to
return and save something, if possible, but in vain. I could not force
my way through the multitude of people thronging out at the gate, some
few with horses and carriages, and others with the sick and bedridden
on their backs. The bombs and red-hot balls fell so thick that all
thought themselves happy if they could but escape with their lives.

“Many thousands are made miserable, inhabitants as well as strangers.
Many from the open country and defenseless towns in Prussia, Pomerania,
and the New Marche had fled hither, with their most valuable
effects, in hopes of security when the Russians entered the Prussian
territories; so that a great many who, a little while ago, were
possessed of considerable fortunes, are now reduced to beggary. On the
roads nothing was to be seen but misery, and nothing to be heard but
such cries and lamentations as were enough to move even the stones. No
one knew where to get a morsel of bread, nor what to do for farther
subsistence. The fire was so furious that the cannon in the store and
artillery houses were all melted. The loaded bombs and cartridges
for cannon and muskets, with a large quantity of gunpowder, went off
at once with a most horrible explosion. The fury of the enemy fell
almost entirely upon the inhabitants. They did not begin to batter the
fortifications, except with a few shot, till the 17th, after the rest
was all destroyed.”[120]



  Frederick’s Attempt to Rescue his Brother.--Captured Dispatches.--
    Battle of Hochkirch.--Defeat and Retreat of Frederick.--Death of
    Wilhelmina.--Letter to Voltaire.--Rejoicings at Vienna.--The Siege
    of Neisse.--The Siege of Dresden.--Conflagrations and Terror.--
    The Siege raised by Frederick.--Results of the Third Campaign.--
    Unavailing Efforts for Peace.--Despair of Frederick.

The battle of Zorndorf was the most bloody of the Seven Years’ War.
It is often considered the most furious battle which was ever fought.
While Frederick was engaged in this arduous campaign in the extreme
north, driving the Russians from the Prussian territory, an Austrian
army, ninety thousand strong, under General Daun, was endeavoring to
reconquer Saxony. The Prussian king had left his brother Henry in
defense of the province, with a small force garrisoned in the city of

On the 2d of September, 1758, Frederick, advancing from the smouldering
ruins of Cüstrin, pushed forward his columns by forced marches for the
rescue of his brother, who was nearly surrounded by vastly outnumbering
foes. While upon this rapid march an Austrian courier was captured,
with the following dispatch, which he was bearing from General Daun to
General Fermor, whose army of Russians had just been so terribly beaten
by Frederick upon the field of Zorndorf, but of which fact the Austrian
general had not yet been apprised:

  “Your excellency does not know that wily enemy, the King of
  Prussia, as well as I do. By no means get into a battle with him.
  Cautiously manœuvre about. Detain him there till I have got my
  stroke in Saxony done. Don’t try fighting him.


Frederick, with grim humor characteristic of him, sent back the courier
with the following response, as if from the Russian general, signed
Fermor, but in the king’s handwriting:

  “Your excellency was right to warn me against a cunning enemy
  whom you know better than I. Here have I tried fighting him, and
  have got beaten. Your unfortunate



On the 12th of September Frederick dined with his brother Henry in
Dresden. General Daun, as soon as he heard of the approach of the foe
whom he so much dreaded, rapidly retreated eastward to Stolpen, on the
road to Bautzen. Here he intrenched himself in one of the strongest
posts in Germany. As Frederick, at Dresden, received his supplies from
Bautzen, he was much embarrassed in having his line of communication
thus cut. Finding all his efforts vain to provoke Daun to a battle,
after four weeks of such endeavors, he loaded his baggage trains with
supplies for nine days, and by a rapid march, brushing away in the
movement Daun’s right flank, and advancing through Bautzen, established
himself among the hills of Hochkirch. He had thus taken position thirty
miles east of General Daun’s encampment at Stolpen, cutting off his
line of supply.

This movement of Frederick took place on the 1st of October, 1758. On
the 5th, General Daun, who stood in great dread of the military ability
of his foe, after holding a council of war, made a stealthy march, in a
dark and rainy night, a little to the south of Frederick’s encampment,
and took a strong position about a mile east of him, at Kittlitz, near
Löbau. With the utmost diligence he reared intrenchments and palisades
to guard himself from attack by a foe whom he outnumbered more than two
to one. He thus again blocked Frederick’s direct communication with

General Daun’s army, numbering ninety thousand men, occupied very
strong positions in a line extending north and south about five
miles. On the 10th, Frederick, having obtained the needful supplies,
resolutely, rashly--but, situated as he was, what the world deemed
rashness was prudence--advanced with but twenty-eight thousand men
to assail this foe of ninety thousand behind his intrenchments. About
five miles to the north, in the rear of the heights of Weissenberg,
Frederick had a reserve of ten or twelve thousand men under General

As the Prussian king brought up his little army to within a mile of the
lines of General Daun, and ordered the troops to take position there,
his boldest generals were appalled. It seemed to be courting sure and
utter destruction. The king’s favorite adjutant general, Marwitz,
ventured to remonstrate against so fearful a risk. He was immediately
ordered under arrest. The line was formed while the Austrian cannon
were playing incessantly upon it. General Retzow, who for some cause
had failed to seize the heights of Stromberg, was also placed under
arrest. Thus the king taught all that he would be obeyed implicitly and
without questioning.

General Keith, as he looked upon the long and compact lines of General
Daun, and saw how apparently easy it would be for him, from his
commanding position, to annihilate the Prussian army, said to the king,

“If the Austrians do not attack us here they deserve to be hanged.”

The king coolly replied, “We must hope that they are more afraid of us
than even of the gallows.”

On Friday, the 13th of October, the two hostile armies, separated
merely by a brook and a ravine, were within half a mile of each other.
Daun had manifested great timidity in not venturing from behind his
intrenchments to attack the little band of Prussians. Frederick,
emboldened by this cowardice on the part of his opponent, made his
arrangements to assail the Austrians in a secret attack before the dawn
of the morning of Saturday, the 14th. In the mean time, Daun, probably
a little ashamed of being held at bay by so small a force, formed his
plan to surround and destroy the whole Prussian army. It is generally
conceded by military critics that the plan was admirably conceived,
and would have been triumphantly executed but for the singular ability
displayed by Frederick.

General Daun directed the energies of his ninety thousand troops upon
the right wing of the Prussians, which could not number more than
twenty thousand men. As soon as it was dark on Friday night, the 13th,
he sent thirty thousand men, under guides familiar with every rod
of the country, by a circuitous route, south of the Prussian lines,
through forest roads, to take position on the west of the Prussian
right wing, just in its rear. General Daun himself accompanied this
band of picked men.

At three o’clock of a dark and misty morning, the Austrians from the
west, the south, and the east rushed upon the sleeping Prussians. At
the same time, an attack was made upon the left wing of the Prussians,
which was a feint to bewilder them, and to prevent re-enforcements
from being sent to the right wing. For five hours there was a scene
of tumult, confusion, and horror which can neither be described nor
imagined. The morning was dark, the fog dense, and the Prussians,
though ever on the alert, were taken by surprise. No one in the army
of Frederick thought either of running or of surrendering. It was a
hand-to-hand fight, with bayonets, and sabres, and butts of muskets.
Marshal Keith, after receiving two bullet-wounds which he did not
regard, was shot through the heart.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF HOCHKIRCH, OCTOBER 14, 1758.

  _a a a. First Position of the Austrian Army. b b. Extreme Left,
      under Loudon. c c. Austrian Reserve, under Baden-Durlach.
      d d d. Prussian Army. e e. The two main Prussian Batteries.
      f. Ziethen’s Cavalry. g g. Prussian Vanguard, under Retzow.
      h h h. Advance of Austrian Army. i. Right Wing, under D’Ahremberg.
      k k k. Position taken by the Prussians after the battle._]

As the morning dawned it was manifest to Frederick that the battle was
lost, and that there was no salvation for the remnant of his troops
but in a precipitate retreat. He had lost a hundred pieces of cannon,
nearly all of his tents and camp furniture, and over eight thousand of
his brave troops were either dead or captive. Though the Austrians had
lost about the same number of men, they had still over eighty thousand

With wonderful skill, Frederick conducted his retreat about four miles
to the northwest. Here he took a strong position at Doberschütz, and
again bade defiance to the Austrians. Slowly, proudly, and in perfect
order he retired, as if merely shifting his ground. His cavalry was
drawn up as on parade, protecting his baggage-wagons as they defiled
through the pass of Drehsa. The Austrians gazed quietly upon the
movement, not venturing to renew the attack by daylight upon such
desperate men.

Though, as we may see from Frederick’s private correspondence, he
suffered terribly in these hours of adversity and peril, he assumed
in public a tranquil and even a jocose air. Meeting De Catt upon the
evening of that dreadful day, he approached him, smiling, and with
theatric voice and gesture declaimed a passage from Racine, the purport
of which was, “Well, here you see me not a conqueror, but vanquished.”

While on the retreat, one of his aids approached him, and the king,
with a smile, said, “Daun has played me a slippery trick to-day.”

“I have seen it,” was the reply; “but it is only a scratch, which your
majesty will soon heal again.”

“Do you think so?” inquired the king.

“Not only I,” the aid replied, “but the whole army, firmly believe it
of your majesty.”

“You are quite right,” responded the king. “We will manage Daun. What I
lament is the number of brave men who have died this morning.”

The next day he remarked, “Daun has let us out of checkmate. The game
is not lost yet. We will rest ourselves here for a few days, then we
will go to Silesia and deliver Neisse. But where are all your guns?” he
said, playfully, to an artilleryman, who stood, vacant, on parade.

“Your majesty,” replied the gunner, “the devil stole them all last

“Ah!” said the king, gayly, “we must have them back from him again.”

The fourth day after this dreadful defeat the king received the tidings
of the death of Wilhelmina. It was apparently the heaviest blow he had
ever encountered. The anguish which her death caused him he did not
attempt to conceal. In a business letter to Prince Henry we find this
burst of feeling:

“Great God! my sister of Baireuth, my noble Wilhelmina, dead; died in
the very hours while we were fighting here.”

The king, in a letter to Voltaire upon this occasion, writes:

  “It will have been easy for you to conceive my grief when you
  reflect upon the loss I have had. There are some misfortunes
  which are reparable by constancy and courage, but there are
  others against which all the firmness with which one can arm
  one’s self, and all the reasonings of philosophers, are only vain
  and useless attempts at consolation.[121] Of the latter kind is
  the one with which my unhappy fate overwhelms me, at a moment
  the most embarrassing and the most anxious of my whole life. I
  have not been so sick as you have heard. My only complaints are
  colics, sometimes hemorrhoidal, and sometimes nephritic.

  “If it had depended upon me, I would willingly have devoted
  myself to that death which those maladies sooner or later bring
  upon one, in order to save and prolong the life of her whose
  eyes are now closed. I beseech you never to forget her. Collect
  all your powers to raise a monument to her honor. You need only
  do her justice. Without any way abandoning the truth, she will
  afford you an ample and beautiful subject. I wish you more repose
  and happiness than falls to my lot.


The court at Vienna received with transports of joy the tidings of the
victory of Hochkirch. The pope was greatly elated. He regarded the
battle as one between the Catholic and Protestant powers. The holy
father, Clement XIII., sent a letter of congratulation to Marshal
Daun, together with a sword and hat, both blessed by his holiness.
The occurrence excited the derision of Frederick, who was afterward
accustomed to designate his opponent as “the blessed general with the
papal hat.” Frederick remained at Doberschütz ten days. During this
time his brother Henry joined him from Dresden with six thousand foot
and horse. This raised his force to a little above thirty thousand
men. General Finck was left in command of the few Prussian troops who
remained for the defense of the capital of Saxony.

The Austrian general, flushed with victory, at the head of eighty
thousand troops, encamped in strong positions a few miles east of
Frederick, on the road to Neisse, in Silesia. Narrowly he watched the
movements of his Prussian majesty, but he did not venture to molest
him. Neisse was at that time closely besieged by the Austrians. It
would inevitably soon fall into their hands unless Frederick could
march to its succor. The great strategic object of the Austrian
commander was so to block up the road as to prevent the advance of the
Prussian troops. Frederick, despising the inactivity of his cautious
foe, said to his brother,

“Daun has thrown up his cards, so the game is not yet lost. Let us
repose ourselves for some days, and then go to the assistance of

In the mean while, Marshal Daun was so confident that Frederick, with
but thirty thousand men, could not drive him from his intrenchments,
guarded by eighty thousand veteran troops, that he wrote to General
Harsch, who was conducting the siege of Neisse,

“Go on quietly with your siege. I have the king within my grasp. He is
cut off from Silesia except by attacking me. If he does that, I hope to
give you a good account of what happens.”[124]

On Tuesday evening, October 24, 1758, Frederick, in a rapid and secret
march, protected by darkness, pushed his whole army around the right
wing of the Austrian encampment, and took a very strong position at
Reichenbach, in the rear of Marshal Daun, and on the road to Neisse.
The Austrian general, astonished at this bold and successful manœuvre,
now found that the march of Frederick to Neisse could by no possibility
be prevented except by attacking him on his own chosen ground. This
he did not dare to do. He therefore resolved to make a rush with his
whole army to the west for the capture of Dresden. Frederick, in the
mean time, by forced marches, was pressing forward to the east for the
relief of Neisse. Thus the two armies were flying from each other in
opposite directions.

When the Austrian general conducting the siege at Neisse heard of the
rapid approach of Frederick, he, in consternation, blew up many of
his works, abandoned several guns, and, on the 6th of November, fled
with his army over the hills to the south, to take shelter in Austria.
Frederick triumphantly entered Neisse, and, having driven the Austrians
from every outpost, commenced, with a recruited army, his return march
to Dresden. The more slow-footed Daun did not reach Dresden till the
8th of the month. The city, outside of the walls, was crowded with the
dwellings of the more respectable citizens, and the beautiful mansions
of the wealthy. The King of Poland was Elector of Saxony, and was in
alliance with Austria. For the Austrian commander to pursue any measure
which should lead to the destruction, in whole or in part, of this
beautiful capital, would inflict a terrible blow upon the subjects of
the ally of Austria.

As General Daun approached the city, the Prussian general who had been
left in command of the small garrison there sent word to him that,
should he menace Dresden with his forces, the Prussian commander would
be under the necessity of setting fire to the suburbs, as a measure of
self-defense. Daun, expostulating vehemently against so cruel an act,
regardless of the menace, approached the city on the 9th of November,
and at midnight commenced rearing his batteries for the bombardment.
In the mean time the Prussian general had filled many of the largest
houses with combustibles. As the clock struck three in the morning the
torch was applied. The unhappy inhabitants had but three hours’ notice
that their houses were to be surrendered to destruction. Instantly the
flames burst forth with terrific fury in all directions. Sir Andrew
Mitchel, who witnessed the conflagration, writes:

“The whole suburb seemed on a blaze. Nay, you would have said the whole
town was environed in flames. I will not describe to your lordship
the horror, the terror, the confusion of this night; the wretched
inhabitants running with their furniture toward the great garden. All
Dresden, in appearance, girt with flames, ruin, and smoke.”

The army of General Daun, with its re-enforcements, amounted to one
hundred thousand men. The Prussian garrison in the city numbered but
ten thousand. The Prussian officer then in command, General Schmettau,
emboldened by the approach of Frederick, repelled all proposals for

“I will defend myself,” he said, “by the known rules of war and honor
to the last possible moment.”

On the 15th of November Frederick arrived at Lauban, within a hundred
miles of Dresden. General Daun immediately raised the siege and retired
into Bohemia. Frederick marched triumphantly into the city. Thus, as
the extraordinary result of the defeat at Hochkirch, Frederick, by
the exhibition of military ability which astonished Europe, regained
Neisse, retained Dresden, and swept both Silesia and Saxony entirely
free of his foes. Frederick remained in Dresden about a month. He then
retired to Breslau, in Silesia, for winter quarters. The winter was
a very sad one to him. Private griefs and public calamities weighed
heavily upon his heart.[125] Though during the year he had destroyed
a hundred thousand of his enemies, he had lost thirty thousand of his
own brave little band. It was almost impossible, by any energies of
conscription, to replace this waste of war. His treasury was exhausted.
Though he wrenched from the wretched Saxons every dollar which military
rapacity and violence could extort from them, still they were so
impoverished by the long and desolating struggle that but little money
could be found in the almost empty purses of a beggared people. Another
campaign was soon to open, in which the allies, with almost unlimited
resources of men and treasure, would again come crowding upon him in
all directions in overpowering numbers.

In a letter to his friend Lord Marischal, dated Dresden, November
23, 1758, just after the retreat of Daun into Bohemia from Saxony,
Frederick writes sadly,

“There is nothing left for us, my dear lord, but to mingle and blend
our weeping for the losses we have had. If my head were a fountain of
tears, it would not suffice for the grief I feel.

“Our campaign is over. And there is nothing come of it on the one
side or the other but the loss of a great many worthy people, the
misery of a great many poor soldiers crippled forever, the ruin of
some provinces, and the ravage, pillage, and conflagration of some
flourishing towns. These are exploits which make humanity suffer; sad
fruits of the wickedness and ambition of certain people in power, who
sacrifice every thing to their unbridled passions. I wish you, _mon
cher milord_, nothing that has the least resemblance to my destiny, and
every thing that is wanting to it.”

Thus ended in clouds, darkness, and woe the third campaign of the Seven
Years’ War. The winter was employed by both parties in preparing for
a renewal of the struggle. As the spring opened the allies had in the
field such a military array as Europe had never seen before. Three
hundred thousand men extended in a cordon of posts from the Giant
Mountains, near the borders of Silesia, to the ocean. In the north,
also, Russia had accumulated her vast armies for vigorous co-operation
with the southern troops. All the leading Continental powers--France,
Austria, Russia, Sweden, and the states of the German Empire--were
combined against Prussia. England alone was the inefficient ally
of Frederick. Small sums of money were loaned him from the British
cabinet; and the court of St. James, hostile in heart to the Prussian
king, co-operated with him only so far as was deemed essential for the
promotion of British interests.

Perhaps never before was a monarch surrounded by difficulties so great.
The energy and sagacity Frederick displayed have never been surpassed,
if ever equaled.

It was a dreary winter to Frederick in Breslau. Sad, silent, and
often despairing, he was ever inflexibly resolved to struggle till
the last possible moment, and, if need be, to bury himself beneath
the ruins of his kingdom. All his tireless energies he devoted to the
Herculean work before him. No longer did he affect gayety or seek
recreations. Secluded, solitary, sombre, he took counsel of no one. In
the possession of absolute power, he issued his commands as with the
authority of a god.

Frederick made several unavailing efforts during the winter to secure
peace. He was weary of a war which threatened his utter destruction.
The French were also weary of a struggle in which they encountered
but losses and disgraces. England had but little to hope for from the
conflict, and would gladly see the exhaustive struggle brought to a

“Many men in all nations long for peace. But there are three women at
the top of the world who do not. Their wrath, various in quality, is
great in quantity, and disasters do the reverse of appeasing it.”[126]

Of these three women who then held the destinies of Europe in their
hands, one only, Maria Theresa, in the estimation of the public, had
good cause for war. Frederick was undeniably a highway robber, seeking
to plunder her. She was heroically, nobly struggling in self-defense.
The guilty Duchess of Pompadour, who, having the entire control of the
infamous king, Louis XV., was virtually the Empress of France, stung
by an insult from Frederick, did not hesitate to deluge Europe in
blood, that she might take the vengeance of a “woman scorned” upon her
foe. Catharine II., Empress of Russia, who in moral pollution rivaled
the most profligate of kings--whom Carlyle satirizes as “a kind of
she Louis XIV.”--also stung by one of Frederick’s witty and bitter
epigrams, was mainly impelled by personal pique to push forth her
armies into the bloody field.

The impartial student of history must admit that, were the government
of the world taken from the hands of men, and placed in the hands of
women, still the anticipated millennium of righteousness and peace
might be far distant.

In the following letter, which Frederick wrote at this time to his
friend D’Argens, he unbosoms his sorrows with unusual frankness. The
letter was dated Breslau, March 1, 1759:

“I have passed my winter like a Carthusian monk. I dine alone. I spend
my life in reading and writing, and I do not sup. When one is sad, it
becomes, at last, too burdensome to hide one’s grief continually. It
is better to give way to it than to carry one’s gloom into society.
Nothing solaces me but the vigorous application required in steady and
continuous labor. This distraction does force one to put away painful
ideas while it lasts. But alas! no sooner is the work done than these
fatal companions present themselves again, as if livelier than ever.
Maupertuis was right; the sum of evil does certainly surpass that of
good. But to me it is all one. I have almost nothing more to lose; and
my few remaining days--what matters it much of what complexion they

During this dismal winter of incessant and almost despairing labor
the indefatigable king wrote several striking treatises on military
affairs. It is manifest that serious thoughts at times occupied his
mind. He doubtless reflected that if there were a God who took any
cognizance of human affairs, there must be somewhere responsibility to
Him for the woes with which these wars were desolating humanity. To the
surprise of De Catt, the king presented him one evening with a sermon
upon “The Last Judgment,” from his own pen. He also put upon paper his
thoughts “On the new kind of tactics necessary with the Austrians and
their allies.” He seems himself to have been surprised that he had been
able so long to resist such overpowering numbers. In allusion to the
allies he writes:

“To whose continual sluggishness and strange want of concert--to whose
incoherency of movements, languor of execution, and other enormous
faults, we have owed, with some excuse for our own faults, our escape
from destruction hitherto.”[127]



  Desperate Exertions of Frederick.--Aid from England.--Limited
    Resources.--Opening of the Campaign.--Disgraceful Conduct of
    Voltaire.--Letter to Voltaire.--An Act of Desperation.--Letter to
    Count Finckenstein.--Frankfort taken by the Prussians.--Terrible
    Battle of Kunersdorf.--Anguish of Frederick.--The Disastrous
    Retreat.--Melancholy Dispatch.--Contemplating Suicide.--Collecting
    the Wrecks of the Army.--Consternation in Berlin.--Letters to
    D’Argens.--Wonderful Strategical Skill.--Literary Efforts of the

By the most extraordinary exertions, which must have almost depopulated
his realms of all the young men and those of middle age, Frederick
succeeded in so filling up his depleted ranks as to have in the opening
spring of 1759 two hundred thousand men in field and garrison. Indeed,
regardless of all the laws of nations, he often compelled the soldiers
and other men of conquered provinces to enlist in his armies. How he,
in his poverty, obtained the pecuniary resources requisite to the
carrying on of such a war, is to the present day a matter of amazement.

England furnished him with a subsidy of about four million dollars. He
immediately melted this coin, gold and silver, and adulterated it with
about half copper, thus converting his four millions into nominally
eight millions. But a few weeks of such operations as he was engaged in
would swallow up all this. The merciless conscription, grasping nearly
every able-bodied man, destroyed nearly all the arts of industry. The
Prussian realms, thus impoverished by war’s ravages and taxation, could
furnish the king with very meagre supplies. When the king invaded any
portion of the territory of the allies, he wrenched from the beggared
people every piece of money which violence or terror could extort.
Wealthy merchants were thrown into prison, and fed upon bread and water
until they yielded. The most terrible severities were practiced to
extort contributions from towns which had been stripped and stripped
again. Still violence could wrench but little from the skinny hand of
beggary. These provinces, swept by war’s surges year after year, were
in the most deplorable state of destitution and misery.

From the schedule which Frederick has given of his resources, it seems
impossible that he could have raised more than about fifteen million
dollars annually, even counting his adulterated coin at the full value.
How, with this sum, he could have successfully confronted all combined
Europe, is a mystery which has never yet been solved. It was the great
object of both parties in this terrible conflict to destroy every thing
in the enemy’s country which could by any possibility add to military
power. All the claims of humanity were ignored. The starvation of
hundreds of thousands of peasants--men, women, and children--was a
matter not to be taken into consideration. The French minister, in
Paris, wrote to Marshal De Contades on the 5th of October, 1758,

“You must make a desert of Westphalia. With regard to the countries of
Lippe and Padeborn, as these are very fertile provinces, you must take
great care to destroy every thing in them without exception.”

Early in the spring of 1759 the Prussian king had gathered the main
body of his troops in fortresses and strong positions in the vicinity
of Landshut, on the southwestern frontier of Silesia. The enemy,
under General Daun, faced him, in longer and denser lines, equally
well intrenched. At the same time, powerful bands of the allies were
in various parts of Europe, menacing the domains of Frederick at
every vulnerable point. The allies dreaded the prowess of their foe.
Frederick was compelled to caution by the exhaustless numbers of his
opponents. Thus for many weeks neither party entered upon any decisive
action. There was, however, an almost incessant series of fierce and
bloody skirmishes.

The ability which Frederick displayed in striking his enemies where
they would most keenly feel the infliction, and in warding off the
blows they attempted in return, excited then the surprise of Europe,
and has continued to elicit the astonishment of posterity. It would but
weary the reader to attempt a description of these conflicts at the
outposts, terrible as they often were.

During this time, in May, the king wrote a very bitter and satirical
ode against Louis XV.--“the plaything of the Pompadour,” “polluted
with his amours,” “and disgracefully surrendering the government of
his realms to chance.” The ode he sent to Voltaire. The unprincipled
poet, apprehending that the ode might come to light, and that he might
be implicated, treacherously sent it to the prime minister, the Duke
De Choiseul, to be shown to the king. At the same time, he wrote to
Frederick that he had burned the ode. In the account which Voltaire
himself gives of this disgraceful transaction, he writes:

“The packet had been opened. The king would think I was guilty of high
treason, and I should be in disgrace with Madame De Pompadour. I was
obliged, in order to prevent my ruin, to make known to the court the
character and conduct of their enemy.

“I knew that the Duke De Choiseul would content himself with persuading
the King of France that the King of Prussia was an irreconcilable
enemy, whom it was therefore necessary, if possible, to annihilate.

“I wrote to Frederick that his ode was beautiful, but that he had
better not make it public, lest it should close all the avenues to a
reconciliation with the King of France, incense him irremediably, and
thus force him to strain every nerve in vengeance.

“I added that my niece had burned his ode from fear that it should
be imputed to me. He believed me and thanked me; not, however,
without some reproaches for having burned the best verses he had ever

The latter part of June, an army of a hundred thousand Russians,
having crossed the Vistula, was concentrated, under General Soltikof,
at Posen, on the River Warta, in Poland. They were marching from the
northeast to attack the Prussian forces near Landshut in their rear.
General Daun, with a still larger force of Austrians, was confronting
Frederick on the southwest. The plan of the allies was to crush their
foe between these two armies. Frederick had lost the ablest of his
generals. The young men who were filling their places were untried.

The Russians, triumphantly advancing, entered Silesia, and reached
Crossen, on the Oder, within a hundred miles of Frederick’s encampment.

Some trifling unavailing efforts had been made for peace. In reply to a
letter from Voltaire, alluding to this subject, Frederick wrote, under
date of 2d July, 1759:

“Asking _me_ for peace is indeed a bitter joke. It is to Louis XV. you
must address yourself, or to his Amboise in petticoats.[129] But these
people have their heads filled with ambitious projects. They wish to be
the sovereign arbiters of sovereigns. That is what persons of my way
of thinking will by no means put up with. I like peace as much as you
could wish, but I want it good, solid, and honorable. Socrates or Plato
would have thought as I do on this subject had they found themselves in
the accursed position which is mine in the world.

“Think you there is any pleasure in living this dog’s life, in
seeing and causing the butchery of people you know nothing of, in
losing daily those you do know and love, in seeing perpetually your
reputation exposed to the caprices of chance, passing year after year
in disquietudes and apprehensions, in risking without end your life and
your fortune?

“I know right well the value of tranquillity, the sweets of society,
the charms of life. I love to be happy as much as any one whatever.
But, much as I desire these blessings, I will not purchase them by
baseness and infamies. Philosophy enjoins us to do our duty faithfully,
to serve our country at the price of our blood, of our repose, and of
every sacrifice which can be required of us.”[130]

Soon after this Frederick dispatched a young and impetuous 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.

“The risk is too great,” said he; “Soltikof has seventy thousand men,
and no end of artillery. We have but twenty-six thousand, and know not
that we can bring a single gun to where Soltikof is.”

Still the order was given for the assault. The Prussians plunged
into the dense ranks of their foes, regardless of being outnumbered
nearly three to one. A terrible battle was fought. General Wedell was
overpowered and beaten. He retreated across the Oder, having lost six
thousand men in killed, wounded, and prisoners. The victorious Russians
did not pursue him. They marched down the river to Frankfort, where
they effected a junction with other troops, giving them an effective
force of ninety-six thousand fighting men.

Frederick received the disastrous news on the 24th of July, the
day after the calamity. In the exercise of an unusual spirit of
forbearance, he sent word to the defeated general, “It is not your
fault; I dreaded something of the kind.” The king’s brother Henry was
in command of a few thousand men near Bautzen, in Saxony. Frederick
wrote to him to forward his troops immediately, so as to form a union
with the retreating army under Wedell. Henry himself was to repair to
the vicinity of Landshut, and take command of the army which was to be
left in that vicinity confronting General Daun. The king took about
thirty thousand picked troops, and hurried to the north to gather up
by the way the troops of Henry and of Wedell, and with that combined
force of forty-eight thousand men make a new attack upon the ninety-six
thousand Russians.[131]

It was an act of desperation. The king fully appreciated its peril. But
the time had long since passed when he could rely upon the ordinary
measures of prudence. In despair was his only hope.

On the 29th of July the king joined his brother Henry at Sagan, on the
Bober, about sixty miles above or south of Frankfort. The marches
which had been effected by the king and his brother were the most
rapid which had _then_ ever been heard of. Greatly perplexed by the
inexplicable movements of the Russians, the king pressed on till he
effected a junction with the remnant of Wedell’s defeated army, near
Müllrose, within twelve miles of Frankfort. He reached this place on
the 3d of August. To Count Finckenstein he wrote:

  “I am just arrived here after cruel and frightful marchings.
  There is nothing desperate in all that. I believe the noise and
  disquietude this hurly-burly has caused will be the worst of
  it. Show this letter to every body, that it may be known that
  the state is not undefended. I have made about one thousand
  prisoners from Haddick.[132] All his meal-wagons have been taken.
  Finck,[133] I believe, will keep an eye on him. This is all I can
  say. To-morrow I march to within two leagues of Frankfort. Katte
  must instantly send me two hundred tons of meal and one hundred
  bakers. I am very tired. For six nights I have not closed an eye.


The Russians, with empty meal-wagons and starving soldiers, had taken
possession of Frankfort-on-the-Oder on the 29th of July. The city
contained twelve thousand inhabitants. The ransom which the Russian
general demanded to save the city from pillage by the Cossacks was
four hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Pillage by the Cossacks! No
imagination can conceive the horrors of such an event. Nearly one
hundred thousand men, frenzied with intoxication, brutal in their
habits, restrained by no law, would inflict every outrage which fiends
could conceive of. Well might fathers and mothers, sons and daughters,
turn pale and feel the blood curdle in their veins at the thought.
Four hundred and fifty thousand dollars ransom! That was nearly forty
dollars for each individual, man, woman, and child! Compliance with
the demand was impossible. Frankfort, in its impoverishment, could
by no possibility raise a tenth part of the sum. Dreadful was the
consternation. There was no relenting; the money or the pillage!

With the utmost exertions, inspired by terror, thirty thousand dollars
were at length raised. The Russian general, Soltikof, naturally a
humane man, seeing, at the close of a week of frantic exertions on the
part of the magistrates of Frankfort, the impossibility of extorting
the required sum, took the thirty thousand dollars, and kept his
barbarian hordes encamped outside the gates.


Frankfort is on the west side of the Oder. The Russian army was
encamped on the eastern side of the river. The force collected there
consisted of about seventy-eight thousand Russians and eighteen
thousand Austrians. Frederick had, by great exertions, gathered fifty
thousand troops to attack them. He was approaching Frankfort from the
southwest. In a secret midnight march he crossed the river by bridges
of boats some miles north of the city, near Cüstrin. At four o’clock
in the morning of the 11th of August his troops had all accomplished
the passage of the stream, and, to the surprise of the Russians, were
marching down upon them from the north.

Vastly superior as was the Russian army in numbers, General Soltikof
did not venture to advance to attack his terrible foe. He had selected
a very strong position on a range of eminences about one hundred feet
high, running for several miles in an easterly direction from the
river. Upon this ridge, which was called “the Heights of Kunersdorf,”
the Russian general had intrenched himself with the utmost care. The
surrounding country was full of bogs, and sluggish streams, and a
scraggy growth of tough and thorny bushes, almost impenetrable.

Had the Prussian troops been placed on those heights, behind that
formidable array of ramparts, and palisades, and abatis, they could
with ease have repelled the assaults of three or four times their
number. But now they were to undertake the desperate enterprise of
advancing to the assault under the greatest disadvantages, with one
to attack where there were two to defend. Frederick rapidly advanced
from crossing the stream, and the same evening, Saturday, August 11th,
encamped at Bischofsee, at the distance of about two miles to the
northeast of the intrenched camp of his foes. The king, accompanied by
a small escort, rode forward to the knolls of Trettin, and anxiously
surveyed with his glass the fearful array of his foes in their long,
compact, well-defended lines, arranged in an elongated irregular

About three o’clock the next morning, Sunday, August 12th, Frederick’s
army, in two columns, was again in motion. By a slightly circuitous
march through the dense forest the king placed his troops in position
to approach from the southeast, so as to attack the left flank of the
enemy, being the northern extremity of the parallelogram.

I shall not attempt to describe the battle which ensued--so bloody,
so disastrous to the Prussians. It was, like all other desperate
battles, a scene of inconceivable confusion, tumult, and horror. At
eight o’clock in the morning, General Finck (who was in command of the
right wing of the Prussians) was in position to move upon the extreme
northern point of attack. It was not until half past eleven that
Frederick, in command of the main body of the army, was ready to make a
co-operative assault from the east. At the point of attack the Russians
had seventy-two cannons in battery. The Prussians opened upon them
with sixty guns. Templeton describes the cannonade as the loudest which
he had yet ever heard.

After half an hour of rapid and terrific fire, the Prussian troops
were ordered to advance and storm the works of the foe on the Mühlberg
Hill. Like wolves in the chase, these men of iron nerves rushed forward
through torrents of grape-shot and musket-shot, which covered their
path with the dead. In ten minutes they were in possession of the
hill-top, with all its batteries. The left wing of the Russian army was
thrown into a maelstrom whirl of disorder and destruction. One hundred
and eighty of the artillery pieces of the enemy fell into the hands of
the victors.

Frederick was overjoyed. He regarded the day as his own, and the
Russian army as at his mercy. He sent a dispatch to anxious Berlin, but
sixty miles distant: “The Russians are beaten. Rejoice with me.” It was
one of the hottest of August days, without a breath of wind. Nearly
every soldier of the Prussian army had been brought into action against
the left wing only of the foe. After a long march and an exhausting
fight, they were perishing with thirst. For twelve hours many of them
had been without water. Panting with heat, thirst, and exhaustion, they
were scarcely capable of any farther efforts.

Just then eighteen thousand fresh Russian troops advanced upon them in
solid phalanx from their centre and their right wing. It was nearly
three o’clock in the afternoon. The fugitive Russians were rallied.
With new impetuosity the re-enforced band hurled itself upon the
Prussians. They speedily regained their hundred and eighty guns, and
opened upon the ranks of Frederick such torrents of grape-shot as no
flesh and blood could endure. Huge gaps were torn through his lines.
His men recoiled, whirled round, and were driven pell-mell from the

Thrice Frederick in person led the charge against the advancing foe.
He had three horses shot under him. A gold snuffbox in his pocket was
flattened by a bullet. His friends entreated him not thus to peril a
life upon which every thing depended. He was deaf to all remonstrances.
It is manifest that, in his despair, he sought a soldier’s grave.

On came the Russians in ever-increasing numbers. Frederick’s heavy
artillery, each piece drawn by twelve horses, could not be brought
forward through the bogs, and the entangling woods, and over the rugged
heights. Though the Prussians fought with all the energies mortal valor
could inspire, and though the king flew from post to post of peril and
of death, animating his troops by voice and gesture, and by his own
reckless courage, it was all in vain. Hope soon died in all hearts. The
king was heard despairingly to exclaim, “Is there not one bullet which
can reach me, then?”

Frederick had seen many dark days before, but never one so dark as
this. In the frenzy of his exertions to retrieve the lost battle,
he cried out to his soldiers, his eyes being flooded with tears,
“Children, do not forsake me, your king, your father, in this pinch!”
The retreat became a flight. In endeavoring to cross the little
stream called the Hen-Floss, there was such crowding and jamming at
the bridges that the Prussians were compelled to leave one hundred
and sixty-five guns of various calibre behind them. Had the Russians
pursued with any vigor, scarcely a man of the Prussian army could have
escaped. But General Soltikof stood in such fear of his opponent, who
had often wrested victory out of defeat, that he attempted no pursuit.

In broken bands the Prussians retreated down by the way of Oetscher to
the bridges at Göritz, where they had crossed the Oder, and where their
heavy baggage was stationed. Frederick was among the last to quit the
fatal field. As a swarm of Cossacks approached the spot where he stood,
a party of his friends charged them fiercely, cutting to the right and
left, and held them for a moment at bay. One of Frederick’s adjutants
seized the bridle of his horse, and galloped off with the unresisting

At the bridges Frederick found but three thousand men of his late army.
The huts around were filled with the wounded and the dying, presenting
an aspect of misery which, in these hours of terrible defeat, appalled
his majesty. In one of these huts, surrounded by mutilated bodies,
groans, and death, Frederick wrote the following dispatch to his
minister (Finckenstein) at Berlin. It was dated Oetscher, August 12,

  “I attacked the enemy this morning about eleven. We beat him
  back to the Jews’ Church-yard, near Frankfort.[134] All my troops
  came into action, and have done wonders. I reassembled them three
  times. At length I was myself nearly taken prisoner, and we had
  to quit the field. My coat is riddled with bullets. Two horses
  were killed under me.[135] My misfortune is that I am still
  alive. Our loss is very considerable. Of an army of forty-eight
  thousand men, I have at this moment, while I write, not more than
  three thousand together. I am no longer master of my forces.

  In Berlin you will do well to think of your safety. It is a
  great calamity. I will not survive it. The consequences of this
  battle will be worse than the battle itself. I have no resources
  more; and, to confess the truth, I hold all for lost. I will not
  survive the destruction of my country. Farewell forever.


[Illustration: BATTLE OF KUNERSDORF, AUGUST 12, 1759.

  _a a a. Russian Army. b b. Austrians, under Loudon. c c. Russian
      Abatis. d. Russian Wagenburg. e e. Position of Prussian Army
      Evening of 11th. f f. Vanguard, under Finck. g. Prussian Heavy
      Baggage. h. Attack of Prussian Grenadiers. i i. Prussian main
      Army. k k. Finck’s Line of Attack._]

Probably the reader will infer from the above letter that the king
felt that the hour had come for him to die, and that he intended to
resort to that most consummate act of folly and cowardice--suicide.
He had always avowed this to be his intention in the last resort. He
had urged his sister Wilhelmina to imitate his example in this respect,
and not to survive the destruction of their house. Ruin now seemed
inevitable. In the battle of Kunersdorf Frederick had lost, in killed
and wounded, nineteen thousand men, including nearly all the officers
of distinction, and also one hundred and sixty pieces of artillery. The
remainder of his army was so dispersed that it could not be rallied to
present any opposition to the foe.

Though General Soltikof had lost an equal number of men, he was still
at the head of nearly eighty thousand troops flushed with victory.
He could summon to his standard any desirable re-enforcements. An
unobstructed march of but sixty miles would lead his army into the
streets of Berlin. The affairs of Frederick were indeed desperate.
There was not a gleam of hope to cheer him. In preparation for his
retirement from the army, from the throne, and from life, he that
evening drew up the following paper, placing the fragments of the army
which he was about to abandon in the hands of General Finck. By the
death of the king, the orphan and infant child of his brother Augustus
William (who had died but a few months before) would succeed to the
throne. Frederick appointed his brother Henry generalissimo of the
Prussian army.

This notable paper, which reflects but little credit upon the character
of Frederick, was as follows:

  “General Finck gets a difficult commission. The unlucky army
  which I give up to him is no longer in a condition to make
  head against the Russians. Haddick will now start for Berlin,
  perhaps Loudon too.[136] If General Finck go after these, the
  Russians will fall on his rear. If he continue on the Oder, he
  gets Haddick on his flank. However, I believe, should Loudon go
  for Berlin, he might attack Loudon and beat him. This, if it
  succeeded, would be a stand against misfortune, and hold matters
  up. Time gained is much in these desperate circumstances. Cöper,
  my secretary, will send him the news from Torgau and Dresden. You
  must inform my brother[137] of every thing, whom I have declared
  generalissimo of the army. To repair this bad luck altogether is
  not possible. But what my brother shall command must be done. The
  army swears to my nephew. This is all the advice in these unhappy
  circumstances I am in a condition to give. If I had still had
  resources, I would have staid by them.


It will be perceived that this paper is slightly less despairing than
the preceding letter which he had written to Count Finckenstein.
Frederick, having written the order to General Finck, threw himself,
in utter exhaustion, upon some straw in a corner of the hut, and fell
soundly asleep. The Prussian officers, passing by, gazed sadly through
the open door upon the sleeping monarch. A single sentinel guarded the

The next morning Frederick crossed the river to Reitwein, on the
western bank. Here, during the day, broken bands of his army came in
to the number of twenty-three thousand. It would seem that a night
of refreshing sleep had so far recruited the exhausted energies of
the king that he was enabled to look a little more calmly upon the
ruin which enveloped him. He that day wrote as follows from Reitwein
to General Schmettau, who was in command of the Prussian garrison at

  “You will, perhaps, have heard of the check I have met with from
  the Russian army on the 13th[138] of this month. Though at bottom
  our affairs in regard to the enemy here are not desperate, I find
  I shall not be able to make any detachment for your assistance.
  Should the Austrians attempt any thing against Dresden,
  therefore, you will see if there are means of maintaining
  yourself; failing which, it will behoove you to try and obtain a
  favorable capitulation--to wit, liberty to withdraw, with the
  whole garrison, moneys, magazines, hospital, and all that we have
  at Dresden, either to Berlin or elsewhere, so as to join some
  corps of my troops.

  “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
  God[139] to have you in his holy and worthy keeping.



The consternation at Berlin, as contradictory reports of victory and
defeat reached the city, was indescribable. M. Sulzer, an eye-witness
of the scene, writes under date of Berlin, August 13th, 1759:

“Above fifty thousand human beings were on the palace esplanade and the
streets around, swaying hither and thither in an agony of expectation,
in alternate paroxysms of joy, of terror, and of woe. Often enough
the opposite paroxysms were simultaneous in the different groups. Men
crushed down by despair were met by men leaping into the air for very

As we have mentioned, the Russian general had such a dread of Frederick
that he did not dare to pursue him. In his report of the victory to
the Czarina Charlotte, speaking of his own heavy loss of over eighteen
thousand men, he writes, “Your majesty is aware that the King of
Prussia sells his victories at a dear rate.” To some who urged him to
pursue Frederick, he replied, “Let me gain but another such victory,
and I may go to Petersburg with the news of it myself alone, with my
staff in my hand.”

Frederick remained at Reitwein four days. He was very unjust to his
army, and angrily reproached his soldiers for their defeat. It is true
that, had every soldier possessed his own spirit, his army would have
conquered, or not a man would have left the field alive. The Russians,
with almost inconceivable inactivity, retired to Lossow, ten miles
south of Frankfort-on-the-Oder. The king, having by great exertions
collected thirty-two thousand men, marched up the valley of the Spree,
and placed himself on the road between the Russians and Berlin.

While on this march he wrote from Madlitz, under date of August 16th,
to Marquis D’Argens, at Berlin:

“We have been unfortunate, my dear marquis, but not by my fault. The
victory was ours, and would even have been a complete one, when our
infantry lost patience, and at the wrong moment abandoned the field of
battle. The Russian infantry is almost totally destroyed. Of my own
wrecks, all that I have been able to assemble amounts to thirty-two
thousand men. With these I am pushing on to throw myself across the
enemy’s road, and either perish or save the capital. This is not what
you will call a deficiency of resolution.

“For the event I can not answer. If I had more lives than one, I would
sacrifice them all to my country. But, if this stroke fail, I think
I am clear scores with her, and that it will be permissible to look
a little to myself. There are limits to every thing. I support my
misfortune. My courage is not abated by it. But I am well resolved,
after this stroke, if it fail, to open an outgate to myself, and no
longer be the sport of any chance.”[140]

Four days after, in anticipation of an immediate attack from the
Russians, he again wrote to the same address, “Remain at Berlin, or
retire to Potsdam. In a little while there will come some catastrophe.
It is not fit that you suffer by it. If things take a good turn, you
can be back to Berlin. If ill luck still pursue us, go to Hanover, or
to Zelle, where you can provide for your safety.”

The next day, the 21st of August, he wrote to D’Argens to come and
visit him, and bring his bed with him. “I will have you a little
chamber ready.” But the next day he wrote,

“Yesterday I wrote to you to come; to-day I forbid it. Daun is marching
upon Berlin. Fly these unhappy countries. This news obliges me again
to attack the Russians between here and Frankfort. You may imagine if
this is a desperate resolution. It is the sole hope that remains to me
of not being cut off from Berlin on the one side or the other. I will
give these discouraged troops brandy, but I promise myself nothing of
success. My one consolation is that I shall die sword in hand.”

Just after dispatching this letter he received one from D’Argens, to
which he immediately, on the same day, returned the following reply:

“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 torments of Tantalus, the pains of Prometheus, the doom of
Sisyphus, were nothing to the torments I have suffered for the last
ten days. Death is sweet in comparison with such a life. Pity me, and
believe that I still keep to myself a great many evil things, not
wishing to afflict or disquiet any body with them. Believe me that I
would not counsel you to fly these unlucky countries if I had any ray
of hope. Adieu, _mon cher_.”

The rumor that Daun was marching upon Berlin proved a false alarm. On
the 4th of September the king again wrote D’Argens from his encampment
at Waldau, a few leagues south of his last position, just over the
border in Saxony:

“I think Berlin is now in safety. You may return thither. The
barbarians are in the Lausitz. I keep by the side of them, between
them and Berlin, so that there is nothing to fear for the capital. The
imminency of danger is passed. But there will be still many bad moments
to get through before reaching the end of the campaign. These, however,
only regard myself. Never mind these. My martyrdom will last two months
yet. Then the snows and the ices will end it.”

General Schmettau had in Dresden a garrison of but three thousand
seven hundred men. It will be remembered that he would doubtless be
compelled to capitulate, and to do so on the best terms he could. But
his Prussian majesty, being now a little more hopeful, wrote to him
again, urging him to hold out to the last extremity, and informing him
that he had dispatched to his aid General Wunsch, with a re-enforcement
of eight thousand men, and General Finck with six thousand. The courier
was cut off. General Schmettau, entirely unconscious that relief was
coming, closely besieged, and threatened with the massacre of his whole
garrison should the place be taken by storm, on Tuesday evening, the
4th of September, surrendered the city.

It was a sore calamity to Frederick. Had General Schmettau held out
only until the next day, which he could easily have done, relief would
have arrived, and the city would have been saved. Frederick was in a
great rage, and was not at all in the mood to be merciful, or even
just. He dismissed the unfortunate general from his service, degraded
him, and left him to die in poverty.

Frederick had now under his command twenty-four thousand men. They were
mostly on the road between Frankfort and Berlin, for the protection
of the capital. His brother Henry, in the vicinity of Landshut, with
his head-quarters at Schmöttseifen, was in command of thirty-eight
thousand. The Russians and Austrians numbered one hundred and twenty
thousand. There was, however, but little cordial co-operation among the
allies. Each was accused of endeavoring to crowd the other to the front
of the battle against the terrible Frederick.

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:

  “You may well suppose that, in the present posture of affairs, I
  am not without cares, inquietudes, and anxieties. It is the most
  frightful crisis I have had in my life. This is the moment for
  dying, unless one conquer. Daun and my brother Henry are marching
  side by side. It is possible enough all these armies may assemble
  hereabouts, and that a general battle may decide our fortune and
  the peace. Take care of your health, dear brother.


There was much manœuvring, in which Frederick displayed his usual
skill, quite circumventing his foes. Daily he became less despairing.
On the 25th of October he wrote to Fouquet:

“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.”

On the 10th of October Frederick was attacked by the gout, and
for three weeks was confined to his room. This extraordinary man,
struggling, as it were, in the jaws of destruction, beguiled the weary
hours of sickness and pain by writing a treatise upon _Charles XII. and
his Military Character_. On the 24th of October, the Russian commander,
quarreling with General Daun, set out, with his whole force, for home.
On the 1st of November the king was carried in a litter to Glogau.
Cold weather having now set in, General Daun commenced a march for
Bohemia, to seek winter quarters nearer his supplies. Frederick, his
health being restored, rejoined his troops under Henry, which were near
Dresden. The withdrawal of both the Russians and Austrians from Silesia
greatly elated him. On the 15th of November he wrote to D’Argens from
Maxen, a village a little south of Dresden:

“Yesterday I joined the army, and Daun decamped. I have followed
him thus far, and will continue it to the frontiers of Bohemia. Our
measures are so taken that he will not get out of Saxony without
considerable loss.”

General Finck was stationed at Maxen, with about fifteen thousand men,
to cut the communications of Daun with Bohemia. Frederick, in his
undue elation, was quite sure of inflicting terrible blows upon Daun.
He issued imperative commands to General Finck to fight the allies
regardless of their numbers. The Prussian general did not dare to
disobey this command and withdraw from his commanding position, even
when he saw himself being surrounded with such superior forces as would
almost certainly crush him.

In a very triumphant mood, the king, on the 19th of November, wrote a
boastful and irreverent “Ode to Fortune,” in that easy rhyme which he
called poetry. The substance of this ode, translated into prose, was as

“I am a poor heretic. I have never been blessed by the holy father.
I never attend church. I worship neither God nor the devil. Often
have those shaven scoundrels, the priests, declared that I had become

“But behold the caprice of Fortune. After a hundred preferences of
my rivals, she smiles upon me, and packs off the hero of the hat and
sword, whom the pope had blessed, and who had gone on pilgrimages. He
skulks out of Saxony, panting like a dog whom the cook has flogged out
of the kitchen.”

This ode, “an irrepressible extempore effusion,” as he termed it, the
royal poet forwarded to D’Argens. The day but one after writing this,
General Daun, having effectually surrounded General Finck with nearly
fifty thousand men of the allied troops--nearly four to one--after
a severe conflict, compelled the surrender of his whole army. The
following plan of the battle of Maxen will show how completely Finck
was encircled. General Daun claimed that he marched back into Dresden,
as prisoners of war, eight generals, five hundred and twenty-nine
officers, and fifteen thousand privates, with all their equipments and
appurtenances.[141] The next day, the 22d, Frederick wrote to D’Argens:

“I am so stupefied with the misfortune which has befallen General
Finck that I can not recover from my astonishment. It deranges all my
measures. It cuts me to the quick. Ill luck, which persecutes my old
age, has followed me from Kunersdorf to Saxony. I will still strive
what I can. The little ode I sent you, addressed to _Fortune_, was
written too soon. One should not shout victory until the battle is
over. I am so crushed by these reverses and disasters that I wish a
thousand times I were dead.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF MAXEN, NOVEMBER 20, 1759.

  _a a. Prussian Army. b. Prussian Detachment, under Wunsch.
      c c. Austrian Attack, under Daun. d d. Attack of Brentano and
      Sincere. e e e. Reich’s Army._]

“From day to day I grow more weary of dwelling in a body worn out
and condemned to suffer. I am writing to you in the first moment of
my grief. Astonishment, sorrow, indignation, and scorn, all blended
together, lacerate my soul. Let us get to the end, then, of this
execrable campaign. I will then write to you what is to become of me,
and we will arrange the rest. Pity me, and make no noise about me. Bad
news goes fast enough of itself. Adieu, dear marquis.”

The king, as usual, was merciless to General Finck. As soon as he
returned from Austrian captivity he was tried by court-martial, and
condemned to a year’s imprisonment in the fortress of Spandau, and was
expelled from the army. He afterward retired to Denmark, where he was
kindly received.

General Daun, elated by this victory, relinquished the plan of retiring
to Bohemia, and decided to remain in Saxony for the winter. Frederick
had but thirty-six thousand men in Saxony. Daun commanded seventy-two

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.



  Winter Encampment.--Death of Maupertuis.--Infamous Conduct of
    Voltaire.--Reproof by the King.--Voltaire’s Insincerity.--
    Correspondence.--The King publishes his Poems.--Dishonorable
    Conduct of the King.--New Encampment near Dresden.--Destruction
    of Frederick’s Army in Silesia.--Atrocities perpetrated by the
    Austrians.--Astonishing March.--The Austrians outwitted.--Dresden
    bombarded and almost destroyed by Frederick.--Battle of Liegnitz.--
    Utter Rout of the Austrians.--Undiminished Peril of Frederick.--
    Letter to D’Argens.

It was early in January, 1760, that the two hostile armies went
into winter quarters. General Daun, with his seventy-two thousand
triumphant troops, held Dresden. He encamped his army in an arc of a
circle, bending toward the southwest from the city, and occupying a
line about thirty miles in extent. Frederick, with thirty-two thousand
troops depressed by defeat, defiantly faced his foe in a concave arc
concentric to that of Daun. The two antagonistic encampments were
almost within cannon-shot of each other.

Never were the prospects of Frederick more gloomy. He had taken up
his residence for the winter in a very humble cottage near the hamlet
of Freiberg. He must have been very unhappy. Scenes of suffering were
every where around him. It was terribly cold. His troops were poorly
clothed, and fed, and housed.

“It was one of the grimmest camps in nature; the canvas roofs grown
mere ice-plates, the tents mere sanctuaries of frost. Never did poor
young Archenholtz see such industry in dragging wood-fuel, such boiling
of biscuits in broken ice, such crowding round the embers to roast one
side of you while the other was freezing. But Daun’s people, on the
opposite side of the Plauen Dell, did the like. Their tents also were
left standing in the frozen state, guarded by alternating battalions no
better off than their Prussian neighbors.”[142]

Thus affairs continued through the winter. There were two frostbitten
armies facing each other on the bleak plains. With apparently not much
to be gained in presenting this front of defiance, each party breasted
the storms and the freezing gales, alike refusing to yield one inch of

[Illustration: THE WINTER CAMP.]

During the previous summer, the philosopher Maupertuis, after weary
wanderings in the languor of consumption, and in great dejection of
spirits, had been stricken by convulsions while in his carriage at
Basel. He had lost favor with the king, and was poor, friendless, and
dying. His latter years had been imbittered by the venomous assaults of

While in health and prosperity, quaffing the wines of Frederick, he
was an avowed infidel, and eagerly joined the ribald companions of
the king in denouncing all religion as the fanaticism of weak minds.
But in these hours of pain, of loneliness, and of approaching death
he could find no consolation in the teachings of philosophy. He sent
for two Christian ministers to visit him daily, and daily had the
Bible read to him. It was a death-bed repentance. Bitterly he deplored
a wasted life. Sincerely he seemed to embrace the doctrines of
Christianity.[143] He died, after a lingering sickness, far from home
and friends, on the 27th of July, 1759.

Voltaire made himself very merry over the dying scene of Maupertuis.
There was never another man who could throw so much poison into a sneer
as Voltaire. It is probable that the conversion of Maupertuis somewhat
troubled his conscience as the unhappy scorner looked forward to his
own dying hour, which could not be far distant. He never alluded to
Maupertuis without indulging in a strain of bitter mockery in view
of his death as a penitent. Even the king, unbeliever as he was in
religion or in the existence of a God, was disgusted with the malignity
displayed by Voltaire. In reply to one of Voltaire’s envenomed assaults
the king wrote:

“You speak of Maupertuis. Do not trouble the ashes of the dead. Let
the grave, at least, put an end to your unjust hatreds. Reflect that
even kings make peace after long battling. Can not you ever make it? I
think you would be capable, like Orpheus, of descending to hell, not to
soften Pluto, and bring back your beautiful Emilie, but to pursue into
that abode of woe an enemy whom your wrath has only too much persecuted
in this world. For shame!”[144]

Soon after Frederick wrote to Voltaire upon this subject again,
still more severely, but in verse. The following is almost a literal
translation of this poetic epistle:

“Leave the cold ashes of Maupertuis in peace. He was noble and
faithful. He pardoned you that vile libel of Doctor Akakia which your
criminal fury scribbled against him. And what return are you making?
Shame on such delirious ravings as those of Voltaire! Shall this
grand genius, whom I have admired, soil himself with calumny, and be
ferocious on the dead? Shall he, like a vile raven, pounce upon the
sepulchre, and make prey upon its corpses?”

The friendship of these two remarkable men must have been of a singular
character. Voltaire thus maliciously wrote of the king:

“He is as potent and as malignant as the devil. He is also as unhappy,
not knowing friendship.”

Voltaire had, as a pet, a very vicious ape, treacherous, spiteful, who
pelted passers-by with stones, and, when provoked, would bite terribly.
The name of this hateful beast was Luc. Voltaire gave his friend
Frederick the nickname of Luc. He corresponded freely with the enemies
of his Prussian majesty. A few extracts will reveal the character
of the friendship of the philosopher. Some days after the battle of
Kunersdorf Voltaire wrote to D’Argental:

“I do not love Luc; far from it. I never will pardon him his infamous
procedure with my niece,[145] nor the face he has to write me
flattering things twice a month without having ever repaired his
wrongs. I desire much his entire humiliation, the chastisement of the
sinner; whether his eternal damnation I do not quite know.”

Again he wrote, a few months after, to the Duke of Choiseul: “He has
been a bad man, this Luc. And now, if one were to bet by the law of
probability, it would be three to one that Luc would go to pot [_sera
perdu_], with his rhymings and his banterings, and his injustices and
politics, all as bad as himself.”[146]

Frederick affected great contempt for public opinion. He wrote to

“I have the lot of all actors who play in public--applauded by some,
despised by others. One must prepare one’s self for satires, for
calumnies, for a multitude of lies, which will be sent abroad into
currency against one. But need that trouble my tranquillity? I go my
road. I do nothing against the interior voice of my conscience. And
I concern myself very little in what way my actions paint themselves
in the brain of beings not always very thinking, with two legs, and
without feathers.”

It is evident that the king, thus surrounded with perils and threatened
with utter destruction, was anxious for the termination of the war. But
still this inflexible man would not listen to any suggestions for peace
but on his own terms. He wrote to Voltaire, urging him “to bring back
peace.” At the same time he said,

“In spite of all your efforts, you will not get a peace signed by my
hands except on conditions honorable to my nation. Your people, blown
up with self-conceit and folly, may depend on these words.”

But that he was fully awake to his perils, and keenly felt his
sufferings, is manifest from the following extract from another of his

“The sword and death have made frightful ravages among us. And the
worst is that we are not yet at the end of the tragedy. You may judge
what effect these cruel shocks make on me. I wrap myself in my stoicism
the best I can. Flesh and blood revolt against such tyrannous command,
but it must be followed. If you saw me you would scarcely know me
again. I am old, broken, gray-headed, wrinkled. I am losing my teeth
and my gayety. If this go on, there will be nothing of me left but the
mania of making verses, and an inviolable attachment to my duties, and
to the few virtuous men whom I know.”

In the above letter the king alludes to the “mania of making verses.”
Strange as it may seem, he this winter, when apparently almost crushed
beneath the weight of cares and sorrows, when every energy of mind and
body seemed called into requisition in preparation for a new campaign,
published an edition of his poems.

The allies represented a population of ninety millions. The realms of
Frederick embraced scarcely five millions of inhabitants. The allies
decided that they would no longer make an exchange of prisoners. It
was manifest that, by merely protracting the war, even without any
signal successes on the part of the allies, Frederick would find
all his resources of men exhausted. Frederick, who was never very
scrupulous with regard to the means which he employed for the promotion
of his ends, immediately compelled his prisoners of war, of whatever
nationality, to enlist in his service.

“Prisoners, captive soldiers, if at all likely fellows,” writes
Archenholtz, “were by every means persuaded and even compelled to take
Prussian service. Compelled, cudgel in hand, not asked if they wished
to serve, but dragged to the Prussian colors, obliged to swear there,
and fight against their countrymen.”[147]

Frederick also seized money wherever he could find it, whether in
the hands of friend or foe. His contributions levied upon the Saxons
were terrible. The cold and dreary winter passed rapidly away. The
spring was late in that northern clime. It was not until the middle
of June that either party was prepared vigorously to take the field.
It was generally considered by the European world that Frederick was
irretrievably ruined. In the last campaign he had lost sixty thousand
men. Universal gloom and discouragement pervaded his kingdom. Still
Frederick, by his almost superhuman exertions, had marshaled another
army of one hundred thousand men. But the allies had two hundred and
eighty thousand to oppose to them. Though Frederick in public assumed a
cheerful and self-confident air, as if assured of victory, his private
correspondence proves that he was, in heart, despondent in the extreme,
and that scarcely a ray of hope visited his mind. To his friend
D’Argens he wrote:

“I am unfortunate and old, dear marquis. That is why they persecute
me. God knows what my future is to be this year. I grieve to resemble
Cassandra with my prophecies. But how augur well of the desperate
situation we are in, and which goes on growing worse? I am so gloomy
to-day I will cut short.

“Write to me when you have nothing better to do. And don’t forget a
poor philosopher who, perhaps to expiate his incredulity, is doomed to
find his purgatory in this world.”

Again, and at the same time, he wrote to another friend:

“The difficulties I had last campaign were almost infinite, there were
such a multitude of enemies acting against me. Pomerania, Brandenburg,
Saxony, frontiers of Silesia, were alike in danger, and often all at
one time. If I escaped absolute destruction, I must impute it chiefly
to the misconduct of my enemies, who gained such advantages, but had
not the sense to follow them up. Experience often corrects people of
their blunders. I can not expect to profit by any thing of that kind on
their part in the course of this campaign.”[148]

Four campaigns of the Seven Years’ War have passed. We are now entering
upon the fifth, that of 1760. The latter part of April Frederick
broke up his encampment at Freiberg, and moved his troops about twenty
miles north of Dresden. Here he formed a new encampment, facing the
south. His left wing was at Meissen, resting on the Elbe. His right
wing was at the little village of Katzenhäuser, about ten miles to the
southwest. Frederick established his head-quarters at Schlettau, midway
of his lines. The position thus selected was, in a military point of
view, deemed admirable. General Daun remained in Dresden “astride” the
Elbe. Half of his forces were on one side and half on the other of the

The stunning news soon reached Frederick that General Fouquet, whom
he had left in Silesia with twelve thousand men, had been attacked by
a vastly superior force of Austrians. The assault was furious in the
extreme. Thirty-one thousand Austrians commenced the assault at two
o’clock in the morning. By eight o’clock the bloody deed was done. Ten
thousand of the Prussians strewed the field with their gory corpses.
Two thousand only escaped. General Fouquet himself was wounded and
taken prisoner. To add to the anguish of the king, this disaster was
to be attributed to the king himself. He had angrily ordered General
Fouquet to adopt a measure which that general, better acquainted with
the position and forces of the foe, saw to be fatal. Heroically he
obeyed orders, though he knew that it would prove the destruction of
his army.

Silesia was at the mercy of the foe. Frederick regarded the calamity
as irreparable. Still in a few hours he recovered his equanimity, and
in public manifested his accustomed stoicism. The victorious Austrian
soldiers in Silesia conducted themselves like fiends. Their plunderings
and outrages were too shocking to be recited. “Nothing was spared by
them,” writes Frederick, “but misery and ugliness.”

There was a small garrison at Glatz, at Silesia, which, though closely
besieged, still held out against the Austrians. Frederick thought that
if he could by any stratagem draw General Daun from Dresden, he could,
by a sudden rush, break down its walls and seize the city. He moved
with celerity which completely deceived the Austrian commander. At
two o’clock in the morning of Wednesday, July 2d, his whole army was
almost on the run toward Silesia. They marched as troops never marched
before. For twelve hours their speed was unintermitted. The next day,
in utter exhaustion, they rested. But on Friday, as the village clocks
were tolling the hour of midnight, all were again on the move, the
king himself in front. Again it was a run rather than a march through
a dreary realm of bogs, wild ravines, and tangled thickets. At three
o’clock on Saturday morning the march was resumed.

General Daun was soon informed of this energetic movement. He instantly
placed himself at the head of sixty thousand troops, and also set out,
at his highest possible speed, for Glatz.

Sunday, July 6th, was a day of terrible heat. At three o’clock in the
morning the Prussian troops were again in motion. There was not a
breath of wind. The blazing sun grew hotter and hotter. There was no
shade. The soldiers were perishing of thirst. Still the command was
“onward,” “onward.” In that day’s march one hundred and five Prussian
soldiers dropped dead in their tracks.

General Daun thought that such energy as this could not be a feint.
He was much nearer to Glatz than was Frederick. Monday, July 7th, the
Prussian troops rested. General Daun pressed on. Tuesday night he was
two days’ march ahead of Frederick. In the mean time, the Prussian
king, who had made this tremendous march simply to draw the foe from
Dresden, suddenly turned, and with the utmost velocity directed his
troops back toward the city.

General Maguire had been left in Dresden with but about fourteen
thousand men for its defense. On Saturday, July 13th, the Prussian
army appeared before the city. All the night they were erecting their
batteries. Early Sunday morning the cannonade began. As Daun might
speedily arrive at the head of sixty thousand troops for the relief of
the garrison, the bombardment was conducted with the utmost possible
energy. Day and night the horrible tempest fell upon the doomed
city. Adversity had soured the king’s disposition, and rendered him
merciless. He had no compassion upon the innocent inhabitants. It
was his aim, at whatever cost, to secure the immediate surrender of
the place. He cruelly directed his terrific fire upon the thronged
dwellings rather than upon the massive fortifications. Street after
street blazed up in flames. It was Frederick’s relentless plan
by “fire torture” to force the citizens to compel Maguire to the
surrender. But the Austrian commander hardened his heart against the
misery of the Saxon people, and held the place.

General Daun was proverbially slow-footed. For thirteen days the
wretched city burned and bled. In a memorial to the world, which the
King of Poland, as Elector of Saxony, published on the occasion, he

“Had the enemy attacked Dresden according to the rules and the customs
of war, had they directed their efforts against the ramparts, the
king would, without doubt, have lamented the evils which would have
resulted from it to his people, but he would have lamented them without
complaining. But the Prussians made war on the innocent townsmen. Their
fire was wholly directed against the houses. They endeavored to destroy
a town which they could not take.”

In truth, when General Daun approached, and Frederick saw that there
was no possibility of his taking the city, he, in the wantonness of
his rage, set fire to upward of a hundred houses in the suburbs which
had hitherto escaped the flames. Three hundred and fifty houses were
destroyed within the walls. More than that number were half destroyed,
shattered by bombs, and scorched with flames. These were terrible
calamities falling upon a city already exhausted by four years of the
most desolating war. The King of Poland closed his appeal by saying,

“The king thinks it scarcely worth while to mention his palaces and his
gardens sacked and ruined, in contempt of the regard usually paid from
one sovereign to another. Is there a man in all Europe who does not see
in these terrible effects an implacable hatred and a destructive fury
which all nations ought to concur in repressing?”[149]

Frederick, being constrained by the approach of General Daun to raise
the siege of Dresden, retired to his intrenched camp at Schlettau.
Leaving fifteen thousand men to guard the camp, he, on the 1st of
August, before the dawn, crossed the Elbe, and was again on the rapid
march toward Silesia. His army consisted of thirty thousand men, and
was accompanied by two thousand heavy baggage-wagons. In five days
the king marched over one hundred miles, crossing five rivers. Armies
of the allies, amounting to one hundred and seventy-five thousand
Austrians and Russians, were around him--some in front, some in his
rear, some on his flanks.[150]

On the 14th of August Frederick had reached Liegnitz. His foes
surrounded him in such numbers that escape seemed impossible, and
destruction sure. General Loudon, with thirty-five thousand allies, was
scarcely a mile east of him. General Lacy, with an immense swarm of
cavalry, was at the distance of but a few thousand yards on the west.
General Daun, with his immense army, approaching from the southwest,
had taken possession of Liegnitz. Frederick was encamped upon some
heights a few miles east of the city. To human view, the position of
his Prussian majesty was desperate.

“He was clinging on the head of slippery abysses, his path hardly a
foot’s breadth, mere enemies and avalanches hanging round on every
side; ruin likelier at no moment of his life.”

On the night of the 14th Frederick had stationed his lines with the
greatest care to guard against surprise. At midnight, wrapped in his
cloak, and seated on a drum by a watch-fire, he had just fallen asleep.
An Irish officer, a deserter from the Austrians, came blustering and
fuming into the camp with the announcement that General Lacy’s army
was on the march to attack Frederick by surprise. Frederick sprang to
his horse. His perfectly drilled troops were instantly in motion. By a
rapid movement his troops were speedily placed in battle array upon the
heights of the Wolfsberg. They would thus intercept the enemy’s line
of march, would take him by surprise, and were in the most admirable
position to encounter superior numbers. To deceive the foe, all the
Prussian camp-fires were left burning. General Loudon had resorted to
the same stratagem to deceive Frederick.

To the surprise of General Loudon, there was opened upon his
advance-guard of five thousand men, as it was pressing forward on
its stealthy march, in the darkness ascending an eminence, the most
destructive discharge of artillery and musketry. The division was
hurled back with great slaughter. Gathering re-enforcements, it
advanced the second and the third time with the same results. Cavalry,
infantry, artillery, were brought forward, but all in vain. Frederick
brought into action but fifteen thousand men. He utterly routed the
hostile army of thirty-five thousand men, killing four thousand, and
taking six thousand prisoners. He also captured eighty-two cannon,
twenty-eight flags, and five thousand muskets. His own loss was
eighteen hundred men. The battle commenced at three o’clock in the
morning, and was over at five o’clock.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF LIEGNITZ, AUGUST 16, 1760.

  _a a. Prussian Camp, left with fires burning. b b b. Prussian
      Main Army. c c. Ziethen’s Division. d d. Loudon’s Camp, also
      left with fires burning. e e e. Loudon’s Army attacked by the
      Prussians. f f f. Approach of Daun. g g. Lacy’s Cavalry._]

Frederick remained upon the field of battle four hours gathering up
the spoils. The dead were left unburied. The wounded were placed
in empty meal-wagons. General Loudon fled precipitately across the
Katzbach River. To deceive the Austrians in reference to his movements,
Frederick wrote a false dispatch to his brother Henry, which he placed
in the hands of a trusty peasant. The peasant was directed to allow
himself to be taken. The plan worked to a charm. The other portions
of the allied army, deceived by the dispatch, retreated as Frederick
wished to have them. He soon formed a junction with his brother Henry,
and being astonished himself at his almost miraculous escape, marched
to the strong fortress of Breslau, which was still held by a small
Prussian garrison, and where he had large magazines.

But, notwithstanding this wonderful victory and narrow escape, it still
seemed that Frederick’s destruction was only postponed for a short
time. He was in the heart of Silesia, and was surrounded by hostile
armies three times more numerous than his own.

Twelve days after the battle of Liegnitz Frederick wrote as follows to
his friend, the Marquis D’Argens, who was at Berlin. The letter was
dated Hermannsdorf, near Breslau, 27th of August, 1760:

  “Formerly, my dear marquis, the affair of the 15th would have
  decided the campaign. At present it is but a scratch. A great
  battle must determine our fate. Such we shall soon have. Then,
  should the event prove favorable to us, you may, with good
  reason, rejoice. I thank you for your sympathy. It has cost much
  scheming, striving, and address to bring matters to this point.
  Do not speak to me of dangers. The last action cost me only a
  coat and a horse. That is buying victory cheap.[151]

  “I never in my life was in so bad a posture as in this campaign.
  Miracles are still needed to overcome the difficulties which I
  foresee. I do my duty as well as I can. But remember, my dear
  marquis, that I can not command good fortune. I am obliged to
  leave too much to chance, as I have not the means to render my
  plans more certain.

  “I have the labors of Hercules to perform, at an age, too, when
  my strength is leaving me, when my infirmities increase, and, to
  speak the truth, when hope, the only consolation of the unhappy,
  begins to desert me. You are not sufficiently acquainted with the
  posture of affairs to know the dangers which threaten the state.
  I know them, but conceal them. I keep all my fears to myself,
  and communicate to the public only my hopes and the trifle of
  good news I may now and then have. If the blow I now meditate
  succeeds, then, my dear marquis, will be the time to express
  our joy. But, till then, do not let us flatter ourselves, lest
  unexpected bad news deject us too much.

  “I live here the life of a literary monk. I have much to think
  of about my affairs. The rest of my time I give to literature,
  which is my consolation. I know not if I shall survive this war.
  Should it so happen, I am resolved to pass the rest of my days in
  retirement, in the bosom of philosophy and friendship.

  “As soon as the roads are surer I hope you will write more
  frequently. I do not know where we shall have our winter
  quarters. Our houses at Breslau have been destroyed in the late
  bombardment. Our enemies envy us every thing, even the air we
  breathe. They must, however, leave us some place. If it be a safe
  one, I shall be delighted to receive you there.

  “Here is business which I must attend to. I was in a writing
  vein, but I believe it is better to conclude, lest I should tire
  you and neglect my own duties. Adieu, my dear marquis. I embrace




  Incessant Marches and Battles.--Letter from Frederick to D’Argens.--
    Letter to his Brother Henry.--Berlin summoned to Surrender.--
    Sacking of the City.--Letter to D’Argens.--Desperate Resolves of
    Frederick.--The Resort of Suicide.--Remarkable Address of Frederick
    to his Generals.--Bloody Battle of Torgau.--Dismal Night-scene.--
    Familiarity of the King with the Soldiers.--Winter Quarters at
    Freiberg.--Singular Letter to the Countess of Camas.--Death of the
    Princess Amelia.--Anecdotes of the King.--His domestic Habits.--
    His unscrupulous Measures to obtain Men and Money.--Letter of
    Charlotte of Mecklenburg.

Sieges, skirmishes, battles innumerable ensued. The Russians and the
Austrians, in superior numbers and with able leaders, were unwearied in
their endeavors to annihilate their formidable foe. The conflict was
somewhat analogous to that which takes place between the lion at bay
in the jungle and a pack of dogs. The details could scarcely be made
intelligible to the reader, and would certainly prove tedious.[153]

Frederick so concentrated his forces as, ere long, to have about fifty
thousand troops with him at Breslau. Weary weeks of marchings and
fightings, blood and woe, passed on. Painful blows were struck upon
both sides, but nothing decisive was accomplished. In the midst of
these harassments, perils, and toils, the king wrote to D’Argens, on
the 18th of September, from Reisendorf:

“I will not sing _jeremiades_ to you, nor speak of my fears or
anxieties; but I can assure you that they are great. The crisis I am in
changes in appearance, but nothing decisive happens. I am consumed by a
slow fire; I am like a living body losing limb after limb. May Heaven
assist us, for we have much need of it.

“You speak of my personal safety. You ought to know, as I do, that it
is not necessary for me to live. But while I do live I must fight for
my country, and save it if it be possible. In many little things I
have had luck; I think of taking for my motto, _Maximus in minimis, et
minimus in maximis_.[154]

“It is impossible for you to imagine the horrible fatigues which we
undergo. This campaign is worse than any of the others. I sometimes
know not which way to turn. But why weary you with these details of
my toils and miseries? My spirits have forsaken me. All my gayety is
buried with those dear and noble ones to whom my heart was bound. The
end of my life is melancholy and sad; but do not, therefore, my dear
marquis, forget your old friend.”[155]

To his brother Henry he wrote, “I have had a bad time of it, my dear
brother; our means are so eaten away; far too short for opposing the
prodigious number of our enemies set against us. If we must fall, let
us date our destruction from the infamous day of Maxen. My health is
a little better, but I have still _hémorroïdes aveugles_. That were
nothing, however, were it not for the disquietudes I feel. For these
three days I have had so terrible a cramp in continuance that I thought
it would choke me. It is now a little gone. No wonder that the chagrins
and continual disquietudes I live in should undermine, and at length
overturn, the most robust constitution.”

Early in October the allies planned an expedition for the capture
of Berlin. The city had no defenses but weak palisades, which were
garrisoned by but twelve hundred men. General Czernichef led a column
of twenty thousand Russians, General Lacy another of fifteen thousand
Austrians, and General Soltikof a third column of twenty thousand more.

On the 3d of October the vanguard of this army, three thousand strong,
was seen in the distance from the steeples of Berlin. The queen and
royal family fled with the archives to Magdeburg. The city was summoned
to an immediate surrender, and to pay a ransom of about four million
dollars to rescue it from the flames. The summons was rejected. General
Tottleben, in command of the advance, erected his batteries, and at
five o’clock in the afternoon commenced his bombardment with red-hot
balls. In the night a re-enforcement of five thousand Prussians, under
Prince Eugene of Würtemberg, who had marched forty miles that day,
entered the city, guided by the blaze of the bombardment, to strengthen
the garrison. Tottleben retired to await the allied troops, which were
rapidly on the march. In the mean time, on the 8th, General Hülsen
arrived with nine thousand Prussian troops, increasing the garrison in
Berlin to fifteen thousand. Frederick was also on the march, to rescue
his capital, with all the troops he could muster. But the Russians had
now arrived to the number of thirty-five thousand. The defenses were so
weak that they could easily take or destroy the place.

The garrison retired to avoid capture. Berlin surrendered on the
morning of October 9th. For three days the enemy held the city. The
semi-barbaric soldiers committed fearful outrages. The soldiers
sacked the king’s palaces at Potsdam and Charlottenburg, smashing
furniture, doors, windows, mirrors, statuary, cutting the pictures, and
maltreating the inmates.

On the 11th it was announced that Frederick, with nearly the whole
Prussian army, was within five days’ march of Berlin. The allies held
him in such dread, when he had any thing like an equality of numbers
with them, that they fled from him at the rate of thirty miles a day.
But terrible were the ravages which they inflicted on the Prussian
people during this retreat.

The Russians marched to Poland. The Austrians returned to Saxony. As
soon as Frederick heard of their retreat, instead of continuing his
march to Berlin, he also turned his columns southward. On the 27th of
October he crossed the Elbe, about sixty miles above Dresden, and found
himself in the vicinity of General Daun, whose army outnumbered that
of Frederick two to one. The situation of Frederick was extremely
critical. Under these circumstances, he wrote to D’Argens on the 28th:

[Illustration: SACKING THE PALACE.]

“You, as a follower of Epicurus, put a value upon life. As for me, I
regard death from the Stoic point of view. Never shall I see the moment
which will oblige me to make a disadvantageous peace. No persuasion,
no eloquence, shall ever induce me to sign my own dishonor. Either I
will bury myself under the ruins of my country, or, if that consolation
appears too great to the _Destiny_ which persecutes me, I shall know
how to put an end to my misfortunes when it is no longer possible to
bear them. I have acted, and continue to act, in pursuance of this
conviction, and according to the dictates of honor, which have always
directed my steps. My conduct shall continue, at all times, to be
conformable to these principles.

“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.

“Indeed, how many reasons has one at fifty years of age to despise
life! The prospect which remains to me is an old age of infirmity
and pain, with disappointments, regrets, ignominies, and outrages to
endure. In truth, if you really consider my situation, you ought to
blame my intentions less than you do. I have lost all my friends. I am
unfortunate in all the ways in which it is possible to be so. I have
nothing to hope for. I see my enemies treat me with derision, while
their insolence prepares to trample me under foot. Alas!

   “‘Quand on a tout perdu, quand on n’a plus d’espoir,
    La vie est un opprobre, et la mort un devoir.’[156]

“I have nothing to add to this. I will only inform your curiosity that
we passed the Elbe the day before yesterday; that to-morrow we march
toward Leipsic, where I hope to be on the 31st, where I hope we shall
have a battle, and whence you shall receive news of us as it occurs.”

It is not strange that Frederick, being destitute of religious
principle, should have ever contemplated suicide as his last resort. On
the 2d of November the king came in sight of the encampment of General
Daun at Torgau, on the Elbe, some score of leagues north of Dresden.
The king was at the head of forty-four thousand troops. Marshal Daun
had eighty thousand, strongly intrenched upon heights west of the city,
in the midst of a labyrinth of ponds, hills, ravines, and forests. We
shall not attempt to enter into a detail of the battle. The following
plan of the battle will give the military reader an idea of the
disposal of the forces.

The position of the Austrians on the heights of Siptitz, an eminence
which rose two hundred feet above the bed of the river, seemed
impregnable. Sixty-five thousand Austrians stood upon those heights,
protected by earth-works and a formidable abatis. They had four hundred
guns in battery, a larger number than had ever before been brought upon
a battle-field. To attack then and there was an act of desperation. On
the evening of the 2d the king assembled his generals and said to them,

“I have called you together, not to ask your advice, but to inform you
that to-morrow I shall attack Marshal Daun. I am aware that he occupies
a strong position, but it is one from which he can not escape. If I
beat him, all his army must be taken prisoners or drowned in the Elbe.
If we are beaten, we must all perish. This war is become tedious. You
must all find it so. We will, if we can, finish it to-morrow. General
Ziethen, I confide to you the right wing of the army. Your object
must be, in marching straight to Torgau, to cut off the retreat of
the Austrians when I shall have beaten them, and driven them from the
heights of Siptitz.”

[Illustration: BATTLE OF TORGAU, NOVEMBER 3, 1760.

  _a a. Prussian Camp at Schilda. b b b. Austrian Army.
      c c c. Rear-guard, under Lacy. d. Prussian Detachment, under
      Ziethen. e. Frederick’s Division beginning the Attack.
      f. Hülsen’s Infantry. g. Holstein’s Cavalry._]

At an early hour on the morning of the 3d Frederick broke up his camp
south of the foe, and, by a circuitous route of fourteen miles, came
down upon the Austrians from the north. General Ziethen marched in
almost a straight line for Torgau, to cut off the retreat. It was two
o’clock in the afternoon when Frederick, emerging from the forest,
ordered his men to charge. The assault was as impetuous and reckless
as mortal men could possibly make. Instantly four hundred pieces of
artillery opened fire upon them.

“Archenholtz describes it as a thin