“Others have made roads for us. We make them for posterity. But Christ has opened for us all a road to heaven.”46
CHAPTER XV. THE WAR IN SILESIA.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
“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.”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.
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 pulse is gone,” the physician said, sadly.The ceremony of coronation was attended, near Presburg, on the 25th of June, with much semi-barbaric splendor, as the Iron Crown58 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 K?nigsburg, 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.
“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.’”
“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.”
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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.”详情
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