“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.”“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. C?sar 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.
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:104
“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.”The Austrians took position upon the south, at the distance of about six miles. The Russians were at the same distance on the west, with their head-quarters at Hohenfriedberg.
“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 C?sar, Veni, vidi, vici.”“Sire, here is Monsieur De Voltaire, who is come to receive the orders of your majesty.”CHAPTER XII. THE INVASION OF SILESIA.
“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 indifferent145 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.CHAPTER II. LIFE IN THE PALACE.
“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.
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 committed379 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.“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.
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.189 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.
On the 10th of December, 1729, Dubourgay writes in his journal:70 “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.”PRINCE LEOPOLD INSPECTING THE ARMY IN HIS “CART.”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.详情
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