THE KING AND HIS SERVANT.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 making282 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.
154 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 Sch?nhausen. The Crown Prince occasionally visited her, always treating her with the marked respect due a lady occupying her high position.“One evening,” writes Carlyle, “among the orders is heard this item: ‘And remember a lock of straw, will you, that I may not have to sleep upon the ground, as last night!’ Many anecdotes are current to this day about his pleasant, homely ways, and affabilities with the sentry people, and the rugged hospitalities they would show him at their watch-fires. ‘Good evening, children.’ ‘The same to thee, Fritz.’ ‘What is that you are cooking?’—and would try a spoonful of it, in such company; while the rough fellows would forbid smoking. ‘Don’t you know he dislikes it?’ ‘No! smoke away,’ the king would insist.”
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.“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.”
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 discarded judges were arrested, imprisoned for a year, and fined a sum of money equal to the supposed loss of the miller. In this case the judges had heard both sides of the question, and the king but one side. The question had been justly decided. The case was so clear that the new judges appointed by the king, being conscientious men, could not refrain from sustaining the verdict. Still the king, who would never admit that he was in the wrong, ordered no redress for those who had thus suffered for righteousness sake. After Frederick’s death the court compelled the miller to refund the money which had been so unjustly extorted for damages.
516 “This is, I swear to you, such a dog’s life [chienne de vie] as no one but Don Quixote ever led before me. All this tumbling, toiling, bother, and confusion have made me such an old fellow that you would scarcely know me again. The hair on the right side of my head has grown quite gray. My teeth break and fall out. My face is as full of wrinkles as the furbelow of a petticoat. My back is bent like a fiddle-bow, and my spirit is sad and downcast, like a monk of La Trappe.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 C?sars 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:
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. K?nig, 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. K?nig was accused of having forged the extract. M. Maupertuis, a very jealous, irritable man, by his powerful influence as president, caused M. K?nig to be expelled from the Academy.“To form an idea,” he writes, “of the general subversion, and how great were the desolation and discouragement, you must represent to yourself countries entirely ravaged, the very traces of the old habitations hardly discoverable. Of the towns some were ruined from top to bottom; others half destroyed by fire. Of thirteen thousand houses the very vestiges were gone. There was no field in seed, no grain for the food of the inhabitants. Sixty thousand horses were needed if there were to be plowing carried on. In the provinces generally there were half a million population less than in 1756; that is to say, upon four millions and a half the ninth man was wanting. Noble and peasant had been pillaged, ransomed, foraged, eaten out by so many different armies; nothing now left them but life and miserable rags.
Dr. Zimmermann, whose work on Solitude had given him some renown, had been sent for to administer to the illustrious patient. His prescriptions were of no avail. On the 10th of August, 1786, Frederick wrote to his sister, the Duchess Dowager of Brunswick:“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.”“When you find it very necessary, yet very difficult, to gain any intelligence of the enemy, there is another expedient, though a cruel one. You take a rich burgher, possessed of rich lands, a wife, and children. You oblige him to go to the enemy’s camp, as if to complain of hard treatment, and to take along with him, as his servant, a spy who speaks the language of the country; assuring him at the same time that, in case he does not bring the spy back with him, after having remained a sufficient time in the enemy’s camp, you will set fire to his house, and massacre his wife and children. I was forced to have recourse to this cruel expedient. It answered my purpose.”173
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:详情
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