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.
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:
“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.”
On the 29th of July the king joined his brother Henry at Sagan, on the Bober, about sixty miles above or south of Frankfort.480 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:THE ASSAULT ON GLOGAU.
181 “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.”
On the 5th of October, 1763, Augustus, the unhappy King of Poland, had died at Dresden, after a troubled reign of thirty years. The crown was elective. The turbulent nobles, broken up into antagonistic and envenomed cliques, were to choose a successor. Catharine, as ambitious as she was able and unprincipled, resolved to place one of her creatures upon the throne, that Poland, a realm spreading over a territory of 284,000 square miles, and containing a population of 20,000,000, might be virtually added to her dominions. Carlyle writes: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.
“I have been to Lebus. There is excellent land there; fine weather for the husbandmen. Major R?der 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. I128 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.”
“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,
“Do you think so?” inquired the king.详情
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