“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?’”
“A new career came to open itself to me. And one must have been either without address or buried in stupidity not to have profited by an opportunity so advantageous. I seized this unexpected opportunity by the forelock. By dint of negotiating and intriguing, I succeeded in indemnifying our monarchy for its past losses by incorporating Polish Prussia with my old provinces. This acquisition was one of the most important we could make, because it joined Pommern to East Prussia, and because, rendering us masters of the Weichsel River, we gained the double advantage of being able to defend that kingdom (East Prussia), and to draw considerable tolls from the Weichsel, as all the trade of Poland goes by that river.”The day in which the treaty was signed Frederick wrote to the Marquis D’Argens as follows: “The best thing I have now to tell you of, my dear marquis, is the peace. And it is right that the good citizens and the public should rejoice at it. For me, poor old man that I am, I return to a town where I know nothing but the walls, where I find no longer any of my friends, where great and laborious duties await me, and where I shall soon lay my old bones in an asylum which can neither be troubled by war, by calamities, nor by the wickedness of men.”
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.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.
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 province.
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.
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 Academy391 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.
It would seem that Frederick’s troops must have had iron sinews, and that they needed as little repose as did their master. Those not at work with the spade were under arms to repel an assault. Two or three times there was an alarm, when the whole fifty thousand, in an hour, were in battle-array. Frederick was fully aware of the crisis he had encountered. To be beaten there was irretrievable ruin. No one in the army performed more exhausting labor than the king himself. He seemed to be omnipresent, by day and by night. Near the chief battery, in a clump of trees, there was a small tent, and a bundle of straw in the corner. Here the king occasionally sought a few moments of repose. But his nervous excitement rendered him so restless, that most of the time he was strolling about among the guard parties, and warming himself by their fires.
“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 always.”
“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.”117CHAPTER XVII. THE CAMPAIGN OF MORAVIA.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,详情
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