For a time Frederick and Voltaire seem to have lived very pleasantly together. Voltaire writes: “I was lodged under the king’s apartment, and never left my room except for supper. The king composed, above stairs, works of philosophy, history, poetry; and his favorite, below stairs, cultivated the same arts and the same talents. They communicated to one another their respective works. The Prussian monarch composed, at this time,387 his ‘History of Brandenburg;’ and the French author wrote his ‘Age of Louis XIV.,’ having brought with him all his materials.94 His days thus passed happily in a repose which was only animated by agreeable occupations. Nothing, indeed, could be more delightful than this way of life, or more honorable to philosophy and literature.”In October, 1723, when the prince was eleven years of age, his grandfather, George I., came to Berlin to visit his daughter and his son-in-law, the mother and father of Fritz. From the windows of his apartment he looked out with much interest upon Fritz, drilling his cadet company upon the esplanade in front of the palace. The clock-work precision of the movements of the boy soldiers greatly surprised him.
There were some gross vulgarities in Voltaire’s letter which we refrain from quoting. Both of these communications were printed and widely circulated, exciting throughout Europe contempt and derision. Voltaire had still the copy of the king’s private poems. Frederick, quite irritated, and not knowing what infamous use Voltaire might make of the volume, which contained some very severe satires against prominent persons, and particularly against his uncle, the King of England, determined, at all hazards, to recover the book. He knew it would be of no avail to write to Voltaire to return it.To obviate the difficulty of the Crown Prince becoming the head of a party in Berlin antagonistic to the king, the plan was suggested of having him appointed, with his English princess, vice-regent of Hanover. But this plan failed. Hotham now84 became quite discouraged. He wrote home, on the 22d of April, that he had that day dined with the king; that the Crown Prince was present, but dreadfully dejected, and that great sympathy was excited in his behalf, as he was so engaging and so universally popular. He evidently perceived some indications of superiority in the Crown Prince, for he added, “If I am not much mistaken, this young prince will one day make a very considerable figure.”“My dear Voltaire,—I have received two of your letters, but could not answer sooner. I am like Charles Twelfth’s chess king, who was always on the move. For a fortnight past we have been kept continually afoot and under way in such weather as you never saw.
125 Grumkow then goes on to relate, quite in detail, that the king took up the subject of theology. “He set forth the horrible results of that absolute decree notion which makes God the author of sin; and that Jesus Christ died only for some.” The prince declared that he had thoroughly renounced that heresy. The king then added:BATTLE OF
During the first part of his journey the king had been remarkably cheerful and genial, but toward its close he was attacked by a new fit of very serious illness. To the discomfort of all, his chronic moodiness returned. A few extracts from P?llnitz’s account of this journey throws interesting light upon those scenes:“I observed that the king took a pinch of snuff as the sound of each discharge reached him. And even through that air of intrepidity, which never abandoned this prince, I could perceive the sensations of pity toward that unfortunate town, and an eager impatience to fly to its relief.”
In October, 1723, when the prince was eleven years of age, his grandfather, George I., came to Berlin to visit his daughter and his son-in-law, the mother and father of Fritz. From the windows of his apartment he looked out with much interest upon Fritz, drilling his cadet company upon the esplanade in front of the palace. The clock-work precision of the movements of the boy soldiers greatly surprised him.
It will be remembered that, in the note which M. Valori accidentally dropped, and which Frederick furtively obtained, the minister was instructed by the French court not to give up Glatz to the Prussian king if he could possibly avoid it. But Frederick had now seized the city, and the region around, by force300 of arms, and held them with a gripe not to be relaxed. Glatz was a Catholic town. In the convent there was an image of the Virgin, whose tawdry robes had become threadbare and faded. The wife of the Austrian commandant had promised the Virgin a new dress if she would keep the Prussians out of the city. Frederick heard of this. As he took possession of the city, with grim humor he assured the Virgin that she should not lose in consequence of the favor she had shown the Prussians. New and costly garments were immediately provided for her at the expense of the Prussian king.
“Guarantees!” exclaimed the king, scornfully. “Who minds or keeps guarantees in this age? Has not France guaranteed the Pragmatic Sanction? Has not England? Why do you not all fly to the queen’s succor?”
There was an institution, if we may so call it, in the palace of the King of Prussia which became greatly renowned, and which was denominated “The Tobacco College,” or “Tobacco Parliament.” It consisted simply of a smoking-room very plainly furnished,46 where the king and about a dozen of his confidential advisers met to smoke and to talk over, with perfect freedom and informality, affairs of state. Carlyle thus quaintly describes this Tabagie:“They then went away, often looking around to see if I kept my posture. I perceived well enough that they were making game of me; but I stood all the same like a wall, being full of fear. When the king turned round he gave a look at me like a flash of sunbeams glancing through you. He sent one of the gardeners to bring my papers. Taking them, he disappeared in one of the garden walks. In a few minutes he came back with my papers open in his hand, and waved with them for me to come nearer. I plucked up heart and went directly to him. Oh, how graciously this great monarch deigned to speak to me!详情
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