General Daun, in command of the Austrian forces, rapidly concentrated his troops around Leutomischel, where he had extensive magazines. But Frederick, leaving Leutomischel far away on his right, pressed forward in a southerly direction, and on the 12th of May appeared before Olmütz. His march had been rapidly and admirably conducted, dividing his troops into columns for the convenience of road and subsistence.“You have cut me to the heart, and have inflicted on me the greatest misery I ever endured. I had placed all my hope in you, in consequence of my ignorance of your character. You have had the address to disguise to me the bad propensities of your heart, and the baseness of your disposition. I repent a thousand times the kindness I have shown you, the care I have taken of your education, and all that I have suffered on your account. I no longer acknowledge you as my daughter, and shall, in future, never regard you but as my most cruel enemy, since it is you who have sacrificed me to my persecutors, who now triumph over me. Never count upon me again. I vow eternal hatred to you, and will never forgive you.”
There are sometimes great and glorious objects to be attained—objects which elevate and ennoble a nation or a race—which warrant the expenditure of almost any amount of temporary suffering. It is not the duty of the millions to suffer the proud and haughty hundreds to consign them to ignorance and trample them in the dust. In this wicked world, where kings and nobles have ever been so ready to doom the masses of the people to ignorance, servitude, and want, human rights have almost never made any advances but through the energies of the sword. Many illustrious generals, who, with saddened hearts, have led their armies over fields of blood, have been among the most devoted friends and ornaments of humanity. Their names have been enshrined in the affections of grateful millions.
Winter was now approaching. The Austrians in Saxony made a desperate attack upon Prince Henry, and were routed with much loss. The shattered Austrian army retired to Bohemia for winter quarters. Under the circumstances, it was a victory of immense importance to Frederick. Upon receiving the glad tidings, he wrote to Henry:
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.”MAP OF THE SECOND SILESIAN CAMPAIGN.
“His Prussian majesty requires nothing for himself. He has taken up arms simply and solely with the view of restoring to the empire its freedom, to the emperor his imperial crown, and to all Europe the peace which is so desirable.”“‘Were you ever in Germany?’ he now asked me.
The King of Poland, who was also Elector of Saxony, had strong feelings of personal hostility to Frederick. His prime minister, Count Von Brühl, even surpassed his royal master in the bitter antagonism with which he regarded the Prussian monarch. Frederick, whose eagle eye was ever open, and whose restless mind was always on the alert, suspected that a coalition was about to be formed against him. He had false keys made to the royal archives at Dresden; bribed one of the officials there, M. Menzel, stealthily to enter the chamber of the archives, and copy for him such extracts as would throw any light upon the designs of the court. Among other items of intelligence, he found that Austria, Russia, and Poland were deliberating upon the terms of a coalition against him.
“I waver between hope and fear of paying my court to you. I hope it might still be at Berneck, if you could contrive a road into the Nürnberg highway again, avoiding Baireuth; otherwise I dare not go. The bearer, Captain Knobelsdorf, will apprise you of every particular. Let him settle something that may be possible. This is how I stand at present: instead of having to expect some favor from the king, I get nothing but chagrin. But what is more cruel upon me than all is that you are ill. God, in his grace, be pleased to help you, and restore that health which I so much wish for you.A bomb bursting in the room could scarcely have created a greater panic. Katte and Quantz seized the flutes and music-books, and rushed into a wood-closet, where they stood quaking with terror. Fritz threw off his dressing-gown, hurried on his military coat, and sat down at the table, affecting to be deeply engaged with his books. The king, frowning like a thunder-cloud—for he always frowned when he drew near Fritz—burst into the room. The sight of the frizzled hair of his son “kindled the paternal wrath into a tornado pitch.” The king had a wonderful command of the vocabulary of abuse, and was heaping epithets of vituperation upon the head of the prince, when he caught sight of the dressing-gown behind a screen. He seized the glittering garment, and, with increasing outbursts of rage, crammed it into the fire. Then searching the room, he collected all the French books, of which Fritz had quite a library, and, sending for a bookseller near by, ordered him to take every volume away, and sell them for what they would bring. For more than an hour the king was thus raging, like a maniac, in the apartment of his son. Fortunately he did not look into the wood-closet. Had he done so, both Quantz and Katte would have been terribly beaten, even had they escaped being sent immediately to the scaffold.Voltaire’s visit lasted about thirty-two months. He was, however, during all this time, fast losing favor with the king. Instead of being received as an inmate at Sans Souci, he was assigned to a small country house in the vicinity, called the Marquisat. His wants were, however, all abundantly provided for at the expense of the king. It is evident from his letters that he was a very unhappy man. He was infirm in health, irascible, discontented, crabbed; suspecting every one of being his enemy, jealous of his companions, and with a diseased mind, crowded with superstitious fears.
Frederick, unaware that Oppeln was in the hands of the enemy, arrived, with the few of his suite who had been able to keep up with him, about midnight before the closed gates of the town. “Who are you?” the Austrian sentinels inquired. “We are Prussians,” was the reply, “accompanying a courier from the king.” The Austrians, unconscious of the prize within their grasp, and not knowing how numerous the Prussian party might be, instantly opened a musketry fire upon them through the iron gratings of the gate. Had they but thrown open the gate and thus let the king enter the trap, the whole history of Europe might have been changed. Upon apparently such trivial chances the destinies of empires and of the world depend. Fortunately, in the darkness and the confusion, none were struck by the bullets.“The queen went to her own apartment to fetch it. I ran in to her there for a moment. She was out of her senses, wringing her hands, crying incessantly, and exclaiming, ‘O God, my son, my son!’ Breath failed me. I fell fainting into the arms of Madam Sonsfeld. The queen took the writing-desk to the king. He immediately broke it open and tore out the letters, with which he went away. The queen came back to us. We were comforted by the assurance, from some of the attendants, that my brother at least was not dead.To his sister, Fritz wrote, about the same time, in a more subdued strain, referring simply to his recent life in Cüstrin: “Thus far my lot has been a tolerably happy one. I have lived quietly in the garrison. My flute, my books, and a few affectionate friends have made my way of life there sufficiently agreeable. They now want to force me to abandon all this in order to marry me to the Princess of Bevern, whom I do not know. Must one always be tyrannized over without any hope of a change? Still, if my dear sister were only here, I should endure all with patience.”
Count Von Kaunitz, an able but proud and self-conceited man, was prime minister of the Emperor of Germany. His commanding mind exerted quite a controlling influence over his imperial master. Kaunitz records the following conversation as having taken place at this interview between himself and Frederick:182Soon after Frederick wrote to Voltaire upon this subject again, still more severely, but in verse. The following is almost a literal translation of this poetic epistle:“Munchberg, July 2, 1734.详情
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