The king then questioned him very closely respecting the place where he had studied, during what years, under what teachers, and to what branches he had devoted special attention. While thus conversing the clock struck twelve. This was the dinner-hour of his majesty. “Now I must go,” said the king. “They wait for their soup.”“Each regiment shall take but one baggage-cart for a company. No officer, whoever he may be or whatever his title, shall take with him the least of silver plate, not even a silver spoon. Whoever wants to keep table, great or small, must manage the same with tin utensils, without exception, be he who he will.”
The impetuous Frederick made no delay at Prague. The day after the capture, leaving five thousand men, under General Einsiedel, to garrison the city, he put his troops in motion, ascending the right bank of the Moldau. It would seem that he was about to march boldly upon Vienna. Wagons of meal, drawn by oxen, followed the army. The heavy artillery was left behind. The troops were forced along as rapidly as possible. They advanced in two columns. One was led by Frederick, and the other by young Leopold. The country through which they passed was dreary, desolate, barren in the extreme—a wild waste of precipitous rocks, and bogs, and tangled forest. The roads were wretched. No forage could be obtained. The starved oxen were continually dropping, exhausted, by the way; the path of the army was marked by their carcasses.
On the 12th of June, but a fortnight after his accession, Frederick198 wrote from Charlottenburg to Voltaire, who was then at Brussels, as follows:“My heart and my inclination excited in me, from the moment I mounted the throne, the desire of having you here, that you might put our Berlin Academy in the shape you alone are capable of giving it. Come then, come, and insert into this wild crab-tree the sciences, that it may bear fruit. You have shown the figure of the earth to mankind; show also to a king how sweet it is to possess such a man as you.
“You are too good. I am ashamed to abuse your indulgence. But do, since you are willing, try and sound the French, and learn what conditions of peace they would demand. Send that Mirabeau103 to France. Willingly will I pay the expense. He may offer as much as five million thalers [,750,000] to the Favorite104 for peace alone.”“As God often, by wondrous guidance, strange paths, and thorny steps, will bring men into the kingdom of Christ, so may our divine Redeemer help that this prodigal son be brought into his communion; that his godless heart be beaten until it is softened and changed, and so he be snatched from the claws of Satan. This grant us, the Almighty God and Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ and his passion and death’s sake. Amen.
The ever-wakeful eye of Frederick detected the movement. His beautiful encampment at Chrudim had lasted but two days. Instantly couriers were dispatched in all directions to rendezvous the Prussian troops on a vast plain in the vicinity of Chrudim. But a few hours elapsed ere every available man in the Prussian ranks was on the march. This movement rendered it necessary for Prince Charles to concentrate the Austrian army also. The field upon which these hosts were gathering for battle was an undulating prairie, almost treeless, with here and there a few hamlets of clustered peasant cottages scattered around.
There was but one short war in which Frederick William engaged during his reign of twenty-seven years. That was with Charles XII. of Sweden. It lasted but a few months, and from it the Prussian king returned victorious. The demands of Frederick William were not unreasonable. As he commenced the brief campaign, which began and ended with the siege of Stralsund, he said: “Why will the very king whom I most respect compel me to be his enemy?” In his characteristic farewell order to his ministers, he wrote: “My wife shall be told of all things, and counsel asked of her. And as I am a man, and may be shot dead, I command you and all to take care of Fritz, as God shall reward you. And I give you all, wife to begin with, my curse that God may punish you in time and eternity if you do not, after my death, bury me in the vault of the palace church at Berlin. And you shall make no grand to-do on the occasion. On your body and life no festivals and ceremonials, except that the regiments, one after the other, fire a volley over me. I am assured that you will manage every thing with all the exactness in the world, for which I shall ever, zealously, as long as I live, be your friend.”221 By the 10th of December, within a fortnight of the time that the king received the tidings of the death of the emperor, he had collected such a force on the frontiers of Silesia that there could be no question that the invasion of that province was intended. As not the slightest preparation had been made on the part of Austria to meet such an event, the king could with perfect ease overrun the province and seize all its fortresses. But Austria was, in territory, resources, and military power, vastly stronger than Prussia. It was therefore scarcely possible that Frederick could hold the province, after he had seized it, unless he could encourage others to dispute the succession of Maria Theresa, and thus involve Europe in a general war. Frederick, having made all his arrangements for prompt and vigorous action, sent to Maria Theresa a message which could be regarded only as an insult:
The king and Voltaire soon became involved in a very serious quarrel. Voltaire had employed a Jew, by the name of Hirsch, to engage fraudulently in speculating in the funds. The transaction was so complicated that few of our readers would have the patience to follow an attempt at its disentanglement. Voltaire and his agent quarreled. The contention rang through all the court circles, as other conspicuous names were involved in the meshes of the intrigue. A lawsuit ensued, which created excitement almost inconceivable. The recent law reform caused the process to be pushed very rapidly to its conclusion. Voltaire emerged from the suit with his character sadly maimed. He was clearly convicted of both falsehood and forgery. The king, annoyed by the clamor, retired from Berlin to Sans Souci. Voltaire was not invited to accompany him, but was left in the Berlin palace. In a letter which Frederick wrote to D’Arget, dated April, 1752, he says:FREDERICK IN PRISON.详情
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