Voltaire had, as a pet, a very vicious ape, treacherous, spiteful, who pelted passers-by with stones, and, when provoked, would bite terribly. The name of this hateful beast was Luc. Voltaire gave his friend Frederick the nickname of Luc. He corresponded freely with the enemies of his Prussian majesty. A few extracts will reveal the character of the friendship of the philosopher. Some days after the battle of Kunersdorf Voltaire wrote to D’Argental:Distinguished strangers were often admitted to the Tabagie. The Crown Prince Fritz was occasionally present, though always reluctantly. The other children of this numerous family not unfrequently came in to bid papa good-night. Here every thing was talked of, with entire freedom, all court gossip, the adventures of the chase, diplomacy, and the administrative measures of the government. Frederick William had but very little respect for academic culture. He had scarcely the slightest acquaintance with books, and gathered around him mainly men whose knowledge was gained in the practical employments of life. It would seem, from many well-authenticated anecdotes, which have come down to us from the Tabagie, that these smoking companions of the king, like Frederick William himself, must have been generally a coarse set of men.383 “‘My good Thuringian,’ said the king, ‘you came to Berlin seeking to earn your bread by the industrious teaching of children, and here at the custom-house they have taken your money from you. True, the batzen are not legal here. They should have said to you, “You are a stranger and did not know of the prohibition. We will seal up the bag of batzen. You can send it back to Thuringia and get it changed for other coin.” Be of good heart, however. You shall have your money again, and interest too. But, my poor man, in Berlin they do not give any thing gratis. You are a stranger. Before you are known and get to teaching, your bit of money will be all gone. What then?’
“I arrived at last about one in the morning. I instantly threw myself on a bed. I was like to die of weariness, and in mortal terror that something had happened to my brother or the hereditary prince. The latter relieved me on his own score. He arrived at last about four o’clock; had still no news of my brother. I was beginning to doze a little, when they came to inform me that M. von Knobelsdorf wished to speak to me from the Prince Royal. I darted out of bed and ran to him.Frederick’s Attempt to Rescue his Brother.—Captured Dispatches.—Battle of Hochkirch.—Defeat and Retreat of Frederick.—Death of Wilhelmina.—Letter to Voltaire.—Rejoicings at Vienna.—The Siege of Neisse.—The Siege of Dresden.—Conflagrations and Terror.—The Siege raised by Frederick.—Results of the Third Campaign.—Unavailing Efforts for Peace.—Despair of Frederick.
“Magnanimous I can by no means call Frederick to his allies288 and neighbors, nor even superstitiously veracious in this business; but he thoroughly understands, he alone, what just thing he wants out of it, and what an enormous wigged mendacity it is he has got to deal with. For the rest, he is at the gaming-table with these sharpers, their dice all cogged, and he knows it, and ought to profit by his knowledge of it, and, in short, to win his stake out of that foul, weltering melley, and go home safe with it if he can.
Baron Trenck, in his memoir, gives an appalling account of these hardships in the body-guards to which he belonged. In time of peace there was scarcely an hour which he could command. The morning drill commenced at four o’clock. The most complicated and perilous man?uvres were performed. Frederick considered this the best school for cavalry in the world. They were compelled to leap trenches, which were continually widened till many fell in and broke their legs or arms. They were also compelled to leap hedges, and continue to charge at the highest possible speed for miles together. Almost daily some were either killed or wounded. At midday they took fresh horses, and repeated these toilsome and dangerous labors. Frequently they would be called from their beds two or three times in one night, to keep them on the alert. But eight minutes were allowed the guardsman to present himself on horseback, in his place, fully equipped. “In one year of peace,” he says, “the body-guards lost more men and horses than they had in two battles during the war.”The king devoted himself very energetically to business during the morning, and reviewed his troops at eleven o’clock. He dined at twelve.
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.”Frederick still sought recreation in writing verses which he called poetry. To D’Argens he wrote, “I have made a prodigious quantity of verses. If I live I will show them to you. If I perish they are bequeathed to you, and I have ordered that they be put into your hand.Preparing for the Battle.—The Surprise.—The Snow-encumbered Plain.—Horror of the Scene.—Flight of Frederick.—His Shame and Despair.—Unexpected Victory of the Prussians.—Letters of Frederick.—Adventures of Maupertuis.
The surrender was made. Fifteen miles nearly east from Ohlau, on the southern banks of the Oder, is the little town of Brieg. Frederick approached it with divisions of his army on both sides of the river. The country was flat and densely wooded. On the southern side, where Frederick marched with the major part of his troops, it was traversed by an admirably paved road. This was constructed one hundred and fifty-six years before by one of the dukes of that realm. It was a broad highway, paved with massive flat stones, climbing the mountains, threading the valleys, traversing the plains—a road such as those which the Romans constructed, and over which the legions of the C?sars tramped in their tireless conquests. This duke, in consequence of his religious character, was called “George the Pious.” His devotional spirit may be inferred from the following inscription, in Latin, which he had engraved on a very massive monument, constructed in commemoration of the achievement:It would seem that Frederick was not very willing to receive, as his guest, the divine Emilie, who occupied so questionable a position in the household of Voltaire; for he wrote again, on the 5th of August, in reply to a letter from Voltaire, saying,
In the mean time, the queen and Wilhelmina, at Berlin, unconscious of the dreadful tidings they were soon to receive, were95 taking advantage of the absence of the king in seeking a few hours of social enjoyment. They gave a ball at the pretty little palace of Monbijou, on the banks of the Spree, a short distance out from Berlin. In the midst of the entertainment the queen received, by a courier, the following dispatch from Frederick William:The Prussian troops, meeting with no opposition, spread over the country, and a strong division reached Weichau on Saturday, the 17th. There they spent Sunday in rest. Frederick was anxious to win to his cause the Protestant population. He consequently favored their religious institutions, and ordered that Protestant worship should be held in the villages which he occupied, and where there was no Protestant church edifice, one part of the day in the Catholic churches. This plan he continued through the campaign, much to the gratification of the chaplains of his regiments and the Protestant community in Silesia. Though the Austrian government had not been particularly oppressive to the Protestants, still it leaned decidedly against what224 it deemed heresy. The Jesuits, favored by the governmental officials, were unwearied in their endeavors to promote the interests of their Church. Frederick, by allowing the impression to be spread abroad that he was the champion of Protestantism, was enabled to secure the sympathies of quite a strong party in Silesia in his favor. It is said that two thirds of the inhabitants of Silesia were Protestants, and therefore favorable to Frederick.In another letter to Grumkow, he writes: “As to what you tell me of the Princess of Mecklenburg, could not I marry her?140 She would have a dowry of two or three million rubles.22 Only fancy how I could live with that. I think that project might succeed. I find none of these advantages in the Princess of Bevern, who, as many people even of the duke’s court say, is not at all beautiful, speaks almost nothing, and is given to pouting. The good empress has so little money herself that the sums she could afford her niece would be very moderate.”
To his physicians, who were doubtful respecting the nature of his disease, he said, “If Doctor Gazelli were here you would soon know what is my complaint. As it is, you will only learn after you have dissected me.”Establishment of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.—Religious Toleration.—A Free Press.—Sternness of the young King.—Domestic Habits of the King.—Provision for the Queen-mother.—Absolutism of the King.—Journey to Strasbourg.—First Interview with Voltaire.
499 “In spite of all your efforts, you will not get a peace signed by my hands except on conditions honorable to my nation. Your people, blown up with self-conceit and folly, may depend on these words.”“I must observe that hitherto the King of Prussia does, as it were, every thing himself; and that, excepting the finance minister, who preaches frugality, and finds for that doctrine uncommon acceptance, his majesty allows no counseling from any minister; so that the minister for foreign affairs has nothing to do but to expedite the orders he receives, his advice not being asked upon any matter. And so it is with the other ministers.”详情
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