“M. le President,—I have had the honor to receive your letter. You inform me that you are well, and that, if I publish La Beaumelle’s letter,97 you will come and assassinate me. What ingratitude to your poor Doctor Akakia! If you exalt your soul so as to discern futurity, you will see that, if you come on that errand to Leipsic, where you are no better liked than in other places, you will run some risk of being hanged. Poor me, indeed, you will find in bed. But, as soon as I have gained a little strength, I will have my pistols charged, and, multiplying the394 mass by the square of velocity, so as to reduce the action and you to zero, I will put some lead into your head. It appears that you have need of it. Adieu, my president.Sont pour jamais perdus dans les charrains.”
“If my destiny is finished, remember a friend who loves thee always tenderly. If Heaven prolong my days, I will write to thee after to-morrow, and thou shalt hear of our victory. Adieu, dear friend; I shall love thee till death.“I am sure his excellency had no such meaning, sire. His excellency will advance nothing so very contrary to his instructions.”
“It was in these hours of apparently insurmountable difficulty that the marvelous administrative genius of Frederick was displayed. No modern reader can imagine the difficulties of Frederick at this time as they already lay disclosed, and kept gradually disclosing themselves, for months coming; nor will ever know what perspicacity, what patience of scanning, sharpness of340 discernment, dexterity of management, were required at Frederick’s hands; and under what imminency of peril too—victorious deliverance or ruin and annihilation, wavering fearfully in the balance, for him more than once, or rather all along.”78
Some of our readers may think that the above narrative is quite incredible; that a young sovereign, who had just written the Anti-Machiavel, and who knew that the eyes of the world were upon him, could not be guilty of such perfidy. But, unhappily, there is no possible room for doubt. The documentary evidence is ample. There is no contradictory testimony.
“You have seen the paper I have sent to Vienna. Their answer is, that they have not made an offensive alliance with Russia against me. Of the assurance that I required there is not one word, so that the sword alone can cut this Gordian knot. I am innocent of this war. I have done what I could to avoid it; but, whatever be one’s love of peace, one can not, and one must not, sacrifice to that safety and honor. At present our one thought must be to wage war in such a way as may cure our enemies of their wish to break peace again too soon.”“I am in the condition of a traveler who sees himself surrounded421 and ready to be assassinated by a troop of cut-throats, who intend to share his spoils. Since the league of Cambrai105 there is no example of such a conspiracy as that infamous triumvirate, Austria, France, Russia, now forms against me. Was it ever before seen that three great princes laid plot in concert to destroy a fourth who had done nothing against them? I have not had the least quarrel either with France or with Russia, still less with Sweden.
“We were scarcely seated at supper before he began by drinking a number of interesting healths, which there was a necessity of pledging. This first skirmish being over, it was followed by an incessant flow of sallies and repartees. The most contracted countenances became expanded. The gayety was general, even the ladies assisting in promoting our jollity.
The king was so impressed by this firm attitude of his physician that he even made an apology for his rudeness. As Frederick William was now convinced that ere long he must appear before the tribunal of God, he gradually became a little more calm and resigned.29 It is, however, evident that the Crown Prince still had his share of earthly annoyances, and certainly his full share of earthly frailties. In a letter to his friend Suhm, written this summer, he says:The Queen of Prussia had recently given birth to another prince. She was on a bed of languor. The king was somewhat mollified, and was anxious to be relieved from these protracted difficulties. Colonel Hotham reached the palace of Charlottenburg on the 2d of April, 1730, and was graciously received by the king. The next day quite a splendid dinner was given in honor of the British envoy. All the notables who surrounded the table, the English and the Prussian, in accordance with the degrading custom of those times, drank deeply. Hotham, in his dispatch, without any apparent sense of shame, writes, “We all got immoderately drunk.”
The king was so pleased with the conduct of his son during this journey that, in a moment of unusual good-nature, he made him a present of a very extensive horse-breeding establishment near Tilsit, consisting of seven farms, all in the most perfect order, as every thing was sure to be which was under the control of Frederick William. The profits of this establishment added about ten thousand dollars to the annual income of the Crown Prince. He was quite overjoyed at the unexpected gift, and wrote to his sister Wilhelmina a letter glowing with satisfaction.
“To which I replied, that this was very hard usage, and the world would see how the King of Prussia would relish it. But having strict orders from his majesty, my most gracious master, to make a declaration to the ministers of Hanover in his name, and finding that Herr von Hartoff would neither receive it nor take a copy of it, I had only to tell him that I was under the necessity of leaving it in writing, and had brought the paper with me; and that now, as the council were pleased to refuse to take it, I was obliged to leave the said declaration on a table in an adjoining room, in the presence of Herr von Hartoff and other secretaries of the council, whom I desired to lay it before the ministry.Twelve days after the battle of Liegnitz Frederick wrote as follows to his friend, the Marquis D’Argens, who was at Berlin. The letter was dated Hermannsdorf, near Breslau, 27th of August, 1760:详情
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