Affairs were now assuming throughout Europe a very threatening aspect. The two French armies, of forty thousand each, had already crossed the Rhine to join their German allies in the war against Austria. One of these armies, to be commanded by Belleisle, had crossed the river about thirty miles below Strasbourg to unite with the Elector of Bavarias troops and march upon Vienna. The other army, under Maillebois, had crossed the Lower Rhine a few miles below Düsseldorf. Its mission was, as we have mentioned, to encamp upon the frontiers of Hanover, prepared to invade that province, in co-operation with the Prussian troops in the camp at G?ttin, should the King of England venture to raise a hand in behalf of Austria. It was also in position to attack and overwhelm Holland, Englands only ally, should that power manifest the slightest opposition to the designs of Prussia and France. At the same time, Sweden, on the 4th of August, had declared war against Russia, so that no help could come to Austria from that quarter. Great diplomatic ability had been displayed in guarding every point in these complicated measures. The French minister, Belleisle, was probably the prominent agent in these wide-spread combinations.60

If these terms are not accepted within a fortnight, I will not be bound by them.

135 As the king was about to take leave of his child, whom he had treated so cruelly, he was very much overcome by emotion. It is a solemn hour, in any family, when a daughter leaves the parental roof, never to return again but as a visitor. Whether the extraordinary development of feeling which the stern old monarch manifested on the occasion was the result of nervous sensibility, excited by strong drink or by parental affection, it is not easy to decide. Wilhelmina, in a few words of intense emotion, bade her father farewell.

It would be better, M. Roloff mildly suggested, that your majesty should write at once. One day the father, returning home, found, to his inexpressible delight, little Fritz strutting about beating a drum, with Wilhelmina marching by his side. The king could scarcely restrain his joy. At last the military element was being developed in his child. He hastened with the tidings to his wife, whom he called30 by the pet name of Phiekina word apparently coined from Sophie. The matter was talked about all over the palace. A painter was sent for to transfer the scene to canvas. This picture, greatly admired, still hangs upon the walls of the Charlottenburg palace. Of this picture Carlyle writes: Fritz is still, if not in long-clothes, at least in longish and flowing clothes of the petticoat sort, which look as of dark blue velvet, very simple, pretty, and appropriate; in a cap of the same; has a short ravens feather in the cap, and looks up with a face and eyes full of beautiful vivacity and childs enthusiasm, one of the beautifulest little figures, while the little drum responds to his bits of drumsticks. Sister Wilhelmina, taller by some three years, looks on in pretty stooping attitude, and with a graver smile. Blackamoor and room-furniture elegant enough; and finally the figure of a grenadier on guard, seen far off through an open window, make up the background.

The king then hastened on to Schweidnitz, a few miles west from Breslau. This was a small town, strongly fortified, about equally distant from the three beleaguered fortressesNeisse, Brieg, and Glogau. The young monarch was daily becoming more aware that he had embarked in an enterprise which threatened him with fearful peril. He had not only failed to secure a single ally, but there were indications that England and other powers were in secret deliberation to join against him. He soon learned that England had sent a gift or loan of a million of dollarsa large sum in those daysto replenish the exhausted treasury of Maria Theresa. His minister in Russia also transmitted to him an appalling rumor that a project was in contemplation by the King of England, the King of Poland, Anne, regent of Russia, and Maria Theresa, to unite, and so partition the Prussian kingdom as to render the ambitious Frederick powerless to disturb the peace of Europe. The general motives which239 influenced the great monarchies in the stupendous war which was soon evolved are sufficiently manifest. But these motives led to a complication of intrigues which it would be alike tedious and unprofitable to attempt to unravel.

Frederick remained upon the field of battle four hours gathering up the spoils. The dead were left unburied. The wounded were placed in empty meal-wagons. General Loudon fled precipitately across the Katzbach River. To deceive the Austrians in reference to his movements, Frederick wrote a false dispatch to his brother Henry, which he placed in the hands of a trusty peasant. The peasant was directed to allow himself to be taken. The plan worked to a charm. The other portions of the allied army, deceived by the dispatch, retreated as Frederick wished to have them. He soon formed a junction with his brother Henry, and being astonished himself at his almost miraculous506 escape, marched to the strong fortress of Breslau, which was still held by a small Prussian garrison, and where he had large magazines.

With the last day threatened mankind.

But the ever-vigilant Frederick had smuggled a false sister into the society of the Catholic ladies, who kept him informed of every measure that was proposed. At the very hour when Frederick was dining with the two English ministers, and making282 himself so merry with jests and banter, he was aware that General Neipperg, with the whole Austrian army, was crossing the River Neisse, on the march, by a route thirty miles west of his encampment, to take Breslau by surprise. But he had already adopted effectual measures to thwart their plans.

Frederick withdrew his troops into strong cantonments in the valley of the upper Elbe. This beautiful river takes its rise in romantic chasms, among the ridges and spurs of the Giant Mountains, on the southeastern borders of Silesia. Here the Prussian army was distributed in small towns along a line following the windings of the stream, about forty miles in length. All the troops could be concentrated in forty-eight hours. The encampments faced the south, with the Elbe behind them. At some little distance north of the river, safe from surprise, the magazines were stationed. The mountains of Bohemia rose sublimely306 in the distant background. In a letter to M. Jordan, under date of Chrudim, May 5th, 1742, Frederick expresses his views of this profitless campaign in the following terms:

On the 20th of June, Voltaire dressed himself in disguise, and, with a companion, M. Coligny, entered a hackney-coach, and ordered the driver to leave the city by the main gate. M. Freytag was immediately informed of this by his spies. With mounted men he commenced the pursuit, overtook the carriage as it was delayed a moment at the gate, and arrested the fugitive in the kings name. Voltaires eyes sparkled with fury, and he raved insanely. The scene gathered a crowd, and Voltaire was taken by a guard of soldiers to another inn, The Billy-Goat, as the landlord of the Golden Lion refused any longer to entertain so troublesome a guest.

The Crown Prince had for some time been inspired with an ever-increasing ambition for high intellectual culture. Gradually he was gathering around him, in his retreat at Reinsberg, men of high literary reputation, and was opening correspondence with the most distinguished men of letters in all the adjacent countries.

59 While the king was thus suffering the pangs of the gout, his irascibility vented itself upon his wife and children. We were obliged, says Wilhelmina, to appear at nine oclock in the morning in his room. We dined there, and did not dare to leave it even for a moment. Every day was passed by the king in invectives against my brother and myself. He no longer called me any thing but the English blackguard. My brother was named the rascal Fritz. He obliged us to eat and drink the things for which we had an aversion. Every day was marked by some sinister event. It was impossible to raise ones eyes without seeing some unhappy people tormented in one way or other. The kings restlessness did not allow him to remain in bed. He had himself placed in a chair on rollers, and was thus dragged all over the palace. His two arms rested upon crutches, which supported them. We always followed this triumphal car, like unhappy captives who are about to undergo their sentence.