In the mean while, Marshal Daun was so confident that Frederick, with but thirty thousand men, could not drive him from his intrenchments, guarded by eighty thousand veteran troops, that he wrote to General Harsch, who was conducting the siege of Neisse,


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. Frederick was in a towering passion. Voltaire was alarmed at the commotion he had created. He wrote a letter to the king, in which he declared most solemnly that he had not intended to392 have the pamphlet published; that a copy had been obtained by treachery, and had been printed without his consent or knowledge. But the king wrote back:

Frederick divided his retreating army into two columns. One, led by the young Leopold, was to retire through Glatz. The other, led by Frederick, traversed a road a few leagues to the west, passing through K?niggratz. It was an awful retreat for both these divisionsthrough snow, and sleet, and mud, hungry, weary, freezing, with swarms of Pandours hanging upon their rear. Thousands perished by the way. The horrors of such a retreat no pen can describe. Their very guides deserted them, and became spies, to report their movements to the foe.

Sir Thomas, who was not aware of the engagement into which the allies had entered to keep Russia busy by a war with Sweden, intimated that there were powers which might yet come to the rescue of the queen, and mentioned Russia as one. As the king was about to embark upon this enterprise, it was proposed to place upon the banners the words For God and our Country. But Frederick struck out the words For God, saying that it was improper to introduce the name of the Deity into the quarrels of men, and that he was embarking in war to gain a province, not for religion.43 In a brief speech to his soldiers he said, Days of Peace and Prosperity.The Palace of Sans Souci.Letter from Marshal Keith.Domestic Habits of the King.Fredericks Snuff-boxes.Anecdotes.Severe Discipline of the Army.Testimony of Baron Trenck.The Review.Death of the Divine Emilie.The Kings Revenge.Anecdote of the Poor Schoolmaster.The Berlin Carousal.Appearance of his Majesty.Honors conferred upon Voltaire.

While Frederick was involved in all these difficulties, he was cheered by the hope that the French would soon come to his rescue. Unutterable was his chagrin when he learned, early in October, that the French had done exactly as he would have done in their circumstances. Appalling, indeed, were the tidings soon brought to him, that Prince Charles, with his army, had marched unmolested into Bohemia; that he had already effected a junction with General Bathyani and his countless swarm of Pandours; and, moreover, that a Saxon army, twenty thousand strong, in alliance with the Queen of Hungary, was on the way to join his already overwhelming foes. It was reported, at the same time, that Prince Charles was advancing upon Budweis, and that his advance-guard had been seen, but a few miles off, on the western side of the Moldau.

The king could be very courteous. He gave a dinner-party, at which General Loudon, one of the most efficient of the Austrian generals, and who had often been successfully opposed to Frederick, was a guest. As he entered the king said,

Upon the reception of this letter, the prince, without replying to it, verbally asked leave, through one of his officers, to throw up his commission and retire to his family in Berlin. The king scornfully replied, Let him go; he is fit for nothing else. In the deepest dejection the prince returned to his home. Rapidly his health failed, and before the year had passed away, as we shall have occasion hereafter to mention, he sank into the grave, deploring his unhappy lot.

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.

George was a taciturn, jealous, sullen old man, who quarreled with his son, who was then Prince of Wales. The other powers of Europe were decidedly opposed to this double marriage, as it would, in their view, create too intimate a union between Prussia and England, making them virtually one. Frederick William also vexatiously threw hinderances in the way. But the heart of the loving mother, Sophie Dorothee, was fixed upon these nuptials. For years she left no efforts of diplomacy or intrigue untried to accomplish her end. George I. is represented40 by Horace Walpole as a stolid, stubborn old German, living in a cloud of tobacco-smoke, and stupefying his faculties with beer. He had in some way formed a very unfavorable opinion of Wilhelmina, considering her, very falsely, ungainly in person and fretful in disposition. But at last the tact of Sophie Dorothee so far prevailed over her father, the British king, that he gave his somewhat reluctant but positive consent to the double matrimonial alliance. This was in 1723. Wilhelmina was then fourteen years of age. Fritz, but eleven years old, was too young to think very deeply upon the subject of his marriage. The young English Fred bore at that time the title of the Duke of Gloucester. He soon sent an envoy to Prussia, probably to convey to his intended bride presents and messages of love. The interview took place in the palace of Charlottenburg, a few miles out from Berlin. The vivacious Wilhelmina, in the following terms, describes the interview in her journal:

The king paused. A general murmur of applause indicated the united resolve to conquer or to die. Frederick immediately added:

Whatever answer may now be returned from England I will have nothing to do with it. Whether negative, affirmative, or evasive, to me it shall be as nothing. You, madam, must now choose between the Duke of Weissenfels and the Marquis of Schwedt. If you do not choose, you and Wilhelmina may prepare for Oranienburg, where you shall suffer the just penalty of mutiny against the authority set over you by God and men.