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He therefore spread his troops abroad in winter quarters, levying contributions upon the unhappy inhabitants of Silesia for their support. The king, ever prompt in his movements, having on Monday, the 23d of January, converted the siege into a blockade, on Wednesday, the 25th, set out for home. Visiting one or two important posts by the way, he reached Berlin the latter part of the week. Here he was received with great acclamations as a conquering hero. In six weeks he had overrun Silesia, and had virtually annexed it to his own realms. Whether Austria would quietly submit to this robbery, and whether Frederick would be able to retain his conquest, were questions yet to be decided.

Russia, added Sir Thomas, with some stateliness of utterance, is not the only power which has engagements with Austria, and which must keep them too; so that, however averse to a breach Between the two camps of the Austrians and Prussians, south of the River Neisse, there was a castle called Little Schnellendorf, belonging to Count Von Steinberg. It was a very retired retreat, far from observation. Arrangements were made for a secret meeting there between Frederick and General Neipperg, to adjust the details of their plot. It was of the utmost importance that the perfidious measure should be concealed from France. The French minister, Valori, was in the Prussian camp, watching every movement with an eagle eye. Frederick, writes Carlyle, knows that the French are false to him. He by no means290 intends to be romantically true to them, and that they also know.

The Austrian centre was pushed rapidly forward to the aid of the discomfited left. It was too late. The soldiers arrived upon the ground breathless and in disorder. Before they had time to form, Frederick plowed their ranks with balls, swept them with bullets, and fell upon them mercilessly with sabre and bayonet. The carnage was awful. Division after division melted away in the fire deluge which consumed them. Prince Charles made the most desperate efforts to rally his dismayed troops in and around the church-yard at Leuthen. Here for an hour they fought desperately. But it was all in vain. The left wing was destroyed. The centre was destroyed. The right wing was pushed forward only to be cut to pieces by the sabres, and to be mown down by the terrific fire of the triumphant Prussians.

Five days after this letter was written to Voltaire by Wilhelmina from Baireuth, Frederick, on the 17th of September, 1757, wrote his sister from near Erfurt. This letter, somewhat abbreviated, was as follows: THE FLIGHT ARRESTED.

Fritz had been for some time confined to his chamber and to his bed. He was now getting out again. By his mothers persuasion he wrote to his aunt, Queen Caroline of England, expressing, in the strongest terms, his love for her daughter the Princess Amelia, and his unalterable determination never to marry unless he could lead her to the altar. Though Frederick William knew nothing of these intrigues, he hated his son with daily increasing venom. Sometimes, in a surly fit, he would not speak to him or recognize him. Again he would treat him with studied contempt, at the table refusing to give him any food, leaving him to fast while the others were eating. Not unfrequently, according to Wilhelminas account, he even boxed his ears, and smote him with his cane. Wilhelmina gives us one of the letters of her brother to his father about this time, and the characteristic paternal answer. Frederick writes, under date of September 11, 1728, from Wusterhausen:

Orders had been issued for all the Prussian troops to be rendezvoused by the 5th of February at Wischau. They were then to march immediately about seventy-five miles west, to Trebitsch, which was but a few miles south of Iglau, the point of attack. Here they were to join the French and Saxon troops. The force thus concentrated would amount to twenty-four thousand Prussian301 troops, twenty thousand Saxons, and five thousand French horsemen. With this armyforty-nine thousand strongFrederick was to advance, by one short days march, upon Iglau, where the Austrian garrison amounted to but ten thousand men.

Regardless himself of comfort, insensible to fatigue, dead to affection, he created perhaps the most potent military machine earth has ever known. Prussia was an armed camp. The king prized his soldiers as a miser prizes his gold coin, and was as unwilling to expose them to any danger as the miser is to hazard his treasures. War would thin his regiments, soil his uniforms, destroy his materiel. He hated war. But his army caused Prussia to be respected. If needful, he could throw one hundred thousand of the best drilled and best furnished troops in Europe, like a thunderbolt, upon any point. Unprincipled monarchs would think twice before they would encroach upon a man thus armed.

CHAPTER XI. DIPLOMATIC INTRIGUES.

The Queen of Hungary had purchased the co-operation of the Polish king by offering to surrender to him a generous portion of Silesia after the province should have been reconquered. Indeed, there was a great cause of apprehension that the allied army would make a rush upon Berlin itself. The aspect of his Prussian majestys affairs was now gloomy in the extreme.

Voltaire and Madame Du Chatelet.Letter from Frederick to Voltaire.The Reply.Visit to the Prince of Orange.Correspondence.The Crown Prince becomes a Mason.Interesting Letter from the Crown Prince.Petulance and declining Health of the King.Scenes in the Death-chamber.Characteristic Anecdotes.The Dying Scene.