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CHAPTER XXVII. THE LEUTHEN CAMPAIGN.

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 Marquis of Botta, the Austrian envoy, endeavoring to penetrate the plans of Frederick, descanted upon the horrible condition of the roads in Silesia, which province he had traversed in coming to Berlin. The king listened with a quiet smile, and then, with much apparent indifference, replied, Frederick had hardly reached Berlin ere he was astonished to learn, from dispatches from the Old Dessauer, that the Austrians, not content with driving him out of Bohemia, had actually invaded Silesia. Amazed, or affecting amazement, at such audacity, he sent reiterated and impatient orders to his veteran general to fall immediately upon the insolent foe and crush him.

The crowd heard what he said. With bursts of laughter they tore the caricature in pieces, scattered it to the winds, and greeted the king, as he rode away, with enthusiastic shouts of Our Fritz forever. A letter of the same date as the above, addressed to Count Algarotti,50 contains the following expressions:

The mountain range upon the south, which separated Silesia from the realms of the Queen of Hungary, was three or four hundred miles long, with some twenty defiles practicable for the passage of troops. The French minister Valori urged Frederick to guard these passes. This was impossible; and the self-confidence of the Prussian king is revealed in his reply: My friend, if you wish to catch the mouse, you must not shut the trap, but leave it open. In the town of Zulich there was a very tall young carpenter by the name of Zimmerman. A Prussian recruiting officer, in disguise, Baron von Hompesch, entered the shop and ordered a stout chest to be made, six feet six inches in length, at leastat all events, longer than yourself, Mr. Zimmerman. Mind you, he added, if too short it will be of no service to me. At the appointed time he called for the chest. Looking at it, he exclaimed, in apparent disappointment, Too short, as I dreaded! I am certain it is over six feet six, said the carpenter, taking out his rule. But I said that it was to be longer than yourself, was the reply. Well, it is, rejoined the carpenter. To prove it, he jumped into the chest. Hompesch slammed down the lid, locked it, whistled, and three stout fellows came in, who shouldered the chest and carried it through the streets to a remote place outside of the town. Here the chest was opened, and poor Zimmerman was found dead, stifled to death.

In the midst of these preparations for a new campaign against a veteran army of two hundred and eighty thousand enemies, Frederick yet found sufficient leisure for peaceable occupations. He consecrated some hours every day to reading, to music, and to the conversation of men of letters.164

Again, on the 19th of February, 1732, the Crown Prince wrote from Cüstrin to Baron Grumkow. From his letter we make the following extracts: